Happy New Year! I wish you all a wonderful 2019. May the new year bring you health, love, joy, adventures and everything you wish for!
Can you believe it’s January 1st?! Just a few hours ago it was 2018 and now it’s a whole new year. It’s a whole new set of opportunities. To be exact, it’s 365 days, 8760 hours that give us the opportunity to do something new, different, and live life.
2018 was a great year for me; I went to Morocco for the first time, I went back to France; my home away from home, after not being there since 2010, and I went on my honeymoon to Spain, Portugal and Ireland. I spent time with family and friends who I had not seen in years, and my business grew.
Last year was wonderful but it wasn’t all that fun at times; I mean who loves getting their wisdom teeth taken out or having a strange allergic reaction on Valentines Day? It’s certainly not me! But yes, things happen, we fall, we get up, we dust the dirt off and we keep going. One thing that I realized I didn’t do was dedicate more time to me. I was very busy working all year that at times, I forgot about myself.
I’m a pretty big advocate about self care but when you’re busy on your day-to-day, it can be easily to forget to take a few minutes just to decompress. This is certainly something I will work with in the coming year. It’s not a resolution because it’s something that should go beyond the “new year’s resolution timeline” and be more of a lifestyle practice.
Since we are talking about self care, an important thing to have as a couple is good quality time. This will help you connect more and better with your partner and foster a stronger bond in your relationship. This leads me to our honeymoon! My husband and I got married in 2017 and we had the best wedding we could possible dream of. It was just us and 22 of our closest family and friends. We decided to do a small wedding because we knew not everyone in both our families could come visit us and we also wanted a more intimate event. On the other hand, we wanted to splurge on our honeymoon.
After looking at the world map for many hours; we realized that the world is very small and that we would need a whole year to see it. Unfortunately, that’s not something neither of us can do, plus we would miss our fur children too much.
We spent twelve days exploring Spain and Portugal, and had a super short overnight in Ireland. I personally love Europe and it’s always my first choice when I think of a vacation, plus my husband had never been; it was perfect! Because I had beed to Spain in the past, we opted to visit cities that I haven’t been to.
We spent a short day and a half in Barcelona; where we got to see Gaudí’s famous Sagrada Familia, Casa Batlló, and we made it just in time to see Park Güel before the sundown. On this particular day, we walked for 9 miles! The following day, we took a plane to Sevilla and this was our home for next following 4 nights; we took a free walking tour that our hotel recommended and had so much fun taking photos and learning about the history of this beautiful city. If I was already in love with Spain, Sevilla just swept me away! It’s the perfect city that I could easily call home. I just need to convince the hubby to move to Spain… “easy peasy…”
Sevilla is located in Southern Spain, and has a significant influence inherited from the 800 years in which the Moors were in Spain. You can see this in the food, and more noticeably; in their architecture. Two of the most prominent buildings being: the Alcázar which was the Royal Palace and the Cathedral with the Giralda; the third largest cathedral in the world and the Giralda which is a combination of a Minaret and a roman tower.
On our last day in Sevilla, we spent three hours walking the gardens of the Alcázar, mesmerized by the architecture of the place, I was in heaven. Later that afternoon, we met a local photographer who we had hired to capture some images of our honeymoon. This is something that I highly recommend. Yes, it’s a splurge but it beats having lots of ok selfies! Being a photographer myself, I really wanted to have images that I could look at when we’re old and gray and remember that perfect day in Spain. Our meeting point was Plaza de España. It’s the most beautiful plaza I have ever seen! The light was gold and the air was warm. We laughed, we kissed, we had some photos taken and we listened to local musicians play the guitar and sing Spanish love songs.
One of the things I was looking forward to was visiting a “tablao” for a Flamenco show. If there’s a dance that is so unique and passionate, elegant, sexy and energetic is flamenco! I took flamenco classes many years ago in Puerto Rico and have since been in love with it. I am a terrible flamenco dancer but when I go to a “tablao”, I feel that I’m immersed in the story of the song. Well, we didn’t just go to a “tablao”, we went to two!
On the first night we took a History of Flamenco tour and learned about the origins of this beautiful dance, then the second one, was more touristy and included the most delicious dinner we had in Spain. It was the perfect date to end our first part of the trip.
Our next stop was Portugal. After a short flight to Lisbon, we settled in our hotel and took another Free Walking Tour around the city. We went up the lift without spending 5 euros, drank Ginjinhna with dark chocolate and ate some yummy vegan food.
The following morning, we went to Sintra, a municipality of Lisbon but it has a completely different feel. We hired a local transportation company to drive us there but we opted to take the scenic route. Our driver was wonderful! We stopped at the beach town of Cascais, then the scenic view point at Boca do Inferno (Devil’s Mouth) and Cabo Da Roca; the Eastern Most Point of continental Europe. The wind and the views were quite impressive. The weather was great and naturally, we took lots of photos along the way.
We stayed at this beautiful manor with a lovely garden. Before getting there though, we stopped for lunch at a local restaurant. This my friends, was the best meal we had in Portugal; My husband ate a whole octopus, I had fresh cod (Depending on where I go, I am flexible in my diet and eat fish), green wine ( a mix between white wine and champagne which in my mind equals perfection), liquor da nata (something like a liquorish creme shot), bread, and a sample of local cheeses.
Our hotel was lovely and breakfast was delicious. It was served in a cozy room with a wood fireplace. It’s was nice and toasty in the mornings and we loved sipping our coffee by the sound of the crackling fire burning. Breakfast in Europe is different then in the US; we mostly ate breads, with jam, lots of coffee, croissants and “pain au chocolat”. Not complaining here!
While in Sintra, we walked the very hilly streets and explored Monserrat Castle, Pena Palace and Gardens, Quinta da Regaleira (our favorite), and the Moorish Castle. We had so much fun! To my surprise, my husband took charge of directions in Portugal and he even felt comfortable enough to ask for things in Portuguese! I’m the language nerd of the house but it made me so happy to see him step out of his comfort zone.
Back in Lisbon, on our last full day in the capital city, we visited the Jerónimos Monastery, and the St. George Castle. Our lunch on this day was our “healthiest” ever; for this, we opted to visit the famous Pasteleria de Belem, and grabbed a series of “healthy” desserts; an éclaire, a travesseiro, the famous pastels de nata, and coffee. I got to practice my Portuguese today the most, and was able to order food in the local language which according to our waiter, I did really well! At one point, I was even asked if I was Brazilian! You can imagine that made me very happy! I’m sure that my Puerto Rican Spanish accent had something to do with it. It’s actually the second time I’ve been asked this; first time it was while speaking Italian. Interesting how your native accent can come through in different languages right? Anyways…
On our last day morning in Portugal, we had a good brunch and did some last minute exploring. By this point, my knees were hurting so bad (from all the hills at Sintra) that another step or hill more and I would just cry from the pain. With this in mind, my husband looked for some nice areas to walk to. It was only 15 minutes away. What we didn’t know is that it was a-169-steps-up-the-hill-15-minutes-away walk…. I didn’t cry because I’m exaggerating, but my knees were hurting bad! We took some more photos, got somewhat lost and then went back to the hotel.
At the airport, we ate some more pastels de nata and then took a place to Dublin.
I don’t have much to say about Dublin because it took us longer than expected to get to our hotel. All I can say is; we saw the Hal-Penny Bridge and ate some really great tacos!
The next day, it' was a hope across the Atlantic and back home to see Padme and Archer.
We had so much on our trip. We’re happy to be back home and now, after almost a month on vacation, it’s time to go back to work.
Until the next adventure!