Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Must Do's...The Three Places We Visit in Every City

People say that those who travel fall into two camps: tourists and travelers. The Señor and I consider ourselves travelers more than tourists. When we visit a city for the first time, we enjoy visiting the places for which the city is known, no doubt, but whenever it is possible, we prefer living like locals. We take public transportation, we chat with people, and we avoid anything marketed for American tourists.  

Everyone has their preferences, and this is ours. 

There are, however, three places we go in every city we visit. You can learn a lot about people and culture in these places and you're sure to have memorable experiences hat outweigh the pricey souvenirs offered in the tourist shoppes. 

When we travel we always visit:

1. The local market. 

A local market tells you so much about the people that live there. Look at what is for sale, what is grown and sourced locally, and more importantly, notice the interaction between the vendors and their patrons. When we go to the market, we get a sense of the dynamic of the neighborhood, something that is lost in the supermarket chain. 

2. A local cafe/bar
Cafe culture is so much more than having a drink. When you go to a local bar, at least overseas, you can enjoy your coffee and read the paper or chat with, both the employees, and the cast of characters from every walk of life who come in to enjoy a coffee or some other drink. 

Unlike a typical coffee chain store, where there is an assembly line of workers to take orders, make drinks, and deliver drinks, a local cafe or bar has one person (maybe two) who does it all. It's not complicated. There's no fuss, and rarely are you given a paper cup from which to drink your coffee or your drink. 

More civilized? Maybe not, but it certainly feels like your time...the time you take to sit and enjoy your coffee...is more your own. 

3. The main plaza

The main plaza, like a Plaza Mayor in Spain, is always a treat because you can go and feel the pulse of a city. 

You see people, locals and tourists alike, attending to business and enjoying some retail therapy. You may see friends gathered for a drink or enjoying a gelato. 

In Spain, at least, you see the old Grandpas chatting about local politics and what's on their radar. 

You see what businesses have won that prized real estate and you can often catch live music or some other cultural event close by. 

While I wouldn't' recommend eating in the main plazas because of the tourists, it's always fun to people watch and take in what draws people in to this hub of city life. 

When we travel, the city landscape changes, and, if we're lucky, so does the language, but the one thing that remains constant is our desire to live like locals, enjoying the people, the sounds, the flavors, and the magic that each place brings to life. 

When you travel, where are the places that you frequent? Do you prefer to travel like a tourist or a traveler?

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Lovely Reads #3

Good morning, friends. Happy Sunday. This weekend is the unofficial start to summer, but it also marks a solemn observance of Memorial Day. 


In case you're up for a little personal development this weekend.

And 7 TED Talks just about travel...

Speaking of travel, registration for the Women in Travel Summit is open! 
If you're a woman who enjoys travel, as a hobby, passion, or career, this is for you. The early bird discount expires June 1st. 

I love a good photo op, but yikes! Would you do these?

And speaking of scary...this was a bad week for climbers on Mt. Everest. When it first was published, I read Into Thin Air with fascination, and this week, the author, Jon Krakauer shares why the summit is only the beginning. 

Looking to do some spring cleaning or decluttering this weekend? This is for you, from the folks at Consumer Reports.

And finally...
To Anyone Who Thinks They're Falling Behind

This is published in February, but it's a good reminder anytime. 

What was on your radar this week? Send me a link, if you so desire. 

Enjoy the rest of your weekend, everybody. Cheers!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

This over That: The A to Z Edition

Thanks to Lauren at Oh Hey! I Like That! for the fun post idea. 

If given the option, I would choose...

Avocados over mayonnaise 

Big Bang Theory over Modern Family

Coffee houses over Starbucks

David Banner over Bruce Banner

Experiences over stuff

Flying over cruising

Google over Bing...is Bing even still a thing?

Hydrangeas over roses

Independent travel over group tours

Journaling over Snapchatting 

Ketchup over mustard

Little House on the Prairie over The Waltons

Matinees over movies at night

New Year's Day over Halloween

Ocean towns over mountain towns

Podcasts over drive-time radio

Quest Bars over Kind Bars

Rain over snow

Shelters over breeders

Traveling over anything

Uniform over wondering what to wear

Vineyards over breweries

Weights over cardio

Xenodochium over sleeping outside

Yoga over CrossFit

Zucchini over green beans

How about you? What are some of your this over that items? If you do a similar post, please tag me so I can learn more about you. 

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Lovely Reads #2

Good morning, friends. Happy Sunday. 

The Señor and I are away this weekend, celebrating our anniversary, but here 
is a collection of articles and topics that mattered to me this week. Happy reading!

This is such a fun example of crowdsourcing. Everyone has a story to tell. 

This photo essay, by Mani at A New Life Wandering, is a beautiful look at the faces she has photographed in her travels. 

I consider myself a light packer, but my goodness! What is your one non-negotiable travel item?

I'm not a parent, but as a teacher, I see the effects of forced academics on the youngest of students. This made me want to yell Amen out loud for everyone to hear. 

The Señor believes that meat eating is in our genes. This NPR story references a new book that suggests this belief may be a myth. What say you?

Want to upgrade your next AirB&B experience? Some of these could be fun. 

And finally, this is worth a watch...it's not about the specific journey he takes, but inspiring for anyone who decides to go for it all and make it happen.

What was on your radar this week? Send me a link, if you so desire. 

Enjoy the rest of your weekend, everybody. Cheers!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Happy 4th Anniversary to Us!

Today is our anniversary...nine years together, four years married. We are blessed; it feels like yesterday. Time really does fly when you're having fun. 

Here's to another year of love, passion, and laughter...of good health and lightness of heart...of holding hands and stealing kisses...of coffee dates, forever date nights, travel and adventure.

Happy Anniversary to my love, my Señor. Happy Anniversary to us! 

You can read more about how we planned our bilingual, bicultural wedding here

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Lovely Things: A Fourth Anniversary Gift Guide

May is our anniversary month, and this year marks our fourth year married and our ninth year together. We have gone traditional with anniversary gifts for the last three years, and I predict that whenever possible, we will continue that theme. 

At first glance, the traditional fourth anniversary gift of fruits and flowers do not lend themselves to the most romantic of keepsakes, but there is still much opportunity for creativity and romance. Here's what I found. 

Plan a Botanical Garden Date Night
Plan a date or a picnic at a local botanical garden. Not sure where your closest garden is located? Try this helpful locator

Do you live near a local vineyard or orchard? Plan a picnic or a wine tasting. Grapes are fruit. 

And then there's this. 

Cheers to your special day!
Make a pitcher of fruity sangria. We have this set and we use it a lot. 

Need a recipe? This is the best in the world! Trust me. If you don't believe me, ask Peggy

The white one is pretty good too. 

Continuing with the wine is fruit idea, how about a monogrammed wine cork holder? Etsy has some cute ideas here.  

For dinner, prepare citrus grilled tuna steaks and a special fruit tart, like Peggy's lemon blueberry tart for dessert, or a chocolate fondue with fresh fruit for dipping. 

Eat Fresh
A CSA box, a Fruit of the Month or a Wine of the Month subscription is a fun way to try new products you haven't tried before. 

And a new basket will keep that fruit fresh. 

How about a fruit infuser bottle (with recipe bookor a fruit inspired cookbook?

New appliances can be fun. How about a juicer, tying together the traditional with the modern gift ideas. 

And a book that helps you reboot your wellness plan?

Get Crafty
Check your local craft store for a class to create a pretty door wreath or table setting using your favorite dried flowers or dried versions of the flowers you used in your wedding. 

Or find a tutorial for a wreath you love, like this one

Add beauty to the great outdoors.
Plant your favorite flowers around your home or in a container garden.

Maybe you can plant fruit trees; there are some great dwarf varieties available too. Not sure where to start? There are many guides, like this one for growing your favorites. 

If you're a traditionalist, there are plenty of options to help you find the perfect gift for your fourth anniversary, and if fruits and flowers aren't your thing, treat yourself to a new appliance, or donate one you no longer use and reduce your clutter. It's a win-win. 

In the meantime, we'll be celebrating our own amor para siempre.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Lovely Reads #1

Good morning, friends. Happy Sunday. 

If you're like me, you like to read while you drink your coffee. It's quiet time when you can catch up on topics that matter to you. 

Here is a collection of articles and topics that mattered to me this week. Happy reading!

Why Play Matters--No Matter How Old You Are 

Do you allow yourself the opportunity to lose track of time and engage with something you love?

Unemployment is down. Gas prices are low. Why isn't America shopping? 

Have people begun to trade stuff for experiences?

Reflections on the Camino
The Señor and I plan to do the Camino once we're in Spain full time. I enjoyed reading Dave's reflection on his Camino experience. 

Eat, Pray, Love, and Travel
An interview with Liz Gilbert about the 10th anniversary of Eat, Pray, Love and the collection of essays in the the new Eat, Pray, Love Made Me Do It. 

And in case you missed it...
Are you excited for this windowless plane?

No need for mansplaining. Can this stop already?

Enjoy the rest of your weekend, everybody. Cheers!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Weekending: Hemingway, Toast, and Mother's Day

We had great plans to go out on Friday night, but with the rain and long week behind us, we opted to stay local, shop for a new laptop for the Señor, and have dinner at one of our local old-school favorites. 

Saturday found us running errands, like getting one of the cars serviced and getting the food shopping done for the week. 

On Saturday afternoon, we went to the BirchTree Bread Company, a wonderful local bakery that specializes in all things toast and coffee. The bakery is located in a great old building that houses a weekend farmers' market and the cutest collection of curated boutique items, antiques and handmade goodies. 

A lovely courtyard for al fresco enjoyment. 

The Señor tried an olive and herb toast spread with whipped feta and drizzled with olive oil...SO good!! 

I had my regular: local wheat toast with cultured butter, local honey, and sea salt. 

Then, it was a movie for date night, and we opted for the biographical drama, Papa: Hemingway in Cuba. 

Yesterday began with some playtime with Gracie. 

Then, we had the wonderful opportunity to take my parents and my mother-in-law out for lunch in honor of Mother's Day. 

We went to a traditional Portuguese restaurant, featuring food from Portugal and the Azores. The Señor and I had been there before, but it was a first for our parents. The restaurant and staff did not disappoint, and we all had a great time. 

Appetizers of cured cheese and prosciutto and 
above that, morcela (blood sausage) with sweet potato.
My husband and father took care of the morcela...it's not for me. 

Grilled octopus was one of the entrees. I opted for arroz marisco...a Portuguese paella of sorts.

Mom and me doing our annual backseat selfie. 

Backseat selfies with my mother-in-law. 

My Mom and Dad. 

I'm still my Dad's girl. 

An emotional mother and her son. 

And one with my Señor. 

And after what feels like weeks of rain, the sun came out, which seems to have brought a strong, cold wind. I'm grateful nonetheless because it was a lovely weekend, indeed. 

How was your weekend?