Semana Santa 2016: By The Riverside of Porto…

As you may or may not know, this past Holy Week I decided to go to Portugal…In all honesty, Portugal never really did enrapture me before–after all, I just thought it was  essentially like Spain, except Lusophone…However, as I came to learn after visiting, it has its own delights…

I spent the first 2-3 days in the country in the city of Porto, the 2nd-largest city in the country…It’s known for many things: francesinhas (a sort of grilled meat sandwich covered in melted cheese), the numerous bodegas along the river Duoro (after all, it is the origin of port wine), and the spectacular views of the city one can find along said river at sunset…

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Winter Break 2015: Venturing Venice…

It’s been a LOOOOOOONG time comin’, but I’m finally getting around to recapping the amazing international adventures I was blessed to have last year!!

For Christmas Break last year, I was away for 16 days: I spent the first 2 days in Munich, and spent the other fortnight of vacay time in Italy, which had been my *dream* European destination since I was a little girl…While I had stopped in many places during my time in Italia, there was one place that struck me like no other with its beauty, magic, and sheer elegance: Venice…

Alas, I was only in the city for around 7 hours on an independent day trip (thank you, Viator!), but I was so taken by this arrestingly lovely place, that I am determined to return there–hopefully this upcoming year, I can!!…

And now for some scenery porn!!

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Don’t Worry (Still Alive)…

Yes, yes, you’ve heard this spiel from me before–but it’s no less true, eh: Sometimes, you just get too caught up working, taking care of various affairs, and just living life to be the most conscientious of bloggers…But fear not–I shall now try to put you back in the loop of this beautiful, weird thing I call my life…

  1. Work Hard, Will Play Harder– For the 2 1/2  months, I’ve been working for the same company I was with last summer, Sports Endeavors–and I’ve definitely put in a lot of overtime (think 10-12 hour days), and the end result is that I often return to my house feeling completely wiped, so blogging is often one of the last things on my mind (sorry!!)…

But, all that hard work will be worth it: I’m flying back to Spain next Friday (so excited), and hopefully that’ll mean more opportunities for adventures around that great continent we call Europe…I’ve got so many places I wanna see this year: Venice (for more than 7 hours, at least), Verona, Amsterdam, Berlin, Budapest, Vienna, Split, Cornwall, Valencia, San Sebastián (for longer than 1 night)–my imaginings are unlimited (though my funds, sadly, are not)…

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Still Breathing, 2.0: A Mid-Year Recap…

Surpriiiiiiiise–I’m actually still alive!!…But, I actually have a good excuse for being M.I.A.: Between weeks of suffering with no Wi-Fi in my house, over 2 weeks of Christmas vacation, and just living life in general, I haven’t really paid much thought into updating this thing…But, don’t worry–I’ll try to fill you in on what’s been going on in my life these past several months…

Turning 23 In Style

On November 21, I went to a party that celebrated the 1 year anniversary of Las Morenas De España, the lifestyle/travel blog dedicated to black women living, working, and/or traveling in Spain (and for which I wrote a few articles)…Coincidentally, when the clock stuck midnight, I officially marked 23 years of life on this Earth–and, even though the party was not held in my honor, it was really sweet having all the other girls singing Stevie Wonder’s rendition of “Happy Birthday” to me…Not to mention, we SLAYED with that all-white theme (#BlackGirlMagic)!!…

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Livin’ La Vida Madrileña: Monthly Recap #1.5…

Once again, I seem to have broken my promises of actually writing consistently–but, I actually have a legit excuse for the radio silence: Since arriving to the Spanish capital this past 15th of September, I’ve been in this flux, trying to get my ducks in a row–you know, piso (apartment) hunting, getting registered at my current address, and getting oriented and settled in at my new workplace!!…I’ve been crazy-busy these past some-odd weeks, so I’ll try my best to recap what exactly has been going on in my little sphere!!…

La Casa:

Upon arriving here, my first main priority was finding an apartment–imperative, because I needed a place with a landlord that offered a contract, something that is required to become empadronada (registered with the city), which in turn is required to get your T.I.E. (Foreigner’s I.D. Card)…I wanted somewhere where a Cercanías (commuter train) station was easily accessible, 450€/less (bills included), and with central heating and WIFI already installed (or about-to-be-installed by the landlord)…

This year, from what I understand, the competition in The Great Piso Hunt was particularly intense, what with more Spaniards moving to the Capital to find employment, more auxiliares than ever, and an influx of refugees from Syria and Lebanon…But praise God, I found my room in only 4 days (some people are still searching for a place to live), and I live in Puerta de Toledo, an area that’s fairly central (it’s just one Metro stop below vibrant La Latina, the city’s oldest neighborhood), has central heating and WIFI, is 12-15 minutes from a Cercanías station (which makes my commute that much easier), is around 50-60€ cheaper from my maximum price point, AND a fairly austere (but ultimately fair) landlord who gave me a contract and who doesn’t overstep any boundaries…

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…The Puerta de Toledo–a former gateway that marked the outskirts of the city, it lends its name to my current neighborhood… Continue reading

A Subir: The Marvelous Moncayo Mountain…

Over the course of my 9.5 month stay in Zaragoza, I had gone on a grand total of 2 hiking excursions, and while the first was completely terrible, the second definitely set the bar really high for me as far as nature-based trips go!!…

It all took place on a Saturday, a few weeks before I left Zaragoza: Some people from the church I attended there invited me to come along on their day trip to Tarazona, a city that lies to the South of ZGZ Province, and I–always eager to see new places–happily accompanied them!!…The plan was to spend a few hours hiking in El Moncayo, the mountain that lies beside the city and the highest peak within the Sistema Ibérico mountain range (and Spain’s 10th-highest peak)…Afterwards, we were supposed to see Tarazona and have Bible study–unfortunately, we started our hike fairly later in the day, so we didn’t have much time to see the city…But not to worry–there was plenty of visual splendor on the mountainside for us to take in!!…

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Still Breathing: A Quick Catch-Up…

Good Lord–I didn’t think it would get this bad: I know I’ve been really inconsistent over the past year in regard to regularly posting life updates, but I never intended on going on this long without saying ANYTHING–but, then, life…happened…

But don’t worry, folks, I’m not dead, and I actually have a legitimate reason as to why things have been silent as the grave here at my little WordPress site: I’m working!!…Yeah, I’ve been working at a warehouse for the past 2 months now, saving up $$$ for life in my new hometown (a.k.a. Madrid), so I’ve literally been killin’ it with the overtime, and that has made me too busy and exhausted to even think about writing anything of relevance…

However, I’ve decided to battle through my insomnia and essentially recap some of the major things that have happened during my last 2 months in Spain, as well as what I’ve been up to now…

…My “see you later” (NEVER “goodbye”) soireé at the EOI…

Enjoying the Beauty of Tarazona

A few weeks before leaving Zaragoza, I went with some people from church to Tarazona, a small city further south within ZGZ province…Our initial plan was to go hiking on El Moncayo (the mountainside beside the city) before exploring the town and having Bible study, but we arrived fairly late in the day, and the senderismo took longer than planned…Still, ’twas a truly splendid landscape–I couldn’t get enough of those views (or that green)!!…Recap to come eventually!!…

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Growth: 4 Ways I’ve Changed After Moving To Spain…

Today I had my last class as an auxiliar de conversación here in Zaragoza, and I’m headed back Stateside in a few weeks–cómo se va el tiempo (how time flies), indeed!!…These past 8 months have flown by, filled with highs, lows, and a lot of chuches from El Rincón (a chain of frutos secos stores based in ZGZ), and as cliché as it sounds, this experience has developed me and changed me in more ways than one…

Culinary Game On Point

I stand by what I’ve always believed about cooking: It’s fairly simple, and you just need to be able to follow instructions to get it done (and get it done right). But considering that I only receive a limited monthly stipend, it’s not like I can go out and splurge on pinchos every day, so I’ve definitely nailed down the art of preparing palatable portions (say that 3x fast) that last for a few days…Plus, there’s a variety amazingly fresh, high quality, affordable ingredients here (olive oil and garlic, anyone?), which means I’ve gotten to flex my culinary creativity muscles and make some truly beautiful dishes here!!…

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Seeing Relics At Borja’s Museo De La Colegiata…

O.K., so, to be honest there isn’t really that much to see in Borja–however, if you go spastic over glittering altarpieces, intricately-woven tapestries, and brightly-polished crucifixes, then the Museo de la Colegiata just may tickle your fancy!…

Inaugurated in 2003, the museum’s purpose is to celebrate the cultural and artistic patrimony of the Colegiata de la Santa María, Borja’s most important religious building, which dates back to at least 1120…

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El Ecce Homo: The Most Jacked-Up Portrait Of Christ You’ll Ever See…

YIKES–it’s been basically a month of radio silence on my part!!…My apologies, friends, but I’ve got about a month to go before my auxiliar experience in Zaragoza is done for this year, and lately I’ve been feeling a bit uninspired–but, then again, that’s probably due to a mix of the feelings of physical fatigue and general aimlessness I’ve been having lately…

But, enough ranting–I need to talk about the little excursion I made to Borja during Semana Santa, which is a pueblo of around 5,000 about an hour south of ZGZ…I had the opportunity to visit this place with a group of people from the church that I attend (because, hey–all expenses-paid for 50€), and even though it’s not the most spectactuar place I’ve ever been to, it was a fairly nice place to walk around…

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LIVIN’ “DAT EXPAT LIFE”: MONTHLY RECAP #5 & 6…

Hiya, folks–sorry it’s been crickets (again) here lately, but my personal schedule has been really schizo lately!!…Hopefully, things begin to settle back down to a normal rhythm again, and I can actually get back in the blogging “zone”!!

But, until then, here’s what’s been going down in my life recently!!

Travel Talk

Last month, an interview that I did with one of my favorite travel bloggers (Kirstie from Venga, Vale, Vamos) went live as the first entry in her “Travel Talk” series–check it out, check it out!!…Speaking of writing, if you missed the third article I did for Las Morenas De España about the awkwardness of expat transcience, you can read it here!!…

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Sledding The Slopes Of Candanchú…

For some time, one of my goals has been to visit the Pyrenees: I love mountains, and I wanted to see first hand those stunning landscapes that I had only seen in pictures…Well, one week before vacation was over, some people from church told me they were going sledding in Candanchú, a ski resort in Huesca Province that’s only a few kilometers from the French border…They asked me if I wanted to come, and because I’m always down for taking a trip, I readily accepted!!

Oh, and should I mention that it was my first time sledding???…Like, ever…At first I was a little hesitant, but once someone went down with me a couple of times, I realized that it’s actually not THAT bad!!…

Now, I didn’t actually get to take pictures of the actual festivities–but I got quite a few of those beautiful snow-capped mountains!!…

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That Awkwardness of Transience…

Hey, ya’ll–sorry once again for the radio silence (again)!!…In case you’ve been wondering where exactly I’ve been for the past couple of weeks, I’ve moved in and settled into my new apartment, and I’m happy to say that the adjustment has been going along fairly well: Even though there was a bit of friction with my roommates those first couple of days, things have mended, and I’ve gotten used to sharing a living space with two others people and NOT having my own bathroom (I’m definitely missing that)…

But, while I’ve become fairly happy with where I’m at now, physically-speaking, I’ve been thinking a little about where I am, metaphorically–and it’s not a sad place, but it’s not completely cozy, either… Continue reading

Renovating Splendor: La Catedral De Albarracín…

O.K.–so back to the Christmas vacay recaps!!…

Today, I take you back to the town of Albarracín, which is renowned as one of Spain’s most beautiful towns…Because I only had the late afternoon/evening there, I only had time to go to the Catedral there (well, I mean, not that there’s that much to see in Albarracín)–but that definitely did not leave me disappointed!!…

I visited the Catedral on a little tour hosted by the Fundación de Santa María, an organization that uses the profits from the various guided visits that they offer in order to preserve, protect, and promote (yay, alliteration!!) the town’s cultural and artistic heritage…Part of those funds go toward the the Catedral: At some point in the 20th century, someone discovered frescoes underneath the gray paint that had come to cover the walls, and since then there has been a painstaking effort to completely uncover and restore them–I’m so glad my 2.50€ is going towards such an awesome cause!!…

Completed in 1600, the Catedral is a shining example of late-Renaissance splendor, something that is apparent despite all the obvious visual reminders of the restoration in process…

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Magic: Albarracín At Twilight…

O.K., so as I’ve pointed out before, I’ve decided to take a little break on my post series–after all, I need to find a lot more inspiring locales and amazing tapas before I can write about them and truly do them justice!!…So, for now, let me continue to captivate you all with more photos from my Christmas Break excursion, :-)…

This week, I take you to the steeply-inclined, cobblestone streets of Albarracín, the village in Teruel province that’s often cited as one of, if not the, most beautiful villages in Spain…During the day, it’s fairly obvious as to why it carries that reputation: As you walk down the steep, ambling pathways of this compact, mountainside pueblo, multiple varieties of pink and orange are emitted with a faint, warm glow from the rustic, Medieval-style buildings–something that somehow intensifies with the steady passage into dusk…

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