The Best Of...

I've had countless "OMG *heart eye emoji*" moments over here in lovely Europa. The first time I walked around the center of Seville I smiled so big that my eyes teared up a little bit. I had never seen anything so perfect. It looked like a scene from a fairytale and I got to play the princess for a whole year. Ahhhh what a dream!

Here are some of my most favorite moments, in pictures, from my European adventure...

Most Breathtaking View: Top of the Arc de Triomphe | PARIS

Fun Fact: I saw this view during three different seasons in the same year. Never felt luckier.

Prettiest Palace Gardens: La Alhambra | GRANADA

Most Gorgeous Beach Town: LAGOS, Portugal

Most Amazing Structure: El Puente Romano | RONDA

Most Unique Cultural Experience: Semana Santa | SEVILLA

Favorite (double) Selfie: Dad Caught in Action | GRANADA

 

Coolest City: AMSTERDAM, Netherlands

Prettiest Palace Decor: CHÂTEAU DE VERSAILLES

Most Gorgeous Flowers: Los Patios de Córdoba | CÓRDOBA

Fave Outfit / Best Week of Life: La Feria de Abril | SEVILLA

 Fun Fact: This dress is too heavy to hold with one hand and somewhere underneath all those ruffles is a little pocket that stores all my stuff

Fun Fact: This dress is too heavy to hold with one hand and somewhere underneath all those ruffles is a little pocket that stores all my stuff

Best Picnic in the World: This One ft. Dilday Twins | SEVILLA

Best Xmas Lights: Avenida Constitución | SEVILLA

Best Museum Exhibit: Jeff Koons, Centre Pompidou | PARIS

 Fun Fact: From the windows of this museum (which span the entire perimeter) you can see all of Paris' famous landmarks: Sacre Couer (pictured in this photo behind the man taking a pic), Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, etc... Ahmazing.

Fun Fact: From the windows of this museum (which span the entire perimeter) you can see all of Paris' famous landmarks: Sacre Couer (pictured in this photo behind the man taking a pic), Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, etc... Ahmazing.

Most Intricate Andalusian Tiling: Real Alcázar | SEVILLA

 Fun Fact 1: The glowing lights you can see under the middle arch are coming from a chandelier in the King and Queen's quarters. So, when the Spanish royal family takes a trip to Sevilla, they sleep under that chandelier, in this palace... #goals  Fun Fact 2: This is the palace of Dorne from season five of Game of Thrones. So cool to see it in use on screen! 

Fun Fact 1: The glowing lights you can see under the middle arch are coming from a chandelier in the King and Queen's quarters. So, when the Spanish royal family takes a trip to Sevilla, they sleep under that chandelier, in this palace... #goals

Fun Fact 2: This is the palace of Dorne from season five of Game of Thrones. So cool to see it in use on screen! 

Most Jaw-Dropping OMG WOW AHHH Moment: Eiffel Tower in Sparkles | PARIS

 If these twinkling lights don't make your heart burst happy and your eyes light up, you're doing it all wrong!!! 

If these twinkling lights don't make your heart burst happy and your eyes light up, you're doing it all wrong!!! 

A billion other moments, places, people and things should be on this list! I can't believe my sweet time in Spain has come to a close. Until we meet again... Hasta luego, Sevilla! Te quiero!

 

 

A Foodie's Guide to Dining in Seville

As much as I miss my family, my pup, and my BFFs back home…. I really realllyyyy miss the F O O D. I would do terrible things for a burrito from Roberto’s with a heavy dose of Tapatio, a plate of tuna nigiri from literally any sushi bar on the 101, some yellow curry from Bangkok Bay, and a filet mignon cooked medium rare with a side of creamed corn from Fleming’s.  Those are some of my daily daydreams, just to name a few. 

We are so used to having an abundance of international foods at our disposal back in the States that living in a country with a specific, traditional type of cuisine can be challenging. I mean, don’t get me wrong... I am not a tapas-hater. I crave a plate of jamón ibérico and queso viejo just like I crave a chicken club from Board & Brew, I’ll order croquetas like I would order a slice of pepperoni pizza from Bongiornos, and you better believe I would easily give up Starbucks for the rest of my life if it meant I could drink a café con leche every morning. I just think it’s hard for ex-pats who are used to variety to be totally satisfied with the repetitive nature of dining in Seville.

But have no fear... I’ve eaten my way through Seville and have compiled a list of my all time fave dining experiences for every occasion. You’re so welcome!

BEST AFTERNOON COFFEE AND CAKEDULCE TRAZO 

I will hold this cafeteria close to my heart forever. I go here almost everyday to work (best wifi in Spain), have an afternoon cafe con leche, or indulge in one of their many pastries, cakes, or tortillas! The women who work here are so, so sweet and always greet me with a warm “Hola chiqui!". If you visit in the summer, try a dulce de leche over ice- YUM! Gluten-free & lactose-free options avail. | Calle Mendez Núñez, 7 ( +34 954 21 96 09) |

BEST LUNCH ON A SHOPPING DAY- THE GOURMET EXPERIENCE, EL CORTE INGLES                   

One of my favorite places to bring visitors. On top of a the massive department store is a gorgeous rooftop terrace with a view of the whole city. Order a tinto de verano from the 100 montaditos (on tap >>>), a plate of guac or nachos at La Calaca, or a slice of baguette style pizza from the lil Italian place. Sit outside in the shade and enjoy. | Plaza del Duque de la Victoria, 6 (+34 954 59 70 00) |

BEST MODERN TAPAS - LA BRUNILDA & PETIT COMITE                                                                                     

Love both of these places A LOT. Contemporary tapas fusion. La Brunilda: Order the mushroom risotto and solomillo con patatas al tomillo. Get there right on time at 20:30 and be prepared to still wait in a line (if it is the weekend). If you have to wait, you can order a glass/bottle of wine at the bar and bring it outside to sip until your table is ready. Petite Comite: Order the goat cheese toast and salmon carpaccio. You can make a reservation! | B: Calle Galera, 5 (+34 954 22 04 81) | PC: Calle Dos de Mayo, 30 ( +34 954 22 95 95) |

BEST MARKET STYLE MEAL - EL MERCADO LONJA DEL BARRANCO

So trendy! Lots of little stations to choose from. Order a glass of rosé from the Albero y Vino,  a mixed plate of rabo de toro / spinach, truffle, mushroom croquettes from the Croqueteria, some tuna nigiri from Mushi, olives in spicy sauce from the olive bar, and maybe a salad or wrap from the La Burratina. Go around sunset and sit outside—you must sit outside. | Calle Aronja S/N,  (+34 954 22 04 95) |

BEST SUNDAY NIGHT DRINKS - EL MUELLE NEW YORK

Lots of eye candy, fun + groovy music, classic mixed drinks, mojito station, situated right on the river, suuuper posh, hookah bar, and did I say eye candy? Dress nice and don’t forget your lipstick. This is definitely the most LA scene in Seville. | Paseo de las Delicias, 3 (+34 675 56 74 44) |

BEST ITALIAN/ BREAK FROM TAPAS - OSTERIA L'OCA GIULIVA

DELICIOUS! Cutest little restaurant on an adorably charming street near the Cathedral. I've tried everything... The salad's are like works of art, the pasta is unreal (try the pesto or the truffle mushroom), the pizzas rival those I ate in Italy and make sure to ask for the spicy olive oil. Best to make a reservation. | Calle Mateos Gago, 9 (+34 954 21 40 30) |

BEST BREAKFAST - LA CACHARRERIA

Homemade breads with fresh jams, a huge fresh fruit bowl, lox bagel w/ the works, waffles with Nutella and bananas, and the best mocha I’ve ever had in my entire life. You might have to wait for a table on a busy morning. Order at the bar and don't expect States-style customer service or attention... just wait patiently for the mocha and all will be right in the world.           | Calle Regina, 14 (+34  954 21 21 66) |

BEST AMBIANCE - MAMARACHA

Cool interior décor and nicely situated on a side street next to the Cathedral. I like the moderate size &  lively atmosphere of this restaurant. The lamb is really effing good if you want to splurge, you must order the paparacha and be prepared to hog it from the whole table, and any of the side dishes are yummy. They also make great sangria-- ask for a tintón! | Calle Hernando Colón, 1 (+34 955 12 39 11) |

BEST ICE CREAM - RAYAS

Order Beso de Dama. Then call me so we can talk about how much you loved the hazelnut chocolate deliciousness that swirled its way through the rich + creamy vanilla base. Hashtag life-changing. | Calle San Pablo, 45 (+34 945 22 06 36) |


La Feria de Abril

Ommgggg. If you follow me on Snapchat, Insta, or Facebook, you have probably already seen my obsession and infatuation with La Feria de Abril. I couldn't get enough of it! A lot of people have been asking me where and why I was wearing such an extravagant, voluminous dress. Let me explain...

The Feria is a week long celebration that takes place every year, two weeks after Semana Santa. It's located a little outside of the city's center on a huge 24-block lot called the Real de la Feria, which is reserved solely for this week's events. Within the grounds there are streets lined with casetas, horse-drawn carriages, lots of dancing, live music, and a huge area with fair rides and attractions. The casetas are little buildings that are owned by families, groups of friends, or social clubs. Each of them has a bar where you can order food and drinks, a sitting area that turns into a dance floor, a working bathroom (remember this is only used for 7 days out of the year!) and usually a bouncer. The casetas are mostly private, so an invitation is necessary. The main entrance of the Feria, or la portada, is designed and constructed differently each year, and is a popular meeting point for friends and family. 

The first Monday is called el pescaito because friends and family get together for a dinner which consists mostly of fried fish and tapas. And at midnight on this same night, the whole portada lights up, the crowd cheers, and the party starts. This event is called el alumbrao (in Andalusian Spanish) which means the lighting. This night is the most casual, as people don't start wearing their Flamenco attire until Tuesday. 

The next day the real fun begins! Everyone arrives to the Feria dressed to the nines. Ladies in traditional trajes de flamenca and gentleman in suits and ties. The dresses are absolutely stunning and come in all different colors, patterns and styles. They are also so unbelievably tight that sitting down, breathing, and eating are all daunting tasks. The first night I made the terrible mistake of putting on my dress before putting on my shoes. I was all zipped up, feeling accomplished and when I went down to put on my wedges, my dress tightened in all the wrong places and I thought I was going to rip it up the seam. I physically couldn't reach my feet. I fell onto my bed in defeat, dying laughing by myself at how ridiculous I must have looked. The dress works kind of like one of those Chinese finger traps- the more you fight it, the tighter it gets. Anyways, I ended up taking the whole thing off, putting on my shoes, and starting over again. Fun fact: They actually have a seamstress at the Feria in case you forget how daintily you need to move around and have a little accident.

The shawl I wore is called a mantonsillo and some of them were sooo gorgeous- made of silk, velvet, and intricately embroidered. Huge hoop earrings are all the rage, as well as a big fake flower plopped right on top of your head. I did the flower on top one night, but the rest of the days it was off to the side or mixed with other flowers a lá Lana del Rey. I had too. A huge faux pas is to wear your hair down. If you want to be a true flamenca, your hair is up off your shoulders and usually pulled into a pretty up-do. Also, no one brings a purse. Underneath all the fluffy ruffles of your dress is a little pocket to store your essentials- cash, keys, lipstick.

The streets within in the grounds are all named after famous Spanish bullfighters (Juan Belmonte, Bombita, etc) and there are bullfights in the Plaza de Toros back in the city center every day of the Feria. It's common for the Spanish elite to go watch a bullfight, then hop in a super elegant coche de caballo (horse drawn carriage) and take it to the portada. During the day the streets are filled with people riding horses, whether they are pulling a carriage, or riding solo. Some of the ladies will even ride sidesaddle. The main drink of choice is called a rebujito, which is a mixture of manzanilla (a variety of sherry) and Sprite. It's dangerously refreshing. People eat tapas for lunch and dinner (obviously) and usually end the night with churros con chocolate (because every good night ends that way). Dancing is also a huge component of the Feria. Everyone is dancing sevillanas, which was influenced by Flamenco, but is unique to Sevilla. It is a four part dance with fancy hand movements and lots of twirls and turns. It's beautiful to watch, especially in the trajes de flamenca

Feria was one of the most incredible cultural experiences I have gotten to enjoy here in Sevilla. I was lucky enough to wear two traditional dresses, be invited to numerous casetas with close friends, see the events during both the daytime and at nighttime, and dance sevillanas (terribly). ¡Qué experiencia tan asombrosa! Until next time... 

Xx Un besito

Día de San Valentín en Córdoba

I spent Valentine's Day weekend in the most charming little Spanish city called Córdoba. Still located in the southern region of Andalusia, Córdoba is only an hour north from Sevilla on the AVE train, making it the perfect place for a weekend getaway. I went with a small group of friends and we decided to rent a house through Air BnB instead of a hotel. We were splendidly surprised! Our house was smack dab in the center of the city and absolutely stunning. It had been restored from the 17th C and in the middle of the house was a 14th century Roman water well. Like... are you kidding me? Too cute.

Our hosts were darling and gave us a marked up a map of the city with all their personal recommendations for restaurants, bars, and sights we should see... We went to almost all of them! Our place was only a hop/skip/jump away from the Guadalquivir River where the gorgeous Puente Romano (Roman Bridge) drapes itself elegantly across the water. The bridge was constructed in the 1st century AD, and though it has been restored numerous times since,  it is still maintains its historic luster. Alongside the river was this mysteriously beautiful water mill that we later learned was called the Molino de la Abolafia. It was definitely one of my most favorite landmarks! Sooooo dreamy *heart eye emoji*.

Later that day we visited the legendary Mesquita de Córdoba, which was a Catholic Christian church turned Muslim Mosque turned Roman Catholic church. As to be expected, the fusion of these different religions and cultures has created impressive and unique designs within the building. 

As the sun was setting we made our way to the Palacio de Viana , a gorgeous palace/museum filled with a ton of outdoor courtyards and patios filled with flower pots, intricate gardens, water fountains, and brightly colored doors. I have a slight obsession with both flowers and palaces (can you tell??) so I was in heaven! 

The whole weekend was picture perfect and full of romantic scenery and beautiful memories! Couldn't have asked for a more special, Spanish birthday/Valentine's weekend. I actually went back last Saturday with my girlfriends for a day trip and they were also charmed by its serenity and small town vibes. 

Córdoba has a trendy, southern California x Pacific Northwest x Spanish gastronomic scene. The fonts and signage on the restaurants are pretty hip as compared to the traditional tiling found in other Spanish cities.  We had a plethora of delish bites + sips. Thought I would share my recs below! (Click the names to be redirected to their sites)

La Bicicleta: Great place to get the day started! Situated in the heart of the city and a lovely atmosphere. Must try the amazing fresh squeezed juices (served w/ or w/o alchy and my personal fave was the piña colada and the pera), a piece of fluffy toast (served w/ avo & lemon olive oil or cheese & jelly), and the homemade cakes - (violet and strawberry... bc obviously).

Cervezas Califa: Fun lil microbrewery with a ton of interesting beers to choose from. Totally feels like a SD hot spot and is a nice break from the typical spanish cervezas like San Miguel and Cruz Campo. I personally don't love the hops in an IPA, but if you are cooler than me and into that flavor, this is your place. 

Bar Santos: This place is much more typical than the others but they have HUGE spanish tortillas (literally they look like birthday cakes) and they are super delicious! There is always a crowd outside the bar and everyone eats/ drinks alongside the Cathedral. Nice for a snack break in between sightseeing. 

Add Córdoba to your bucket list of Spanish cities to see! It's a hidden gem. I am going back in the spring for their annual flower festival called Los Patios de Córdoba, but whatever the season, this place will capture your heart! It certainly got ahold of mine. 

Un besito X

Quick Recap: 6 Months in Spain

Ah! I haven't posted in hot minute (sorry Gramma!), but the last month has be filled with so much travel and visitors and adventure and fun that I just didn't get around to it. So, here's a recap of what's been going on over here in España...

My first excursion of the new year (Jan 2nd to be exact) was a little trip to my roomie's family beach house in El Puerto de Santa María. El Puerto is just an hour and a half south of Sevilla, in the beach province of Cádiz. Wow, I didn't realize how much I missed la playa until I stepped off the train and smelled the salty air and saw the ocean blue in all it's glistening glory. Though it wasn't Del Mar (bc honestly we are so spoiled), it was a humbling, beautiful start to my 2015.

The last week of January one of my very best friends, Jules, came to visit me and it was just what the doctor ordered. She spent a whole week here and I can't even begin to tell you how nice it was to talk about frivolous nonsense with a girlfriend from California. It had been way too long since I had a nice, detailed chat about the Kardashians and young Hollywood gossip. We went to Granada for a weekend and since Jules is my princess twin sista from anotha mista, we had quite a day frolicking around a castle, taking a absurd amount of selfies, and being silly. 

February is always my favorite month of the year, but of course, I'm birthday biased. I felt so lucky to be surrounded by new friends in Spain and receive so much love from everyone back home! I woke up to a knock at the door and was delivered the biggest, most beautiful bouquet of flowers I've ever seen (gracias padres & Laurita)! I spent the morning getting a mani and eating cake, had lunch (and a glass of rosé) with my sweet friend Noelle, and spent the night out in the city with my españolas

The next weekend was spent in Córdoba, but it was so gorgeous that it deserves it's own post. So I'll write that later and we can fast-forward a bit... 

My Spanish BFF Laura is going to school to be a stylist and her classes are so cool, literally a fashion blogger's dream degree. If she's not in the salon learning how to apply perfectly winged liner or style a dutch braid, she's in class learning about the history of fashion trends and designers. One of her final exams was to style a bride from head to toe, and I got to be the lucky novia!  I came to school with Lau and she did my make-up, my hair, put me in a pink dress, gave me a bouquet and presented me as her hippie chic California beach bride. 

I can't believe it is already March... Time certainly flies when you are having fun!

Un besito X

 

 

New Year in a New City

Experiencing the holidays in Sevilla has been a blessing. I feel like I have had such an authentic Spanish celebration and my love for the culture, the people, and the way of life here has grown exponentially. I was obsessed with the Christmas spirit in Sevilla. From the smell of roasting chestnuts in the air on my way to work, to the floor-length fur coats that the elderly ladies donned while shopping in the center, to the lights that illuminated the city... I loved it all.

I was lucky enough to spend Christmas morning with my family in Paris (which was also sparkling, as to be expected), so my holiday celebrations in Sevilla were put on hold until New Years Eve or Noche Vieja. This was my favorite night in Spain. Ever. 

My friend Laura and her family have been so gracious to me throughout my time here. Whether it's meeting for a quick merienda (snack) in the evening or going to a traditional theater performance across town, they always extend an invitation. NYE was no exception! I joined her whole family (cousins, aunts, uncles, grandma) for their festivities in a town outside Sevilla called Montequinto.

We all sat around the table and ate traditional Spanish cuisine. Plates of cured meats and cheeses, little tapas of ensaladilla rusa with olives, picos which are crackers that are served with every meal, and shrimp. The Spaniards love shrimp, but not quite the way we love do. I'm hoping you can tell from my photo how different these shrimp are. I've tried them before and one after one little bite I realized they were not my cup of tea. Anyways, since I was not eating the shrimp and was also sitting across from Laura's grandmother... I guilt-ate about a half a plate of jamón. She kept insisting I was not full by putting more on my plate and honestly who denies a Spanish grandma??

The Spanish equivalent to "Dick Clark's Rockin' NYE" was playing on the TV in the background during dinner. If a great song came on the program, the family would sing along and watch the clip, otherwise it was just used as a time-checker. The main event of NYE in Spain is eating the uvas (grapes). The last twelve seconds of the year are counted down and with each "donggg!" of the bell tower, a grape is eaten. It started awhile back when grape growers experienced a surplus of product and now it is meant to bring luck and prosperity throughout the year!

So the grapes were the talk of the night and everyone was preparing and exciting me about this authentic Spanish tradition. But things went awry...

We were all prepared with our grape filled champagne glasses with about a minute left of 2014. We were watching the TV program when BOOM- It glitched and cut to commercial! Everyone was like... WTF?! Puzzled and anxious faces filled the room. Then it glitched back for a second and we heard/saw that the countdown had begun! We were all confused... Should we start eat them? Is it really counting down? WHAT TIME IS IT?! Laura's mom was not going to risk it.  From across the room she shouted "Corre, corre!!!" (Run, run, hurry!) and began popping the grapes into her mouth like her life depended on it. When we finally we found another TV program there was only one second left on the countdown. I started shoveling the grapes into my mouth but at this point Laura and I are laughing so hard because of what a #fail this was that I could barely keep them down. I was choking to death on my grapes. So was she. Laughing and choking and eventually crying. Crying out of laughter and because I literally could not breathe. You could not have scripted something more entertaining-- I am so glad we missed it.

After dinner Lau and I went out to a disco and danced until the wee hours. Everyone was dressed to the nines; most of the boys were in suits and ties and the girls were just glammed up like always. I couldn't get over how different NYE was here as compared to the States. Normally midnight is the peak of the celebration, drinks have been flowing for hours, and the night is on it's way to a close. Not here. I was getting home around the same time you were saying hello to 2015. 

Un besito X

Sevilla in Sparkles

Just when I thought, “Well, this city couldn’t be any more magical!” the Christmas lights turned on and BOOM—it redefined the meaning of magic and became the ultimate winter wonderland.

Let me break it down for you...

First of all, the lights. OMG. The lights. The whole city is simply sparkling. Every street (No really... every. single. street) is lined with a unique light design- stars, ornaments, poinsettias, everything festive and fun. The main street in the center of Seville is seriously next level. Huge 3D light banners cover the entire avenue and lead your eyes to a massive Christmas tree made of the most adorable presents (brought to you by Caser Seguros). 

In Plaza del Salvador there is the most plurtastic light show the world has ever seen. I can’t believe Insomniac hasn’t put this installation in EDC yet. Watch the video below, maybe put on a Pretty Lights song if you want to get super into it. Or not.

Ok ok ok so Christmas lights √ Now lets talk Christmas markets. In the city center is a huge mercado that only sells nativity figures. The Belén (Spanish for Bethlehem) is very important to the Spanish Christmas celebration. It (more or less) holds the same significance as a Christmas Tree in some households. At this market you can purchase miniature versions of everything from the Virgin Mary to teensy, tiny slices of cured meats and cheeses. La Alameda has an equally charming, but more family-oriented market complete with candy shops, camel and pony rides, carousels, and stands selling buñelos aka donut holes with sauce, gofres aka waffles, and churros con chocolate. Mmmmm! Fattening and delish, classic holiday season.

While Santa Claus makes an appearance on Christmas Day for some families, the main gift-givers are the Three Wise Men or los Tres Reyes Magos. They don't deliver presents until the 6th of January which means the holiday celebration here in Spain lasts well into the New Year! 

Speaking of gifts... The best (only) department store in Sevilla, El Corte Inglés, goes allllll out for Navidad. This is how they welcome their holiday shoppers ↓↓↓ And yes, the snowflakes sparkle. Obviously.

More holiday cheer from Spain to come! Un besito!

La Aventura Familiar

Just when my homesickness and nostalgia hit an all time high, my fam made the trek across the Atlantic and cured my case of the lonely girl blues! Three months away from my people was wayyyy too long. But after a hug from my Momma, a long walk linked arm-in-arm with my brother, and a belly laugh only my Dad can get out of me… I felt like myself again. 

We met in Barcelona and even though two of their checked bags were left in London (with no sign of making it to Spain in a timely manner… ), we were all in good spirits and ready to embark on our first European adventure together! We visited La Sagrada Familia where the stained glass was abundant, colorful, and absolutely mesmerizing. We made our way to the beach for lunch and ended our night in Camp Nou for the Sevilla FC vs. FC Barcelona game.  Unfortunately my fave city got their ass handed to them and Barca prevailed 5-1. Their fútbol God, Messi, broke Telmo Zarra's all-time league goal-scoring record with a hat-trick and the energy in that stadium was electrifying! But still… #VivaSevilla (obvs).

On Sunday we hopped on a plane and began our journey through Andalucía. I was so excited to show them my beautifully exotic and wonderful new home *insert heart-eye emoji smiley here*. HuffPost actually just posted an article called The 50 Cities to See in Your Lifetime and guess who claimed the #2 spot??? Yeah, that's mah girl. Anyway, it was fun to play tourist and revisit all my favorite sights. We took an electric bike tour one day and had too much fun zipping around the city--highly recommend it! We also ate a lot of tapas—which were not the crowd favorite (sushi/mexi/thai-aholic probz), went on long walks, and spent the evening of Thanksgiving with my BFFs from Spain. 

We ended our trip in another Andalusian city called Granada. Granada is most famous for its 'free tapa with a drink' gastronomic culture, its close proximity to the Sierra Nevada slopes, and of course, the magnificent Alhambra. La Alhambra is a massive 11th century palace filled with intricately designed gardens, gravity-not-battery operated water fountains, and my favorite mudéjar style architecture. Oh!!! And it also sits on top of a mountain overlooking the old gypsy quarter, Albaicín, and the rest of the city. So yeah, it's kind of fabulous. 

Our last day together came too soon! I had to say goodbye at 5am because of their early flight out of Granada to Madrid.... then to New York.... then finally to San Diego (yuck!). When I woke up the room was so quiet, but I felt rejuvenated to take on the next leg of my solo adventure. And besides, they'll be back for Christmas! Te quiero todos muchísimo...Olé!

The City of Lights

Tour Eiffel, uninterrupted // 9 November 2014, 10:43pm.

I’ve done a fair share of traveling in my 22 years: east coast, west coast, a couple key European cities, a few places south of the US border and an island or two. I have a whole lot more of the world to see, but I can tell you with complete and utter certainty that I’ll never love anywhere more than I love Paris, France. It’s just not possible. I think a trilingual tongue is my new goal…

I spent the weekend with my high school friend, Kenzie, who is well acquainted to Parisian life. She has a gorgeous French accent, a vast knowledge of the city and she was eager to make my two days as full and perfect as possible. And of course, as she is an old friend, she knew which charming attractions were going to melt my heart into a million pieces. Well done, Kenz .

 TPC4L

TPC4L

Our day began at Basilique du Sacré- Cœur in Montmartre. The church sits at the highest point in Paris giving all the gawking tourists an incredibly expansive view of the city. Sunlight enters the chapel through a series of vibrantly stained glass windows, a gold accented mural covers the ceiling, and the entire place twinkles from the hundreds of candles that line the pews. I lit a candle for Coach C and my tiniest baby cousin, Liberty. It was very special and made my heart happy.

Then we twirled our way down some cobblestone streets and arrived at the single cutest cafe in the history of the world: La Maison Rose. Our lunch consisted of a bottle of Rosé, a Nutella crepe and a hour and a half of catching up...  #perfection.

Next stop ➙ Top of the Arc de Triomphe. The view from the top is pure magic. The Eiffel Tower sits elegantly in the distance and the luxurious, famous boulevard Champs-Élysées guides your eyes all the way to the Place de la Concorde (aka where queen betch of the last three centuries Marie Antoinette and her hubby Louis were beheaded). 

Took a stroll down said luxurious boulevard to eat appropriately luxurious treats @ Ladurée. Macaroons, pastries, pink champagne and the most glam and lavishly decorated restaurant evs.

Then we went for a longggg but enchanting walk through the city and it looked like this↓

Sunday began with coffee at the grand opening of a new cafe called Cream, followed by brunch with a view of fall foliage and the Eiffel Tower (which never, ever got old!) and a stroll through the Parisian version of Central Park - Buttes Chaumont. 

Then I went solo exploring- headphones in, lipstick on, camera ready. My eyes were never disappointed: countless flower patches, gorgeous architecture, posh as ever Parisian girls doting their designer handbags and upturned noses, a street of high end shops and sexy cars, and a super pink sherbet sunset.  

Thinking of you

It was hard to say goodbye to such a dazzling place and amazing company after only a couple of days... I could have stayed forever. But at least my last memory of Paris was the Eiffel Tower in all its sparkling, shining glory. Au revoir! Merci beaucoup, Mademoiselle Kenzie!

Tour Eiffel, uninterrupted // 9 November 2014, 11:00pm. 



A Letter to My Hero

A letter to my friend, my coach, my mentor and my hero: Coach Scott Chodorow


Dear Coach C,

Thank you for everything.

Thank you for letting me be a part of the TP Cheer program all four years and for making each year equally memorable and amazing. Thank you for the long hours, the hard work, and the sacrifices you made to make sure we were always prepared and looked our absolute best.

Thank you for every homecoming performance, for inventing the legendary pom-pom wave, and for tackling every streaker that tried to ruin our routine. Thank you for letting us wear our hair half-up, half-down when we got to be on KUSI news and thank you for reserving the gold sparkly fabric for Varsity… It was something to work for.

Thank you for filling our summer breaks with timed miles, ab work-outs, stadiums, jump lines, and stunting in Ed Burke Stadium. Thanks for letting us show off a little when the football players came down or when the field hockey girls were waiting for the field. Thanks for making cheerleading athletic, difficult, and respected… And thanks for always reminding us that we had the highest GPA of any sports team at Torrey.  That never got old.

Thank you for teaching us how to rough it at cheer retreat—the most anticipated sleepover of the summer. We may have been in the backyard of a Rancho estate, but we still had to pitch our own tents and cope with the porta-potties. Thanks for filling the day with fun and games, the evening with hilariously silly skits and the night with candle lit reflection. It was a formula of events that bonded us as teammates and sisters for the rest of the school year.

Thank you for the long talks about dancing bears, high school romances, and for reminding us that silly boys are not allowed to make us cry. But of course... Thanks for wiping our tears away when they did. Your bear hugs made even the worst days a little better and your advice is still referenced and appreciated.

Thank you for being an outstanding, dedicated father to Cole and Jordan. You were always the most proud when you were showing us their dance recital or sports videos. You were a "second father" to all of us, but they were lucky enough to have you as their own. Thank you for being a loving, loyal husband to Suzy and reminding us that SHE was the final decision-maker. Thank you for telling her she was beautiful, acknowledging her as your better half, and for letting her choreograph us  “hips sections.” Those were the best… We felt like babes.

Thanks for being the heart and soul of Torrey Pines High School. Our sweet memories of those carefree days would cease to exist without you. Thank you for bringing my best friends together. Your name will always hold a very special sentiment between us and we will forever be grateful for you.

I already miss you terribly, but I know I have gained a relentlessly protective guardian angel. I know you will watch after and protect us all and that makes me feel i n v i n c i b l e. 

Your light will shine on forever.. You're a legend. Thank you for everything. I wouldn't have made it without you.

RIP Coach C <3 TPC4L


Quick Recap: 7 weeks in Spain

Hola y bienvenidos a mi blog! 

Ahhhhh, I have been in Spain for seven weeks now and I have to say… It feels more like seven months. In these last months I have eaten more tapas than I ever thought possible, passed (with flying colors) the most rigorous course of my life, lived in six (going on seven) different rooms, found employment (without a Visa, mind you), made friends from all over the world (think Holland, UK, Spain, Denmark, Italy...) and fallen madly in love with Seville. It has been a whirlwind to say the least.  But I have enjoyed every minute of it.

▼▼ This was my fave residence so far. The tiling/location/roof top terrace... Super sevillano. ▼▼

After a hectic three weeks of non-stop apartment hunting, I finally secured my flat for the next year. It was well worth the wait: located in a central part of the city, my room has a super gorge view of the patio, it’s gated (don’t worry Momma, I’m safe!) and I am going to be living with a Spanish girl named Marta who is studying art at the university around the corner. Counting down the days until I can move in and Pinterest the sh*t out of my glowing white walls. 

▼▼ From L-R: My adorable entryway (I'm #10!), the super glam patio in the middle of our complex, the view whilst leaving my humble abode, and the teensy, tiny, and impossibly charming cobblestone street where I now reside! ▼▼

In other news... Last week I went to a bullfight (los toros) with my friend Laura and she is the epitome of a chica española—writing another post about this! But in true Sevilliano nature she LOVES love loves los toros and as a journalist, she writes reports on the fights. It was nice to have some insight on all the different stages of the event while it was happening. She made sure to tell me "Caylee, ahora lo mata" AKA prepare yourself, the bull is about to die. I have mixed feelings about the bullfight… It was less gruesome than I had originally thought it would be (not a lot of blood/ the bull never shrieked in pain) but it was definitely not an even match; the bull didn’t stand a chance. It is not just a 1:1 battle... There are a lot of other bullfighters helping the main torero throughout the event. My friend Shaku said it reminded her of grade school bullies picking on the weakling during recess, which was a great analogy of the situation. Still, I am glad I went and saw infamous toros for myself.

Anyways, I am so excited to share my adventures with you… I read a quote the other day (posted on my insta) that stuck with me because captures the essence of my feelings right now:

Your life unfolds in proportion to your courage
— Danielle Laporte

I hope my posts inspire you to take risks, to travel to foreign places, learn a new language, invest in other cultures, and be unafraid to live the life you imagined. The more courage you have to pursue your dreams, the more likely you are to achieve them!

Un besito X