I've been a little MIA lately in the blogging world, as I've had a lot going on in my personal life. My grandfather who I was close with passed away last Friday and I've had a series of other personal heartbreaks the past few weeks. I've also been playing catch up at work and with my many photos from recent trips. This time of year before the holidays is always crazy anyway, isn't it?
So. I am going to ease into my wonderful trip to Spain with a little Madrid love. I want to continue recording my memories and photos as it provides me with immense joy.
I also thought I'd share this quote which gives me hope in light of my recent personal events, as well as events in the world that have been so utterly heartbreaking.
"The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater."
-- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
Buen Retiro Park, or Parque del Buen Retiro, is an absolutely breathtaking public park in Madrid. The literal translation of Parque del Buen Retiro is the 'Park of the Pleasant Retreat' which couldn't be more on the nose. It belonged to the monarchy before being opened to the public, so it has a calm and regal air about it.
My favorite part of the park is the Monument to Alfonso XII at the center hovering over the pond. (You can boat on it by the way!) The weather was fickle this day and I love how this photo sort of shows the transition between blue and gray skies we were experiencing...
You can really see the contrast of the moody weather in these two photos which were taken within minutes of each other...
The colors around the park were transitioning to fall and there here were plenty of people on runs or walking their dogs through the beautiful setting.
The park is full of fountains, monuments, and gardens to explore (the Rose Garden is the most famous) along with rotating art exhibits in the Palacio de Cristal.
I really love the city of Madrid, which I will definitely share more about soon. I think Retiro Park was a beautiful place to start.
I truly hope anyone reading this has a wonderful week. All my love to you!
My parent's treated Charles, my brother and me to a wonderful steak dinner at Donovan's in the Gaslamp Quarter of San Diego for his birthday earlier this year. It was such a generous birthday present, and did not disappoint.
Since this is the month of gluttony, I figured it would be the perfect time to share one of the most decadent dinners I've experienced.
Donovan's is prcey, but you get what you pay for in terms of quality of service and food.
We arrived early and had a drink at the bar before dinner. Mine consisted of pear Grey Goose, St. Germain elder flower liqueur, and champagne. Delightful, to say the least.
I also really enjoyed the dark, moody hard wood interior. It truly felt like a classic American steakhouse, complete with a Frank Sinatra tune in the background. (No really, it was actually playing!)
I had the filet mignon with shrimp scampi, and I have to say the seafood was incredibly nice quality and taste, as well as the meat. Everything melted in my mouth. I am a potato girl, through and through, so when they brought over a caddy with baked potato toppers I was in complete heaven.
Charles got a creme brulee for a birthday dessert, that was absolute perfection.
Obviously Donovan's isn't an every day, casual restaurant, but it is the perfect place to celebrate a milestone or celebration. Every once in awhile you need to treat yourself! :)
I get a lot of questions about packing light on my blog, so I put together a little guide for how to pack only a carry on for a few weeks of travel in Europe. This can be adjusted to your tastes, travel style, favorite colors, and needs as applicable. Luckily you can be fashionable and still travel light! The key is a little planning and smart packing.
Why pack light?
I don't always pack this light! Sometimes I overpack, especially on short trips, but if you really want to travel to many countries in Europe in a short period, traveling light is a must! Nobody wants to be switching trains or dragging huge suitcases down miles of Italian alleys. Seriously, this WILL happen to you. When you are in Europe you will do A LOT more walking than you think with your luggage. You will consistently travel in crowded public transportation and will be grateful to be able to move around easier. Most train stations or subways require carrying your luggage up stairs. Many small hotels in Europe don't have an elevator, and if they do they are quite small. (Sometimes only small enough for one person and maybe a piece of luggage.) We've stayed places we have to send luggage up and meet it. Budget European airlines often charge for every pound of your luggage, and.... need I go on? Hopefully you see the value!
Packing light hinges on your ability to do laundry at some point in the trip. This can be done in your bath tub at night, by spending an afternoon at a local laundromat, sending it out from your hotel, or my favorite option, the fluff 'n fold. I like finding a place ahead of time that will wash and fold your laundry for you. Often for cheap. In Spain it cost us 6 euro to do a large bag of laundry, which is a complete steal and meant we didn't have to spend any time doing laundry.
- Mix and match colors and styles to your taste (everything should go with everything else you bring)
- Pick darker clothing (it stays cleaner longer!)
- Don't pack anything you haven't worn before
- Bring only your most comfortable shoes that have been worn in
- Leave room for things you buy while traveling
- Wear your heaviest shoes onto the plane and carry on your jacket
- Pack clothing that doesn't wrinkle easily
- Only bring things you are willing to wear 2-4 times (another reason plain pieces that can be dressed up or down are great)
- Accessorize with jewelry, scarves, and other items that take up little space (remember you can also buy these things as souvenirs along the way)
- Scarves and cardigans can (and often are) used as pillows/blankets while traveling so keep them close
The key to this whole operation = packing cubes. They compress and compartmentalize. Can I praise these enough? Complete game changer when used correctly. No more searching for one shirt and having to refold everything! This will make you queen of efficiency and allow you to pack more. I usually roll up my shirts in a bigger one, all of undergarments in a smaller one, and lay my bottoms on the bottom of the suitcase. Electronics, sweaters, makeup, and jewelry all go in a backpack.
Other important things to pack..
Passport, money, travel confirmations, digital camera and charger, cell phone, laundry packets and sink stopper, outlet conversions, sleeping mask, Kindle/iPad, medications, toiletries, hand sanitizer, and glasses.
So here is the thing. Fashion is personal to you. I can give my opinion on how to travel fashionably and light, but that is so subjective. My feelings on the matter? You'll never regret a photo where you are wearing a great quality black top with dark jeans. You'll look chic and timeless. The simpler the better. Remember, you'll being making wonderful and priceless memories and although looking fabulous in photos is wonderful, being in the moment (and comfortable) is the most important thing you can do while traveling.
Rogue is an Oregon brewery that we love, so Charles was very excited to stumble upon a Rogue pub in the heart of North Beach in San Francisco. It was a great place to stop for a bite and one of the 40 beers they have on tap. We were with a large group earlier this year, and this was the perfect place to pass the time, enjoy good beer, and catch up. Rogue really does it right.
And just because, here are some photos of our stroll through the city after...