a year's worth of wanderlust

It's almost Easter and that means one thing: four day weekend! We're taking advantage of the time and jaunting off to Florence and Chianti to get to know my little obsession, Italia, a little better. I've been studying Italian using Rosetta Stone but since I've been a bit inconsistent with it, I'm just barely at the point where I can ask "where's the bathroom?", "how much?" and all of those other simple phrases that will hopefully be enough to get us by! During the past year's travels we've gotten by with our english, broken french, and my fluent Spanish. Joe speaks a little bit of Spanish but he learned it with the Castellano accent that turns every "s" into a "th" sound...it drove me crazy for a while but I've warmed up to it. I had to.

We've definitely accomplished what we moved here to do: travel. There are still so many places on our list but I'm beyond thankful to have been able to check off the ones below and leave with beautiful memories.

Here are some of my favorite moments, places, and thoughts from our European adventures...

shopping at my first European flea market (in Paris) and seeing a different type of vintage and market sceneparis flea

stumbling across the Louvre at night and having the square all to ourselveslouvre at night

walking along Pont Des Arts in Paris with my mom, oohing and awing at the romantic gestures and inscriptions of the love locks. we even witnessed a couple throwing their key into Le Siene followed with a passionate embrace and kiss. must go back there with Joe!pont des arts

cheering on team Atletico with Joe's college buddies in Madrid. we sat in a section called "Vomitorio"..."vomit" is spelled "vomito" in Spanish so it felt a little icky at first. the funny thing was that not even the locals could explain the name.club atletico futbol

finally understanding Joe's love for simple Spanish meals. I could eat like this every day now.spanish snacks

searching for the vista point for the Toledo bridge but instead happening upon our own little corner. we somehow managed to avoid the crowds and feel as if the entire town was ours that day.the famous toledo bridge

walking up to the awesomeness of the ancient aqueduct in Segovia (no mortar!) and then geeking out over the decorative walls and doors all over the place segovia aquaductsegovia patterns

witnessing a modern marvel being built, aka La Sagrada Familia, in Barcelonasagrada familia

and being even more impressed/amazed by what's insidesagrada familia

watching my mom enjoy "the best paella of my life!" while I cooled down with a chilled beercerveca y paella

watching the sunrise and looking for seashells on the beach with my mom in Barcelonabarcelona beach

our first week-long European holiday in Sicily. we stayed in the countryside, Ragusa...it was heaven as you can telllounging poolside at relais parco cavalonga in ragusa, sicily

but we did take a dip in the Mediterranean! this was a total locals' spot that we came across while looking for a place to eat lunch in Syracuse. i'll never forget the views from the water looking back at the city.swimming dock, syracuse

having coffee in front of Check Point Charlie in Berlin and learning about Joe's uncle who was stationed there during the Cold War. finding the perfect German pub/restaurant, Sophien 11, with my friend Caitlin. the bar tender fell in love with her and gave her free beer mugs as souvenirs.

checkpoint charlie sophien 11

seeing Christmas come to life in Brugge, Belgium. i felt like i was in the original Disneyland the entire time. what a beautifully preserved medieval place.so festive at night

giving into a guided canal tour in Brugge and going under stone bridges from the 14th century. i mean seriously? taking it all in (love the step peaks of the buildings to my right)

finding moments to look around and capture the details in Marrakech amidst the craziness of the Medinamarrakech

visiting a Berber market in the Atlas Mountains. this was the parking lot...it was pretty muddy but i loved it. atlas mountains

sipping on sweet mint tea and drooling over too many rugs in Marrakech. i wanted so badly to go through the piles myself and pick which ones I wanted to see. unfortunately that's not how it works. it's a full on presentation and very ceremonial but i was happy to oblige. we left very happy with our new magic carpet in tow. rug shopping

We've left every place very happy, it's hard not to. I can't wait to see what we come across in Italia this weekend and where our magic carpet takes us next!

{market memo} el rastro

el rastro flea market, madridel rastro flea market, madrid el rastro flea market, madrid el rastro flea market, madridel rastro flea market, madridel rastro flea market, madridel rastro flea market, madrid

Yesterday I mentioned a project that's been keeping me busy and today I'm giving you a hint as to what it is: flea markets!

It's been a while since my last Market Memo post so with an upcoming launch of a flea market related project, I thought I'd finally share some pics from El Rastro in Madrid. I've got to admit, the first time I visited El Rastro I was seriously disappointed when all we came across were booths filled with new indie clothing and tourist souvenirs. All those things are fine but where was all the vintage stuff?!? It's off the main drag, that's where it's at. You see, El Rastro spans an entire neighborhood of narrow streets on a slope just off of the La Latina metro station. Practically everyone enters the market via Calle de Toledo straight to Calle de la Ribera de Curtidores which makes it perfect for hawking local crafts and souvenirs. Vintage hunters, we figured out, should enter via Calle de la Arganzuela to go directly to a much quieter area of the market where all you'll find are small antique shops and individual traders.

Figuring out the alternate vintage route on our second trip really made me fall in love with El Rastro. Everything from the merchandise being sold off the floor to the laundry hanging to dry on balconies of the apartments above. It's a very unique and authentic experience for the simple fact that the vintage vendors don't just pay for a spot and set up a table once a week. These guys have tiny store fronts and come Sunday, they extend their shops out to the street and are joined by individuals who bring nothing but their merch and a blanket to lay it on. Pair this with a maze-like, hyper-local neighborhood and you get more than just a market - you get a sense of exploration that is unparalleled to shopping in a parking lot, a field, or one single designated street.

If you're going to go - which you totally should if you're in Madrid - go early around 8am or 9am to avoid the crowds that really build up after 10:30am. Also, don't miss Plaza del General Vara del Rey. Though at first it seems like it's only good for cheap tube socks and second hand clothes,  just past those stalls and near the center there are usually vintage dealers with all sorts of goods sprawled over blankets. Like always, the fun stuff is just off the beaten path.

cute fix

cute convent kitty No...it wasn't stuck or stranded. This little kitty was right at home in a Madrid convent watching over everyone who passed below. How perfect is that little window for him/her?

play + eat {madrid}

game snackstime for some futbol stadio vicente calderon club atletico futbol taverna in la latina family style dinner in la latina pre-siesta snack pinchos are the latest craze irresistible late night snack

After my first visit to Madrid last month, I'm excited to report that I reeaaalllyyy enjoyed the city this time around. It's amazing what cooler temperatures and good health can do - hallelujah!

We hit the town more, my taste buds were in better shape, and the streets were alive despite the Madrileño August exodus for a month of vacation. Best of all, we were there to celebrate the wedding of Joe's college friend, Ivan. It was a little mini-reunion for the guys so of course an Atletico Madrid futbol game was in order.

I don't follow the sport on my own but I do love to watch it. I'm Colombian so I grew up watching games with my dad or listening to them in the background via live radio broadcasts. Daddy - you would have loved being at the game! Constant chanting, bright lights, and too many "I can't believe he missed the net!" moments. It was a really fun local thing to do but it was strange to be sitting in a section called "Vomitorios" - like as in vomit pits. No one really knew the reason for the name and I didn't really have the stomach to push the subject.

The rest of our time in Madrid was spent mainly eating and drinking. It's easy to do both of those things very well when in the company of "Old" Madrid's unofficial mayor, Juanma (he's the man looking up at the camera in the group photo above). He was Ivan's waterpolo coach as a kid and they have remained the best of friends. Walking around the older neighborhoods of Madrid with Juanma is like being with a celebrity. He knows everyone and everyone knows (and loves) him too. We seriously couldn't walk 20 feet without someone shouting his name and then stopping to say hi for a minute or two. My favorite part about hanging out with Juanma - aside from his huge heart - is that he knows of all the hidden (to us) gems in the La Latina and Lavapies neighborhoods. You probably won't find these spots in tourist guides because in other words, they are legit. My favorite was Casa Mateos in La Latina where we had a family style dinner after the game. It is itty-bitty but packs a ton of genuine character. And, they prepared the best fried morcilla I have ever had in my life (sorry, Colombian version!).

So yes....I really enjoyed Madrid this time :)

holiday, we

rooftop drinks at hotel urban, madridstocking up on snacks before the gameclub atletico madrid vs norwaysiesta with a view of plaza santa ana, madridivan got married!reception with a view @ hotel ada palacewelcome to sicily!perfect poolside in ragusa, sicilylocal flavor by the poolsunset drive through ragusa, sicily view of ragusa ibla from the roadbest grilled veggies of my lifeperfect hyper-local restaurant in ragusa ibla, sicilytemple sculpture in agrigento, sicilyscala dei turchi, sicilyscala dei turchi, sicilydonnafugata castle, ragusa, sicilyancient aquaduct in segovia, spainplaza in segovia, spainexploring essentials

Hello, hello!

Wow, what an incredible whirlwind. We've return from our first full European holiday that took us to three cities in Spain and various parts of Sicily, Italy. From the bright blue waters of Syracuse to the Spanish countryside, there is truly a ton of beauty and intrigue out there. I am forever grateful to the following for making our jaunts possible: high speed trains, cheap airfares, my two little feet, and last but not least, my amazing boyfriend who is a master at driving stick.

The photos above are just a snippet of the different adventures we had in Spain (Madrid, Segovia, Toledo) and Sicily (Syracuse, Ragusa, Agrigento). There is much to share so I will post location details with lots more photos throughout the next week or two. If I can't stay on vacation forever then I can at least give myself the luxury of reflecting on it for a while. I hope you don't mind.

for photo captions, hover over each image with your mouse or click to view it in flickr.

guess where we are + {brilliant beats} rodrigo y grabriela

IMG_5216[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-qgum7hFXk?rel=0&w=640&h=25] Rodrigo y Gabriela - Tamacun

We're in Madrid, España! I know we were just here but this time it's for a friend's wedding - a perfect excuse to come back so soon, right?

I couldn't think of a more appropriate brilliant beat for today's post than a piece from Rodrigo y Gabriela. They're not Spanish but they sure know how to tear it up on the spanish guitar. If you ever get the chance to see them live, do it. Their skills will blow your mind. Disfrute!

madrid de noche

I loved the evenings in Madrid. Temperatures dropped just enough to feel refreshing while staying warm for an active night out. We spent most of our time in the La Latina neighborhood where the bars and restaurants are plenty and the streets are ripe with old and charming beauty.

I particularly loved being taken to the Fiesta de San Juan by La Latina's unofficial mayor, Juanma, a close friend of our friend Ivan. The night was all about getting rid of old and evil spirits by burning them to ashes and apparently, jumping over their flames. Hundreds of people gathered to drink, play music, and watch those brave (or crazy) enough tackle the evil spirits as they went up in smoke.

We kept our feet on the ground but enjoyed walking amongst the crowds just soaking in the unexpected celebration. The night was a bit magical but really, they all were. I really loved Madrid at night.

More photos here.

weekend, we

the hot hot heat made for some beautiful shadingview of the city from Ivan's terrace juevos rotos. the most amazing thing ever. fire jumping at la fiesta de san juan taberna dog spanish balconies tapas and drinks break in santa ana plaza kasabian at dcode festival spanish women love their fans. now i understand why corpus christi procession. it was beautiful entering plaza mayor churros con chocolate at chocolateria san gines

Hello, everyone! How was your weekend? I know it's Tuesday but I didn't have access to my laptop yesterday so please forgive me :)

We spent five very hot days in Madrid walking the streets, taking siestas, and catching up with one of Joe's best friends from college, Ivan. As nice as it was to get away, I'm actually really happy to be back in London where it's raining as I write this. Ahh....so refreshing!

Madrid is beautiful but very difficult to enjoy when its 100+ degrees and your almost-over-sickness comes back to haunt you. Feeling under the weather aside, we did some great things and saw some incredible sights. I'm running short on time today so below are some highlights and observations from the trip. More to come this week!

+ There's nothing like staying with a local who can take you to places you might otherwise miss. Ivan took us to one of his favorite spots, Almendro 13, in La Latina to eat Juevos Rotos (broken eggs). OH. MY. JESUS. Fried eggs on ultra thin potato chips with bacon sprinkled on top!!! I just about died and was almost mad that I'd never had anything like it before. Where has this been all my life?

+ With the abundance of greasy food in Madrid you'd think that you'd be able to wipe your hands properly. Nope. They prefer craft tissue paper instead. I felt like I should have been making paper flowers instead of cleaning up. WTF?

+ For the best churros con chocolate, Chocolateria San Gines is where's it's at. Not only are the churros super fresh and perfect but the cafeteria space is classic. It's the kind of place where you go for one thing only, pretty similar to Cafè Du Monde in New Orleans for beignets.

+ Music festivals are fun but not if you leave with a whopping cough from being in a dust bowl all night. We probably could have called it quits after an amazing performance from Foster The People on the first day. I think it's safe to say that it was Joe's last festival.

+ Walk around on a Sunday and chances are that you'll see a catholic procession under way. We got lucky and saw one as they were leaving the church near the palace. It was beautiful.

+ Beware of weirdos in Plaza Mayor. We nearly got a peep show from a tweaked out man wanting to flash himself to a street performer. I'm just glad there were no children around.

+ Fans, fans, fans. Spanish women really do use these and after being there in the heat, I totally get it. I loved being on the bus where all you heard were the flapping sounds of the fans waving back and forth.

There's a ton more to share but I've gotta run out to do errands and prep for tomorrow's flight to LA! If you want to see more photos from our weekend click here. I'll be adding more thoughout the week. Hasta mañana!

{brilliant beats} dcode festival edition

We're off to Madrid today for the dcode Festival! When I heard that Kasabian was headlining I knew that we had to go, especially since one of Joe's best friends lives there (i.e. instant crash pad). I'm beyond excited to check out our first international music festival...here are a few faves that I'm really looking forward to seeing:

I will forever be grateful to my friend Matt Petrone for introducing me to Kasabian back in 2005. I was instantly a fan but have never had the chance to see them - it.is.on!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2C0OEVWKZv0?rel=01]

A taste of home with LA's Foster The People. I'm madly in love with this song right now.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SDTZ7iX4vTQ?rel=0]

The last time I saw The Ting Tings perform was at a Nylon Magazine party in LA. I will always say yes to seeing them live, they are too much fun.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FH6wpO66J4k?rel=0&w=640&h=390]

Been dying to see The Sounds since college. I just love the attitude in her voice and their simple but dance-inducing beats.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X44tSdjH4_I?rel=0&w=640&h=390]

Even if you aren't into electronic dance music, you've just gotta be a fan of this song. Crystal Castles really opened my mind to enjoying this genre after seeing them at Coachella in 2009.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=56E8yYgLNHE?rel=0&w=640&h=510]

Hasta luego!