A day in OKC

A Saturday full of adventures is my kind of Saturday. Some friends and I spent the day out in Oklahoma City exploring, eating and drinking coffee. It is about time I explore the awesome city that has been so close for three years. Although it was a bit chilly, which I was totally unaware of, we had a great time. IMG_0694.JPG

We spent the first part of the afternoon walking around the local market with some great vendors. The first purchase of the day was at OKcollective, a homemade candle shop. I bought an amazing smelling candle named wander, I mean could that be any more perfect?! This place has a ton of scented candles and I can not wait to try some more scents.

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Once we were all shopped out (if that is even possible), the next logical thing to do was get food. First, we had to stop at the cutest double decker coffee bus ever, Junction Coffee. I don’t know what was better, hanging out in a vintage double decker bus or the vanilla latte. It’s a close call, but either way it is a must when you are in OKC.

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After coffee, we just had to get a dozen mini doughnuts with chocolate glaze and sprinkles from Metro Minis. Obviously, we are all adults here. Blue Garten is a food truck park next to the local market in OKC with a bunch of outdoor seating and different types of food trucks. Since we were too cold to eat lunch outside, we went to Bricktown to go to Fuzzy’s. But we came back for the doughnuts and giant jenga. We split a dozen mini doughnuts and they were amazing, the perfect combination of sweet and small. It wasn’t too filling, but enough to get full. After the doughnuts, we had an intense game of giant jenga, sad to say I lost.IMG_0765 2.JPG

We had to stop by some graffiti walls for great pictures, of course. Besides the tough loss in Jenga, it was a great day spent with friends exploring a new city that has been in my own backyard for three years now. I guess sometimes it takes a while to do everything. I can’t wait for more adventures to come.

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Germany&Austria

Munich, Germany- what a place!

My expectations of Germany were pretty simple, they love beer and cars. With those expectations, we landed in Munich right around dinner time so we headed straight to a beer garden. The seating was different, instead of individual tables for each group, it was set up like a dining hall with long tables that multiple groups of people sat at. The atmosphere was very inclusive and everyone socialised with other groups. It was fun! Of course, we all ordered wiener schnitzel. To my surprise, it was really good. It tasted like lightly fried chicken but it was more of a chicken patty look.

Salzburg, Austria

The Sound of Music was right, the hills were alive! Salzburg was breathtaking. We did a short tour of the main area and then ventured off to find the famous Sound of Music places. First, we found the horse fountain and attempted to take the cute flick the water picture but unfortunately, we were a little short to actually get the water. The monastery was so pretty and completely empty so we had it all to ourselves. You cannot go to Salzburg without singing the Sound of Music through the streets, it just makes sense.

Rothenburg, Germany

This quaint town is still completely walled in. When you imagine how people lived in the olden days, this city makes it come to life. The town was filled with colourful houses and small shops with large window displays. They have a year-round Christmas shop that was my personal favorite because I love the holidays. When in Germany, this is a must go town!

Viaje 9: Sevilla 


  
   Sevilla, one of my favorite cities in Spain and the sister city to Kansas City, my hometown. Although, it was also packed with people, Sevilla was beautiful and full of life, no matter what time of day or night.
On the first day, we took advantage of the sunshine and went for a carriage ride around the “tourist” places like plaza de España and the cathedral. Plaza de España was by far my favorite place in Sevilla. Our hotel was located in Santa Cruz, one of the oldest neighborhoods, and it was a fantastic location. We were able to walk everywhere.

That night, we had a private Flamenco show and little did I know, I had to go on stage with them dance and clap/do whatever they were doing to the beat. I attempted, but I wouldn’t say it went so well. After 2 nine year olds danced and sang, I thought it couldn’t be that hard, but boy was I wrong! All the performers had so much passion and heart for flamenco that made watching, well participating for me, that much more entertaining.

The next day, we had a guide pick us up and take us through the Alcazar and the cathedral. They were both very impressive and filled with history. The gardens in the Alcazar were my favorite, full of palm trees and gorgeous flowers in bloom. We climbed up the tower in the cathedral and got a panoramic view of the city. The cathedral was so old, but the inside was still completely intact and very impressive. Christopher Columbus is now buried there after being transported from place to place, even country to country.

Thankfully, it only rained on us for about 2 hours in the morning and then cleared up so we could watch the processions from the balcony that night.  Sevilla has the most impressive processions in all of Spain. We had a balcony to watch from, instead of attempting to make our way through the crowd to see. Every procession has a float for Jesus and one for Mary, each weighing about 2 tons. Yes, men do carry them. Each float has 3 sets of carriers so when one set gets tired they can rotate. Each float also has their own band playing music. The procession is full of people walking holding candles or crosses while wearing robes and a cone shaped hood.

Holy Week or not, Sevilla is a must-go when coming to Spain.

XO,

B

Viaje 12: Córdoba 


  
 The place were cultures collided is how I’d describe Córdoba. The main attraction here is definitely the cathedral built inside a mosque but the whole city was so pretty.
Córdoba is a place that you could do in one day and that’s exactly what we did. We stayed at Balcon de Córdoba and it was a really nice hotel. It only has 10 rooms though, so book in advance. Upon arrival, we checked into the hotel, got some lunch, got settled into our room and then went for a private guided tour of the city.

We went through the old Jewish quarter first. This area was full of flowers in blue pots hung on walls and a small market and synagogue. The synagogue was taken over by the Christians, so there is also some crosses inside. We visited the old black market were meat was sold during a time when it was banned. Lastly, we went to look out at the bridge with a watch tower at the end, which is now a museum.

The Mosquita, the mosque with a cathedral inside, was so huge and so impressive. We started in the courtyard and then went into the mosque part, the arches and marble columns were incredible and there were so many of them, a little over 800, but originally a little over 1,000 until they had to tear some down to build the cathedral. The cathedral was also built marvelously with sculptures and paintings all over. Each part of the Mosquita felt like we had walked into a different time period. After we left, we got some ice cream from one of the best places in Córdoba.

Our hotel had a restaurant on the terrace overlooking the Mosquita and all of Córdoba. It was so cool seeing the whole city lit up at night. The tables had heaters underneath to keep your legs warm. It was the best thing ever, I think every restaurant needs to invest in these!

 

Viaje 11: Granada 


    Old building, after older building, after even older building and that’s just the Alhambra! Granada was all about the endless amount of history it holds. Seriously, sitting by the river and looking at a wall of a tower, you can see about 1,500 years worth of history. In just one wall. It’s incredible!

We did a private walking tour on our first day, covering everything from the city center to the top of the old town with the best view of the Alhambra. So basically about 500 years of history in a little over 3 and a half hours. Pretty impressive if you ask me. Some highlights of the tour was the cathedral, same as almost every city I’ve visited in Europe, the monument of Queen Isabel and Christopher Colombus with the dates of when Granada was conquered and when Christopher Colombus discovered the “new world” or America as we call it today. Both of which happened in 1492 and the hundreds of steps we climbed up to get the best view possible of the Alhambra. We finished this history filled day with some tapas, as always.

With much anticipation and high expectations, we ventured to the Alhambra on the second day in Granada. It lived up to expectations for sure. We started in the cathedral then went to the moorish palace from the 1300s. This was by far the most impressive part, I thought. After, we went to the Christian section from the 1500s and finished in the tower were the first king lived from the late 1200s.  This tower also had a great view over all of Granada and the Sierra Nevada mountain range, which even though it was in the 70s still had lots of snow on them. After exiting the wall of the Alhambra, we went into the Generalife and the gardens. By far some of the most impressive gardens yet and finally some flowers were planted and others blooming. The Generalife was also very pretty and had cool courtyards. Each house/palace during this time period (about 1300-1500) had courtyards with water and some vegetation (if you could afford it) and the rooms surrounded the courtyard.

Granada is a city full of history and when you order a soda or drink at the bar, you get tapas for free. What a deal! If that isn’t enough to convince you to go, I don’t know what is.

 

Viaje 10: The White Villages of Andalucia


  
  
 Before this trip, I had only saw the large cities in Spain. With that, I had come to the conclusion that Spain did not have grass or plants, well at least ones that didn’t grow in dirt. Welp, I sure was wrong. Spain has an amazing, hilly countryside in the south.

For two days, my grandparents and I had a driver and a guide and we traveled the hilly countryside, venturing from one little white village to another. Typically, we would go do one thing in each village. For example, we went to an olive oil plant and toured how they make olive oil and had a tasting at the end. I have a new appreciation for olive oil and, of course, the bread that we had it with. It seemed like each village specialized in a different thing, one being olive oil, another sherry and another goat cheese.

We stayed overnight in the village of Vejer de la Frontera, where we walked around and gasped at how amazing the sunset over the countryside was. This little town was full of leather goods that different shop keepers had made. In the center, they had their own small plaza de España with a cute tile mosaic fountain in the center. The next night, after traveling through village after village, we stayed in Ronda. By the time we got to Ronda we were so exhausted. We decided to take a nap instead of adventure out. From the hotel window we could see a gorgeous bridge and cliff.

The white villages of Andalucia gave me a whole new perspective and view of Spain that I didn’t know existed. Each village was so unique and had a different feel. To me, the white villages are the hidden treasures of Spain.

 

Things I learned in Spain


I was in Spain for four months and I loved it! I learned a lot, so I thought I’d share some of the things I learned about Spain and all the amazing people.

1. It is perfectly normal to stare at people. It’s not just a short eye contact and look away, it a long, hard stare. As I’ve been here, people have just blatantly stared at me, it’s awkward because they don’t smile or say hi, but you get used to it.

2. When you’re in the car or crossing a crosswalk, be prepared to die. The people drive like they are out to kill each other on the roads. Think of New York, but 10 times worse. They also stop at the last possible second when you’re in the crosswalk. Yes, I’ve jumped because I thought they were gonna hit me a couple times, it’s fine they stopped and got a good laugh.

3. The city comes alive around 7:30 at night everyday because many people are taking their post work/pre dinner walk. This is also usually the time many people stop and get coffee and a doughnut or churros and chocolate in order to keep them awake long enough to eat dinner and go out, everyone goes out here.

4. Coffee is the go-to drink at all times of the day. Everyone also drinks straight expresso, no need for the creamers or sugars (gross!!). I’ll stick to my Starbucks tea.

5. If you are over the age of 50 and male, it is code to wear a cardigan with elbow matches everyday and walk around the city center walking the little dog being all adorable. Trust me, you’d fall in love with all of them, they’re precious

6. If you’re in elementary school, it is a must to have a roller backpack. A must.

7. Don’t skip breakfast, lunch isn’t served till 2 p.m. and you will for sure be starving. Trust me.

I hope you’ve enjoyed some of the silly, little things I learned here and if you ever come to visit Spain, don’t forget these, they will definitely  come in handy!

 

Viaje 8: Valencia


  
  Noise, people, more noise and even more people. Once we arrived in Valencia for Las Fallas, the guide picking us up from the train station said “get ready, they are expecting about 1.5 million people this year.” Well that was so true, there were swarms of people everywhere. Walking down streets to see the Fallas or floats was nearly impossible due to the amount of people.

Let me start from the beginning, Las Fallas is one of the largest and most important festivals in Spain. Each year, every neighborhood, usually classified as two intersecting streets because they do not have actual neighborhoods come together and work year-round making a “falla”or float. The more money they have, obviously the more pristine the falla will be. The awards are given out based on different things like largest, most impressive, etc. At the end of the festival (March 19), all the floats are burned starting at 10 p.m. and going until 3 a.m. There are a lot more details that go into Las Fallas, but that is a brief overview.

All festival long, people are lighting firecrackers and making a ton of noise. Each day at 2 p.m., there is a fireworks show, but it is all about the noise, not the pretty fireworks. On our way to the show held in the center plaza, the guide said “make sure to keep your mouth open and don’t cover your ears, we don’t want any ear drums rupturing.” That was a little alarming, but the show was crazy loud and so awesome. The entire plaza ground and buildings near by shake. They also do fireworks shows at 1 a.m. some nights, not the best wake up call.

Finally, the burning of the Fallas. This was my favorite part by far. The Fallas are placed on streets all over the city, were they are made, and that is where they are burned. Fire fighters come to each burning to keep the near by trees and buildings wet, so they do not catch on fire. My grandparents and I some how ended up front row for the burning, I don’t know if that’s exactly where I would suggest standing because after it went up in flames I thought my eyebrows had burnt off and skin was melting. Thankfully, my face was still in tact. Standing close to a tree, once the falla was up in flames, the fire fighters soaked us with water attempting to get the tree. Everyone cheered as the entire falla fell down and the burning had ended.

Even though it was incredibly noisy and jam packed with people, it was still one of the highlights of my trip to Spain. If you happen to be in Spain  March 15-19, I would definitely suggest going to Valencia for Las Fallas. Other than the festival, Valenica wouldn’t be my first place to go visit in Spain.

XO,

B

Viaje 7: Paris 

 I can finally say I’ve been to Paris, one of my absolute favorite cities. Everything about this city made me love it even more. Well, besides the awful smell in the metro stations but that’s beside the point. Considering we only had 2 and a half days in this amazing city, we had to make the most of our time and that involved a lot of walking each day. Comfy shoes are a must.
Of course we started at the Eiffel Tower, who wouldn’t. We went to the summit and it was so fun to look out over the city and pick out the main attractions like the arc and the louvre. It was noticeably colder at the top than the base. We got tickets there and spent a total of about 2 hours waiting in line and going up. After, we ate lunch on the lawn and headed to the Arc de Triomphe. It was more of a walk by attraction so we saw it and kept heading to the Louvre. As all tourists do, once we got to the Louvre, we took the classic pinch the top pick then went in to see if the Mona Lisa was really looking at us. I know what you’re wondering, yes she was looking right at me. After we were done at the Louvre, it was dinner time so we headed to the tolliere gardens for dinner. We ate at a small little outdoor sandwich shop that had crepes for dessert, which was an added bonus.

The next day we went to Notre Dame and walked around that area. Along the river were cute street vendors that had old books and cool paintings/ pictures. I couldn’t help but get some to decorate my apartment with next year. We spent the entire morning walking around and about mid afternoon we got lunch then headed to Montemartre. This is a quant neighborhood on a hill and if you walk up a ton of steps the Sacre-??? Is at the top. Once we finally made it up all the steps, we saw a massive crowd of people sitting on yet again more steps watching a guy juggle a soccer ball. He was outstanding! He climbed a light pole and juggled hanging on with one arm as well as walked along the fence line. The view from the top was defiantly worth the crazy amount of steps. We spent the rest of the day shopping and eating macaroons.

Since we had such little time to get everything in, we forgot to stop for croissants. Yeah, we thought we had lost our minds also. Who forgets to eat a croissant in Paris?! So, since we had deprived ourselves of the amazingness, we each got three croissants and then took the metro to the Eiffel Tower and sat on a bench eating our croissants (all 3 of them) and people watched. This was probably my favorite morning.

I cannot say enough amazing things about Paris. It is for sure a big city so I wouldn’t suggest going if you want a view of the countryside, but take my word for it, the Eiffel Tower is a much better view. Paris will always hold a special place in my heart.

XO,

B

Viaje 6: Prague

 Everyone talks about how cool Prague is and how it was there favorite city in Europe, so Naturally I had high expectations, but I wasn’t quite sure but to be expecting. All I knew was that it would be great. Well, it sure was awesome! Whether you’re into history or just looking at fun views, you will love Prague.
The first day, we made our way up to the castle grounds. It was so cool to read and look at all the history in those buildings because everything was so crazy old. Everywhere you looked there was another building with tons of history inside or filled with old crowns from the Royals. Golden Lane had small doll like houses that castle workers used to live in. I, being about 5’4, stood about where the roof began. The inside had just enough room for a bed and the items needed for their specific job. On the edge of the castle grounds was a panoramic view of the city, which was so pretty. I enjoy a good view more than learning about history, so this was my favorite part of the castle grounds. We also adventured over to the John Lennon wall, a wall full of graffiti, and the Charles bridge, which had a bunch of local artist selling their art.

The next day we went to the old town square, which houses the oldest working clock in the world. The buildings here are all settle pastel colors and looked somewhat like town houses. Finally in Prague, I found Starbucks that sells Very Berry Hibiscus refreshers and I couldn’t have been happier. I’ve missed that drink.

We decided to try traditional Czech food and to our surprise, it was fantastic. The wienerschnitzel was the fan favorite. For dessert, we got a donut-cone filled with whipped cream and forest berries. It was the best dessert ever. I would go back solely to get another one.

Prague was an amazing trip and I would defiantly recommend coming here at some point. You will not be disappointed. Also, try the dessert, it will be the best thing you’ll ever eat.
XO,

B