Mom and daughter prove that independence and bucking societal norms make for a happy, loving life!

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Food In Madrid: The Good, the Bad, the Cheap, and the Overpriced

One of the things that excites me the most about traveling and living in another country is trying new cuisine. Before arriving to Spain, I envisioned all of Europe as a completely fabulous gourmet destination, gladly leaving behind the land of processed food. It is […]

Relaxing With LUSH!

Soaking in a relaxing bath after a long day is one of life’s simple luxuries. Although our apartment in Madrid is lovely, it doesn’t come equipped with a bathtub. We only have a shower, and after four months without soaking in a tub, I knew […]

Christmas in Paris: A Dream Come True (Part 3: Cruise Down the Seine River, Christmas Day and Macarons Galore!)

As excited as I was to spend the Christmas holiday in Paris, I was a bit concerned that we might not find places open for business, but we were fortunate that this wasn’t the case.

Cruise down the Seine River

We purchased tickets for a scenic river cruise down the Seine River for only 11 Euros per person, and found out that the cruise was running every 30 minutes as usual on Christmas Day.

The cruise was about 45 minutes long, and we got to see Paris from a different angle. It was very windy and cold that day, so we stayed inside the boat most of the time looking out the windows. However, when the captain announced that we were passing Notre Dame, we ran upstairs to get a few photos! On my next visit, I want to tour the inside of the cathedral, but I was happy to see the outside this time around.

Photos of Notre Dame!

            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After the cruise ended, we went back to the hotel and got ready for Christmas dinner. We had gone up into the Eiffel Tower, but had not yet seen the view from Trocadero Park. We decided to head to the park and eat at a nearby restaurant.

Eating French food was one of the highlights of our trip. The first night we arrived we enjoyed a wonderful creperie just steps from our hotel, and went back for a late breakfast our last day after we checked out.

After our trip to the Louvre on Christmas Eve, we found an amazing little restaurant while walking around the city. We were able to enjoy escargot, French ravioli with duck, and creme brulee. The food in Paris was everything we dreamed it would be. Scarlett said she wants to move there but I quickly reminded her that if we lived in Paris we wouldn’t be able to eat out like this everyday as it would get very expensive.

Our last day in Paris

Check out time at the hotel was noon, but our flight didn’t leave until 8 p.m. the day after Christmas. Our hotel graciously offered to keep our bags locked up in order for us to use the extra time to look around Paris some more. There was one more thing we wanted to do before leaving. We wanted to visit Laduree, the famous macaron shop.

Laduree

This place was exquisite! From the ornate decor to the scrumptious tasting macarons and variety of teas, it was a fabulous ending to our Paris trip.

   

 

 

 

We ordered four macarons, but the waitress accidentally gave us the wrong one in the original order and allowed us to keep the extra at no additional cost.

My favorite is the one pictured to the left, the Rose. The aroma of floral rose coupled with the flavor of rose petals and sweetness was just how I imagined a macaron from Paris, France to taste. The hazelnut, pistachio, vanilla and orange blossom were equally delicious.

Scarlett and I ordered tea for our goodbye Paris “tea party.” I ordered the Cherie and she ordered the Mathilda. The teas both had a light flavor and didn’t need any sugar whatsoever.

I’m unsure if it was the ambiance of this fantastic establishment, or the quality ingredients, but this was some of the best tea I have ever tasted. For some reason Scarlett really wanted an order of french fries, so we got those as well.

Laduree isn’t cheap. For five macarons, two orders of tea, and french fries, it cost a little more than 30 Euros. It was well worth it!

After our afternoon tea, we still had a little bit of time left before our taxi would arrive at the hotel to take us to the airport, so we decided to walk around the Seine and visit the Eiffel Tower one more time. I have no complaints for our first trip to Paris, and we are looking forward to a future visit in this beautiful city!

 

Christmas in Paris: A Dream Come True (Part 2: The Louvre)

Our visit to Paris, though short, was magical. There were several places we wanted to visit, and were determined to make this a reality. Three nights and four days? No problem! The Louvre Museum Since the Louvre would be closed on Christmas day as well […]

Christmas in Paris: A Dream Come True (Part 1: The Eiffel Tower)

Paris, the city of light (La Ville–Lumière), has been a dream destination for as long as I can remember. Portrayed in endless movies and described flawlessly in novels, the allure is very real. Since Madrid is only about a two hour plane ride from Paris, […]

It’s Christmas! Why Stress?

I have always loved Christmas.

I have always loved everything about Christmas. Even with all of the commercialism, I still feel that there is a certain magic in the air during this time of year. I love the endless amount of Christmas music that can be heard from virtually any retail establishment or restaurant, and I adore the constant twinkling of lights and decor that beckons when one steps outside their front door.

I’ve heard people say that Christmas is all about commercialism now, or that it is only for the kids. I have to disagree with both of these statements.

Waiting for Santa

 While Christmas is a magical time for children who wait up anxiously hoping to hear the sound of reindeer on the rooftop, it doesn’t mean that the magic dies if and when you find out that your parents had a hand in setting out the “Santa” toys. Okay, I confess. There is still a part of me that has that twinge of hope that Santa will stop my house every Christmas Eve. Yeah, don’t judge me. At least I’m honest. 😉 It’s that magical time on Christmas Eve night, when everything is strangely serene and quiet. I walk outside, breathe in the cold, December air and remember the magic.

Don’t sweat it!

Commercialism definitely exists, but it is how we choose to handle it that makes all the difference. I decided several years ago that I wasn’t going to stress about Christmas because I wanted to enjoy the holiday with my children. If that means that friends and relatives in different states don’t get cards or gifts until after Christmas, then so be it. My sanity is more important than stressing about the postal service delivering or not delivering items on time. If I have the time and the funds to send something, I send it. If I have time to bake dozens of cookies for a party one year, then I will. If not, I assure you that this will not be the cause of the apocalypse. 

A few quick tips

If you find yourself getting stressed due to the crowds, or because you haven’t yet mailed that gift, stop and take a deep breath. It will be okay. Most likely your relative will forgive you for getting the gift to them a bit late. If not, isn’t that their problem, and not yours? I mean come on. Unless it is much-needed oxygen or medication, I’m sure they can live without that sweater for a few more days.

If you choose to drive yourself crazy and HAVE to get everything done because that is how you operate, that is fine too. However, instead of getting frustrated, try to make a game of it and relish in the reason you’re doing it in the first place. ENJOY the Christmas decor and music, and laugh at how crazy the crowds are. Believe me, that can be fun!

Most importantly, remember to enjoy this time with family and friends.

Have a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, or Happy Holiday however you celebrate!

What Happens If You Get Sick in Madrid?

Being sick is never fun. If you happen to fall ill while in another country, and don’t speak the language that well, it can be a little frightening. Typically, I am a very healthy person who hardly ever gets sick. Yes, I’m the person who […]

How to Embrace the Holidays While Living Abroad

Christmas is my favorite holiday, and I love virtually everything about it. I love the constant holiday music that can be heard at most retailers, and the vast array of decorations and lights that can be seen as soon as you step out on your […]

How We Get Around In Madrid

Before we left the United States to come to Madrid, I can’t tell you how many people asked me what I was going to do with my van, and if I was going to either rent or purchase a vehicle when we arrive in Spain.

The short answer to this question is that my middle son is currently driving/taking care of my van (at least I hope he is taking care of it), and we of course are not renting or purchasing a vehicle. Since Europe is notorious for their fabulous public transportation system, I knew that we would be utilizing this form of transport in Madrid.

Taxis and Uber: I have only taken a taxi once so far since our arrival in Madrid, and that was from the airport. I downloaded the Uber app (no, I had never used Uber in the states) when I wanted a slightly less expensive option of transportation after we left our AirBnb for our apartment. I didn’t want to take the Metro when we had heavy bags with us, and at this time I was still fairly green when trying to get around the city.

The Metro: We are on the Metro almost two hours a day five days a week with our commute to work and school. This has taken some getting used to, but for the most part it is the cheapest and most convenient way to travel around Madrid if you don’t have a personal vehicle.

There are mornings when I get fairly aggravated with taking the Metro everyday. The morning rush hour is typically the worst. During the morning rush hour, we are literally bumping into strangers and getting bumped into while trying to find a post to grab onto. Since I typically like my space, this caused me some slight anxiety at first. I figured I needed to just suck it up and deal, and that is what I do. 🙂 It is almost impossible to get a seat in the morning for the first seven stops. After we switch trains, we can usually find a seat because this particular train isn’t usually as crowded for some reason. You take the good with the bad, and there are times when the Metro can even be fun!

                             

Public Transport Card (Abono): Scarlett and I were able to get a public transport card or Abono, for the Metro. The process for getting the card was fairly simple. I went to the website and made an appointment at the nearest Metro station that offers this service. We had to bring a copy of our passports plus the original. They asked a few questions, and we were on our way. Scarlett’s card is only 20 Euros a month, and mine is about 54 Euros a month since I am over the age of 26. I suppose 74 Euros a month isn’t that bad for transportation fees. I usually paid more than that for gas in the United States, and that didn’t include any maintenance on the vehicle.

Buses: There is also the option to take the bus, and the public transportation card can be used for this as well. We haven’t taken the bus yet, but I have spoken to people who like the bus better. We may try the bus one of these days, but at the moment we have our route down and it is working for us.

                          

Walking: We definitely walk more here in Madrid compared to when we were in America. Personally, I think this is a wonderful thing. When we get off of a stop, we typically have to walk anywhere from five to ten minutes to reach the final destination.  Of course there are times when we opt to take the “scenic route” and skip the train altogether!

       

Do I Miss Driving?: Yes! We have been here for two and a half months, and this is the longest I have gone without driving in a very long time! I don’t miss sitting in rush hour traffic, but I do miss driving. In fact, that is one of the main things I miss about the U.S. However, I think that the Metro is a very efficient way to travel, and I think that it would be worthwhile for most metropolitan cities in the U.S. to implement such a system.

 

 

 

Keeping Up With Your Favorite TV Shows While Abroad!

One of the thrills of traveling overseas is immersing yourself in a completely different culture. However, there are times when you just want to curl up on the couch or in bed and watch a familiar television series from home. Before we left, I purchased […]