Day 3

Good morning Madrid!

After two days of traveling, it’s nice to have a permanent home base for the next three days. No screaming babies or missed flights.

As we collect ourselves for the morning, the three amigos head downstairs to a small cafe for people watching and coffee.

My brilliant and dedicated friend, Anita, has been working her a$$ off for a Global MBA from the IE Business School which home base is in Madrid. With 15 months of intense course work behind her now, I am proud to say she graduates tomorrow. 

While she completes her last day of classes, her husband, my husband, and I take a minor trip around Madrid before she can officially join us to relax after graduation. 

Not only during this trip are we celebrating my friend's graduation but today my husband and I celebrate six years of mawage. Princess Bride anyone?

As we walk along the narrow streets of Madrid, I’m reminded of how much I love traveling and how unique the world can be outside of our tiny rabbit hole. We head to our first destination of the afternoon, El Parque Del Buen Retiro.

Also known as the Park of the Pleasant Retreat, it is one of the largest parks of the city. The park belonged to the Spanish Monarchy until the late 19th century, when it became a public park. We walk into the main park entrance and see a man-made lake with couples paddling boats and enjoying the beautiful day.  

As we sit down to energize our bodies at a small lunch spot, across the way a saxophone player serenades us to the song of “Yesterday.” I order one of my favorite Spanish foods, Jamón Serrano. Pairing it with manchego cheese and a coke, it goes down quite nicely.

The breeze off of the lake is so pleasant that a tank top, shorts, and flip flops are all you need this time of year. The temperature stays at a comfortable 85 degrees with no humidity. Something we rarely see on a consistent basis in Virginia.

Continuing to walk, we come across the Palacio de Cristal, a glass and metal structure built in 1887. The Crystal Palace was built in the shape of a Greek cross and made almost entirely of glass set in an iron framework on a brick base, decorated with colorful ceramics across the bottom exterior. The original purpose of this interesting structure was meant as a greenhouse, however, it is now turned into an exhibition space for art.

Fair warning, if you do go by and check it out, don’t use the bathrooms! Almost a glorified porta potty with the trapped air and gases down in the bottom of the building.

We continue further into the park and catch a street performer. As I get closer to the creature, I was hesitant to snap a photo without the zoom and maintained my distance. I mean have you seen the movie Predator? If you haven’t, let me just say it doesn’t end well for the majority of the characters!

Throughout the park are all kinds of vendors, many with handmade items for negotiation and purchase. One piece caught my eye and I had to get it.

Before we headed to the central point, I was made aware earlier in the day of an interesting statue located in the park titled, “The Fallen Angel.”

This statue is arguably the only public statue in the world dedicated to the devil himself. In my mind's eye this creature would be grotesquely depicted with the body of a reptile and the head of a serpent. Who wants to imagine the devil looking like themself? But true to the story of Lucifer falling from Heaven he was an angel before his fall from grace.

Built in 1877 by the Spanish sculptor Ricardo Bellver, it was inspired by John Milton’s poem, Paradise Lost. What’s especially interesting is this sculpture sits at 666m above sea level. As controversial as this work of art is, it won First Medal at the Spanish National Fine Arts Exhibition in 1878.

Everywhere you walk in the park people are relaxing on blankets either reading, eating, or sleeping and why not. If I lived here I would definitely make sure my siesta was taken at this park.

After a couple hours of exploration, we leave to our next destination, El Mercado de San Miguel. All around are tall colorful buildings that allow beautiful flora and fauna to grow up the side adding a touch of natural beauty to these old man-made structures.

Inside the market we are met with tons of options; seafood, tapas, beer, olives, fruit, jamon, vegetables, desserts, and anything else you could imagine! The smells filled the location of each individual tienda with all walks of life enjoying the variety of the offers. I purchase a sampling of olives with ham and cheese along with two grape leaves. My compadres try the fresh strawberry juice and raw fish options.

We grab an Uber and head back to the apartment to meet Anita. At this point she is finished with her classes and we are ready to get dressed to head out for tonight’s events.

Our first stop of the night is at a delicious restaurant, Marina Ventura, with one of Anita’s classmate from Columbia, Manolo. Now you have to understand, Manolo is a foodie so anywhere he suggests you have to go and he doesn’t disappoint with his suggestions. Dinner here is usually eaten around 8 or 9 pm and the sun doesn't set until later so to me it feels earlier than it actually is.

Vino, vino, vino! With almost every meal I've had here, I've enjoyed a glass of wine, vino tinto or vino blanco. Tonight we ordered a bottle of vino blanco with an appetizer of foie gras. I’ve never tried foie gras before but this trip is about a lot of food firsts for me. 

The foie gras was paired with a gingerbread miniature cut of bread, a side of balsamic vinegar to spread or a rose jam. I tried both and as much as I enjoyed the two options, the balsamic was my favorite. 

For our meal we shared two paella entrees; one seafood themed with shrimp, mussels and sausage and the other a duck with wild mushroom in truffle oil.

If you know me well, I can drink coffee any time, day or night and the coffee here is incredible. I end my delicious meal with a cafe con leche.

After dinner we head out to meet Anita’s colleagues at Fortuny which offers both an outside and an inside area for conversation, drinking, and dancing. 

We begin our late night adventure in the outside part conversing and catching up with the students of the IE Global MBA program talking about the final day of classes and the excitement of graduation finally happening for them tomorrow.

After short conversations, everyone eventually makes our way inside where the music is pumping. There's definitely not a lot of sleep happening here in Spain for us travelers since the disco-tech doesn't close until 5am.

Ladies and gentleman, the one thing I can be absolutely sure of, we definitely don’t party in the states like they do here. Bueno!


Day 2



When you talk to others about flying, everyone has their own horror story: crying babies, turbulence, flying to the wrong destination, missing your connecting flight, etc. Most of which I had never experienced, thank goodness. However, this journey proved to make sure I understood what other’s had only talked about. 

As my weary companion and I finally board our American Airlines flight 732 from Charlotte to London at 9:20 pm, we prepare ourselves for this seven hour flight, laying our heads back to catch some z’s. We know once we land in Madrid, the itinerary will be non stop with dinner, drinking, and dancing, so sleep at this point is essential. After we take off, I comfortably set my chair to the recline position and attempt to go to dreamland. Finally!

Thirty minutes into the flight, I hear it. The screaming cries of a child directly to my left. As I look to my right, I catch my husbands frustration. I turn to check out the situation and see a father standing in the aisle rapidly rocking this distressed child to sleep. At this moment, I’m not sure who feels worse, the two year old screaming or the parents who are keeping everyone on this seven hour flight awake,  As I try and drown out the wails of this unhappy being, I put my headphones on and attempt to make my way into dreamland once again. Success, thank goodness for headphones!

Finally we arrive. Taking a bus from the airport we ride to our last stop, Avenida de America with a five minute walk to the Airbnb. We quickly take showers and get ready to head out for the night.

I believe traveling suits me. I love experiencing other cultures and expanding my world view. In Spain, dinner isn’t served until later and not at all what we are used to in the U.S. of A. We arrive at Restaurante Amazonico for dinner with reservations at 8pm for a much anticipated eight course meal with wine pairing. All around the restaurant is fauna and amazon like decor.

As we walk through this tightly packed restaurant to our table of 15 in the back, I view a delicious display of fish and meat cooking behind glass in an open flame. My husband’s choice was the meat course as I chose the fish. This way we ensured to get the best of both worlds. Everything was delicious and paired nicely with our red wine.

For dessert we were served part of a roasted pineapple with vanilla ice cream which was proudly displayed cooking as we walked through.

We ended up finishing the night at a club, El Doblon dancing and drinking the night away because nothing closes before 5am.

A great start to a much needed vacation!


Day 1

Using the words Day 1 can mean a lot of things to many people: a new beginning, a new chapter, a new adventure. Day 1 usually starts with a certain amount of hope, courage, and motivation which allows you to keep going once you’ve reached further into your beginning, chapter, or adventure. For me Day 1 represents all of these things.

I’ve been trying to begin my blog for some time now. I can hear my husband in the back of my mind saying “everyone who has their own photography business nowadays has a blog,” and yes while that is true, I’ve never really found a reason to start.

I was a high school art teacher for eight years which I left a year and some change ago. I thought throughout this transition into the non-teaching world, I would have a reason to start my blog. Many times I came close to writing my Day 1, hearing from other teacher friends of moments I would no longer be apart of: the first day of school, award ceremonies, and especially graduation. However, after reflecting on these moments, I didn’t want my blog to start on a negative beginning. After all, beginnings are supposed to be about hope and positivity. So I continued to search for the opportune time.

Skipping ahead a month, I find myself in the DCA airport at 12 noon with my handsome traveling companion heading to a continent I’ve never visited. I said to myself, this is it, this my Day 1!

On this trip I’ve committed to taking photographs of my experiences everyday and posting to my blog. For this trip on my blog most of my photos will be taken from my cell phone and edited in my Photoshop Express app. These images are not meant to be printed or hung in a space but merely an awesome glimpse into a trip I will cherish and look back at years from now and smile. Hopefully you as my audience will enjoy too.

Yes, I did bring my DSLR and I plan to take amazing photographs to bring back and sell, after all I am a professional photographer but this new beginning, new chapter, and new adventure is about me and for me with hope, courage, and motivation to get my photography business on the right start.

I believe I have accomplished that and look forward to the next 10 days documenting memories with my friends and loved one. I hope you enjoy this trip with me. Thanks for stopping by.

So traveling can be stressful, right? This is what I’ve heard but have been rather lucky in my small amount of traveling not to have dealt with the difficult. Well there’s always a first for everything.

We arrive early to ensure no hiccups. Getting onto the plane, my husband and I begin to get excited for our next leg of the journey. As we sit patiently with our seatbelts on, a loud sound cracks, it’s lightning and here comes the heavy rain. The traveler next to me responds to our current situation, “oh man, the pilot won’t fly in the storm so we may have to wait.” Sure enough the captain comes over the speaker and announces the storm should only last 20 minutes after it passes we should be good to go. An alert comes across my phone, an American Airline alert. Our departure time is now scheduled for 4:15. We were scheduled to leave at 3:30.

What you are not privy to until this moment is our connecting flight to Madrid is in 2 hours. This current flight time is an hour and fifty-five minutes. An overwhelming sense of despair comes over me and I know we won’t make the next flight. My husband turns to me with hopeful eyes and says “we will make it,” and at that moment I wish I shared his positivity.

Well you probably guessed it, we didn’t make it. So here we sit in the Charlotte airport drinking away our frustrations and patiently awaiting our next flight out to London then to Madrid. Out of this whole situation I have learned to be thankful for my husband because he stepped up and took charge. So as my husband tries to work out our new seating arrangements with the flight attendants I’m going to sit here and finish my beer because I know he won’t disappoint. Here’s to the next leg of the journey as I tip my glass to you dear readers. Next stop London!

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