The Very Inspiring Blogger Award

The Very Inspiring Blogger Award

A short while ago I was nominated for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award, but somehow didn’t come across the comment nominating me until a few days ago. Better late than never, especially when it comes to exciting awards! I was nominated for this awesome award by Sahbina from http://sahbinahvioletflynn.wordpress.com/. Her blog is truly amazing, so I would strongly recommend checking it out!

We all have goals in life and all want to achieve nothing but the best for ourselves. Have you ever asked yourself what the goal of your blog is? I’m assuming you have since you’re successfully blogging here on WordPress, but once in a while it’s nice to think about the what the purpose of our actions is. Let me tell you why I blog. There are quite a few reasons here, so bare with me. I blog to make people happy;  I blog to entertain my followers; I blog to keep tabs on trips that I have taken and remember what I did on those trips; I blog so that other people can take these trips with me from the comfort of their own home; I blog to help people overcome obstacles they may be facing on a daily basis; I blog to remind people what is important in life and to remind each of us (myself included) of important lessons that we sometimes forget; I blog to help myself out on a daily basis; I blog to help others out on a daily basis; I blog to inspire myself; and I blog to inspire others.

If you can make a positive impact on someone’s day, then you have done something really good. If you can help improve someone’s week, then you have done something great. If you have made a difference in someone’s life for the better, then you have done something incredible. I blog to try to make a positive impact in my follower’s lives on a daily basis and as a whole, in general. If I am able to make this difference on just one person (even if it’s myself), then I will be content in knowing that I fulfilled my goal. But I don’t want to stop at just impacting one person’s day and/or life. I want to keep going. So I will keep on blogging and keep on trying to inspire. (Maybe I took this post a little too seriously, but a little catharsis never hurt anyone). But again, special thanks to Sahbina for making a positive impact on my day with the nomination of this award 🙂

Now for the RULES to follow when nominated for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award:

  1. Display the award logo on your blog.
  2. Link back to the person who nominated you.
  3. State 7 things about yourself.
  4. Nominate 15 other bloggers for this award and link to them.
  5. Notify those bloggers of the nomination and the award’s requirements.

Seven Things About Me:

  1. I am the youngest of three kids (I have an older brother and sister)
  2. We have three dogs at home (one to replace each of us when we left our house for college)
  3. I intern for a local college entertainment-oriented magazine in the Orlando area
  4. While using the bathroom in a moving train last week, I had a sudden burst of inspiration and came up with the following quote. “Life is like using the bathroom in a moving vehicle. You can come out with lots of accomplishments or lots of regrets”
  5. I use Twitter to promote my blog and at times to reach out to friends and fellow Twitter followers. I try not to use it too much to give updates on my location (minus traveling) because I don’t think people want to know when I’m eating dinner or when I’m going to the bathroom
  6. I have self-diagnosed OCD in general, but more specifically, I can’t finish brushing my teeth until I brush each “section” for a certain amount of time. Also, after a certain amount of time since previous haircuts, I have to get another haircut or else I’ll start to get jittery (It’s not easy thinking of facts about yourself, so sometimes you have to dig deep)
  7. Seven is actually my favorite number

My Nominations for the Very Inspiring Blog Award:

My whole blogging experience wouldn’t be the same without my followers as well as the blogs that I follow. There are always new blogs that catch my attention and there is no way of showing that I appreciate their work more than nominating them with a gratifying award such as this. Thank you to the following blogs for inspiring me and making a difference in my everyday life!

  1. http://2bewell.wordpress.com/
  2. http://nomadgrad.com/
  3.  http://alarnarosegray.wordpress.com/
  4.  http://readinpleasure.wordpress.com/
  5. http://noholdsbarredribataylor.wordpress.com/
  6. http://worldismycuttlefish.wordpress.com/
  7. http://travelerslounge.wordpress.com/
  8. http://pczick.wordpress.com/
  9. http://bamskitchen.com/
  10. http://justanotherwakeupcall.wordpress.com/
  11. http://sued51too.wordpress.com/
  12. http://adventuresofacarryon.com/
  13. http://hutchagoodlife.wordpress.com/
  14. http://lifebyphoto.wordpress.com/
  15. http://milenanik3.wordpress.com/

Days 23 and 30 in Spain: Exploring Madrid

In an attempt to spare everyone from various posts each time I travel to Madrid, I decided to combine two different trips into one post. Last Tuesday, a few of my friends and I went on a field trip with our program director to see the Museo del Prado in Madrid. We walked around the city for a bit at first, but as you’ll notice, I won’t be posting any pictures of that since most of my pictures are the same as ones I have previously posted. We started our trip off by passing the National Library which is closed off to those who don’t have a specific library pass, and made our way over to a local brewery. I was one of “those” people who ordered a soda at the beer factory so try not to judge me too much. The reason why we held off on going to the museum until later in the afternoon was because most big tourist attractions in Madrid as well as throughout Spain have free visiting hours (which is definitely something to look into before making plans when traveling around Spain) and it just so happens that the Del Prado Museum’s free hours are in the late afternoon. By the time 6 o’clock in the evening came around, we stood in line and got in for free. (Something you’ll quickly realize when traveling abroad is that anything free is a huge perk!).  Seeing as the Del Prado Museum has over 7,000 paintings and is known to be one of the biggest and most famous museums in the world, it was jam-packed everywhere we turned. Our professor walked us around and showed us the main paintings and gave us a history lesson on each one and unfortunately, the museum prohibits picture taking, but I was lucky enough to get one picture in before finding out that I wasn’t allowed to do so. We saw paintings by famous artists including El Greco, Murillo, Goya, and Velazquez, and each one was more interesting than the next! It was truly amazing to see what kind of history and in-depth background information each and every painting has. Museo Del Prado is definitely a “Must” on any to-do list in Madrid, and it was really a great, culturing experience as well!

This past Tuesday, one of my classes took an excursion to Madrid as well, and we went to el Barrio de Letras, a quarter in Madrid dedicated to famous authors and poets from back in the day. As we walked around the quarter, we saw where certain authors grew up, where they gained inspiration for novels and stories, and even a famous cathedral where a lot of them got married. I had to write a paper on our trip so I’m pretty much just going to translate it into English and use it here. (Hey at least I’m honest).

Before the excursion officially began, we saw the House of Congress, surrounded by police officers (which was definitely a cool sight to see). Our trip to el Barrio de las Letras commenced at a statue of Miguel de Cervantes. Cervantes was the one who wrote Don Quijote de la Mancha, the second most translated book in the world (after the Bible). We then walked over to Lope de Vega’s house which is also a museum. Cervantes and Lope de Vega didn’t exactly see eye to eye, and Cervantes even referred to him as a “monster” because Lope de Vega wrote over 3,000 plays during his lifetime, an incredible number of works! (And most of us find it hard to find enough days in the week to keep up with our blogging). Not to mention, Vega was recognized for them while he was still alive, whereas Cervantes was recognized after he died.

After learning about the rivalry between the two authors, we walked along a street famous for providing inspiration to Cervantes. He was known to write various scenes of Don Quijote on this particular street, so it was pretty cool to see where he gained some of his inspiration from. We progressed on and saw yet another famous author’s house, Don Francesco de Ovedo Villegas. Not too far from here was a street dedicated to gossiping. Since works from this time period were known to criticize society, authors had the actors of their plays gossip as a means of getting the critizing across. So it was only suitable to have a street dedicated to gossiping and criticizing society and the lives of others, right?

Back to Cervantes, he had requested to be buried in the Convent of the Trinity (el convento de las trinitarias) and was in fact buried there, but his tomb was removed a few years later to an unknown location. Finally, we concluded our trip with la iglesia de San Sebastian (a church) where Cervantes had his funeral (not burial) and where many authors of this time were baptized or had their weddings and/or other processions. Unfortunately, the museums and the cathedral were closed by the time we got there, but it was still neat to be able to walk through “literary history” in Madrid.

Illuminating Blogger Award

Illuminating Blogger Award

There is nothing better than coming back from a weekend trip to find that you have been nominated for an award, praising your blog. I would like to thank Ingrid from http://MySpanishTranslator.Wordpress.com/ for this amazing nomination. Her blog is truly incredible, seeing as she helps her followers learn the Spanish language, all for free! And as someone currently studying abroad in Spain, improving my Spanish and free are two things I love hearing. So again, special thanks to Ingrid for the nomination, and for being an Illuminating Blogger 🙂

The rules of the Illuminating Blogger Award are as follows:

  1. The nominee should visit the award site (http://foodstoriesblog.com/illuminating-blogger-award/) and leave a comment indicating that they have been nominated and by whom. (This step is so important because it’s the only way that we can create a blogroll of award winners).
  2. The Nominee should thank the person that nominated them by posting & including a link to their blog.
  3. The Nominee should include a courtesy link back to the official award site (http://foodstoriesblog.com/illuminating-blogger-award/) in their blog post.
  4. Share one random thing about yourself in your blog post.
  5. Select at least five other bloggers that you enjoy reading their illuminating, informative posts and nominate them for the award. Many people indicate that they wish they could nominate more so please feel free to nominate all your favorites.
  6. Notify your nominees by leaving a comment on their blog, including a link to the award site (http://foodstoriesblog.com/illuminating-blogger-award/).

My one random fact about myself is that I sometimes consider being a doctor, but always end up changing my mind upon remembering that I’m awful at math and science. So instead, I am considering getting a Mental Health Counseling degree, but considering I still have plenty of time before needing to make any big decisions, we’ll see what happens.

And for my five fellow bloggers, I would like to present you with this award:

1. http://longlifecatsanddogs.wordpress.com/

2. http://sugaredpecan.wordpress.com/

3. http://analyfe.com/

4. http://wordsandherbs.wordpress.com/

5. http://humaninrecovery.wordpress.com/

Congratulations everyone! You deserve it 🙂

Days 25-28 in Spain: Granada!!

I spent this past weekend traveling to Granada, located  in the south of Spain. “Granada is the former moorish stronghold of Spain and came to prominence in 1200’s at peak of Muslim power. Even after Seville and Cordoba fell to Catholic monarchs,Granada stood as last surviving Islamic capital in Spain. It’s where the sultans took their final stand against Catholic invaders. Fleeing Seville and Cordoba to the west, thousands of Moors flocked here. Many of them were artisans and the Alhambra and other buildings testify to their skills. In 1492 Granada fell to the Catholic and Queen Isabella began to “Christianize” Granada, ordering the construction of a cathedral and royal chapel. She also ordered that Muslim mosques be repurposed for Christian use (Frommer’s Seville, Granada, and the best of Andalusia).

Even though it was scorching hot during the day, the incredible sites that this city has to offer made the heat tolerable. We left for Granada on Thursday night, and arrived around 10 o’clock at night. We checked into the Residencia we were staying at (a friend of mine from this trip studied abroad in Granada last year and stayed in a dorm with other students and a host mom, so she recommended that we stay here too), and upon checking in, we walked around the city to prepare for the weekend ahead of us. On Friday morning, we woke up and got an early start to the day. We grabbed breakfast at a local cafe, and headed over to the Museo De Las Cuevas Del Sacromonte. Granada is known for the numerous caves throughout the city, housing gypsies, restaurants, clubs, and museums. We went to the most well-known museum and learned about the “gypsy” culture and their way of life living in the caves. It was definitely interesting to say the least, and these gypsies seemed to have lived in luxury because there was more cold air in their caves than there was outside! After the museum, we grabbed lunch and headed over to La Alhambra which is an amazing historical site housing various palaces, gardens, army barracks from centuries ago, and has an immaculate view of the city everywhere you turn. We had to purchase our tickets to get in a few days in advance because only 7,700 tickets are sold a day, which may seem like a lot, but seeing as this is probably the most well-known tourist attraction in Granada, everyone tries to get in. La Alhambra was built in the mid 14th century by Arab rulers, which is evident when looking at the beautiful Arab designs every which way you look throughout all of the palaces. Not to mention, the gardens throughout the whole site are beyond astonishing, and really make you want to never leave!

We walked around every possible area of La Alhambra until they were getting ready to close, and decided to spend the remainder of the evening “tapas hopping.” Granada is known to be one of the few remaining cities in Spain where almost every restaurant or bar you go to offers a free “tapas” (or mini appetizer) for every drink you purchase. So my friends and I took this opportunity to “culturize” ourselves by taking advantage of this offer. We drank and ate tapas in various restaurants, and headed back to our residencia to get a good night sleep before waking up early again the following day. When Saturday morning came around, we went to a churreria by our residencia, and ate churros con chocolate, a typical dish here in Spain. The churros were so fresh and the chocolate was so thick that the combination really hit home for those of us who have a sweet-tooth (or a mouth full of sweet-teeth). We continued our explorations by checking out the Catedral de la Encarnacion de Granada, a beautiful cathedral located right next to where we were staying. We then headed over to the Plaza de Toros, Granada’s bullfighting stadium. The stadium was pretty cool to see, and even though I didn’t think it would be, it was completely different from the one I had seen in Sevilla. The stadium was open for us to walk through on our own, and although there were no guided tours going on (and we were the only ones here), we were able to go onto the bullfighting field which was pretty fun. Our next stop was the Federico Garcia Lorca park, named after a famous Spanish writer known for his controversial plays and works. After checking out the park, we went to Albayzín, known to be Granada’s most fascinating quarter with it’s breathtaking views of the city and gorgeous architecture. When we finished up at Albayzín, we walked made our way over to a teteria, Arab lounges that serve tea, traditional Middle Eastern pastries, and caximbah (also known as hookah or water pipe). After relaxing and enjoying tea in the teteria, we walked through the Mercado de Artesania, an Arab/Moroccan market selling souvineers and handmade middle eastern goods, showing the true roots of this city’s history. We practically bargain shopped until it just wasn’t possible anymore, and when we finished, we ran back to the residencia, relaxed a little, showered and went out for the night. We grabbed dinner first at another tapas bar and took a cab to Cambodia, a club famous for being located in a cave in the Albayzín area. The view at night from this club was remarkable, and definitely set the scene to have an awesome night.

Unfortunately, time flew quicker than we could imagine and before we knew it, the sun had risen and it was time to head back home to Alcala. If you couldn’t already tell, Granada was beyond amazing, and now holds the title for my favorite city here in Spain. It was so great that I’m even thinking about studying abroad there sometime once the program I’m currently on finishes. I guess we’ll see what happens, but it’s definitely a thought in my mind 🙂

One Lovely Blog Award

ONE LOVELY BLOGGER AWARD:

I recently spent the past few days away from WordPress (well, not completely away since I continued reading posts from fellow bloggers, but wasn’t posting anything, myself) trying to organize myself, my thoughts, but more importantly, take in as much of Spain as possible before this incredible experience comes to an end at the end of next week. So you can imagine, it was really great and encouraging to check out comments on my blog, informing me that I was in fact nominated for the One Lovely Blog Award. I was nominated by http://theblazingtrail.wordpress.com as well as by David from http://barsetshirediaries.wordpress.com. They both have truly amazing blogs, and I would strongly suggest stopping by! And of course, I thank you both for this much appreciated award!!

The rules for the award are as follows:

1. I need to thank the person who nominated me.

2. Share 7 things about myself that you still may not know

3. Nominate 15 bloggers.

4. Notify the nominees that I have done so.

5. Put the logo of the award on my blog site.

About Me:

I’m not too sure what I haven’t already told everyone about myself, so I’ll try my best to dig deep and not have to make anything up.

1. My first name was supposed to be Adam. My mom was in love with the name and planned on having it be my name, but my sister who was 7 years old at the time fought against it. She said there was a kid in her class named Adam who would constantly pick his nose, and begged my mom for a different name. My parents ended up agreeing on Daniel and compromised with my sister which is how I got my middle name, Adam. (Believe it or not, that’s actually not a made-up story)

2. I am currently fulfilling one of my dreams, which has always been to visit Spain and potentially study abroad there, and now I’m actually doing both!

3. I am terrible with directions so I’m usually late to places if my GPS doesn’t come through for me.

4. I am usually late to everything and try to blame my un-timeliness on my lack of directional skills as much as possible.

5. I used to never want to blog or be a part of social media until I attended the Writer’s Digest Conference in January, and was told by various agents that the only way to get your work published is to build a marketing platform and have an audience. I proceeded in making a blog and a twitter account, and (more so with my blog) have come across incredible people, made fellow WordPress friends, found blogs that I cannot stop following, and have been inspired by fellow bloggers to share my stories, because let’s face it: we all have one.

6. I am appreciative to those who follow and scan over my work, but more importantly read it (even if the only person reading is my mom) because it lets me know that just maybe, someone can learn something from me.

7. I gave up eating pork this past January for religious purposes. You see, I used to eat pepperoni pizza a lot and was a huge fan of bacon and salami, but refused to eat ham and sausages because that was part of the no pork rule that my religion follows. So after a trip to Israel in the end of December, I decided to follow the rule all the way and permanently gave up pork and the mixing of meat and dairy products. (Saying goodbye to cheeseburgers has been the hardest part though, incase anyone was wondering).

Since I was nominated for the Lovely Blog Award twice, both times within a few days of each other, I decided to double the amount of people I could nominate. So I guess this is what it feels like to break the rules. From cooking to inspiration, comedic relief to serious topics, and traveling across the world or to your backyard, there are a lot of award-worthy blogs that I have been coming across in recent days/weeks, but just to name a few:

  1. http://ahealingpath.wordpress.com/
  2. http://bardessdmdenton.wordpress.com/
  3. http://southwestadventurer.com/
  4. http://suedreamwalker.wordpress.com/
  5. http://resilientheart.wordpress.com/
  6. http://reconstructingchristina.wordpress.com/
  7. http://mysmallstillvoice.wordpress.com/
  8. http://17andbaking.com/
  9. http://danishexchange.wordpress.com/
  10. http://lookingatthewest.com/
  11. http://augustomachadoneto.wordpress.com/
  12. http://memomuse.wordpress.com/
  13. http://bahbs.wordpress.com/
  14. http://ironwoodwind.wordpress.com/
  15. http://betigaklaten.wordpress.com/
  16. http://liliessparrowsandgrass.wordpress.com/
  17. http://quirkybooks.wordpress.com/
  18. http://selfblossoming.wordpress.com/
  19. http://sweetnscrappy.com/
  20. http://wise1coaching.wordpress.com/
  21. http://themariaantoinette.wordpress.com/
  22. http://amaanjourney.com/
  23. http://thecardigantales.wordpress.com/
  24. http://maxiscomments.com/
  25. http://hilarishappenings.wordpress.com/
  26. http://carefreecomposition.com/
  27. http://malouprestado.com/
  28. http://origamiraven.wordpress.com 
  29. http://thetroublewithtwentytwo.wordpress.com/  
  30. http://write4you.org/ 
  31. http://gonetoswantravel.com/ 
  32. http://theyummyzone.wordpress.com/
  33. http://pavloskapralos.wordpress.com/
  34. http://natashamontoya89.wordpress.com/
  35. http://juliehansenintuitive.com/
  36. http://workthedream.wordpress.com/
  37. http://packgolive.wordpress.com/
  38. http://walkswithyogi.wordpress.com/
  39. http://thewhyaboutthis.com/
  40. http://studyabroad.joshuascriven.com/
  41. http://50yearproject.wordpress.com/
  42. http://novicejournal.wordpress.com/
  43. http://photoscience.wordpress.com/
  44. http://toddlohenry.com/
  45. http://faitaccompli.wordpress.com/

Congratulations to the above bloggers! This award is much deserved, and I look forward to continue reading your lovely blogs 🙂 (see what I did there?). All best, Dan

Days 18-21 in Spain: Barcelona!!

This past weekend was one of the best yet while in Spain because I finally got a chance to go to Barcelona. Yes, Barcelona; the place we all dream about visiting (or at least I always have). It all started out on Thursday night when I took the Ave from Madrid, Spain’s fast train which got me there in a little over three hours, and arrived at my hostel at midnight. I went to sleep, but the next day was jam-packed with awesome sightseeing. My friends and I started off at Plaza de Cataluñya, which is Barcelona’s main plaza, housing various monuments, and incredible fountains. We then proceeded to walk through La Rambla, Europe’s biggest market with over three hundred stalls containing flowers, foods, souvenirs, art, jewelry, and anything else you can imagine. It was like a tourist’s dream come true! After making our way through the crowds on the street and taking in all that the market had to offer, we found a side market called, “Mercat St. Josep,” also known as “Mercat de la Boqueria” which had all the food and drink essentials possible! (Keep in mind that here in Barcelona, people speak a different dialect of Spanish called Catalan. This is why is why the market, for example is called “Mercat” and not “Mercado”). This side market was amazing! They had the freshest fruits and vegetables I have seen in a while, and all of the colors throughout the market were truly breathtaking. Not to mention, you could also purchase fish and/or meat here to prepare at home, or ones that are already prepared for you.

If you couldn’t already guess, as we neared the end of the market, my conscience was telling me to not blow my money here, and as difficult as it was to obey, I held off on purchases here. We continued on to the Barrio Gotico, Barcelona’s oldest quarter. There were many side streets, restaurants, and entertainment and  the architecture here was impeccable! (You can tell I get excited talking about my adventures when I use strong adjectives and exclamation marks). We came across a really great cathedral in the area, but unfortunately weren’t able to go in since not everyone in my group was dressed appropriately. However, that didn’t stop us from enjoying this old quarter, and we even decided to treat ourselves by having Melindros y Chocolate, a typical dessert in Barcelona, at an old, quaint pastelería (bakery). Once we refueled with baked goods, we continued to walk on until we came across Antoni Gaudi’s Casa Batllló, a house designed for a middle class family in the late eighteen hundreds, and with its unique structure, you can tell that it’s definitely different than any other building in the neighborhood. After passing this attraction, we made our way over to the Sagrada Familia, an extremely famous cathedral which was also designed by Gaudi. The details of the building, both inside and out were beyond what one can imagine, and I truly cannot even begin to explain how remarkable the architecture was. We then went underground to a smaller church where Gaudi is buried, and gained a ton of appreciation for his work. The night concluded with going out to a local club, so you can put the pieces together on your own with regards to how that went.

On Saturday morning, my friends and I ate at a small cafe shop on La Rambla, where we got to watch passersby and enjoy the surrounding scenery. When we finished, we walked up a mountain by the pier and took cable cars across to a building which allowed us to view all of Barcelona. As I’m sure you can guess, the view was incredible, and it almost made me not fear having to ride back to the mountain in the cable cars again. When we finally finished with the scenery part of the trip, we hopped on the metro and went to the other side of town where we took a tour of the Estadio Camp Nou, the stadium where Barcelona’s soccer team, Barcelona FC plays. The stadium was bigger than anything I have ever seen before, and there was even a museum inside which informed us of the team’s history and housed the countless trophies they won in the past! By the time we finished with the stadium tour, it was time to head back to our apartment which we rented out and get ready for the night ahead of us. The evening began with a 30 minute Flamenco show at Los Tarantos, a local bar and theatre. The show was by far one of the best dances I have seen thus far, and it made me fall in love with Flamenco dancing. Unfortunately, my camera died by the time the show started, but I am now able to say that I saw a flamenco show and it was better than anything I could have imagined!

After being thoroughly entertained, my friends and I grabbed dinner at a local restaurant and headed to the Dow Jones Bar afterwards. This stock market-themed bar has a big screen for all of the costumers to watch, with a set list of shots and drinks and prices next to each one. Every few seconds, the prices of the drinks change (like the stock market) according to which drinks are being purchased at that moment. Each hour, there is a stock market crash, and all of the drink prices are lowered significantly, and this is the time that everyone runs to the bar to place their order before the prices go up again. This unique and fun bar brought drinking and learning to a whole new level, and with that, my trip concluded the following morning. Before leaving, I made sure to drink plenty of water from the Fountain of Canaletas because it is rumored that those who drink from the fountain will return to the city, so we’ll see what happens! Needless to say, I had such a great time in Barcelona, and can only hope that my next adventure is as fun as this one!

Day 14 in Spain: Exploring Madrid

Considering the fact that these next two weekends will be dedicated to traveling in other cities, I decided to spend this past Sunday (yesterday) in Madrid to explore all that the city has to offer. In comparison to the US, I’d have to say that Madrid is like our New York City. There are so many people in this city, that one traveling alone in this huge city may possibly have no idea what to do with himself/herself. Luckily I was with a small group of friends, so I didn’t have to worry about the overpowering size of the surrounding environment, and was able to take in all the sights. Madrid is so fast-paced and everyone there is either running to or from work, running to or from home, running across the streets before the lights change colors, running around as crazy tourists trying to jam-pack their days and get in all the famous monuments, but wherever you turn, someone is running. Such a crazy city can really make ones head spin, but I tried to not let the living in the fast-lane mentality of Madrid get to me.

We started the day off by going to El Rastro, also known as the Thieves Market, because of all the pickpocketing that takes place here. The market was truly incredible! Anything you could possibly ask for, they had. Clothes, souvenirs, playing cards, collectors items, antiques, junk (in a few stands), toys, art; they literally had everything! The market is only open on Sundays from the morning until 2pm, so once the vendors started breaking down their stands, we headed over to our next destination, La Plaza Mayor. This central plaza, located in the heart of Madrid dates back to the 1500’s and has been reconstructed in the 1700’s due to various fires. Its history and beauty is truly breathtaking, and you’re always guaranteed to find street performers and entertainers close by to keep you on your feet.

Next stop on the list was the Mercado San Miguel, a market place right next to the Plaza Mayor. This market has private vendors, each of whom all sell different tapas, drinks, desserts, you name it. You literally walk from one food vendor to the next with pocket change and taste the incredible food that they offer. Once we sampled enough food to keep us satisfied for a while longer, we walked over to the Museo de Jamón, which is the Ham Museum, just a few blocks down the road. This museum offers a wide array of pork selections, and even though I don’t eat pork, everything looked great. I had the only non-pork item on the menu, which was chicken, which was good, but nothing worth writing any more about. After recharging ourselves, we walked over to the Parque del Retiro, which is an over 350-acre park that Spanish monarchs from back in the day used to spend time at, and entertain guests here. Various statues and monuments can be found throughout the park, and its beauty is truly mesmerizing. My friends and I enter a rowboat to further explore all that the park had to offer, and it was definitely refreshing considering the dry heat all around us in Madrid.

Finally, after making our way out of the park, we walked over to the Jardines del Museo del Prado, an incredible garden area by the Del Prado Museum, one of the most famous museums in the world. The gardens were amazing, as you can see in the pictures, but unfortunately, by the time we made it over to the museum, they were closed. However, it’s a great reason to come back to Madrid soon to check it out again! Not to mention, we found inexpensive tickets to a flamenco show and found out times for upcoming bullfights so you can count on another post about Madrid in the near future!

Spanish words of the day: mercado- market; cuánto cuesta- how much does it cost (singular); cuántos cuestan- how much do they cost (plural) — both useful when making a purchase or preparing to bargain with a street vendor