End of the Year Appreciation

With today being December 31st, it is no secret that people nationwide are making last minute attempts at creating New Years Resolutions and fine-tuning their goals for the upcoming year. What I find interesting (even though I’m guilty of it as well) is that so many of us wait until January 1st to begin to follow through with ways we believe will better us. If our resolutions don’t work, or if we simply cannot stick to the plan we set out for ourselves, well, there’s always next January 1st for us to try again.

If we could move past the concept of New Year’s Resolutions, we could work on continuously trying to better ourselves. Moreover, we’ll have an entire year to hold ourselves accountable for our actions, rather than just waiting for a “re-do” twelve months from now. What is important for us to remember during these upcoming weeks of “resolutioning” (a new verb that’s quite fitting for this time of year) is that one minor setback is not a failure; we must not allow ourselves to get discouraged if things do not go according to plan. There is always tomorrow to wake up refreshed and begin from where we last left off. If we can view New Year’s Resolutions as the Year’s Resolutions, maybe we won’t be so harsh on ourselves. And maybe we’ll realize that our goals can be fought for at any given moment of any given day—not just for the first few days in January.

With that being said, one goal that I set for myself this past year was to continue blogging, since I had taken an extended break before the year began. Just this year alone, individuals from all around the world stopped by my site to read what I had to say. To me, there would be nothing more rewarding than knowing that one person (not including my mother) occasionally glances through my site. However, to find out that more than 2,000 visitors from sixty-nine different countries read my thoughts, experiences, and stories throughout the year is beyond overwhelming.

Just this year alone, my blog has had more visitors than the last three years combined. To my fellow bloggers, readers, and friends from 2015, I extend my sincerest appreciation and gratitude for your support. (In the tag section of this post, I’ve included the country of each visitor throughout this past year as a special way of saying thank you since it’s much easier than hand-written notes).

May 2016 be a year to remember, and may all of our resolutions come to fruition, regardless of any potential setbacks we may experience along the way. Happy New Year to all of you, and thank you, once again.

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Barcelona, Spain: Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys

Once the Telefèric de Montjuïc (or Montjuïc Cable Car) took us down the hill, my sister and I decided to walk around and explore the surrounding area. Fortunately for us, we came across Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys, also known as Barcelona’s Olympic Stadium.

The stadium was first built in 1927 in preparation for the International Exposition (also known as the World’s Fair) which took place in Barcelona in 1929. In 1989, the stadium was renovated for the 1992 Summer Olympics, since this was the city’s primary stadium for the Olympic’s events. The stadium has been known to seat anywhere between 50,000 to over 60,000 people and is currently used for sporting events and concerts.

The stadium was renamed in 2001 after the formal president of the Catalan government during the Spanish Civil War, Lluís Companys. If you remember reading about the Montjuïc Castle in the previous post, Lluís Companys was executed there in 1940 by the Franco regime, but his name lives on through this magnificent stadium.

Barcelona, Spain: Castell de Montjuïc

To start off our second morning in Barcelona, we took a cab to Castell de Montjuïc, also known as the Montjuïc Castle.

During a revolt in 1640, a fortification was built atop the Montjuïc mountain. It was attacked the following year, and eventually became a castle in 1694. In 1751, after a back-and-forth struggle of who had possession of the castle, the old fort from 1640 which stood inside the walls of the castle had been demolished. A moat was placed around the castle, and from 1779 to 1799, construction to provide accommodations took place within the castle, since the population within the walls was growing.  120 cannons had also been placed within and around the castle.

In the mid 1900’s, the castle served as a military prison, but in 1960, the castle was given back to the city. The following three years were spent turning the site into a military museum, and it opened as such in 1963 (http://www.bcn.cat/castelldemontjuic/en/welcome.html).

We walked around the grounds of the castle, and each angle of the castle had a different view of the city—one side of the castle provided us with a view of La Sagrada Familia, whereas the other side provided us with a view of the Port of Barcelona (pictured below). After touring the castle, we headed towards Telefèric de Montjuïc, which is the Montjuïc Cable Car. As the cable car brought us down the hill, we saw the entire city from a 360 degree angle. It was absolutely breathtaking!

 

 

Simple Quote Sunday

Similar to what I mentioned yesterday, at the beginning of the year, I set out to find noteworthy quotes to share with my readers every Sunday throughout 2015. My hope was that if one quote resonated with just one person, maybe that individual could be inspired to go on and achieve greatness.

It only takes a single spark to ignite a burning passion within a person. If that spark could be lit by memorable words of past and present leading figures of society, by all means, we should run with such words and begin to pave our paths towards greatness. With that being said, I would like to conclude 2015 with the following quote:

“There is no passion to be found playing small—in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”
-Nelson Mandela

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Nelson Mandela

Snapshot Challenge Saturday

At the beginning of the year, I set out to challenge myself each and every Saturday for the following fifty-two weeks. I wanted myself to take the time to find something beautiful, and as I did, I wanted to capture that particular moment which I was enjoying. Throughout the year, I have been following through with my Snapshot Challenge Saturday, and surprisingly enough, I haven’t missed a single week.

What I enjoyed most about this challenge is that it helped me remember to stop and appreciate my surroundings. Whether it was a beautiful tree in the backyard that I had never yet noticed, a breathtaking view from where I was standing, a stunning sunset, or an adorable moment between two animals, I have seen so many beautiful sights these past fifty-two weeks, and I am so glad to have ventured out on this worthwhile experience.

I will most definitely continue with this challenge throughout 2016 because in an age of technology and cell-phones, it is so easy to miss out on incredible moments taking place around us. I would rather immerse myself in the beauty around me as opposed to regretting not having done so at a later point in time.

And so, with this last Snapshot Challenge of 2015, there are many beautiful pictures which I could have chosen from to conclude the year. However, this challenge has helped me realize that the most precious moments are those spent with loved ones closest to us. I am beyond thankful and appreciative to have such incredible people in my life, and I cannot think of anything more beautiful.

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Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Christmas is a beautiful holiday celebrated by a countless number of individuals across the globe. Of course it is a significant holiday due to religious purposes, but what makes this day even more special is that it is one of the few times during the year where families come together to celebrate with one another. Not only this, but the holiday spirit brings people even closer together, and there is an overall joyous feeling that engulfs us all—regardless of our religious affiliations.

However, once the New Year rolls in and we quickly return to our routines, the festivity disappears, as does much of the joy we shared with one another just a few weeks/months prior. As the holidays pass, we pick up from where we last left off by consuming ourselves in political correctness and a continuous argument regarding which religion is superior and why the beliefs of others don’t matter. Before you know it, the closeness and connectedness that brought us all together is long gone—at least until the following December.

If we each took the time to realize that when you put aside our exteriors including our physical features, skin tones, and other such minute differences, we are all the same. Much of our beliefs and values are so similar, but for some reason we cannot take the time to listen to those around us and try to understand that there are a great deal of resemblances in our beliefs. If only we could live in a  world where “holiday cheer” was simply called “cheer,” and we allowed the joyous breeze that is seemingly only found during the holidays to run through the air all year long. Then the constant bickering, discrimination, and hatred that we see all over the news would lessen significantly, and maybe, just maybe, we could have a much easier time living in harmony.

As I posted a short while ago, Mother Teresa once said, “Let us always meet each other with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.” If we could each make it a goal to try and spread some of the “Holiday Cheer” throughout the following year, we might be able to help make this difference which would ultimately allow us to live in a better world.

While spending this beautiful holiday with loved ones, let us enjoy the special time we are sharing with each other. Let us also think about how to make improvements to the upcoming year we have ahead of us, so that we can continue to have as many memorable moments as possible. With that being said, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and may this year be filled with an abundance of joy, cheer, and love for one another!

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Barcelona, Spain: Font màgica de Montjuïc

After an incredible day of sightseeing, there was still one more task on our to-do list— Font màgica de Montjuïc, also known as the Montjuïc Magic Fountain. The fountain first premiered in 1929 for the International Exhibition (also known as the World’s Fair), and has since blown tourists and locals away with its beautiful display of colors, lights, and of course, its synced and coordinated water movements.

The fountain’s water moves in accordance with the music that is playing, and the lights that are constantly changing, and it is truly a wonderful sight. Behind the fascinating water show is the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, which is Barcelona’s National Art Museum. Although we didn’t have time to see the exhibits, we were able to see the museum lit up at night, which was also spectacular.

Once the show ended, my sister and I crossed the street and came across Las Arenas, which is a shopping mall. We didn’t know this at the time, as we assumed it was a bullfighting ring since that’s what it looked like. It turns out, Las Arenas was actually a bullring, but was transformed into a mall in 2011 since bullfighting in Barcelona was banned in 2010. Although the shops in the mall were closed at the time, we went to the rooftop to see what was up there, and ended up sitting down at a restaurant for dinner. We ordered sangria (which if you couldn’t tell by now, is a must in Spain), as well as patatas bravas (once again), and seafood paella (because we couldn’t get enough of it. The food and views from the rooftop were great, and we couldn’t wait to get started on our next day in Barcelona!