Visiting the Western Wall In Jerusalem, Israel

Although it may seem as though we had been traveling for weeks, we only spent three days and two nights in Barcelona, since our final destination was Israel. The most memorable part of our trip to Israel (besides seeing family members and loved ones) was our excursion to the Western Wall in Jerusalem. There is so much history and an overwhelming sense of spirituality as you walk around.

It is absolutely beautiful to be able to go to a place and pray to a higher power (or whatever one may believe in) and know that a countless amount of individuals travel here to do the same. We were lucky enough to come on a day where members of a certain sector of the Israeli army had completed their training, and were officially becoming members of the Israeli Defense Force. And as we walked around, the view of the surrounding area was breathtaking.

We had such a great time touring Lisbon Portugal, exploring Barcelona, Spain, and visiting various cities in Israel, especially Jerusalem. We were sad to return home and get back to the “real world,” but we have since been left with a lingering and exciting feeling of knowing we’ll be back on a plane traveling again soon—although for now, the destination is unknown!

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The Western Wall In Jerusalem, Israel

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Barcelona, Spain: Plaça Reial and Flamenco Dancing

After we walked along Las Ramblas, we turned on one of the side streets, which led us to Plaça Reial. Plaça Reial is a historic square, which translates to “Royal Plaza” from Catalan.

Around 1835, religious buildings were confiscated throughout the city, which was the case of a Capuchin convent where Plaça Royal was later built. At the time, the square was meant to praise King Ferdinand VII with a statue of him in the center of the plaza. When this idea didn’t come to fruition, a beautiful fountain of the Three Graces was built instead, representing beauty, charm, and joy. There are two street lamps beside the fountain, both designed by Antoni Gaudí (http://www.barcelonaturisme.com/wv3/en/page/1248/placa-reial.html).

Since this was the last of Gaudi of artwork we would see

After walking around Plaça Reial, it was time for us to enter Los Tarantos, a flamenco show in the plaza. This thirty minute show was absolutely incredible, and it gave us a great appreciation for this beautiful dance. After the show, my sister and I ate dinner in the plaza at a restaurant that serves traditional Spanish food. We ordered croquetas de pollo, or chicken croquets, gazpacho (a cold, tomato-based soup), sangria (of course), paella negra (which is really called arròs negre in Catalan). This meal is made with cuttlefish or squid, which is how it gets its black color. The food was delicious, and it was truly the perfect way to conclude our trip to Barcelona. Now it was time for us to head to the airport and arrive at our final destination—Israel.

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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Enjoying Lisbon, Portugal

As mentioned in a previous post, after our trip to Colombia, my sister and I traveled to Israel for a week to visit some of our family members who live there. On the way, we had plans to stop in Spain for a few days, and it just so happens that we were able to find a flight from Miami that stopped in Lisbon, Portugal for a few hours before continuing to Spain.

We arrived in Lisbon at around 5:00am, and had nearly ten hours to explore the city before having to return to the airport. After passing customs and dropping our suitcases off in a locker room, we hopped on the city bus that took us to the city center, nearly thirty minutes away from the airport. By the time we arrived to Praça de Comércio, also known as the city center, it was around 6:30am. Almost every store and restaurant were closed, and the only people on the streets besides us were store owners getting ready to open, people who were making their way back home after a long night, and street cleaners. We had what seemed like the entire city to ourselves, so naturally, we walked around and explored.

In preparing for the trip, I found a walking tour itinerary, so we followed the directions and began our tour. After walking through the city center, we made our way to the first stop, Igreja de Madalena which dates back to 1783, although it has a history that dates back centuries before. “This Church was founded in the 12th century, ordered by the first Portuguese king, D. Afonso Henriques in the 12th century, yet it has suffered many transformations over the centuries, namely in 1363 when it was quite destroyed by a big fire; in 1512 with other architectonic alterations; in 1600 was partially destroyed by a small cyclone; and with the big earthquake of 1755 was almost totally destroyed and rebuilt afterwards, maintaining some ancient elements, as well as several Lisboa’s buildings that wererebuilt after the big catastrophe” (www.getportugal.com).

From here, we walked down the street until we came across Igreja de San António, also from the 1700’s which was built atop what is said to be the saint’s birthplace. After walking around the church, we found Sé de Lisboa, which is Lisbon’s cathedral. Here, in Lisbon’s oldest building dating back to 1150, is where Saint Anthony was baptized and where the casket with the remains of St. Vincent, the official patron saint of Lisbon are located. (http://www.golisbon.com/sight-seeing/cathedral.html).

We were fortunate enough that by the time we made it to each particular site, the doors were just being opened for entrance. Our morning was off to an incredible start, as we were able to see so many beautiful sights, but this was only the beginning!

Snapshot Challenge Saturday

After our trip to Colombia, my sister and I traveled to Israel for a few days to visit family. However, before arriving at our final destination, we made a few stops along the way. I’ll post more about our travel adventures later on this week, but today’s Snapshot Challenge is a picture I took in Praça do Comércio, also known as the main square in Lisbon, Portugal. The area was beautiful, the weather was incredible, and we couldn’t have asked for a better sight to kick off our journey to Portugal, Spain, and Israel.

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