A Puente in Portugal

porto

As soon as my final papers and projects were handed in and done with at the start of December I was on a plane to Porto, Portugal for the long weekend (or puente).  As someone who has grown up living beside the ocean I was very excited to once again be near the water (oceans and rivers are two things Madrid does not have in abundance).

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Day-tripping: Segovia, Spain

segovia

Segovia, Spain – a World Heritage Site – is located in the region of Castile and León and is home to the Aqueduct of Segovia and Segovia Cathedral.  Just a short train ride north-west of Madrid, (€20 round trip on the high speed train from Chamartin Station) this quaint little city on the other side of the Guadarrama Mountains makes for the perfect day-trip destination. (more…)

Day-tripping: Toledo, Spain

Toledo

The picturesque city of Toledo is just a 30 minute train ride outside of Madrid and well worth a visit.  It may sound cheesy but I would highly recommend hopping on the Toledo City Tour bus that waits for passengers outside of the train station.  Although the station is a quick fifteen/twenty minute walk from the city center the tour (€9 to get into the center) crosses the river and circles around the city before heading into the center.  From the surrounding hills passengers are offered great views of the entire city.  A great photo-op and the audio provided on the bus is a great introduction to the Toledo’s history and some of the key buildings you may want to visit. (more…)

Madrid Holi Run 2013

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On October 19th I was lucky enough to join about 10,000 people in Madrid’s first ever Holi Run.  The Holi Run is similar to the Color Run in the States and Canada if you have ever participated in one of those races.  This was my first experience with a race like this and it definitely won’t be my last!  The race was held outside of the city and the sheer volume of people walking towards the starting line was very impressive, not to mention some of the awesome costumes people had decided to dress up in. (more…)

Staying Fit and Keeping Well Abroad

stayfit

I had been living in Madrid for about three weeks when I started to realize that all of the tapas and cañas had started to take a toll!  I have been called a ‘gym rat’ by more than one person so it was only a matter of time before I went in search of a fitness regimen that would fit well into my new life here in Spain.  Not only does exercising contribute to my physical well-being, it is also a great option for reducing stress (there’s nothing like trying to juggle work, school, and a move across the ocean to raise one’s stress levels!). (more…)

Tips for Finding an Apartment Abroad

apartment

So you have made the move abroad and are now in the midst of trying to find a place to live in a foreign country.  In my case I had just moved to Madrid to teach English for the upcoming school year.  Even with the Spanish I know the first few days I spent in Spain were more than a little intimidating!  Whether you have moved abroad for school or work, here are a few tips and suggestions to help you navigate this part of the process:
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Joyce's Dublin #happyplace

IMG_1085Dublin – a UNESCO city of literature.  The birthplace of James Joyce and affiliated with nobel prize winners for literature such as Yeats, Shaw, Beckett, and Heaney – this city offers a variety of activities related to their works as well as literature in general.  I spent about five days in Dublin so I had ample time to wander around and see many of the sites.  The city is small but chock-a-block with things to do and see.  Weather permitting I would suggest walking whenever possible (don’t forget to pack your hats and scarves – I definitely underestimated how cold it would be at the beginning of September!).

I spent a full day touring around Trinity College and St. Patrick’s Cathedral.  Trinity College is home to the Book of Kells and the Old Library Exhibition, while St. Patrick’s is strongly tied to the life and works of Jonathan Swift who served as Dean of the cathedral.  At St. Patrick’s hop on a free tour in order to get the most out of your visit!  My tour guide was fun and knowledgeable – I learned a lot about Irish history surrounding both literature and religion.  Marsh’s Library might also be of interest to my fellow book lovers! (more…)

London Markets #happyplace

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Portobello Market

Unfortunately I did not get to experience Portobello Market in all of its glory given that I ended up there on a Thursday morning, however Portobello Road itself was still worth a wander.  A fantastic mixture of charming and chintzy, this area of the city promises a variety of high end buys as well as some great deals.  I was also happily surprised by the number of stalls selling handmade goods made by local artists. (more…)

Lost in London #happyplace

LondonThis past Monday I spent a lazy day getting lost in one of the greatest (in my own humble opinion) cities in the world.  I have been to London on several occasions and thus felt comfortable leaving the maps and guides behind.  London is big but walking from borough to borough is very doable and a great way to experience the city (also more affordable than taking public transport everywhere). (more…)