How I Ate My Way Through Spain: Part 4

I'm FINALLY finishing my Spain series. After conquering Barcelona, Valencia, and Seville... and eating ALL the food, we were off to Madrid! Once again we took a very early train so that we could see as much as humanly possible. Because who needs sleep? Am I right?

First stop was The Museo Reina Sofia, the modern art counterpart to The Prado. We chose this museum because it has an exhibit housing one of Picasso's most famous murals, Guernica. The exhibit was absolutely stunning. I wasn't allowed to take pictures but it looks like this:

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Except better. Obviously, it's more magnificent in person. It also takes up the whole wall. Imagine me standing in the lower right corner only covering that one dude's foot.

We then walked through the other exhibits and got to see another personal favorite, Salvador Dali. I'm dying to make a trip to Figueres, Spain someday to see the Dali Theatre and Museum.

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After a great morning of art we were famished but didn't have a lot of time. So another jamon sandwich it was! I still can't get over how something so simple is so frickin' good. It must be how they dry age their prosciutto. We were ready to start our trek through Buen Retiro Park, which is Madrid's version of New York's Central Park. There were so many beautiful spots to stop at. One of my favorites was The Palacio de Cristal.

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This palace made of wood and glass was built in 1887 for The Exposition of the Philippines, then a Spanish colonial possession. After marveling at its beauty, we wandered past another grand pavilion, Palacio de Velazquez before making our way to Retiro Pond.

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Since we had already conquered rowing in Seville, we skipped it this time. But it still looked fun! We then left the park and wandered past the Puerta de Alcala, a grand archway, on our way out of the park when I spotted them. Twinkly lights. I told you before and I will tell you again, nothing does it for me like twinkly lights. They are like fairies dancing on my soul. Oh, and pitchers of sangria never hurt, either. So of course we had to stop.

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Can You #TreatYoself Too Much?

There's a new hashtag on Instagram. #TreatYoself. First, I reread that about four different times to make sure it wasn't, in fact, TREAT YOURSELF. Nope, apparently, I'm just not cool enough to drop the U. Millennials. Sigh.

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In this day and age of #yolo, (You Only Live Once for those of you Millennial acronym impaired) have we actually gone too far with the treating ourselves? How much is good self care and how much is irresponsibly draining our bank accounts?

The first thing I noticed when I visited the #treatyoself page on Instagram were a lot of pictures of food. Truffle fries, donuts, and chocolate stuffed pancakes, oh my! Wait. Where were those chocolate stuffed pancakes from? Because they looked BOMB. I think a little decadent food every now and then is a great way to treat yourself. I can tell you that a good night of music and cooking at home with a good bottle of wine and fresh produce is one of the BEST things I can do to treat myself. The problem for me is knowing when to draw the line. Because it may be "treating myself" to buy that $70 bottle of wine I've always wanted to try, but will it still be treating myself if I can't pay rent at the end of the month?

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I also wanted to explore other ways that I could treat myself. Like I said, I saw a lot of pictures of food on that Instagram page. I also saw a lot of travel pics. But what are a couple simple ways that I can treat myself in day to day life?

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How I Ate My Way Through Spain: Part 3

When we last left off on my Spanish adventure, we had completed a jam-packed, fun filled day in Valencia. And once again, on minimal sleep, we were up at 6am to make it to the train station for our next leg: Seville! (pronounced Se-bi-ya not like The Barber of Seville. Come on, don't be THAT American.)

This time we had a four hour train ride so we got in a decent nap which was good because I was dying. This was the first time that the thought, "Dear God, what have I done?!?" popped into my head. I had a dreadful feeling that I had bit off more than I could chew in my itinerary planning.

That is until we got into Seville, dropped our bags off at the hotel, and ran to a restaurant as fast as we could. We were starving. Did I mention how much I love Spanish tapas? Yes? Too bad, I'm going to say it again. I LOVE SPANISH TAPAS. OK, now I'm screaming at you. But look at this.

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Grilled octopus in squid ink. I'm getting hungry just looking at it. I will tell you that the moment they put this in front of me all my sleepiness went right out the window. Good food just makes my heart beat fast like that. And it tasted even better than it looks! We also had skirt steak with chimichurri sauce. Both were delicious.

With our stomachs full we felt recharged enough to explore beautiful Seville. Our first stop was The Plaza de Espana in the Parque de Maria Luisa. This was built in 1928 for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929.

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If you visit make sure you have Euros to pay for the row boats, which I desperately wanted to do. We were both fresh out and hadn't had time to stop at an exchange center so I bartered with a local vendor to exchange U.S. dollars for a small fee. And, even though my boyfriend and I weren't the best rowers at first, we got the hang of it and it was so worth it!

After walking through the beautiful park we made our way to Hotel Alfonso XIII, a very expensive luxury hotel our cab driver had told us was worth the visit. He claimed they had the best cafe con leche in town so, obviously, I had to check it out. The hotel was amazing and very upscale. I felt a little like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman as I squealed in pleasure at the wide array of scented lotions in the bathroom. We sat in the central courtyard which had natural sunlight and a serene atmosphere and got ready for our pick me up.

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How I Ate My Way Through Spain: Part 2

Barcelona was a dream. Breathtaking architecture and mind blowing food. Read about it  here. Now, on to Valencia!

The first mistake my boyfriend and I made planning this trip was over-ambition. We made it back to our hotel from our amazing fourteen course meal at Moments at 1:00am. And then we had to pack. Our reservation had been at 8:30pm, which was also the earliest possible dinner time. Spaniards do things late. My kind of people but not when I foolishly schedule a train to Valencia at 7am the next morning.

So a little loopy, we woke up at 5am and were on our way! Luckily, we got to sleep two and a half hours on the train because then we were off and running.

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Our first stop was the Valencia Cathedral. Inside, we took a tour and saw some beautiful art work. And then the piece de resistance, the Holy Grail.

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Apparently, this is the chalice Jesus drank out of at the last supper. The Moors brought it over on a ship when they conquered this area in 715 AD. But who knows for sure. There are eight different chalices around the world claimed as the Holy Grail. But I'm gonna go ahead and say this one is real. Because this is the one I saw.

We also saw this:

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This is the real human hand of Saint Augustine. It has never fully decomposed. I was unhealthily obsessed with this piece. It was gross and amazing at the same time. OK. Enough about that. I promised you food.

We rented bikes and rode through old town into the City of Arts and Sciences. We were starving at this point so we stopped at a little outside cafe for some sangria and jamon sandwiches. Jamon sandwiches are literally just prosciutto on a baguette with a little butter. But they are DELICIOUS. I also must note that in the U.S. I am not able to drink milk. (I'm an almond milk girl.) But in Spain I had all kinds of dairy products like butter and cafe con leche and I never had a stomach ache! My theory is that there are too many antibiotics or other preservatives put into our food. So thanks for that U.S. Thanks. Oh, and by the way, this was our background during lunch.

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Yes, that is real. And no, we didn't only have one bike. It was just nicer for the picture.

I'm sorry I didn't take a picture of our jamon sandwich but you can see a typical one in the photo at the top. Next, we rode all the way down to the beach and had a delicious meal of cod fritters (left) and grilled cuddlefish (right). Everything melted in your mouth and the flavors! I can tell you one thing, Spanish food is not bland.

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How I Became the Best Me… and Saw Some Dance

I attended the first annual Best You Expo in Long Beach, CA this past Saturday. And IT. WAS. AWESOME.

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But, at first, I came in skeptical because I got the tickets for free. And let's face it, how good could it REALLY be if they're handing these things out like demo tracks on Hollywood Boulevard? (And even THOSE cost $10 if you actually take one. Trust me. One time I was chased.) I received the tickets because I've taken a class on mindvalley.com and they sent me an email. I needed some kind refresher so I signed up for one along with another friend of mine.

When we first got there I still wasn't 100% sold. I was worried there would be red tape, like we could only see the speakers in the booths in the basement, who would tie us up and torture us with meditation until we bought their self help program. But it turned out we had access to everything. Still didn't know what everything was. But we had it.

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The first speaker talked about basic concepts like living in the now, instead of the past or the future. I've heard that one a billion gagillion times but, still, it was fine... until he showed us the trailer of the movie he is producing based on his life. Dude, I love your passion, but 1: You had a typo on the slides you showed us, proofread; and 2: your video quality was grainy and dialogue unoriginal.  I did not come here to see a similar version of my own life under florescent convention center lights. I wanted ANSWERS.

The second speaker we saw was on the Main Stage and deemed herself "The Happiness Guru." She was a very quirky lady who was OK being 100 percent herself. That in itself is a great message because I'm already second guessing my previous paragraph. Was I too mean? Will they know I'm just joking? Do you think the anonymous guy I was talking about will be one of my 57 readers? Anyway, she talked a lot about not listening to anyone else and following your own intuition. Also, don't focus on money. Focus on what makes you happy. Great. I really like writing this blog but I also need to pay rent. Suggestions, PLEASE?

Then comes Kyle Cease. Whom I am now IN LOVE with. (He has a fiance but does that REALLY matter in Hollywood? Joking. Kind of.) This isn't a physical thing, though. I love him because he is ME. He's doing what I want to do. And doing it very successfully and effortlessly. He is a stand up comic that uses his comedy to make people laugh at reality, simultaneously bringing a transformational message. I mean, he opened with ten minutes on how bad the venue was, calling the convention center an airplane hanger, calling out the other booths making noise. "Alaska airlines flight now boarding at Gate 1," he retorts when when we hear someone talking on a bullhorn off in the distance. I cannot do him justice but trust me, he was hilarious. He then went into the core of his message and I want to share the three main points I learned from him.

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  • FALL IN LOVE WITH NOT KNOWING

Fall in love with anything that is happening. Remember, what you resist persists. I instantly know this is why I was called to this Expo. He goes on to say that you'll never be happy WHEN something happens. First, BE happy, then something happens. Don't worry about being right or wrong. We only do that because we're trying to get something. If we're trying to get something that puts us in a place of lack and pushes it away. Translation in my head: Stop worrying about how many people read this. I do this because it's a passion of mine and makes ME happy. And like five people consistently read it.

Also stop worrying about what's going to happen. He points out that we get anxious by the thought, "I don't know what's going to happen." That's because we have a belief that we SHOULD know what's going to happen. Instead, feel your anxiety or your control issue, love it, and let it go! FALL IN LOVE WITH NOT KNOWING! That's when freedom happens!

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  • TAP IN TO YOUR INNER APPLE TREE

We've all heard that we can go inside and access the infinite, unconditional love that we are. That's the basis of meditation, getting in touch with God and hearing the truth from our souls. But how often do we REALLY trust this? Kyle assures us that we all have an Oprah or a Ghandi inside us so stop trying to be successful. Trust and let God and life flow. Stop being addicted to controlling things we can't control. Go inside and ask yourself, "what feels light and expands me?" Then follow that passionately. Stop caring what everyone else thinks! He asked us, "Do you think Elvis passed out comment cards after a show?" Do you think he cared? NO! He was freaking Elvis!

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