Buen Retiro Park: A Madrid ‘Must See’

If you do one thing in Madrid, go walk around in El Parque del Retiro. Unless of course you don’t give a shit about beauty and nature and would rather drink, eat or see museums. Hey, everyone’s different! Actually, you can do all of those things in the park or very close by. I ended up doing a quick tour of The Prado after I left the park since it’s right around the corner. It was OK, but I’m more of a modern art lover. I also prefer nature and architecture. But regardless, the park is a must-see for anyone visiting the wonderful city of Madrid.

In 1632, the park was built as part of the Real Sitio del Buen Retiro palace by King Philips IV as a retreat for the Royal family. It’s a massive 320 acre park filled with beautiful architecture, nature and people out running, rollerblading, playing street hockey and even working out on the playgrounds. On that note, if you’re looking for a hot-bodied Spaniard definitely get on over to one of those playgrounds! I almost tripped and fell when I walked by since I was being a total gawker. These guys are ripped and doing crazy acrobatic workouts on the monkey bars…I really wanted to take a video, but then I decided I wasn’t feeling creepy enough…so instead, I just walked by slowly.

So yeah, in the northern entrance of the Parque del Retiro is the Estanque del Retiro, an artificial lake where you can rent a cute little rowing boat for a few euros. I was so extremely tempted to do it but as I gazed out at the lake, I noticed that it was all couples rowing along with love in their eyes…not that I cared…but I guess I kinda cared. So, I decided to pass on that. Across the lake is a large monument with an equestrian statue of King Alfonso XII. I decided to take lots of pics of that instead (shown above in the main image).

Towards the south of the park you will come across another small lake. At the edge of this lake is the most insanely beautiful glass building called the Palacio de Cristal or Crystal Palace. It was built in 1887 by Ricardo Velázquez Bosco and was initially used to house exotic plants brought over from the Philippines. Now it is mainly used for temporary exhibitions. It was by far one of my favorite places to be in Retiro Park.
crystal palace madridCrystal Palace DetailCrystal Palace detailOOTD in the Crystal PalaceAround the corner from the Crystal Palace is another beautiful building called the Palacio de Velázquez, also used for temporary exhibitions. Originally it served as a pavilion for the national exhibition of the mining, metal, glass and ceramics industry. For some reason I didn’t get many good pics of this. I was probably more interested in using it as a backdrop for my selfie…at least I’m honest, right?

Palacio de VelazquezPalacio de Velazquez

Once you have strolled by the sweaty bods at the playground, you’ll come across a walkway lined on each side with what look like cherry blossom trees but I believe they are actually almond trees. Here, you’ll find people relaxing under the beautiful blossoms, reading books, doing mini photoshoots, or like me, alone taking selfies and getting stared at…oh, the woes of solo adventures.almond tree ootd details

There’s also the Rosaleda (rose garden) with a pretty fountain that is worth strolling through when the flowers have bloomed. I unfortunately do not have any photos of the Rose Garden but I’m sure it’s beautiful in the Springtime.

If you like to keep in shape while you’re on vacation (or holiday), a great way to get a grand scope of the park is to go for a little morning or late afternoon run. This allows you to cover a lot more ground in a shorter amount of time. The park is huge and you could literally get lost in there for hours, which I happened to do…and loved every minute of it.

If you’re ever in Madrid, definitely do not miss the chance to visit this park. It’s beauty will lift your spirits and leave you glowing…and really, there’s nothing better than that.


OOTD: Travel Chic (Day 1 in Madrid)

I was late getting out of my house to get to the airport. A few minutes down the road I realized I left my sunglasses. After going back to get them and heading back out, I realized I left my charger. Luckily, I made it to the airport in time. Just in time to find out that my flight to NY was delayed. It was so delayed that I almost missed my connecting flight to Spain. I literally hyperventilated, almost cried and then had to get ushered through the long ass security line and escorted to my terminal. To those of you that know me, this will come as no surprise…and almost expected.

Note: If you ever have the chance to fly Iberia, do it. I got the warmest greeting in Spanish as I walked onto the plane and I was immediately put at ease with the lounge music playing in the background. The seats were comfortable, the amenities were great and everyone looked happy…my kinda vibe.

I arrived in Madrid, Spain the next morning and met up with my girlfriend who is currently living there. I had some time to decompress at her house before changing clothes and heading out to explore the city. I threw on a pair of harem pants (designed by my beautiful friend, Tania in Los Angeles), a grey tank, leather jacket, leather hat and my chucks. Super comfy yet chic. Or maybe I should say super comfy to a point. By the end of the day, my feet were pretty cut up. Blister Nation. I actually spent the whole 2 weeks of my vacation with at least 4 band-aids on at all times. Word of advice: Chucks aren’t made for walking (not for my feet anyways). If you’re going to be spending long days walking and wandering around somewhere, then I would absolutely suggest packing or buying a pair of actual walking shoes. You probably already know this tho. I’ve never walked so much in my entire life…so, lesson learned. P.S. I’m obsessed with doors now.

ootd travel chic

ootd travel chic

snakeskin leather cross body bag ootd_harem pantsOutfit Details:
Harem pants – VFGxTaniaSarin

Leather Jacket- Zara (older style)
Tank – Victorias Secret
Sneakers – Converse All Stars
Sunglasses – Chanel
Leather Hat – RR Traders (amazing local boutique in Newburyport, MA)
Snakeskin Leather Crossbody Bag – Nordstrom

More posts about my trip to Spain coming soon!

Roadtrip Part 3: Music City

From the moment my car set its tires in Nashville, I knew it was love at first sight. I felt alive as I drove through The Gulch trying to find my friends apartment building. It was dark and the twinkling lights from the quaint eateries and eye-catching window displays at the local boutiques made me feel at home…like, an “I could live here” kinda thing.

I was staying with my super talented friend who had just moved to Nashville to pursue her singing career. She lives in an area called The Gulch which is located on the south-west fringe of downtown Nashville and is the first neighborhood in the South to become an LEED certified green neighborhood. It’s a hip, urban hotspot that is newly renovated and offers up a plethora of bars, restaurants, boutiques and coffee shops. The best part was that her apartment building was walking distance to everything.

For my first night, she took me to Sambuca, an eclectic spot for fine dining, live music and dancing. It was a really great place, I loved the music and the food was delish! In the morning we went to Bond Coffee Company and got a couple Honey Ryders (a tasty latte with honey, vanilla and cinnamon) to start our day. Our next destination was the Gaylord Opryland Resort for brunch. If you appreciate beautiful scenery, then I highly suggest paying this place a visit if you have never been. It was breathtaking.

Gaylord Opryland ResortGaylord Opryland ResortGaylord Opryland ResortGaylord Opryland ResortIMG_4664Gaylord Opryland ResortGlass sculpture and ceiling art at Gaylord Opryland ResortCascades at Gaylord Opryland Resort
We sat down for a mimosa brunch at Cascades American Cafe. Although I really enjoyed the scenery, people watching and the company of my lovely friend, I have to be honest in saying that the food was blah and our server exuded an “I’m over my job and I could care less about making you feel welcome here” vibe. I feel like the menu would perhaps appeal more to an older crowd or someone who prefers bland food. I thought I was splurging when I ordered the Biscuit Griddle Sandwich and that I would feel that splurge-worthy taste in my mouth. WRONG. The good thing was that I had a mimosa in front of me and wonderful company so it really wasn’t such a bad situation.

When we got back, we made a stop at The Turnip Truck Urban Fare & Natural Market. It’s like a mini whole foods with a juice bar and deli. We actually spotted Hayden Panettiere sitting in the corner having lunch with a friend. Decent celeb sighting.

That night we started at Rumours Wine Bar for some appetizers and champagne. It was a really cute spot with good ambiance and tasty food. After that, we met up with some friends and headed to Red Door Saloon and then ended the night at Rebar where apparently we met some of the actors from the show Nashville, but I was oblivious. It was such a fun night that I decided to extend my stay. The fact that I didn’t get good sleep and was slightly hungover had absolutely nothing to do with it. The next day was spent in pj’s watching TV and ordering take-out from the local Indian Restaurant.

Visiting Nashville made me wish I was blessed with a great voice or insane guitar skills. I would seriously consider living there. It was exciting enough for me, extremely affordable and if you’re into live music, then there’s no other place to be…that I know of yet.

Roadtrip Part 2: Don’t Drive in an Ice Storm

Do you remember that deadly winter storm Leon that hit the South in early December? Yeah, I drove in that. Have you ever driven on cobblestone ice? Well, make sure you NEVER do. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, here are a few pictures to give you a hint.
texas ice storm 2013winter storm Leoncobblestone-icewinter storm Leon

I was heading to Dallas from Santa Fe to spend time with my best friend and we were planning on taking a weekend trip to Austin since I had never been there. I was SO excited for this part of my trip since I hadn’t seen her in over a year so when she called me with news about this crazy ice storm I was pretty bummed. Actually, I’m not gonna lie, I really didn’t think it would be that bad and I kept asking her, “Are you SURE I should wait another day”? She informed me that schools and businesses were closed, flights were cancelled, roads were closed and many people were seeking shelter in hotels due to power outages. We collectively decided that I should try to make it to Amarillo first and then assess the situation.

I headed out to Amarillo on Friday to spend the night and in the morning decided that I should just head to Dallas.  I made this decision based on two thoughts. First was, “Well, I need to get there at some point and this ice won’t be melting anytime soon” and second, “Whatever, I’m from the east coast, I’ve driven in ice before, I’m a good driver and Amarillo is boring”… not the wisest decision I’ve ever made, but that’s how you learn lessons, right?

A five hour drive took me 11 1/2 hours…3 of which were spent hysterically crying, screaming and loudly praying to God…which is pretty intense since I’m not a big crier. I was in the middle of nowhere surrounded by big rigs, Ford F250’s and cars equipped with chains. I put my hazards on and drove 5mph, and when a car was coming at me in the opposite direction, I would come to a complete stop until they passed by. I was spinning out every 10 minutes and didn’t want to risk sideswiping another car…or big rig for that matter.

I arrived in Plano, TX around midnight and was greeted by a huge best friend hug, a glass of wine and a shot…a perfect ending to a miserable day. The lesson here is to listen to the weather warnings and stay off the roads when they’re not safe…especially when you are driving a long distance in an unknown area and you are nowhere near a hotel. Needless to say, we didn’t end up leaving her house and never made it to Austin. I stayed in Plano for the whole week until it was safe to drive. My next stop, Music City…

Roadtrip Part 1: From L.A. to Santa Fe

I’ve been back in MA since mid December and I am just now posting about my roadtrip! My plan was to start taking classes in Holistic Nutrition starting in the new year so I have been consumed with researching schools and reviewing curriculums. There are SO many options and I wanted to make sure that I was making the right decision. I’ll post more on that later.

So I left Los Angeles on December 2nd and headed to Scottsdale, AZ for my first stop. I’ve been to Arizona a bunch of times so I only spent one night there at a friends house and took off the next morning. We did go out that night to a chill mexican spot called Loco Patron where I may or may not have gotten slightly loco. I actually really like Scottsdale and the city has been developing over the years adding new restaurants, nightclubs and shopping areas making it a more desirable place to live.

In the morning I stopped at the local Sprouts Market to get some snacks for my drive to Santa Fe, NM. My plan was to make this roadtrip as healthy as possible so that I felt good and had energy to make it through the long drives. The trip from Scottsdale to Santa Fe was the most gorgeous ride of my whole journey. The winding roads through terracotta mountains, the bright, vivid colors of the sky slowly turning pale and muted with the aging day and the beautiful sunset that I witnessed through my rearview mirror…just stunning.
healthy snackslandscape1landscape2landscape3landscape 4sunsetFor my first night in Santa Fe, I stayed at a little hotel called Santa Fe Sage Inn that I booked through an app called Hotel Tonight. If you are a frequent traveller or even if you travel once a year, this app is really great. Basically, at 9am they post all of the hotel deals for that day only. The hotels give them their unsold rooms to post at a discounted price and then you can book them easily and securely through your smartphone. I booked it right before I left Scottsdale…it literally took me 2 minutes, so easy.

For dinner I went to an amazing vegan/vegetarian place called Annapurna’s World Vegetarian Cafe which focuses on serving Ayurvedic “healing cuisine”. I sat down and was blessed by the company of the chef, Prakash. He guided me through the menu and educated me on the Ayurvedic way of cooking.

What is Ayurveda?
– Ayurveda is the Science of Life – a 5,000 year old system of healing and well-being from India. “Ayur” means Life and “Veda” means Knowledge.
– Ayurveda is the knowledge of longevity, which offers healing, rejuvenation and self realization through balanced foods, herbs, yoga, massage, aroma and meditation.
– Ayurveda teaches us to pay attention to how and what we eat and to take responsibility for our own health.
– Ayurveda recommends Sattvic (pure) food for healing and maintaining good health. Sattvic food incorporates the six tastes in every meal: Sweet, Bitter, Sour, Astringent, Salty, Pungent.
– Ayurvedic food principles also include the seasons; the nine planets; the daily temperatures and using fresh organic produce.

I enjoyed the vibe, environment and food so much that I returned the next day for lunch.

thaali plateDalIn the morning I visited a local fitness studio called Studio J Fitness and took a Barre class. It was pretty challenging and it felt good to move my body after the long drive. I showered up, checked out and headed to a place called Body of Santa Fe for a quick breakfast before hitting up the local shops. I need to mention how obsessed I was with Body…I wanted to live there. It’s a boutique, yoga studio, spa and vegan/vegetarian cafe all in one cute little spot. After breakfast I headed to a few boutiques: Cupcake Clothing was one of my favorite shops that had such stylish clothing, accessories, jewelry and body products. The staff was super friendly too…I could have spent thousands of dollars there! The majority of my time was spent at Double Take a huge retail space offering consignment, vintage and contemporary clothing, accessories, gifts and home products.

In the afternoon I went to go check into my little casita. For my second night, I booked my stay through Airbnb, a trusted community marketplace for people to list, discover, and book unique accommodations around the world — online or from a mobile phone. I stayed with a wonderful host in her guest house. It felt great to be in a home with a full kitchen, living room and washer/dryer. I also liked the fact that I had someone to talk to about recommendations and places of interest in the city.

That night I went to dinner at a place called La Boca. Great staff and delicious food. A few notable mentions are the grilled artichokes, the chocolate pot de creme and the wine/sherry list. I sat at the bar and ended up meeting a wonderful friend who took me out to a local bar and filled me in on life in Santa Fe. She was kind enough to let me stay with her and her insanely cute puppy the following night. I feel truly blessed to have met such a quality person who I know I will remain friends with.

The following day it was 18 degrees and snowing, but that didn’t stop me from roaming around the Plaza. I layered up and slid down the road to check out all the great boutiques. After shopping I went back to Body for lunch and then ended up at a skin care and organic herb shop called Milagro Herbs. I spent an hour in the shop talking to the girl that worked there. I told her all about my journey and asked her about hers; where she went to school and how she ended up in Santa Fe. She gave me a lot of valuable information and schooled me on the healing power of Flower Essences. I left feeling inspired…and with a small bag of new products. My skin had been acting up, most likely from the stress of moving, so I bought a Clear Skin Cream, a Hydrating Tonic to heal my skin from the inside and a bottle of a flower essence blend called “Sweet New Beginnings” to bring clarity and ease when starting new things.
winter styleIMG_4428IMG_4561That night I met up with my new friend and we had a casual dinner at The Shed before calling it a night. In the morning, I got coffee at a  bookstore called Collected Works Bookstore & Coffeehouse. I ended up buying a book about self-healing with Reiki which I have yet to start reading but will eventually. My last spot to hit up was the La Montanita Co-op for some more snacks before heading out to Texas.

There’s a reason why New Mexico is called the Land of Enchantment. Although I wasn’t able to explore any of the other cities (like Albuquerque or Taos), I absolutely loved Santa Fe and I’m excited to visit again…maybe this time in the warmer months!

If you have any great New Mexico stories, please share!