Sunday, September 30, 2012

Happenings of the Weekend and Such (aka: I LOVE HOT AIR BALLOONS!)

Greetings lovely McLovertons.  What. Is. Up?

This weekend was super fabuloso!  (Have I mentioned that I've decided to learn Spain Spanish?  Please bare with me...) 

The recap:
Friday night: Volunteered at the March of Dimes Annual Gala event.  Perk to volunteering but not being certified to actually pour wine (I handed out wine glasses)...finishing my part early and being able to wander the room, partake in the AMAZING food, and do a little wine tasting.  Good times!

After volunteering, I went to the Hanford High School football game (GO FALCONS!), met a friend for a drink, and then on to a birthday party for another friend.  It was a fun filled evening...and a late one, considering that I needed to be up at 5 a.m. on Saturday morning.

Why in the WORLD would I get up at 5 a.m. on a Saturday morning, you ask?

To see hot air balloons, of course!  Duh.

Saturday, I went to The Great Prosser Balloon Rally.  It's like Mecca for hot air balloon lovers.  I met a girlfriend for coffee first, then we headed into town to watch the balloons lift off.


The Yakima River runs through town. A lot of the balloons do a touch down on the river and "float" off the falls.

See?  Mecca.

Later that afternoon, I decided to visit a few of my favorite Red Mountain wineries, Hightower Cellars, Fidelitas, and Cooper.  The Red Mountain AVA held its first annual Block Party this weekend, an event that I will make sure to take part in from here forward.  Special wine tastings at each of the wineries (there are several on the Mountain), catered food, music, and lots of great people to meet and visit with.  (Note: interestingly, after my Spain journey, being on my own and enjoying that, I was (out of habit?) looking for someone to got taste wine with, and failed.  I ended up meeting people and having a great usual.) Anyway, great times, and it's fall-ish time...and I love tasting wine in the fall!

And then I watched my Oregon Ducks beat the Washington State unexpectedly good game with a few crappy calls.  But we killed 'em, so it was all good. 

And today, Sunday, has been a super lazy day.  Yard work complete, so that's good, but other than that, just kickin' it here at the homestead.  Oh, and fall/winter blows because it's only 7:29 p.m. and it's dark, and has been dark for at least 45 minutes, and it feels like it's 11 p.m. and way past my bed time.  Winter sucks.

My beautiful friends, how were your weekends?  Anything outstandingly amazing and awesome happen?

Have an awesome day!

San Sebastian and Reflections

San Sebastian...the place that cleansed and renewed my heart and soul.

While I was away, I wrote a post about San Sebastian.  That was the perfect way to end my journey.  I took that last evening to examine the relationships that were currently in my life, and make choices about relationships that I felt no longer deserved to be a part of my life.  And the ones that were allowed to stay, I made decisions on how those relations would look.  And so it was said and done, and has remained the same since I've been home.  And I'm so very confident in these decisions, and enjoying happiness every day because of those decisions.

In addition to being a cleanser, San Sebastian had the BEST food of my entire trip.  Seriously, so flipping amazing!  I had a baked goat cheese topped with caramelized something that I can't remember now, that was to die for!

And my friend, Petra from Munich, had a veal cheek something that was so very tender and delicioso!  Unfortunately my picture of that treat makes it look less than appetizing.

Other items of yum...

Like I said, YUM!

For a complete download of my journey to Spain, head on over to Flickr.  I could post a million photos here, because that's how many I have, but I'll refrain.

Thank you friends, for following my journey.  This experience has for sure changed my life...for the better!  My heart is healed, my head is clear, my convictions are strong.  I will continue to move in a forward motion and with purpose in every step!

Have an awesome day!


Madrid and I did NOT start out on the right foot.  I arrived at the train station in desperate need of a bathroom (not sure why I didn't pee on the train before we got in, but lesson learned).  The closest bathroom was "just over there," as is EVERYTHING in Spain.  "Just over there" was at the opposite end of the ginormous train station.  I almost died.  Anyway, got that taken care of and sat down where I could find wifi to figure out where my hotel was. 

Throughout the journey, I tried to limit my use of taxis and just do everything on my own.  That was the whole point, after doing me, figuring me out, etc etc.  So, Google Maps walking (beta) edition...not my friend.  I entered the address of my hotel, and to my surprise and excitement, my hotel was about a 10 minute walk.  Fabulous!  And according to the woman at the Info Booth, my hotel was "just over there"...I've so got this!

So, I started walking.  And walking...and following Google Maps...and walking.  40 minutes later (have I mentioned that my suitcase was the largest one I could find and weighed a tad over 50 lbs?), I had walked in a large circle, and my hotel was nowhere to be found.  On the verge of tears, I asked a gentleman at a restaurant where my hotel was.  THE STREET was "just over there."  In his broken English, I understood that the hotel was not within walking distance.  He suggested I take the #6 bus.  I thought screw that, I need a taxi...walked to the closest hotel and hired a taxi.  My hotel was a 20 minute DRIVE from the train station, up and over a very steep hill.  I never would have found it. 

Once delivered to my hotel, the stress immediately left.  My room was AWESOME!  Two HUGE windows that opened all of the way, and a beautiful view to the plaza below...Madrid was starting to win.

I think in terms of architecture, Madrid was my favorite. I didn't explore too far outside of Palza Mayor, the area that my hotel was in, but the buildings were gorgeous.  Oh, and the food...amazing!  I ate this veggie and queso stuffed eggplant that was to die for.  And my new friend in Madrid took me to an after hours/locals wine bar that was awesome.  The wine was great, the owner had lived in the States so we discussed how California wines suck and Oregon and Washington wines are amazing...overall, an incredible night.

I wish I had more than 36 hours in Madrid.  And I wish I wasn't super sick while I was there.  That put a damper on things too.  Next year when I got back, because I will be going back next year, Madrid, I will give you more quality time.  Promise.

Have an awesome day!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Oh Valencia!

One thing that I've learned about blogging...there are a TON of amazing people on these interwebs that do a bunch of amazing things, and thankfully for you and me, enjoying writing about it and sharing with all of us!  My friend, Lindsey, over at WanderLuck is no exception, and I'm so very thankful!  (Go say hi to her, and tell her I sent you!)

I started stalking following Lindsey's blog last spring while she was living in Valencia, Spain.  Immediately, I couldn't stop reading about her adventures, and realizing that it could be my adventure too (well, at least I could adventure in the city).  She has since moved back to the states, but I still bugged her about "must do" items in Valencia...and she did NOT disappoint on the list.  I told her I had two days, and she told me exactly how to spend my time.  YAHOO!

Plaza de la Reina was a must see, with its beautiful cathedral, tons of cafes, and people watching for days.  I ate the BEST croissant y chocolat while in Valencia (truth be told, I may have become a connoisseur of chocolate croissants while in Spain).  The cathedral was beautiful, and held the cut off arm of the martyr St. Vincent.  Proof, you ask?  OK...

I know I'm slightly obsessive and stuff, but the was gorgeous.  Valencia had a newer vibe, but still the older feeling in its architecture.  The first day, I wandered Plaza de la Reina looking at the buidlings, trying to get lost in the narrow side streets, taking in the sights and sounnds.  It was heavenly to be a part of it all (and that dang croissant...YUM!).

The next morning, I went for a run through the Turia River riverbeds.  This is a ginormous and long park that was formerly an actual river.  The river was diverted to the outskirts of town several years back, and a park was created from the former river bed.  This park is a stunning display of nature in the heart of a bustling city.  I was thankful to not get lost find this area for my run!

The rest of this day, day two, I spent at the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias.  Oh.My.Goodness.  I've never seen such an amazing place.  I didn't even go into any of the building, just walked around the grounds...and was amazed and enthralled for two hours.  The buildings hold an Arts museum, Science museum, movie theater complete with IMAX, among other activities.  It was so very beautiful!

YES!  Part of Star Wars was filmed here!!

After Arts and Sciences, I headed to Malvvarosa, the beach!  But first, the most amazing rabbit paella (and sangria, of course!)...

Followed by the most freaking amazing nutella dessert, and new friends...

 Sigh...yeah, it was that good. Thank you, Valencia (and Lindsey!) for leading me through an amazing 48 hours!

Have an awesome day!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Barcelona, Parte Dos: Sagrada de Familia

I wanted to give Sagrada de Familia its own post...because that's how absolutely incredible this place is. 

I'm not Catholic, but I can appreciate a place of worship...any place of worship.  And this  There are no words (yet I seem to find a lot...).

Construction began in 1866, and in 1883, Antio Gaudi took over the project.  He is a famous Spanish architect whose work is found throughout Barcelona. 

As I stated, construction began in 1866...and continues today.  Not even kidding.  You'll see from the photos, but the intricacy of this structure is mind blowing.  And the funds to complete such a project...well, they're still coming.  Projected completion: sometime between 2020-2030.  Just a couple more years.

I literally could have spent a full day in this space.  I was in awe of the stained glass work, and the carvings in stone that adorned the facade of the cathedral.  And the fact that IT'S NOT DONE!  Seriously unbelievable. 

Without further ado...Segrada de Familia!

OK, that's enough of the vacation slide show for tonight.  Thanks for stopping by, friends! Tomorrow...Valencia!! 

Have an awesome day!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Barcelona, Parte Uno

Hello my beautiful friends!  At long last, I'm here to give you a peak into my journey to Espana!  :)  I'm going to spend this week writing about it...12 days into four posts...we can do this, right?

I spent five nights in Barcelona.  Being my longest stay in one spot, I naturally have fallen in love!  The architecture, the people, the food...THE SANGRIA!

This was my first trip to Europe, and I was so very excited to see the architecture, and Barcelona didn't disappoint. 

My hotel was located in the area called Barri Gotic, or Gothic Quarter.  It is defined by several cathedrals and churches (like a dozen or more in a square mile), it's tight, winding streets, and remarkable buildings.  The streets are lined with restaurants and bars, and opportunity upon opportunity to shop.  The Picaso Museum was a short walk from my hotel.  It was on my (very short) list of must-sees.  Instead...I decided to go to the beach the day I was supposed to hit up the museum.  I did walk by it though...

I think my favorite part about Barcelona, besides the AMAZING people I met, was Mercat St. Josef, the market.  Each morning, I would wander through, buy some fresh fruit and maybe a jamon y queso baguette for breakfast, and watch...just watch.  Absolutely fascinating...


Aren't they cute??

The food...holy goodness friends, holy goodness!  Some amazing flavors that I can't even put into words!

New friends, beaches, exploring a place that I've had in my heart for 20 years...this was the beginning of an incredible journey!!

Beach in Castelldefels

So tell me...what place is in your heart?  Where do you long to travel to, no matter how near or far?

Have an awesome day!