Traveling to Granada, Spain

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After 3 days in Barcelona, we took a short two hour flight south to Granada where we spent the next two days. Granada is much smaller than Barcelona and incredibly charming. The city is located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains and boasts a population of just over 230,000 in it’s city proper. It’s most notable for the Alhambra, an Arab citadel and palace, which is exactly where we began our visit.

The Alhambra which began it’s construction in 889 AD with additions dating up to the 1500s is oozing with Islamic architecture making it stand apart from many of the other palaces we’ve toured. While touring the palace you can really see and feel the Moorish influence. The Alhambra is incredibly rich in history and beautifully maintained. After touring the inside we spent just as much time outside walking the palace gardens. If you’re looking to book a pass to the Alhambra, we recommend getting the Granada Card which gives you access to not only the palace, but also to many of the other main city monuments and public transportation.

After nearly 3 hours touring the palace and gardens, we found a place for drinks and paella (we never grew tired of it!) and later retreated to our Airbnb which we all later agreed was our favorite place of the trip because… location location location! Our living room doors opened up to a series of small balconies the street one floor below and it was the perfect atmosphere for happy hour before dinner.

That night we did some bar hopping and discovered a very important thing about the city of Granada: with every drink your order (bar, restaurant or otherwise) it is customary for you to also be provided with a small bite to eat. So, as we ordered our first round of drinks you can imagine our confusion when they also placed a coated appetizer in front of us. “We didn’t order that,” which made the server giggle. Needless to say, we never ended up ordering an actual dinner while in Granada.

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Our second day in Granada Jeff planned a long hike through the Sierra Nevada mountains using a blog recommendation Jeff had found. We stopped at a street side vendor for some apples and nuts for the trail and then hopped on a bus that took us 10 miles out from the city where the idea was to be dropped off and hike back into the city. The day was gorgeous (and hot!) and I was pretty happy I chose to wear sunblock and comfortable shoes. The view was breathtaking and it was a good change of pace from the bustling city scene we’d been living in the last few days.

Around the 2 hour mark we started descending the mountain and happened upon a small town called Dubar, which was odd because the blog never mentioned Dubar in its guide. It wasn’t until that point that we realized we had been hiking in completely the wrong direction. Same sights, different part of the mountain! And in true vacation form… we laughed about it and found the only bar in town for wine, beer and the complementary tapas. After some investigation we discovered the bus ran a route through Dubar once an hour which was exactly enough time for us to finish our drinks and happily ride the rest of the way back to Granada. The best hike ever.

After a long siesta we saw a few more Granada sites including The Royal Chapel and the Cathedral. Both were accessible using our Granada Card.

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And the rest of the evening is what our travel dreams are made of. While some live for the sites (the palace tours, the museums, etc. - which for the record I also love), we seek the ‘moments’ that come with traveling together and with friends. After hiking to the very popular lookout point Mirador de San Nicolas, we waited in line for a spot at Restaurante El Huerto de Juan Ranas - Thanks again Rick Steves.

A glass of red wine in hand overlooking the Alhambra palace grounds, we sat together watching the sun set over Granada. Nate took an impressive amount of photos and I got chatty with the European empty nesters sitting next to us who didn’t speak a lick of English. It was perfect.

Granada, you were wonderful!



The Dailey Method Eastown - A Working Mom, Working Out

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I'm just a Mom of two working hard to try and NOT look like a Mom of two. Mom bod is real. And it’s not always pretty. And my goodness can it be frustrating. I can hear my mothers voice now, “I used to be skinny, before I had you!” I get it, Mom, and thanks a million times over for sacrificing your body for me. Mom jokes aside, I’m not 21-years-old anymore (full disclosure I’m 31) and as I begin chapter two of my life, fitness has become an important part of my weekly routine. Sure, I want to look good naked (because… confidence and health and strong marriage ya’ll!), but again, I’m a Mom of two and I have every intention to run crazy right along side them.

But fitting in fitness is not always easy. In fact, it’s down right the biggest challenge I face. For some it’s the sheer hate of actually doing the work or the cost or whatever other legitimate reason people have for not working out. But for me it’s time. Just like every other mother out there, I’m busy. And with a calendar full of work, kids, marriage, social stuff and everything in between… when am I suppose to get to the gym?!

And then the clouds opened up and gave me The Dailey Method Eastown. I’m a Jesus gal so I don’t say this lightly… I could have prayed to the heavens for the very perfect solution to my fitness problem and he would have given me TDM. Why? I’ll tell you… this is why I love The Dailey Method and why you might too…

The Class Schedule - First and foremost, and because it’s my biggest challenge, the class schedule offered by TDM is exactly what I need. Classes begin as early at 5:45am and are schedule periodically throughout the day including lunch times and evening times. Those early morning classes are exactly what I need. It was a rough adjustment at first (I am not a morning person) but once I got into the swing of things I realized how right it was for me and my schedule. I’m back home and showered before anyone else in my family opens their eyes!

The Community - To the instructors, the gals at the front desk and my fellow riders… I love you. I’m not exactly social at 5:45am but regardless, you all make me want to be there. It feels weird when one of you doesn’t show up and someone new is clipped into your bike. I like that you live down the street from me and that I also get to see some of you at the office. You are my people. And thanks for respecting my unofficial claim of the front-left bike. The fan angles are nice there and I like to see myself in the mirror. TDM Eastown is also very active on both Facebook and Instagram which are fun to follow along with. They also send out motivating regular emails with personal messages from the Eastown owner, Jamie, and encouraging themes of the month.

The Programming - TDM offers both cycling and barre classes as well as a variety of spin off classes using both barre and spin. For example, Dailey Cycle is 40 mins in the spin room followed by 20 mins in the barre room. For the record, the barre room and I disagree with one another. Spin is my jam and my happy place! Whatever your preference, they’ve got incredible class programming.

The Atmosphere - The energy at TDM is incredible. It’s a combination of the welcoming space, the vibrant neon lights in the dark spin room, the loud and motivating music and the supportive instructors. I’ve taken many fitness classes in my day but there’s something special about TDM that keeps me coming back.

The Music - Each instructor comes armed with their own tunes. All different, all motivating. For example, our Monday morning spin instructor brings in quite a lot of classics (think Eye of the Tiger and so on) while our Friday morning instructor LOVES hardcore rap music. They change it up all the time and hardly recycle the same sound tracks. It’s pretty often I’m trying to sing along with the music in-between trying to keep my breath!

The Equipment - The facilities and equipment provided are the best in the business. During barre class any equipment you need is provided including a mat, weights, ball and straps. The cycle room has brand new bikes that are very well maintained and always clean. They provide spin shoes (unless you prefer to bring your own) and towels including one at the end of your class that’s delightfully cold and infused with refreshing oils!

The Childcare - TDM offers childcare for $5/kid during select classes. Want to work out on Saturday morning but have the kids? No problem, bring them with you. You work out while they make a craft in the kids room for 45 mins.

The Pricing - Lets be honest, any gym membership is ‘expensive.’ It just depends on what type of workout you’re looking for and how often you want to commit to going. For me, the once a month core membership for unlimited classes is exactly what I need to keep me coming back. With auto paying the flat fee each month I’m not worrying about the cost per class and if anything else, I’m going more because I’m Dutch and want to ‘get my moneys worth!’ Hashtag if you ain’t Dutch you ain’t much! It’s common they run new client specials for $79 for 3 weeks unlimited. For me, it’s without a doubt worth the cost.


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Traveling to Barcelona, Spain

This fall Jeff and I traveled to Spain with our friends Nate and Cara. Barcelona was our first stop and it was, without a doubt, my favorite city of the four we toured. The weather was hot, the food was incredible and the atmosphere was bustling! Here’s a bit more about our visit to Barcelona…

On our first night in the city we booked a food tour with Paul at Taste Barcelona. We had previously done a food tour on our last big trip to Eastern Europe in Prague, Czech Republic and loved the experience. Not only does it allow for you to experience local recommendations for food, drink and atmosphere, but it also is an excellent way to be introduced to the city. Booking the tour on the first night was absolutely on purpose because our guide walked us through four different historical neighborhoods giving us a summary of Barcelona’s history as we transitioned between restaurant locations. The food and wine were exceptional and the company was even better!

The next morning we hit the ground running and spent the day being tourists. We began with touring Casa Mila (or La Pedrera), the very famous Gaudi House. We were blown away. In all the architectural tours we’ve taken we’ve never seen anything quite like this. Gaudi believes that to be ‘original’ you must drawn inspiration from original design, meaning nature. While touring the house you can easily find bits and pieces of nature throughout the space. The museum portion of the building is very well maintained and run. We took the audio guided tour and all enjoyed it.

After the Casa Mila, we took a promenade down Barcelona’s main drag called Las Ramblas. Here you’ll find shopping, restaurants and all the tourists. Located not too fair off Las Ramblas is a fantastic food market, La Boqueria. If you’re hungry for quick bite, this is the place to go. They’ve got fresh everything - including all the seafood smells! The market is incredibly busy so be prepared for the crowds.

While in Barcelona we learned that Spaniards live their days on a slightly delayed schedule as we do in America. Breakfast is most often a simple cup of coffee and a croissant (my kind of breakfast!). Lunch is delayed until around 2pm and is their largest meal of the day and is likely eaten in courses: soup/salad, a larger main dish and followed by a dessert of some sort. And dinner, which is always lighter than lunch, usually consists of tapas, or an assortment of small plates that are shared with the table. Tapas are eaten anywhere between 9pm and 11pm. It took some adjustment on our side but by the end of our trip we had no problem eating giant portions of seafood pallela at 2pm.

That afternoon we booked tickets to see Sagrada Familla. This Catholic Cathedral was also designed by Gaudi and currently sits unfinished. Gaudi passed away before it could be finished and his work continues today under the collaboration of a number of designers and architects. The Cathedral had the most intense stainless windows I’ve ever seen. Gaudi designed them to play off the rising and setting sun and on that day the sun was shining full blast through those windows giving us the show of a lifetime. The Cathedral is also the final resting place of Gaudi, something we were able to see during our audio tour.

Later we hiked up to Park Guell for a fantastic view overlooking the city, but not before stopping at a bodega for some local wine and paper cups. There’s nothing like having no where to be, hanging out with good friends, drinking cheap red wine overlooking the city.

Later that night we took our tourist hats off and headed out for tapas. We retraced our steps from the night before to check out a place we had passed on our food tour, El Jardi. As Paul, our food tour guide, talked about the old hospital turned public library we were all completely distracted by the bustling outdoor bar/restaurant located just off the courtyard and agreed to make a mental note on our location so we could return. It was here that we ate the best Patatas Bravas of the trip. Patatas Bravas, a dish native to Spain, is fried potatoes with a red sauce. Sometimes spicy, sometimes mild. Sometimes white sauce instead of red sauce. Lets just say that by the end of our trip we were Patatas Bravas’d out after agreeing we’d try them at every place that had them on the menu.

Our final day in Barcelona was possibly my favorite simply because of how everything came today organically. Jeff does an incredible job of planning out our trips by booking tours and studying the pages of Rick Steves. But on the days he leaves open ended, such of this… this is where the real memories happen. On this day, Jeff slated ‘Rent Bikes and Beach Day.’ I was all smiled leaving the apartment and soaking up the 80 degree sunshine.

The day before while drinking wine out of our paper cups in Guell Park, Jeff read to us some Rick Steves facts about the city. He said in 1992 Barcelona hosted the Summer Olympics and that the Olympic Park was (as he pointed), “Just over there.” And so, that is where we biked!

We rented bikes for 10 eruos a piece for the day and off we went. We passed the track and the baseball field. We saw where then opening ceremonies where and the outside of the stadium. And then we happened upon the outdoor Olympic diving pools. Nate, who for some reason was on the opposite side of the street at the time shouted we needed to stop and check this out. We followed him through an opening in the concrete retaining wall separating the busy street from a clever little bar overlooking the surprisingly well maintained diving pools and a backdrop as breathtaking as the one from Park Guell. We ordered drinks (and Patatas Bravas) and soaked up life. PS - riding a bike as a grown adult just for fun is kinda awesome.

After that we biked back towards the beach but not before stopping along the way for some shopping. The street vendors are top notch there: knock off hand bags, sunglasses, Nike shoes and jewelry. We found four empty lounge chairs in front of one the many beach front bars. It wasn’t long after ordering cocktails and nachos that a women who spoke very little English (or Spanish for that matter) approached us offering 20 minute massages for 5 euros. She didn’t have to ask us twice. Money well spent!

We ended our time in Barcelona with a fancy dinner at PLA, a recommendation from both a friend back at home and Paul our food tour guide - it was a no brainer! And their recommendations did not disappoint. The atmosphere was stellar, the food was beautiful and the wine was the finishing touch! It was the perfect night cap to our time in Barcelona!

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