Friday, June 29, 2012

Plans

My apologies for the mini absence on the blog, ladies and gents. It wasn't planned, but I've been busy cleaning our apartment and preparing for the arrival of my dear friend Kasey this coming Wednesday. She's flying in from Los Angeles to visit little old me and will be my partner in crime as we strap on backpacks and make our way back to Frankfurt from Budapest, Hungary via Slovakia, Austria, Slovenia and Switzerland. 


I thought it prudent to do a little preparation on this here blog as well and make a few announcements. 


I am fully booked through July for photography sessions. European friends interested in headshots, wedding or engagement sessions, or family photography sessions for August, September and October are welcome to contact me! If you live in outside of Germany (preferably a city I haven't yet visited) I will trade photos for travel. :)


I also have stopped accepting blog designs until after I return from backpacking in Mid-July. If you're interested in having a blog design made by me feel free to click here and then contact me. You will be put in a design queue which I will begin once I return!

I hope all of you are having a marvelous June so far. Summer weather finally hit us here in Germany, although it's not what I'd hoped for: It went from 60 degrees and rainy to 90 degrees, super humid and rainy. I think I preferred the first!

Happy Weekend! 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A Jumpsuit in Park Guell



Jumpsuit; C&A, Pendant: H&M, Shoes: FourStar, Top: Zara, Belt: Thrifted, Bag: C&A

I have always been on the fence about the jumpsuit thing. Sometimes I liked the look and sometimes I really didn't, but when I say this jumpsuit on sale for a more-than-reasonable price, I knew it was time to try it out for myself.

And you know what? I like it. It's wicked comfortable, too, super light and airy and made from a really soft swishy fabric that I'm sort of obsessed with. The day I wore it we had Park Guell on our list of sightseeing adventures, and I took too many photos to even count. You'll see more soon enough my friends.

What's your opinion of jumpsuits? Yes? No? Maybe someday? 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Staying Fit as a Traveling Foodie





It is no secret: I am a foodie. When I travel to new countries, one of my favorite things to do is try the exciting and often strange new dishes each country has to offer. Food, to me, is something that truly represents a place and offers you so much insight into their culture. When I travel, eating is not just a break in between sightseeing but an experience just as important, if not more important, than the historical sights, cultural museums and city tours that make up one's vacation. 

Chocolate Fondue in Montpellier, France - November 2011

I love food, and I love travel, and unfortunately for me...my waistline has started to notice. I haven't gained an outrageous amount of weight, and no one has truly noticed but me, but it's definitely a heavy blow to one's confidence when your jeans are fitting snugger and your swim suit isn't quite as flattering as it had been a year ago.  But what can I do? I definitely don't plan to stop traveling any time soon, and I'm sorry...if I travel, I eat the local food. This really is non-negotiable for me!

Traditional Aebelskivvers in Odense, Denmark - December, 2011

Subsequently, it's occurred to me that I really need to come up with a way to find a balance. I cannot gain 5+ pounds on every trip I go on. I refuse to go up a size, I don't know if my insecure little soul could handle it! I've thought about it, done a little reading and come up with a plan of action. Of course, any additional advice would be greatly appreciated.


Mediterranean  Buffet in Comino, Malta  - May, 2012

Step One: Eat out only once per day, or even less. 

Buying breakfast and lunch (or any two meals of the day, mind you) will not only save you money, it can save you a ton of calories that are better spent on delicious local cuisine. Shopping for your food means you're in control of what's going into your mouth! 

Step Two: Ditch your Public Transportation Pass 

Don't use buses and trains to get around, and for goodness' sake do not take a taxi. Instead, opt to see the city you're visiting completely on foot. You'll save money, get a better view of the city and burn off calories with every step. This works best when you choose a hotel/hostel/couchsurfing host that lives within reasonable walking distance to most sights. 

Walking Through Barcelona, Spain - June 2012 
Step Three: Use the internet to bring fitness programs with you. 

I've been a big fan of loseit.com, an online web program that helps you track what you're eating and exercising. This tool helped me lose the ten or so pounds I'd gained over those pesky but delicious holiday months. I've also recently started utilizing Yogaglo, a website that connects user to live video streams of yoga classes. It's an affordable option perfect for people who are constantly on the go.

Step Four: Beware of beverages!

I'm always tempted to drink soda when I'm traveling...but these are calories I don't need. And for those of you thinking diet soda is like water...it's not, and the chemicals replacing sugar can actually be worse for you. If I'm in Greece, I want to spend my calories on souvlaki, moussaka and gyro pitas...not CocaCola! Opting for water will also keep you hydrated, and your body always works better when there's water in it. I don't drink alcohol, but I think it goes without saying that those who do should limit their booze intake while traveling if worried about their waistline. From the mouth of my old Cardio Kickboxing instructer: "You booze, you lose!" 

Step Five: Take "Local" food home with you! 

This may not be an option for everyone, but if you book a hotel or hostel with a working kitchen...why not cook your own traditional dishes? Find a local market to purchase your ingredients and look up a recipe (or better yet, have a local teach you!) Making your own food means you can edit recipes to make them lighter and healthier. The Paella we made (and split between five people) was delicious even though we halved the amount of salt and used whole grain rice. It was also much cheaper than if we'd gone out and ordered it at a restaurant!

Homecooked Paella and (Alcohol-Free) Sangria in our apartment in Barcelona, Spain


This is all I've come up with so far, and I'm really excited to start implementing these ideas into my travels to see if  I feel a noticeable difference! Do you have any tips for staying fit on the go? 



Monday, June 25, 2012

A Quick Stint with the Swiss


We were laid over in Zurich last week on our way to Barcelona.
We weren't given enough time to truly explore the city, but we were able to take a quick peek. We covered the most important necessity, however: 
Stock up on as much Swiss Chocolate as humanly possible! 


And what's a stop in Switzerland if you don't check out SWATCH?


Switzerland is beautiful. It's always seemed special to me, but the opportunity to visit has never really presented itself. I would love to spend more than just a few hours there, and visit several different cities while I'm at it...but the truth is, Switzerland is dang expensive. More expensive than France, and that's saying something. The cost of food and lodging is really what's been preventing us from planning a trip there, which is why a layover seemed like the perfect time to at least be introduced to it. If we had the time and money I'd love to visit Basel, Bern, Lugano...as well as trek around in the alps a bit and check out the UNREAL blue waters of the lakes there. A few hours layed over in Zurich obviously didn't allow us such luxuries, but I can't complain.  Until next time, Switzerland!

Have you been to Switzerland? Whereabouts? What were the highlights? Lowlights? 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Barcelona for Foodies: Mercat de la Boqueria


Mercat de la Boqueria is a large open air market located directly off of Las Ramblas, the famous and very popular boulevard in Barcelona, Spain. The market is impressive in size, many small alleyways with hundreds of booths selling anything from seafood to spices. Small restaurants line the sides where patrons can enjoy tapas and other spanish delicacies, although said restaurants appeared to be closed when I returned to the market on a week day.  

I am quite the foodie, so of course I was immediately smitten with the place. I purchased a small bag of candied nuts and was immediately in love. I munched on them as I perused the many stalls, admiring the delicious fresh produce and eyeing the meat stalls with some apprehension; some had whole pigs hanging! La Boqueria was loud and crowded and colorful, fragrant with all sorts of different smells, some delicious and others what I could only describe as interesting. 


I would definitely recommend spending an hour or two wandering La Boqueria and sampling the various foods, although shopping there on a regular basis would probably start to but a strain on your finances. While everything I saw at the market seemed to be high quality, what was also high were the prices. We are staying in an apartment in the L'Eixample district of Barcelona, and very close to us is a smaller, far less touristy open-air market named Mercat Ninot. Although it's not nearly as famous and the selection isn't nearly as broad, I found the prices to be a bit more agreeable, and it's close proximity to our place results in my going there every morning to buy fresh bread and whatnot for breakfast. The moral here is that you should definitely go to La Boqueria for the experience, but if you're looking to stock up on food for your stay you should probably search out more economical options. 


I was able to buy the spices needed to make traditional Spanish Paella, a dish I've had several times despite only having been in Barcelona a few days. I can't wait to learn how to make it properly in the Spanish cooking class I'm going to take with my mom! 

Have you been to La Boqueria? What are your thoughts? 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

What I Wear on Hot Spanish Nights


Geometric Shirt - Zara
Maxi Skirt - Zara
Necklace - Charming Charlie's
Wedges - FourStar
Belt - Thrifted
Cuff - Charming Charlie's

I think it has been established that I have a Zara addiction, but I felt the need to reiterate.
I walked in there with my mother on Monday morning and my eyes went straight to the geometric patterned top I'm wearing in the above photos. The pattern, the colors...I have coral pants and mint pants that could both be paired with it effortlessly. For now, though, I'm sticking with a maxi skirt for maximum comfort. This white maxi is my best friend. It is light, airy, and I seriously can wear it with anything. I know a good buy when I see one and that, my friends, was a good buy!

Nights in Barcelona are a dream come true! Warm, breezy and not a rain cloud in sight. These photos were snapped by my camera happy little brother as we walked from our apartment to a bar where we feasted on tapas and virgin Sangria and watched the Spain/Croatia game.

Linking up with The Pleated Poppy!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Barcelona Thus Far


I have learned a lot since I've arrived in Spain.

1. In Barcelona, Arriving at a restaurant for dinner at 11:30 PM is normal, if not expected.
2. It is also normal, if not expected, to sleep in far past what would be deemed "acceptable" in Germany or the United States. I could be exaggerating slightly about this though, seeing as we're on vacation and sleeping in seems to be a given.
3. Paella is a gift from the Gods.
4. Spanish Gothic Cathedrals may just blow Notre Dame out of the water. Sorry Paris.
5.  Shopping for groceries in open air markets trumps grocery stores every time.
6. True love is found in Barcelona. True love of Coconut Pistachio Fudge Gelato.
7. No matter where you are, vacation and adventures are ALWAYS more fun with family.

More photos and information coming soon! 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Beautiful South Africa

Warning: There are baby lions in this post. Be prepared for cuteness and wonderfulness.

Hey, friends!
So you may be noticing a pattern with these features, now...
Fabulous ex-pats who fell in love with locals and now travel around...
Who also grew up in California...
Yes, loves, I found another one. I can't help it. I love them. So today, you're going to read about my wonderful friend Jenna's awesome South African life and you are going to like it!

That is all.

----


Hello lovely readers of Roots, Wings, and Other Things!

  My name is Jenna and I blog over at A Home Away from Home about my life as an American ex-pat living in South Africa.  South Africa started out as a semester abroad experience for me in 2008, but when I met and fell in love with a local my life was forever changed and I sort of just never left and still find myself here today.  It's amazing the surprises that life can throw your way isn't it?!


Since Daryl's given me full rights to her blog today, I thought I would share some of the things I love most about living in South Africa with you.  Although I definitely do miss certain things about California {such as the great Mexican food ;)}, for the most part I've really adapted to the South African lifestyle and am having a great time living the ex-pat life.  We aren't sure where we'll end up in the future, but for now I'm perfectly content with where I am and I'm trying to focus on savoring each and every moment of life in South Africa :)

Here are just a few of my South African favorites:

-- The Wildlife --


The opportunities to observe, play, and interact with wildlife are endless here, and so are the number of reserves offering safaris or game drives {with Kruger being the largest and most popular}.  Whether it's lions, cheetahs, elephants, or even less familiar animals such as ostriches, photo-ops and "awww" moments are never in short supply.  The other great thing is that the reserves aren't too touristy or over commercialized {yet} which means that you can drive with your own private vehicle through the parks rather than dishing out the big bucks to go on a multi-day guided safari {although I would definitely recommend doing one if you've got the moolah!}.

-- The Cosmopolitan Cities --


Even before I moved to South Africa I knew that there would be large bustling cities, but what I wasn't expecting was for them to be so European and cosmopolitan.  South Africa has truly learned to embrace the laid back European cafe culture and I've definitely become addicted accustomed to daily cappuccinos, enjoying long lunches on outdoor sidewalk tables, and the idea of slow, relaxed dining.  In parts of Cape Town {pictured above} one could easily forget they were in Africa and rather feel as though that were browsing along a main street in Paris.  It really is amazing!

 -- Opportunities to Give Back --


There are endless opportunities to volunteer in South Africa and it's definitely enriched my time in the country.  The photo above is from the Help Portrait initiative, but I've also been blessed to have been involved in an HIV/Aids assistance program.  It's nice feeling as though you've made a difference {no matter how small!}, and it's amazing to see the children's faces light up when they see you :)

-- The Wine --


Most people wouldn't guess it, but South Africa is internationally renowned for their wine!  They grow almost any and every varietal you can think of and even have one that is uniquely their own called Pintotage.  Wine tasting is extremely affordable {and often times free!} which makes it a popular Friday afternoon activity for university students :)  Pair a tasting with a cheese platter or cellar tour and you've got yourself a perfect spring or summer day!

-- The Travel Opportunities --


Although it's extremely cheap to travel once you're actually in Africa, getting almost anywhere on the continent is extremely expensive in terms of airfare {and we're talking $1,500 + expensive}.  Luckily, living here has made it relatively easy to travel to other African countries that I would otherwise probably never be able to afford to visit.  The above photo was taken in Rwanda last month, but so far I've also been able to visit Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Uganda, and Egypt.  High on my list of future must-sees include Angola, Tunisia, the DRC, and Morocco!

Thanks so much for having me Daryl - I can't wait to hear all about your adventures in Spain! 

I hope you'll all stop by and say hello!

----

Isn't her life awesome? SHE GOT TO HOLD A BABY LION. I MEAN WHAT?!
I'm trying desperately to convince her to go to Morocco with me this summer.
You should tell her to definitely do that.
Okay, now I'm being passive aggressive and that's wrong. So I'm stopping.
But really though. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Daddy


Dear Daddy, 





You were there for me then,
and you're there for me now.
I love you SO MUCH. So much more than you know.
I will always be your little girl.
Happy Father's Day! 

Friday, June 15, 2012

Postcards from Greece


I have come to realize that I was made for Mediterranean living. Maybe it's the California girl in me, but there's something about it that makes me feel completely at home. In the past 1.5 years I've been on three Mediterranean trips (Greece, Southern France, Malta) and we leave for our fourth (Barcelona) TOMORROW!  The climate, the food, the sea air, the way of living...places like this are places I picture myself in the long run. 


Greece is Magic. I definitely plan on going back. I was obsessed with the food there to a ridiculous degree, I may have gained five pounds in a week.  Between the gyros, souvlaki, moussaka and pita bread with tzatziki, I was in heaven. 


My favorite part of the trip was when we were able to spend a day on Hydra (Hee-Dra) a tiny Island off of the coast of greece still pretty much completely untouched by technology. No cars here, If you want to get around on this Island, your choices are walking or riding a donkey. It was small and there honestly were not many attractions to keep us busy, but I could have spent a week there anyway, just eating and swimming and eating some more. 

Must do:
Hike to the top of Mount-Lycabettus to see an incredible 360 degree view of Athens. If you're not in the mood for hiking, there is a tram running from the top to bottom. If you're feeling fancy, there's a romantic restaurant at the top!

Must See: The Parthenon/Panthenon
By far the most touristy attraction in Greece...but for good reason. You can't be in Anthens and NOT go see this incredible piece of history.

Must Eat: Everything. No. Really.

The next time you hear from me, I'll be in Barcelona, Spain! Adios, Amigos!



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