Affairs of the heart with San Sebastian

As I’ve mentioned previously, putting in to words just how much we loved Spain and all that it offered up to us is truly hard to put in words and the same has undoubtedly applied to specific towns along the way. Whilst a dream came true in Madrid – I lived the Spanish moment I’d always wished & dreamed for, San Sebastian was equally beautiful in providing us peace, laughs, beauty and relaxation. I thought as an ode’ to this magnificent sleepy town I would list all the things that made San Sebastian so unforgettable.
I loved the beautiful sunshine peaking out from behind the clouds from the moment we arrived.
I loved walking to the apartment in the warm afternoon sun with the man by my side reflecting on how much of an amazing time we’ve shared together so far.
I loved the wonderful surprise of getting to our gorgeous apartment & it being so luxurious. 
I loved exploring the beautiful tree lined streets with bursts of Autumn colours surrounding us everywhere from fallen leaves.
I loved strolling slowly slowly through the small town stopping whenever it pleased us for dessert for lunch, hot chocolate for breakfasts and hot wine to warm us from the inside out.
I loved stumbling upon old town and getting lost in the tiny ally ways for hours and hours.
I loved walking through the old fisherman bay watching the men dock their boats for the day and show off their catch & tend to their tangled nets.
I loved just happening to get to the highest point in San Sebastian by chance right as the sun was setting over the ocean and being able to watch the beautiful sunset and taking the time to plan our next adventure on a whim.
I loved bar hopping in the old quarter to find the best tapas on offer – fact: there are no such thing as ‘the best’ in San Sebastian, it’s alllll delicious. 
I loved sitting on a ledge on the beach for who knows how long with Morgs watching the surfers catch wave after wave. 
I loved being able to go for a pre dawn run along the river and coast and perfectly timing the sunrise on my run home. 
I loved we found churros like we hoped & got to tick ‘eat churros in Spain’ off our list.
I loved sitting on the beach watching the turquiose water break calmy on a warm sunny day. 
I loved that I expected the town to be so much bigger and got a wonderful surprise when it was actually quite small and sleepy.
I loved we packed a delicious picnic and got to nap for a few hours after a plentiful lunch in the warmth of the sun the green grass at our feet in an empty park. 
But most of all?
I just loved San Sebastian. 
Spain, we will be back – thank you for the most extraordinary times and memories that will last the ages.
{ So excited by so many leaves to crunch, luckily I have a loving bf who totally understands my love of leave crunching and allowed this to go on for at least 5 minutes }
{ Walking blissfully around San Seb }
{ San Sebastian by night – beautiful any time day or night }

Dreams coming true in Madrid

I have a confession to make, a confession which, if you are familar with the blog, you will know from previous admissions, but I am a self confessed Control Freak. 

That’s not the confession though. The confession is that somewhere along this big beautiful trip, I let go. I seemed to stop being a control freak. In fact, not only have I relaxed more & given in to whatever goes, well, goes, I have actually loved plans that change or don’t always go according to plan. 
Which is exactly what happened with Madrid.
The booking all along was to fly from Mallorca to Porto in Portugal (then on to San Sebastian), but two weeks out of said flight, we were emailed from the airline saying the flight was cancelled, they could instead get us to some remote part of North Spain (not even in the same country as our original destination!) We said thanks but no thanks & cancelled the booking.

Now. Old Anna would have had a mini break down. Considering how badly I had initially wanted to go to Portugal and were now being told it was impossible from where we had the flight from & time permitting I normally would have been super super upset. Possibly even stewed over it for a day or so. The new me however literally just shrugged my shoulders, and admitted clearly we were just not meant to get there this trip around and the universe has something far greater planned for us…

Cue Madrid. 
For whatever reason, it never got on our original list but with 3 days now available we booked a flight to this unassuming city with a feeling that we were just meant to go there specifically – and as beautiful as hindsight always is – aren’t we glad we did!!
Madrid is truly hard to sum up. Just like I had always imagined San Sebastian to be bigger (post on that to come tomorrow), I had always imagined Madrid to be smaller, but it’s anything but. Not only is it ginormous in size, the city literally has something beautiful to stop & marvel at, or walk through or explore around every single corner, and I truly mean, every single corner. The moment we got there we both knew we just wanted to tread our own path. We stayed away from trip advisor suggestions, tour guides and hotel reccommendations – Madrid was ours and ours alone to explore & take our own incredible memories away from.
We walked, and walked, and walked & walked. We stumbled upon the palace, beautiful botanical gardens, Puerto Del Sole square, humongous shopping streets (la la loved the shopping in Madrid!), and huge squares to sit & drink Sangria in to people watch. There were street markets we got lost in for hours on the Sunday, getting caught up in the hype of shopping among hundreds of spanish people, flicking through old records of 80’s metal – for Morgs of course, and watching old men barter over old basketball cards. 
And then, there was the Flamenco. 
When putting Spain in big bright bold colours as a place we absolutely wanted to see, the way I had always envisioned it was sitting in a small bar, Sangria in hand, with my lover (cue Morgan!) the lights dim with a magnificent Flamenco show going on in front of me, and up until Madrid, a city we weren’t even meant to be in, I hadn’t gotten my Spanish moment. 
For those who aren’t aware, like I wasn’t until we accidently ended up in the city (& Morgans mum who had taught dancing for 30 years telling us) Madrid is actually the heart & soul of Flamenco in Spain…
Let’s just say, I got my Spanish moment. We by beautiful fate found a bar that did shows each night and the night we wanted to go just happened to be the night an award winning Flamenco dancer would be performing. It happened! It really happened just like I always imagined it, without any effort at all. There we were, in a small bar, dimly lit, with Sangria in hand, my lover by my side, and the most incredible performance of Flamenco in front of us and it was in that moment, I cried. I sat there without an embarrassment or care in the world tears streaming down my face. I don’t know if it was gratitude, or the feeling of pure & utter joy from the inside out, or feeling like another dream had just come true, but I didn’t care. I was happy & beautifully living in the moment.
So Madrid, I thank you from the bottom of my heart, not just for being an incredibly beautiful, remarkable city, and not just for the delicious and amazing food on offer, but for giving me my Spanish moment I had always dreamed about. 
But most of all? For solidifying for me once & for all that sometimes when things don’t go exactly to plan, there is always something greater for you waiting.
With a heart of happiness & love,
Anna x
p.s If you ever go to Madrid and want to see a show, this is the one we went to. There are 3 or 4 main ones in Madrid (tonnes more but 3 or 4 main ‘the best’ ones) and Cardamomo is one of them. We chose this one as it wasn’t so commercial and offered a more intimate traditional experience…and obviously I can’t recommend it highly enough!

Heaven in Mallorca

There are certain things in life, experiences we’ll say, that never will be forgotten – it could be the birth of your first child, marrying the love of your life, or whatever it is that makes your world spin just that little bit faster. I have discovered that the same thing applies for when you travel. Of course, every moment over here is surreal, from waking up knowing there’s a new city to explore, finding new amazing historical things to see, and hey, even not having worked for 3.5 months now. BUT..there are those extra special moments, those ‘pinch me’ / goosebump / call it whatever you will moments that go right up in the special experiences of life. I have had a few, but a huge one happened to Morgs & I the other night in Mallorca. It was extra special as it caught us so off guard and it’s one of our favourite things to see normally. 
What was it?? 
A sunset. 
This was no ordinary sunset though. No. This was the most amazing, spectacular, extraordinary  beautifulll sunset I’ve ever seen in my life. 
It had been an incredibly stormy day and Morgs & I were defiant to not sit around in the hotel so had hired a car to get around Mallorca and explore some of the coast & mountains on offer on the North side of the island. We drove wherever roads took us and stopped whenever we felt like it. Getting back to the hotel early evening, the storm had cleared & we felt compelled to take a walk in the cold before dinner and that’s when the magic occurred  Making our way along the coastline we had the pinkest of pink and redest of red clouds all around us and bursts of sunshine peeking out from the ominous clouds still threatening to give way to rain at any moment. We sat and took in what was almost too surreal to witness. 
It was a moment I’ll remember forever and was so grateful I got to witness. 
I felt like it was Mother Natures way of reminding us that of all our adventures we seek & pay for on the holiday, the best things in life really are free – & for me, that was seeing the sunset of my life with my soulmate by my side. 
Do you have a favourite travel story? Have you had any moments that you’ll never forget that happened when you least expected it? I’d love to hear them!
Love & Light,
Anna x
p.s I’m sorry the blog was so quiet last week! Our apartment in San Sebastian didn’t have any wifi but this week you’ll hear all about the end of our adventures in Spain – from Madrid to San Seb. 

Finding our groove in Valencia

There is this quiet internal struggle each time I try to write about Spain. How can you put on paper and choose words to express how we’re feeling, how much fun we’re having, and how much we truly love this country when we love it so much. Because we do. Alot. 
Spain just has this vibe about it. I couldn’t tell you what it is, or much other than every morning when I wake up, I’m smiling excited to hit the streets or country to explore, and I literally have an overflowing of joy from the inside out wherever I am in Spain. Spain & us just gel. 
Having 4 days in Valencia was heaven as not only did we get to go back to nature, but we managed to settle in to our b&b a little bit after having just spent almost two weeks in the south of france doing 2 nights, 2 nights, 2 get the picture.
The thing about sharing experiences when it comes to capital city after capital city though is this. A lot of our ‘things we want to do’ or do happen to ‘do’ are much of the muchness which when it comes to sharing said experiences, we don’t always have something ‘unique’ to share. Hitting smaller out of the way towns might throw some different adventures in the mix (which we’ve done plenty of), but our first trip overseas we really wanted to see everything we’d always read & dreamed about which all fell mainly to capital cities. 
Valencia was no different in the stakes of big ole cities. Lots of cathedrals, tours, parks, pubs & general city sight seeing. 
What I can tell you is this. Every new city we get to, it’s always mainly explored by foot, by boat if there’s a great canal, river or ocean to see, by a double decker tour bus, by train if there is something justttt a bit too far for foot and you will find us constantly being pulled without meaning to be to the highest point of a city to take in all it’s beauty. We get lost, everytime, re found, find amazing hole in the wall bars & restaurants, eat traditional food a lot of it, our growing bellys would say too much – we go out, we stay in, we people watch …. we just find our own groove
Valencia was all the above but so much more because it was all done on our terms, when we wanted and how we wanted. A highlight of course was catching a Premiership game at the Valencia stadium (they won!!) & soaking up the amazing atmosphere the game dished up. If you’re ever in Spain, even if you don’t watch soccer – you could call it football where you’re from – get to a game. The crowds are electric and seeing the players in real life truly is a remarkable experience. 
I could sit here and tell you to ride a bike around Valencia (very fun indeed), to visit the park that used to be a river, to hit the beach and eat some delicious paella, to get out to the country & see the real Spanish beauty, to get lost in their old town, spend hours wandering the markets eating all the tapas & foods on offer and to people watch to your hearts content in all the small cafes on the busy side streets. 
But I won’t. That’s what we did and it might not necessarily be for you – and you will find your own travel groove. 
That’s the important thing though. To find it. To listen to your gut, to not do something for the sake of doing it because somebody else has done it before you, or you think you should because you’re travelling. 
The best times Morgs & I have on this holiday – which is every single day of the trip so far – are the ones where we do exactly what our hearts and bodies tell us to do. If we feel like a huge sleep in at the hotel and a leisurely walk around the city vs getting up to go go go because we only have 2 days. Then we do just that. If we feel like watching a movie instead of going out drinking. We stay in, and have the best most relaxing nights in ever. If we don’t feel like going to see a museum or statue or cathedral just because its the cities top attraction. Then we don’t. Doing it this way, listening to our guts, our hearts & our bodies, has provided us with what has truly been & continues to be a trip of a lifetime.
When you let your days take you wherever your heart or instinct is telling you instead of booking things in as it’s the ‘done thing’, you will find much richer experiences & meant to be moments throughout your trip.
Travel really is about finding your own groove, dancing the beat to your own distinct drum, treading your own path & having the time of your lives…..
We did just that in Valencia, with no really crazy out there things to share necessarily – apart from the Premiership soccer game which was seriously seriously amazing .. but what was solidified for us was that trusting our gut and finding our own groove is the best way to see cities for us.
We have in a few days only 4 weeks left. FOUR WEEKS. I cannot believe, at all, that our huge trip is almost coming to an end, and can say although I don’t feel like it went fast at all, knowing when we’re home in just 4 weeks, it strangely feels like it flew by. 
With that in mind, I’m off to explore Madrid – hello more Sangria – are there anonomyous help groups for Sangria addiction? & tapas, but I hope your Monday is filled with something you love mixed with a whole lotta heart. 

Love & Light,

Anna x

A day out in Country Spain

You know when you have those days when you’re traveling that you never could have planned for, no amount of money would justify how special it meant to you and you can’t believe it really happened? Yes? Well, Morgs & I were so blessed to have had one of those days just gone by in countryside Valencia.
We had rolled in to Valencia late evening (after booking a late train to extend our time in our beloved Barcelona) & had no idea what we wanted to do the next 4 days in this city we had barely even googled. One thing we did both agree too though, is that we were c.r.a.v.i.n.g some nature. After 3 solid months in big ole cities (Greece & Croatia withstanding) we were ready to re visit Mother Nature & spend some quality time among her trees & fresh air…. however we could. After literally the quickest Trip Adviser check, an email to the tour guide & literally picking the first tour that came up without even reading reviews (how hardcore I know), We were booked in with a tour called “Do Valencia!” and were officially off in to the countryside the next day.

Excitement Plus. 

Not sure of what the tour entailed exactly or what we could expect, we stayed true to our adventure spirit  and were getting picked up by our friendly local Spanish guide ‘Migeul’ first thing the next morning & were on our way.
Holy mother of all things holy though – our day was remarkable. Not only was it exactly what we needed – some quality time with nurturing mother nature, it was FUN & provided us with what we’re always craving every new city we go to which is…an authentic experience. 
We visited waterfalls, swam in the most gorgeous crystal clear hot spring waters and climbed down hills to explore rivers & rocks. My favourite part of the whole day though was lunch time (does that really surprise anyone?) when Miguel took us to this tiny out of the way ‘hole in the wall’ restaurant in the smallest country town. The owner, a gorgeous old Spanish man treated us like family & from the second we walked in I knew I wouldn’t want to leave! We ate the most delicious traditional Tapas I have ever eaten (& probably ever will), drank local homemade wine from a goat bag, and sipped cinnamon homebrew spirits as the owner explained how he made the wine, spirits & food (all in Spanish whilst Miguel translated in English). I tried Snails for the first time (I actually really liked them! They reminded me of lamb) and we did shots of green something’ something’ where first we had to dip our finger in it & the owner lit it on fire. Outrageous I know but I haven’t laughed like I did in that restaurant with complete strangers (others from our tour) ever. 
It’s days like that, almost unplanned, with complete strangers & no expectations that make me realise why I love travel so much … they say travel is the only thing you buy that can make you richer and yesterday was a true testament to that. 
I am rich in every way possible through all that this trip has given to me in the way of life experiences, laughter, love & lessons and I will remember most of my days lived over the past 3 months (+ 5 weeks to go) till the day I die. Whether it be a quiet coffee with the man I love in an empty cafe, swimming in freezing water just because it was too beautiful not too, eating strange foods in strange countries, bike riding through snow capped mountains, crying as I embark on the walk of the Cinque Terre just because I’m that happy I was there I have realised one thing. I am RICH, happy and fulfilled beyond my wildest expectations…& I have travel to thank for that. 
The best things in life really are free and it’s been the moments and experiences I’ve had on this trip that make me realise how beautiful life really is and how lucky I am here to be living.
All it took was some of natures beautiful scenery, a small bar, some snails, strangers & the love of my life to make me realise it.
With a heart full of love &  a belly full o’ gratitude,

Anna x

An open letter home about Barcelona

{ High above Barcelona at Guell Park – amazing view, almost officially over my fear of heights ma! }
Dear Mum,
Where do I even begin about this amazing, amazing, amaz-inggg country? Firstly, you need to know, if Morgs & I didn’t have a ticket booked to return I honestly don’t know if we would come home after having visited Spain. Sure…we fell hard for Amsterdam, and Santorini? Well, that is still too beautiful to put in to words, but there is just something about Spain that speaks to my soul. 
You guys all made jokes about making sure we came home. That we didn’t get tooo caught up in it all that we never returned and I always just thought, no way, not us…our home is Perth. And then…Barcelona came along & stole my heart & soul. I get it now. I get why people book one way tickets & end up finding new places to call home – & Spain would be mine.
It’s ok though – I promise on 12th December, when you are waiting at Arrivals in Perth…Morgs & I will walk through those gates. 
Honestly though mum this place is amazing. I had never quite understood or lived the saying people constantly say “Time flies when you’re having fun” until now. Even though we lived in every second of our experience and were out up to 17 hours a day before returning to collapse at our hostel, time just went too quick. Our last day we even set an alarm to get up as early as possible to spend the full day exploring some more, and soaking up the final sights & sounds that Barcelona had to offer. We were both sad to be boarding the train at 5pm leaving for Valencia, even after 4 full days, which is crazy considering we were still going to be in Spain. 
You’d love it though. I figure this connection I have to this place has to come from somewhere and it’s got to be genetics through you right? The people here as so gorgeous and friendly and I don’t even get laughed or looked sideways at when I literally sing and skip & dance down the street – which has happened every single day. 
We did as much as we could in Barcelona whilst trying to listen to our guts instinctively trying to get exactly what we wanted out of the time there. We did all the main attractions that we wanted to see like Guell Park (Gaudi’s amazingly designed park high above Barca). We also got to see Gaudi’s houses (well before his time mum, an architect from the late 1800’s who’s work was inspired by nature) and visited La Sagrada Familia … Nanna would have LOVED it. 2 guesses for what it was? A church of course. But it is incomplete – work is still being done to finish it to Gaudis’ design & vision and it’s truly remarkable. Every single tiny inch of it has been well thought out & designed (right down to the plaster above the choir section so the sound is optimum when 1000 people sing). It was the most modern vs old piece of architecture I’ve seen on the whole trip & it was amazing to witness and share in the rich experience that is La Sagrada Familia. We walked La Rambla too many times to count (I couldn’t stay away from the buzzing street!), strolled in awe along the beach front & spent hours in the La Boqueria Markets which would make me live in Spain for them alone. Just think rows & rows & rows of stores full of meat, wine, cheese, tapas & fresh fruit & vegetables everywhere you look. We even had a boozy night out with the crazy Spainards watching the Barcelona game (they won!!), and the atmosphere in the pubs is something I’ll remember for a long time. 
Naturally we delved right in to the food & drink Barca had to offer – like every other town on the trip. Pretty sure I have grown a slight addiction to Sangria, Tapas & Paella, but hey we only live once right?
To be honest ma, I am going to have the hardest time in the world leaving but we have promised this beautiful country we will return. We have another 2 weeks in Spain so I just have to remember to soak it all in and be grateful I’m here now not regretful we don’t have more time. 
Only 5 more weeks until I’m home & I see you and the fam again & I am bursting at the seams with excitement for that! This second half of the trip feels as though it’s going much faster than the first half but the good news is Morgs & I have already planned our next trip – 2014 we’ll be hitting U.S & South America for 3 months (you know once the goal is set it’s happening so we are already excited for that!) 
I heard Perth weather has been amazing so be sure to soak up some rays of sun the beach for me. Give the boys & b hellos & bear hugs and delilah the biggest Auntie smooch possible. 
Love you millions & miss you more.
Your wanderlust daughter,
Anna xx
{ Guell Park }
{ La Sagrada Familia – The Sacred Family Church .. this was the nativity facade }
{ Running through the pigeons like a big kid }
{ Just a typical lunch – Tapas & Sangria }