October 15, 2018
How to Stay Sane while Living Abroad

How to Stay Sane while Living Abroad

October 15, 2018
autumn fall travel outfit marigold oversized sweater colorful scarf faux leather skirt
I've spent long periods of time abroad like several months studying or working in the UK, an academic year in Ireland or the year I spent working as an au-pair in the USA. I went to all those places on my own. Any expat living abroad goes through ups and downs. Those "down" times are specially hard when you are alone. You become more sensitive and anything can affect you much more than in normal circumstances.

The focus of today's post is psychology. October 10 was World Mental Health Day which tries to raise awareness of mental health issues around the world so I thought it would be a good idea to talk about this topic since it is very related to living abroad.
autumn fall travel outfit marigold oversized sweater colorful scarf faux leather skirt
I've always been interested in the topic of mental health. I love psychoanalising and I can always find a reason to justify certain behaviors. Working as teacher I see how teenagers deal with emotions and how the situations they live at home or with their peers affect their development. In the same way, experiences we live abroad shape our behaviour and affect our mental health.
autumn fall travel outfit marigold oversized sweater colorful scarf faux leather skirt
So what can you do to cut the stress out of life while abroad?

Create a support team
You may have moved abroad alone but chances are you are not the only one there. Find people in the same situation, do things together like getting coffee or visiting places and talk a lot. Share your experiencies, your thoughts, hopes and fears. It's the cheapest and most rewarding therapy you can get.

Do all your favorite things
Indulge on guilty pleasures. It feels great to do the kind of things we’d normally do at home. Something as simple as watching your favorite TV show can help you unwind and make you feel better.

Remember why you moved abroad
Was it to learn a language? To live new experiences? To see the world? To pursue your dream job? To be with the person you love? Always keep in mind what motivated you to take the plunge and how excited you were when you made the choice.

Phone Home
Long live Skype. It will be your best friend abroad. Hearing someone's voice can be so comforting.
autumn fall travel outfit marigold oversized sweater colorful scarf faux leather skirt
There's an app for that
I'm not a big fan of cell phones -I could lose mine and not realize until a day later...- and I hate how they've taken over our lives but I admit they are really useful. Last week I read about this app called Calm which helps you lower your stress, anxiety and improves your sleep. The app is all about meditation and soothing music and teaches the "basics of mindfulness" through audio programs which feature a narrator over relaxing images. I'm usually pretty skeptical about these things but I decided to give it a try and after listening to the first audio I realized how useful this could also be for those living abroad.
The app's initial programs are free, but additional programs targeting stress, anxiety, self-esteem, happiness and gratitude are only available on a subscription.

Think about all the amazing things your new home has to offer
Is it the food that you love the most, or maybe the landscapes or the people? When you move abroad you always compare your home country to your new one. Focus on those thing that make your new home so amazing.

Stay positive
Can you train yourself to swap negative thoughts for positive? A friend told me recently that it can be done and I decided to accept the challenge. It's incredibly hard when you are having a sh**y day but I've realized that just trying to do it improves your day.

Stop the stigma against mental health issues
Why is it so hard to talk about mental health? Because we are afraid of being judged by others. I hope one day sociaety will realize that we aren’t superhuman and it's ok to ask for help.
autumn fall travel outfit marigold oversized sweater colorful scarf faux leather skirt
Moving overseas is a big decision. Time abroad will be difficult, but it will also be highly rewarding. Be patient and keep a positive mind and you'll succeed.

More on this topic:
Traveling as an introvert
How to deal with culture shock
My experience traveling solo
How to survive Christmas abroad
Being an au-pair

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October 8, 2018
How to Order Coffee in Spain

How to Order Coffee in Spain

October 8, 2018
Mama Framboise Madrid coffee Spain patisserie bakery
¿Me pones un cafe? (Can I have a coffee?) is the most common question asked in the mornings all around Spain. The famous meme "but first, coffee" is a favorite in Spain too. However, I don't think I've seen a country with more types of coffee than Spain. I'm still amazed at how a waiter can remember seven different types in a 10-people table without writing the order down.

I must confess that I had to do some research to write this post since I do not drink coffee, it makes me jittery and anxious, but I LOVE the smell. So I either drink decaff or hot milk with a few drops of coffee. Anyways, as I'm still a fan of this hot beverage -and fall requires a lot of that- I've put together the ultimate guide to ordering coffee in Spain. So forget about Starbucks' menu and learn to order coffee like a local.
Mama Framboise Madrid coffee Spain patisserie bakery
Mama Framboise Madrid coffee Spain patisserie bakery
Fancy a coffee? Let's start with some interesting facts.
Espresso is the most popular way to prepare coffee in Spain. So basically, the type of coffee depends on how much milk you want to add. As for the sugar, your cup will be accompanied by a little packet so you can add it if you want.

Coffee to go is not as common in Spain as in other countries. Spaniards drink their coffee at the cafe/restaurant so you may have a hard time finding a cup to go unless you go to a Starbucks or similar.

Apart from morning coffee, Spaniards love their coffee after lunch. Lunch here is the biggest meal of the day and if you are eating out it usually consists of a starter, main dish, dessert and finally coffee or infusion.
Mama Framboise Madrid coffee Spain patisserie bakery
Mama Framboise Madrid coffee Spain patisserie bakery
So how do you order coffee in Spain? These are the most popular types.

Café con leche: this is the closest equivalent to a latte you'll find in Spain. Literally it means "coffee with milk".
Café americano: plain coffee, no sugar or milk in it.
Leche manchada: literally it means "stained milk" and it's hot milk with just a few drops of coffee.
Café descafeinado: decaffeinated coffee. This is much more common in Spain than abroad. If you order it you will be asked if you want it de sobre (coming in a little packet of instant decaff) or de maquina (machine made).
Café solo: shot of espresso. It's Spain's favorite after a copious lunch.
Cortado: strong espresso shot, topped with frothy hot milk.
Café bombón: espresso with condensed milk. Perfect for those with a sweet tooth (like yours truly).
Café con hielo: this summer favorite consists of espresso and ice served in separate glasses. Pour the hot coffee into the glass with the ice and stir. If you want it with milk, ask for a café con leche, con hielo.
Carajillo: this coffee with a twist is more common in winter as it comes with a shot of liquor, usually brandy, rum or whisky.
Mama Framboise Madrid coffee Spain patisserie bakery
Mama Framboise Madrid coffee Spain patisserie bakery
My favorite cafes in Madrid
I took these pics at Mama Framboise, one of Madrid's best bakeries. I love the vintage decor and the scrumptious treats your can find here. This is their main coffee shop but you can also find a few more around the city like a little one in San Anton food market.

I also recommend Cafe Mur if you are looking for healthy dishes and homemade cakes to pair with your coffee or La Duquesita (which is in the same street as Mama Framboise) if you want to see a charming coffee shop from 1914.

So tell me. How do you like your coffee?


RECREATE SPAIN'S FAVORITE COFFEES WITH THESE ESSENTIALS

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October 1, 2018
Traveling as an Introvert

Traveling as an Introvert

October 1, 2018
fall autumn non-touristy comfortable travel outfit fashion style
Today’s post is a bit more personal. I want to tell you about what it is like to travel as an introvert. We are going to start by defining introvert, then we’ll talk about why introverts are the best travelers and finally we’ll talk friendships. If you are “one of us” you’ll probably feel related. If you are an extrovert, I hope this will help you understand us better. Grab a cup of your favorite hot beverage and let’s get started.fall autumn non-touristy comfortable travel outfit fashion style
What defines an introvert person? 
Introverts are quiet, reserved and reflective. Introverts see the world in a different way and would rather be reading a book at home that partying till dawn. The worst part of being an introvert is perhaps how the world perceives you. Sociable people have a hard time understanding how we feel or what we do. Being an introvert doesn’t mean we are antisocial, we just like to socialize in our own terms. I find it hard to force myself to go out when I don’t feel like it. I hate being in a bar late at night yelling to be able to have a conversation because of all the noise and loud music. However, one of my favorite things to do is catching up with friends or having deeper conversation while having a cup of tea.
fall autumn non-touristy comfortable travel outfit fashion style
Why do introverts make the best travelers?
Being an introvert doesn’t mean we want to be at home all the time. The thing I love the most in this world is traveling and nothing gets in my way when I want to see the world. Even though traveling may seem an activity for extroverts it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, introverts can get more out of travel because we are always well aware of our surroundings and where we fit in. Just like in conversations we are much better listeners than talkers, we don’t like to be the center of attention and we prefer to see than be seen; that’s why when we travel we soak everything up from foreign cultures to people and landscapes. We like traveling solo and we love learning which helps to get to know ourselves much better as well. Finally, introverts are often strong people which is a very valuable asset when traveling.
fall autumn non-touristy comfortable travel outfit fashion style
Introverts make deep life-long friendships
For a long time, I’ve traveled solo (read my experience here) because choosing a travel partner is tricky business. Unfortunately, that independence is sometimes mistaken by selfishness. I’ve lived in Ireland, the UK and California and I moved to those places on my own. I’m not going to lie, I felt lonely at times. When that happened, I looked for activities that where a bit more social or stayed in hostels instead of hotels.

It’s true that us introverts don’t have a million friends but the friendships we have are unbreakable. Introverts are much more selective when we make friends because we only feel at ease with certain people. I’ve met many great friends thanks to traveling and living abroad. When introverts meet someone special it feels so good! And we are never going to let anything get in the way of that friendship. I’d even venture to say that introverts build stronger connections than extroverts. That also means that when someone disappoints me, it hits me harder than it does to other people.
fall autumn non-touristy comfortable travel outfit fashion style
I’m going to be an introvert for life and I’m ok with that
Nowadays, my life is very different from what it used to be. Even though the travel bug is still there, I swapped the “occasional expat” life for something more stable. I travel with my husband, who is not only the perfect life partner for me but also the perfect travel companion. He is an extrovert and I’m an introvert but we understand each other perfectly. This works so well because we learn a lot from each other. I make an effort to be a bit more sociable and he is starting to enjoy the pleasures of being at home a bit more.
fall autumn non-touristy comfortable travel outfit fashion style
One third of the world’s population are considered introverts, however, we are raised to believe that the right thing is to be an extrovert. There’s nothing wrong with being an introvert. Just like with many other things in life, the important thing it to accept the way we are.

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September 24, 2018
What to do in Madrid this Fall

What to do in Madrid this Fall

September 24, 2018
autumn fall spain guide outfit
It still feels like summer in Madrid but it won't be long before temperatures go down and leaves turn crimson and gold. Autumn days call for cozy plans and comfort food and that's what you will find on this guide. On today's post I'm going to tell you what to see and do in Madrid this fall. Just because the weather in October and November is not as good as in the previous season, it doesn't mean you have to stay at home. As a preview I can tell you that we are going to see a ghost metro station, the most beautiful colors in Madrid's famous parks and a cozy fall meal.
Does it sound like something you'd like?
Let's get started.
platform 0 chamberi ghost museum metro station madrid
VISIT THE GHOST STATION
A.K.A. Platform 0 or Chamberi Station, this spooky metro station is one of those secret places in Madrid you need to know about. Take a trip down memory lane in this ghost station inaugurated in 1919 that is now a museum where you can see advertisements from the time, ticket offices and other memorabilia from the early 20th century.

The architect was inspired by Parisian stations of the time and managed to make the station appealing to those who were reluctant to travel underground thanks to colorful details and an abundance of white tiles to make it brighter. It was used as a shelter during the Spanish Civil War and closed its doors in 1966 when logistical difficulties meant that Chamberi could not be extended. In 2008 it reopened to the public again completely restored as a museum.

You can stroll down the station, from the ticket offices to the platform, and discover a 1919 station with its original pieces. It's funny to picture yourself in a vintage outfit waiting for the metro. I always do that when visiting historic sites, do you?
Even though the station is not used as such anymore, the metro still passes through it, so you'll see trains on both directions during your visit.

Opening hours:
Thursdays 10am to 1pm.
Fridays 11am to 7pm.
Saturdays and Sundays 11am to 3pm
Entrance is free.
platform 0 chamberi ghost museum metro station madrid
platform 0 chamberi ghost museum metro station madrid
platform 0 chamberi ghost museum metro station madrid
platform 0 chamberi ghost museum metro station madrid
platform 0 chamberi ghost museum metro station madrid
platform 0 chamberi ghost museum metro station madrid
HAVE A ROMANTIC AND COZY MEAL AT GIGI
Walk 5 minutes southwest from Chamberi station and you will find Gigi, a romantic restaurant with a pink room that reminded me of Instagram favorite Sketch in London. The ambiance can be described with one word: hygge. Have you ever heard this word? This term has become increasingly popular in recent years. Hygge is  is a Danish and Norwegian word used to describe a moment as cozy, charming or special.

We had a wonderful experience at Gigi. My husband and I eat out quite often and we both agreed that we haven't encountered staff as lovely as Gigi's in a long time. We ordered a cheesy burger -the creamy melted cheese tasted like heaven- and the equally delicious ceviche -a dish made from fresh raw fish cured in citrus juices- with diced avocado and mango sauce. For dessert we had the chocolate brownie with nuts and their famous cheesecake. The latter is so popular that in the menu it appears as "the best cheesecake in Madrid". Now I haven't tried all the cheesecake in Madrid but this one surely lives up to its name. It's creamy, smooth, decadent and melts in your mouth. Everything you can ask for in a cheesecake.

Restaurant info:
Address: calle Luchana, 13. Madrid
Phone: +34 680 40 89 71
Price: $$ - $$$
gigi romantic restaurant chamberi luchana madrid
gigi romantic restaurant chamberi luchana madrid
gigi romantic restaurant chamberi luchana madrid
gigi romantic restaurant chamberi luchana madrid
gigi romantic restaurant chamberi luchana madrid ceviche
gigi romantic restaurant chamberi luchana madrid burger
gigi romantic restaurant chamberi luchana madrid
gigi romantic restaurant chamberi luchana madrid chocolate brownie
gigi cheesecake romantic restaurant chamberi luchana madrid
FALL FOLIAGE
A favorite place of mine to visit during fall are Madrid's beautiful parks. I can't wait to see Parque del Buen Retiro in fall foliage. It's a feast to the eyes! Apart from Retiro, La Quinta de los Molinos and El Capricho are a must when seasons change. glass palace autumn fall retiro park madrid
autumn fall retiro park madrid
GO SEE A MUSICAL
One of the things we love the most about Madrid are the many leisure options it has to offer. Needless to say, there's no shortage of plays and musicals in Madrid. Hubby and I are excited about seeing West Side Story which premieres October 3rd. We've never seen the movie so we thought the musical would be a great idea to see this modern adaptation of tragic love story Romeo and Juliet. There's already a spot in our October agenda for it!
Right now, in Madrid you can also see world famous The Lion King, Billy Elliot or Dirty Dancing.

Want more? Visit the most viewed Madrid guides:
What to do in Madrid this summer
What to do in Madrid this spring
The most Instagrammable places in Madrid
Madrid for Foodies: the Best Food Markets

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September 17, 2018
Where to Eat Near Madrid's Top Attractions

Where to Eat Near Madrid's Top Attractions

September 17, 2018
retiro park madrid travel outfit spain
Madrid is well known for being a city full of monuments. From visiting the Royal Palace or some of the best museums in the world like El Prado to taking a stroll around Retiro Park, there's plenty to see and do. With so much sightseeing you are bound to get hungry. Sure there's always some restaurant nearby offering typical Spanish food but you don't want to end up in a touristy restaurant with disappointing and overpriced food. To help you avoid this mistake, today I bring you my foodie guide to the best places to eat near Madrid’s top attractions.

THE ROYAL PALACE
royal palace sabatini gardens madrid spain
Cafe de Oriente & La Botilleria de Oriente are timeless, there's a mixture of modern and traditional decor with uniformed staff that will make you feel like you are in a luxury restaurant without having to spend a fortune.
Mercado de San Miguel is the best place to try tapas. However, you won't find average tapas here, think more like "upscale tapas". The place tends to be crowded but it's worth it.

PUERTA DEL SOL & PLAZA MAYOR
plaza mayor madrid spain
I'd say San Gines is a tourist attraction more than a place to eat. Tourists and locals go to this place for the best chocolate con churros in town.

MUSEUMS
mr frank restaurant madrid
mr frank restaurant madrid
Mr Frank is like half way between Puerta del Sol and two of the most famous museums in Madrid: El Prado and Thyssen-Bornemisza. This restaurant offers unique dishes inspired by trips all around the world. The restaurant is divided in two areas: one looks like a wine cellar and the other has a rustic decor that makes you feel at home.

GRAN VIA
gourmet experience callao gran via madrid
El Jardin de Salvador Bachiller and El Invernadero de Salvador Bachiller have a similar menu but different atmospheres. The first is a rooftop and the second one a basement. The decor in both is based on nature with flowers and plants all around. Their specialties are brunch, natural fruit juices and cocktails.
Gourmet Experience El Corte Ingles. On the 9th floor of Spain's most famous department store in Gran Via you will find a mixture of gourmet food store and food market. You can buy products or eat tapas, pizza or gelato with a view.

PLAZA DE ESPAÑA
plaza españa gran via madrid spain
Cafe Mür is the cutest coffee shop and cocktail bar. The decor is a mixture of rustic and industrial with elements that contribute to create a cozy atmosphere like Chester sofas, vintage cushions, a chimney and wooden beams. The menu includes a selection of salads, bagels and their famous homemade cakes.

CHUECA
mercado san anton chueca madrid
Chueca is the gay neighborhood in Madrid and has some of the best decorated eateries and cafes in the capital of Spain. Frida is one of the most popular among locals. They offer creative cuisine, taking care of every detail regarding both their food and the decor. Be sure to make reservations or you will have to go somewhere else.
If I fancy a burger when I'm in the area, I go to Anauco Gourmet. Apart from the delicious food I love the fact that you can choose the size of your burger.
Mercado San Anton is foodie paradise. The first floor focuses on perishable food, the second one on take-away food and on the third floor you'll find Cocina de San Anton, a restaurant where customers can eat their goods bought on the first floor, cooked for a supplement of 4€. There's also a menu and a great selection of cocktails.

EL RETIRO PARK
glass crystal palace retiro park madrid
glass crystal palace retiro park madrid
El Perro y la Galleta is one of the most intagrammable places in Madrid and has delicious reasonably-priced food too. What's not to like?
Atlantico Taberna offers a mixture of tradition and trendiness. When you walk into this Galician restaurant you feel like you have been transported to the seaside.

SERRANO
habanera restaurant colon madrid
habanera restaurant colon madrid
If you have some time to go shopping be sure to visit Serrano (a.k.a. the golden mile) and nearby streets. The biggest Zara and Mango shops in the country are waiting for you along with luxury brands like Chanel, Dior or LV. There are plenty of restaurants around but my favorite are the following:
Cafe Colon a luxury restaurant for a luxury neighborhood. A great option to give yourself a treat. Very close to Cafe Colon you can find La Habanera. I have to say that the decor here is better than the food but it's so beautiful it will make your jaw drop when you walk in. If you want to see where all the pretty people in Madrid hang out, go to this Caribbean inspired restaurant.
What amazed me the most about Ultramarinos Quintin was the quality of their products. Every single ingredient of the dishes we ordered tasted like heaven. It's pricey but this is one of my favorite places to celebrate a special occasion. On Puigcerda street you'll find the cutest restaurants lined up, the tricky thing will be to pick just one!

Because of my love for food, I'm on a crusade to try all the amazing restaurants and cafes Madrid has to offer. In order to share my adventure, I've created a new Instagram account @madrid4foodies. Follow it if you want to keep updated and see the best restaurants in Madrid.

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gran via madrid

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