December 23, 2019
What Makes San Francisco Unique: 10 Interesting Facts

What Makes San Francisco Unique: 10 Interesting Facts

December 23, 2019
golden gate bridge san francisco
This year is the 10-year anniversary of my American adventure and I didn't want to end 2019 without a little tribute to San Francisco, my favorite city in the world. People who haven't been to the City by the Bay often ask me: "what is it about San Francisco? what makes it so unique?" For me it's all about the vibe and the type of city.

Read more about my experience as an au-pair in San Francisco

San Francisco is very European with its beautiful Victorian houses and quaint neighborhoods. I love the variety of neighborhoods, each so different from the other representing the people who live there. I love that it's not a big city, you can walk pretty much everywhere -despite the hills-, but you can find everything: the best shops, an international airport, huge parks and even a beach.

Everybody knows the hills, the cable cars and the Golden Gate Bridge. However, the beautiful City by the Bay comes with many fascinating curiosities I'm sure you don't know about. You'd have never guessed what was invented in San Francisco or what is buried under the city among other interesting facts. Let's check them out.
embarcadero san francisco pier sea lion
embarcadero san francisco pier golden gate bridge

10 interesting facts about San Francisco

1. It is estimated that there are between 40 and 70 ships buried underneath the streets of the financial district in San Francisco. The vessels brought people to San Francisco during the California Gold Rush, only to be abandoned and later covered up by landfill as the city grew in the late 1800s.

2. The fortune cookie and the Irish coffee were invented in San Francisco.

3. Levi Strauss invented denim jeans in San Francisco for the Gold Rush miners who needed durable yet comfortable clothing.

4. The US Navy planned to paint the Golden Gate Bridge black with yellow stripes. Its world famous, called International Orange, color was supposed to be a sealant.

5. The city’s cable cars are the only National Historical Monument that can move.

6. Before it was called San Francisco, this city was called Yerba Buena which is Spanish for "good herb". Nowadays SF has different nicknames such as "City by the Bay", “Golden Gate City” or “The Golden City.” Other popular names include "San Fran" or "Frisco" but these two are loathed by locals.

7. San Francisco has the second largest Chinatown outside of Asia. More than 100,000 people live in Chinatown. It's the most densely populated neighborhood in the city.

8. It wasn't the earthquake that did most of the damage in 1906. The fires that started after the earthquake caused most of the damage to the city.

9. Mark Twain never uttered the famous quote “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.” However, whoever said this was absolutely right. The warmest month of the year is September. In the summer, while the rest of California is really hot, San Francisco has cooler temperatures.

10. During the Great Depression, not a single bank in San Francisco failed. Actually, business was so good that they constructed the Golden Gate Bridge and the Oakland Bay Bridge during this period.

Read more blog posts about San Francisco
san francisco palace fine arts
san francisco fisherman's wharf
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san francisco palace fine arts cable car

December 9, 2019
Where to Eat in Leon, Spain: the Best Restaurants

Where to Eat in Leon, Spain: the Best Restaurants

December 9, 2019
best restaurants tapas bar leon spain rooftop terraza camarote hotel
My hometown, Leon, is a hidden gem in northern Spain famous for its monuments and amazing food. It's Spain's best city for free tapas and it's perfect for a short weekend getaway. From high-end restaurants to gastro-bars and tapas spots, there's no shortage of eating options. On this blog post you are going to find a food guide to the best restaurants and tapas bars in Leon. For more information to plan your trip check out The Complete Guide to Visiting Leon.
best restaurants tapas bar leon spain rooftop terraza camarote hotel


Leon was named Gastronomic Capital of Spain in 2018 for good reason. Leon has a great variety of local dishes like cecina (dry meat), Valdeon cheese or botillo. The city’s slogan for the competition was ‘Manjar de Reyes’, which means ‘Food of Kings’, giving a nod to the city’s royal history. Since then, swarms of foodies and tourist fill the city every holiday weekend to try the delicacies the city is known for.

Leon is one of the few cities in Spain where tapas are free. You can go out for drinks with friends and end up having dinner for free without even realizing. Bars are pretty competitive about offering the best tapas because they know that if tapas are bad or they don't offer them, people won't go there.

The best areas to find tapas bars are Barrio Humedo and El Cid. These two quarters are full of bars and restaurants and are packed on weekends. Traditionally, Barrio Humedo (which literally means "Wet Quarter", referring to the amount of drinks served in this area) has been the most popular one but in recent years El Cid or Barrio Romantico has stepped up the game and become pretty popular too. By night these narrow streets are full of people, it's the most bustling area in town.


This restaurant and hotel group runs some of my favorite eateries in Leon: LAV, Casa Mando and NiMu Azotea. They have just opened a new one: Marcela Brasa y Vinos which I can't wait to try.

A traditional restaurant with a modern twist. I love the impeccably designed space, the delicious food and professional staff. They use seasonal products, the best meat and legumes in the region of Leon and fresh fish from Galicia and Asturias. Book as soon as possible because it's always full. I had been trying to celebrate my birthday there for three years with no luck until this one when we booked one month in advance.
Address: Calle General Lafuente
Phone: +34 987 798 188
best restaurants tapas bar leon spain casa mando conde luna
best restaurants tapas bar leon spain casa mando conde luna lechazo
best restaurants tapas bar leon spain casa mando conde luna flamed dessert flambeado

In my opinion this is the coolest and most modern restaurant in Leon. The name is an acronym for Laboratorio Alfonso V, and if you pronounce it in Spanish it sounds like "lab", short for laboratory. The tasting menu costs €35 and includes six different courses. Read all about this unique dining experience here.
Address: Avenida del Padre Isla 1, Leon
Phone: +34 987 79 81 90
best restaurants tapas bar leon spain lav alfonso V hotel
best restaurants tapas bar leon spain lav alfonso V hotel
best restaurants tapas bar leon spain lav alfonso V hotel

NiMu is a very popular rooftop restaurant with excellent city views. It's the type of food and ambiance we always look for in a restaurant. We loved every single dish we tried but the most spectacular thing were the desserts, the assorted ice-cream is adorable, isn't it? Their signature dessert is called "the fish bowl". It is literally a fish bowl with an amazing mixture of flavors: nuts, chocolate, of the most delicious and original desserts I've ever had.
Address: Calle General Lafuente s/n, Leon
Phone: +34 987 79 81 92
best restaurants tapas bar leon spain nimu azotea conde luna rooftop
best restaurants tapas bar leon spain nimu azotea conde luna rooftop
best restaurants tapas bar leon spain nimu azotea conde luna rooftop

Hotel, restaurant, tapas bar and rooftop all in one of the most beautiful buildings in the city. Their specialty is fresh fish and seafood. My favorite part of this place is the rooftop, it's very close to the cathedral and offers unbeatable views to this stunning monument and other parts of the city.
Address: Calle Damaso Merino, 1.
Phone: +34 987 79 82 34
best restaurants tapas bar leon spain camarote hotel building edificio sopeña
best restaurants tapas bar leon spain camarote hotel rooftop
best restaurants tapas bar leon spain camarote hotel fish pescado
best restaurants tapas bar leon spain camarote hotel
best restaurants tapas bar leon spain camarote hotel

Located in El Cid quartier, El Patio -Spanish for "courtyard"- is a a cozy little restaurant where the dining area is a library. Food and books, two of my favorite things. There's also a cute outdoor eating area which gives the name to this place. More pics and info here.
Address: Plaza Torres de Omana 2, Leon
Phone: +34 987 03 33 55
best restaurants tapas bar leon spain el patio barrio romantico cid

Combines traditional Spanish food with modern touches. The daily lunch menu here is great value. As a decor enthusiast, I love the white walls, great light and china that decorate the restaurant.
Address: Plaza Don Gutierre 5, Leon
Phone: +34 987 04 34 47
best restaurants tapas bar leon spain la mary
best restaurants tapas bar leon spain la mary

You already know about my love for Paradores hotels. They are our home away from home. There are only two five-star Paradores in Spain and one of them is the one in Leon. Unfortunately, The place is currently closed for renovations, but I still recommend you add it to your list. I can't wait to go there as soon as they open again. Read all about Paradores here.
best restaurants tapas bar leon spain parador san marcos
best restaurants tapas bar leon spain parador san marcos


Because tapas are free, tapas bars are even more popular than restaurants in Leon. They are concentrated in three main areas: Plaza San Martin and Plaza Mayor -both part of Barrio Humedo- and just a few steps away El Cid.

Order your drink and you will get the most delicious tapas with it. To give you an idea, these are some of the most popular ones: Spanish potato omelette, croquetas, fried egg with chorizo or morcilla and little sandwiches. It may not be the healthiest choice but it sure is comfort food.

For croquetas, El Rebote is the most famous bar. Go to Ezequiel for the best cold meat: ham, chorizo, cecina, etc. For chips -not your average ones, these are thicker and tastier- El Flechazo is your best choice. If you like jamon, Four Lions Brewery serves a full plate as a tapa. Morcilla, a.k.a. blood sausage is very typical from Leon and La Bicha is very popular for their morcilla tapas. Finally, La Compatencia serves Leon's most famous pizzas and they serve a slice with your drink.


To take this map with you, simply click on the star next to the title and it will be saved to your maps. WEAR THIS HERE
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best restaurants tapas bar leon spain

November 25, 2019
30 Things to do in your Thirties

30 Things to do in your Thirties

November 25, 2019
birthday ideas outfit thirty thirties
I feel incredibly grateful for the amazing opportunities and milestones that I have had and reached throughout my 20s and early 30s such as graduating from university, living in San Francisco, creating this blog, moving to Madrid and getting married. Even though I feel very proud of everything I've accomplished, being a very ambitious person I have a never ending list of goals I want to achieve.

This week is very important for me because it marks the beginning of celebration season. It starts with my birthday this Wednesday -which is the day I put up our Christmas decor- and then there are birthday celebrations in my family every week until Christmas. So it's a whole month of celebrations and gatherings.

To celebrate my birthday with you, I've created a list of 30 things to do in your thirties that I find rewarding and fulfilling. Some I’ve achieved and others, I have yet to.
birthday ideas outfit thirty thirties
birthday ideas outfit thirty thirties
Here's my list of 30 things to do in your 30s. Let me know which ones are your favorites or what ideas you'd add to the list :)
  1. Save for the trip of your life. For me Australia and California had always been my dream destinations, even though now I've been to both I still dream of traveling to lands far away.
  2. Travel as often as you can. That doesn't necessarily mean booking a flight. Weekend getaways and road trips help us unwind and go back to work with a fresh mind.
  3. Travel solo. This is something everyone should try at least once in a lifetime. Read my experience traveling solo.
  4. Live abroad. Whether it's for months or years, this opens your mind like nothing else does. Read my experience as an au-pair in the US.
  5. Buy your first home or apartment. We are currently house hunting, fingers crossed!
  6. Practice a new talent or take up a hobby you left aside. I used to draw a lot as a kid but now I've transferred that passion to photography. I also took piano lessons as a teen but never had the patience to learn properly, I'd love to try again some day.
  7. Do voluntary work. Whether is helping people in need or preserve cultural heritage, I'd like to give back to the community in some way.
  8. Give more priority to me time. I've always wanted to get pampered for a day with a trip to the spa, to get a facial, a massage and my make-up and hair done.
  9. Be the best version of yourself. Instead of focusing on changing, strive for better. We don't need to be other people, we just need to work on ourselves.
  10. Accept yourself: your "flaws", your body, etc. Don't be so hard on yourself, nobody's perfect.
  11. Think positive. Train yourself to change every single negative thought and turn it into a positive one.
  12. Video chat with those friends who are far away. I have friends from all over the world but I never find the time to chat with them properly.
  13. Organize friend/family gatherings. We are so caught up on our daily routine that we procrastinate things that are important in life like spending time with loved ones.
  14. Find a workout routine that you love. Working out is not my number one priority and I think that's because I haven't found a sport or routine that I actually enjoy.
  15. Learn a new language. I speak Spanish, English and French but I gave up Russian lessons and now I feel like I've forgotten most of it which is really sad.
  16. Face your fears. We all have them, and getting over them is one of the hardest things in life.
  17. Don't be a prisoner of things your can't change. Whether is personal relationships or something else, learn to let go.
  18. Take risks. If you are a control freak like me, you probably have a hard time doing this. But what's the worst that could happen?
  19. Take a cooking class. I LOVE baking and I'd love to learn tips and tricks to improve my baking skills.
  20. Give yourself a treat. Save some cash and buy that thing that you've always wanted to but it's too expensive. YOLO.
  21. Set some money aside. Think about the long future: retirement, house, kids...
  22. Say "I love you". Is there someone you've always wanted to tell how you feel but never dared?
  23. No regrets. Stop torturing yourself about things that can't be changed. Think that they are life experiences.
  24. Start an exciting project. Have you ever wanted to do something like writing a book? Maybe a blog would be a good start.
  25. Ask yourself: am I happy? Think about what's missing in your life.
  26. Love life. Are you in a relationship? Think about where you are at and where you want to be. Maybe it's time to take the next step.
  27. Go back to school. If you didn't finish your degree or you studied the wrong one, this is a good time to rethink your future.
  28. Make some changes -or not- on your professional career. Are you happy at work? Are you doing what you've always wanted to do?
  29. Try a -new- meditation technique. Find a podcast that relaxes you, take up yoga or try out tapping.
  30. Spend some time in the countryside. I've always loved big cities because they've got so much to offer. However, since I moved to Madrid I've learned to appreciate rural life much more.
Hopefully this post has inspired you to improve some things about your life or encouraged you to try new things. What items on the list have you already nailed down? what would you add to your own list? 
birthday ideas outfit thirty thirties
November 18, 2019
Best Things to do in Soria and Around

Best Things to do in Soria and Around

November 18, 2019
soria duero douro river rio spain otoño autumn fall foliage
Soria is a hidden gem located in central northern Spain, at the eastern end of the Castile and Leon region. This land of poets is about two hours from Madrid and is one of the least populated regions in Spain. The city lies by river Douro (or Duero as we say in Spanish) which is right now surrounded by spectacular fall foliage. Therefore fall is the optimal season to visit the area.

On this blog post you are going to find a complete guide to Soria and the surrounding area: best things to do, what to see, day trips, typical food and much more. Let's take a look at this gem waiting to be discovered. At the end of this post you can find a map that you can take with you on your trip.
soria duero douro river rio spain otoño autumn fall foliage
soria duero douro river rio spain otoño autumn fall foliage
soria duero douro river rio spain otoño autumn fall foliage landscape
soria duero douro river rio spain otoño autumn fall foliage
More interesting places in Castile and Leon:
The Complete Guide to Leon
A Guide to Avila for First Time Visitors
Spectacular Roman Ruins in Palencia
Palacio de la Granja de San Ildefonso in Segovia


Soria's heritage is a history lovers dream. From the archeological site of Numancia, to its numerous Romanic churches, Soria is one of the most important parts of Spain in terms of historical sites. Plus, it has been birthplace and home to very important poets and writers such as Antonio Machado, Gerardo Diego, Gustavo Adolfo Becquer and athletes as well.

These are the places in Soria that you can't miss:
  • Numancia: just 8 kilometres from Soria there is a settlement that dates back to the 3rd century BC and is set atop a hill. Here you can find defensive walls, streets, houses or thermal baths. Part of it has been reconstructed which helps you imagine what life was like back in the day. If you go there in summer, on the last Saturday in July, different episodes from the war between Romans and Numancians are re-enacted in the very ruins of the city. Plan your visit
  • Arcos de San Juan de Duero: this monastery was built between the 12th and 13th centuries and the most impressive feature is the arcaded cloister that still maintains the original Gothic and Mudejar elements.
  • Ermita de San Saturio: this 18th-century Baroque chapel blends perfectly with the mountain and looks as if the building had naturally grown from the stone. Inside you can see impressive frescos that narrate the life of San Saturio, a hermit from the 5th-century family who donated all his goods to the poor and went to live in this grotto where you can find his tomb.
  • Walking paths to San Saturio are lovely specially this time of the year. Leave the car and walk along river Duero from Arcos de San Juan to Ermita de San Saturio and enjoy the landscape. It takes about 30 minutes.
  • Church of Santo Domingo: this spectacular Romanesque temple was built using the façade of the church of Notre-Dame la Grande in Poitiers as a reference.
  • Palacio de los Condes de Gomara: this impressive 16th-century Renaissance palace cannot be visited as it is being used as the Provincial Court, but admiring the architecture is totally worth it.
soria spain numancia yacimiento arqueologico
soria spain numancia yacimiento arqueologico
arcos monasterio san juan duero soria
arcos monasterio san juan duero soria
soria spain chapel san saturio ermita autumn otoño fall foliage landscape


Soria is a natural paradise with stunning forests and rivers. It's a predominantly agricultural region and thanks to the vast areas of countryside we can admire spectacular views and scenes around the area. When you visit Soria make sure you have time for the following:
  • Natural Park of the Urbion Mountain Range and Laguna Negra: this fascinating lagoon lies within massive granite walls surrounded by infinite pine groves. Since you are in the area, you can't miss the quaint village of Calatañazor.
  • Cañon del Rio Lobos: this beautiful natural park belongs to two regions, Burgos and Soria. It is a deep 25-kilometre-long calcareous canyon formed by the erosion of the Lobos River passing through this land. 
  • Acebal Garagüeta: this is the biggest holly forest in the Iberian Peninsula and in southern Europe. If you continue driving north you can find Yanguas a village that is on the list of the Most Beautiful Villages in Spain.
  • Medinaceli is also on the list of the Most Beautiful Villages in Spain. The spectacular old town is on top of a mountain and consists of houses made of stone and several Catholic heritage buildings. We stopped at Medinaceli for lunch on our way back to Madrid and we really enjoyed the visit. We had a delicious meal at Bavieca Restaurant. They have an amazing menu that includes starter, main and dessert for just 20€. 
medinaceli soria spain pueblo bonito calle casa piedra quaint
medinaceli soria spain pueblo bonito calle casa piedra quaint
medinaceli soria spain pueblo bonito paisaje


Paradores are our absolute favorite hotels in Spain. In fact, we are on a quest to visit all 98 of them. We love the remarkable quality and how friendly and professional the staff always is. My favorite Paradores are those located in historical buildings and even though the one in Soria is a modern building, it didn't disappoint. Being as cold as it was outside made the Parador extra cozy, especially on the morning we left when it started to snow and we could see a very Christmasy sight while having breakfast. Another unforgettable memory from Paradores...
You can book your stay at Parador de Soria here

Read more posts about Paradores
parador soria antonio machado hotel restaurante
parador soria antonio machado hotel restaurante pedro ximenez
parador soria antonio machado hotel restaurante fachada otoño


Right now that is mushroom season, you have to try the different types that grow in the area. All year round torreznos de Soria are very typical, they are meat obtained from pork belly, marinated and once dried, cut into strips and fried in olive oil. The result is a very tasty and crunchy appetizer. Butter industry is also very big in Soria and they make with it a delicious sweet treat called mantequilla dulce (sweet butter). However, the number one dessert in this region is costrada, a classic and traditional pastry made with puff pastry and two fillings; meringue and pastry cream, crowned with almonds.
torreznos soria medinaceli restaurante bavieca


The best place to buy Soria's top things, like sweet butter, is bakery and patisserie Mantequeria York.


This Soria region map includes all the things you need to do in the area. Click on the star next to the title to save to your maps in Google.


Soria is famous for being one of the coldest places in Spain. The cold wind we experienced on the weekend we visited is one of the most freezing we've ever felt. So layer up!
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