Category Archives: Travel

#FBF: Barcelona, Spain – The City Of Dreams (Part 2)

Happy Friday!

This is the last flash back to my trip to Europe some 2 years ago.

If you missed the previous posts, you can catch up here:

This was the last full day in Barcelona for me and my brother. Both of us were pretty sick, so we didn’t take many pictures of each other. And the ones we did, well, I won’t post them because I look sick. Ha!

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That day we went to Park Guell, which was built between 1900 and 1915 . It was commissioned by Eusebi Guell and designed by Antoni Gaudi.

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Since we took a metro to get there, we needed to walk for about 20 minutes to enter the park. But it was definitely worth it. There were great views over the city and plenty of architecture to see.

The house below was actually the place where Gaudi lived there until his death in 1926.

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An interesting fact: The park was originally supposed to be a commercial housing development, which turned out to be an unsuccessful venture.

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Afterwards we went to Barcelona’s Arc de Triomf. It was built in 1888 as the main access gate for the 1888 World Fair.

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I must admit that people there, at least the ones we met, were extremely nice and helpful, including this police officer.

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We walked A LOT that day! To be honest with you, I don’t even remember what majority of the pictures we took are. *Haha!* However, I had to share this one.

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This was a street show in front of the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia. Spanish people definitely know how to capture tourist attention!

Have you ever been sick while traveling? How did you make the most out of your trip?

Missed some of my most recent posts that created great discussions among my fellow bloggers? Here is your chance to catch up:

PS. Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

xoxo
Olena

 

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#FBF: Barcelona, Spain – The City Of Dreams (Part 1)

 

Happy Friday! Or maybe, Flashback Friday?

Well, in my case, it’s Super Fleshback Friday! How come? Because of a simple fact that my trip to Barcelona took place exactly 2 years ago minus 1 day. Somehow I never got around sharing these pictures with you, and as they say, better late than never!

If you’d like to catch up on my previous adventures in Europe, don’t be shy to check out these posts:

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After enjoying Granada, my brother and I took an overnight train to Barcelona. It worked for us because we didn’t need to pay for a hotel and at the same time we didn’t want to sacrifice any day time that we could spend exploring Barcelona instead.

We quickly checked in in our hostel which was not too far from a train station, had a bit of rest and headed to La Rambla, the main boulevard that cuts through the heart of the city. It’s definitely the place where a lot of action takes place, but it can be overwhelming with hundreds of tourists and vendors. Make sure to watch out for pickpockets and scam artists!

In order to try to escape crowds, we wandered a little bit off the boulevard and came across Palau Guell.

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It is a truly magnificent building and a World Heritage Sight. It was designed and built by Antoni Gaudi for the Guell family over 3 years between 1886 and 1889. Gaudi used only the finest materials. It is nothing short of impressive.

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After a prerecorded guided tour, my brother and I decided to walk around and visit some of other landmarks.

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After travelling a bit all over Europe and experiencing changing temperatures, we both got sick. The medication started wearing out at that point of the day, so I just took pictures instead of being in them.

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Barcelona is an incredible city. You don’t really need to hunt for beauty, it is literally everywhere. No wonder why some people refer to Barcelona as the city of dreams!

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This is me jumping next to Casa Battlo, one of the famous modernist buildings created by Antoni Gaudi. I guess no cold can take away the excitement of seeing beautiful and unique architecture like this.

Gaudi was truly a genius. One of his most well-known works of art is undeniably the unfinished church La Sagrada Familia.

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Did you know that ‘…the outside is still being built and was at 65% completion in 2013. Only 8 towers of the 18 spires are finished. The plan is to complete the Sagrada familia church in 2026 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Gaudi’s death in 1926. When it is finished it will be 144 years since construction began…, according to this article.

Here is how it is expected to look like when it’s finished:

The only word that comes to my mind is VISIONARY.

Check in with me next Friday to travel back in time to Barcelona for Part 2!

Have you ever been to Barcelona or Spain in general? What did you think of Gaudi’s creations?

Missed some of my most recent posts that created great discussions among my fellow bloggers? Here is your chance to catch up:

PS. Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

xoxo
Olena

 

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Trip Recap: Granada, Spain – The City Of Hidden Gardens

Today is a very special day because I’m inviting you to  see and somewhat ‘experience’ Granada, a truly magical place I visited in April.

If you’d like to catch up on my previous adventures in Europe, don’t be shy to check out these posts:

So many things had gone wrong *Note: not necessarily bad either! HA!*, and yet despite it all, my brother and I had grown closer than ever before!

Be prepared to laugh because we got lost soooooo many times. Actually, it all started the moment we got off the bus! *Or… wait! No… It started in the morning because that’s when a strange man started following me in Seville!* Our hotel was supposed to be about 20-30 minute walk away from the terminal, but about 15-20 minutes into it, we realized we were walking in the opposite direction. *You see, I couldn’t think straight! LOL!* But as they say, good things happen to good people. When we reached our accommodation, I was surprised to find out that what I thought was a hostel ended up being a 4-star hotel. *That’s what happens when all you pay attention is getting a good deal. Haha!*  It was pretty late and we were tired, so we called it a night and went to sleep.

Imagine my big surprise when I looked out of the window and saw this beauty!

look from the hotel room

Our plan for the day was to grab something quick to eat, make sure we knEw how to get to the train station since our train to Barcelona was departing late in the evening, and take in as much of Grenada as possible. *Dah!*

We found our way to the train station very easily, but that’s where our adventures started. We got lost! I was trying to understand the map, but it was super confusing. So my brother decided to follow his intuition and that’s how we ended up here.

rooftops in Granada

 

The view was indeed spectacular, but my legs were super sore from walking around Seville the day before: I wasn’t a happy trooper by any means, and all I wanted was to see PLACES. You know what I mean, right? *Haha!* What did I do? I planted my butt down and told my brother I wouldn’t move until I knew where I was. When I was able to finally locate us on the map and emotions cooled down, we admitted to each other that we both were wrong. *True story! I’ve got a great brother, but we all know that I’m my parents’ favorite. Haha! JUST KIDDING!*

When we came across the tea stand, I knew that all the exciting stuff was just around the corner!

assortment of tea

Pretty much around the corner was the Cathedral of Incarnation. It was intended to be a mausoleum for but Phillip II of Spain changed the location to El Escorial outside Madrid.

Catedral de la Anunciacion

There was an artist playing in front of the cathedral. We could tell he was really gifted, so my brother and I spent there some time and listened to music.

Artist in front of Catedral de la Anunciacion

 

I guess I was overcome by the beauty of location and music and decided to spread some love to. My hubby wasn’t there, and showing affection to my brother would be… ummm… wrong! That’s where this shiny knight came in to the picture. *People thought I was crazy!!!*

Flirting with a knight

 

After, we headed to the Alhambra, a palace and fortress complex built in the first millennium. On our way there, we came across a lovely shop.

work shop

I wanted to buy absolutely everything in there. I loooove little original things; especially, if I can see someone making them in front of me!!!

Not far from there was the entrance to the Alhambra.

Entrance to El Alhambra

I wish I could tell you that it was a nice walk in the park *well… it was!*, but it was almost a full blown workout walking up all those hills *which I enjoyed nonetheless*!

not a walk in a park

Not only that the place was extremely beautiful, the views from there were breathtaking.

beautiful square in Alhambra

It’s kind of strange because out of all abundance of art in the Alhambra, I was totally mesmerized by a ceiling in the mosque baths.

the mosque baths

I guess, when I looked into the sky through those ‘stars’, I imagined how countless people looked up there throughout the ages. I’d love to know what they thought about, if it brought them some peace and tranquility… Do you ever wonder about that kind of things?

Another special place on the territory of the Alhambra is what it used to be the Monastery of San Francisco. The Queen of Castille ans Leon, Isabella the Catholic, was buried there before her grandson, Emperor Charles, ordered that her and her husband’s remains to be moved to the Royal Chapel in 1521.

Isabella the Catholic

After that, my brother and I wanted to explore the park some more but somehow got confused and exited the castle instead.

In the shade

In all honesty, I wasn’t too upset about  it either, I just wanted to sit in some nice square and sip on Sangria. *Wouldn’t you?!* My brother, on the other hand, was ready to do some exercises… And he did when he saw these bars!

bars

Good for him! *No, really!!! Haha!* 

We finished off our evening sitting in a beautiful square and looking at the kids having a blast. Oh, simple life pleasures!

Fun in the evening

Do you like getting lost in new places? What was your most memorable accident?

xoxo
Olena

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Spur Of The Moment Decisions: Small Changes, Big Rewards

Who loves spur of the moment decisions? I DO! Actually, that’s how our weekend started…

On Friday, Justin and I were on our way home from work. I was quite distraught with the news of the Malaysian plane that was shot down in the Eastern Ukraine the day before, and my hubby was trying his absolute best to take my mind off it. Not even 5 minutes later, we received a message from on of our friends inviting us to go up north for the weekend to her parents’ chalet. We looked at each other and smiled. That was a big YES! Within the next two hours, we were packed and on our way.

sunset

It was a fantastic getaway! Not only we were able to spend some quality time with our friends, Bella had a blast too. As soon as I woke up on Saturday, I took her for a long walk. She had so much fun; it was pure joy to watch her running around and swimming in this lake.

at the lake

When we came back, I was super excited to do yoga on a patio with a friend of mine. Breathing fresh air makes a huge difference! Plus a workout buddy is ALWAYS good news!

yoga outside

After having late breakfast, our friends and us unanimously decided to go for a 12 km hike up Montagne Noire. Some of you may remember that I already went there at the beginning of May. However, there was still a lot of snow and we weren’t able to reach the top of the mountain because it was too dangerous for our dogs. This time around, snow was not an issue.

Montagne Noire

When we arrived to  the crash sight of Liberator Harry B-24 bomber plane, it was quite emotional. It is crazy to imagine that 20 military men lost their lives in such a beautiful and otherwise perfect place…

crash sight

We spent there some time to honor lives of all Canadian soldiers who fought for our freedom, and headed back home. Now we could really enjoy the walk because there where no more hills to climb. That being said, me being me, I found the biggest rock out there and climbed it to strike a yoga pose. ‘Hey! Why not?!’

yoga in the woods

We left the chalet on Sunday morning to attend a picnic, where Justin and I, once again, had a wonderful time with our family!

picnic

 

I’m sure that I don’t need to convince you that spur of the moment decisions can be awesome, right?! So how about applying this thinking to our daily workouts? I found the following 10 great suggestions in the most recent issue of Runner’s World of how small changes can bring about big rewards:

  1. Add one mile to long or tempo runs – endurance.
  2. Take one step up the race-distance ladder – motivation.
  3. Add one repeat – speed.
  4. Buy one new running item – inspiration.
  5. Add one strength-training exercise – injury prevention.
  6. Add one daily fruit or vegetable serving – nutrients.
  7. Add one dynamic stretch – range of motion.
  8. Add one nightly half hour of sleep – be healthier and happier and more prepared for your next run.
  9. Take a running vacation – excitement.
  10. Add one non-running cardio session – variety.

get stronger each day

Source

How was your weekend? What was your most recent spur of the moment decision you are proud of?

xoxo
Olena

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Trip Recap: Picturesque Seville & How To Travel On Your Own Safely

Hi guys!

Thank you so much for showing your outpouring support yesterday. You are the best!… AS ALWAYS!

Today, I’d like to tell you more about yet another city in Spain I traveled to in April: Seville. If you have missed my previous posts, here is your chance to catch up:

Seville is definitely one of those cities that just take your breath away. Due to time constraints, my brother and I had only one day to spend there. When we woke up, I was ready to go and explore. Unfortunately, my brother told me that he had to finish some work and had to stay at the hotel all day. I hesitated for about a second, took the map and headed out the door. It was daytime and the hostel we stayed at was not that far from all major attractions. I had nothing to worry about.

It was definitely strange to be all by myself, but it was a beautiful day, so I decided to walk by the river which cut through the city.

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I reached the nearest bridge and took some pictures of colorful buildings all around. They were so cute that I got cheered up almost instantaneously and all worries went away.

That feeling didn’t last too long… As I turned around, I noticed a man was looking at me. I didn’t think much of it and continued on walking along the river. Suddenly I got a strange feeling. What caught my attention was bizarre. Somebody was walking behind me, and it seemed like that person was trying to match my pace. I tried to keep my calm. After all, it was a busy street. I blamed myself for being paranoid.

When I turned to check out who it was, I saw the same man following me. I knew it was him because I remembered the red folder he carried. It stood out against his otherwise bland outfit. Once again, I tried to stay calm and simply pretended to stop and take a picture of a random monument and let him pass me.

A few minutes later, I lost a sight of the man and headed to the Plaza De Toros which was nearby. It is the oldest bullring in the world and I was really excited to see it.

Since I wanted to cover as much of Seville as possible, I decided to forgo getting a ticket and simply walked around it to enjoy its beauty. Then I had this wonderful idea. I figured maybe if I went into a souvenir store inside, I could peak through and see more stuff. *Hey! No judgement here! I was a tourist… poor tourist! Haha!*

Plaza de toros de la Real Maestranza de Caballería de Sevilla

Sadly, I wasn’t able to see much through the inside, so I looked over cute things they had there. I didn’t find anything special, or at least not something I wouldn’t be able to get elsewhere in the city. As I turned around to leave… I saw him again standing next to the exit, pretending to read a book about Seville… He was facing me…

I am kidding you not, I freaked out all the way! I knew that something was definitely wrong. I was NOT being paranoid. That man was indeed following me. I felt helpless because there was not a single person who spoke English in there. I also knew that the man wasn’t a tourist either because he wasn’t dressed like one. He didn’t have a camera or map on him, and just the very first vibe I got from him rang danger.

I was certain that he wasn’t there to rob me since he had multiple occasions to grab my purse and run before, when there was no people around and yet he didn’t do it. I WAS SCARED for my life. Literally!

My first instinct was to head outside and mix in with people. Mixing in didn’t work because as you can see from the picture above there weren’t THAT many people. I considered approaching police, but I didn’t see any. So instead of wandering off in a smaller street, I decided to stop. Yes, stop! I turned around and saw him approaching. I sat down on a flowerbed next to some people and stared him in the eyes. I wanted him to know I knew he was after me. For a second I even considered confronting him, but then I am NOT that courageous. So I just sat and stared. Thankfully, he walked passed me again.

You can’t imagine the fear that was running through me. For the first time in my life I was scared to death. I was in a different country, I didn’t speak the language and there was literally no one to help me. So I listened to my instincts. I looked around and didn’t see him anywhere *which meant absolutely nothing, because the same thing had already happened before*. What did I do? I sprinted in the opposite direction from where I was headed first. I ran for good 10 minutes on a busy street, my heart was racing, I was about to collapse and cry.

The timing was good because as I was about to fall apart, I came across yet another big street. I made a decision to avoid smaller streets completely and be extra vigilant as to what was happening around me. I also made sure to stick around families. And I am glad I did so. The city won back my love and affection as I continued to explore it.

One of the most beautiful landmarks was the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See. It is also the burial site of Christopher Columbus!

Seville Cathedral

Right next to the cathedral, there is a bell tower called La Giralda. You should definitely look up its history, it’s quite fascinating!

La Giralda

In addition, the cathedral shared the same square with one of the sides of Reales Alcázares de Sevilla, the oldest royal palace still in use in Europe. It was incredible to see these two completely different styles somehow working together.

The Alcázar of Seville

Around that time, I somewhat calmed down my nerves and headed to the Torre del Oro by the river. It was constructed in the thirteenth century. What’s strange about its history is that during the Middle Ages the tower served as a prison. How crazy is that?!

Torre del Oro

After that I headed back to the main street, I aimlessly walked and enjoyed the atmosphere. I tried to soak in the beauty of nature and fountains…

fountain

As well as minor details such as this bike path sign *so different and cute!!!*

bike path

When I looked at the map, I realized that I still had time to visit one of the places I really wanted to see: The Plaza de España. It is a gigantic half-circle with buildings continually running around the edge with numerous bridges stretched over ponds and beautiful fountains.

Plaza de España

I fell in love with it and its railings… Aren’t they absolutely beautiful?!

Plaza de España details

This whole experience totally made up for the stress earlier that day. I was again a happy and relaxed person. To make things even better, I saw this dove. To me, it was a sign of forgiveness. So I decided not to keep a grudge at this beautiful city and instead left a piece of my heart there because that’s where it belongs.

dove in Seville

Have you ever been followed by someone? What did you do?

xoxo
Olena

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Trip Recap: The City Picasso Was Born In – Malaga, Spain

When my brother and I flew from Paris to Malaga, we didn’t have any expectations. We had about 6-8 hours to spare before taking a bus to Seville, Spain. I mean, even in our guidebook, there was barely anything written about this city.

The moment we landed at the airport, I was overwhelmed by the beauty of surrounding mountains and the endless Mediterranean sea. I knew that the day ahead was promising!

Our commute to the bus station was super easy and fast: All we had to do was to take a train from the airport. Not even 15 minutes later, we were there. I got changed into lighter clothes *it was +31 Celsius compared to +8 in Paris* and checked in my luggage into a locker. Conveniently, all major attractions were within a walking distance from the bus terminal. Without any hesitation, my brother and I picked up a map and headed to the nearby port.

port

*It was soooo refreshing to wear a dress for the first time this year!!!*

There was quite a bit of people trying to get us to sign up for a boat ride, but they weren’t too pushy. I definitely appreciated it. Right next to the port, we discovered Playa de la Malagueta.

Malagueta

The water was very cold, but this didn’t stand in my brother’s way to jump in for a short swim *a very bad choice in retrospective*. As he was showing off/taking videos of himself swimming on his GoPro *I love you nevertheless!!! Haha!* , I took in beautiful surroundings while sitting on the warm sand.

beach

I must assure you that it didn’t take too long for me to feel the burn. Thankfully, my brother was pretty cooperative, and we went into the city in search of a sunscreen. *Silly, silly me for not bringing it with me. A long Canadian winter definitely messed with my head! Haha!*

flowers

By the time we found it and walked around some more, we were REALLY hungry! Without giving it too much thought, we turned into the first street. It turns out, it one of the best decisions we made that day. The entrance to the Alcazaba of Malaga was right there! We rested a bit while consuming a big amount of food which was very welcome and went to explore the citadel that was built in the early eleventh  century by the Hammudid dynasty.

architecture

The Moorish architecture is very different from what I’d ever seen. That being said, the Alcazaba is very well preserved, and it was super interesting to explore because it was almost like a labyrinth. All we wanted to do was to reach the top, but kept on getting lost. *Which was lots of FUN too!*

bath at Alcazaba

I also appreciated the amount of detail. Look at the floors! I can’t even imagine the amount of time and number of people it took to finish this project. *They were like this EVERYWHERE!*

kids

 

The fortification overlooks the port and I consider myself lucky to have witnessed this view.

view from Alcazaba

We were short on time and had to go back to the bus station but wouldn’t give up on this adventure. So it took some sprinting up hill to make it to the top. Needless to say, I was super happy to see this canon. *It was super comfy too! Haha!*

canon

When I looked around, I was in love.

view from the top of Alcazaba

Let me tell you this. When later on I found out that Picasso was born in Malaga, I wasn’t a bit surprised that he grew to be a genius. There is so much beauty around, it’s unbelievable!

– Trip Recap: Paris Is Always A Good Idea (Part 1)
– Trip Recap: Paris Is Always A Good Idea (Part 2)

Have you ever stopped by a city you didn’t plan on loving just to be completely smitten by its charm?

xoxo
Olena

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Trip Recap: Paris Is Always A Good Idea (Part 2) + ElectroDash Promo Code

Good morning, lovies!

How did your Canada Day go? I’ve heard many of you had some great plans and workouts to celebrate. I wanna know every single little detail! *HA!*

Before I carry on with the recap of my trip to Paris (see Part 1 here), I’d like to save a few bucks for my fellow Canadians. Last night I finally registered for ElectroDash, the 5 km dance party, on August 29. I’ve been obsessed with this race ever since I saw it on last season of Bachelor. That night my hubby and I solemnly swore to each other that if ever we get a chance we’ll participate in it. *So dramatic, eh?*  

Since yesterday was Canada Day, organizers decided to throw in a promotion to celebrate the occasion. If you register before midnight on July 2 and enter a promo code CANADADAY1867, you’ll save 18.67%. *To those who wonder why the number is so strange, Confederation occurred in 1867. Now it all makes sense, doesn’t it? Haha!* Honestly, I CAN’T WAIT!!!

On a side note, a portion of the proceeds from ElectroDash Montreal benefits Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I know quite a few people who, unfortunately, were affected by this terrible decease, and I’m glad that my participation can make a difference, no matter how small it is.

Back to Paris…

As you may remember, I frooooooooze on the first day there. So when the second day came around, I didn’t care about fashion: I put my running shoes with a big smile on. All I cared about is being warm!

Notre Dame, Paris

*How cute?! Or maybe a fashion disaster? Haha!*

Louvre was first on our to-do list. However, once we got there, we saw a huge line up. We decided to instead explore the city since we had until 3 pm before having to head back to the airport to fly to Ukraine. Nevertheless, Louvre was beautiful on the outside too! *Haha!*

DCIM100GOPRO

My brother had a chance to go back there when I had to return to Canada. This is, hands down, the best picture someone ever took next to Mona Lisa!!!

DCIM103GOPRO

*He is GENIUS! Haha!*

Then, we headed to Notre Dame de Paris. On our way there, we enjoyed views of the Seine river and multiple bridges stretched over it.

Seine

When we came to the cathedral, I was BLOWN AWAY! Notre-Dame was so much more than I’d ever imagined! Every single statue and detail of the exterior is different. It is indeed a spectacular masterpiece with a long history!

Notre Dame de Paris

As my brother and I started getting away from historical landmarks, we dove in into little streets to get a real feel of Paris.

Paris

I was amazed how many pink chestnut trees were there! *I mean, I was born in the chestnut tree capital of the world, Kyiv, but they all bloom white there.* 

However, the more I enjoyed Parisian living, the more self conscious I became of my white running shoes… and then my stylish self rebelled, and I went and bought myself a better matching pair of shoes!!! *Hey! They were only 15 euros, it was a steal! Haha!*

shoes swap

*YES! It was that bad! I didn’t care to go in a shady ally just to change them! HAHA!*

Afterwards, I was a happy trooper!

Have you ever had a wardrobe malfunction when you traveled? How did the first day of Spartan bear crawl challenge go?

xoxo
Olena

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