sarah_la_viajera sarah_la_viajera

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Sarah Willats  Writer. Explorer. Language lover. Foodie. Photography fan. ๐ŸšฉMadrid ๐ŸŒ ๐Ÿ“16 countries, 32 states, 100+ cities. I speak: ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡น New post! โฌ‡๏ธ

#TravelTuesday ๐Ÿฎ Pasteis de Nata. Portugal's rich and delicious, nationally known custard tart isn't something that's unfamiliar to me. I don't know how many delicious ones I've had, including the one I managed to transport back with me to Florida back in the spring of 2013. ๐Ÿ˜…
I will tell you that on Sunday I've never had one quite like the raspberry(!) one I had at Luso Coffee Shop in the center of Madrid! It was the perfect blend of tangy, fresh raspberries and thick, creamy custard with flaky crust.
Did you know that their custard gets shipped to the shop directly from Portugal and each pastel de nata is made fresh?

That just made me love them even more. Hands down the best pastel de nata I've ever had. ๐Ÿ˜

What's your favorite pastry and where is the best place to get it?

#WanderlustWednesday takes me to Parque de Quinta de los Molinos for yet another blossoming season. This park, located northeast of the city and in a lovely residential neighborhood always draws a big crowd from late February to mid-March to see the almond trees (los almendros) bloom. What most people don't know is that these beautiful almond trees are scattered around the Comunidad de #Madrid.
.
. ๐ŸŒธ Parque Quinta de los Molinos is a lovely, quiet escape during the week but families, friends and couples alike flock here on the weekends during the blooming season. ๐ŸŒธ

It may be rainy, windy and a bit cool today (the opposite of Saturday's weather) but going back over the photos I took with @andrewrgillan this past Saturday are keeping my mind focused on warmer thoughts. And how spring, the best season in Madrid, is almost upon us.

What blooms in your neck of the woods? ๐Ÿ’๐ŸŒท๐ŸŒธ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒผ๐ŸŒบ๐ŸŒณ๐Ÿ‘ซ๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿฟ๐Ÿ’š

3๏ธโƒฃ3๏ธโƒฃ๐ŸŽ‰๐ŸŽ‚๐Ÿป๐Ÿฟ๐Ÿ‘ซ๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’š Today is a really special day, not only because we get to celebrate how amazing you are and how much joy you bring to my life, but that for the first time we get to be together on your birthday, after you've spent 3 of mine with me.

Andrew, you are the Marshall to my Lily. The literal English translation to my (almost) perfect espaรฑol. The peanut butter to my jam. The salsa to my patatas bravas. The chocolate to my churros. And the milk to my perfectly brewed in-a-kettle-and-not-a-microwave tea. All this time I thought I wanted (and needed) someone as hopelessly romantic and cheesy as Ted Mosby. I mean I watched the show week in and week out for 9 years and I thought I had it all figured out. ๐Ÿ˜…
However, it wasn't until this past year that I realized how wrong I was and just how much you have in common with that Minnesota born, silly and fun loving character. (Though I'm extra happy you're from a different country ๐Ÿ˜œ)
You have grown and developed your personality so much this past year and I'm so proud of all you've accomplished and all the new challenges you've met head on this year. I love the way you sing silly songs, give the biggest hugs, readily go on new adventures with me, use our cute nicknames and endearments, speak my English ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ and speak Spanglish to me. I don't necessarily get your sarcastic humor (aka the way you make up words to see if I'll believe them) but I love that you're my media ๐ŸŠ and that you complement me so well.
I'm praying for this to be a big year for you as we grow closer, dream big and plan for our future together. Lo mejor es lo que viene!
Happy Birthday, Andrew! Te quiero un montรณn ๐Ÿ”๐Ÿ’‹๐Ÿ˜ฝ๐Ÿ‘ฐ๐Ÿป๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿป๐ŸŽ‰๐ŸŽ’๐ŸŒ๐Ÿปโœˆ๏ธ๐Ÿš‡๐Ÿš†๐Ÿพ๐Ÿˆ

#TravelTuesday | Being a tourist in my own city.
Sometimes the best plans for a Sunday afternoon are no particular plans at all. @andrewrgillan and I have talked for a good long while about going to the end of the historic line 1 at Pinar de Chamartรญn but never made definite plans to go check it out. The thought crossed my mind when we went to a cafรฉ in my old neighborhood of Cuatro Caminos but I thought we might go back south of the area once we finished there.
Instead, as he takes my hand and we stroll along the wide, busy street for a couple minutes that he says, "After we walk to the next metro stop, want to go to Pinar de Chamartรญn?" I was totally thinking that. And that's what we did!

No set plans, no schedules to keep, no long commutes...nothing was stopping us. Nada.

And it was one of the most fun and spontaneous Sunday afternoons I've had in a while.

Though taking the #MetroLigero isn't the most exciting thing in the world, the company and the newness of the experience were what made it so fun.

If you've ever used the trams in either Sevilla (or metro) or Valencia, this is what the metro light felt like. Partially above ground but mostly underground with seats placed up high to help you get a better view of each station.

If you love to travel or try new things in your own city, I'm sure you can relate to how we felt. When's the last time you took a spontaneous big or mini trip? ๐Ÿ‘ซ๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿ’œ๐ŸŽ’๐ŸŒ๐Ÿ˜Žโ˜€๏ธ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿป

I'm a planner. I'm a doer. I'm normally a very positive and encouraging person but lately...I've felt quite lost professionally and a little bit personally, too.
Parts of 2019 have been really wonderful so far but there have been too many tough days so far that have started to wear on me.
But nothing in my life will change unless I change my focus and my thinking.
After a very encouraging and hope-filled sermon on Sunday morning, I returned to my apartment for lunch and after a brief rest, I got to work.
I had a rough idea in my mind of what I wanted this to look like but I started by flipping through magazines and finding images that caught my eye. Then I grabbed some of the materials I already had on hand: scissors, tape, a large white piece of paper (which was part of the wrapping paper from my fiancรฉ's Christmas gift to me ๐Ÿ˜…) and a mental picture in my mind of how I wanted this to turn out.
So this is my 2019 vision board.

What exactly do I envision for this year?

I want to achieve a #worklifebalance that's right for me. I want to (and need to) do more networking and collaborating. Not to mention #selfcare and saying no to things that either aren't worth my time or aren't right for me.
Travel-wise? I want to regularly go to the beach and somewhere tropical. I want to go back to #Paris before it's been 5 years since my first and (for now) last visit. And I want to see a few new and old places with my love, @andrewrgillan.
Personally? I want to have savings, the ability to fund my own business and travel dreams, visit my home country more often and buy the comfort foods in the overpriced #American supermarkets abroad. I crave healthier and nutritious foods more than I crave chocolate ๐Ÿซ๐Ÿ˜ฑand I want to be stronger physically. Plus, I want a few other things like my first home and a kitty with mi amor to take shape.

That's about it from me!

How about you? Have you ever created a #visionboard before? Tell me about it!

Valentine's Day ๐Ÿ’ | It's that time of year again and while for most of my life I tried hard to make this day which celebrates love (which should be celebrated and appreciated every day) go away or focus on the friendship and family aspects of it, today is different.

Because, unlike last year, we're together on February 14th.
Distance, a different time zone or technological problems, which we've encountered at one time or another in the past 16 months, can't separate us.

Not anymore.

Loving someone the way I love you, Andrew, would just not be the same if I were with anyone else. It wouldn't be as magical. Or as fun. Or as exhilarating. Or as out of this world. (Or as uniquely multicultural.)...as it is with you. ๐Ÿ˜˜

From our inside jokes to our streaks of various kinds and the funny ways we talk or share our hearts with one another, I love you more today than I did yesterday and so much more than I did last year.

Everyday you show me you love me with not only your words but with your actions, too.

You have sacrificed a lot for me and our relationship and without these sacrifices, we wouldn't have been able to flourish as much as we have as a couple in the last 6 months. (The ๐Ÿ’ on my left hand is now proof of this.) And you have been just few mins away on the metro or bus during the moments or weeks I've needed you most.

Words cannot describe how thankful I am for you and how excited I am that we'll be able to celebrate special days like these one day soon as husband and wife.

Te amo, mi media ๐ŸŠ๐Ÿ˜˜๐Ÿ‘ซ๐Ÿฟ๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ’‘๐Ÿ˜ป (Photo taken at the replica of the Brandenburg Gate in Parque Europa [Madrid], January 2019). P.S. I've never, ever received roses before but have wanted to ever since I was 15. Now I'm 30. Dreams do come true! It took half my life but this one still came true. Sometimes things take a while to happen but that just means you'll appreciate them even more when they do. ๐Ÿ˜Š๐ŸŒน๐Ÿ’•๐Ÿ’๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿป

I've noticed quite a few new followers in the last week so I thought I'd make an introduction post, since I've never done one before. And I also want to share 5 interesting facts you may not know about me. Here goes!
1. It's not listed on my profile here but I'm from Ohio. Dayton, Ohio, in fact. The very birthplace of aviation (thanks #WrightBrothers for putting it on the map.) ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ 2. I love the color purple and wear at least one article of purple clothing several times a week. ๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’œ (Maybe I'll post a story showing you guys my giant purple collection.) 3. Even though you see me smiling in my photos, I have a love/hate relationship with my smile. I have a genetic discoloring on my two front teeth (weak enamel) which makes me self-conscious about them.

4. I've never owned a car for more than a month. ๐Ÿ˜…๐Ÿš— I know how to drive (got my license late at 19) but have just learned how to live without one.

5. I went on my first flight at age 2 with my mom to Arizona to visit her side of our family. And I've been traveling both near and far ever since. ๐Ÿ˜โœˆ๏ธ๐Ÿ’๐Ÿป๐ŸŽ’๐ŸŒ What about you? Whether you've been following me for a long time or just discovered my account, I'd like to learn more about you. ๐Ÿ˜Š (P.S. I found this Ohio license plate located in a Madrid restaurant called Ribs.)

โœจ Big announcement โœจ

No, it's not suddenly T-shirt weather or springtime in #Spain. It's time for a throwback and to make an announcement. This is a photo I had taken on the rooftop of the Catedral de Santiago on the last day of August in 2016, when I toured the rooftop on my very last day living in Santiago de Compostela.

At this point in time, I had almost been away from home for a full calendar year. If I could go back to this moment and tell myself that I wouldn't go home to the US ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ until 2018, I probably would've fallen off the side of the cathedral. ๐Ÿ˜‚

But it's what happened.
I stayed away for 1,016 days to be exact. I worked, traveled, met the love of my life (but didn't know it then), spent time at the beach, experienced a dozen or so cultures, moved to a big city, got into my first (and last) serious relationship all during the ages of 26-29. Talk about a lot of changes, right?

And though in December 2018 I tried my hand at creating a Kickstarter campaign to help me write my first e-book and showcase my services, I started it at the complete wrong time of the year and didn't have the large network I needed to raise the funding.

In short, I failed. ๐Ÿ˜…๐Ÿ™ˆ So what am I doing after this failure? Just going for it and writing it anyway. โœŒ๐Ÿป I'll write it in my free time (and on the metro or bus), get up earlier, prioritize my time better, learn new skills and softwares, you name it. I'll do it.

I want to write a book so badly I can taste it. ๐Ÿ˜‹

And on my own dime even if it takes some time. #rhyming

Tentative release and publication date: May 2019!

So the big question is: would you or someone you know read this?
Comment or tag that person below. ๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿป๐Ÿ˜Ž๐ŸŽ’๐ŸŒ Link in bio for more details! ๐Ÿ˜บ

#TravelTuesday

I've been visiting Madrid's famous bakery, La Mallorquina, in the city center for nearly a decade now. A friend of mine at the time was studying abroad there and I came up from my study abroad city and visited her. She told about how they had some of the best napolitanas de chocolate (a slightly crispy, doughy and chocolately long pastry) and suggested we buy one after our tapas lunch on a somewhat cloudy day and eat them by the nearby fountain.

And there my "whenever I'm in Sol" tradition was born.

But you know what? I had never considered (and for many years didn't know) dining in at La Mallorquina above the busy, bustling bakery in their upstairs cafรฉ, where you have to take a number and wait to be called and escorted up.
In fact, I hadn't ever walked up those steps (just out of curiosity) until the night @andrewrgillan and I got engaged. ๐Ÿ˜…

That all changed tonight.

After a lovely and memorable walk around the center (and after the sun set), we took a number and waited to be called. I usually love the action and hustle and bustle of the bakery below but tonight it was nice to sit above the chaos and take a look at #PuertodelSol from a different angle.

It was definitely a completely unique experience and one I'd like to repeat soon. (And maybe try a napolitana de crema for once ๐Ÿ˜‚) ๐Ÿซ๐Ÿ’‘๐Ÿฟ๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿ’šโ˜•๏ธโ›ฒ๏ธโ˜€๏ธ

Where can you go to do a quick European tour in less than half a day?
In Parque Europa, just east of the city of Madrid in Torrejรณn de Ardoz.
The first photo is me with the mini Tower Bridge (London) back in July 2017 and then today when I went on a mini Saturday adventure with @andrewrgillan who had never been to this fun little park that showcases replicas of some of Europe'a most famous monuments.
From the Eiffel Tower to the Tower Bridge to the Trevi Fountain to a David statue and Dutch style windmills, this little park is a perfect place to tour if you want to learn more about Europe or don't quite have the cash to do your own grandiose Eurotour.
And apparently all of the monuments light up at night so I may have to return to see them! But not in the winter (a bit too cold and windy) or summer (way too hot with no shade)...so maybe springtime?
๐Ÿ‘ซ๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿฟ๐Ÿ’š๐ŸŽ’๐ŸŒโœˆ๏ธ๐Ÿš„๐Ÿ˜Ž
Have you been to Parque Europa or something similar here in Europe? Tell me about it! ๐Ÿค“

I know it's no longer Christmastime but it certainly still is wintertime. Will January ever end? (Spoiler alert ๐Ÿšจ: It ends on Thursday. ๐Ÿ˜‚) Well, for those of you who are dealing with your first or maybe another Spanish winter, I've written a brand new guide to help you handle this winter a lot better. โฌ†๏ธLink in bio! โฌ†๏ธ
This is my 6th non-consecutive winter here and it certainly got off to quite the cold start! โ„๏ธโ„๏ธโ„๏ธ If you are living in Spain this winter, tell me where in the comments! ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐ŸŒด๐Ÿ”โ˜”๏ธ

#Flashback to 9 years ago this week to my very first visit to the #BigApple: #NewYorkCity!
Time has certainly flown by at a rapid pace since the very first time I saw its skyline from the air on my flight (and saw a mini Statue of Liberty in the harbor below) but I still feel like it was yesterday. Even though I grew up in the US, I was just like you. I had heard the songs and seen this city featured in movies, on the news, in photos, in newspapers, on billboards, you name it. And ever since I was a little girl, I had a burning desire to go visit it. I was (and still am) a big dreamer and it seemed like the perfect place for me.

However, NYC isn't perfect at all but the energy that everyone says it has is really there. And it's also magical. I only spent about 5 hours there but from the very first time I stepped outside of Penn Station to when I caught the train back to the airport in Newark, I felt like I was 9 years old again. All the excitement and illusion that I had built up for years came bubbling out of me when I finally got to this beautiful city.

In my visits to follow and as I spent more time there, I would see the grittier side of NYC: rats scuttling across the subway tracks, trash along the streets or the dirt stains I got on my suitcase after I dragged it a few blocks. Horns blaring, people ramming their elbows into you as they rush by, rancid smells from the manholes on the street, my list could go on.
My point is that now after 5 visits to #laGranManzana, I still love the city just as much as I did back in 2010. And when you see a city at both its best and worst and still love it? That's when you know it's true.

Until I can see your magnificent skyline again soon, New York. โค๏ธ๐Ÿ—ฝ๐ŸŒ‡๐ŸŒƒ๐ŸŽ’๐Ÿ’๐Ÿป๐Ÿ˜

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