¡Bienvenido a Madrid!

Well, I’ve been in Madrid for two days now, and it already feels like home. After a mostly uneventful flight here, I arrived in the evening and promptly fell into a deep and all-consuming slumber. I woke up refreshed and ready to tackle the city. I was so happy to have connected with Pam, a family friend, who has lived in the city for the last four years. She has been a wonderful tour guide, taking me around the city and explaining the historical significance of each of the sights. Yesterday we walked over 13 miles, and it feels like we barely scratched the surface of things to see and do. Some of the highlights for me were the Royal Palace, Buen Retiro Park, and the Temple of Debod.

Pam and I are both staying in the Barrio de las Letras (Literary Quarter), a neighborhood that was once home to great writers of the Golden Age of Spanish literature such as Cervantes and Quevado. Of all the neighborhoods that I have visited so far, this one is by far my favorite. Comprised of narrow pedestrian streets that are filled with little boutiques and tapas restaurants, it oozes charm and one can almost sense the spirits of these great writers lingering around each alleyway.

Literally right outside my door was the cutest little cafe called Mathilda, which served the most delectable tortilla and cafe con leche. I also met one of Pam’s friends, Alfonso, who owns a restaurant that specializes in churros and chocolate, named, appropriately enough, Chocolat. Pam and I enjoyed a delicious breakfast and chatted with other customers who overheard us speaking English and made suggestions of places that we should be sure to visit during my stay here. It was a wonderful way to be introduced to the delights of Madrid, one that left a great impression of this city.

We also ventured into Buen Retiro Park, which was once the hunting grounds of the Spanish monarchy. We were there on a Saturday, and on the first sunny day after weeks of rain, so the park was crowded with people. While strolling through the grounds, we came across a woman sitting with a typewriter and a sign that said “You give me the theme, I will create a poem.” Of course I was immediately intrigued, and when we asked her the price, she said that after she was finished we would pay her what we thought it was worth. So I was game, and gave her the theme of travel. She asked if I wanted the poem in English or Spanish, and I told her Spanish. I figured it would be unique souvenir of my travels. She started typing, and within about five minutes she had produced a poem that Pam helped me to translate. I was both impressed by her creativity and charmed by her manner— I paid her what I hope was a generous contribution and we went on our way. I am already planning to frame the poem and put it on my wall as a memory of that afternoon.

There is so much more to tell about my time in Madrid, but I will have to save it for my next post. I am leaving in the morning for Gaucin in the very south of Spain, and will be taking the train there. My plan is to continue writing more about my adventures on the train ride. Until then, hasta luego!

Walking in Memphis

In January I was lucky enough to win a scholarship to attend Winter Institute, which is a conference for authors, publishers, and independent booksellers. This year, Winter Institute was held in Memphis. Having never visited the South, I was excited to explore a new part of the country and also to experience the legendary Southern hospitality for myself. And I have to say, the city did not disappoint.

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Adventures in Washington, DC

Challenging. Inspiring. Motivating. Relaxing. Informative. These are just a few of the words that describe the week that I just spent in Washington, DC and the areas around it. It is hard to believe that I am back now, but I feel like I left a piece of myself behind there. I’d like to return soon to reclaim it, for in my time spent there I found its residents to be both welcoming and helpful, often offering assistance without even being asked. During the Avon Walk we traversed through the National Mall, Capitol Hill, then later on to Georgetown and through the town of Chevy Chase, Maryland before ending at a park in Silver Springs. And I spent four days in Alexandria, Virginia– a charming town that I would love to explore more. Read More

The Splendor of Solvang

I am a bit late in posting this, but I have been so enthralled with Solvang and its surroundings that I had to return for a second visit a month later. I have to admit that Solvang initially seduced me when I was there a couple of years ago with my best friend, and a consequent visit with my parents just sealed the deal. I was looking forward to going back to Los Olivos as well, and doing some wine tasting at the local wineries. Read More

Escapades on the Central California Coast

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I feel a little guilty about not posting sooner, but to be honest I haven’t had too many adventures since my last trip to Mexico. As much as I love traveling solo, my next favorite thing is to explore with a pair of my travel buddies, my parents. It is them that I have to thank for curating my love of exploring different cultures, and if given a choice, I would gladly choose them to travel with. So with my dad’s birthday quickly approaching, I suggested that we take another trip to the Central California Coast, namely to Solvang and the areas surrounding it. Thankfully, they obliged. Read More

Some of My Favorite Places in San Miguel de Allende

It’s been almost a month now that I’ve been back from Mexico, and it’s hard to believe how quickly time has passed. It feels like as soon as I returned home the seasons had officially changed– it was time to put another blanket on the bed and start running the heater in the mornings. And although I have settled back into my old routine, Mexico is not far from my mind. It is as if I have taken on a new lover that I can’t get out of my head, such is the passion I feel for this country. Most especially San Miguel de Allende. I think back fondly on the time I spent there and the gracious people I met, namely at the places mentioned below. Read More

Last Days in San Miguel

It is so hard to believe that so many days have passed since my last post. When I initially set up this blog it was my plan to post almost every day but how does that saying go? “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” Or something like that! Needless to say, my remaining days in San Miguel just continued to get better.
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Zandunga y Dia de Muertos

I’ve been so busy with this writing workshop and all of the festivities related to Day of the Dead that these last couple of days have been a blur. As I sit here in my apartment and listen to the sounds of mariachi music blaring from the dive bar on the corner, it brings a smile to my face. Even on a Tuesday evening, this place is a non-stop party. And the energy and enthusiasm is contagious.

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