Perks of Parks in Madrid

Hey guys!

I’m writing this post from my couch in Chicago. But I was just in Spain where I was finally reunited with my best friend for a short three weeks over the holidays. While I was there, I completely fell in love with Retiro Park. Retiro is like the Central Park of Madrid. So its HUGE, and has so much going on.

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In the center of the park is a gorgeous man-made pond with rowboats people can rent by the hour. I opted out of taking one for a spin because I was alone. So instead I decided to plant myself next to a statue for some one-on-one time with my book, Sharp Objects (written by the same author as Gone Girl, and so so good).

Shannon came with me on my second trip to the park, and we got to see the Glass Palace, which is basically a huge building made of glass that looks so cool when the sun is shinning. The Glass Palace is owned by one of the huge art museums here in Madrid called the Reina Sophia (free with a student ID if you’re under 25!). When we went, they were featuring an American Horror Story fashioned trailer complete with beyond creepy music, a life size wax women, and way too many dancing puppets. Check out Shannon’s Vine here to get a better idea.

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After the Palacio de Cristal we wondered around some of the park, and were BOTH pooped on by a Spanish bird. Luckily, a super friendly Spanish couple was eager to help us and spent a solid five minutes cleaning it off us, and asking if we were okay (maybe that’s what they were saying, it didn’t take long for me to realize my 5 years studying spanish were pretty much useless).

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If you find yourself in Madrid, a day spent in Retiro is a day well spent (without actually spending any euros)!

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You’re never too old for a petting zoo

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So a couple weekends ago, Kayla, Logan, and I put on our explorin’ boots and set out for some mini adventures. After a half dozen stops or so on the red line and we were in Chinatown! They were having their annual summer festival, and like most Chicagoans, we are suckers for a good street fest . Obviously the best part of the festival was this little petting zoo! Look at Kayla cuddlin’ up to a lil piggy and cow friend (take note: Kayla is not smiling at the child trying to feed the piglet, but rather giving the poor toddler side eyes).

 

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I had never been to Chinatown, and didn’t realize it was such a huge, vibrant neighborhood. The festival was packed with culture *wooooot,* and local cuisine, but  we decided to eat at a local place instead of one of the booths.

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This place was INSANE (sorry, can’t remember the name). No one spoke English, there were cooked ducks (with their heads still on) hanging in a giant oven, and a ton of people speaking Chinese. And those are the things that made this place awesome! I got this super tasty shrimp and egg rice dish at the low low cost of $4!

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Logi bought this super tasty Chinese desert. I think it was called Lotus Paste? Either way it was delicious and unique.

 

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The weekend fun doesn’t stop there. Logan and I also toured around a small neighborhood called Andersonville. It feels like a charming suburb, but It’s really just a quick trip down Clark street. Andersonville has a lot of charming boutiques, cool restaurants, and a bunch of hipsters.

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My favorite part about Andersonville is this Mediterranean place. Chicken schwarma wraps for $4!!! Nomzzzz

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Have you explored any new neighborhoods?

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Sunshine & Samples

Summer in the city is off to a great start, minus this week of constant overcast. A few weekends back we forced ourselves out of bed and went to the farmers market in Lincoln Park! Chicago is full of markets, almost every neighborhood has their own (Logan Square’s market is next on our list). The absolute best thing about farmers markets are all the *free samples* If you love trying jams, cheeses, and other yummy treats, make sure you pull yourself out of bed early at least one Saturday this summer to check out any of the Chicago markets. Shannon and I both got purple asparagus, which was super fresh and delicious on the grill. Andy got a cherry tomato plant, which weaka I get all the free tomatoes I want this summer (these plants produce like crazy so you get the best bang for your buck!). Click here to find a farmers market in your neighborhood!   FarmersFinds.jpg KLA.jpg SK SLband   *Alert: Dog lovers* The  second best thing to free samples are definitely all the pups at the market!

photo 2 (3) art Andy and I grilling our fresh and tasty food from the market! GrillingHow do you usually spend your Saturday mornings? kayla signiture

Kansas is cool: here’s proof

Logan and I set out on a little road trip to Kansas City last week. He has family that lives there, so we were dying to see them and use it as an excuse to take a mini vacay before our internships start. A quick 7 hours later, and we were ready to party: Kansas City style. Here are 5 reasons Kansas is way cooler than you think it is.

1. Beer, tapas, beer, sammys, beer, sushi 

FOOD.jpgKansas has AMAZING food, and beer! While we were down there, we were totally spoiled and were taken to lots of Kansas City restaurants. All of the food I had was delicious, but I think my favorite meal was actually this simple sandwich (first pic) from The Foundry. We also enjoyed tapas, tacos, paninis, sushi, pizza, salmon, and lots of treats! Logan even tried a bison burger (bottom right picture). It’s safe to say that I feel like I’ve gained about 10 lbs, but it was totally worth it.

2. They have movie theaters with beds

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You read that right guys, they have movie theaters with chairs that recline into beds! What?! Yes, it’s true. We went to see x-men at a theater where the super comfy leather seats reclined all the way back so it was like a bed. It was definitely the best movie-watching experience I’ve experienced in my short 21 years on this Earth.

P.S. the new X-Men movie is fantastic.

3. They give you free beer

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We went on a brewery tour at Boulevard! As you know, I do love brewery tours (read about my Galena brewery tour, and Milwaukee brewery tour experiences), but the best thing about this tour was that it was completely FREE and included 3 beer samples *yumm.* The one bit of beer info I held on to was that lagers ferment longer than ales. I discovered a new love for unfiltered wheat beer, have you ever tried it? Also, shout out to Mason (Logan’s brother, and our excellent Kansas City host) for joining the 21+ club!

4. They have markets galore

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The best part about exploring someone else’s city with them is that they know all of the best places to go. The City Market, and Overland Park’s farmers market were no exception. The City Market was filled with all kinds of little shops and produce stands. I got 3 delicious mangos for $2! We also wandered into an Indian spice and fruit shop (middle picture), where I loaded up on some tasty dried fruit. At the Farmer’s Market, Logan and I tried some delicious honey spread, and some unique caramels (rice krispie, butterscotch, and Nutella flavored) *yummm.*

5. The people there are pretty cool too

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The best thing about Kansas City is that it’s home to a lot of people we love. Logan’s brother, his brother’s girlfriend, his aunt, uncle, and cousins live there (along with their furry friends!). It was so much fun to spend some quality time with these amazing people. I feel so lucky to have a connection with such a great family (thanks for dating me Logan); I couldn’t have asked for better company while falling in love with a wonderful city.

Big thank yous go out to Mason & Alex for letting us stay with them, Kristy & David for spoiling us rotten, Kassie & Joe for giving up their weekend to hang out with us youths, and my 3 furry new boyfriends for letting me love on you all weekend. 

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Adventure Time: MKE, Beer, and a Giant Pretzel

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Logan and I go to school in a pretty small Wisconsin town. We love our little town, but we also love exploring all the wonderful Wisconsin cities around us! We are smack dab between Milwaukee and Madison, among other smaller cities. You know what that means?! Lots of mini weekend adventures! This weekend we went on a mini spring road trip to Milwaukee (only an hour away from us).

LogiMarketOur first stop was the Public Market! Inside it has tons of little booths with food, wine, and home goods. We both ordered these really amazing pita wraps *soooooo tasty*! While I wanted to try somethings from every booth, and by every booth I really mean the dessert ones, I somehow managed to resist.

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CardsCollageThe Public Market is in the Third Ward of downtown Milwaukee. The Third Ward has a lot of little boutiques, really nice apartments, and endless coffee shops. We went into a little paper goods store (my fav because they have all the little adorable trinkets I want, but absolutely don’t need) where I stumbled across these adorable friendship cards! Perfect little reminders to give to your favorite humans.

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The next stop was my favorite stop of the day, Lakefront Brewery! Logan found out that Lakefront gives the best brewery tours in the country, so we obviously had to go. It was our duty as American citizens…I always thought I would be a wine person, but my love of beer is very real. For $7 we got 4 glasses of beer, a pint glass to take home, the tour AND a coupon for a free pint of any Lakefront Beer at a restaurant. My favorite beer was a rice beer (S/O to all you gluten-free people out there); I liked it so much I used two of my tokens on it…

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We ended our evening at Upper 90, a sports bar located in the Third Ward. We were both stuffed from our tasty beer, but made room for a giant soft pretzel appetizer and cashed in our coupon for a pint of beer.

We had so much fun exploring Milwaukee! It’s hard to believe in a little over 6 weeks we’ll be graduating and moving back to Illinois.

Have you been on any fun weekend mini trips?!

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Spring Break That Won’t Break the Bank

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This Spring Break Kayla and I and our two beaus decided to explore a new city: New Orleans! As four college students, our budget was pretty tight, so planning was a must. We wanted to see the city, eat the food, and have lots of fun, but on a small budget. Our 4 day stay cost us about $300 (this includes housing, gas, food, and activities)! So now I’m here to share with you my bountiful travel advice for you poor saps who are also on a budget.

1. Housing

One of the  most expensive parts of vacation is the housing. Hotels can be an enormous toll on your bank account, and all for what?! You’ll hardly be there for anything other than sleeping. Enter the internet. When we were planning we didn’t even bother looking at hotel prices; we went straight to a website, Airbnb, that allows you to search for cheap housing in tons of cities. Airbnb consists of a network of people who rent their places out to travelers like yourself. They are WAY better than a hotel because you can get an entire apartment for like $80 a night! Our hosts were the absolute best and left us freshly baked cookies *yumm*, local beer *extra yumm*, and other New Orleans treats *supa yumm* (is my love of eating obvious here?)!

 

 

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2. How to get from here to there

Public transportation is your BFF. Trust me on this one. Once you get to your destination, check out the different bus, train, or streetcar systems the city has to offer. Also, don’t forget about those two wonderful legs you have attached to your body, yes I mean walking, do lots of it. When we were in NOLA we were lucky enough to be super close to the bus stop and streetcar. Even though we had our car since we road tripped down there, we pretty much never used it and saved a ton of money.

 

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3. Do Free Shit

Guess what doesn’t cost money?! LOTS OF THINGS! You don’t have to pay to go to a park, walk around a city, there are even some art exhibits fo’ free. The only activity we dropped a dime for was the swamp tour we went on*. We were able to save a lot of money by just walking and exploring the French quarter and a couple of other streets

*Lets be real, we also spent some moneyz on going out

 

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4. Sharing is caring

Guys, I know how hard it can be to share things. Trust me, as a twin I’ve had to share many many things with my beloved sister; including, but not limited to: faces (hello we’re identical), birthdays (duh), and everything I’ve ever owned. But sharing as a young adult has taught me a valuable lesson, it can save you a butt load of money. Restaurant portions are massive, so Kayla and I split nearly every meal while on our trip and it saved me big time. So if you’re on a trip and aren’t that hungry, or want the same dish as someone else, make your momma proud and consider sharing the meal with your bestie.

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Did you go anywhere fun for spring break?!

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Valentine’s Day Getaway: Part 2

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I hope you all enjoyed the first part (which was actually our second day) of our adventure to Galena! We were so lucky to be able to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city for a long weekend of relaxation, and what’s more relaxing than having dinner by a fire with your favorite people? Nothing.

While going out to a fancy restaurant with you sweetheart is a great way to celebrate Valentine’s, we decided to take it down a notch and cook our own tasty meal at the cottage. We put the boys in charge of the main course (they’re way better cooks than either of us ladies), and divvied the appetizer and dessert between the two of us.

If you’ve met me, you probably know I am dangerously obsessed with avocados. I could definitely star in the Subway commercials where the women start naming their babies after my beloved avocado. So naturally, I made guacamole despite the fact it did not remotely relate to the entree.

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The boys decided to make chicken stuffed with feta and spinach, and then made some ratatouille topped with goat cheese! Andy bought all his ingredients from Eataly, this restaurant/grocery store combo that has the best cheese in the city. If you find yourself in downtown Chicago, it’s a must.

And what’s the point of dinner if there is no dessert?! Shannon made a fourless chocolate cake, which tasted a lot like chocolate cheesecake, but without all the guilt.

Needless to say we had a perfect Valentine’s day with the people we love the most.

We also had the chance to check out some cool shops downtown. Galena is full of fun boutiques with tons of knick knacks. We came across these hilarious animal masks, how could we not try them on!

How did you spend your Valentines weekend?

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