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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Summer’s Last Hurrah: Austin, TX

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Hey All!

I was lucky enough to say farewell to summer 2014 with my Andy in Austin, TX.  We try to take as many trips to as many new places as we can and as cheap as possible. Austin is an  amazing city for twenty somethings like us! Its like the entire city is one giant Wick Park/ Logan Square, where every bar has an outdoor patio decked out in string lights!

We had  a fantastic time, but couldn’t get our Midwest bodies to adjust to 100 degree weather. Here are a few highlights from our trip that you should definitely check out if your heading to Austin

1. Pools & Springs

It didn’t take long for us to realize its nearly impossible to be outside during the day if you are not in some kind of water. But not to worry, Austin has a ton of really fun and gorgeous places to go if you’re trying to beat the heat.

We paddle boarded on Lady Bird Lake (not as hard as I thought it would be), took a drive to Hamilton Pool,visited Barton Springs, another natural spring right in Austin.

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Hamilton Pool 
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Paddle Boarding on Lady Bird Lake 

2. Lodging & Transportation

Andy and I stayed at an AirBnb with a young couple who lived just a few miles from downtown. The room was only $45 a night (sooo cheap) and we were able to use their fridge, coffee, and TV! This was our second time using Airbnb and I would totally recommend it if you’re traveling on a tight budget.

So Andy and I aren’t 25 or older, so renting a car would have cost us our souls. BUT Austin just got Lyft and Uber, which made getting downtown and back super cheap. If you’re traveling to a big city, check and see what ride share programs they have and you could save yourself from wasting a ton of money on rentals.

We also rented a ZipCar for one day to get to Hamilton Pool. Its a really good idea to get a membership to ZipCar or Enterprise because you can rent cars by the hour AND they cover insurance and gas! Not a bad way to get around town.

3.  Food & Drinks

Obviously saving the best for last, FOOD and DRINKS. Let me tell you, Austin has no shortage of delicious food (TACOS) and craft cocktails, and the best part is they’re supa cheap. My favorite places were recommended by my friend who is from Texas (thanks Dacy!). The first being a hamburger place with all fresh local ingredients and buns made in house called Hopdoddy Burger Bar. We also went to a fantastic ice cream shop, Amy’s. It was decked out in superhero and cartoon creations and had a photo booth (I can never pass up a good photo booth)! It was a great place to beat the heat and enjoy a treat.

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Yellow Jacket Social Club

Here are a few more pics!

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Baylor Street Art

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Salt Lick BBQ

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Congress Bridge (home to the largest bat colony in North America-so squeaky!) 

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BBQ Pit at Salt Lick

 

What was the highlight of your summer?

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Introducing: Prince Asi

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“Can I haz cheeseburger?!”-Asiago

Hello all!

If you follow me on Instagram, or are my friend on Snapchat you are well aware I adopted a kitten a few weeks ago. Asiago *yes, like the cheese* is the cutest fuzzball around and I  am completely obsessed with him. This little guy has already managed to cause me loads of stress, heartache, but most importantly, love.

I adopted my little nugget from PAWS, a local animal shelter. After a fantastic first weekend with Asi he started acting really lethargic. He wasn’t interested in any of his toys, and pretty much slept for two days straight.  This sent me into a complete state of panic, and I rushed him to the vet. The doctor told me he had lost weight since I had been there for his wellness exam four days earlier, and his blood tests came back saying he was anemic. The vet told me he likely had contracted FIP, a deadly virus that kills cats in a matter of weeks *cue heartbreak*. I was devastated, and spent a lot of time sobbing at home and blasting John Legends ‘All of Me‘ while drying my tears on my sick furry baby. The next day I took him to the vet to have another test that would confirm he had been exposed to the virus.

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Over the next several days, Prince Asi began to act like a normal, healthy kitten running, jumping, playing, and exploring. All of us were completely surprised since the vet was practically convinced he had contracted the deathly virus.

A few days later we got the results of the blood tests,  negative *YAY*.  We celebrated by getting the little man a laser pointer (his new fav).  Though he was negative for FIP, we still weren’t sure what was causing his anemia. I went to the vet this week and it turns out he’s no longer anemic! During this whole ordeal PAWS has been so helpful and offered to pay for all his tests (close to $650).

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We still have no idea what was wrong with him those few days, but I am so happy he is a healthy kitten! Although I’m not a fan of his 6AM wakeup calls via kitten paw slaps to the face, it’s amazing the life that one fuzzy ball of love can bring to a home.

Here are some of the hundreds of pictures we’ve taken of the nugget. Enjoy!

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Asi is convinced this glass was made for him. Its purrrrfect!

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Fun times in the Sunshine: Kayla and Andy go to Arizona

Andy and I were lucky enough to spend this past weekend in hot hot Arizona. It was the perfect escape from the polar vortex of Chicago. This is our second vacation together, and luckily we both have the same idea of what a vacation should be: lots of doing, but still enough time to hang by the pool!

There is this  app called ‘Best Road Trip Ever’ where you can enter in your location and find cool local attractions, historic places, and restaurants! We found these abandoned domes of Casa Grande from there, pretty cool but also look like they could be featured in a scene on Breaking Bad.

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The weather was gorgeous the whole time we were in Arizona, 70’s and sunny. We went around and saw downtown Scottsdale, which was full of cute shops and lots of free samples (my fav)! If you’re ever in the area, make sure you check out retro ice cream shoppe called The Sugar Bowl. Of course we had to stop in and share a scoop of caramel praline ice cream and a black coffee. The sugar from the ice cream makes the coffee taste fantastic.

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After we strolled through downtown, we went to a place called ‘Hole in the Rock’. It was a short climb to the top (which I did in sandals, poor shoe choice on my end). When we reached the top there was a fantastic view of Phoenix perfectly framed by the rock!

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Next stop: Tempe. Tempe is the home of Arizona State University. It was a pretty cute college town, the streets were lined with bars and small shops. Andy and I stopped in and had a beer at World of Beers (how could we not). They had so many beers on tap, and even more in bottles, needless to say, it was fantastic.

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photo(this is half of the bottled beer selection)

The next day we spent climbing 3,670 ft to the summit of Picacho Peak. It took about 2 hours, and a lot of heavy breathing to reach the top, but it was worth it. The view was perfect without a cloud in the sky. Andy and I always like to do something active on vacation (last time we did a kayak tour of the black waters in Charleston, SC). Going to state parks is the perfect inexpensive way to spend the day in another city. Image

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Last stop: CASINO! I just turned 21, so this was my first time trying my luck. And I came out winning $75! Not too shabby for only playing penny slots, maybe it was beginners luck. This pic was before my big win.

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Now it’s time to go back to the windy city. Goodbye sunshine, tank tops, and bare feet. At least I have my sunburn to keep me warm.

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