Lisbon

lisbon is one of my favorite cities that i’ve only been to during long layovers.

i went two years ago on my way back from a work trip in france. i didn’t sleep because i had no idea when i’d be back in lisbon, and wanted to see as much as possible. who knew i’d be back so soon

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i won’t lie, when we got to the miradouro das portas do sol, i got slightly emotional. i didn’t know when i’d get to see that viewpoint again, and the last time i went it was slightly gloomy outside. when we went, it was a beautiful day and the colors were so vivid and i just felt overcome with all the happy feelings.

WHAT WE ATE

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i knew we were going to visit Pastéis de Belém as soon as i realized that we had a few hours to kill in lisbon. they’re known for these small egg custards called pastel de nata. incredible. but before that, we were hungry for actual lunch food and trekked to get bifanas, aka pork stew sandwiches. they were salty and delicious and perfect when paired with a cold ass beer.

it was a great little trip, and i told myself i’d make it a point to actually see lisbon beyond long layovers.

Madrid

this is going to a short one, as we only stayed in madrid for one night and spent most of our time in bars.

flying out of madrid was definitely not the plan until last minute, because we were dumb and only initially booked our trip to spain and waited to book a flight back. highly not recommended, haha. but we did have fun for the small amount of time we were in madrid, as there was a city-wide tapas crawl going on.

WHERE WE STAYED

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i loved ana’s apartment so much. it was clean, stylish, and available last minute. the only thing i wasn’t too crazy about is lugging our stuff up 5 flights of stairs. we were tired, haha. but she was sweet and had water for us in the room and the view out of the window was lovely. it was also located right in the middle of madrid, so walking everywhere was a breeze. and she was the one who told us about the tapas crawl.

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i would say that madrid was beautiful, but i definitely would like to go back. it was a nice city to round off our trip, though.

what can i say about spain? it was special because it was our first trip abroad together, and it exceeded all of our expectations. i would definitely love to go back, but would want to spend time in the northern parts. have any of you ever been? be sure to let me know in the comments below!

Seville

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we made it to the last major stop on our spain trip: seville.

if i were to rank the cities on our trip, it would be in this order:

  1. granada

  2. seville

  3. barcelona

i think it’s because barcelona felt very similar to new york, and both granada + sevilla both felt like another world. anyways, let’s get to it!

WHERE WE STAYED

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we stayed at this charming little spot in the heart of seville. monica was amazing and not only had great recommendations, but made sure to stay in communication with us the entire time (especially when we couldn’t figure out how to open the actual door to the apartment, ha). the apartment had a courtyard and amazing views from the roof. it was also straight out of an ikea catalog, and i loved it.

THINGS WE SAW

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seville was absolutely beautiful. we visited the plaza de españa twice. the first time, we walked up to the gate and they weren’t letting people in - it had rained the night prior and i guess the plaza was in serious clean-up mode. it was while we were walking to a place to catch and uber that we were literally met with a swarm of flying ants. no joke, that was probably the worst part of seville. they would land on you and stay and they were everywhere. i think it had something to do with the rain, but i feel like i need a shower just thinking about those bugs.

anyways, we went back to the plaza the next day and it was beautiful. they also filmed a scene from stars wars there. we then saw the cathedral where columbus is buried (aka the colonizer). seville is another city that you can get lost just wandering the streets in, and that’s exactly what we did.

we saw a flamenco show in all three cities and although the one in barcelona was my favorite, watching one in seville was also special. why? because it’s the birthplace of flamenco. we saw a show in the guitar museum, which was pretty cool. tom was also totally enamored with the guitar player. he was pretty incredible.

DORNE

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“…and weak men will never rule dorne again.”

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can you tell that enjoyed our visit to the real Alcázar de Sevilla? i never thought i would get to visit a filming location for game of thrones in real life. the water gardens (pictured right above) were the location of the dorne scenes. fun fact: no one else has been able to film in the water gardens except for game of thrones. seriously. everywhere you turned was an opportunity to see stunning architecture and details. our tour guide was also incredible and i give her so much credit because it was only her 5th tour in english. and that quote i included above by ellaria sand? i must have repeated it to tom about 500 times. visiting this place is a must if you’re in seville.

WHAT WE ATE

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so after spending all that time in granada not paying for food, having to pay for tapas in seville made us a little sad, haha. but they were still delicious nonetheless. we couldn’t go to bar eslava (a michelin guide spot) because it was closed on a weird day. bodega santa cruz was hands down our favorite spot. the solomillo pork is incredible, and they calculate your bill the old-fashioned way by writing down your items in chalk on the counter. seriously, this place was so good that we almost went twice. duo tapas is where we had our last meal in seville and it didn’t disappoint. definitely order dessert!

i know, this post was long as fuck. but seville was the last major leg of our trip and we wanted to make sure that we experienced as much as we could before spending our last night in the country in madrid.

Granada

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the next city on my recap of our spain trip: granada.

when planning our trip to spain, one of tom’s coworkers couldn’t recommend granada enough. we also heard great things from a couple we recently became friends with that visited the same exact cities we did during the summer. we were excited, we experienced, and quickly realized that granada would become one of our favorite cities ever.

WHERE WE STAYED

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we stayed in this airbnb and it was incredible. we had the entire apartment to ourselves, which was nice as we got in late a bunch of times and didn’t have to worry about waking anyone. there was a spanish guitar in the apartment, which tom decided to tune + play. rosa was super communicative and we felt super comfortable in the neighborhood we were in. it was also very close to the heart of granada, so we were able to walk to most of the places we needed to get to.

THINGS WE SAW

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granada is smaller than barcelona, and i definitely encourage walking around and getting lost in the city. we wandered the streets with very few plans and loved it. we made it a point to see the alhambra, something you can’t miss when visiting granada. it’s also one of the main attractions (if not the main attraction) of the city. make sure to book your tickets in advance, as tours + access tickets book rather quickly. and if you’re like us and wait til the last minute to do everything, i have another option for you! our airbnb host was gracious enough to introduce us to the granada card, which gave us access to not only the alhambra + the gardens, and any other major attractions in the city. highly recommended.

WHAT WE ATE

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i’ll preface this by saying that most of these photos will probably look like complete shit, and i’m totally okay with that. granada is the original part of spain where tapas come free with every round of beer that you order and holy shit, did we take advantage. yes, you read that correctly. free tapas with every goddamn round of beer. besides the alhambra, most of our time in granada was spent drinking and eating. luckily, those are the two things that the locals encourage.

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i’m pretty sure “dos cañas por favor” is now a permanent part of my vocabulary. our first stop was at taberna la tana. it was crowded and we had no idea what we were doing. some internal questions included “do they know we’re here for the free food?”, “do we ask for the free tapas?”, and “shit this is so fucking stressful”. we started by ordering two glasses of wine and a minute later, we were handed a plate and it was on. 5 more rounds later and we decided to tap out. we then headed to bar los diamantes. from what i remember, if you ordered wine then you got a specific set of tapas and if you ordered beer, you got a different set. it was the first time either of us had fried, whole anchovies but that saltiness combined with cold beer? heaven. the most tapas + beer we had were at rosario varela. hungover and in search of food, we ended up at cafe lisboa and it was just what we needed. bar poe was one of the last places we visited before leaving, and also one of our favorites. it’s owned by this british expat and his wife who loved their 3-day vacation in granada so much that they decided to stay there for the last 13 years. it was a great conversation, the food was amazing, and he said something to me that stuck with me:

“SPAIN IS BEAUTIFUL BUT AFTER YOU LEAVE GRANADA, YOU’LL SOON REALIZE THAT IT WAS THE BEST CITY ON YOUR TRIP.”

HE WASN’T THE FIRST PERSON TO SAY THAT TO US. WE HEARD IT FROM EVERYONE THAT’S BEEN TO GRANADA, AND THEY WERE ALL RIGHT. IF YOU HAVE THE CHANCE TO GO, FUCKING TAKE IT.

Barcelona

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there was a revolving conversation about where we would go for vacation, dating back to early last year. we hadn’t gone on a trip together and had been dating for five years, we were due. but life happens, the big one being that the startup i worked for folding shortly after the new year. we also ended up moving in together in june so between rent/security deposits/furniture, taking a trip was a huge question mark.

and then we just did it. we booked our flight straight to barcelona and set off on a 10-day adventure, exploring a country we both hadn’t been to before. we went to 4 different cities in spain, and first up is barcelona. this is gonna be a long one, so buckle up!

WHERE WE STAYED

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we stayed at this gorgeous airbnb, which was located right off la rambla + right behind la boqueria market. finn + beatriz were gracious hosts that lived in barcelona for about 15 years, so they also had some amazing recommendations. i fell in love with the decor of the apartment simply from the photos on airbnb, and it was just as stunning in person.

THINGS WE SAW

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VIBRANT COLORS EVERYWHERE

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when visiting barcelona, i absolutely recommend seeing allllll gaudí that you can. we saw casa milà and casa Batlló, but unfortunately couldn’t make it to Park Güell, but i’ve heard it’s beautiful. we also were not prepared for the magnitude of la sagrada familia - it’s something you just need to experience in person. we also went through la boqueria but it’s a tourist trap on crack. i would advise going just to see it, but definitely avoid eating there because it can be overpriced. we also walked down la rambla (their version of times square) a few times, mostly because of the location of our airbnb. la barceloneta (their beach) was also beautiful. for the gaudí exhibits + la sagrada familia, i recommend booking tickets in advance.

there were a few things that we didn’t get to do (picasso museum, Park Güell) but i guess it’s good to leave a few things for your next visit, right 😉

WHAT WE ATE

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now you guys know that i’ve been dying to get to this part! the food. we absolutely indulged (and made a pact to eat better as soon as we got back to new york) and have no regrets.

PLACES WE ATE

our first meal is the first photo under ‘what we ate’ - it was incredible and incredibly overpriced. we were so hungry by the time we set our bags down that we were unfortunately roped into eating at la boqueria - something i had been told to avoid. don’t get me wrong, the food was delicious but it’s the equivalent of eating a meal in times square. (hint: don’t)

our dinner the first night was at la dama, a recommendation from beatriz. dining here was unlike anything we’ve ever experienced before. a man waits outside of the building and has to open a door with a key to let you into the restaurant. it felt so fancy that we were almost uncomfortable. and it still cost less than a nice night out here in new york. oh, and that porn star martini pictured above? best cocktail i’ve ever had. we had tapas + beer at el xampanyet, and it was the best tapas experience had in barcelona. don’t be intimidated by the crowd, it’s absolutely worth it and they’ll find a way to serve you. we had paella at can sole that was also delicious, despite tom normally not being the biggest fan of seafood. our last dinner in barcelona was at bodega la puntual and it did not disappoint. absolutely recommend the rice with iberian pork. we also visited an insane bar called sor rita that had the most wacked out decor (slutty nuns, a confessional bathroom, barbie dolls having sex, panties hanging from the ceiling) and a fun bar in the hip el born district called bar sauvage that played hip hop + gave condoms out with certain drinks.

we also had an unhealthy amount of croquetas, Jamón, and cañas. if either Jamón or croquetas are on the menu, order them. and take full advantage of their cheap beer!

memorable moments

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seeing a flamenco show at palau dalmases is an experience that’ll stick with me for the rest of my life. i was so overwhelmed at how incredible this show was that as soon as the singer began his performance, i started crying a little. there’s so much history and beauty to flamenco, and this show felt special. another beautiful recommendation from beatriz. and it helps that the show is located in a 17th century palace.

i also got a tattoo. surprise! i think all of my tattoos have been done impulsively, which is why i love them. and this one holds the most meaning, as it’s the sun on the filipino flag. i got it done by carlos at saudade tattoo, and am so obsessed with it. carlos + the staff were amazing, and i definitely recommend if you’re feeling bold enough to get ink in another country.

and there it is! a recap of our days in barcelona. and if you thought this was fun, i can’t wait to tell you guys about granada.

Days in DC

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hi everyone! i know it's been a while, and i honestly debated on whether i'd be coming back to blogging or not. life got busy in the most intense way with my move to brooklyn + adjusting to freelancing, as well as taking a position with common sense media. but as i was sorting through photos, i came across these photos that i took on a trip to dc a few months ago and i realized i'm still not ready to close the book on 'bursts of samm'.

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the reason sarah and i went to dc was to see the cherry blossoms. it was a bit of a zoo and it was super hot, but they were beautiful and it's something that i had been wanting to do for a while. i guess you could say it was a bucket list item? 

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we stayed at this airbnb and it was honestly the most wonderful experience. kim and her family were the most gracious hosts, and made us that beautiful spread you see earlier in this post. we were honestly floored when we went downstairs. if you're in dc, i absolutely recommend staying with kim!

we saw the blossoms, went to a brewery, bar hopped a little and just had such a good time. we're constantly rotating around the nyc area, so a change of scenery was so welcome. we also managed to have brunch at le diplomat - a place that's usually booked and if you don't have a reservation, you'll probably be met with a wait. totally worth it!

i'm still here, and it feel so good. chat soon!

weekend in hudson

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tom and i recently packed our bags (well i had multiple bags, he had a backpack) and took a drive upstate. we had talked about how we want to travel more this year, and i've come to appreciate small weekend getaways. hudson is far enough (about 2ish hours from new york city) to feel like you're truly escaping but also is an easy commute either by train or car. 

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WHERE WE STAYED

we stayed at the rivertown lodge. we absolutely loved our stay there, and you can see more photos of the hotel + read more about our experience in my last post. i know there are a few places you can stay at in hudson, but i would 15/10 recommend rivertown. 

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WHAT WE DID

i knew that our main goal in hudson was to explore. we unfortunately didn't get to hike because i didn't realize the one spot i wanted to hike at was about an hour drive from hudson - aka, i didn't plan accordingly for it. next time!

anyways, the reason i found hudson so charming is that it really is a community of locally owned businesses. antique shops, specialty food stores, and cute cafes/restaurants line warren street and it was almost a little overwhelming because i wanted to walk through each and every door. we stopped by flowerkraut, a floral design shop that also sells different kinds of sauerkraut. we walked a little further and popped into john doe records and books, where i found an original vinyl of john lennon + yoko ono's first album that they recorded together. (regrettably, i didn't buy it.) one thing i also appreciated about hudson was that there were black lives matter signs, LGBTQ FLAGS, AND REMNANTS OF SIGNS FROM THEIR WOMEN'S MARCH EVERYWHERE. FUCKING LOVE.one of my favorite shops that we stopped by was minna, a home goods + textiles shop that works with makers from mexico, guatemala, and uruguay. 

we didn't go into the antique shops, because i knew that i would just want everything and i 1) didn't have any sort of $ to pay for furniture 2) where the hell was i going to put furniture? lol eventually we'll go back because i saw so many pieces that aligned with my taste. 

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WHERE WE ATE

finally, the part of the recap that i was most excited to share: the food!

there are so many things about hudson, but i'd be lying if i didn't say the food wasn't the best part. after driving for about 2 hours, we stopped by talbott & arding cheese and provisions where tom got shepherds pie + i opted for the chicken pot pie to go. we also picked up a loaf of something sweet but i don't remember what it was - i just remember it being really delicious. we then grabbed dinner at backbar where we drank a little too much and enjoyed malaysian bites. those pork and shrimp wontons pictured above? incredible. tom also loved the burger he had. and we loved it so much that we ended up going again the next night after dinner. we had breakfast at the hotel we were staying at, and i really indulged in that dutch baby. we had dinner at wm farmer & sons and enjoyed every bite of our meal. i'd book a table well in advance if you want to visit! we stopped and had coffee at moto coffee/machine, which was a coffee shop that also had a full service motorcycle repair shop attached to it and ducati's scattered throughout. we also had breakfast the morning on the day we left at grazin' - incredible, especially when you're nursing a hangover. the last meal we had (and one of my favorites although i loved them all) was at lil deb's oasis. i read somewhere that lil deb's was basically an art installation with knockout food, and they were not wrong. everything about lil deb's, from the funky decor to the clear support of the lgbtq community to the amazing food, was incredible. that chicken tamale was also, by far, the best tamale i've ever had in my life. same goes for those arepas. i'm salivating just thinking about them.

i enjoyed every aspect of hudson, and already told tom that we're visiting throughout the seasons. if any of you have ever been to hudson, i'd love hear about it! 

rivertown lodge

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about two weekends ago, tom and i headed upstate for a small trip. going into 2018, i knew i wanted to take more weekend trips and hudson seemed like the perfect place. it was close enough that we could drive there (a little under 2 hours), but far enough where we really felt like we were away

when i was planning this trip, i knew i wanted to stay at the rivertown lodge. i had seen enough photos on social media, read enough stellar reviews, and perused enough design articles to know that this was where we were going to stay. based on photos alone it seemed like a thoughtfully-designed space, and it was. even the keys to our room were beautiful. 

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we choose their smallest room, because the bed nook looked super charming + cozy. even though it was their smallest room size, there was more than enough room for us to wander around. the sheets are by frette, which i appreciate because they're like the gold standard for hotel sheets. i only know this because i was a social media director for a linen company and frette was always on their radar. i also was a little obsessed with the books that they curated for the room - not pictured was the book on boston murderers that i was reading. you know, as one does. 

the room also came with a marshall speaker that you could connect to via bluetooth. the bathroom (which i stupidly forgot to take photos of) was also beautiful, complete with products made by a local shop specifically for rivertown. love. our room was also conveniently located down the hall from their pantry, which was stocked with a bunch of different snacks, meats, cheeses, crackers, salsa, wine, and beer. oh, and did i mention that the tv had netflix? after dinner and drinks, we spent that friday night eating all the things and watching jim jefferies. score.

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one of the best parts about rivertown was that it turns into a breakfast/brunch spot on weekends. i dragged tom out of bed early saturday morning because i had a feeling that it was going to get really crowded. (i was right, by the way). i loved the linen napkins, and i especially loved that dutch baby pancake. they also serve freshly-squeezed orange juice which tasted like the nectar of life after an evening that involved a little too much alcohol. honestly not sure what tom had because he inhaled his food in maybe 3 minutes? 

if i were to give this darling little spot a rating, it'd probably be a 15/10. the staff was fucking lovely and so accommodating. i have every intention of coming back as hudson seems like a place i want to experience throughout the seasons, and i know i'm booking a room at rivertown. 

work trip to nice, france

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how this trip happened

i love telling this story because it's just so ridiculous. this work trip that i took last may to nice, france happened completely by accident. i came into the office early and heard my boss speaking to someone in french (he's from france). i asked who he was speaking to, and he said he had a friend who needed social media help with his restaurant...in nice. i joked around and said he should send me. 

about two hours later, he calls me back into the office and asks if i want to go. i won't get into the rollercoaster that the next two days were (was i going? was i not going?) but it ended up happening so quickly + is still one of the highlights of my life. 

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what my days looked like

the beautiful thing about this trip is that while it was a work trip, the client also wanted me to see nice. he knew it was my first time in france (or europe, for that matter) and wanted to make sure i got a decent amount of exploring done. 

so every morning i'd wake up + head to the boulangerie around the corner of my hotel. being able to have fresh croissants and coffee without the annoyance of new york prices was such a delight. then i'd head to the restaurant (which was a 5 minute walk from my hotel) during lunch and spend a few hours photographing dishes as they made their way from the kitchen to the customer. and when the restaurant died down during the purgatory hours between lunch + dinner, i'd explore the city. 

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things i recommend

strolling along the promenade des anglais
the palm trees, pebbled beaches, and striped parasols will give you all kinds of french riviera vibes. one of my last moments in nice was lying by the ocean + soaking up the sun. truly wonderful.

eat all the food
since my client was the #bestclientever, most of my meals in nice were at the restaurant. but that doesn't mean they were any less delicious because i would've gladly paid to eat there. my morning ritual of croissants + coffee were provided by a place called aux délices de la buffa. 

burn all the calories by climbing the castle hill
climbing the castle hill stairs were absolutely a workout, with an even sweeter reward. once you make it to the top, you're greeted with the ultimate panoramic view of nice (see the first photo of this post). i recommend doing it during the day when the sun is fully out, so that shadows aren't blocking any of the buildings.

venture into veiux nice
the old city is, unsurprisingly, one of the best parts of nice. at every turn you'll see older, colorful buildings and local shops. it's also the location of cours saleya, nice's everyday market. i'll expand on that in another post, but absolutely make it a point to get lost in the old city. 

when i went to nice, i was nervous because it was my first time traveling alone. but this little city by the sea is not only beautiful, but also felt incredibly safe (despite that incident that happened a few years ago). as i loaded my bags into my uber, i knew i wasn't saying goodbye. it was more of a 'see you later'.