Spain/Portugal/Dubai (I)

I should be ashamed of myself because Blau has already efficiently posted about Bebes in BKK trip in 3 posts while I havent even started on my trip to Spain/Portugal/Dubai last year 😦 I definitely have a lot to learn about keeping a blog lol anyway, here goes part one!

Day 1

The first highlight of the trip would be the stopover at DXB (Dubai Airport – hehe putting my aviation law lessons to good use) because I found out that they have Shake Shack in Dubai (at the airport woohoo and at Dubai Mall too). In fact, Shake Shack is no longer elusive and only for Upper East Siders/ New Yorkers, it also has operations in London, Turkey and as I just found out Dubai, amongst a few other places I can’t remember.

Shiny shiny happy place

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset I had the SmokeShack (Cheeseburger topped with bacon) and it was truly the best burger I’ve ever had! Processed with VSCOcam with a5 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with hb1 preset It was also a life saver because the 6/7 hour transit at DXB was no joke and it kept me occupied and awake for the super long day ahead. We already took a (sleepless) 7 hour flight that departed from Singapore at 9pm to Dubai and had to wait for 7 hours for our next flight, which was to be another 7 hours. It was approximately 10 am Singapore time when we could board our flight from DXB to BCN (Barcelona International Airport). And when we reached Barcelona, it was afternoon, so there was no time to nap but we proceeded straight to cover the itinerary for the day!

Travel tip: do not take transit flights if you have the choice because it is really very taxing on the body. By dinner time on the first day we arrived in Barcelona, I really just wanted to lie down and sleep. If you have to take a transit flight, make sure you have no activity on the day of your arrival but have enough time to catch up on rest!

Day 2

So upon reaching Barcelona, we headed for lunch near Puerto Olimpico de Barcelona (Olympic Harbour). Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset FullSizeRender Still going strong and surviving on that Shake Shack + some shut eye on the plane which explains the mood to take pictures. Then we went up to Montjuic Hill where we could take panoramic shots of the city and W O W, it is was beautiful! FullSizeRender-4 FullSizeRender-2 Proceeded to the Gothic Quarter where I got to see the Three Wise Men. They were having a Christmas show at the Gothic Quarter and it was nice to see everyone dressed up as biblical characters and even Roman soldiers. (Sorry no photos because by that time, I was sleepy and un-enthusiastic about taking photos.) FullSizeRender-3 IMG_0160

But there was this cute little boy who was chasing pigeons :”)

IMG_0179 Drove by Passeig de Gracia and saw the 3 iconic buildings with beautiful architecture, including one by Antoni Gaudi, the man behind the La Sagrada Familia. FullSizeRender-5 FullSizeRender-6 Saw the much raved about La Sagrada Familia and it definitely lived up to the hype! The architecture was so intricate and it was absolutely amazing. IMG_0186

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The design on the doors are new and if you look closely, you will notice that there is a couple taking wedding photos in the church :”) IMG_0204 Ended off the night at Las Ramblas. But by that time, we were all so spent from the long flight x the extremely long day that we could hardly go shopping. I really just wanted to get back to the hotel to sleep. I was pacified for awhile by this gelato flower ice cream. IMG_0216 I was so enthusiastic about gymming that I brought along sports shoes and exercise clothes but by the time we got back to the hotel, I was so spent. I ended up just showering and sleeping. Who knew that this first night was a foreshadow of the nights to come. I only managed to squeeze in about 3/4 nights of exercise out of the slightly more than 2 weeks that I was away. But hey, A* for effort! Also, it is important enough to mention here that on my first night in Barcelona, I made a new friend who will make another special mention appearance later on in this series hiakhiakhiak (my friends, namely JJT, say that hiakhiakhiak is an onomatopeia of my laugh IRL but… I really don’t laugh like that. DO I?????)

Day 3

The next day = the day we took our nicest family photo at an Aquaduct on the way up to Valencia. It was also the first time I brandished the selfie stick and it was to become a very important tool for capturing our family photos. IMG_0244 Upon reaching Valencia, we immediately went for lunch – and what else to eat when in Spain but PAELLA. Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

ALL MINE.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Then we went to Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias (The City of Arts and Sciences). IMG_0438 IMG_0520 As you can see by now, one limitation of the selfie stick is that it is really meant for taking selfies so sometimes/most of the time, the attractions are not really captured in the photo LOL. Also, my dad was trying to find a new nice family photo to send out for New Years’ greetings because he chose the one at the aquaduct for Christmas greetings.

Fav photo with my daddy :’)

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset We went to La Lonja where I discovered my true calling :”) #thethuglyfe Processed with VSCOcam with a5 preset FullSizeRender-7IMG_0618 Evidently, I loved the graffiti and street art there. But there is also the quaint, romantic alley cafe side of La Lonja that I really loved too. IMG_0594We were on our way back to the bus when we ran into the tour guide who told us that we MUST see the fountain because it is super beautiful, so we ended up power walking all the way there and back. The parents compared it to the Trevi Fountain and were definitely not impressed. But we were not going to let our power walking go to waste so… selfie! IMG_0634 After we took this photo and power walked back to the coach, we proceeded to Alicanate. If you managed to deduce by now that this trip consists of a lot of eating (we never miss breakfast lunch and dinner + because of the mixed up schedule and many flights, we had many meals on our first day) + sitting on the coach. So I was determined to exercise on the second night but because Alicante’s tourism is driven by its beach and we were there in winter, the wing of the hotel containing the gym somehow did not have electricity??? I ended up doing burpees + circuit in the room but this was probably my most successful exercise night. Alicante was a pit stop to spend the night and we had no opportunity to tour the city because we set out for Granda early in the morning. So I will definitely be back in the summer to explore the beautiful and much raved about beach of Alicante. Did not manage to catch the beach but we did pass by a beautiful Christmas market :”) too bad it was too far out from our hotel 😦 IMG_0663

Day 4

On our way up to Granada and up the mountain, we drove through clouds and it was AMAZING! My mere iphone camera and Nikon could not capture the vastness and beauty of the sky and the Spanish countryside in all its glory. Here are some attempts. IMG_0705 IMG_0711 IMG_0718 IMG_0722 Usually at every pit stop for toilet breaks/ refuel, I would run into the gift shop to get postcards. And I found this… which is basically my life. IMG_0729 We went to the Alhambra and the view from which was pretty darn great too. vscocam-photo-2 The weather in Spain was lovely – even though it was winter, it was not the freeze-your-butt-off-just-want-to-hibernate kind of cold.

Look, natural sunlight #nofilter IMG_0751 Processed with VSCOcam with m3 presetIn fact, suns out guns out lol

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Then, I saw this road sign and I have come to the conclusion that Spain is really the perfect place for me to live in. 20km/h lol – I haven’t driven in a long time and the last time I got behind the wheel, I was CRAWLING…

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Also got to be part of Maze Runner II (shhhh)

Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset The Alhambra was a Moorish palace and it was really quite a sight. IMG_0805

Taj Mahal like reflective lake (?)/ water body

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Since Boracay, I’ve always found that there is a certain beauty to silhouttte shots.IMG_0864 IMG_0867

Then we proceeded to the Palace Garden which was lovely, simply because FLOWERS??? IMG_0878 IMG_0882 IMG_0910 IMG_0939 IMG_0947 After we left Granada, we drove to Cordoba, Andalusia. (And FB friends/ people who follow me on Insta would know that this is the place where I took possibly the best photo I have ever taken!! Which will of course be revealed in Part II of this Spain/Portugal/Dubai series) By the time we reached Cordoba, it was already dark and we were welcomed by this little reminder that we were 2 days away from Christmas :”) IMG_0966-2

This is my favourite photo from the Palace Garden.

IMG_0886 I love the flowers in Spain! They are all so beautiful and vibrant. Or maybe it is just the being away that opens your eyes to the beauty of things you would otherwise take for granted. And here, I segway into the article “The Hardest Part of Traveling No One Talks About“. This part of the article really resonated with me: “The way your dreams have changed, they way you perceive people differently, the habits you’re happy you lost, the new things that are important to you. You want everyone to recognize this and you want to share and discuss it, but there’s no way to describe the way your spirit evolves when you leave everything you know behind and force yourself to use your brain in a real capacity, not on a written test in school. You know you’re thinking differently because you experience it every second of every day inside your head, but how do you communicate that to others?”/ “It’s like learning a foreign language that no one around you speaks so there is no way to communicate to them how you really feel.”

I know that the article seems to be based on long term travel (for a year maybe or even longer) but that is not to discount the difference that 2 weeks of traveling can do. Especially when you spend 2 weeks traveling around a country via coach and you have a lot of time for introspective thinking and contemplation, more time to reflect on the sights and experiences and to figure out what is truly important to you. Traveling really engages your heart and enlightens your soul, that’s why I love it so much. In fact, I was talking to a friend back in Singapore the day I was leaving Dubai to come home and he asked how long I’ve been away to which I replied “slightly more than 2 weeks, not long enough”. Call it the “hardest part of traveling” or even “the best part of traveling” since each travel brings with it growth and wonderful new experiences, or call it wanderlust, I really can’t wait for Summer 2015 and where that would bring me.

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