Scenic Spain: Madrid’s Best Nature Escapes

When you imagine a visit to Madrid, you may picture yourself strolling through its cobblestone lanes, sipping wine over a plate of tapas, studying the masterpieces of Dalí and Goya, or admiring the city’s stately architecture. If natural beauty is your cup of tea, you’re likely to turn to remote regions rather than a major urban area, but, when it comes to Madrid, you don’t have to go far.

Parque Natural de Peñalara, Madrid, Spain

Madrid looking like this? Believe it! Parque Natural de Peñalara

While the capital’s man-made delights are certain to impress, Madrid is also a fantastic city for nature escapes: hiking trails, scenic views, peaceful parks, and adventure opportunities abound in the city and its surrounding areas. Here are just a few of Madrid’s best natural destinations. Continue reading  

Travel Talk with Hilary: An Auxiliar de Conversación in Madrid

I’m back with a new installment in my Travel Talk interview series! This time, I spoke to Hilary Leslie of Oregonian Overseas, who is currently in her second year of teaching English in Madrid, Spain as an auxiliar de conversación (language and culture assistant). I participated in the same program from 2011 to 2013, so I was curious to hear about her experiences and travel plans.

Visiting Acadia National Park, Maine

Hilary visiting Acadia National Park, Maine

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Cranky Excerpts from a Curmudgeonly 1913 Spain Guide Book

When you imagine a century-old travel guidebook about Spain, you’d expect a cornucopia of picturesque descriptions of the scenery and fascinating explanations of bygone customs. After all, isn’t a travel guide supposed to feature the unmissable highlights a destination has to offer? But in the 1913 Baedeker guide to Spain and Portugal, you’ll find everything but that.

Cava Baja, Madrid, Spain

The loveliest of lovely, España…or is it?

When a friend referred me to a link he had stumbled upon, the full text of this early twentieth century travel guidebook, I stopped everything I was doing to read it, drooling at the thought of a romantically nostalgic perspective on a country I love so deeply… Only to find it was definitely not what I expected. Continue reading  

Teaching English in Spain as an Auxiliar vs. Studying Abroad

Studying abroad in Spain, it’s hard not to fall in love with the country. Just as I did, hundreds of students who left their hearts in Spain during college return post-graduation to work as English teaching assistants, thanks to the auxiliares de conversación (or North American Language and Culture Assistants) program. Being back in amazing España is a dream come true, but how does life as an English teacher compare to the study abroad life? If you’re returning to Spain as an auxiliar de conversación, here are a few differences and similarities to expect.

Auxiliares de Conversación

With my first graders in my first year as an auxiliar

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6 Dazzling Travel Dreams to Experience One Day

With most of my life still stretching out ahead of me, I have to say that I’m thrilled with how much travel I’ve been able to accomplish so far. However, the world is massive, and the more I see, the more I want to see. Fortunately, I’ll be taking off on a huge trip in just over a month, which will allow me to tour many of the destinations I’ve been dreaming of for years – the current plan could have me seeing over 25 new countries by the end of the year!

Ollantaytambo, Peru

Oh the amazing things I’ve seen so far! Ollantaytambo, Peru in 2011

While there are plenty of ideas that I’m actively working toward or that should be easy enough to accomplish within the next few years, here are a few of my more grandiose travel dreams that I fantasize about experiencing at least once in my life. Continue reading  

How to Make the Most of 24 Hours in Madrid + Travel Giveaway!

Madrid is a city that deserves to be experienced slowly over a long period of time. After living there for two years, I consider it my favorite city in the world, and with good reason. But what if you only have 24 hours to spend in the Spanish capital? No te preocupes, there’s still a world to discover in just one day.

La Almudena cathedral, Madrid, Spain

Madrid’s Almudena cathedral

Whether it’s your first trip there, you’re revisiting and want to make sure you hit all of the hotspots, or you’re a local who wants to appreciate what makes Madrid so great, this itinerary will take you by Madrid’s most iconic sights and give you a taste of what makes the city so unbelievably magical. Continue reading