IMG_5494last week, B. went home to NJ and he brought with him a little gift for our families. in a very cute, key-shaped, gold flash drive we saved all the pictures from our trip and from our engagement shoot and sent it to them with a cool, colorful garland, in polka dot envelopes!

i just had so much fun to put this little gift together, and I know how much our mom’s loved looking at our pictures! it was a pleasure to share with them the memories of the best days of our lives!

this is how the little package turned out:

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Hello, friends!

B. and I are back home, trying to adapt to our routines and have finally received all the pictures from our European journey! We had such a magnificent time {for those who followed through instagram, the tags #cdmeuropa, #maelspain #maelparis gathers all our photos!}! I thought I’d share some photos and tips from our trip for those of you that are thinking about a Spanish vacation!

Spain was our focus and where we spent the majority of our time! I do not use travel services, I book everything myself, I find it to be a lot more my style, not to count way economic, than to use an agency! Plus, I have fun learning and dreaming about the places I’m going to see!

We tried to figure out the perfect itinerary that fit in every city we wanted to see. It had plenty of changes throughout the years {remember, I’m planning this trip for four years!}. Not everything went smooth, I neglected to check the hours of one of our flights and we missed it! Returning home, with luggage full of wine and wonderful Moroccan olive oil bottles wasn’t easy! But, the headaches of traveling do not weigh on you! The rewards are always much bigger and you come back home feeling richer!

B. and I are very specific about our trips! We rarely do a load of touristic stuff and focus on a more personal experience, on living the life of the locals as much as possible! Our intent is always to learn! Learn how other people live, what they do, eat, drink and we incorporate the best to our lives as well! Staying with family, in an actual neighborhood make things way easier! We could live the life of the Spaniards, with its crazy hours and amazing food!

As soon as we arrived in Madrid, my entire family was at the airport waiting for us! It was such a wonderful surprise to see everyone together! Such an important moment, meeting my cousins again for the first time in 16 years! We made a quick stop in Madrid to drop our bags off and had breakfast at Casa de Campo! A gigantic park, with a lake in the center, bike lanes, gorgeous trees, full of cute cafes! But, today, the itinerary was a day trip to Toledo!




IMG_5142My family offered us a trip to Toledo as an engagement gift – they had heard how much Bret loved Toledo the last time he was there and we went as a family, to see the famous cathedral, the small sword shops and suits of armor everywhere! Toledo is a fortified city with tiny cobblestone streets! It’s pure charm! It was an amazing, sunny day and we walked up and down the tiny alleys and windy streets talking, and talking! Speaking Portuguese, Spanish and English, a crazy mixture of it all!


IMG_5137Toledo is located south of Madrid and is the capital of the autonomous community of Castille-La Mancha and is one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites for its extensive cultural and monumental heritage and place of coexistence of Christian, Muslim and Jewish cultures. Remember Don Quixote de La Mancha? This very famous story by Miguel de Cervantes takes place in the area! Toledo even offers a Don Quixote Tour, visiting important local sites mentioned in the book!

IMG_5132The metal-working industry has historically been Toledo’s economic base, with a great tradition in the manufacturing of swords and knives! The city is located on a mountaintop with a 150 degree view, surrounded on three sides by a bend in the Tagus River, and contains many historical sites, including the Alcázar, the cathedral (the primate church of Spain).

After hours visiting the sites and walking around the city we stopped for lunch! However, I can’t tell you how it was! I got sick, my blood pressure dropped and I started my routine of vomiting/diarrhea that happens every single time I travel! I spent the entire lunch in the bathroom! After that, i started taking Spanish Gatorade, called Aquarius, to try to hold something down and not get dehydrated! Back home, B. got to go out with my cousin and explore the bars in the neighborhood, while I spent my time with the bathroom! 😦  {this happens every single time I travel, I believe it’s one of the side effects of my anxiety, so I’m used to it}.


IMG_5135IMG_5134IMG_5136 IMG_5138IMG_5143 IMG_5147 IMG_5149 IMG_5148 IMG_5145 IMG_5152I think we slept something like 12 hours that night! I wanted to make sure we were rested for the next days!

while B. was in spain, during his first visit in 2002/2003, he took a day trip to toledo. he loved it. he used to tell me stories about how amazing the cathedral in toledo is, he was so impressed by it, and said not even notre dame is as beautiful. also, he mentioned about all the sword stores they have there. i can’t wait to see it!

i plan on spending some time in toledo, visiting the gorgeous cathedral.

have you ever been?

Screen shot 2013-01-25 at 1.45.57 PM{toledo}

Beautiful photograph of the cityscape of Toledo, Spain. Cathedral in the background, by AmadoBeachDesigns for sale here.

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