The beaches of Almeria

beaches of Almeria

Last weekend, I spent a day exploring the beaches of Almeria here in the Andalucia region of Spain. My English teaching program is an adventure sometimes. Last year was the first year both myself and Amy taught English in Spain. We both got placed in tiny pubelos. However I got lucky as two teachers from my school commuted from Granada and they gave me the option to live in Granada. I of course took it and had a fabulous year living in Granada. Like what? I got to live in one of the most beautiful cities in Spain. It was like a dream all year last year.

Amy, however, got placed to work in a pueblo of Almeria called Albox. She did not have the option to commute from a larger city like I did, so she lived in the town. However from all her stories, it sounded like she had a good year. The teachers from her school were always going out and getting together, so she made some good Spanish friends that way. And when you’re in a pueblo, you’re really forced to speak Spanish as less people speak English.

If we decide to teach a second year with this program, we typically get priority over people in their first or third+ year. In my region, it’s basically known that if you write down the city you want, you get it as a second year. I used my priority advantage to stay in Granada but work at schools that I could walk to. I got what I wanted and I love not having to carpool for an hour. Amy used her second year priority to live and work in Granada, which is how we became friends.

So Amy still had stuff in her pueblo that a friend was keeping for her over the summer (super nice of her friend). It was more than you could just get on a bus trip. It was maybe like 6-8 boxes, so renting a car for the day seemed like the best option. It’s always cheaper in Europe to rent a stick shift. For lots of Americans, this is a problem. The majority of our cars are automatic and most Americans never learn to drive a manual car. I, however, can thanks to my parents who both preferred stick shifts. At age 16 when it came time to learn to drive, I had no other option than to learn as both of their cars were stick shifts. At the time, I HATED it. However I am not grateful. Several years later my mom’s car would become mine. Hence, I drove a stick shift for 10 years. I could do it in my sleep.

This now means that I can rent a car with no problems here in Europe. So I drove us out there and back there for the day. I had heard about the beaches of Almeria, so we made hanging out at the beach part of the journey.

beaches of Almeria

The beaches of Almeria

If you wish to explore Almeria, there are several beach options. The one we went to is Playa de Los Muertos in Carboneras. You actually have to park your car at the top of the hill and hike down. The hike down is super worth it.

There are a few other beaches to explore in the province of Almeria. I have only explored this one, but perhaps in the future I’ll return to explore a few more. This article lists 10 beaches in Almeria that you must see.

beaches of Almeria beaches of Almeria beaches of Almeria beaches of Almeria

The dress was found at Mango here in Spain and it was on sale. I normally wouldn’t go for a dress like this that has no back. However I also hate to stay in ruts, so I decided to be adventurous and buy it! I’m glad that I did.

beaches of Almeria

beaches of Almeria

beaches of Almeria

Dress: Mango (similar), Shoes: I cannot remember (similar)

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beaches of Almeria

 

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Women around the world: Andrea the digital nomad

This week, we are featuring our first digital nomad. Meet Andrea, someone I found through this Facebook group called Girls Love Travel. They have an Instagram account as well and let different women take over their stories each day. She took it over one day and I was intrigued by her life, so I decided to follow her. I had heard the term “digital nomad” before and was intrigued by the idea. As someone who loves to travel, I’ve considered the digital nomad life from time to time.

The thing I love about Andrea is how honest she is. All her photos tell a real story and many are not perfect (since no one is perfect). I’ve definitely learned a lot from following her and watching her stories. And she has influenced me to try to be more “real” when I post to Instagram. So thank you for that Andrea! Hence I figured she would be a very interesting woman to add to this little Wednesday series! Enjoy!

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Women around the World: Danielle from Atlanta

Danielle from Atanta

This week, we are featuring Danielle from Sparkling Southerner. She is a fashion blogger living in Atlanta. She is someone who I have been following on Instagram for a few years now, so naturally I reached out to her for this Q&A series. She always seems to find the most colorful walls to take photos in front of. In fact when I think of her blog, I think of lots of colors.

Her style is southern with a twist. Enjoy the Q&A!

Name, age, where you are from and where you live now

Danielle Buchanan
24 years old
I’m from Atlanta and still live there now.

Where did the name Sparkling Southerner come from?

My blog was first called something like confetti, glitter and fabulousness. I honestly cannot even remember the name! I changed it because it was firstly a super long name and it just didn’t feel right. I played around with some other names and came up with sparkling Southerner. I really wanted to encompass my love for sparkly things as well as southern style. My take on southern style is a little different than the traditional definition and so I kind of stated that this blog is based on southern style with a twist.
Danielle from Atlanta

How would you describe your personal style?

My style is like I said southern with a twist. I wear a lot of bright colors and patterns but most of everything I wear is pretty classic and somewhat conservative style wise which falls more with the traditional definition of southern style. Nothing too revealing or short.

How do you spend your days?

I am a clinical research coordinator for multiple myeloma clinical trials at emory university. I work there full time so I only have time to do my blog after work or on the weekends.
Danielle from Atlanta

How do you balance work and blogging?

I am hoping to become more consistent with the blog itself. I currently am only really updating Instagram daily. I am just a little overwhelmed with working full time. I am hoping to get blog posts up and running again soon. I mainly get content ready on the weekends or after work if I am not too tired.
After that I want to make more relatable post for readers. How to style different items or something along the lines of 5 ways to wear a blazer or maxi skirt.

What advice would you give to people looking to start a blog?

I think advice I would give would be you have to stay focused and disciplined. I have gotten away from the blog and more to Instagram which shouldn’t have happened I need to get back to doing both equally. Also to not get frustrated. It takes a long time to build a following. I don’t even have a huge following and I just keep doing posts that are fun. Also do not compare yourself to other bloggers. You just have to find your own niche and go with it! Even if you need inspiration that’s fine but don’t get bogged down by them having 40K followings on Instagram or a huge site view total. You have to make it fun and become your own business!
Danielle from Atlanta

What are some lesser-known places to visit in Atlanta?

People definitely need to check out Krog street market. It’s overshadowed by ponce city market because its smaller and somewhat hidden. Also Bon ton boil house has fun drinks and the building is pink!

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Danielle from Atlanta

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Fall in Granada

fall in Granada

Every single year, the coming of fall has signified a change. As a child, it meant that I was one grade older. New classmates, a new teacher, new school supplies and new clothing. In university, it meant the same thing in addition to a new place to live. Perhaps new roommates and a new class schedule. Getting settled into my dorm or apartment was always an exciting process.

For many of us, these changes stopped when we entered the working world. After all, most careers do not necessarily follow this same schedule of a renewed fall. I imagine that for most, the fall just feels the same. You might notice the leaves falling and the fact that Starbucks now serves a Pumpkin Spice latte. However my life from age 22-30 has looked a tad different than someone who perhaps found a 9-5 job and worked it for the next 5-10 years. It has always seemed that the fall continues to mean change. It was during August/September that I had to return home from Nicaragua to be with my mother in the hospital (you can read that post here). It was also around this time last year that I moved from the United States to Spain.

fall in Granada

Fall in Granada

This fall begins my second year in Granada, Spain. Ah fall in Granada. This year, however, feels quite different. Last year I arrived in Granada on September 23rd. I had very specific goals for what I wanted my life to look like in Spain. The biggest and most important goal was to surround myself in the culture. Bettering my Spanish was a big goal of mine and it still continues to be. After all, I’m so lucky to live in Spanish-speaking country for two years. Spanish is the second most spoken language in the United States, so I want to take every opportunity I can to practice and better it. I also am a huge extrovert, so it’s important for me to be able to connect with the locals. In the South of Spain, Spanish is essential to do this.

However more than anything, my goal was immersion. It can be so easy to just stick with people from your culture when living abroad. I remember I first noticed this in university. My school had a lot of students from India and they always seemed to spend time together. I remember thinking “they have traveled halfway around the world to attend college in the United States and yet they just make friends with people from their own culture?” Fast forward about 8 years to the month I spent in Matagalpa, Nicaragua. I did the exact same thing. All my friends that I made in Nicaragua were either American or Scottish.

From my experience in Nicaragua, I knew it was super easy to just stick with people from my own culture or who spoke my native language. As a social person, I knew I had to really be conscious of this and work against it. So the first thing I knew I could do to work in the direction of immersion was to find Spanish roommates. Would it have been easier to live with other English teachers? I’m sure. Would it have taken less than a week? Potentially. Would it saved me from crying in the corner of a cafe one afternoon? Honestly, who knows. The overseas life can be tough in general. At the time, my piso hunt felt like the worst. Now I look back and laugh. You can read all about it here.

fall in Granada

fall in Granada

This fall in Granada has been quite different. September started with escaping a not so good aupair experience in the Czech Republic. It meant arriving to Granada on a Friday morning broke, tired but ready to get back into the routine. I was alone in my new piso as my roommate had yet to arrive. The peace and quiet was exactly what I needed.

I started back to my old routine a bit. I began teaching private English lessons with some old and new families. I caught up on sleep. I drank a lot of coffee and I just breathed. I cooked dinner for myself and enjoyed the nice weather. I escaped to the beach in Malaga one Sunday and I watched the sunset over Granada. I counted my blessings. And I started a new online tutoring job … one the really values my time.

fall in Granada

fall in Granada

Putting the energy out there

I believe that you receive what you put out into the world. After a rather tainted summer, I wanted to get back into the essence of who I was. I’m someone who is super extroverted and also highly sensitive. It means that I enjoy bringing everyone together and making everyone feel included. It means I likely overthink things. It also means that I sometimes have a lot of feelings and say ugly things as I am also an extrovert. I’m really and truly trying to work on that last one.

I had extra space to sleep two extra people, so I decided to open my home up to other English teachers in my program who were looking for housing. Basically, I invited them to stay with me while they looked at flats. I simply made a post in our Facebook group and had a few ladies take me up on my offer. Since it often takes about a week, the costs of a hotel, hostel or Airbnb can really add up. I was happy to host and to have the company. One of the other girls in my program joked that it was like I was running a hostel. Sort of. However only three girls total stayed with me, so you can hardly consider it a full hostel.

One of the girls who stayed with me is Amy from North Carolina. Like me, she was also an auxiliar last year. Also like me, she is not fresh out of university and had a career before moving to Spain to teach. It was really great to host her and get to know her better.

She wanted to practice photography and I always need blog photos, so we went outside one morning and shot these. She really did a great job. Thanks Amy!

fall in Granada

Welcome fall, welcome change

This dress is actually a year old and was bought here in Spain. I feel like it’s a perfect symbol for fall in Granada. Fall is when everything is new again. This year change means a new piso, a new roommate (still a Spanish one … duh) and a room with a larger bed. It means meeting lots of new faces. This means working in two new schools in the city center of Granada. It means walking to work rather than meeting teachers to carpool three mornings a week.

As I look out onto the horizon of this school year, I realize that I love Spain so much. This is exactly where I want to be. This year my goals are still the same as last year. I still want to practice as much Spanish as much as I can and meet lots of new people. However this year, we can add saving money to the list. I will be more diligent about saving what I earn rather than just spending it here and there. I will do what is free over what costs money. Will I still travel? Of course! Just not every weekend. After all, living in Granada means actually living my life in the city.

My other big goal for this year is to take this blog to the next level. My plans are to develop and e-course and make my blog something that would support my life here in Spain. My plans are to continue to make connections with other bloggers, travel companies and brands. If we can all work together, we can all mutually benefit.

fall in Granada

The road less traveled

One of the things my mother always told me was that I have always been super independent. I also always believe that there is another way. The fact is, finding a way to stay in Spain or in the European Union in general when you hold a passport from outside of the EU is not easy. It’s like people immigrating to the United States (although I think my country makes it much harder for immigrants than Spain would make it for me).

However I am determined to work and find a way to stay not only in Spain, but in Granada specifically. Like here is the best and to be honest, I just want to stay.

So over this next year, I will be working my behind off to make my dreams a reality. I hope you’ll follow along. Feel free to download my e-book here. It’s all about my journey to moving overseas to Spain.

What does fall mean for you? Does it signify change for you as well?

Today I’m linking up here.

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fall in Granada

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5 perfect fall dresses

perfect fall dresses

Fall is just around the corner and I cannot wait. I love when the weather gets a tad more chilly and I can begin to bust out some warmer clothing. As someone who wears dresses all year round, I love fall dresses. Gamiss, an international online retailer I just discovered, has lots of perfect fall dresses. These are the dresses that are on my wish list for the fall.

1. The plaid dress

According to Elle.com, plaid is super in this year. However it’s not the grungy plaid that we typically think of. Instead this is the bright plaid that has been inspired by the 1970’s. Here are just a few plaid dresses that I love.

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Women around the World: Lindsey in Argentina

Lindsey in Argentina

Welcome to another Women around the World Wednesday. This week, we feature another lady living the expat life. I suppose since I myself am an expat, I find the stories of other expats to be very interesting. Not everyone just decides to move to a different country for a period of time. So I’m always fascinated to find others who have done similar things to me.

Lindsey is the blogger behind Have Clothes Will Travel. She’s an American who lives in Rosario, Argentina. While I have never been to Argentina, I have always been fascinated with the culture. I’m not going to lie … the thought of looking into English teaching jobs down there at some point has crossed my mind. After all, I already speak fluent Spanish having lived in Spain and worked a bilingual job in the US. So I was curious as to what the expat live down there is like.

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3 Bohemian Czech towns in two days

Bohemian Czech towns

There are so many great Czech Bohemian towns to explore. There is way more to see in the Czech Republic than Prague. It can be hard to just pick a few. A little over a month ago, I spent some time exploring Ceske Budejovice, Cesky Krumlov and Hluboká.

This particular trip was awesome because I met up blogger friend Kristin from Countdown to Friday. I feel like within this blogging world, we meet a lot of cool people via the Internet. There’s this culture of supporting one another. I absolutely love it! I had met Kristin from the fashion blogger community maybe about six months ago. We both collaborated with blogger Ada from Elegance and Mommyhood on a Winter Wedding collaboration last January. So I met Kristin this way and from time to time, we chat about blog stuff. I also featured her twice: once in my expat series and once on Women around the World.

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Women around the World: Annika in Toronto

Annika in Toronto

Welcome again to our weekly series Women around the World. This is the second Canadian lady we are featuring in the series (the first being Maria from Short Girl Long Jacket). This time, however, we are on the opposite side of Canada. We are over on the Eastern side in the bustling city of Toronto.

Everyone, meet Annika. I got connected with Annika through a friend of mine who also lives in Toronto. She knew that we were both bloggers and figured that we should know each other. So via the internet, we were introduced. I absolutely loved her style and her Instagram feed in general, so I figured she would be perfect for this series. 

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Why I wanted to start a travel blog

start a travel blog

As we settle into the middle of September, I find myself reflecting on where I was two years ago at this time. September has always been a season of change for me. However the changes that that particular summer had brought were vastly different than anything I had experienced before. My mother had suffered a brain aneurysm at the beginning of August and was in the hospital. I had flown home from Nicaragua, where I was supposed to be living for that next year, to be with her. My days were spent visiting her and processing what was going on.

I needed something in this time in my life. I needed something to focus my energies. I have always found a lot of healing in creative endeavors, so I decided to start a travel blog. Except life in that moment did not really allow for travel, so I decided to start my blog with a bit of a different focus.

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The Ultimate Guide To Buying A Michigan Bridal Wedding Dress

Michigan Bridal Wedding Dress

Searching for the perfect wedding dress in Michigan is not a simple task. It is common to see brides stressing out a few weeks before their big day because they do not seem to find their perfect dress. A dress searching quest could be very stressful, and you need to press on until you find your perfect pick. Weddings are a once in a lifetime affair for most people, and there is a lot of pressure to get the right dress. Here is a guide that will help you get the perfect wedding dress for your big day.

Prerequisites

There are several things you need to establish before you even start looking for a wedding dress. First of all, think about your day. Are you having a beach wedding, informal wedding, formal ballroom wedding, outdoor ceremony or a traditional marriage? For more information on official wedding venues visit Townsend Wedding Venues. Your wedding theme and style significantly affects the kind of dress you can buy. Consider your body shape and preferences as well. It is important to do some research before you hit the streets. Pinterest and online magazines are great options for this as they have several dresses that will help you get a picture of what you want. You should also be realistic with your choices as a dress that looks good on another person’s body won’t necessarily look good on you.

Michigan Bridal Wedding Dress

Start Early

Never be deceived by the notion that wedding dresses are available and you will just go and pick one in a boutique near you. Start looking for a dress early enough so that you have ample time to deal with the possible frustrations associated with this quest. Normally, it is good to start shopping for a gown nine to twelve months before the wedding day. This gives you enough time to deal with alterations and delivery issues that might jeopardize the marriage if you do not have enough time.

Where Are You Shopping From?

Before you begin booking appointments at bridal salons, ensure you are dealing with reputable entities. Do some homework and check their ratings, reviews and customer testimonials. It’s nice to find out the number of years they have been operating and the qualifications of the consultants working there. A diligent advisor should know all the designers making wedding dresses and the fabrics, design details and silhouettes associated with each brand. Such professionals will help you get your desired pick as they are experienced and know the most suitable dress for the different customer needs.

Price

Before you set out to find a suitable wedding dress in Michigan, have a budget. A budget will reduce your options and give you a simpler time selecting a particular dress. When you visit a boutique, start by telling the consultant working there your projected budget. This will save you time and allow you to focus on the ones you can afford. However, be sure to find out the average price of a wedding dress in Michigan before fixing a budget. You could see this information by asking your peers who are married about the money they paid for their wedding dress. This is vital in ensuring you do not set a minimal budget that will limit the number of suitable dresses you can buy.

Still, under the price, find out the things included in the price before buying any gown. Some clothes may require alterations, and you need to budget for them as well. Some boutiques include possible changes in the overall price while others charge a specific amount depending on the work done on the dress. These are things that affect the price of the dress, and you should look into them.

Payment policy and Delivery Time

Always ask about the payment terms and delivery time before buying a dress. Most boutiques in Michigan will ask you to pay half the price of the dress as deposit and complete the payment once the dress arrives from the designer. Stores have different cancellation policies, and you should be aware of those terms as you never know what might happen between the day you pay the deposit and the wedding day.

Finding a wedding dress is a challenging task that requires patience and shrewdness. Never carry an entourage when visiting a boutique as all their opinions will just confuse you more. Go with a few friends you trust and once you find a dress, stop looking. Continuing to will start giving you second thoughts, and you will start regretting why you picked a particular dress and not another one.

Today we are linking up here.

This was a guest post. This was also sponsored.

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