A Lisbon street art tour

Lisbon street art tour

“And after this, were headed to the ghetto,” said our tour guide from the driver seat of our 8-passenger van that was taking us all over Lisbon, Portugal.

We all kind of laughed.

“That sounded like more of a nervous or scared laugh,” he responded.

Well the truth was when I heard Lisbon street art tour, I envisioned looking at cool murals in those cute Lisbon streets that the little trollies drive on. And while the tour started out in more of the downtown or classic streets of Libson, where we spent the majority of our time was a neighborhood none of us would have sought out on our own. And I loved that.

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Why I stopped counting countries

Affordable getaway to the Azores

We all know that person. Heck you might be that person and I’m totally not here to bash you at all. You have a count in your head of the countries you’ve traveled to and the number is something between 25-40. And that is truly awesome. However this past year after visiting Portugal for the second time and the UK for the forth, I realized that I stopped counting countries. And I am completely happy with that.

Here is why I have stopped counting countries and started counting experiences.

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A day trip to Toledo

day trip to Toledo

While I love the excitement of arriving at the airport, going through security (total sarcasm here) and boarding my flight to some exciting destination, I also love the fun of a simple day trip. There are so many places that we can explore within a 1-3 hour drive of us, wherever we are. I love taking day trips and where I live in Spain, there are so many!

Over Semana Santa, I traveled in Ireland and England for a little bit. On my way back home, I found cheaper airfare into Madrid. Since I’ve already been to Madrid several times, I decided to take a day trip to Toledo. Toledo is a perfect day trip from Madrid as it’s a one-hour away. And it’s also a city that you do not want to miss. It’s full of so much history and things to see. And the architecture is very unique.

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Exploring old Granada in a dress

exploring old Granada

Last weekend, I spent the day exploring old Granada. For those of you who do not know, I live in Granada, Spain. I’m an American and I moved there to teach English. And I must say, I absolutely love it in Granada. Some days I catch myself taking it for granted. Then I walk to meet a friend for a coffee and am stunned by my surroundings. I live in one of the prettiest cities in all of Spain. It is simply amazing.

Last weekend, I teamed up with a friend of mine in Granada who volunteered to do my hair, makeup and take my photos (thanks Kat!). Friends like that are the best! Kat lives in the historic area of Calle Elvira.

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4 Reasons Why Andorra has my heart

why Andorra

Why Andorra? Okay so you’re either asking me why or what as you start reading this. If you’re asking what, Andorra is a tiny country sandwiched between Spain and France in the Pyrenees Mountains. Nothing crazy ever happens there that would make national news and it is often left off of world maps. And I’ll admit, I really only learned about the country 4-5 years ago. And ever since, I’ve been fascinated.

So Nina, tell me more!

Oh I’m so glad you asked. Andorra is actually a principality and the only country where Catalan is the official language (Catalan is also spoken in parts of Spain, parts of France and one community in Italy. It is very similar to Spanish but is considered it’s own language. Think like Spanish and Italian … both different languages that share a lot of similarities). However Spanish and French are also widely spoken, as well as some English. I spoke Spanish my entire time there because I figured most people were more likely to be comfortable in Spanish over English (and because I hate being “that” American who asks for English everywhere).

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Sant Jordi: a social Barcelona hostel

Several weeks ago, I found myself with just a night in Barcelona. The next day I was headed to Andorra, so I reserved myself a room in a hostel for the night. Little did I know that this hostel would be among one of my favorites. If you’re looking for a social Barcelona hostel (and Barcelona is a great place to make new traveler friends), then look no further.social Barcelona hostel

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7 free things to see in Glasgow

free things Glasgow

I was very fortunate to spend several days in Glasgow, Scotland a few weeks ago. While it was very cold, I managed to find a good amount of things to do that cost me nothing. When traveling, I do believe that you can save money. Luckily in Scotland, many of the historical sites are free to the public. I spent my three days there touring the city this way. So without further ado, here are 7 free things to see in Glasgow, Scotland.

7. The Glasgow Necropolis

The Glasgow Necropolis sits up on a hill just above the Glasgow Cathedral. From here, you get some of the best views of the entire city. What’s a Necropolis? It’s a Victorian-era garden cemetery. I don’t know about you, but for me, there’s always something neat and calming about wandering through a cemetery.

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My farewell to the sundress in Ibiza

sundress in Ibiza

Ah Ibiza. A little over a month ago, I was wearing my sundress in Ibiza. The weather was absolutely perfect. Now I sit in my apartment in Granada and it is quite cold outside! Winter has arrived in Spain! And while winter here will be way more mild than what I am used to in the United States, winter is here nonetheless. I am for sure excited to wear lots of boots and tights with my dresses. However I will miss all my sundresses. They are comfortable and easy to wear. This one is one of my favorites.

When I was in Ibiza with my friend Shola, we thought this made for a lovely backdrop. I am a big fan of green, after all. If you wish to read more on my Ibiza adventures, you can check them out here and here.

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5 tips to avoid the English bubble overseas


In summer 2015, I spent about a month in Nicaragua. I was supposed to be there for a year, but had to return to the United States for some personal things with my family (a story for another time). However when I was there, I was in the mindset of living there. I made a nice group of about 3-4 friends … and they all spoke English. I remember about 3-4 weeks in stopping and thinking about it. What the heck? Why did I move to an entirely different country only to make friends who are either from my country or speak my language as their first language. I had three Americans and one Scottish girl in my group. And while I still consider all of these ladies friends to this day, I knew I didn’t want to end up in the same situation in Spain.

Upon moving to Granada, Spain, my biggest goal was to immerse myself in the culture as much as possible. Practicing my Spanish was a big one, although I came here with a pretty high intermediate level (which has honestly made immersion easier). Moreover, I’m in Spain to learn about Spain. I have plenty of English speaking friends in the United States and frankly, I didn’t need a big heaping group here.

The English bubble, as I like to call it, is so easy to fall into as an expat, especially if you live in a large city. In Granada, we have something like 80-100 or more auxiliaries (other English teachers in my program). Plus we have lots of English academies that employ British and Irish teachers, and we have a university that draws expats. Basically if I wanted to, I could fill my entire circle English speakers. And while I do not think people move to a foreign country specifically to do that, many end up in this trap. After all, it’s comfortable to stay with people from your culture. You can speak your language and they get you. And you see this all over the world in different expat communities. And if this is where you are and you like it, I’m not knocking it at all. I just knew that for me, I wanted to meet and befriend more Spaniards than Americans this year. If you too would like that from your overseas experience, here are my tips.

5. Make friends with Americans who don’t live in your town

So I might have slightly lied. I have American friends who live in Spain. In fact, we are all a part of a group chat together. I love technology. This summer, I joined several Facebook groups for my program. I met and befriended different people. One of my closest new friends is a girl named Shola who lives in a town an hour or two north of me. We’ve become travel buddies and chat all the time on WhatsApp. And if she lived in Granada, I’m sure we’d hang out all the time. Which sounds like fun, but we’d never practice Spanish together if we did this.

avoid English-speakers overseas

Here are some of the ladies in said group chat. This was from that olive oil tour we went on (wrote about it here). Everyone in this picture lives at least an hour from one another. And it’s great.

When they visited this weekend, we were those Americans all together and speaking loudly. It was fun and relaxing. And it was also something I knew I didn’t come to Spain to experience every single weekend.

4. Go to intercambios

If you live in a larger city, there are tons of intercambios. What is an intercambio? I’m glad you asked! An intercambio is a weekly event where you can practice languages. They are usually held at bars and are pretty relaxed. Spaniards come wanting to practice their English and English speakers come wanting to practice Spanish. Often times connections are formed and people decide to hang out outside of the intercambio for further practice. It’s a fantastic way to meet some nice locals.

I’m in a Facebook group called Granada language exchange and meeting events. I’m sure if you look on Facebook or Google it, you can find lots for wherever you are.

3. Make a few English speaking friends in your town … y ya esta.

So again, I do have a few. But literally like three. When in a foreign country, it is nice to have some people right there with you would you can complain about crap with. Your friends for home don’t get it and your Spanish friends don’t either. So it’s good to have a few.

And then you can invite them out with your Spanish friends and it’s not awkward because you don’t have like 20 people (flashbacks to freshman year of college and hanging out with your dorm floor all the time).

avoid English-speakers overseas

Here my American friend Cassie and I are with some new friends on Halloween. She’s the one in from in white. She later joked that this is the one and only time she’ll ever be a giant. I’m in the back looking a bit …

2. Live with Spaniards

It took me a week to find my piso and crying was involved. I came to Granada at a time when everyone was looking. It was like we were all vying for the same spots. And sure, I could have found a nice English-speaker or two to go find a place with. But I held out. I knew that my level of Spanish could only go up if I lived with Spaniards. And lo and behold, I found these lovely people to live with. This photo is them mixed in with my American friends when they came to visit. We made them American breakfast.

avoid English-speakers overseas

1. Find a Spanish novio

Kidding but not.

 

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An olive oil tour in Granada, Spain

Olive oil tour in Granada

An olive oil tour in Granada, Spain is the perfect way to spend a girls weekend! This past weekend, I saw a new side of Granada with three of my fellow English teachers who live in different parts of Andalusia. For those of you who are first timers to A World of Dresses, I’m an American girl who now teaches English in Granada, Spain. Granada is a nice city in the South known for free tapas (with the order of a drink), the Alhambra and the beautiful architecture. That is the city that I live in. However Granada is also a province with many cute towns and lots of olive trees. My fellow English teacher friend Sharifa organised a little outing for us and I could not say no. I’ve always loved olive oil and olives.

Through an online search, she found Olive Oil Tour in Granada. The tour includes a bit of history and a bit of tasting. And for a little extra, you can sample some Spanish wines and eat tapas.

Part 1

The tour starts out in Granada. They will arrange to pick you up somewhere central in the city. There were four of us Americans on the tour and a family of three New Zealanders. The tour was led by a nice French woman and she gave it in English. According to the website, the tour can be given in English, Spanish and French.

From Granada, we drove outside of the city for about 30 minutes. Our destination was the lovely town of Niguelas, Spain. However we first stopped to take a look at the olives and the view.

Olive oil tour in Granada, Spain Olive oil tour in Granada, Spain Olive oil tour in Granada, Spain Olive oil tour in Granada, Spain

Tasting a bitter olive

So has anyone attempted to taste an olive right off the tree? Apparently they taste horrible. What we eat is after it has been cleaned and prepped. However she opened it up for us to try. Sharifa stepped up to the plate. She said it was way more awful tasting than she had thought.

Olive oil tour in Granada, Spain Olive oil tour in Granada, Spain

So pro-tip if you find yourself in the countryside of Southern Spain: don’t just go grabbing olives off of olive trees.

The olives and the people

Many Spaniard families in this area have a group of olive trees that have been passed down through the generations. A plot of maybe 20-30 is sufficient. Here is an example. They are watered through and old but efficient irrigation system.

Olive oil tour in Granada, Spain

Olive oil tour in Granada, Spain Olive oil tour in Granada, Spain Olive oil tour in Granada, Spain

Olive oil tour in Granada, Spain

The xv century oil mill

Next, we all piled back into the van and drove into the town of Niguelas. I just love little Spanish towns. They are so cute and so different from the bustling city life. Once in the town, we parked and walked over to the old mill where they use to make the olives and olive oil up until the 1920’s. It’s so neat being around things and spaces that were used long ago.

Here is where they separated the olives by family.

Olive oil tour in Granada, Spain Olive oil tour in Granada, Spain

Then we walked inside where they’re created a small museum. We got to see how the oil was broken down and processed many years ago. They would use these huge stones and would work for many hours. They even had a few beds for when people wanted a quick siesta.

Olive oil tour in Granada, Spain Olive oil tour in Granada, Spain Olive oil tour in Granada, Spain Olive oil tour in Granada, Spain Olive oil tour in Granada, Spain Olive oil tour in Granada, Spain Olive oil tour in Granada, Spain

Olive oil tour in Granada, Spain Olive oil tour in Granada, Spain Olive oil tour in Granada, Spain

It was neat to see what they used so long ago and just imagine life in the mill. I’m sure it was such hard work.

Time to eat and drink

Olive oil tour in Granada, Spain

This part may have been my favorite. I love any opportunity to eat and drink. I was especially excited for some olives and may have eaten a few too many black olives.

The tasting was guided. Each participant had a placemat and little cups of olive oil numbered 1-5.

Olive oil tour in Granada, Spain Olive oil tour in Granada, Spain

Olive oil tour in Granada, Spain Olive oil tour in Granada, Spain

We each got a few gifts to take home. I’m excited to try my olive oil. They also had various wines, olive oils and other olive-based products available for purchase.

Overall, the wine tour was a fun experience. If you are in Granada for a bit, it’s a neat way to see a different part of the region. Oh and I snapped a few photos of the town on the way out.

Olive oil tour in Granada, Spain Olive oil tour in Granada, Spain Olive oil tour in Granada, Spain

Did you know about Spain’s history with olive oil? Did you know that olive oil in Spain was such a big deal? What do you normally eat olive oil with?

Oh and if you find yourself in Granada, Spain, here are the details of the tour:

Name: Olive Oil Tour in Granada, Spain

Duration: About three hours

Cost: 38 euros a person and an extra 15 euros if you want to taste the wines

Languages: available in English, Spanish and French

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