Spain

Luis and I got married on May 28, 2016, instead of going on a honeymoon immediately after, we decided to wait a couple of months, regroup, sleep and then go on an adventure. Luis and I decided on Spain. We agreed that I would concentrate on getting our wedding together and that Luis would plan our honeymoon. When it comes to transportation and logistics, Luis is so much better at that stuff. I’m better at DIY, decorating, creating and operations.

Luis planned an awesome honeymoon. We had to get passports, as my name had changed and we were told to go to the UT at their International Office to obtain our passports. Y’all… we received our passports in 10 days! So for anyone looking to renew or obtain a passport, go to UT International Office. Before we left, Luis printed all sorts of information. Each of us had a fold full of itineraries, bus/train tickets, museum, food TOUR, soccer tickets… EVERYTHING.

We left Austin about 6 pm and flew straight to London, which was perfect because it was night time for us and I slept most of the flight. We then flew from London to Barcelona. Instead of staying at hotels, we decided we really wanted to live like Spaniards, so we booked Airbnb’s so we could meet locals… well except for one place (that will come later). Reality quickly hit that we were no longer in the US when we got to our first Airbnb in Barcelona and had to go to the 9th floor, without an elevator. We then discovered that there wasn’t any air conditioning AND the toilet was located outside of the apartment in this modern outhouse structure. We found out later this building was built in the 1700s… of course, there wasn’t air conditioning or an elevator! The coolest thing about the apartment was that you could lean outside the bedroom window and y could see the Barcelona Cathedral.

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Water fountain at the Cathedral de Barcelona

On our first day, we spent the afternoon at the Barcelona Cathedral and went to the Mercado Boqueria. There were tonnnnnns of different foods. We walked around Barcelona and tried to get acquainted with the time change. The next morning we got up early and had tickets to go to La Sagrada Familia, the worlds largest unfinished Roman Catholic church. The construction of this church started in 1882, and it is still not complete. If you took Spanish in middle or high school, chances are you saw a photo of this church. It was very moving to be here. We chose the tower tour option where we could tour one of the bell towers. We took an elevator up and then we walked the stairs down. These hallways/stairs were tiny but so cool. The stained glass in the church was so gorgeous, and we went at the right time because as we were finishing our tour, the sunlight was bursting through the windows and lit up the church in all these pretty rainbow colors. We did a little more exploring before jet lag set in, and we took a nap… well I ended up taking almost a 4-hour nap. I was SO tired.

That afternoon we had tickets to go to a soccer match, which happened to be Luis’ favorite team: Barcelona. Luis loves soccer, and he got me interested as well. We were so happy that they were playing at home while we were there. It was so surreal. First off, you can smoke in the stadium. People were smoking everywhere. Also, when you bought your drinks at the concession stand, the cashiers kept the lids on the bottles because people would throw them on the field. Also, you can bring your own snacks into the stadium… America needs to wise up on this. During halftime, everyone was chowing down on their bocadillos (sandwiches).  Barca won the match, 5-0. Luis was like a kid in a candy store at the stadium. The next day we explored more of the city, as it was our last day in Barcelona. We spent time at Barceloneta, the beach that everyone hangs out at. I didn’t bring my camera to a lot of places in Barcelona because of the crime rate. I didn’t want my bag, wallet, passport, or camera stolen, so I left most of those things at the Airbnb while we explored.

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Sun glowing through the stained glass at La Sagrada Familia

Our next destination was Bilbao, where we spent a day there. We had tickets to go to the Guggenheim Museum. We were supposed to stay at an Airbnb, but it fell through, and we were able to get a hotel right by. I was actually kind of excited about this. I was having a rough time, and I enjoyed one night in a hotel bed…. with air conditioning. We happened to be visiting during their Semana Grande de Bilbao where they have a huge festival with music, art, theater, fireworks. We found this out while we were in the hotel and saw/heard the fireworks from our hotel window. Luis also had the best pizza of his life in Bilbao, called Coppola Bilbao. I remember they had this focaccia type bread that I ate 10 pieces of. Bilbao was a beautiful city.

The next morning we took a bus from Bilbao to San Sebastian. The bus ride was one of the highlights of my trip. We got to see the Spanish countryside, and it was a very windy road. Luis didn’t like it and was on the verge of car sickness the entire time. Part of the road reminded me of my time in California because you had the mountains on one side and the beach on the other. I seriously contemplated asking Luis if we wanted to sell all of our belongings and move to one of these tiny towns in Spain. San Sebastian was probably my favorite place in Spain. We were three blocks from the Bay of Biscay/Beach of La Concha. We took a ferry to Santa Clara Island. The water and air were so refreshing and crisp. We spent some time at the beach and in the water. The sand was really smooth as well. It was spectacular. We were only in San Sebastian for a night, and we took a train the next morning to Madrid.

In Madrid, we did A LOT of exploring. It was also Luis’ birthday, and we had his birthday dinner at Restaurante Botin, the oldest restaurant in the world. What a cool way to celebrate a birthday? We also did a food tour of Madrid where we got to try Jamon Iberico. It’s ham where the pigs only eat acorns. It tastes so buttery, and it is costly. My absolute favorite thing about Spain was going to Chocolateria San Gines for churros. Like, my life. Our Airbnb was 4 blocks from this place. I visited every day, most days twice a day. Typically, the churros are for breakfast for Spaniards, but in America, they are more of a dessert. They.are.life. The chocolate was so smooth, and the churros were crunchy and not heavy. I may have shed a tear or two after leaving on our last day in Madrid.

During our stay in Madrid, we took a day trip to Segovia. We walked through the town, and I absolutely loved the scenery. Segovia is well known for Alcazar de Segovia, or the Segovia Castle. It was built in the 1100’s… that’s right, ELEVEN hundred. It also inspired Cinderella’s Castle. I really enjoyed exploring this castle. We also spent some time looking at the Segovia Aqueduct, which was built during the second half of the 1st century. Luis and I said over and over while visiting historical places in Spain that it’s insane to think about these buildings being built centuries ago and we are used to American history only starting in 1776. We definitely took a step back and appreciated all the architecture and historical places we got to see in Spain.

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Alcazar de Segovia

On one of our last days in Madrid, we went to watch Real Madrid play at Santiago Bernabeu stadium. I love Real Madrid (#halamadrid), my favorite soccer player is Sergio Ramos. Real won the match and so we were happy both of our teams won when we watched them in person. Funny story, the lady behind us smoked at least a pack and a half of cigarettes during the game. We found that super funny because the game was pretty stressful.

We left Madrid and took a train to Sevilla. Sevilla is a gorgeous city. It is super chill, clean and really laid back. We walked around the Metropol Parasol. It’s this massive structure that is completely made out of wood. It is inspired by the Cathedral de Seville. The next morning we woke up super early and traveled to Granada to spend the day touring Alhambra and the city of Granada. Alhambra was constructed in 889 AD, then renovated by the mid 13th century. The gorgeous grounds were mesmerizing, and I got a little distracted by the cats that were roaming around! We were on a guided tour, and it was fascinating hearing about the history of Granada and the churches that used to be mosques. The trip took most of the day, but that night after we got back, we went to a flamenco show. I LOVED the flamenco show, the dancing, snapping, stomping, everything about it! It was such a cool experience.

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Metropol Parasol

The next morning was spent walking around Seville and exploring. I had the best gelato for breakfast.. yup breakfast. DID.NOT.CARE. Haha. It came on a waffle so totally makes sense. We toured the Cathedral de Seville and saw the tomb of Christopher Columbus. Regardless of your stance on Christopher Columbus and his “founding of America,” I found it extremely intriguing and I got a little emotional while there. I’m a West Texas kid from a no-name town, never in a million years did I ever think I would ever be in Spain seeing the tomb that contains the remains of a person that had a significant impact on the country I live in. It was a really cool experience I’ll never forget. Also, the sangria we had in Seville was my favorite, I haven’t had anything come close since Spain. I crave it often.

That afternoon we took a train to Valencia, as it was our last stop before we traveled back to Barcelona to come back to Texas. When Luis originally started researching Spain, he came across an event called La Tomatina. It takes place the last Wednesday in August in this tiny town outside of Valencia called Bunol. It is the world’s largest tomato fight. We had to get to the buses at 6 am, and people were already partying and having a good time. The buses drove us from Valencia to Bunol. We got there around 730-8ish, and they had trash cans full of Sangria. Madness before it even began. There were 20,000 people attending this festival. You walked down into this tiny downtown area, and people lined the streets.

Then the madness started. Garbage trucks came down the street and threw thousands of pounds of tomatoes for people to throw at each other. It was the most chaotic thing I’ve ever done in my life. I had tomato juice in every nook and cranny of my body.  This lasted for about an hour. Again, I’ve never experienced anything so chaotic in my life. There were nearby houses where you paid them a couple of euros, and they took their water hose and washed as much of the tomato gunk out as they could. My clothes were ruined, I couldn’t stand the smell of tomatoes for months. I have serious PTSD thinking about that experience. Luis wants to go back and do it again. I have zero interest, I would have loved to be on the rooftop taking photos. Maybe I’ll become cool enough to be a travel photographer.

After we survived and took hour-long showers to get the tomato seeds out of our hair, Luis made a reservation at a local eatery that specialized in paella. Man, it was delicious! The rice was so crispy, and the flavor was perfect. We ordered the chicken and rabbit paella. So good! What I loved about most of our time in Spain is that we walked almost everywhere. We didn’t spend a lot of time in taxi’s or cars.

The next morning we had breakfast at this cute little pastry shop, I wish I could remember the name, they had the best croissants. I had the Nutella croissant. It was so good I ordered another one. It was so buttery and flaky. Their orange juice was killer!  They also had coffee that Luis said was really good. After breakfast, we headed to the City of Arts and Sciences Museum. We didn’t have a lot of time to explore because we needed to catch our train back to Barcelona. I wish we had more time here as well. Our last stop was at the city center, and we ate lunch at this little bistro across the plaza from Cathedral de Valencia. After lunch, we made our way to the train station and headed to Barcelona.

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Valencia City Centre

We got to Barcelona late that night and basically slept for a couple of hours and then we had to head to the airport to catch our flight to London. We then flew London to Austin and arrived back to Texas around 6 pm. What was the first thing that we did? We ate tacos. I missed Mexican food so much! Our trip to Spain was everything. We have so many memories and stories for the rest of our lives. I hope you enjoyed reading about our honeymoon and enjoy the photos below!

JCaro.

 

 

Espana sneak.

I took these photos almost a year and a half ago, but I never shared them with the world. I loved our trip to Spain. I had a hard time adjusting at times, but overall the experience changed my life. I will get into details later, however, let me just say Luis rocked it when it came to planning our honeymoon. Without his planning and research, we would have not been able to see as much of Spain as we did! I can’t wait to go back one day.

For now, enjoy a couple of photos. A full post coming soon!

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Taken at Al Alhambra in Granada

 

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Taken at Ciudad de las Artes y Ciencias in Valencia.

 

JCaro.

Rae.Dunn.

Hey Y’all.

I hope everyone is having a great Monday so far. I thought I would open the week with my new favorite hobby: Rae Dunn treasure hunting! If you haven’t heard of Rae Dunn, don’t worry, I heard about it a few months ago. It is a collection of dishes, bakeware, server ware, canisters, seasonal displays that is the rage of a lot of people around the US and beyond.

I initially heard about Rae Dunn through a Pinterest search months ago (yes, looking for farmhouse decor for the new house). At the time, I didn’t know the difficulty and lengths people go to get pieces. It all started with a flour canister on Pinterest. I saw it and was immediately wanting to find where I could purchase.

Fast forward to 3 hours later in the dark hole of the internet, I found a whole new obsession. See, these pieces are only available at TJ Maxx, HomeGoods, and Marshalls. They also are in such high demand with other people that they fly off the shelves within seconds of the store opening. There are hundreds of Facebook groups that show daily finds, trade/swap/sell other pieces for pieces people are “in search of,” trade insider tips, etc. There is a whole underground scene for this line of home decor! Who knew.

I decided to slowly move away from the internet and not get sucked in. I tried to get the image of the flour container out of my head. Promised Luis I wouldn’t buy anything before we moved into the new house. I tried, Y’all. I really did. Then, last week I just decided I’d go and look to see if I could find something in one of the stores. Y’all… I got sucked in. I hate to admit it, but I did. I found myself going multiple times last week “hunting” for pieces. I saw quite a few items, mainly dog bowls, and coffee mugs. I joined about 6 different Rae Dunn Facebook groups (the only reason I even look at FB now).

I met a couple of lovely women that gave me insider tips and store associates told me horror stories about the fights that happened that day. Not kidding Y’all, people will show up right at opening and clear the shelves. Unfortunately (and fortunately) I am not one of those people! Working 9am-6pm will keep me away from the craziness and most likely all the things I want to buy. What turned into a random Pinterest search has not turned into a new hobby. I really just want to find the few things I want for the house, I’m not interested in turning my whole house into a Rae Dunn shrine, but hunting for a few pieces to make our kitchen look extra farmhouse. 🙂

Here is a sample photo, taken from Liz Marie Blog, these are not mine!

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Doesn’t that look sooooo pretty?

 

Speaking of house, here is an updated photo of our house! Only a few more weeks! You read that right, WEEKS!

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I can’t wait to see the painted stucco and garage door! Luis and I forgot what color of paint we chose for the house so it will be a surprise for all of us! 🙂 Also, the stain of the wood. Haha! We started this process in May, so it’s been a few days!

 

Have a great Monday!

 

Jalys

ELEVEN DAYS!

I realize some of you have no idea what the title to this blog is referencing. It has been awhile, folks. From my last post to today, there have been some changes!

First, I no longer work for Texas Tech University. It was time to move on and seek a different place of employment. I have so many great memories and have met the most amazing students while working at Texas Tech. I love my school, and I will always cherish the adventures and great times working for Tech, however, after 4 years I was looking for something different. I currently work at Texas Exes, the official Ex-Students Association for The University of Texas. Yup, I’m working with the big dogs and burnt orange. It has been a different environment, but I can say that it is going well. I’ll always bleed Red and Black don’t you worry! I still get to have student interaction and work for a great organization that is creating excellent opportunities for incoming students. I’ll talk more about my position on a post later.

Second, 11 days. Ahhhh Eleven Days. ELEVEN DAYS until I become MRS. CARO! Luis and I will be getting married on May 28th. It seems like we were engaged forever ago, now 10 months later, we are about to become husband and wife. I remember the days where I cried, screamed, prayed and bargained with God to bring me a nice man that I can spend the rest of my life with. He definitely brought me a great one. Most of my favorite moments in my life have been spent with him. He’s the one I can’t wait to see when I come home and the one I love talking to about everything. We have been blessed to go on some fun adventures, see some really awesome music, see almost every sports Austin has to offer, and most importantly, get to know each other and who we are. We have built a bond and foundation to always try and keep trying to make our relationship great. We don’t always see eye to eye, but at the end of the day, we know we love each other, and we know we are both all in to make it work. So, in eleven days we will make this a permanent adventure. I.Can’t.Wait.

Third, is that we are getting married, we had to have some photos taken. That’s right, I finally had to be in front of the camera instead of behind it. NERVES. This was something I was dreading and putting off until the last minute. We chose a fantastic photographer names J.Masciana Photography. She’s been putting up with my difficult and annoying requests. Fun fact, she has the same degree (Photocommunications) as I have except she graduated from a school in California. Totally Random! That pretty much sealed the deal for me. She’s been so great to us. Below are some photos from our shoot. I will have to say after the shoot, I was a wreck, I didn’t want to see the photos. Then, she sent us the link to the photos, I ugly cried with how great they turned out. We are so in love with them. I could not have asked for better photos.

Fourth, Speaking of photos and adventures… We decided for our honeymoon that we are going to SPAIN! We are going to spend 2 weeks exploring Spain. That means TONS of photos. TONS. I am super excited that I will be able to take my camera and photograph, photograph, photograph, and photograph some more. Luis and I love traveling together, and of course, you guys know I love photographing! When I moved into Luis’s house a little over a year ago, he had it remodeled before I moved in. We also purchased almost everything new because we were making it our home. So, when it came to figuring out registries for our wedding, we knew that we didn’t need a lot of things for the house. We decided on creating a HoneyFund to help make our dream vacation come to fruition. Hopefully, everyone will feel the same way about our idea!

 

I promise I will update more often! We went on an 8 day trip to California in September, and I’ll post those photos soon.

~ Jalys.

 

I have great news! …. over a month later.

This summer has been absolutely insanely busy! This summer was full of family time and work. We spent A LOT of time in Abilene. I have spent even more time working in Lubbock this summer.

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you already know the exciting news. If not, this is the purpose of today’s blog….

On July 4th, Luis asked me to marry him! That’s right, I’m ENGAGED! He totally surprised me during a fireworks show. My dreams and prayers came true. We are getting married May 28, 2016, in Georgetown, TX. We made our wedding website on The Knot and our Honeymoon/Registry on Honey Fund. Below are links to these sites so you can see and read the whole story. Get ready for teasers and posts about our upcoming wedding! 🙂

The Knot.

Honey Fund.

Soon, I’ll be adding more photos from projects that I have worked on in the spring and summer. Here is a sneak for now!

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 Taken in Lubbock, TX

Cheers,

Jalys.

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