Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Exploring Cordoba


On Monday, we left by train from Madrid Atocha station to go to Córdoba, or from point A to point B on the above map. You can click to enlarge it. Madrid Atocha station is a major train and metro hub so we got there early to navigate to our gate. There was security scan of our luggage, just like at an airport but less formal.

Our two-hour train ride was comfortable. No free wifi available though. The scenery along the way showed olive trees, fruit orchards, some cattle, and the occasional castle ruins in the distance.

Upon arrival in Córdoba, I picked up a map at the local tourist office in the train station. We walked to our hotel. Despite the intense mid-day heat, I liked Córdoba right away. The tree-lined avenues provided much needed shade and greenery. The town has a calm and historic feel.

We spent the next two days exploring and enjoying:
1) The amazing Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba, an UNESCO World Heritage site. It is a huge complex with deep history, and beautiful interior.
2) The historic Córdoba town centre with plants hanging from pretty clay pots on the walls, tranquil courtyards, tiered fountains, and a maze of small streets and alleys which seemed to bring new and pleasant surprises at every turn.
3) The fortress of the Christian Monarchs, another UNESCO World Heritage site, and its beautiful gardens.
4) The local food, including the most elaborate buffet breakfasts in our hotel. I don't remember having had so many good choices at a hotel from my travel. In addition, they have a very nice private courtyard where one can sit outside, read the morning newspaper, savour a coffee, or just look at the orange trees full of fruit.

Córdoba is a charming town. I would not hesitate to return for a longer stay and more wandering. We have a family event scheduled in Gibraltar so today it's time to pack our bags, and take another train ride further south (point C on the above map). Travel days are always interesting. I'll post an update soon. Hope your week is amazing!

Monday, 14 August 2017

Exploring Madrid and Toledo

We had so much fun exploring Madrid and Toledo this past weekend. I want to do a quick post to capture some highlights. Pictures to follow after we return home at the end of August.

Exploring Madrid
- On Saturday morning, we walked to Plaza Mayor, the main public square, to meet up with our walking tour group of about 45 people from various countries. Sebastian, our tour guide, did a good story telling job.
- Spent the next two hours exploring landmarks in the west side of Madrid such as the Town Hall, Sun Gate, Viaduct, Cathedral, Royal Palace, and Opera House. I love the small streets, grand avenues, building structures, fountains, and statues.
- Had lunch and returned to our room for a siesta!
- In the afternoon, we went for ice cream before walking to the east side of Madrid to visit the El Prado and Reina Sofia museums. We selected a small number of art work to view so not to get sensory overload, and to reserve some energy for dinner and the evening stroll back to our room. The pedestrian-only streets near our place were full of local residents out and about after 9 p.m.

Exploring Toledo
- On Sunday we took the train from Madrid Atocha Renfe station to Toledo. Return ticket cost 20.60€ each. The ride was 33 minutes non stop. There are frequent trains, however, I made the right decision to book the return train in advance. It was full when we returned, and so was the next train. The Avant train was clean, spacious, and comfortable. The scenery along the route was mostly dry, brown fields, with occasional green patches. Lots of olive trees though.
- Toledo historic centre is an explorer and photographer's dream. A wonderful UNESCO World Heritage site. Even its train station is visually impressive showing influence of three cultures. Be prepared to walk uphill, and the summer sun brings intense heat. Frequent hydration and sun protection are essential!

I'm still thinking about the sights we saw over the weekend. Simply amazing and awesome! I'd definitely return to Toledo for a longer exploration if I could.

We bid adios to Toledo and Madrid. En route by train to Córdoba, about two hours from Madrid. Stay tuned. Have a great week!



Friday, 11 August 2017

Happy Friday from Madrid

Happy Friday! A few things that make me happy today:

- We arrived safe and sound in Madrid.
- Passport control was quick.
- I activated my SIM card for Spain and it worked!
- We bought tickets at a vending machine for our metro (subway) ride from the airport to the city centre, 4.8 € each, no problem. There are several language options to help with the ticket purchase. The machine accepts cash and credit cards.
- The Metro ride was quick, clean, and comfortable. 25 minutes later we were in the city centre.
- Checked in our room, again quick, clean, comfortable, with good wifi.
- Talked to the friendly staff in Spanish while having a snack. Glad they could understand me and vice versa most of the time LOL.
- Took a siesta to recharge.
- Went out to explore on foot and already liked what I experienced.
- It was sunny, about 20C (70F) when we landed, and continued to warm up to 28C (83F) by the afternoon. No rain in the forecast and low humidity but high UV index. Sunset after 9 p.m. allowing plenty of time for an evening stroll, Sangria, and sampling tapas.

We have plans for a fun weekend. I hope you do, too!

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Going to Spain & Gibraltar

In early June, I booked our trip to Spain. That was just the flights and hotels for our stay. After comparing fares, for our flights, I booked with Expedia. For our hotels in Spain and Gibraltar, I booked with the hotels directly.

We'll be leaving for Spain on Thursday! Our itinerary includes first 5 days in Spain + next 6 days in Gibraltar + last 4 days back in Spain, before flying home.

Since we’ll be travelling independently, I’ve been researching, booking, and packing the essentials. Let’s see what I've got so far...

Trains in Spain: We plan to travel by train while in Spain. Since we know our dates at each city, and it is advisable to reserve train tickets in advance in the summer, I booked online with Trainline and RENFE (the main rail company in Spain), and received our tickets in PDF via email. The RENFE train tickets are in Spanish only so I find it helpful to see the tickets and figure out what they mean in advance. Rail Europe web site has a page that explains how to read your RENFE print-at-home ticket.


Free walking tours: We prefer to walk when we visit a new town or city. We usually pick up a map from the local tourist office or the hotel and explore on our own. In a city where the first language is not English, going on an English-speaking walking tour led by a local resident is helpful, informative, and can be quite fun. Again since we know our dates at each city in Spain, and it is summer (tourist season) when we visit, I booked free walking tours online and received prompt email confirmations.

Mobile device, WiFi, and SIM card: On this trip, the hotels that I booked all offer free WiFi.  We plan to bring one unlocked mobile phone with us. The main mobile carriers in Spain include Movistar, Vodafone, Orange, and Yoigo. After doing some research, I ordered a pre-paid SIM card for Spain for local calls and internet usage when we are not at our hotel, or in case the WiFi at the hotel is not strong enough for our needs.

I ordered from SIM Card Spain and received the SIM card in five calendar days. The company was very good at sending email notifications confirming the order and when it was shipped. The SIM card comes in different sizes, with a promotional, pre-loaded 10 euros credit, and free shipping.

I’ve used pre-paid SIM cards before in the USA and France, and they’ve worked very well for our travel needs. For Spain, I’ll insert the SIM card in my unlocked phone, and activate it by keying in a code upon our arrival in Madrid. Will let you know how it turns out once I’m in Spain.

Adapters, Chargers, and Converters: We’re bring two of each to charge our devices. The voltage in Canada is 110V, in Spain and Gibraltar is 220V/ 240V. The prongs for power outlets are different from what we have in Canada.

Maps.me: I downloaded a number of maps of the cities we’re visiting using Maps.me to my mobile phone. Maps.me offers free, fast, detailed, and entirely offline maps with navigation and directions for travellers. I’m playing with the maps to familiarize myself.

Food: Our hotel room rates include breakfasts. This leaves us to figure out where to go for lunch and dinner. We’re usually on the go during the day and will grab a quick lunch wherever we happen to be at that time. One adjustment that we’ll have to make, as I’ve learned this when I visited Barcelona, is that people eat much later in Spain, especially dinner! I plan to use Trip Advisor or ask the hotel staff for recommended dinner places close to our hotel.

Other essentials: Passports, e-tickets, hotel confirmations, contact information, travel insurance, some euros (for Spain), some pounds (for Gibraltar), small snacks, first aid kit, and summer clothing.

We'll fly non-stop from Toronto to Madrid on Thursday. We'll likely be sleepy and tired from the 7-hour overnight flight and the time difference. Still...So excited to think that we’ll be landing in Madrid, Spain on Friday morning!

I may be able to do quick posts while in Spain and Gibraltar. Stay tuned for my updates.

Have I missed anything? What are your must-have travel items? What other travel tips can you share?

Monday, 7 August 2017

TBB Asks 23 Q&As



Greetings! Today I'm joining The Blended Blog TBB Asks link-up to answer 23 fun questions. At first glance, I thought Oh my, I'm so indecisive about the choices. After taking a second look at the questions, well, I'm certified indecisive LOL. Here we go...
  1. Pool, lake or ocean? All three as long as the water temperature is comfortable, no shrieking at entry!
  2. Camping, cottage or hotel? All three as they usually involve a trip.
  3. Favorite ice cream flavor? Coconut or cappuccino.
  4. PJ's, Nightgown, T-shirt/Shorts or Birthday Suit? PJ's in the fall/ winter, and T-shirt/ Shorts in the spring/summer.
  5. Fave Summer Beverage? Cold water or iced cappuccino.
  6. Would you rather be hot or cold? Hot.
  7. Sandals with heels or flats? Sandals with heels.
  8. Shorts or skirts? Both.
  9. Sit in the sun or the shade? Shade.
  10. Water, tea or soda? Water.
  11. Fave summer fruit, vegetable: Watermelon.
  12. Sunrise or sunset? Like both but choose Sunrise since it signals a new day.
  13. Bike ride or walk? Both.
  14. Winery or brewery? Winery.
  15. Garden or no garden? Garden.
  16. Big summer concert or music in the park? Music in the park.
  17. Fave cookout food: BBQ meat and grilled veggies.
  18. Dine indoors or patio? Patio although living in Canada, we dine indoors most of the time. 
  19. Fave summer destination: A new destination.
  20. Big theme park or local carnival? Big theme park.
  21. Drinks blended or on the rocks? Both.
  22. Popsicle or freezie flavor of choice: None.
  23. Hot Dog or hamburger? Hot dog when I'm on the go, and hamburger when I can sit down.

Now be sure to hop over to the linked up blogs and find out other fab bloggers' fun answers. Enjoy!


Wednesday, 2 August 2017

July in a sentence a day

Greetings! I started writing my month in a sentence a day in April this year. I’ve continued with May, June, and now July.

If I had to describe July with one adjective, I’d say “joyful”. Yes, July 2017 was full of enjoyable moments and events for me. The first week of July we were in Costa Rica. The last three weeks of July we explored local art fair, music festivals, parks, and farmers' markets. We were also happy to see our relatives visiting from Europe and Southern California. So here it is...

July in a sentence a day

 

1. Saturday: Celebrated a Happy Canada’s 150th birthday in Costa Rica after experiencing a two-hour power outage which started in Panama!

2. Sunday: Ran 5K in the morning and relaxed by the pools in the afternoon.


3. Monday: Exercised in the gym, practiced Spanish with the hotel staff, stayed indoor during the afternoon downpour, and enjoyed a yummy dinner with a cute dessert.


4. Tuesday: Got in my yoga time to stretch, learned Spanish, and went out to admire the tropical plants in the sunshine.


5. Wednesday: Exercised in the gym, practiced Spanish, and was thrilled to see a toucan up close, as well as many other animals.


6. Thursday: Enjoyed yoga, learned Spanish, and spent time reading June Sentence-a-day posts while lounging by the pool.

7. Friday: When you hike in a rain forest, expect rain and powerful water sprays from waterfalls!


8. Saturday: Stretched in the morning to prepare for a five-hour flight home this afternoon, and was absolutely delighted to breeze through Toronto International airport in 15 minutes after landing (fuzzy picture but the CN Tower is always a welcoming sign that we're almost home).

Toronto at dusk
9. Sunday: Ran 5K, learned Spanish, unpacked, and got organized after being away for nine days.

10. Monday:  Exercised one hour in the gym, learned Spanish, and posted 10 pictures from Costa Rica that brought back nice memories of our wonderful trip.

11. Tuesday: Practiced yoga, learned Spanish, and booked train tickets for our travels in Spain in August (yep, another trip).

12. Wednesday: Exercised one hour in the gym, learned Spanish, and booked free walking tours in Spain.

13. Thursday: Practiced yoga, learned Spanish, and enjoyed a cool Thursday at a Farmers’ market while listening to Oh Susanna's "cool" performance.


14. Friday: Exercised one hour in the gym, learned Spanish, and walked to City Hall to browse at the wonderful Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition.

Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition

15. Saturday: Swam 55 laps, learned Spanish, did grocery shopping, and visited HTO Park and the Waterfront Artisan Market.

HTO Park beach

16. Sunday: Ran 5K, learned Spanish, chatted on the phone with a dear friend, before going to the Shield to Shore music festival for The Sadies’ fantastic concert.

17. Monday: Exercised one hour in the gym, learned Spanish, booked more train tickets, and ordered a pre-paid SIM card to use in Spain.

18. Tuesday: Practiced yoga, learned Spanish, and read about various destinations in Spain.

19. Wednesday: Exercised one hour in the gym, learned Spanish, and visited the lush green park at Sugar Beach.

Park at Sugar Beach

20. Thursday: Practiced yoga, learned Spanish, and enjoyed a slice of summer fun at the Farmers’ market and Mike Ferfolia’s music.

Peaches and sweet peppers

21. Friday: Exercised one hour in the gym, learned Spanish, posted Summer Fun List progress report #1, and enjoyed reading other bloggers’ updates.

22. Saturday: Swam 55 laps, learned Spanish, did grocery shopping, and had a yummy picnic lunch by the waterfront, before attending Sarah MacDougall’s concert at the Northern Passages festival.

23. Sunday: Ran 5K, learned Spanish, and took public transit to the suburb for a joyful family BBQ.

24. Monday: Exercised one hour in the gym, learned Spanish, and tidied up our home.

25. Tuesday: Practiced yoga, learned Spanish, and hosted our visiting relatives with ordered-in Thai food dinner.

26. Wednesday: Exercised one hour in the gym, learned Spanish, and had fun riding a bike as part of my 6 new experiences.


27. Thursday: Practiced yoga, learned Spanish, and enjoyed time outdoors at the Farmers’ market and Sol de Cuba's engaging music.

28. Friday: Exercised one hour in the gym, learned Spanish, and attended Kiosk the band's rocking concert at the Tirgan festival.

29. Saturday: Swam 55 laps, learned Spanish, and showed our visiting relatives a few local sights before a nice dinner together.

Fountain at Berczy park

30. Sunday: Ran my first 6k (woohoo!), learned Spanish, shopped groceries, and attended the lovely Tio Chorinho: Brazil Soul Music show at the beautiful Toronto Music Garden.

Brazil Soul Music
31. Monday: Exercised one hour with a friend in the gym, learned Spanish, and wrapped up July with feelings of joy and gratitude.


I’m linking up with several fabulous bloggers so be sure to scroll down and visit their blogs for more fun July reviews.

Make August a great month wherever you are!

Monday, 31 July 2017

Tirgan festival, Local sights, and 6K run

I’ve explored and experienced so much fun from Friday to Sunday, I just have to write about them here. I think the daily formula of 1.5 hours of fitness + 1 to 3 hours of outdoor fun is working very well for me this summer :)

Toronto Music Garden
On Friday evening, we went to the Tirgan festival to attend Kiosk the band outdoor concert at Harbourfront. The five-person band performed in Persian language, and their music was fantastic. The big crowd loved it and showed their appreciation with singalongs, and rounds of applause after each song.

Kiosk the band at Tirgan festival
On Saturday, I swam 55 laps earlier in the morning to get my fitness routine done before my relatives arrived. They have visited us in Toronto before but it’s been a while. The city has changed quite a bit since their last visit so I took them sightseeing where they haven’t been.

We spent about three hours strolling, chatting, and stopping to take pictures. Our walk included City Hall, the Financial District, Brookfield Place, and the Flat Iron building that I wrote about here. Lunch was at the historic St Lawrence Market (established in 1803), and cappuccinos at Cafe Balzac’s. A fun stop at Berczy Park to see the park's new design. The park was recently reopened at the end of June with a historic centrepiece, a large fountain that has 27 dog and one cat sculptures, and a golden bone sits atop the fountain. I enjoyed showing my relatives some local sights, and they were impressed with what they’ve seen. We returned home for dinner, relaxing and talking about possible meet-ups next summer.

Berczy Park fountain
Cafe Balzac's entrance
Cappuccino at Cafe Balzac's

On Sunday, it was sunny and warm 30 Celsius (88F). I ran my first 6K on a Life Fitness treadmill in the air-con gym in the morning. I had this idea after reading Deb’s I Can Do This post about her upcoming 6K race in Melbourne, Australia. I’ve been running 5K weekly since April and have done several 5K races before. I knew I could do 6K but never had any particular reason to do it. I’d like to try new activities that stretch me and mix things up from time to time to keep me interested. Now I can say I ran 6K on a treadmill. I felt great after the run. Success!

In the afternoon,  we went to the Toronto Music Garden for the Tio Chorinho: Brazilian Soul Music show at 4 PM. The musicians and singer stayed in the shade, and most of the audience were in the sun. We came prepared with sun hats. There are also scattered shades around the garden although you may not be able to see the band, just hear the music.

Brazil Soul Music at Toronto Music Garden

Toronto Music Garden
Marina by Toronto Music Garden

It was a beautiful day, in a beautiful garden setting by the lake front, and to listen to live music played by talented performers...Simply incredible! My pictures do not show enough of the garden’s beauty. If you’d like to learn more about the garden design and its history, please see the Toronto Music Garden web site. Such a lovely end to my weekend!

Plans for Monday to Thursday this week:
  • Exercise an hour daily
  • Learn Spanish 15 minutes daily
  • Wrap up my joyful July in a sentence a day
  • Prepare for a family long weekend getaway 
I hope you had a beautiful weekend, too. Make it a great week wherever you are!

Friday, 28 July 2017

6 new experiences

Happy Friday! I wrote on Monday that I planned to explore two new-to-me outdoor farmers’ markets and attend up to three concerts this week. Well, I’m glad I did and now I can share with you not just five but my six new experiences. I'm still smiling thinking about them.

1. Bike Share Toronto had a Free Ride Wednesdays promotion in July so I picked up a bike and went exploring a few new-to-me places in the city centre. As long as I dropped off the bike in 30 minutes at any of the bike stations around the city, there was no charge. Within the city core, I can ride to quite a few places in 30 minutes! Off I went with my helmet and cross-body handbag. It was fun to cycle in non-rush hours :)


2. My first bike stop was at the new-to-me Scotia Plaza Farmers’ Market which is right in the heart of Toronto’s Financial District. It is on every Wednesday, beginning June 14th to August 30th, from 8 am to 6 pm. It is a small market but with its location, and a good selection of fresh produce, freshly baked breads and pastries, artisan cheeses, wines, preserves, etc. it is likely busy at lunch time.

Scotia Plaza farmers' market

3. My second bike stop was at Adelaide Eats which is 2-3 short blocks west of the Scotia Plaza farmers’ market. It’s an outdoor food market with tents and picnic benches. It’s open until July 28th with an impressive list of food artisans. I should have checked this place out sooner. It would have been a terrific place to have lunch with my friends.

Adelaide Eats sign and entrance
Adelaide Eats picnic benches

4. My last bike stop was at City Hall Farmers’ Market which also runs on every Wednesday, beginning May 31 to October 18, from 8 am to 2 pm, rain or shine. This farmers’ market looks like the biggest that I’ve visited this summer. Aside from the fresh produce, there are treats for humans, as well as dogs! Yummy all around :) In case you get thirsty, there is a cool-looking water truck in the square. You can turn on the tap located along side of the truck, and fill up your water bottle.

Toronto City Hall farmers' market



Fill-up and Go water truck

5. A nice bonus to the City Hall Farmers’ Market is the City Hall Live! music showcase which features local artists on Wednesdays, from 12:30 to 1:30 pm. D.be Jayri and a friend were performing when I was there. Strong vocals by both artists and very good acoustics considering the size of the stage and the civic square. There are tables and chairs where people can sit, have lunch, and enjoy the music.

D.be Jayri and friend

6. On Thursday, I went to another farmers’ market at David Pecaut Square to listen to Sol de Cuba’s performance. As soon as I saw the name of the band on the Indulge Your Senses program, I knew it would be fun and I was right. The quartet played cha cha cha, mambo, lambada, and similar beats. Their passionate performance was contagious. Although only a few people got up to dance, many more in the audience were tapping their feet, clapping their hands, or singing along. All in all a great show!

Sol de Cuba
I’m so enjoying and appreciating farm fresh food, live music, arts, and quality time outdoors this summer!

My plans for the weekend:
  • Attend a concert at the Tirgan music festival Friday evening
  • Swim 50-55 laps on Saturday morning
  • Spend time with my relatives before they leave on Sunday
  • Run 6K on Sunday morning (adding an extra 1K)
  • Shop groceries for the week
  • Step up my preparation for our trip to Spain (we're leaving in less than 2 weeks!)
I'd love to hear your fun plan for the weekend. Have a great one wherever you are!

Monday, 24 July 2017

Northern Passages festival and family BBQ

I wrote about my weekend fun last Monday. Happy to say the trend continued this past weekend!

On Saturday, I completed my lap swimming, Spanish lessons, and our weekly grocery runs in the morning. The weather was perfect for being outdoors so we packed our picnic basket and headed to the waterfront for the afternoon. The trees are lush green now, compared to their slim branches in April. We found a nicely shaded picnic spot and just relaxed for a couple of hours. Our goal was to finish all food and drinks that we had brought with us. Mission accomplished :)

July 2017
April 2017
For our evening entertainment, we attended Sarah MacDougall’s concert, which was part of the Northern Passages music festival at Harbourfront. Once again, I’m blown away by the vocals, the drums, and the musicians who can play various instruments. Sarah MacDougall is a Swedish Canadian singer/ songwriter currently living in Yukon. Her personal story about moving from Sweden to Canada, and especially in the Yukon, sounds interesting. She sang her last song at the concert in Swedish. You can read more about her here.

Sarah MacDougall & band

On Sunday, I took my Spanish lessons, then ran a little bit more than 5K in the morning before we left home for our extended family BBQ in the afternoon. This BBQ was to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday with my visiting relatives from the USA and Europe, and my niece’s high school graduation. It was held in the suburb, about 40 km (25 miles) from our home so we took public transit to get there. A joyous time shared among twenty five of us. Everyone was busy chatting, catching up, preparing the food and drinks, joking, laughing, eating, drinking and picture taking. It was a memorable time that I’m sure we’ll remember and fondly recall next time we meet. Bonus: I've completed item 4 on my Summer fun list.

Fun plans for this upcoming week:
  • Exercise for up to an hour daily
  • Continue learning Spanish 15 minutes daily
  • Visit a local park, weather permitting
  • Explore two new-to-me outdoor farmers’ markets
  • Attend up to three concerts
  • Take my relatives sightseeing
  • Connect with my friends to plan a get-together
I hope you had a nice weekend. Make it a good week wherever you are!

Friday, 21 July 2017

Summer fun list progress report #1

Greetings! Back on June 21, I wrote a Summer fun list of 20 items to complete. Today I’m providing the first progress report and linking up with a group of fabulous bloggers to share summer list updates. Some of the bloggers live in Australia so it is winter for them. I’ve been referring to my list on and off in the last four weeks while having a lot of fun working through the items. Let’s see how I’m doing on my Summer Fun List of 20.

Progress report #1 for My Summer Fun List of 20:


1. Take a trip to Costa Rica. Oh Yes! I was interested in Costa Rica's natural beauty and biodiversity, and we got plenty of both on this wonderful trip. Check out my ten pictures from Costa Rica for a sample of what we experienced.

2. Enjoy Costa Rica’s “pura vida”. Yes as written here and here. The pools, the food, the friendly hotel staff, the warm sunshine, and lush green scenery made me feel I was on vacation. The power shortage on July 1 fortunately was over in two hours. The afternoon downpours happened in the last three days of our trip. I think we left just in time before the rainy season was in full force.


3. Do wildlife spotting in Costa Rica. Yes! I saw lots of birds, butterflies, a coati, and many more animals. My favourite on this trip was the toucan (on last trip was the howler monkey).


4. Celebrate Canada’s 150 with a BBQ with our extended family. Pending. We celebrated Canada Day on July 1st while in Costa Rica. We have another celebration this weekend to include relatives who are visiting us from Europe and Southern California.

5. Attend at least one music festival at home. Yes! I’m happy that I already attended four music festivals in Toronto in the last four weeks: the Luminato festival, Franco-Fete de Toronto festival, Oh Susanna concert which was part of the Indulge Your Senses music festival, and The Sadies concert which was part of the Shield to Shore festival. More to come before summer is over.

6. Chill out with my friends with an iced drink, or ice cream in hand. Yes, we had papaya juice with ice in Costa Rica. It was so good! We also had iced coffee drinks, and ice cream a few times in Toronto.


7. Stroll or picnic in a park. Yes at HTO Park as posted here. I hope to visit a few more parks before the end of the summer.


8. Go to Spain and explore. Pending. I feel excited thinking about it.

9. Travel by train in Spain. Pending. I booked our train tickets from Madrid to Cordoba, from Cordoba to San Roque-La Linea, and from San Roque-La Linea to Seville.

10. Visit up to four UNESCO World Heritage sites while in Spain. Pending.

11. Take a siesta to beat the heat. Pending. I’m sure I’ll do this when I’m in Spain in August.

12. Savour Spanish paellas and tapas. Pending.
 
13. Watch a flamenco show. Pending.
 
14. Speak basic Spanish while in Costa Rica and Spain. Yes, 50% done! I spoke basic Spanish while in Costa Rica. I was pleased that the locals understood me LOL. I’ll continue learning Spanish and use it when I go to Spain in August.

15. Cross Spain-Gibraltar border twice. Pending. 

16. Tour the Rock of Gibraltar. Pending.

17. See the Barbary macaques (monkeys). Pending.

18. Play with sand and seashells at a beach. Yes, 50% done! I played with sand at the local HTO beach and Sugar beach. No seashells there though so I may have to wait until we get to Gibraltar to play with seashells.

Sugar beach

19. Look for dolphins in the the Bay or the Strait of Gibraltar. Pending.

20. Stay fit by exercising up to one hour daily. Yes and ongoing. To date, I’ve been going to the gym on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, practicing yoga on Tuesdays, Thursdays, swimming on Saturdays, and running 5K on Sundays. When I was in Costa Rica, I used the treadmill in the hotel gym, a resistance band, and my body weight for my strength exercises.

More summer goodness: We took a boat cruise in Toronto Harbour at the end of June. I made visits to Thursday farmers' market, Harbourfront Summer Art Exhibitions, the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition, and the Waterfront Artisan Market as written here, here, and here. I enjoyed them all!


My count indicates that so far I have six of my 20 items completed, three more in progress, and eleven still pending. I’m looking forward to going on our trip to Spain and Gibraltar to check off several fun items on my list. I’ll be posting my next progress report on August 21 so stay tuned.

Be sure to check out the linked-up blogs below for more seasonal fun and inspiration. Happy summer!