48 hours in Dubai? That's crazy! Okay, I'll go...
Obviously, it takes a lot to convince me anything is a good idea.
Really, I did think about it and my hands were sweating profusely after I bought my ticket!
Not my cheapest flight but I did not want to miss this opportunity to visit my first Middle Eastern country.
Plus, I wound't be going alone but joining Roxana on a "work-trip" for Tesoro 1949.
My first meeting was with the sand dunes.
I booked a last minute, all-inclusive desert excursion on Airbnb Experiences for $40 just before leaving Valencia!
After settling in Rox and I went our separate ways; her to work and me to play! I am so excited for the sand dunes and just to be in Dubai, nothing could get me down.
The excursion company picked me up and I got in the car with the tour guide and 2 couples aka STRANGERS. As we are leaving the city and entering the desert, my mind started spinning "what am I doing here, ALONE?"..."The first rule of self-defense: Don't get in the car (Advice from Scandal's Jake Ballard)" and "Great, I'm in the backseat and won't be able to fully enjoy sand dunning".
All that negativity needed to go somewhere else.
We pulled into a campsite where we would wait for the other groups to arrive. United Arab Emirates flags blowing in the wind, men in their white dress and...four-wheelers? Whaaat?
I started to remember all the fun times as a kid, four-wheeling with my dad. The deal was, you stay in line and follow the guide. Well, he was going too slow and was more or less, in my way. In my dad's voice, "Children need to be free, live their own lives". Once the guide realized it wasn't my first rodeo, we had some real fun!
After about half an hour of four-wheeling and screaming/laughing through the sand dunes it was time to pile up back into the jeep for our caravan excursion.
The ride was fun but I wanted to be in the front seat! I asked the guy if we could switch and sure enough he said okay. I think Veronica two years ago would have just kept quiet and been upset I didn't get the full experience. But, if it is one thing i've learned is YOU GOTTA STICK UP FOR YOURSELF and IF YOU DON'T ASK, THE ANSWER IS NO.
We stopped for photo-ops and sand-boarding. I have never done anything like this in my life! For sure, I was bound to hurt myself but I was determined to try it. To my surprise, I MADE IT, then reality hit and we got caught in a sandstorm!
We frantically ran back to the Jeep and I claimed my rightful place in "shotgun". Head held high and a smile from ear to ear, a perfect time for a selfie.
The next experience was camel riding through the desert with the wonderful, Jameela. Jameela is Arabic for "beautiful; lovely" and that she was. I also held a hawk and hoped for no sudden movements. Here was also my first time trying dates. They were so delicious!
The final stop was at a campsite for dinner, henna, and a wonderful show. As I sat at my table, I began to look around and see all the couples and family/friend groups together. Getting that "alone" feeling at the pit of my stomach, I started wishing I had my family there to enjoy this amazing day with me. Just before I get too low, I remind myself how amazing it is that I came here by myself. Trusting myself fully to seek out adventure is such an accomplishment for me. Here, I enjoyed a great dinner, front row to amazing dancers, and met another Jameela. She was is black dress and gave me a beautiful henna hand design. My tour guide off in the distance reminding me to put in a good word for him with her. I did and she laughed. I had looked back at him and he was melting. So cute!
What an amazing excursion and wonderful experience to make some of my favorite memories. The main thing I took away from this was that the view is better in the front and when you are there take in all in and enjoy it.
Cuenca is the capital of the Castilla La Mancha Province in Central Spain. 3 hours from the city of Valencia it has two main features: Ciudad Encantada and Hanging Houses.
Ciudad Encantada (The Enchanted City) could almost have been named the City of Stones. A walk through this park and you'll stand amazed at the different massive rock formations. On June 11, 1929 it was declared a Natural Site of National Interest. Use your imagination and see rock formations in the shape of ships, bears, bridges, a croc vs elephant, the list goes on. It took about 3.5 hours to complete one of the routes provided. Packed a sandwich and had a picnic with my friends in the park before making our way to the city of Cuenca to see the hanging houses.
On our way to the city, we stopped at was is called Ventano del Diablo (The Devil's Window). Our tour guide said it got its name because this is where the Devil himself practiced witchcraft and threw anyone who looked through the window to their death. He tells us this after the fact!!!! NEXT STOP, PLEASE!
Finally, we made it to the Hanging Houses. The houses are literally hanging off a cliff with views of the Jucar River. Alexa, play Bon Jovi's "Living on a Prayer". Some of the houses were built up 13 stories high. Possibly the world's first skyscrapers, before NYC. After our city tour we made our way down the mountain to have a glass of wine at Grotte. It is a bar built into the rock. It was a great idea until we had to hike back up the mountain to our bus! Over half an hour of straight uphill madness.
Summer is coming to an end and I want to soak up as much sun as I can. Thanks to my dear friend Cecilia from my Javea trip for linking me up with Laura from Madrid. Not sure when Laura and I would get the chance to meet personally but she just so happened to be coming to Valencia for a camping trip with friends. She invited me to join them at Playa de Oliva. I took an hour and half bus ride from Valencia and spent the day with great people.
Because mama raised me right, I didn't show up empty handed. Sangria and a music speaker to make for a great time at the beach.
Ibiza in September. I wore big sunglasses, bikinis, sandals, and shorts almost every day. The streets aren’t as hot or as busy as the summer months and you will find lower rates on accommodations. it was the best place for a girls weekend getaway! And just to be clear, the only pill this girl took in Ibiza was an Advil and I’m okay with that!
Stop and Take In the Views
Don’t pass up a moment to feel like you’re on top of the world! A major benefit of renting a car, we were able to pull over, be amazed and then get back to our jam sessions. As we drove along the coast, Cala Vedella and Cala Comte were two of my favorite spots to snap some amazing pictures and have a little snack.
Best Place for Lunch
When we needed a place to recharge after a night of dancing, Amante Ibiza was the place to be. We called ahead to make a reservation, rocked our favorite sundress, and enjoyed lunch by the sea. Spanish cuisine, strong coffee, stronger cocktails, warm sun, deep tissue massage, cute waiters, you name it. This place has it! Amante Ibiza is perfect for a bunch of girls needing some TLC. We could have literally spent all day there. Pack your swimsuit just in case you’re feeling spontaneous! The moment that sealed the deal for me was when the staff made our birthday girl felt extra-special by bringing out a complimentary dessert with a candle. This thoughtful gesture had her smiling ear-to-ear and I was so happy to be enjoying this time with my friends. Amante is a place I will forever dream of returning to.
More Sunsets, Please!
When looking for a memorable place to watch the sun go down, my absolute favorite spot was Es Vendra Rock. It was peaceful, breezy, and the view was breathtaking. I’m not one for crowded beaches and photobombers so we passed on Café del Mar this time and found our way to this magical place in the southern tip of the island. Wine, snacks, a blanket and my friends were all I needed to make this a time I’ll treasure forever. We reflected on the day, laughed, took the must have insta-selfies and relaxed before taking on the nightlife.
No Shame in the Pre-game
Our goal was to have an amazing time, dance all night and watch the sunrise every morning! How you ask? We downloaded the “TG Ibiza” app and were able to read details on different parties we wanted to go and bought our tickets ahead of time. There are also plenty of vendors throughout the city, so you can buy tickets from them too for the same price. Entry fees ranged from 20-80 Euros and the average drink was 20 Euros so unless you plan on making it rain at the club, it’s best to do a bit of pregaming. Our nightly mini-bar consisted of vodka-Fanta Orange, strawberry gin and Sprite, or vodka-Redbull. There’s no shame in my pre-game. We saw the sunrise - shoes and dignity in hand - every morning before going home.
When the sun goes down, the sound goes up!
Ibiza is known for its EDM/House Music scene, but it was our first night out and my friends and I were in the mood for Reggaeton and Hip-Hop. We bought our tickets from a street vendor, paid a 20 Euro entry fee and marched into Privilege ready to dance. It was not the typical body-to-body, underground, rave were thinking it would be. We were a bit skeptical walking in, but after a few songs we realized all we needed were each other and good music. When the clock struck 6 AM we piled in the car and our adventure continued in search for the sunrise. We took the best wrong turn and stumbled upon a hidden gem: Cala San Vicente. At the north point of the island, Cala San Vicente, was waiting for us. Snuggled on the beach with my girlfriends, toes in the sand, eyeliner gone, yawning and laughing the whole time as the sun came up - cue the GROUP HUG!
One evening we wanted somewhere special to celebrate my friend’s 21st birthday and found Hi-Ibiza. The large patio, good crowd, and the lights made it a worth staying and having a few tequila shots. We scoped out the place and found the party spot for the night. We learned then that anything goes when it comes to expressing yourself with your outfit. Bikini top and boots? Done. Fishnets and leather bra. Check. Army pants and flip-flops? You go girl! We loved meeting so many different people and it made for an amazing night!
It is our last chance for romance in Ibiza so we went for the FULL MONTY! Kygo’s closing party at Ushuaïa Beach Club & Hotel. Huge crowd, glow bracelets, laser lights, smoke and fireworks! We walked around the venue, had a few drinks with kind souls and found our way to the middle of the mosh-pit. This is it! That Ibiza party we’ve seen in movies and dreamed about. To be honest our feet were hurting and so tired from the lack of sleep but we didn’t care. We pushed through the crowds and danced like no one was watching. Side Note: I sat down to rest my feet for a second only to see they were giving massages in the VIP section. Help me, I’m poor. Anyways, once back in the crowd I was so proud to see my friend on top of some guy’s shoulder singing her heart out. You go girl! The party ended at midnight so we left and contemplated where to go next. Then, someone said those 3 words: I AM HUNGRY. We opted for McDonald’s drive-thru and took ourselves home for munchies on our patio. Monty is a bit disappointed but we were more than satisfied.
The Island of Formentera
It is our last full day in Ibiza and we couldn’t wait to see the island of Formentera. Two words: PINK SAND. For only 20 Euros and an hour ferry ride we were in another paradise. However, from getting caught in a storm on the ferry to “trying” to learn how to drive manual on an island in a foreign country, everything was going wrong! We were delirious and uncontrollably laughing at this point. We ended up renting bikes for 8 euros and rode 20 minutes to Illetes beach to see the pink sand and have lunch. During all the commotion and a bumpy bike ride, my friend’s tuna salad spilled in her purse. Tuna was everywhere! In her make-up bushes, on her passport, everywhere! Y’all, it is time to go home!
Bye for Now
Our last day was full of stress and laughter but I wouldn’t change any part of the trip. We boarded the plane with smiles and tuna still in my friend’s purse! Like most, we were only there for a weekend and it is impossible to go everywhere, but stop stressing trying to see everything! The way to having the best time in Ibiza is going with the flow, laughing with your friends and making memories that will last a lifetime.
La Tomatina is a food fight festival held on the last Wednesday of every August in Buñol, Spain.
I had heard of this madness before but never had the chance to go, until now!
I was hesitant to go because I have a weekend trip to Ibiza the next day, but you only live once.
I bought a last minute ticket and left Valencia at 6:30am.
When I arrived around 7, I was greeted with Sangria. The party always starts early and ends late in Spain! #WheninSpain
While wandering the street and seeing buildings covered in tarps, I met a group of American girls and asked if I could join them. They were on a trip booked through an agency bringing college girls together on different excursions. We pre-gamed and cheered on the brave attempting the "Palo Jabon". It is a two-story greased up pole with a Spanish ham at the top. A serious Mulan, I'll make a man out of you Moment! No one ever reached it but it was definitely entertaining and made the time pass by.
At 11am the tomato filled trucks made their way through the street and the hour long food fight began!
Beware of how sardined you will be when the trucks pass through.
I had been told I brought the wrong goggles because of the nose piece but it worked in my favor. The smell was HORRIBLE! I took my googles off for a second to stop and take a good look at everything and I instantly regretted it. Left me gagging!
Afterwards, I was rinsed off by the locals and their water hoses.
I had such a great time but definitely one of those things you only do once!
*I bought my shirt "Enjoy Now" from Bershka for 1 euro. I planned to trash everything I wore but decided to keep my shirt for a memory*
Traveling alone has been the scariest, most liberating, and life-changing experience of my life, so I thought I would document it. My blog is named Table For 1 to inspire others to lose the fear of being alone and to get rid of any self-doubt. You deserve anything and everything you work hard for.