2016 Year in Review

2016-review

2016 was a big year for me – I wasn’t feeling my best at the start of the year, which led to a few changes that I think really helped me with my personal growth. When the beginning of a new year draws closer and I start to think about my goals for the coming year, I always find myself hoping for the same results: to be more confident in myself and to take more risks. I think I made some major strides this year on that front, which I’m proud of! I was also able to travel to a few awesome places, started a new adventure (hello angelachauxo.com!), all while working my full time job.

Here’s a recap of the major highlights of my 2016:

I focused on getting in shape (somewhat)

I’m probably the least athletic person I know – I’ve never been into sports, never cared for exercise, and have an unhealthy obsession with food to boot. My low point at the beginning of the year is actually what motivated me to take little steps towards a healthier lifestyle. I needed something to strive towards and to keep me preoccupied, so I started being conscious of what I ate and exercising regularly, and was able to lose 10lbs over the course of a few months!

Visited the most magical place on Earth

disneyworld

I visited my favourite place on the planet in March – Disney World in Orlando, FL. My family visited Disney World almost every summer of my childhood, but I will never get tired of eating Mickey ice cream bars and watching the “Wishes” fireworks at night from Main Street USA.

Chopped my hair off!

My long hair had always been my security blanket – I never trusted anyone to touch it and would only get it cut every 1-2 years. But when spring rolled around, I had a sudden urge to make a drastic change and decided to cut 12 inches off in favour of a lob. I don’t regret my decision and I’ve probably saved hundreds of hours in hair washing, drying and styling time.

Went camping for the first time

sandbanks

In addition to being the least athletic person I know, I’ve also had a lack of certain life experiences including going to the cottage and camping. I was able to check the latter of my list in 2016 with a two day trip to Sandbanks, ON. I survived sleeping in a tent and totally recommend visiting this beautiful part of Ontario – the beaches are stunning and the water is crystal clear!

Had a year full of weddings

It was a year for weddings! I took a quick trip to San Fran in June for my cousin’s wedding, and also attended another cousin’s wedding in Toronto earlier in May. In the fall one of my coworkers was married, and the year rounded out with my eldest sister tying the knot in an intimate ceremony at City Hall!

Visited beautiful Barcelona, Spain

barcelona

This may have been my favourite trip of the year – my boyfriend and I ended the summer with a trip to Barcelona. This was such a beautiful city and the perfect mix of historic European culture and picturesque beaches. You can read my Barcelona travel guide here.

Started my blog!

This is one of my favourite accomplishments of 2016 – finally taking the plunge and starting my blog. I was also able to work with some awesome brands (hi Tim Hortons!) on my Instagram channel throughout the year, which really gave me the push I needed to start this site and share more of my life with you.

Finished the year with a trip to London, UK

london

My boyfriend and I have been officially long distance since September, as he’s finishing a year of school in the UK. I took the opportunity to visit him in December and got an insider’s look at the bustling city! The holidays are such a beautiful time to visit London, with beautiful twinkling lights lining every street you pass. I’ll be posting my guide to visiting London soon!

Overall, 2016 was a great year and I’m so excited to see what 2017 brings.

 

 

 

Barcelona Travel Guide

img_2057

Earlier in the Fall, I travelled to Barcelona, Spain with my boyfriend for a week. It was one of our favourite trips, filled with sunshine, good eats and amazing sights! Here are my tips for everything you should see and eat while you visit this beautiful city.

What to Do

barcelona

Take the HOHO bus

My mom is an avid traveller, and one of the first tips she shared with me about visiting a new city is to take a Hop On, Hop Off (HOHO) bus tour! Yes, it is the #1 most touristy thing you could do, but it also gives you a great overview of the city and the major sights. You can decide what you’d like to explore further and hop off the bus whenever you like! The HOHO is particularly handy at the beginning of your trip, when you’re trying to get the lay of the land and see what you’re most interested in.

See the beautiful architecture

Barcelona is well known for its beautiful architecture, particularly the work of Antoni Gaudí, a Spanish Catalan architect. La Sagrada Família is his most famous work, and the most popular tourist attraction in Barcelona. The stunning church draws in huge crowds every day of the week, so be sure to buy your tickets ahead of time online to skip waiting in line!

Another beautiful attraction by Gaudí to visit is the Park Güell. Here you can go through a stroll of the gardens, snap amazing photos, and take in breathtaking views of the city. This was one of my favourite spots to visit on our trip!

Stroll along La Rambla

La Rambla is a pedestrian street along the edge of Barcelona’s historical Gothic Quarter. Lined with tons of shops and restaurants, you can easily spend an afternoon walking along and taking in the sights.

Hit the beach!

Barcelona is home to some of the world’s most beautiful beaches! Spend a day soaking up some sun at Barceloneta (the closest beach to the tourist areas), or travel a bit further and visit one of the other beaches. We visited both Barceloneta as well as Platja del Bogatell, a smaller beach up the coast.

Be warned – it’s much more common at European beaches to go au natural – and for a timid girl like me, the sight was a bit shocking at first (but you’ll get used to it!). There will also be a lot of vendors attempting to sell you drinks and beach blankets.

Spectacular views at Tibidabo

Tibidabo is a mountain that overlooks Barcelona, offering up awesome views from the highest point in the city! To travel to Tibidabo, you’ll use the Funicular, a tram that takes you up to the top of the mountain. At the summit, you’ll find a stunning church and an adorable amusement park (instas anyone?).

Where to Eat

what-to-eat

La Boqueria

You’ll find the Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria off La Rambla, a huge market home to some of the freshest produce and seafood in Barcelona. Get delicious juice for 1€ or sit down at one of the many bar style restaurants for the best meal of calamari, grilled fish and razor clams you’ll ever have!

Brunch & Cake

In addition to the traditional Spanish fare, Barcelona also caters to the trendy, modern food scene. Brunch & Cake serves up gorgeous brunch dishes including eggs benny and banana french toast. You’ll feel like you’ve been transported into a Pinterest wonderland when you sit down in this pretty space featuring white marble, wicker chairs and gold accents.

Taller de Tapas

While there may be more authentic choices for food in Barcelona, Taller de Tapas became one of our favourite places to eat while visiting. With multiple locations in the city, this restaurant offers an extensive menu featuring different Spanish tapas including patatas bravas and more.

Plaça Reial

Located just off La Rambla, Placa Reial is popular square in Barcelona with a number of great restaurants to choose from. Sip sangria on a patio onlooking picture-perfect palm trees and share an order of paella with friends. We tried Les Quinze Nits and Ocaña and loved both.

Other Things to Consider

  • It’s normal to eat dinner late in Spain – most locals don’t go for dinner until 9pm or later. We totally adopted the siesta lifestyle and napped from 6pm – 8pm almost every day!
  • Barcelona is notorious for pick pocketing – protect your valuables, especially in busy tourist areas and try to use purses with secure zipper closures.
  • Stores are closed on Sundays – if you’d like to get some shopping done, be sure to keep this in mind!
  • Tipping is not customary in Spain – leave a tip only if you had an exceptional experience or were very happy with your meal!

Happy travelling!