Destination of the Week: Valley of the Fallen

One of the most interesting places that I visited when I was in Spain was The Valley of the Fallen. It’s such a tranquil place with beautiful scenery and history. I really enjoyed this place because it’s a great place to learn about the Spanish Civil War. They also offer tours and walk you through the valley and explain in detail about this interesting place. One of the memories that I will never forget is when we were driving on the freeway, when I look towards the mountains I could see a giant cross all the way up in the distance. Our tour bus was pretty far and we still could see The Valley from the distance. Also, inside the Basilica, you will see Francisco Franco’s tomb where you can read a little about his history.

The Valley of the Fallen (Valle de los Caídos) is located in the Sierra de Guadarrama about 8 miles north of El Escorcial, Spain. It was built between 1940 and 1958 and is a monument intended to commemorate all those who died on both sides during the Spanish Civil War. About 40,000 Nationalist and Republican soldiers are buried here. However, the Valley of the Fallen is associated with Franco’s regime since the late General is buried inside the basilica and he was the one who ordered its construction.

The Cross:
Built on top of a rocky cliff known as Risco de la Nava at 1,400 meters above sea level, the Holy Cross of the Valley of the Fallen is the largest in the world. This enormous cross of granite was made by architect Diego Méndez, and it is (492 feet) including the base. Its arms are oriented north-south and are (154 feet) from fingertip to fingertip. On the base of the cross there are four colossal sculptures made by Juan de Ávalos depicting the four Evangelists.

The Basilica:
The basilica was excavated in the rock and extends (860 feet) long with six chapels (three on each side) devoted to the Virgin Mary. At the foot of the high altar are the graves of Francisco Franco and José Antonio Primo de Rivera, the founder of the Spanish Falange. Above the crossing, a cupola some 40 meters in diameter is decorated with a mosaic by Santiago Padrós. There are religious services everyday in the basilica.

Once you arrive at the entrance gate, there are still about three miles uphill to the cross, so be ready to walk 🙂 

 

Rhineland, Germany River Cruise

This was a beautiful shot that I took of the trees as we were about to board our boat. Probably one of my favorite shots of my trip!

Here are some pictures from my cruise down the Rhine River:

This was a small town that we passed by

One of the many castles that we passed by. Most of them were on top of the hills and mountains.

After our boat ride, we passed by this small park. I have never seen so many German little kids together, they looked so happy! They waved at our tour group as we passed by 🙂

Yellow Yellow, and more Yellow!

You can never go wrong with yellow! It’s such a bright, and radiant color that give you that summer glow. Yellow goes with so many colors and you can look very fashionable. There are so many types of yellow tones that you can wear in the summer, fall, spring, and even winter. I have loved this color since I was little because it’s such a happy color that makes you shine and stand out from the crowd. You can wear yellow in so many different occasions:

At a summer party

A yellow purse

A nice yellow hat for the winter

Yellow pants

Casual yellow sweater

At a Sunday picnic with your friends

A yellow coat

At your wedding

A cute casual yellow skirt

At the Golden Globes- with red shoes 😉

At work

Why not wear it to an elegant ball?

At the Oscars

Even the Duchess of Cambridge makes yellow look elegant and classy 🙂

Newspaper Nail Art

One of my friends showed me her nails and it was one of the most coolest things I have ever seen! She had newspaper nail polish design and she did it by herself. It’s a new trend called newspaper nail art and it is very easy to apply and looks great. Instead of throwing out your newspaper, why not put it into fashion? All you need is your favorite newspaper section to show it off on your nails 🙂

Newspaper Nail Art Application Steps:

  1. Apply a base coat (Ex: OPI Nail Envy)
  2. Apply a white or light gray nail polish color (Ex: OPI Alpine Snow)
  3. Spray a piece of newspaper with rubbing alcohol
  4. Press the newspaper onto your nail
  5. Apply a top coat of your choice

Here is a video showing you how to do it: Newspaper Nail Art

Again?

Is it just me, or does someone from The Academy not like Leonardo? It seems that he never gets nominated in some movies that he performed excellent roles in. I still think he should of won best actor in Titanic fourteen years ago!! I mean what about all of his other great roles he was in: What’s Eating Gilbert’s Grape, Romeo and Juliet, Catch Me If You Can, The Aviator, The Departed, Blood Diamond, Inception, must I go on?

I’m still mad Leonardo didn’t get nominated. He deserves that Oscar. He puts so much time and effort into each and every one of his characters. I’m not saying the other guys don’t deserve it, I just feel Leo’s performance in J. Edgar was better than their performances. Leo gets snubbed every year and it’s just not right. The winners should be judged based on who’s performance is the best and not based on who’s on the most magazine covers.

I don’t know exactly what Leonardo DiCaprio has to do to get an Oscar nomination. He is consistently fantastic in every single movie he does. Who in the world has Leo made mad? His total immersion into the part of J Edgar Hoover was nothing less than spectacular. No one deserves an Oscar more. However, George Clooney and Brad Pitt play the Hollywood game. They want Clooney and his date and Brad and Angelina in the front row. Makes for a lot of press and popularity. Leonardo generally brings his mother a nice touch if you ask me. After all, he could bring any one of the super models he dates, but he prefers to let his mom shine. Nice guy, unbelievably great actor. The Academy is all politics.

Ghost Towns

I have always been afarid of ghost towns, but at the same time, I was interested in learning more about them. I have never been to one, but I do hope that one day I can visit one. There are so many ghost towns in the world that it is hard to name them all. I found this article that narrows down the top 10 abandoned towns. 

1. St. Elmo, Colorado

Once a booming mining town and trading post along railroad routes running through central Colorado, St. Elmo was abandoned when the railroad shut down in 1922. Many of the buildings including stores, houses, and the church were left intact, filled with the belongings of their former residents.

2. Chaco Canyon, New Mexico

The Chaco civilization thrived from roughly a.d. 800 to 1100. During this period, the canyon served as a ceremonial, civic, and commercial center. Residents built clusters of dwellings and circular ceremonial structures, called kivas, from mud brick, sandstone, and wood, many of which remain intact today.

3. Bodie, California

In 1879, Bodie was a bustling gold-mining town and home to 8,500 residents known for gunfighting and brawling. Within a decade, the mines had been largely depleted and the population had begun a steady decline that ended in total abandonment. The 150 remaining buildings are much as their residents left them.

4. Humberstone and Santa Laura, Atacama Desert, Chile

Home to saltpeter mines, these two company towns in northern Chile were abandoned in 1958. The well reserved buildings include a theater with its original chairs, houses, a cast-iron swimming pool made from the hull of a ship, a hotel, and grocers’ shops complete with price lists.

5. Bhangarh, Rajasthan, India

When Bhangarh, a local capital in northwest India, was conquered by the raja of Jaipur in the 1720s, the city was quickly deserted. Dating from the 17th century and before, the ruins including crumbling temples and pavilions, a fort, and a medieval bazaarare said to be haunted, and eerie legends surround the city’s rise and rapid decline.

6. Kayaköy, Anatolia, Turkey

When the Greco-Turkish war ended in 1923, roughly a million Greeks living in Turkey were repatriated, and Kayaköy, a Greek village of roughly 2,000 residents in western Turkey, was abandoned. The remains of the village, including hundreds of ruined homes and two Greek Orthodox churches are preserved as a historic site.

7. Pyramiden, Svalbard, Norway

This Arctic coal-mining town, owned by the U.S.S.R. since 1927, was an ideal Soviet settlement complete with workers’ barracks, a sports center, and a bust of Lenin. The mine is now exhausted, but the buildings, including a library full of books, a theater, and a music hall with the world’s northernmost grand piano, have been left as they were when the town was abandoned in 1998.

8. Herculaneum, Naples, Italy

In the summer of 79a.d., Mount Vesuvius erupted and buried the small, wealthy Roman seaside resort of Herculaneum in searing ash and rock. Archaeological excavations have uncovered private villas, shops, bathhouses, and a fascinating range of everyday objects.

9. Belchite, Zaragoza Province, Spain

Belchite was the site of a particularly brutal battle during the Spanish Civil War (1936-39). Occupied by Franco’s forces in 1937, the town was attacked by the Republican Army. The siege destroyed Belchite, but its ruined buildings serve as a ghostly memento of the intense violence they witnessed.

10. Kolmanskop, Namibia

Located among the sand dunes of the Namib Desert, Kolmanskop was built to house workers at a nearby diamond mine. The town was abandoned by the mid-1950s and since then the desert has consumed it, almost filling many once grand houses with sand. The interiors of a few buildings, however, are in good condition.

Little Red Coat

There you are walking down the street when all of a sudden you see this gorgeous stuning red coat on the window display. You can totally see yourself wearing it and decide to go check it out. You try it on, fall in love with it and you decide to buy it. That is what exatly happened to me last year 🙂 A nice red coat goes a long way, you can wear it to work, parties or on top of the little black dress to the opera or theater. They are fashionable, eleganat and classy. They come in all types of styles; long short, differnt color of buttons, different tones of red, etc. Studies show that red is one of the most powerful, confident colors to wear.  Red is definitely an eye catching color so don’t be surprised if you get a lot of stares looking your way. You don’t even have to think hard of what to match it with as red is a neutral and goes perfectly with basic colors like black, white, tan, navy to create a classic look. So ladies, don’t forget to buy a red coat this year 🙂 and if you have one,  rock it out!

 

 

 

Oxford Street and Topshop

In the heart of central London’s busiest shopping district lies Oxford Street. It is Europe’s busiest shopping street and has approximately 300 shops. Running from Marble Arch to Tottenham Court road, it’s one and a half miles of retail heaven with every major store. Add into the mix a number of London bars and restaurants and you’ll see why Oxford Street is said to be the busiest shopping street in Europe. The street’s present name comes from the Earl of Oxford who, in the 18th century, bought up much of the surrounding land in order to develop it. This development continued until the early 20th century and resulted in the thriving shopping area we see now.

One of my favorite stores on Oxford Street that I absolutely love visiting is Topshop! My friend took me here two years ago and from the moment I walked in, I did not want to leave. It has four levels of clothes for any type of fashion style that you can imagine. They have shoe section, jewelery section, and so much more things to see and try on. I always make sure that I make stop by this store when I am in London 🙂 it’s definitely worth checking out!