Just came back from 5 days Barcelona. Of course during the first super hot week of the year. Walking all day through a big city at 32+ degrees - I think I need a holiday now!
Met up with my 70 year old dad and my sister. We had booked a sailboat in Badalona, a little outside of Barcelona, which was a great choice. This way we could explore Barcelona during the day, but could return to the quiet harbor of Badalona in the evenings. Since my dad is a Captain who has been working a lot on boats in the past, we thought it would be only appropriate to book a boat for our holidays. The sailboat was quite old and rustic but I really loved it. In fact I would happily live on it! The only downside were the mosquitoes who were eating us alive at night so my sister and I ended up sleeping on deck, which was fine. Waking up with the sun rising over the harbor was lovely.
Every day we made our journey to the big city which was at times quite exhausting, especially in the heat.
We went to the Sagrada Familia obviously, and Park Güell. My dad went to the ship museum, and my sister and I wandered through the narrow streets near the Rambla. In the late afternoons we made our way back to our boat, and chilled a bit at the beach.
We basically lived off cherries and prawns for the week. And for my pre-birthday lunch we went to my favorite restaurant Teresa Carles' Flax & Kale.
It is nice doing these types of holiday with my family once a year, it is almost like back then when we were kids.
So last week I've been to the green island of England. Despite Brexit they still let me in - hooray! I guess August is probably the best time to go to the UK, and I was really lucky with the weather - not a single rain drop in 6 days!!
It was my first time in England - kind of. I heard I had been to Cornwall when I was 2 - shame I can't remember any of that. And I had been to Guernsey with my family when I was maybe 12 or so. And Gibraltar later in life. But does that count as the real England? I don't think so!!
So I was pretty excited to explore a bit of the country so many of my friends come from.
I flew to Bristol late Monday evening, and of course it got delayed by an hour, so I arrived at 2:30 am. My dear dear friend Richard and his 80 something year old mum (bless her heart) picked me up from the airport and drove me to her apartment in Portishead where he stayed for a few days, transiting between Kenya where he works and the United States where he was going to fly to meet old friends.
The next morning we started with a healthy, erm, proper English breakfast in a nearby restaurant. They seem to be obliged to print the calories next to the menu so I found out that a regular English breakfast (ham, baked beans, eggs, toast) contains almost all of my daily calories. Thank God they had fruit salad!
Afterwards Richard and I had a little walk around the harbour of Portishead which was lovely. It reminded me of Hamburg's Hafen-City, so it felt almost like home. I loved that everybody spoke English! Made me feel even more home, weirdly.
Then we took the bus to the city.
It was weird meeting Richard again. It had been a year since I last saw him so it felt a bit strange but it was fun spending time with him again. He showed me the city where he grew up and went to school. Bristol seems a very cool town, again reminded me of a small version of Hamburg, with a small harbour, and some nice record and book shops.
We had a nice lunch in a place with lots of vegan and glutenfree organic foods - heaven when you live in Spain and your usual choice of foods outside of your house is reduced to crisps and olives.. He walked me through lovely English parks with very friendly squirrels. I loved England from the start! It was so nice to have some fresh air and green countryside and cultural life and lovely polite people that don't shout at you (no offence Spaniards!). We ended our tour walking over the Clifton Bridge, and had a lovely dinner at home prepared by his mum.
The next day he flew to Boston, and I made my way to Shalford, Surrey. It took a while to get my train ticket though because the lady said I would need to change 4 times, and take the train via London and it would cost around 60 pounds, and I insisted that couldn't be, I had seen on the internet that I would need to change only once, and it was only 28 pounds or so. Until we found out in the end that I wanted to go to ShAlford, not ShElford. Small little differences in pronounciation.
In Shaaaaaaaaaalford, my sweet friends Peter and Veronique picked me up with their dogs Ela and Ricky. I hadn't seen them in 2 years, so it was lovely spending time with them again. There was a reason I had come to their place! I was going to prepare their wedding menu on Saturday! Very exciting!
In the afternoon I had a little walk with Vero to the next village for our first Gin & Tonic, followed by a great dinner in a church.
The next day I started preparing a few foods while they decorated the garden. We had a little "girl's" night out with Veronique and Peter's sisters.
The day before the wedding I spent in the tiny kitchen, making food for 70 people on maybe 7 square metres. It was a challenge but also fun. Peter's son came over and helped with the Gazpacho soup and a Tiramisu.
And then the wedding day came. I started early in the kitchen with the last food preparations and canapés, while the lovely couple went to the hairdressers and got all pretty.
I couldn't join the ceremony but that was only 15 minutes anyway. Then the guests arrived and the food got served, and it all went well. I was so happy I could help them have a beautiful day. The weather was great, the friends and family cheery and the couple dance a smoking hot Argentinian tango ....aaaaaaaaaaw :)
The next day I helped a bit with the clearing up, and then took the train to Gatwick airport.
Shame I still haven't seen London, and couldn't meet some of my friends living in England! So I definitely need to come back.
Best holidays ever! In August 2015 my dude and I took one week off, to explore Portugal by motorbike. He has a great Yamaha Bike which is perfect for dirt tracks - after a few hours on the highway we noticed our bums though! :)
We wanted (and needed) to travel lightly, so we were choosing the stuff we wanted to take very carefully. Then stuffed it all into one big IKEA bag, strapped it over the seat - ready :) What do you really need?
We drove all the way from Prado del Rey over Seville (tempted to stay for a Gin & Tonic) and then over the border to Portugal. Our first stop was Carrapateira which a friend had recommended to us. It is a lovely hippie and surfer village, even with a vegan-friendly restaurant. We found a cozy little bed & breakfast, El Colesterol, and had our first walk to the beach (and a drink of course). The beach was great, though the weather cloudy.
The next morning we got up early and had a naked morning jump into the ocean, followed by a sweet little breakfast. It felt so good to just stuff our little belongings into the IKEA bag and hop on that bike - free as birds!
Next stop was Lisbon already, but on our way up we stopped at many beautiful beaches.
In Lisbon we had booked a night in a bed & breakfast. I had scribbled down the description how to find it (more or less), and we navigated through the narrow streets stopping at one point to ask in a bar for closer directions - it was right next to the b&b! Yes, we were lucky buggars!
The hostel was very sweet, we had a room upstairs with the view over the river, where we spent two nights. We explored Lisbon, had drinks and coffees, had the mission to find a place with jazz music, and found it, and ate great African food in a two-table place aside from all the touristy fado restaurants.
After Lisbon we headed further up North, direction Sintra. We stopped to have lunch in Azenhas do Mar, a tiny weeny village by the sea. Stone steps were leading down to the sea, where we had a lovely siesta on the rocks. If you ever have a chance to visit this little village - do it! It's magical! The fish restaurant down at the rocks seems fantastic too!
We would have loved to stay here but couldn't find a place, so we finally drove further up to Sintra, the magical fairytale town in the cool forests. Once the summer residence of the Portuguese royals, it is now attraction for many tourists, with its castles and gardens.
Late at night we found a bed & breakfast - nothing less than a huge manor-house with parrots in the breakfast room, and a host with vitiligo hair (or an interesting fashion of dying your hair with white spots). Our little room was sweet, with a great view over surrounding forrests and gardens.
The next day we had a look through Sintra (my dude had been there before) and drove up to the big Castle of the Moors overlooking the town. It is impressive.
The queue to get inside was long though so we decided to skip this touristy part, and leave Sintra.
Driving further up to Ericeira, where friends of us own a surf & yoga retreat. They were quite busy when we arrived so we explored the little town and beach. We stayed there for 2 nights, going out for dinner with our friends, snuggled on the beach, and watched surfer dudes.
Then it was time to drive all the way back.
Tired we made it till Seville, got into the hotel room, and went straight out for Gin Tonics. A few too many quickly drunk - you know the story :) But it was a great way to end our holidays. Hungover we made the last kms back to Prado del Rey.
Best.holidays.ever! And so in love <3