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Trips away

Trips away

Beer, Pretzels, Cycling and Cheese: highlights from a weekend in Munich

June 3, 2015
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It’s been a bit quiet on here recently, but we’ve had a busy couple of weeks. For the bank holiday weekend we visited Munich – my first ever time in Germany! We visited some friends who we met when we were travelling 5 years ago in South America – 2 years ago they visited us in Bristol and so it was our turn to visit them (they had been in South Africa before then which was a bit harder to visit, hence the 2 year gap!).

Munich was a really lovely surprise – we didn’t really know what to expect (not having done any real research) – the only thing we knew was that it was famous for the Oktoberfest, so we were expecting to drink a fair amount of beer!

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Let’s also spend a minute talking about the pretzels. OHGOD, soooo tasty! I think beer and pretzels and cheese is a match made in heaven. We were there for 5 days and I’m pretty sure we ate a pretzel every day.

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And they seem to like their pastries and cakes too. Basically a coeliac’s nightmare, but everyone else’s dream.

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We’d been pretty worried about the weather all week – it had been amazing for the previous weeks but every time we checked the weather app in the few days before it just said torrential rain. However once we were there it didn’t really rain too much – it was mostly just overcast with spots of rain every now and again. So one of the highlights of our trip were to hire bikes and cycle round the city.

Munich is the perfect city to cycle around – the bike lanes are pretty much all on the pavements – they’re really wide and spacious so you don’t have to worry about sharing the roads with cars, and it’s just a really relaxed city to cycle in.

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One of the stops on our trip was the Englischer Garten – a huge park in the north east of the city, which also had a couple of beer gardens which we had to stop in.

HOT TIP – they sell ‘Radler’ all over Munich, which is pretty much a shandy but with more lemonade then how we might make it here. And it’s called a ‘radler’ because the word ‘rad’ can also mean bicycle (Fahrrad is the actual word), and it’s the beer you drink if you are on your ‘rad’ cycling around the city! I can’t confirm this is true, but our mates told us that it probably was…

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Also, just on the edge of the Englischer Garten was this standing wave in one of the Isar’s tributaries – it was quite surreal seeing guys and girls carrying surfboards on their bikes throughout the city, especially with it’s proximity to the Alps!

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On the bank holiday Monday our flight back to the UK wasn’t until later in the evening, so we took advantage of the (finally!) good weather and went to Starnberger See – a lake south of the city – for a walk along the lake. We got the train that headed towards Tutzing, and got off at the penultimate stop to walk from there to Tutzing.

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This was more of the ‘real’ Bavaria – the houses all had fancy balconies and were decorated with paintings on the outside, and there were very few foreign tourists. The lake was beautiful, and you could just about see the alps in the distance, although apparently on a clear day they very clearly loom over the lake.

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I would really recommend taking a trip to Munich if you haven’t been before – it was really chilled, safe and a very pretty city. The food and drink were great and I would say it’s the perfect city break. Let me know if you want any more tips!

Sofia <3

Something different, Trips away

4 years later – feeling nostalgic for New Zealand and care-free living

November 20, 2014
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I have been feeling somewhat nostalgic of the ’round the world’ trip Tony and I went on four years ago. The clear skies and crisp, autumn weather have for some reason got me thinking back to when we were in our van, travelling down both the north and south island, stopping off whenever we fancied it.

Luckily, we kept a blog of our whole trip, and looking back on it every now and again brings back so many fond memories. And it’s quite funny that, at the moment in Bristol, there’s talk of having reached ‘peak burger‘, and 4 years ago almost to the day Tony and I were preparing to go to two of Wanaka and Queenstown’s famous burger restaurants: Red Star and FergBurger, and Tony was gearing himself up for both of their burger challenges. In fact, he even did a blog post about it, giving various ratings for the two (FergBurger won!).

ferg burger ferg burgerTony and the ‘Big Al’

lake wanaka Lake Wanaka on the South Island of New Zealand

In total, we travelled almost 4,500 miles around New Zealand in our Isuzu van, and it was one of the highlights of the trip for me (and I don’t even drive – I got to take in all this amazing scenery!) Don’t get me wrong, I couldn’t be happier with where I am at the moment – we own a lovely house, live near all our friends, have great jobs and all that, but sometimes it’s nice to think back to those times when you didn’t have any of that to think about. Our most pressing decision would be where to stop off for the night, or whether we’d be eating peanut butter sandwiches again for lunch or if we would treat ourselves to a pot noodle…decisions, decisions!

If you want some travel inspiration and are interested in taking a look at where we went and what we got up to, check out www.southernhemisnuggets.blogspot.com (Nuggets from the Southern Hemisphere….don’t ask why we chose that name!!). I’m so glad we kept that blog now, as it’s so lovely to look back on and re-ignite memories of the trip.

Are you feeling nostalgic for anything at the moment?

Sofia <3

Trips away

Perfume, sir? A Design Marketo event for the London Design Festival

September 24, 2013

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Sometimes you go to events and exhibitions because it’s expected or planned, and sometimes you just come across an absolute gem of an event.

This is what happened to our friends Leanne, Callum and Darren, who were wandering around the streets of East London on Saturday afternoon and stumbled in to the Design Marketo event that was all about perfume and pepper. Luckily, when we met up with them they hadn’t had enough of the exhibition, so were perfectly happy to take us along as well!

The concept was pretty simple: ask a selection of different artists to come up with objects, designs, products with the concept of perfume made from pepper in mind. It was a “multi-sensorial exhibition exploring the many different effects of this most ubiquitous spice”.

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What we saw was just beautiful. The space was lit quite dimly but with a warm, orange light. The pieces were suspended on planks of wood from the ceiling, which added a woody note to the warm, lush peppery smell that permeated the room. When you walked in a French man accosted you and sprayed your arm with a perfume made from pepper and made specifically for the show. It was beautiful, and changed and evolved on your skin as the day went on.

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This one was an oxidised copper mirror by Lex Pott – so beautiful!!

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One of my favourite concepts of the night were these Scent Pebbles by Pia Wüstenberg which were small glass vials which were then injected with this perfume scent inside them. The point is then that you wear the ‘scent pebble’ on a chain as a necklace, and the perfume just disperses around you throughout the day.

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They were certainly popular, as most of them had been sold by the time we arrived, and it’s not hard to see why! The glass mini bottles were just so beautiful, and so unusual too.

The whole event was beautifully laid out, and even the event signs throughout the event were written using actual peppercorns. Cute, huh?!

Apparently this was Design Marketo’s first foray in to an event based around perfume. But judging from this first one, I will definitely be looking out for more events like this in the future. Thanks to the organisers for a wonderful experience :)

Big love <3

Sofia

Trips away

Postcards from Sardinia: Cagliari

September 19, 2013

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It’s been almost two weeks since we returned from Sardinia and i’m still missing it every single day. We went to the same place as last year, but this time managed to stay for good 12 days which was just amazing.

Although last time we didn’t really venture further than the beaches 20 minutes up the coast, this time because the weather was more changeable (or rather, it wasn’t 38 degrees every day!!) we managed to go to Cagliari for a look around the capital city of Sardinia.

It was actually a really pleasantly surprising city to walk around! I’m not sure what were were expecting, but certainly not very much…so many of the small, winding streets had so much character, and it almost felt like you were walking into another time. I thought i’d share some photos I took whilst walking around…i’m trying desperately to imagine myself back there!!

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A selection of some of my photos of the streets around Cagliari – in fact the pictures below of all the graffiti pretty much came from one area/street!

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Taken from the top of ‘Torre del Elefante’

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Next week i’ll share some of the photos from the rest of the holiday (can you tell i’m trying to drag it out as much as possible?!)

Big love <3

Trips away

The big blue sky took me!

September 12, 2013

Boat, sea and sky

I’m sorry, i’ve been more than absent the last month and a half.

We moved house at the start of August and since then life has been somewhat busy with filling and unpacking boxes, stripping wallpaper, visiting the fish and chip shop round the corner…then after that we went to Sardinia for 2 weeks which was utterly relaxing, sunny and stunning scenery as ever.

Autumn is very much in full swing now here in Bristol (and, I assume, the whole of the UK!) and we are now settled in our house. Even though there is loads of work to do, it’s going to be so much easier managing my time to do it all, as well as keeping up the blog and other activities.

I’ve got another LoveBristol feature coming up next week, as well as photos and stories from our Sardinian adventure. I’m glad to be back in the blogging seat, and I hope you think so too!

Big love <3

Out and about, Trips away

Seaside fun and time for reflection

July 23, 2013

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What a difference some nice weather makes to your mood.

As you read this, the thunderstorms have probably hit and given the ground some much needed saturation. I, for one, really haven’t minded the hot weather at all…it’s funny how the British just like to complain about it so much. It’s like last summer didn’t even exist – I can barely remember one sunny day from last summer, let alone a whole month! I don’t particularly like thunderstorms though…I don’t mind the thunder so much, but the lightening just frightens me to death! I think it’s from the summers in Italy when these huge thunderstorms would hit after a prolonged period of exceptionally warm and humid weather, and I remember they were so loud they were almost deafening. You’d wake up with a ringing noise in your ears!

Anyway, back to the pleasures of basking in the good weather. We were able to take the opportunity to go to the Isle of Wight to visit Tony’s parents and get some well-deserved beach time. If you’ve never been to the Isle of Wight, summer is the perfect time to go!

Walking along the seafront in Gurnard to Cowes we admired all the boats coming out of the marina for a day sailing on the Solent. At 11am cannons are fired to mark the start of a race (I think…i’m not really sure!) and this guy waves his captain’s hat at the sailors of the boat, presumably wishing them a good race and a great day’s sailing. The cannon noise came as a bit of a surprise to everyone, even thought there was a warning sign!

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Later on, we headed to the town centre for some much deserved Bembridge crab sandwiches. A typical British seaside tradition if there ever was one!

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The afternoon was spent at Compton Bay, one of the most beautiful beaches of the Island. It’s a great surf spot too, although on that day the sea resembled more a lake than the ocean as it was completely calm and still. The water was a bit cold, but so, so refreshing and a welcome revival of the mind after an immensely busy week at work.

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Since then i’ve been fairly quiet on here and on the social media front. You know how sometimes you feel you just have to get away from it? And sometimes, the longer you stay away from it the more you wonder why you tweet, why you have to instagram in that particular moment… I suppose there’s also the fact that i don’t just want to blog for the sake of blogging, but to say something more meaningful and insightful, as well as talk about one of my favourite cities, Bristol of course!

In any case, i’m back from my temporary hiatus. Hello again and welcome back! :)

Big love <3

Trips away

Oh hai, Oxford!

June 11, 2013

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Oxford: what a beautiful city!

On Sunday I had the privilege of visiting this fine city to meet up with some of the girls who attended the Blogcademy with me in January. I have to say I was a little nervous, as I hadn’t seen all of them since then and had only really kept in touch on line. In any case, I had no reason to be nervous because as soon as I got there the lovely Miss Xandra Bee was waiting at the train station for me, and we got talking right away about the day’s plans and the awesome burger place we’d be going for lunch (more on that later).

I hadn’t visited Oxford since about 10 years ago when I stayed with a friend who was studying at the University, and so as we walked around the streets started to become more familiar to me. The streets were lined with a seemingly endless line of bikes, tied and secured every which way possible, and there was a wistful, carefree feeling in the air of some of the students who’d quite clearly finished their exams and were settling down to a long summer ahead. It seemed like a fairy tale!

First stop: Atomic Burger!

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The first stop on our whirlwind tour of Oxford took us to one of their finest burger establishments: Atomic Burger. Readers of my blog may remember a while back when I blogged about the Atomic Burger in Bristol, when Tony did the Fallout Challenge. Well folks, this is the original and, some say, best.

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Some of the retro toys on display in Atomic Burger

They do all sorts of burgers there, all with quirky names such as Sergio Leoni, the Big Cahuna and James Earl Jones! I had the Messy Jessie – a beef burger with goats cheese, rocket and red onion marmalade (trying, and failing, to be ever so slightly healthy!). I also had a side portion of Sci Fries (chips with chilli and garlic) and a bottle of coke. Yum!

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It was a biiiig plate of food, but so good! I was super impressed as well, as Xandra explained to me that she was quite a regular customer to Atomic Burger. So regular, in fact, that she had completed the sticker book (they give you stickers of all the meals from the menu, and when you fill up the sticker book you get a 20% off card!) in record time!! Well, maybe not in record time, but she was the first one ever to complete it! Not only that, but she’d also done the aforementioned Fallout Challenge a few months back and not given up. What a legend!

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Xandra and her Space Cadet card. It’s card number 1!!

Afterwards, we gathered outside for an obligatory group photo outside the venue, taken by Jo’s lovely friend Zoe who had just moved to Oxford and was hanging out with us for the day, seeing the sites. (Good luck in your new job Zoe!!)

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Me and fellow blogcadettes Xandra, Jo, Anita and Lucy

The Vintage Fair

After the burger, we headed back towards the Town Hall for the Vintage Fair. I was looking forward to trying on some cool dresses and resisting buying anything (sad, I know, but much needed). The Fair was being held in the town hall which was beautiful. It made me think about Bristol’s Town Hall…or rather, it made me wonder what on earth Bristol’s Town Hall was like! I don’t even know where it is!!

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I tried on a couple of dresses for fun, more than anything. The yellow one reminded me of something Megan from Mad Men would wear out on a date with Dom, her hair all perfectly backcombed and with immaculate make up. Unfortunately, it gave me very pointy, er, a very pointy “chest”. I suppose living in the 60s has it’s downsides after all…The blue one I just loved the colour of, but it was too tiny! Why were vintage people so tiny?!

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I was pleasantly surprised actually (not that I thought Oxford couldn’t put a good vintage fair on!) but there were some really good, high quality dresses and items of clothing. Some of them were a bit pricey, but quite a few things were in pretty good condition.

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Wanderings around Oxford in the sun

The last part of the day constituted wandering around the city in the sun, taking in some of the more traditional sites. Xandra took us to the college she lives at, Exeter College, and it turned out just perfect as the weather was gorgeous!

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The college was just stunning, and we even got access to a more private location that mere mortals aren’t allowed to venture normally (thanks to Xandra’s student status).

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A big thing in the blogger world is taking photos…and taking photos of photos, and taking photos of people taking photos taking photos…what?!

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One of our last stops of the day was to this little cafe/bar called Turl Street Kitchen. It was just beautiful, mostly because it had the most awesome tiles I have ever seen. Very ‘on brand’ and my only regret is that I didn’t take a photo with my proper camera. What a wally!

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It was such a lovely day, and i’m just sad that it was all over so quickly! Time just flew by, and before we knew it we were heading to get a quick ice cream at G&D’s before making our way back to the train station (I had the B52, Baileys, Kahlua and Cointreau flavour which was so good!). I’ll leave you with this image of Oxford which I think sums it up quite nicely, sun, bikes, and old street sign and quirky cafe. Love it!

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Thanks so much to Jo and Xandra for organising such a great day, and there is already chat about sorting a meet up in Bristol which I am very excited about! I have a feeling that the Bristol meet up will have to involve cider though, hopefully my fellow blogcadettes are up for that?!

Thanks also to:

Atomic Burger, Oxford Vintage, Turl Street Kitchen, G&D’s ice cream cafe, and Exeter College  for making the day absolutely fab!

Big love <3

Trips away

De Madrid al cielo! From Madrid, to heaven!

May 15, 2013

Madrid: what a beautiful city!

Me, Tony and 4 of our friends headed over there at the start of May. I’ve always wanted to go to Madrid, and after having visited Barcelona a couple of times before and absolutely loving it, I wasn’t really sure what to expect from Spain’s capital city.

We arrived quite late on the Wednesday night, and as we emerged out of the underground at 10.30pm we were met with a bustling, lively square with Spanish people of all ages taking a stroll, drinking and shopping.

In true Spanish style, we went out for Tapas at midnight, accompanied by a Mahou beer and one of my Sicilian friends, Dario, who now lives in Spain with his girlfriend. The night life could not be more different from the UK! Here, people were eating, chatting and relaxing at midnight, whereas if it was the UK you know that people would already be propping up the bar and on their way home by that time! So, obviously, in true Spanish style yet again the next day we were not up with the larks, but rather had to nurse a “slight” hangover…it also meant that our plans to go to some of the art galleries would not happen that day, as some of us still couldn’t focus quite right even by mid-afternoon!

Instead, we spent the day wandering around Madrid and taking in the sights. In order to cure us of our ‘resaca’, Dario took us to this little bar just off the main square and ordered us yet more beer (!?!) and an assortment of tapas fried foods. We had the most delicious prawns, fried chicken and fried calamari. We then headed to the Mercado San Miguel, where the amount of food and drink on offer made us feel a bit giddy! The market had recently been regenerated, at a cost of something like €3 million! It was stunning, everywhere you looked there was different food and drink to sample: wine, beer, seafood, olives (huge olives!), cheese, tapas, cakes, ice cream…the list just goes on an on! Needless to say we returned to the market quite a few times during our stay.

That evening, we were so tired from the night before we just went out for a couple of quiet drinks and some food near the apartment. We wanted to be fresh for the onslaught of galleries on day 2…

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…And what an amazing gallery! We went to the Museo Reina Sofia gallery, where they were showing a Salvador Dalí exhibition. There was a bit of a queue, but that didn’t deter us. The weather was gorgeous and we were so excited to finally be going to see some art. We even had the chance to stop off on the way to eat some ‘churros y chocolate’, and tried something called a ‘Flor miel’ (honey flower?) which you can see in the bottom photo below.

Not only did we get to see the Dalí exhibition, but also Picasso’s famous Guernica, which is part of the permanent collection at the Reina Sofia. The Guernica left me speechless. I have wanted to see it for as long as I can remember, and I was not disappointed. It was a lot bigger than I thought, and the effect it has was so powerful…it was almost worth going to the gallery just for that.

That evening we went to the ‘Junk Club’ for some food and music. When our friend Dario booked the place, they mentioned it would have some live music from about 11pm. Sounds good, we all thought. What they didn’t mention was that the live music would be some guy doing karaoke on the guitar and taking requests from all the diners! It was pretty hilarious, we got him to sing ‘Camisa Negra’ though, and ended up dancing round the restaurant with a feather boa whilst the other diners were still eating…Oh, Madrid!

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As you can probably imagine, Day 3 was almost a write-off again (the Spanish party late, late in to the night!!). We decided to have another wander around the city and see the things we missed the first day, which included some of the older quarters of the town and, of course, more food and beer. Actually, by this time we were getting acquainted with the ‘Museo del Jamón’ (the ham museum – not what you think!) where we bought countless ‘croissant mixtos’ (a croissant with ham and cheese). There was also some interesting sites to see in the main square where the weirdest street entertainers could be found (like, a glitter goat? A fat spiderman? A man pretending to be a baby in a pushchair?!).

We also went to the Círculo de Bellas Artes, where we got to look at the view over the city. Madrid seemed a lot bigger than I first imagined it was!

That evening we went out for some traditional paella to a restaurant called Arroceria Gala in the Letras quarter. We had rabbit and snail paella (the rabbit was delicious, but I can’t say i’m a fan of snails…) and an oxtail risotto (the cheesiest risotto I have ever, ever eaten!). Even though it was our last night, we decided not to go out too late as the next day we wanted to go to the Prado museum (another lifelong dream of mine) the next day.

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The last day! Time flies when you’re on a mini-break! We made it to the Prado museum by 11am (a record – we hadn’t made it out of the house that early the previous days!) and got in before the crowds arrived. It was another beautiful day, and although we were leaving that evening (our flight wasn’t until 9pm) we wanted to make the most of the day.

The main reason I wanted to visit the Prado was to see the Goya paintings, however there were so many more paintings which I did not expect to see that were beautiful. One of the ones which caught my eye was the Garden of Earthly Delights, by Bosch. There was also a Mona Lisa, probably by one of Leanardo da Vinci’s students which was a pleasant surprise.

I wish we could have had a bit more time in the Prado, but i’m sure i’ll go back again in the future…maybe this time with a guide book or something to help us through the enormous amount of paintings there are!

After the museum, we headed to the Latina quarter for a huge open market, and for some more beers and even more fried food! (It wasn’t the healthiest of holidays!). Dario took us to a little café (if you can call it that) where there was a mini-production line of fried sardines, fried calamari – which was, incidentally, the best fried calamari i’ve ever had – and peppers. The woman who was cooking sardines looked like the kind of person you only read about in a Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel – I think she must have been frying sardines all her life!

Later, we got an ice cream (I totally accidentally-on-purpose got flavours that matched my outfit) and headed to a bar for a ‘tinto de verano’ (a summer wine), and just chilled in the sun, watching the tourists and residents go by while waiting to catch our flight. It was bliss!

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Some highlights from the trip:

queso mahou beer seeing old friends our blissful apartment! mega olives tinto de verano spanish hospitality churros  spanish sun  jamon jamon!  listening to genesis after a long night out (!)  dancing in the middle of a restaurant with feather boas  our password to the club “this is the start of a beautiful friendship”  spanish drinks measures  colourful houses  epic balconies  googly-eyeball sweets  tapas!  spending quality time with friends 

So until next time, Spain. Hasta luego!

Mucho amor

Sofia

Dreaming of, Trips away

Dreaming of a Magical Loft in Madrid…

March 7, 2013

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The Prado museum – source unknown

I’m so excited to be going to Madrid in May, and judging by how time is flying by the trip will be here before I know it (total old-person speak, but totally true!)

I’ve wanted to visit Madrid for ages, ever since I read the book Maya by Jostein Gaarder and fell in love with the thought of visiting the Prado museum and looking at all the beautiful paintings, wandering aimlessly around the markets and eating tapas at a cute little bodega.

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Herb Lester’s “Let me tell you about Madrid”

My friend Leanne gave me this amazing little guide (pictured above) which is the perfect size for fitting in a moleskine or diary whilst wandering around Madrid. It looks like it’s got quirky little shops and boutiques and restaurants to try, and i’ve already started looking some of them up online to check them out!

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The Museo ABC – what a stunning building!

I’ve also been looking endlessly at Airbnb and have been adding my dream places to stay to my wish list

preciosa2 What a stunning lift!

apartment-magical This is the dream…listed as the ‘magical loft’, it just looks so, so beautiful!

preciosa1 I love this dining room

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How sweet!

So, if any of you have any tips and suggestions of places to visit, as well as restaurants to try out or anything like that i’d love to know! Hopefully in the next week we will get our accommodation sorted (here’s hoping I win the lottery and we get to stay in the ‘magical loft’!) and then all i’ll have left to plan is our itinerary. I can’t wait!

Besos, mis amores <3

Out and about, Photography, Trips away

A trip to London town

October 17, 2012

I had a lovely trip to London last weekend for a friends birthday and also to go and see the Edvard Munch exhibition at the Tate Modern. The exhibition was great! I love his work, and there were so many pieces which i’d never seen before. Unfortunately the Scream wasn’t there, which is annoying as it probably one of his only paintings i’ve still never seen!

Here are some photos of the trip:

Marguerite Kelsey by Meredith Frampton

Marguerite Kelsey by Meredith Frampton

This painting absolutely mesmerised me when I saw it. It was so, so detailed and the woman looks so serene in it!

The Entire City by Max Ernst

The Entire City by Max Ernst

I loved this one too, again i’m a big fan of Max Ernst’s paintings. They are so weird and wonderful!

Man looking at painting in Tate

I can’t remember what this one was called, but I think it was by an Isreali guy…It looked a bit like Guernica by Picasso, and this guy was sat watching it (or rather, looking at it) for ages.

Unfortunately you’re not allowed to take photos inside the paid exhibitions, which meant I had to settle for a lowly postcard of one of Munch’s paintings from the shop.

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Afterwards we went to the rooftop bar at the Tate (the advantages of having a members card!) and it was such a beautiful evening! Made the gin and tonic taste even better.

St Pauls over London skyline

And of course, the obligatory photo of the London skyline as seen from the other side of the Tate. It really was a beautiful day, and St. Pauls looked stunning!

So, the skirt project is going not quite according to plan…had to botch it slightly, but should be able to post the finished product some time this week!

<3