#take12trips Months 1 + 2

My #take12trips challenge has started off with a bang as I visited several places during January and February. Let’s just hope I can keep this momentum up for the rest of the year!


2016 began with trips to Ireland. It was lovely to see my family twice within a short space of time, as this is usually a rarity. We spent an afternoon in the coastal town of Malahide, with a blustery walk along the beach before the heavens opened, and then sheltered inside from the rain with copious amounts of tea. We also went for a big family meal that ended in drinks and dancing in the local pub – there’s nothing like great music and fantastic company to lift your spirits.

kate and laura ireland

I also discovered a new part of London in January. A friend and I went to Escocesa, a Spanish restaurant in Stoke Newington that I had been wanting to try for ages. There were so many delicious dishes on the menu, I just wanted to have them all! In the end, we settled for a mixture of seafood and meat platters as well as patatas bravas and padrón peppers and we weren’t disappointed – if I closed my eyes I could have been back in my favourite tapas bar in Gijón. After our Spanish feast we wandered down Church Street, lined with cafés and independent shops, just in time to catch the bus to Screen on the Green in Islington.



I thoroughly enjoyed my first proper visit Stoke Newington as it has a real village-like atmosphere with plenty of independent cafés and galleries. It feels a world away from central London, yet, a few stops south on the overground, and you’re surrounded by the sky high towers and buzzing atmosphere of the City. I’d love to explore more of Stoke Newington, as I feel this bohemian slice of London has a lot more to offer.


The second month of the year was all about pre birthday celebrations in London and a visit to the South West of England.

A close friend and I celebrated our birthdays by going to see War Horse at the theatre as well as going for a pre show bite to eat at a tapas bar in Seven Dials. (Spanish cuisine is definitely a recurring theme, can you tell it’s my favourite?)  We were enthralled by the performance of War Horse as we were transported to World War I, and felt so moved by the end.

At the end of February I spent a long weekend in Bristol, discovering genteel Clifton, bohemian Stokes Croft and the street art that is synonymous with the city. More on my visit in a later post.

bristol street art 1

discovering street art in Bristol

What’s coming up in March? I’ve just come back from a long weekend in Belgium, and I’ve got upcoming trips to different parts of the UK, as well as a big change near the end of the month. I’m pretty confident that March will be just as successful on the #take12trips front as the first two.

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Where I’d like to travel…2016

In terms of my travel goals for 2015  I did better than the previous year, visiting five out eight destinations (along with a couple of unplanned extras!). Some of my most favourite trips were within Asturias (which you can read about here).  It just goes to show that you don’t have to travel far to experience the beauty of nature.

There’s still quite a few trips I have yet to write about, (coming soon, I promise!) and I spent quite a few weekends away when back in UK in the autumn. So all in all, a pretty good year for travels with new and old friends.

Travel plans for this year are slowly coming together, so I’d thought I’d share where I’m hoping to go in 2016.

Admittedly, this year may not be as exciting as 2015, in terms of exploring new places, but if last year taught me anything, it’s that it is so important to nurture and invest in friendship. Who better to show you round a city than a friend who knows a place like the back of their hand?

So, that’s the tone of travel I’d like to set for this year. 2016 is looking to be quite uncertain at the moment, so rather than hoping to experience new destinations, and then be disappointed when those hopes are not fulfilled, I’d like to use this year to revisit places I love with the people I love (and who often know the place better than me).

I’d also like to draw on the the idea of exploring beauty closer to home, which is why each month I want to go on a mini adventure. Whether it’s exploring a new area of London, or going to a different city, I think it’s important to find ways to stay curious about the world around us. This idea has been inspired by the #take12trips challenge I’ve seen floating around the internet, a fantastic concept that makes you see the adventure in even the smallest of trips.

The first big trip of the year will be to Belgium in March. I absolutely love Belgium every time I visit (see my previous trips in 2013 and 2014) and am so excited to be reunited with my Erasmus friends, and hopefully explore some new parts of the country.

girls brussels2013

my friends and I, Brussels, 2013

Soon, I will also be heading to South West England for weekends to Bristol and Bath to stay with friends. Having been to both cities before, I’m looking forward to getting know Bristol better, (my previous visits have always been brief) sample a traditional Bath bun, and explore the countryside around this Roman city.

roman baths

Bath, August 2015

Of course, no year is complete without a visit to Ireland. Plans are in the works to spend time in Galway and the West Coast, as well as ticking off some more things to do in Dublin. I’d especially love to go on a literary tour of the city, and see the Dublin of James Joyce and Oscar Wilde.


West coast of Ireland, 2014

trinity college

Trinity College, Dublin, 2015

Gijón will always be special to me, and it would be great to return once the weather is a little warmer. Some of my friends still live there and I’d love to visit!  I can’t wait to spend time at the beach, walk along the seafront and get my favourite icecream from Regma, and of course head back to my favourite cafés and restaurants. It would be a visit down memory lane, and I’m sure one that will make me want to move right back!

gijon sign

San Sebastián  is somewhere I’ve been wanting to visit for so long, but I didn’t manage to make it when I was living a few hours along the coast (crazy, I know!) It is the European City of Culture for 2016, so I’d love to go and experience some of the special events – no doubt they will be pulling out all the stops, this is Spain after all! Maybe this year I will finally get to try the heavenly tapas this city is famous for?


Bahía de la Concha, San Sebastián, source

In the summer I’ll be heading back to South West France for a relaxing few weeks. A good friend of mine still lives in the Champagne region in Northern France, so I’d love to pay her a visit, and of course, try and squeeze a visit to my old home, and favourite city: Paris.

pont d'avignon

Avignon, Summer 2015

eiffel tower

Paris, 2014

There are a couple of other travel ideas floating around at the moment, but don’t want to give anything away just yet, so stay tuned!






Filed under Ireland, Paris, Spain, Thoughts, Travel, Travel Plans, UK

Exploring Extremadura

Spontaneous trips can be surprising, stress-free and above all, lots of fun. Obvious? Well, not to the girl who likes to plan days out with friends as far in advance as humanly possible, and recently debated for over an hour on whether to buy tickets for the new Harry Potter play.

So, back in April, when a friend asked if I wanted to join a roadtrip to Southern Spain, two days before departure, I didn’t have time to think, plan so just answered enthusiastically, “of course!”.

Luckily for me, my friend is also a bit of a planner, and, having lived in the region two years previously, knew it well. On the morning of departure as I hot footed it up to her flat, I saw something perched on the coffee table that made me smile: an intinerary. ‘aaaaand relax’ I needn’t have worried, this trip was going to be jam packed and exciting; my friend had it covered.

Often overlooked by its more well known neighbours, Salamanca to the north, Seville to the south and Madrid to the east, our destination was the region of Extremadura: the home of oak groves, jamón and storks. Having visited a university friend in Cáceres for a weekend in Spring 2012, I was eager to return and explore more of the area, and find out just why my friend in Gijón raved about it so much.

parque nacional extremadura

Monfrague National Park

Following a six hour journey by car, in which I watched the landscape change from luscious green to terracotta reds and earthy oranges, we arrived at our base for the weekend: the capital of Extremadura, Mérida. One of the most important cities in the Roman Empire, it has more preserved Roman ruins than any other city in Spain. Over the course of a few days, we criss-crossed the city exploring the Roman Ampitheatre, the Roman Bridge, and the Temple of Diana, as well as walking past some uncovered, preserved ruins, sometimes, right beneath our feet. I find the ingenuity and foresight of the Romans fascinating, and that part of their world is still standing 2,000 years later is a testament to their engineering.

merida roman

Roman Theatre, Mérida

Of course, no visit to Extremadura would be the same without tasting some world-class jamón. My friends and I went to the best in town; Nico Jiménez, and let me tell you,  that place serves absolutely delicious ham – I could eat it all day!

Next on our list was the medieval town of Trujillo, famous for being the home of Peru’s conquistadores including Francisco Pizarro, whose statue stands in the Plaza Mayor. As luck would have it, we were in town the same weekend as the national cheese festival, and so, we spent a wonderful afternoon sampling wine and cheeses from all over the country, including one dipped in chocolate, all for under 10 euros. We then climbed to the top of the town, following the old city walls (burning off the calories we’d just consumed!) to admire the sprawling countryside and uninterrupted views. A Saturday well spent I’d say.



During the weekend, we also fitted in an afternoon Cáceres, whose city centre was as charming as I remembered, and great to wander around without the threat of having to shelter from the rain, as was the case on my last visit!

On our way home, considering Extremadura’s proximity to Portugual, we made a detour over the border for lunch. We ate at El Cristo, which is unassuming from the outside, but famous for its seafood. Safe to say, it was the first time I had used a mallet instead of cutlery! I just had to time to take a few snaps of the intricate azulejo tiles on the local church, before hopping into the car to leave the heat, and Roman history behind, and head north to cooler climes.

My second visit to Extremadura was different to my first in 2012. Having the freedom of a car meant I was able to see parts of the region that would otherwise have been difficult using public transport, and it was the first time living in the North that I had gone back to the South, so it was interesting to see the South through “new eyes” so to speak.

Extremadura, and Mérida in particular deserves a spot on your list of places to visit in Southern Spain. Sure, it may not have the bright lights and flamenco culture of Seville or the historical gravitas of Granada, but it has something else: authenticity. Towns and villages steeped in history, delicious local food, sunshine, and a laid back attitude, I can certainly see why my friend loved this place so much.

merida girls

Aqueducto de los Milagros, Mérida



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Adventure is never far away…

Having been back in the UK for a few months now, and with no immediate international travel plans on the horizon, I think it’s high time I start exploring more places on our doorstep. I’m lucky enough to call the UK home and live so close to one of the world’s most vibrant, culturally rich and exciting cities: London. With all the wonderful things our capital has to offer, I’d be silly not to take advantage while I can.

Exploring places on our doorstep was something I outlined in my 2015 travel plans and living in the verdant green, and naturally beautiful region of Asturias, it was easy to do. I don’t mind the rain so much when it means such a breathtaking landscape! Here are a few of my favourite spots I visited in Asturias (although, I did cheat slightly, and one is over the border in Cantabria, shhhh…)



A town on the eastern edge of Asturias known for being the setting of several films (you can follow the Llanes de cine trail around the town), this place comes alive in the summer when madrileños and asturianos alike spend their holidays here. Back in January though, the streets were deserted, the summer revellers long since packed up, and it was biting wind and lashing rain that greeted me when I arrived to spend the weekend with friends.

When the rain finally let up, we meandered through the cobbled streets and made our way down to the harbour, to see Los cubos de memoria, a welcome pop of colour against the grey sky. The beaches empty, we walked past up onto the headland to admire the town spilling out below and the salty sea spray crashing menacingly against the ragged cliffs. Just as the light was fading, we made our way home through the Gothic Quarter, with the sea behind us and the mountains up ahead. Sometimes, visiting a place out of season can be just as worthwhile, because you get to see a place that isn’t pulling out all the stops to show off, but yet, still impresses you.



San Vicente de la Barquera

OK, so this one is slightly cheating as my friends and I crossed the border to Cantabria for the day when I was visiting Llanes. With views like this of the Picos de Europa mountain range, who can blame us?

This little fishing village was pretty to wander around for an afternoon. We climbed up huge stone steps and along the old city wall to reach the church of Santa María de los Angeles, and drink in some incredible views of snow-capped mountains, and in our search for the obligatory 4pm café con leche, we stumbled across what I can only assume to be a Spanish village equivalent to Crufts –  a very entertaining end to an afternoon!

picos de europa

Covadonga and the lakes

Covadonga holds a special place in the history of Asturias and Spain. It is the location of a famous battle in 722 in which Christians defeated the Muslims who wanted to push their power into the north of the peninsula, and is generally thought to be the beginning of the Christian Reconquista: the centuries long fight to drive the Moors out of what is modern day Spain and Portugal. The victor, Pelayo, went on to become the first king of Asturias. So yeah, kind of a big deal.

I was lucky enough to visit back in April with my school, as getting there is quite awkward with public transport. It was a chilly, overcast day, and what the Asturians call orbayu, a light rain that gets under your skin, hung in the air. With the basilica shrouded in mist and the mountains closing in, the atmosphere became rather eerie and I imagine it must have played to the Christians advantage in the battle, all those years ago. Later that afternoon, following a path up and around the foothills of the mountains, the mist began to lift, and the sun peeked out from behind the clouds. We turned a corner and ahead lay Lake Ercina, snow-capped mountains glittering in the background, and if we climed up a few steps to a grassy ridge, we could see both Lake Enol and Lake Ercina side by side.

covadonga lakes


Often said to one of the most picturesque villages in Spain, I visited Lastres once when my parents came to stay, and once, on a pitstop from Celorio to Gijón when I had the best fresh fish I have ever tasted in my life! (If you ever go to Lastres, PLEASE have lunch at El Cafetín, it might be a little more expensive than usual but SO worth it!) On both occasions, we climbed the steep steps from the port to explore the maze of old streets, and on my second visit in late July I was able to appreciate the deep purples and blues of the hanging flower baskets as well as the uninterrupted view out onto the calm and open sea. (One that was obscured by sleets of heavy rain during my May visit – oh the Asturian weather!)



Lastres flowers

There were plenty of other villages in Asturias that I enjoyed visiting, and I feel so lucky that all of these fantastic places were within an hour or less of Gijón.

celorioCelorio, just down the road from Llanes, where I spent two weeks in July.


Cudillero, a sleepy fishing village, built into the hillside.


Ribadesella, childhood summer home of Queen Letizia, and where we spent a weekend celebrating a friend’s 21st.

tapia de casariegowaves rolling in at Tapia de Casariego, western Asturias.




So, you don’t have to travel far to go on an adventure. It’s closer than you think…

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Filed under Asturias, Cantabria, Day trips from Gijón, Spain, Travel

In love with Lisbon

Sometimes, you visit a place and it has such an effect on you, that you still dream and about your time there even months after you return home. This is exactly how I feel about Lisbon. Walking along the hilly, cobbled streets from the station to my hostel, I kept stopping and looking up as the sun streamed on to the intricate, colourful buildings and bathed them in a beautiful golden light. I had only been in the city for half an hour but Lisbon had aready impressed me.



Portugal’s capital is a place steeped in history. From it’s heyday during the Age of Discovery in the 15th century when the Portuguese seemed unstoppable in their quest to discover the New World to the earthquake of 1755 which all but destroyed the city, Lisbon has certainly had its fair share of ups and downs. It sits magestically atop seven hills, and from one of it’s many miradours you can drink in the incredible panoramic views, and admire the city spilling out below.


Nothing quite gives you a flavour for the city than tram 28 which takes you on a breathtaking, and sometimes hair raising journey across the centre. The conductor makes no effort to slow down as the tram whizzes down one of Lisbon’s many hills at break neck speed and then creaks slowly as it makes it way up through the narrow backstreets into the higgedly piggedly Alfama district. It’s here that you can really see the mark the Moors left on Lisbon. The slightly dilapidated architecture and  chipped paint on the buildings show that this area is far from perfect; washing hangs from balconies, children chase each other through the tiny alleyways and the sound of Fado drifts from tiny bars. I was lucky enough to have a personal guided tour around Alfama and the area surrounding Praca do Comercio as a weekday afternoon in February is the not the most touristy time of year. It was incredible to feel the city come alive through the colourful history and the stories that my local guide told me. For example, the Moors planted orange trees all over Alfama to disguise any unwanted smells and was seen as the city’s first drainage system, and did you know that between 1920 and 1926, Portugal had forty-five governments!

I couldn’t quite believe how beautiful this place was. When exploring the elegant shopping district of Chiado and old-wordly Baixa, beautiful churches with fading frescos and old school shopfronts awaited me around every corner I turned; it felt like this part of the city was frozen in time. Gone were the high-rises and the concrete jungle that are usually part of a modern city, instead there were whitewashed and pastel coloured buildings, some a little shabbier than others, as well the Gothic ruins of the Convento do Carmo and the Igreja do Santo Domingo which miraculously still stands after being almost razed to the ground by the earthquake.


Belém is where Portugal showcases its strong ties with the sea. Their empire was built upon ships forging out into the Atlantic Ocean to Africa and beyond, eager to bring riches and power home to Lisbon. The Monument to the Discoveries, which commemorates those pioneers stands magestically over the River Tagus, looking seaward, as if to remind us that the journey to discovery is never ending. Further along the river is the Torre de Belém, a fortified tower which provided protection to Lisbon during and after the Age of Discoveries. Admiring these monuments, I couldn’t help but be in awe of the power of the sea. It plays such a vital role in the history of Lisbon; it was the gateway to Portuguese power during the 15th and 16th centuries, and it still has an influence on the city today. A short walk from the riverfront is the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, Belém’s showstopper, (it’s not hard to see why!) and again built to commemorate Portugal’s dominance on the seas. Although I didn’t see inside the monastery, (the ticket woman was not fooled by me trying to cover the 2013 expiry date on my student card) I did pop into the just as beautiful (and free) chapel next door whilst my friends benefited from their cheaper student entry.





You can’t really visit Portugal without sampling the famous pastéis de nata, and whilst the queue otuside the original place in Belém was absurdly long, my friends and I did try custard tarts in a little bakery in Rossio Square. Oh my goodness, they are definitely worth the hype; flaky, buttery pastry, with velvety custard and just the right amount of cinammon. Heaven in a pudding!


Watching the sun set over Lisbon on our last evening, which bathed the city in that warm glow that I remembered from my first afternoon, I felt so happy and relaxed. We had explored the streets at our own pace, without the need for an itinerary, taking in the atmosphere and enjoying each other’s company, especially as it had been a long overdue reunion with a friend from Paris. As darkness fell, we hopped on one of the vintage yellow trams that took us through the sparkling lights of the city and into the maze of Lisbon’s cobbled streets.



Filed under Portugal, Travel

A cosmopolitan weekend in Brussels

Brussels is a city that makes me feel that I’m at the centre of Europe when I visit, and this time was no different. After being enchanted with the Belgian capital on my last visit in October 2013, I was excited to go back and taste more delicious waffles, drift through the cobbled streets, and maybe put my finger on what exactly makes me love this place so much.

Thanks to a four hour delay at Santander airport (oh, the joys of flying with Ryanair!) my friends and I arrived very late one Friday evening in December. Determined not to dwell on the time we lost, no sooner had we checked into our hostel then we were out in the cold in search of something to eat. Wandering down the streets behind La Grand Place, we ate what is readily available late at night: Belgian frites of course. Piping hot, and eaten straight from the cone-shaped paper bag, they were just what we needed after our less than ideal journey.

The next morning within thirty seconds of stepping out the door we were in Brussels’ main square. A few friends and I set off to investigate the city armed with a walk already highlighted on the map and wrapped up warm against the December chill. As I soon discovered through our walk, Brussels really is a city of many contrasts. One minute, you’re wandering along the cobbled pavements around the Royal Palace, through beautifully manicured gardens imagining you could be in a Jane Austen novel, then, you turn a corner and you’re brought right back to the 21st century with the European Parliament building and other skyscrapers towering overhead. Yet, before you know it you’re back in the medieval centre again, gazing up at the opulent guilded Town Hall. As well as these contrasts, Brussels is a wonderful blend of both cultures and languages, with French and Flemish complementing other one another, and a smatter of other European languages thrown into the mix; whilst roaming through the streets, I heard English, Spanish, Italian and Swedish. To me, this confirms Brussels’ status as a Pan-European city.


If that wasn’t enough to show the Belgian capital as a cosmopolitan city, my experience of the Christmas markets was nothing short of a whirlwind culinary tour of Europe. Enticing smells and treats caught my attention as I made my way around the Alpine style chalet huts. There was everything from traditional Belgian waffles, produce from neighbouring France to gluwhein and frankfurters from Germany and Italian pannetone; this was most definitely a continental Christmas.

You can’t really go to Belgium and not sample one of the country’s finest exports: beer. Following a recommendation from a friend, we visited Delirium Café, squeezing ourselves onto a little table in the hugely popular and crowded bar. This place holds the world record for the most varieties of beer sold, and as I flicked through the endless menu, I understood why! I’m not the biggest fan of beer but this place certainly didn’t disappoint. I also popped into a smaller branch of Delirium Café to catch up over fruit beers with myBelgian friend, Eli who I hadn’t seen since my previous trip in the autumn of 2013. Like with any good friend, as we chatted away and laughed hysterically together, it was if no time had passed at all, and made my quick trip to Brussels worthwile.

Delirium Brussels

All too soon, our trip to Brussels was coming to an end and after a such a short visit I left wondering when I could book a ticket back again. I’m still not quite sure what intrigues me about this city so much. Maybe it’s that I always spend such little time there that I feel I haven’t quenched my desire to discover it? Maybe it’s a combination of the food, hearing French, and the mix of gritty with picturesque? Or maybe it is the people I’m with? I always feel so lucky to have friends in different places, and to be able to travel with friends who share a similar desire to experience new places and take advantage of the proximity that Europe offers us.

One night, we witnessed a light show that was projected onto the buildings in Grand Place. As I stood there, gazing into the cold, December night, watching as the lights streaked across the starry sky, I felt incredibly lucky. Not everyone is able to book a quick getaway to a European city, and travel as many weekends as they like. After spending time with great friends in a brilliant city, I came to realise just how fortunate I am to have the freedom to travel.


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Exploring on a rainy day in León

Originally, I had planned to publish my post about León months ago but then things got a little busier (extra classes, travelling, Christmas, moving flats etc.) and  it was never finished. I stumbled upon it again this week as it lay languishing in my Drafts folder. So, although started in early December, with some tweaks and edits along the way, I finally finished it this week.

On our two hour journey to León, the bus weaved its way, first, through the green Asturian countryside, then gradually the landscape became more rugged, and soon mountains appeared. If I craned my neck to stare out of the window I could just see the snow capped peaks in the distance.

The cold was biting as we turned a corner, unsure of where we were headed and a heavy leaden sky loomed overhead with the threat of rain. With only a thin scarf and one layer underneath my coat, I was completely unprepared for the weather that greeted us when we arrived one early morning. Rubbing our hands together to keep warm, we walked at a brisk pace, hoping to chance upon a road that would lead us to the centre.

The rain didn’t hold off for long and  soon enough the heavens opened. We dipped into a little café so as not to resemble drowned rats before our exploring had even started. To warm up from the cold outside we had churros with a piping hot large cup of chocolate – my first since returning to Spain, and it did not disappoint!

Once the storm clouds had passed we followed the brass scallops in the pavement which mark the Camino de Santiago all the way to León’s magnificent gothic cathedral. Started in the 13th century, it is influenced by Reims cathedral, and boasts wonderfully intricate stonework and dazzling stained glass windows. It attracts many visitors each year because of its beautiful and original windows and also its location on the Camino de Santiago. Inside, people dutifully made their way around, peeking into the ornate chapels, careful not to make too much noise. I love the tranquility of churches, especially in comparison to the fast pace of the world outside, and the sheer craftmanship of how stonemasons were able to create such an impressive building never fails to amaze me.


From the cathedral in Plaza Regla, we wandered along the ancient city walls and down through cobbled streets, careful to avoid the many puddles along the way into the Old Quarter. Here, we criss-crossed the narrow streets and stumbled upon a market selling all kinds of fruits, vegetables and other local specialities. We took shelter once again in a covered part of the square as the rain poured down and debated how best to spend the rest of our rainy afternoon in León. Of course, what bettter way is there than with food? Decision made, we popped into to a little bar for tapas and drinks, and also made a quick stop in the Museum of León to learn a little more about the history of this city before catching the bus home just as the sun was breaking through the clouds.

This city surprised me with its well preserved historical centre, and the cathedral’s stained glass windows were superb, even without the sun shining through them. León, I’m so glad I took the chance to visit you even on a rainy day, and I’m sure you’re even more beautiful when the sun is out!


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Filed under Day trips from Gijón, Spain

Where I’d like to travel…Spain

So, I realise we are now in March, but as my travel diary is slowly filling up for the next few months, I thought there’s no time like the present to share my Travel Wishlist for 2015. Similar to my 2014 goals, I’m going to write about where my wanderlust takes me, within the country I’m living. However, unlike last year’s list, I will visit more than one place on the list (it was Reims, if you’re wondering). In an attempt to make these goals more attainable, I want to explore the beauty that is closer to home rather than that magicial, far flung place across the globe.(although, that would be pretty great too!)

In no particular order, these are the regions or cities that have caught my attention for one reason or another. Maybe, I’ve been told about the breaktaking scenery or delicious dishes (Burgos, I’m looking at you and your morcilla!) Either way, I’m going to try my hardest to visit these places before July.




First on the list is the region next door. This rugged and green region in Spain’s rainy north west is often compared to Ireland. Maybe this is why I have a longing to visit it? Ireland will always be a special me and maybe Galicia too will win my heart with its Celtic charm. I’m always fascinated by languages so I’d love to see how gallego and Spanish interact with each other in this fiercely proud region.

green galicia


Next up, is San Sebastián which is a few hours away along the Cantabrian coast. I don’t have to say much, but rather show you this gorgeous photo of Bahía de la Concha. The only thing stopping me from packing a bag and going right now is the weather. I’d love to visit in late Spring or early Summer to see the bay and it’s dazzling waters in all their glory.



Another city that has recently caught my eye is the home of Spain’s oldest Gothic cathedral, Burgos. Once the ancient capital of the  kingdom of Castile, this city is steeped in history, not to mention that it also boast a fabulous gastronomic scene. A good friend studied in Burgos and was forever telling me about how wonderful it was. Now that I’m back in Spain, I’d really like to pay it a long overdue visit.




Some may ask why I didn’t visit the birthplace of paella when I lived in Murcia as it was definitely closer then. The truth is, I’m not quite sure how this fantastic seaside city managed to slip through my radar. Another good friend of mine currently lives in Valencia and I want to pay her a visit this summer. I’m excited to explore the old cobbled streets, and get my geek on at  Ciudad de las Artes y Ciencias.




There are so many beautiful places right here on my doorstep. Asturias isn’t called Paraíso Natural for nothing you know!

When I first beganing researching Asturias, the beautiful Lagos de Covadonga were one of the first things I came across. Nestled in the Picos de Europa mountain range, Lake Enol and Lake Ercina are a breathtaking sight.



Higgedly piggledy colourful houses climb up into the cliffside. Use a little imagination and the sleepy fishing village of Cudillero could almost be akin to Portofino. Not to mention the superb, isolated beaches only a stones throw away.



Similarly, the white washed village of Lastres is extremely picturesque, and I can just imagine myself,  when the sun is shining seated at a little café with a sidra in hand, admiring the stunning coastline. What’s not to love?




My love for Portugal has been ignited by my recent trip to Lisbon, and now I’m itching to discover the country’s second city. Getting lost in the tangled network of old streets, admiring the buildings adorned withe beautiful azulejos and of course, tasting the local tipple, port sounds like a weekend well spent to me.




Filed under Asturias, Portugal, Spain, Travel Plans

February Reflections

Wow. I blinked and we’re already in February. Where on earth did the first month of 2015 go?

Christmas break was a wonderful mix of catching up with old friends and exploring new eateries in London, which are my two favourite things combined. I arrived back to Gijón at the beginning of the month, refreshed and ready to tackle the New Year and whatever might be just around the corner.

January was a busy month, involving more work, lots of planning and even a move so updating this little corner of the Internet has taken a bit of a back seat. No more excuses though,  2015 will be the year I put more of a regular effort into this blog. There, I’ve put it in writing so now I have to commit.

I take pleasure from writing, and often find it carthartic and always take a sense of achievement from something I’ve taken the time to create. Some may ask why I choose to write a blog rather than a private diary, if the reason I write is for mainly for myself. While that is a good point, I write a blog so that I have both a written and visual record to look back on over time. An online record also means I am able to share these moments with the friends and family who are not in my daily life, but who are instead a Skype call away.

In world where social media is ever present and sometimes overbearing, it is important to take time away from constant interaction and immediate gratification on the Internet. This is perhaps why I have not updated my blog in nearly 8 weeks. I’ve been out enjoying myself; I’ve visited new places, participated in Dry January, held a dinner party, attended an open mic night,  drank sidra, (midnight on the 1st of February I might add!) discovered new cafes for dessert  and witnessed a storm.

There is lots I’d like to share about my travels plans for 2015, trips to Brussels and Llanes, as well posts on Lisbon (which is happening next week by the way) How is that nearly now?! it doesn’t seem that long ago that I booked the flights!

So, keep your eyes peeled!

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Gijón International Film Festival

Once a year Gijón takes a leaf out of glitzy Cannes’ book and holds an International Film Festival. Granted, it doesn’t quite ooze the glamour of Cannes, nor does it attract the famous faces usually seen at the Venice or even nearby San Sebastián festivals, but all the same, it’s a celebration of cinema.

Started in 1963, the festival continues to grow year after year attracts more professionals from the film making world. The festival comprises of début film showings as well as panel discussions, and Q&A sessions. Held in different theatres in Gijón, the festival offers a chance to explore new areas and a cultural side of the city.

This year’s festival was held from 21st- 29th November and I was lucky enough to watch two films at the Teatro Jovellanos in the city centre. Having walked past this building many times over the last few months and admired the decadent entrance, I was excited to finally go inside. It was everything you’d expect from an art deco style cinema; a magnificent domed ceiling, fabulous corner facades and balconies covered in a rich gold colour and plush, large seats swathed in red fabric. This was going to the cinema in style.



The first film I saw with friends was an American film called Hombres, Mujeres y Niños. Given that the title was in Spanish I only realised it was an English language film with Spanish subtitles when I arrived! The film centered on several families, the complex relationships within each one, and the prevalence and subsequent influence of the internet on our daily lives.



The second film I saw was the French film ‘Les Combattants’ and we were lucky enough to have the director introduce and explain a little about the film beforehand. Set in the Pyrénées-Atlantique region of France, the two central characters Madeleine and Arnaud meet and then both attend an army training camp. The film explores themes such as the destruction caused by man, and how love and solidarity can be key to survival.


les combattantssource

I preferred the second film to the first, mainly because it was wonderful to hear French again, and I thoroughly enjoy films that make you think a little more and reflect.

Gijón is continuing to surprise me with its wealth of activities. There is never a dull moment here, and there is always something to do no matter what your taste. The Film Festival is just one example of how this small northern seaside city is making sure people stick around.  I’m sure more and more people will soon get wind of how great Gijón is, and will come and discover it for themselves.

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