Ibiza!

One long weekend at the end of September, Sally, Char and I set off for a girls weekend in Ibiza, for Sally’s London Hens! We had a lovely weekend sunning ourselves by the pool, partying and exploring the island, with a few dares for Sally thrown in. And with that I give you, the photo highlights!

Advertisements

The Amalfi Coast

With my lovely friend Kristin visiting the northern Hemisphere, what better a time to spend 5 days frolicking around the Amalfi Coast. Over the 5 days we ate lots of delicious food, swam in the delicious waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea and explored the coastal towns. 
We stayed in Positano, in a family owned and run bed and breakfast, high up the coastal hills and with spectacular views of the main town. Views aside, it was quite the sweaty climb which made for a great way to burn off all the calories. Amalfi town we explored by getting a ferry down, admiring the coast as we went. We also took a day trip by boat to explore the island of Capri, where we wandered and explored the island, as well as swimming off the boat. 

Unfortunately, a holiday like that can’t last, but I can highly recommend a relaxing few days on the Amalfi Coast. 


In the ‘Dam

Another weekend, another trip away. This time I was off to Amsterdam with Edin and Katharine. After a bit of a rocky start consisting of a cancelled flight, a night in an the Gatwick Hilton and a new 6am flight, we finally made it to Amsterdam and made a beeline for Anne Franks House museum. 

I was somewhat disappointed with this experience. So many rave about this, and although it was surreal being there and seeing where they lived, the place was absolutely jam packed with tourists and this completely ruined the experience for me. 

After depositing of our bags at our vey funky hotel room, we headed out to see the Rijksmuseum, and of course the I Amsterdam sign. This museum was quite incredible, mostly due to the Dutch Grand master paintings by Vemeer and Rembrandt in its collection. These were very stunning to see in real life, especially as these artists were the first to really explore light and depth and accurately illustrate this. 

After the Rijksmuseum and a drink and a snack, we wandered our way along the canals to the meeting point for our red light district tour. This tour was very interesting and informative, and was great way to see this world famous area and learn about it in an objective way. It is definitely strange to walk down a street and see windows with women pouting and smiling and bouncing in their underwear, trying to attract clientele. 

The next day after a bit of a sleep in, Katharine and I hired bikes and rode to meet my friend Julie who is currently living in Amsterdam. After breakfast in the park, Julie took us on a fab bike tour of Amsterdam including Vondelpark and the Jordaan neighbourhood, before heading to De Hallen for lunch. 

After De Hallen it was time for the Van Gough Museum, followed by a ‘rice table’ where Julie and a number of her friends also joined us for dinner, drinks and laughs. 

Our last day was only a half day really, so after another sleep in it was time for another museum, this time the Stedelijk. I found this museum somewhat underwhelming if I’m honest. Next up we went off on a canal boat tour to see the city from the canals and learn a bit more about the history, architecture and neighborhoods. This was our last activity before having to make our way to the airport after a lovely but full on weekend. 

Milano

Oh Italy, how have I managed to live in London for a year and not make it to Italy. Well, let me say, Milan did not disappoint. 

After a late night flight and creeping into my hotel room in an attempt to not wakemy travel  companion, I was reunited with my fab friend Antonia who was on a wee Eurotrip. 

Saturday morning it was all talking a million miles and an hour as we caught up and made our way to breakfast and then the Duomo. The Duomo and its rooftops were absolutely stunning, and provided a fantastic perspective on not only the famous Cathedral but also the city. Next up we wandered through the teeming Galeria, before setting off in search of lunch. We hit the jackpot with a fabulous Mozarella bar and so began our food heaven experience. Truffle pasta, buffalo mozzarella, delicious salad and Aperil spritz. All my food dreams coming true, much to the dismay of my PT. 

After lunch we explored the Castello Sforzesco and wandered the park, before making our way to the Church housing ‘The Last Supper’ to try our luck. Unfortunately there was nothing available so we opted for gelato and some errands before quiet time before dinner. 

Dinner again was food heaven, complete with more Aperol and of course some Italian red wine. With an early flight the next day, this bought my first Italian foray to a close. Bring on the Amalfi Coast! 


Granada

We arrived in Granada to a lovely sunny day, eager to explore another new place. After leaving our stuff at the hotel we were off for a wander through the streets on a brief walking tour, to learn some history and key areas. After our wander it was time for a beeline for tasting of wine, cheese and Spanish ham. We also enjoyed a tradition tapas experience, where you order a drink and the tapas come with it for free! You don’t get to choose the food, it is just what the tapas bar is offering on a given day. 

After wandering the shops while Mum and Dad had a rest, and a quick dip in the hotel pool, we were off wine tasting. Little did we know, the wine tasting came tapas style, so for each new wine we tasted, we also got a taste morsel to sample. After wine tasting which was delicious and also fabulous fun, I went for a spot of shopping in the Spanish summer sales, and scored myself a lovely new bag! Winning!

The next day was our big day for exploring the Albayzin and The Alhambra Palace. We wandered the streets of the Albayzin, learning about the history of the area and current day situation, whilst glimpsing stunning views of the Alhambra palace. After lunch it was off to the Alhambra, where we toured all of the fort, royal palaces and the summer house. The palace although quite grand from the outside, is actually quite plain. The inside however was absolutely stunning in its decorations, carvings and mosaics. 

Spending a full day out and about, walking and exploring, meant we were all truly ready for a break and snooze before heading out for a last dinner in Spain together. Our last day in Spain the next day consisted of more rugby, before ambling around the city until our late evening flight back to London. 

Grazalema and Ronda

After the bustle of stunning Sevilla, we were off into the hills of Spain to visit some of the white villages. 

Enroute to Grazalema where we would be staying first, we made a stop in Zahara de la Sierra. This was a very cute and quaint town up on top of hill, over looking a stunning turquoise lake and with a signal castle on top. Obviously we had to climb up to the lookout point in over 30 degrees in the blazing sun, and the views were absolutely worth it. After lunch it was on the road again to Grazalema. 

Grazalema is another of the white villages, nestled in a National Park and surrounded by hills and beautiful walking trails. It was also a place where our hotel had a pool, so guess what we did that afternoon before a tradition Paella dinner?

Our whole day spent in Grazalema was started with a tramp up one of the walking tracks for a view over the national park. Luckily it was a much milder 24 degrees and the path much more friendly, making for a lovely walk through some quite stunning scenery. After our walk I explored some the villages shops on pursuit of a new bag, before we went off cheese and sweet wine tasting. After the cheese and wine and a lunch I was more than ready for an afternoon nap before dinner. 

The next day we set off bright and early for the village of Ronda, famous for its bridge and the sheer cliffs which surround it. When we arrived it was still relatively quiet, but not for long. It was soon absolutely swarming with tourists. After a wander thirsty the shopping area, we set about exploring the village including the famous bridge, Mooriah palace, Roman baths and old roman walls. We also wandered the winding streets, did a spot of shopping and enjoyed a delicious lunch in the shade. That evening before dinner we made the hike down the cliffs for a different perspective of the town and bridge. 

After a lovely time in Ronda, we were off to Granada!


Sevilla

Back at the end of June, I was lucky enough to spend a week traveling in Spain with my parents. First stop, Sevilla!

When I arrived it was an insanely warm 43 degrees, even at 9pm. Luckily it was a relatively dry heat, so it was actually quite nice. This sort of temperature was to be a theme for the remainder of our time in Sevilla.

After a drinks and Tapas for dinner, it was early to bed before a day of exploring the city. But before we could do that, obviously we had to watch the first All Blacks vs Lions test at an Irish pub. We were the only kiwis and surrounded by POMs so luckily the All Blacks won. After the rugby we wandered down to the banks of the river Guadalquivir and along, before heading to the (in)famous Bull Ring. We did a quick tour of the Bull Ring and its museum which was very interesting, and the colours inside were absolutely stunning. Can’t say I agree with what goes on there but fabulous to see such an amazing space.

After the bull ring and a tapas lunch in the cool of some air conditioning, we made our way to the Sevilla Cathedral. This is a stunning structure, including aspects of the old mosque but with the inside remodeled to the catholic style. The old orange orchard from Moorish times is even still outside with flourishing orange trees.

At this point Mum and Dad bailed out for a bit of a rest while I explored the shopping district and wrote some postcards home.

Our second day in Sevilla was a full one, with plans to explore the Plaza de Espana and other monuments from the World Trafe Fair, as well as the Real Alcazar. The Plaza de Espana and monuments with their surrounding park were very beautiful, and it was lovely to spend the morning walking through the grounds.

After a quick snack, it was off to the Real Alcazar, where we explored all the beautiful rooms of the Moorish Royal palace as well as the stunning gardens. At this point, it was stinking hot and we were all pretty hangry so we made our way to a lovely local tapas reatuarnt for summer wine and lunch before an afternoon snooze.

After a lovely dinner at a restaurant once visited by Cameron Diaz and Tom Cruise, and a good nights sleep, we were off into the hills of Spain!