I recently had the chance to spend four days in the ancient city of Girona. Nestled in the Northern region of Catalonia about an hour away from Barcelona, Girona represents an alternative to the rapid and modernised face of Spain.
The stunning 9th century AD walled fortification illustrates an independent lineage which runs through the people and the place, something which is alive today in the latest political fractures like the Catalan independence movement. The air is filled with a quietened revolutionary tension, as almost all of the beautiful facades in the old town brandish yellow ribbons and flags in solidarity with the Catalan people.
Despite this backdrop, I am keen to impress on anyone just how welcome I felt during our visit. We were four good friends who met together from afar. Madison, no stranger to this blog, had flown in from the States. Laura had journeyed from Switzerland and Celia had come from England. Celia sadly had to leave on my first day. As we stumbled along through broken Spanish in our interactions, we were greeted by nothing but patience and kindness.
We spent our days laughing, drinking far too much wine, eating some of the greatest pastries on planet earth and admiring the creativity on display around the city in the world renowned Girona Flower Festival.
In all, it was a joyous first experience of a country that I can see myself visiting again and again. Gracias España!
Over a few days recently we had some proper snowfall, something which doesn’t happen too often around here. Usually this group of friends are a fairly busy bunch, but this was an opportunity far to good to miss and we all decided to take the day to play in the snow. With us were Iulia and boyfriend Thomas as well as Hope who’s been on here before.
We slipped and slided our way to the park, with a big old cushion in hand to try a little sledding. Everyone and their children were out playing and having fun. So did we! Have a look at the photos.
Winter this year has been a dreary affair, having not found much time to play or explore. Working a regular job for a while has led me to appreciate the times when you are free to go wherever you want.
There have been one or two adventures, and certainly the best of them was when my lovely companion Hope and me went out to a place called Birling Gap.
We started the day by visiting a favourite spot in Brighton for coffee and a nibble to eat. Following a nose around in a couple of shops, we departed. Winding our way along the grassy Sussex coastline we came to Birling Gap, where we climbed down and spent time on the beach. There were white cliffs towering over us, as a warm midwinter sun set on the horizon, tinting everything orange.
It was the best day out, as we laughed and played music. Made all the better by the company.
Here are some photos from Hope and myself that day.
I recently had a much overdue visit to Bristol, a city which is stealing my heart more each time I venture there. Although it only lasted two days, I made sure that they were full to the brim. I am already making plans to return again.
One of the absolute highlights was getting to hang out with my old friend Maisie . We caught up in a cafe and then wandered about as we always do, taking a meandering route through central Bristol.
This was my last week living in Bath. For two and a bit years I have created a life, which centred on studies at the university. All at once, I would be saying goodbye to one of my best friends Madi (who is on a long winding journey back home to the States), graduating and moving out of the place I had made into a home.
Although there was a thousand things to do, I would be damned if I didn’t get to spend time with friends in the city. What started out as one simple plan, grew into day after day of great memories, including a pool party in our back yard.
In brief moments of quiet there was an intangible melancholy of things coming to an end. On the final eve, I was captivated by the most breathtaking sunset. I paused my desperate packing for a while and was drawn outside for a final walk.
I just returned from spending a week in the French city of Nantes. I visited once before, right when I first started writing on this blog. When I was there three years ago, I vowed to return and spend more time.
During the course of this last week we became increasingly familiar with the streets of Nantes, and were more and more relaxed as a result. Figuring out how to use the trams played a great part in this.
The architecture of Nantes is fascinating, at once ancient and bright. With its pale stone walls, sunlight bounces off the buildings and lights up the streets below.
There is something amazing about the city, beyond it’s immediately tangible beauty. We saw, tasted and heard a different way of living. It is a place where whole families will happily sit in open restaurants on the street, at ten o’clock at night. Nothing is overtly alien, and yet a thousand small quirks add up to a unique place which needs to be experienced first hand.
Certainly, it is one of the most textured and culturally rich places I have been.
I know a place where you can feel completely away from the world. In the middle of the woods, and far off the beaten track is a thicket of lush Rhododendron leaves.
Completely surrounded by vegetation, no-one knew I was there. The trees above were swaying gently in the breeze, but that was the only sound. The fresh scent of damp wood and earth permeated through the place. I had wanted for a long time to explore here; to carefully step right into the centre.