Monday, June 15, 2015

Mon ami dans Madrid

I know what you are thinking….uh Erika they don't speak French in Madrid. Funny thing though that when confronted with a language you know nothing of that your brain reverts to anything foreign that you do know…so in my case French. It was definitely a laugh!

One of my very best friends moved away to travel just before I did, two years ago and we hadn't seen one another since. It's crazy because with the internet it means I can call her, Skype, FaceTime, Facebook, message, email, everything and I can talk to her everyday. It honestly felt like nothing had changed. I will admit that I did cry a little at the airport when I saw her though!!

Madrid was everything I imagined it would be…so basically like house hunters international. Everyone spoke Spanish, I spoke English and French; I did manage to get out gracias once or twice haha. One of the first things I definitely noticed was the amazing blinds for afternoon siestas and the heat. Ohhh the heat! I've lost my tolerance for heat and my skin is white as an english rose. I may have blinded some people walking around with shorts on.

I made it my mission to try everything, some of the things I don't even know what they were but I did it. Far cry from my peanut butter days, right Dad! At first I didn't understand what tapas were, I assumed that tapas were the name of a meal but actually its a general name for the different appetizers that you can order or get free with your drinks.

I quite enjoyed the spanish siestas, fireworks for the festival that was on, meeting lots of new people, seeing all the touristy sights and basking in the glow of meeting up with one of my best friends after two years!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Feels like Home

Sometimes when you are travelling you find a place that feels like home, that you fall in love with and grow further in love with the more times you visit. Edinburgh has made me feel like this. I just had to return, I suspect I will keep on returning my whole life.

I took an overnight bus from London to Edinburgh and woke up at 6am to the beautiful sun over the hills. In that moment, I was thinking of ways to return again.

If I'd fallen in love in the cold, wet and miserable rain, the sunshine on the hills made me want to forget life and stay right where I was. 

I spent my morning with a hot chocolate, wandering around. I ate lunch at a cute cafe, called City Cafe. It had a fifties diner feel and I just had to go back for breakfast another day. I invited myself over for tea at Holyrood Palace but sadly the Queen wasn't in. I got a lovely tour inside and around the gardens as well.

My delightfully sunny day turned cold and windy with rain of course so I continued my Edinburgh explorations indoors by going on the Scotch Whiskey Experience. I've actually tried whiskey before and in the moment vowed never again. This time I was able to learn how whiskey is made as well as the different areas of Scotland that produce different tastes. I picked a Highlands Scotch to taste and was instructed on the proper way to taste a whiskey, breathing, swirling and sipping allowing it to sit in my mouth before swallowing. I didn't have the same extreme reaction as last time but I wouldn't say I'm a whiskey drinker now. 

The best things about staying in hostels in meeting new people and hearing their stories. I grabbed drinks with a guy from Poland and traded views on everything. Edinburgh's grass market has some great pubs. I quickly realized that I know nothing about Poland or life there. But what was more interesting was that most people leave to travel for the same reason, needing to experience more than what is at home. 

I took advantage of sleeping in the next day, and grabbed an amazing lunch at the Larder Cafe. My lunch was not only huge but delicious too. The place was full and there were people waiting for tables but luckily just being only me I was able to get a table quickly. 

Another rainy wet day but certainly no reason to sit inside when there were buildings to see and graveyards to visit. I walked for hours around Edinburgh exploring up and down streets. The architecture is a big part of why I love Edinburgh, all the buildings are beautiful. 

My last day in Edinburgh I finally tried Haggis and Black Pudding which conveniently came with my breakfast at the City Cafe. I who used to hate trying anything new, willingly tried both. I wasn't a fan of the spices used in them so didn't eat any more after the first bite. 

I was so lucky on my last day that the sun came out again, in full force for my hike up Arthur's Seat. The views were stunning to say the least. I took my time going up taking pictures of everything and just soaking it all in…..oh and trying to breathe because walking around London and hiking up a hill are two completely different things! 

 Another happy place found