Exploring Spain

3 weeks back into school and I’m really in need of some sunshine, so I thought this was quite a fitting post to write. I visited Benalmadena at the end of August and I won’t lie, I had some preconceptions – I was imagining an English-tourist-ridden place with skyscrapers right next to the beach, but I was very pleasantly surprised!!

I want this to be primarily a photo post, because I feel like words can’t do the entire holiday justice to be honest, but here are a few of the highlights:

  • We hadn’t planned it at all but we found out that La Vuelta (the Spanish equivalent of the Tour de France) was passing through very near to where we were staying, so we decided to go and watch that – we made it briefly onto Spanish TV too which is cool!!
  • Benalmadena is split into 3 sections – there’s the coast, the Pueblo and Arroyo de la Miel, which is where the station is. We visited all three; the coast, obviously, was beautiful despite the sea being approx -8°c, the Pueblo was a pretty little traditional whitewashed town, and Arroyo de la Miel (which literally means Creeks of the Honey – how cute!!) had a lovely market, shops and restaurants. I had the nicest tapas ever there in a bar called La Alternativa – defo recommend.
  • We took a cable car up to the top of a mountain!! I think it was around 800m high and the tracks passed right over one of the motorways. It was a little bit terrifying but definitely worth doing, the views are incredible.
  • Being able to wake up, go to the window and see the sea from my room was ridiculously cool. Everyone should be able to experience that, it’s the best thing to wake up to.

Boilin’ in Berlin

Hallooooo, wie geht es dir? (As they say in Berlin)

At the moment, if you asked that to anybody, whether tourist or resident in Berlin, their reply would be something along the lines of “bloody hot”, or the equivalent of that in German. I thought I’d learned to adapt to the heat since we’ve had an actual heatwave here in England, but throughout our entire trip the temperature was constantly about 32°c in the daytime. Pffft.

Incessant and suffocating heat aside, my trip to Berlin was lovely – it was a holiday, after all 😉 – but unusually for a holiday, it also was really quite a depressing place to be. Wherever you go in the city you’re reminded of the atrocities that took place there, some of which only happened in very recent history, and that was quite a terrifying thought. There are hardly any older buildings, because of course they were bombed in the war; the only old ones you’ll see are commemorative ruins (such as the Anhalter station which was used to deport Jews) or new buildings built in an older style.

Our hotel overlooked the Ministry of Finance and a huge tethered balloon, so that was pretty cool. We were about a 10 minute walk from the Topography of Terror (one of the few remaining sections of the Berlin Wall that’s still in nearly perfect condition that’s now been turned into a museum) and, in the other direction, Potsdamer Platz (where the Mall of Berlin and first ever traffic light are located!) so our hotel really couldn’t have been much more central. On the first day we wandered over Potsdamer to the Reichstag and Brandenburg Gate (obvs – if you want to find the tourists just go to Brandenburg). The Reichstag is home to the German government and there’s a huge glass dome on the roof that you can walk up, which would have been made much more enjoyable had it not been 37°c outside; it felt like a huge greenhouse lol.

We went also to the East Side Gallery, the longest section left of the Wall (which was knocked down only in 1989, how scary!!) that now has been turned into a graffiti art exhibition, so that was cool. Around a mile’s walk from the East Side Gallery is the Molecule Man statue which, if you can be bothered (it felt like a lot longer than a mile, although maybe it was just the heat) is really interesting – it’s basically just a sculpture in the river but it’s funky. I recognised it but I couldn’t think where from, but when we’d got back to the hotel I remembered; there’s also one at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, which isn’t too far from where I live!

If you have a spare 3-4 hours and are willing to spend those hours in a museum learning about Hitler’s rise to power and the War, I definitely recommend you visiting the Hitler – How Could It Happen? museum – one of the coolest/most nightmare-inducing parts of the whole museum is that it’s held in a WW2 bomb shelter with walls 4m thick. Despite being more interested in arts and humanities subjects I couldn’t help being engaged in the museum; it’s so terrifying to see how such a huge amount of people could be indoctrinated, and the victims of this.

I’ve only been to Germany once before in my life, and that was on a coach to Austria so this holiday was pretty much my first impression of the country. Everyone we spoke to was so friendly and nice, and also the food was amazing (and really cheap!) if you’re ever in Berlin and looking for somewhere to eat, I recommend:

• prinz bistro, near Anhalter bahn (I had a halloumi doner kebab!)

• Berlin burrito company – I think there are two in the city but the one we visited was near the Rosengarten

• grand rocka cafe is definitely a more touristy choice – it’s in the hackeshe markt, for a start – but their spinach pizza is literally everything omg

• nafi’s is a hidden away Iranian restaurant which I think is more residential than tourist but nevertheless the food was amazing!

Have you ever been to Berlin, or would you like to one day? I think there’s a lot more to do so I’d definitely like to return one day!

Cara xx

Exploring Den Haag

This post has been a long time in the making: I went to the Netherlands on 27th May, and it’s now late July. Hey ho! Here we go 😝

I’ve been to holland many many times before, although never to Den Haag so it was lovely to explore a completely new place, although I feel that a lot of Holland looks quite similar so in a way, even though I’d never been before, I felt like I knew it.

The streets of the Netherlands all feel so warm and welcoming, and Den Haag’s were no different. In contrast though there seemed to be two quite distinct areas – the modern, businessy side of the city, then the more historic, typically Dutch-style buildings. The Sting’s building (also know an the candy box because of its funky colours!) is home to a really nice shopping centre and if you’re in Den Haag, definitely have a look inside – aside from the clothes (obvs I bought some), it’s spectacular and the roof is a beautiful stained glass dome!

The government buildings were absolutely beautiful too, and what’s really cool is anybody was allowed to meander through. We also stopped off at the Mauritshuis (the yellowish building on the left of the photo right above) which is the current home to The Girl with the Pearl Earring and The Goldfinch paintings – I was so excited to see The Goldfinch after reading the book by Donna Tartt, hence the cheesy grin on my face 😉

On our second day we visited Scheveningen on the coast, which is only a 10 minute tram ride out of the city centre yet had a completely different vibe about it. I can’t begin to stress how hot it was that day and how much of a relief the freezing cold North Sea was (despite the look of slight pain I was enjoying myself, I promise!).

I’d like to think I’ll live in the Netherlands at some point in the future, and I’ve got to say I wouldn’t be too unhappy if I ended up in Den Haag!! Despite it being the 3rd largest city in the Netherlands it felt more like a town in some places, very friendly and welcoming yet brimming with culture and diversity and things to do!

Midlands Trek (pt. 2)

Ok so first of all, clearly I can’t keep promises! I was ready to write this post last night after work, but my friend called me and asked me out so I went and didn’t get back home until quite late. Hey ho, it’s here now, so feast your eyes 👀

On day 4, we were moving on towards Hereford where we were booked into another hotel for two more nights, but on the way my dad wanted to stop off at a town called Ledbury (which I had misheard and kept calling it Lebra haha). We literally had an hour to see the entire town because we could only find car parking for one hour, so we rushed around, saw some cute streets, had some lunch and got back into the car to finish off the journey to Hereford.

When we arrived at Hereford, we quickly unpacked then went to the Cathedral to see the Weeping Window – the tour of the ceramic poppies that were displayed at the Tower of London to commemorate WW1.

The next day, we visited Ludlow after stopping off at some of my family’s house. Ludlow is so pretty and historic; we went through the market and the castle and they were both gorgeous.

We also had a delicious meal in Ludlow at The Church Inn, so if you’re ever near definitely try it there!

After that, we headed back to the hotel for our last night (cry cry :(). The next day, we called in on a few places on the way back home – first of all Shrewsbury.

I feel like I didn’t get enough time in Shrewsbury to do it justice, so I really would like to go back there, but what we did see was beautiful (I also had a slice of lemon drizzle cake which was just 👌)! Everywhere we visited on the trip was really pretty and the weather, for once, played to our advantage as it was quite sunny for most of the days! After we left Shrewsbury, we drove to north Wales to see my grandparents, and then carried on back home, so I think all in all that day we were in the car for about 5-6 hours…fun…:)

Xxx

Midlands Trek (pt. 1)

During the Easter half term holiday (which went so quickly by the way, can you believe we’ve been back at school for a week already?!) I travelled down to the Midlands with my family, and we stayed in Warwick for 3 nights and Hereford for 2. I’ve never been to either place before even though I have family and friends who live down there, so it was a cool experience (and we got to see some pretty views, eat lots of good food and meet kind-of-long-lost-family too, so what’s not to love!)

Our first stop was Kenilworth, mainly to see my mum’s auntie and uncle, but we also went to the castle there. I obviously had to get a few photos for the ‘gram – the first photo, of me with the ‘no climbing’ sign is the most rebellious thing I’ve probably ever done, and I’m not even joking there – and then after we’d been caught in a brief-but-heavy hail storm, we decided to go out for some tea. I have to give a shoutout to Zizzi here – your pinoli pizza is incredible 😍

Day 2 dawned very gloomy which was a bit of a pain, although it didn’t stop us from doing anything – after breakfast, we drove over to Stratford upon Avon to do all the essential touristy Shakespeare attractions which, being an English lit student, I liked a lot. Heheh.

I’m just going to share this Shakespeare conspiracy theory (kind of) that we learned when we went to the church where he’s buried, because it’s so weird that it just has to be true! I can’t remember who it was exactly, but a king or a lord at the time asked Shakespeare to transcribe some of the Bible from Latin to English, because he wanted religion to be more accessible for non-Latin speakers. So he did this, aged 46, and if you look at Psalm 46, the 46th word in is ‘shake’, and the 46th word from the end is ‘spear’! I don’t know how true it is, but I just feel like maybe that’s too much of a coincidence to be completely made up.

After we’d visited the Shakespeare Birthplace (which is arguably way overpriced but if you’re into literature, it’s definitely worth a visit – they have actors who take your requests and launch into spontaneous scenes from his plays, which is incredible!!) we had a hot chocolate and some dinner – I had a sweet potato and feta lasagne which was beautiful. I feel like this post is going to be equally as much about food as the holiday haha…

We had dinner in a little bit of a rush as we had tickets booked for the Swan Theatre that night, to watch a new play called The Fantastic Follies of Mrs Rich. Again, definitely recommend, but be prepared because the storyline moves so quickly! I think one of the coolest things about it was being able to recognise some of the actors – most have been in programmes like Doctors and Eastenders which I don’t watch, but I still recognised a few of them!

Day 3 now, which consisted of driving to Leamington Spa and exploring there, and visiting the centre of Warwick. My grandad was brought up in Leamington Spa but me, my brother and my dad had never been so we decided to have a look around and, guys!!

They had a Tiger shop!!

Ok, so, Tiger shops are very rare in England, normally I think they’re only in bigger cities, so I was very pleasantly surprised to see one and of course, I had to go in! I restrained myself from buying anything though, which I was proud of myself for (but look at everything! I literally could have bought the entire inventory of the shop 😍)

Literally the most pointless sign ever, but I’ll be disappointed if my future house doesn’t have one similar!

We stayed in Warwick for an hour, visiting the church and just generally having a look around the town, and then we had some dinner and drove back to the hotel.

I’m going to end this post here, even though there are another 3 days of photos and stories to be uploaded. As of late, time management hasn’t been my strongest point – hence why I’m writing this at 9.30pm on a Friday night – but self-care is also important, and a girl needs her sleep 😉 I promise I’ll write the rest of this post tomorrow! I also have some more ideas for posts, so if I sort myself out in time, watch out for those in the next few days.

Xxx

The enchanted forest

It was Mother’s Day on Sunday so my family and I took my mum out to the seaside, primarily just for a walk, chips and a slice of gluten free cake – mine was churros flavoured, and delicious 😋 we went to Redcar and whilst there’s not much to do there normally, during the Beast from the East storms a petrified forest from thousands of years ago had been uncovered on part of the beach which is so so cool!!

It was kind of other-worldly, it felt like we were walking on another planet! The lumps in the ground that you can see are actually tree stumps and barks from this forest, and a shipwrecked boat had also been uncovered, although the tide was too far in when we visited so I unfortunately didn’t get to see it.

It was quite a surreal experience if I’m honest – I never imagined I’d stand on top of an ancient woodland! My mum kept saying it was magical and that it was an ‘enchanted forest’, and I actually really like the sound of that, hence the name of this post 😊

A “lovely” family day out

Not.

I’m currently sat on my bed, in a pig onesie, eating a bar of dairy milk to recuperate, and if that doesn’t tell you everything you need to know about our disastrous trip out, I don’t know what does.

Maybe I’m exaggerating slightly – besides the mud, getting lost and a lot of barbed wire, it was lovely really 😂

Shoutout to my dad for being my personal photographer!!

So, since it’s half term, my family and I decided to go to Saltburn, a pretty seaside town; there’s not loads to do there, so we figured we’d just have a walk around, buy some chips for lunch and then go to the neighbouring town of Redcar where there’s a delicious gluten-free cake cafe (my mum is a coeliac – allergic to gluten – so finding nice places for her to eat is always important!). From my town, Saltburn is about an hour’s drive away and honestly, that was probably the highlight of the day.

As you can see, Saltburn is very pretty and picturesque so we decided to have a wander along the beach after getting some chips for lunch – very nice!! I’d say we walked for about a mile then followed a sign up the cliff – a sign which said “coastal path” – to go back to the car.

Clearly, my definition of a coastal path was very different to whoever inscribed that sign 😂I personally would say a coastal path conjures up images of a gravel lined lane, surrounded perhaps by some grass and straw-type plants (‘straw-type plants’?! Says the a-level geographer? Tut tut cara, you should know better!), a slight breeze, blazing sunshine and spectacular views. The reality of this so-called coastal path was quite a contrast – picture some patches of land that may once have been fields, but are now so sodden and waterlogged they’re more like lakes, flimsy wooden stiles and a lot of barbed wire, and you get a pretty accurate image.

After trudging half a mile or so in this horrible sticky mud we were slightly worried about our safety, given that we were 200 metres above sea level and slipping around on precarious cliff tops. Being the outdoors-adventurer type of family (again, not) we reverted to the ignorant optimistic approach – surely it can’t get any worse?”

Ah, but of course it can.

We carried on regardless, and met another family along the way with a child about 7 years old, who’d just lost his shoe to the mud and was crying saying that he wanted to go home. I honestly don’t think I’d ever empathised more with someone. I was seriously starting to wonder whether the air ambulance would mind if we asked for a lift, but luckily we didn’t have to resort to that 😂.

As you can just about make out, the hollows in the mud show how deep and sticky this stuff was! Like, our shoes were nearly being sucked off and that’s not an exaggeration; I feared for my Nikes. But, there were some amazing views!

Still, we carried on; at one point, my dad ripped his coat on some barbed wire, my brother nearly slipped down the cliff and my mum wasn’t so happy about our decision to come this way. Somehow though, all four of us managed to stay on our feet – sure, we slid, skidded and splashed but nobody actually fell over.

Eventually we got to another field/lake, and there was no way to go over the fence around it – and even if we could have somehow straddled it, we’d have needed swimming costumes on. At this point, we gave up our pretence of being hardy Englishmen and turned back.Add another 2 miles or so of trudging through the mud, then another 2 finding a lane back to where we’d parked the car, and you get one very tired and unhappy family 😂luckily, we’d parked near a Sainsbury’s so a much needed Wispa bar was bought – always a silver lining, hey?!

Maybe I am being, in typical characteristic style, a little over dramatic, but it was a loooong day. And to top it off, we didn’t even get to the GF-cafe!! 😦 looking back already though I can tell it’s going to be one of those trips that stays in my memory for a long time – maybe not completely for the right reasons, but it’s another story to tell in the future I guess!

Cara xx

(By the way – I upgraded my blog! And I’m very happy with it so far, although expect some more little changes in the near future)