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.

A life update

At the start of the summer holiday I said to myself that I was going to upload a blog post every other day 😂 whilst that hasn’t happened, rest assured I have been doing equally important things.

I’m currently in Spain on holiday and having such a good time, but I just got the urge to write something – a form of procrastination? Yes. I’ve brought some books I want to read for school as well as for my personal statement but ya know, it’s the holiday…I don’t have a lot of motivation right now. Anyway, blogging/writing counts?? I take 2 English a levels, surely it’s at least a relevant form of procrastination!

It’s Saturday as I write this, which means I have one week and 2 days left of the summer holidays, and I still have a lot to do. However, I’m also promising myself (and vowing that I will definitely not break this promise!) that I’m going to write at least 2 posts before the end, as a mini back-to-school series. I’ll definitely do a study-oriented Q&A and I have a few ideas for another post, but is there anything you’d be interested in hearing my opinion about? For context, I’m studying in the UK and about to go into year 13, and I study English lit, English Language and geography and I took my GCSEs last year. Leave me a comment, I’ll answer it regardless of whether I also write a post about it!

I bought my first bullet journal the other day and I’ve got to say, I’m possibly too excited about it. As soon as I get home (I didn’t bring it with me) I’m going to start setting it up because I just can’t wait until 2019! I’m hoping it’ll provide some motivation throughout the year and give me an accurate record of what’s possibly going to be the biggest year of my life – the year I turn 18, sit my A Levels and go to uni!

So…next year. I’m disappointed in myself, to be honest, that I don’t post on my blog more than twice a month or so, and I’m going to change that. Next year is going to be more pressurised but I also need to bear in mind that I’m allowed to switch off from school and indulge in hobbies, and therefore I’m going to be making a really conscious effort to post at least once a week. I think I’ll have a set day where a post will go live and then there may be extras throughout the week, so watch this space 😉

I’ve also set up a new Instagram account which may be a little drastic but I was just feeling a bit trapped with my other – if you’d like to give me a follow, you can find me @avo.cara.

Hope you’re having the best summer!!

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!

The ultimate summer bucket list

I have precisely 6 more lessons until summer, but sadly they’re spread out over 3 days…ugh, nearly there!

To get into the summery vibe well and truly (I say that as if I’m not already haha, I’ve literally done no school work this past week since my mocks have finished!), I thought I’d write all the things I’d like to do this summer – my purse may not allow everything haha, but hopefully I’ll achieve a lot.

  • Book tickets for a concert
  • Read 50 pages of a book per day (at least!)
  • Rebrand my blog (ooooh, exciting!)
  • Go book thrifting
  • Go alpaca trekking!!!
  • Write my English language coursework (fun fun fun)
  • Get started on English lit coursework as well as geography (again, fun!)
  • Explore towns and cities nearby
  • Go on trains!
  • Plan an interrailing route
  • Try at least one new food
  • Run more
  • Start drawing again, especially mandalas and portraits
  • Go shopping for clothes
  • Have a huge clear out of stuff (I’ve come to the realisation that I am actually a hoarder)
  • Try at least one new cafe
  • Visit at least one new place
  • Buy some posters for my wall
  • Get up early enough to see the sunrise
  • Learn Spanish again
  • Write blog posts every other day (let’s see how that goes!)
  • Do some baking
  • If you follow me on Instagram you’ll have seen (or will soon see) that I’m temporarily deactivating my account. I feel like Instagram has changed and I’ve not completely adapted to this new version; I’m not drawing as much as I used to, which is what I used to feature mainly on my account and so I’m struggling for photos; I’ve lost so many followers in the last couple of days because of the stupid algorithm and I’m just generally not enjoying posting. I’ll probably only be gone a couple of weeks, just so that I can get back into the zone, but I’ll be focusing much more on my blog and twitter (hint hint: if you want to keep up with me, follow me on here and on my twitter!)
  • 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