Madrid’s vibrancy and energy beckons

I loved Madrid! So much more than I expected to. Madrid’s vibrancy is what makes her stand out from other European cities. Every corner you turn there’s a splash of colour, plentiful avenues lined with artsy caf√©s and tapas bars, and on every street a gaggle of excited young people hanging out. Life is lived on the streets.
The mass of vibrancy and colour is set to a backdrop of tall white buildings, like an artists studio, the white backdrop makes the action in the forefront stand out.

If Paris makes every effort to be a chic city who ensnares visitors with her stylish avenues and romanticism. Madrid purely¬†enjoys life, doesn’t care what you think of her and takes¬†her¬†visitors along for the ride.

Lonely planet puts it like this:

“No city on earth is more alive than Madrid, a beguiling place whose sheer energy carries a simple message: this city really knows how to live.”

Madrid rooftops


I say the buildings are a backdrop, but in reality the beautiful historic white buildings in themselves are a spectacle. The intricacy with which they have been designed, with fascinating cornicing well finished with ornate black wrought iron railings. I would live in Madrid if only to stay in one of the beautiful white and black apartments.


White apartments Madrid's Apartments


As it happens we stayed in an apartment that I found through AirBnB (how amazing is that site?!) just along from Plaza Lavapi√©s. The apartment itself was a genius use of space; it consisted of one bedroom and a living area with open plan kitchen as well as a bathroom. But as it is a traditional corrala building with high ceilings, a second wooden staging has been built below the ceiling to create a platform plenty large enough for a double bed. Staying in the residential area of Lavapi√©s rather than a hotel enabled us to have a more authentic experience. It was interesting to witness Madrid’s real every day life for a short time. On our way back through the building one night we meandered round ladies pulling in their washing at 11pm while gossiping in the hallway!


Air BnB apartment. Lavapiés

Lavapi√©s is one of Madrid’s barrios, a residential area close to the city centre. It’s very multi cultural, popular with students and immigrants, not so popular with tourists. But to sit at the street side caf√©s drinking local vino in the sunshine, enjoying the beauty of the pink blossom falling all around from¬†trees overhead and being surrounded by a babble of excited chatter and a whole variety of cultures together on one place. I can’t think of a much better place to watch the world go by.

Madrid as a whole is very green city, considering that much of the surrounding area is mountains and red dirt – as well as many vineyards that hadn’t quite sprouted in mid April. Madrid has many trees rooted along her avenues and a plentiful supply of parks to wander through. The Buen Retiro park is perfect location to escape the passionate buzz of the city and enjoy some peace for a while before being drawn back to the energetic centre.


Some of my highlights of Madrid were: the experience of seeing Real Madrid play at the Bernabeu stadium, the view of the city’s rooftops from the terrace at the Circulio de Bellas Artes, roaming along the Gran Via and the slightly frenetic yet unmissable experience of the food market ‘Mercado San Miguel’. More on those in my next post!

B ūüíõ

“Madrid, a city with music in its soul and an unshakeable spring in its step”

A day at Niagara and the Beauty of the Rainbow

What started off as a trip to visit my childhood friend, somehow escalated to a three week trip incorporating New York City, Toronto, Niagara, Vancouver city & parts of Vancouver island.

Today’s stop – Niagara. Niagara Falls is one of those places that you know you really should experience at some point, but don’t necessarily feature high on the travel list. Partly due to the expense of getting there if I’m honest. So when we planned to spend a few days outside Toronto with my Great Aunt & Uncle, I just knew we had to see the famous falls.

Niagara Falls and river

We arrived to the inevitable hoards of tourists lining the long promenade. Entering the promenade from behind the falls, my first impression of them was “Oh, I thought they would be more impressive than¬†that!” However as we wandered further along, I changed my mind.
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Driving in 3 Continents

After my recent slightly petrifying experience of travelling on the roads in Greece, I began reflecting upon experiences of driving in variety of other countries.

According to my husband, I am not the most careful or conscientious driver. However as a rule, in comparison to many countries, I think that British drivers are really rather polite! Sure occasionally
someone drives up your rear too closely or drives infront at snails pace. But rarely has anyone ever been seriously rude or massively inconsiderate towards me on the road in Britain. Well, other than the time that I changed lanes and accidentally cut in front of a lady, who in apparent rage drove up my rear until I moved over then sailed past me pulling her middle finger! Rude.

¬†Phil on driving in Rhodes: “This is like driving in a computer game. Except that you don’t have extra lives!!”

Eldoret, Kenya Dhaka, Bangladesh

Picture left: Moped taxi in Eldoret, Kenya.     Р    Picture right: busy junction Dhaka, Bangladesh

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Wanderlust or just love to travel?

I wonder…

Why do my generation seem to have an insatiable thirst for travel? That longing to experience new and exotic locations, and delve into other cultures, far surpasses that of the previous generation.
Is it that mass media has introduced us to the reality that the world we experience daily is not the ‘norm’? Maybe it is that travelling in itself has become a far less arduous task. With the introduction and expansion of an array of budget airlines, it has never been easier to hop on a flight and arrive at a new destination within a few hours.


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Beautiful Lindos and Rhodes Coast with a Musical Twist

Driving along the coastal road and coming over the brow of the hill, the beautiful little town of Lindos appears in all her glory. Set on a green hillside, with a turquoise bay on either side and castle-like Acropolis sheltering her from the sea breeze.

View of Lindos

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Adventures in Rhodes (Round 1) with a Musical Twist

After watching Mamma Mia on DVD, admiring the scenery and becoming ever so slightly obsessed with songs, I decided I wanted to visit Greece. I didn’t have any particular preference, just one of the Greek islands. So when we arranged to go on holiday with friends I suggested Greece. My girl friend suggested Rhodes and since the 3 boys were happy with anywhere warmer than home, we were off to Rhodes.

We had a mammoth 21 hour journey by car and plane through Scotland, northern England, Manchester and Athens, finally arriving at our holiday home in Rhodes!Greek islands Continue reading

A beach walk in pictures

Green and sea

This week I enjoyed a beach walk with a friend. We walked from Barassie to Irvine and back again along the beach. The sun came out in short bursts, which was very welcome! But as it was mostly cloudy there weren’t too many people around, giving us a serene 8 mile walk. We did stop for some soup in a little cafe called ‘Small Talk’ in Irvine – a lovely wee place – always busy!

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A week in Paphos, Cyprus

It has been quite a dull day by the Scottish seaside today. Occasional rays of sun that indicate spring, but nothing lasting. Dull days make me dream of sunnier times and holidays! ‚ėÄÔłŹ Fortunately it’s coming up to our next holiday time, only 5 days! Not that I’m counting!!

Today I’m dreaming of the beautiful beaches in Paphos, Cyprus. We visited there for a relaxing week last Easter. April is a beautiful time of year to visit Cyprus, especially if you plan to do some touring. It was a cool 18-20 degrees.Capital Coast Resort, Paphos

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My first piece of writing. Aged 9.

I have always enjoyed words. Reading, writing and reciting poetry. Except when it was required in school, of course! Today I have decided to share the first thing I ever remember writing and being proud of. I was maybe nine years old, in primary school. One lunchtime I was sick and had to stay inside during the break. I had only a pencil and paper to amuse myself. I wrote a short poem, that I am intrigued I still remember it.
It went:

I had a dream last night,
‘Nothing could I see
But a candle in the dark
Shining as bright as me.
I wish I could go there again,
But I’ve tried you see
It’s just, too hard, for me.

I went through a long phase as a child where I enjoyed poetry, and if I ever penned anything it would be a poem. Although I also seem to remember secretly thinking that one day I might write a detective book like the Secret Seven and Famous Five!


“The act of putting pen to paper encourages pause for thought, this in turn makes us think more deeply about life, which helps us regain our equilibrium.”


Bee ‚̧ԳŹ

PS. I thought I’d write a short post when I noticed this subject on the Daily Post Challenge Writerly Reflections.

Candle in the dark


Observations and reflections: A weekend at Duchally Country Estate

We spent last weekend on a family weekend away in a beautiful lodge at Duchally Country Estate, Perthshire, Scotland. We enjoyed long walks in the green countryside, swimming in the warm pool, feeding the ducks, having family meals and relaxing together. Oh and playing with our favourite nephew! (I can say that as we currently only have one!)

Duchally country estate

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