Thursday, 28 June 2018

summer in madrid

I'm back in London after a few days of what I can only describe as madness.

A mixture of 13km of walking each day, blisters, 37 degree heat, wild tinder dates and warm toned buildings have characterised my time in the Spanish capital.

I fell in love with the city head first, something I had already anticipated beforehand. The feeling of the sun on your skin and the sound of the Spanish language encompassing you had lured me into the whole character of Spanish charm. I'm already looking to book flights back in late August.

I think what I loved the most about the city was how relaxed and laid-back it was. People strolling at a leisurely pace as opposed to the constant rush in London and the overall late scheduling of days was a welcome break from the previous few weeks of exams and fast-paced living. Staying out until the early hours of the morning just exploring and walking down narrow winding streets had become routine and I hate that it's not something you can do back here in London because a) the streets here are nowhere near as beautiful, literally not even on the scale of Madrid's and b) it's definitely not safe.

Madrid doesn't have any main tourist attractions unlike other European cities which made it so much more enjoyable as I didn't feel like I had to do certain things- further adding to the relaxed and loose style of living there. I went out with two guys I met on tinder, mainly for touristic purposes as opposed to romantic ones. I felt like it was the best way to be toured around, by a real Madrileño, and also get a friendship or love interest out of it. Although one night did end up in a club with foam being thrown around. Not an innuendo. When alone, I used the Plaza Mayor as my base and explored the different 'barrios' of the city from Malasaña and Chueca to Salamanca and La Latina. It's crazy how different each of these neighbourhoods are. I was also lucky to experience the religious festival of San Juan. A huge float with candles, gold decorations and a statue of what seemed to be the Virgin Mary was being carried by about 50 men or 'costaleros' which was so interesting to see as I had literally learnt about this stuff in lessons and to see it materialise was slightly surreal.

I must say there's something about small balconies donning cascading flowers and bright Spanish flags that has earned a special place in my heart. When I move to Madrid (speaking it into existence) I will definitely adorn by lil balcony with both decorations- although I'll find a way to hang up a Moroccan flag as well, obvs.

The Retiro Park was amazing and made me realise that I should probably take advantage of Hyde Park at home too because something about large green spaces in the middle of a busting city is very calming. They have a massive crystal palace which, aside from literally leading you to overheat because it's basically a huge greenhouse, was stunning. There's also a huge lake where you can hire a small rowing boat for a couple of euros which was such a great way to wind down after a long day. If I lived in the city, I would definitely spend my Sundays rowing on a lake, as you do.

My love of history and Spain in general were heightened whilst in Madrid. The Plaza Mayor was the site of the Spanish Inquisition, the Almudena cathedral whose name derives from the Arabic word 'al mudayna' which shows clear Muslim ties and also has 3 facades in neo-gothic, neo-classical and neo-romanesque styles, the statue of admiral Alvaro de Bazan at Plaza de la Villa commemorating his aid in Habsburg success at the Battle of Pavia, the actual tower (Torre de los Lujanes) where Francis I was held hostage (along with his two sons) after that battle and his subsequent agreement to the Treaty of Madrid...I could go on. Whilst I absolutely despised the Charles V and his wars with the Valois dynasty and the Ottoman empire part of my A-level course, it was amazing to be able to trace Habsburg history during this trip- something I wish I had done more of in Vienna which was also a Habsburg stronghold.

I'm going to shut up and stop gushing about this place because a gal's gotta start packing for her next trip. I took hundreds of photos throughout this trip (including a few on my disposable camera) I think I may include the rest of them in a Madrid travel guide as posts on things to do in the city are so scarce (due to the fact that Barcelona and Seville basically overshadow Madrid)

I feel like no other trip can top this one to Madrid- it has definitely set the bar high- I've clearly fallen head over heels for the city and I truly cannot wait to get myself there permanently in the future. It has set the bar very high indeed.

Hasta luego Madrid volveré muy pronto, no te preocupes. 


*A few people have commented saying that they're planning on visiting Madrid so I thought I'd mention that I have a full itinerary I made prior to visiting. Feel free to email me at and I'll send it over!

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

what I've been... #7

"hey babe, no no no I swear it's not what you think it is...I can make it up to you"

After breaking up with my blog almost 2 months ago, I'm back and (hopefully) more faithful than ever! It felt like being forcefully ripped away from a child but when compulsory education exams call, you've got to answer.

I thought it was only right to write one of these mammoth update posts. A lot has happened since the last time I wrote one of these in April.

what i've been doing-
Sitting my final a-level exams. And now they're all done, 9 exams later! It feels so strange to have finally gotten them done, it has been something I've been anticipating since the start of sixth form, more so in the few months before they actually started. A brief break down of how they went: Spanish went quite well, History went okay too and then Biology was absolutely shambolic and I can firmly say that I despise OCR. Every single day was just a cycle of revision and I was honestly so over it lol. 

Onto more exciting things...what have I been doing? Honestly it's just been revision (maybe next months "what I've been" will be much more exhilarating) Oh, I decided that I will take a gap year next year, pretty big life decision I know. Mostly because I forgot to apply for Student Finance and I just don't want to go to my firm nor my insurance choice either. I feel like my university application process was incredibly rushed last year, all for the sake of my Oxford application which needed to be sent off in the second week of October, so I had no time to actually go on open days- instead I applied to each place very blindly. I mean, I didn't even know what exact course I wanted to do until mid-September! So if you're approaching the university application process, the best piece of advice I'd give to you is: do not rush it. And if it doesn't go to plan, don't sweat it...there's always next year. 

You might have seen on my twitter but you know how people say that certain things that follow you around are a sign or an omen? I'VE BEEN SEEING "THE KISS" by Gustav Klimt everywhere. It's mostly in just fleeting moments but it's honestly the strangest thing ever. I first saw it in Vienna and since April I've been seeing it on the bus, in people's blog posts, on tumblr, twitter etc. I don't know what it could mean but it's so strange. I see it at least once a day now. If it's a sign of potential love interest then I shall accept it with open arms lol.

what i've been reading/watching-
Textbooks and revision guides. I have had no time to read on my own accord but I'm so excited to finally be able to do so now. I'm planning on hitting up a few people for book recommendations for the summer. I have a list of TV shows to watch as long as my arm (and I have *very* long limbs) so I'm planning on getting through those. La Casa de Papel is at the top of that list after multiple close occasions of me almost caving in and watching it but thankfully I restrained myself as last year I ended up using my study leave to watch OITNB and it did not go down well.

After coming home yesterday and having no idea what to do with myself, I decided to watch a Moroccan film called "Much Loved" which is about 4 prostitutes in Marrakech and it follows how they are treated by a, admittedly developing albeit very traditional, Moroccan society. It also explored the lives of LGBTQ+ individuals as well which is unheard of in such a society. In one scene, a woman and her transexual friend spoke about Spain and illegally immigrating there and it was so moving as he began imagining "being able to be yourself and express yourself without an Arab man looking at you and giving you trouble just for being who you are." It really solidified the struggle of women and LGBTQ+ people in North African countries where Islam and conservative societal ideals are still rife and homosexuality is still illegal. I would definitely recommend it to you however there are a few triggering scenes

what i've been listening to-
My own tears and my mum telling me "it's okay, there's always next year" 

yeah those exams broke me. 

too soon?

what i want-
Everything that has polka dots on it. I sound 5. I really love that print. So much so I bought two polka dot dresses on a whim. Ooooops.

I've weirdly gotten into the world of makeup lately, after 4 months of looking absolutely horrendous I feel like it's finally time to invest in my appearance...doesn't sound conceited at all. Fenty beauty's gloss bomb is calling my name, as well as a few bits from Nars (it's going to go down at duty free/sephora) Glossier have brought out a new cloud paint but I'm slightly hesitant because I've already found an alternate blush, which is actually a deep red lipstick no one uses, and it's pretty good. I've also been loving bronzer, it takes me from looking sallow to alive. Winner. 

what i've been anticipating-
A gap year (but I'm still not 100% sure, this is the life of a serially indecisive person) In terms of precise gap year plans, I have zero. I'm hoping to use the end of summer and most of September to visit university open days and then possibly get my application done by October. Thankfully I already had the experience of writing a personal statement last year so it won't be as daunting this year. I'm hoping I can just change my last paragraph of it to speak about gap year plans and perhaps put a bigger emphasis on the Spanish part of my potential degree course because as we've come to see, I bloody LOVE that language and I didn't give it much air-time in my predominantly history based personal statement last year. That would be so much more convenient and stress-free than having to write a completely new one. 

Whilst university is being applied for, I'll be working (woo) to save up some money. I'm not planning on embarking on a typical 'gap yah' travel expedition and thankfully Katie has shown me that it's not always the sole path to go down. What I really want to do is travel around Morocco, discovering new parts of my homeland and also improving my French and Arabic (but French especially because my speaking is sub-par...very embarrassing) There are so many cities I want to discover, Morocco is such a diverse country with different landscapes from heavy snow and skiing in Ifrane to the Sahara Desert in the South. Visiting small Amazigh ("berber") villages is on the top of my list. I would also like to do smaller trips too, Lisbon has been on my radar for the last couple of months now and also some central European places too. My gravitation towards Spain is already known on here so I will not bore you with details. 

I'm going to Madrid in less than 24 hours which seems crazy because I've been awaiting this trip for months now. As I booked it for a day after my exams, it always seemed so far away and out of reach with me having to undergo the hurdles of exams to finally reach it and now I have done just that! I'm so ready for all the tapas, the sun on my skin, long evenings and narrow cobbled streets. I bought a disposable camera yesterday (something about these £5 cameras basically signify that summer is here) so I can't wait to use that tomorrow as well as in Venice, Marrakech and Casablanca. I have a whole brain dump about my excitement for summer travelling here!

I think that's it! I've updated you guys on everything, I'm sure this wasn't the most exciting post to read ha, but it's a reflection of my life for the time I've been gone. Meh.

I'll be back with a blog post from Brighton and of course other travel posts from this summer and some other lifestyle content.

What have you been up to? Any summer plans? Leave them below!

*there are some rape and sexual harassment scenes in the film.