I just went to Paris for the weekend.
I can’t help but smile when I say that sentence. Who wouldn’t?! Although, as glamorous as it may sound, as easily as it rolls off the tongue, as romantic as the images ‘a weekend in Paris’ brings to mind; this is not entirely fitting with my weekend in Paris.
Instead of The Ritz, think of a hostel. Swap shopping in Prada on Avenue des Champs-Élysées with picking up a belated birthday present at the train station on the return to London. Rid the thought of hours spent intelligently pondering over famous art in the Louvre and replace it with 10-minute stops at world-renowned attractions while getting around the city using my two most reliable sources of transport – my left and right feet (it’s not coincidence that they are also the cheapest form of transport). These 10-minute stops were, of course, immediately followed by a tick of our imaginary ‘important sights to see in Paris’ box. And if we couldn’t make heads or tails of what we were looking at; no problem. As long as we got that tick. But it was still a weekend in Paris – and an incredible weekend in Paris at that. Read more…
My little housemate, Rosie, and I decided we needed to get out of London. As much as I love London (more on this soon), it was high time we took a little wander south into the country. The word, “country” here was key. Before we made any bookings, I made it clear that I had but one request – to the country we must go!
And so we went tooooooooooooooooooooo…………………………………………………. (play below clip please)
Yes, Rosie assured me that this was indeed the country. And perhaps to a born and bred Londoner, it is. But once there, I shared more of my expectations of the English countryside. No traffic (or even better no cars), low numbers of people, crisp English air, limited retail entertainment, dogs on the street and in pubs and an abundance of leaves. Read more…
I finally ventured north into the United Kingdom this month, specifically Tywyn in north Wales, where I worked at a camp; Christian Camp in Wales (why aren’t all names this straightforward?). We were blessed with great weather, something which I was told more than once was very rare.
When we weren’t at our campsite in meetings or enjoying our free time in this beautiful part of the world, we were canoeing, gully bashing (a Google search might be needed here), exploring Tywyn’s one street, buying chips on Tywyn’s one street, eating delicious and seemingly famous honey ice-cream from Halo Factory Shop (a Welsh local herself declared this to be the best ice cream in Wales, no, the United Kingdom), exploring and hunting fellow officers in Barmouth, pitch and putting (again, go wild and Google this, fellow South Africans) and other activities.
It was a truly wonderful week in Wales and the mountains, lush surroundings and beaches reminded me of home. I look forward to spending more time in Wales in the future, even if the next time I’m there, it’s “chucking it down” (I just love my new English slang, especially when it makes no sense grammatically).
Duck, wine, castles, caves, rivers, thousand year-old history and panoramic views. Granted the adjectives I have used could describe most countries in Europe, the particular region I was looking for was…. the Périgord or Dordogne region in South West France! This was the setting for the second annual Knight family holiday, the first of which took place in Umbria, Italy in 2011.
Things the first annual Knight family holiday taught us:
- Staying in a villa in the countryside is an awesome idea
- Renting a 5-seater car for 6 people is not such an awesome idea
- Driving over three hours from the airport to the villa in said squashed car is really not an awesome idea
On my one-year anniversary of my move to the United Kingdom, my friend and I boarded a flight to Madrid, Spain and so began my first, ‘independent’ European holiday. By independent, I mean that I took on the role of Travel Agent and every expense, down to the last Euro cent, was mine. As this was the case, we did Spain on a mega shoestring budget! Even I, cheapskate that I am, was impressed. However, while triumphantly securing return flights, transport between cities once in Spain and six nights in two hostels for about 280 pounds, I had failed to consider how much I would be spending on tapas. These delicious dishes took up a decidedly large portion of our budget (which we soon exceeded) but I regret not one of them. OK, maybe just one of them. Accompanying us on the trip was my “Get by in Spanish” book and the fragments of basic Spanish my brain decided to remember from the few Spanish classes I took while living in the U.S. Although I failed to get past page 1 before embarking on our holiday, I did somehow manage to “get by”, even though my nose may have been burrowed in the book numerous times throughout our little vacation. I am now rather confident at saying hello, asking where something is, asking how much something is, asking for the bill, asking for the bathroom and, of course, ordering food.
Our plane arrived in Spain’s capital, Madrid, after midnight. We then took a night bus from the airport to our hostel. The hostel’s name, Hostel One Centro, did not disappoint. In the early hours of Sunday morning, the center of Madrid was alive and buzzing with hordes of people, most young, walking between bars and chatting loudly in groups outside. This was clearly the place to go out at night. Our hostel was a two minute walk from the popular Sol station. After meeting the friendly, helpful staff and retrieving a map of Madrid, newly marked with suggestions of where to go during our stay (we soon found out that the people of Spain love drawing on maps), we gladly collapsed into bed for a few hours of sleep before our first adventure of Spain began.
So prediction was very wrong. Snow did come again. This is a good thing. As long as it doesn’t come between me and my flight to Spain this weekend!
So the snow arrived two months late for a white Christmas and it didn’t last very long, but hey, it happened! And it was a lot better than the one or two five-minute shows that happened beforehand. My friends might say it was just sleet but I still maintain it snowed very lightly for a few minutes (unless our neighbour’s black cat has dandruff). OK, fine, maybe I was overeager.
Nevertheless, the snow finally came a few nights ago and I have to admit that it is a pretty magical event. Maybe more so because I can count on two hands the amount of times I have ever been in snow. The next morning, I walked down the block to King George’s Park to catch some of the wintery prettiness on camera.
I’m hoping there’s more to come. Unfortunately, sunny skies today suggests it’s unlikely. I’ve been in London long enough now to know that I shouldn’t complain about this. So I won’t. At least not out loud.