March/April/May Favourites…

As we all know, I haven’t written anything for a while; in true Sophie style so once again I thought I’d try and slip back in with a favourites post. Some are from March, a few are from April and one or two from May – I know, I’m getting them in early. Let’s get into it.

1. The first one is actually an app, which isn’t exactly on brand for me but I’ll explain. It’s called Dysh and is basically an Instagram style programme but solely for food with the idea that there’s no shame in photographing your food and sharing it with the world. Instagram doesn’t care what you eat, Dysh does. You can photograph, edit, rate, tag and comment on and about your meal so that people in the area can see what’s good (and what’s not good!) to eat and drink. You can also follow other users as well as like and comment on their posts too. It’s been collaborated on, promoted and endorsed by 4 slightly post-millenial American online creators, Grace Helbig, Hannah Hart, Mamrie Hart and Ingrid Nilsen.

This app wouldn’t have come to my attention had I not been an avid fan of all four women but since it has, and more importantly since I love it, I thought I’d share it with you. It’s available to download in the App Store for free. I’d rate it 100 and not just because I’m slightly biased but due to the fact that it’s got pretty much everything you need whilst having an aesthetically pleasing interface. Yeah, take that media degree! My username is sophiehollister if you want to follow me on there.

2. Next on my list is skincare. I’ve had a pretty shoddy skincare routine since about forever. Don’t get me wrong, I’d wash my face as well as tone and moisturise but it wasn’t exactly a ritual. I have to say though, after hearing about Liz Earle (and reading hundreds of reviews online and seeking opinions of users I knew) I took the plunge and purchased the basic set. I’ve been using it for probably just over a month now and it’s still not every day but I’d say at least 5/7 days and my skin has never been better. Thankfully I’ve never had bad skin but Liz Earle has definitely helped keep spots and shine at bay.

The three step process is quick and easy and the products feel light and fresh on your skin (and they smell like a spa which is a bonus). It’s the first “high end” skincare package I’ve bought so it was a little more money than I’m used to paying but no more then its competitors. If you’re looking for something to get you started this is a good one to go for, I’d highly recommended.

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3. Third favourite on the list is Cheerz, a photo printing app. Id been wanting to print some of my travel photos as Polaroids for a while and came across this app which was easy to use and didn’t cost the earth. The photos are good quality too and came in cute little packages. I printed photos and quotes and hung them round my room with decorative string and teeny tiny (adorable) pegs either from Amazon or Etsy and I’m really pleased with how they turned out!

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Yes I did draw, colour and cut out that phrase and stick it on a map #creative


4. I’ve always loved The Body Shop for shower gels and body sprays but I’d never bought make up from them before. However, after I purchased a gift set last month I received a £3 off makeup coupon and only a fool wouldn’t at least see what they have to offer. I found the perfect grey nail varnish, something I’ve been needing since all my clothes are somewhere to the black/white scale, and with the coupon it only cost me £2 – less than a Starbucks! Bargain. One coat was a bit sheer for what I wanted but two was near perfect. It lasted about 3 days without a clear top coat so miiiight stretch to a week had I used one.

 
5. The Estée Lauder double wear foundation has recently become a staple in my makeup bag. After realising my drugstore foundation wasn’t really doing it for me anymore I wanted to branch out and purchase one that really suited my skin, even if that meant spending a little more than usual. I read sooo many reviews and watched so many review videos of it and finally took the plunge. I use the shade 1N1 ivory nude, which I think is one of the lightest shades and it’s the perfect match for my skin tone. It’s classed as a semi matte finish which is definitely what I need as my skin can become quite oily throughout the day and other foundations pretty much fall off my face. The double wear foundation says it lasts 15 hours and although I haven’t had chance to test that out fully yet it already lasts way after I get home from work which is probably near enough that time anyway. It’s a good coverage foundation too and is easily build-able if you want slightly more. I sometimes use my other foundation, Maybelline Satin Finish, on my cheeks and then go over it with the Estée Lauder one just to prevent my face from looking too flat before adding bronzer and the rest.

 
6. Last favourite of the month is my most recent – Crepe Affaire, which is a crepe and waffle cafe at the top of Park Street in Bristol. There are a range of savoury and sweet pancakes along with waffles, smoothies and shakes as well as the usual tea, coffee and cold drinks. I chose the “apple crumble” pancake and it was delicious I’d have it again 100%. The strawberry and banana smoothie was also very yummy. I’d give this place 9/10 – great food, great decor, lovely staff and it was quiet and sunny when I went which made it even better. It’s pricing is pretty average too so it won’t break the bank, definitely a place to keep in mind if you’re in the area!

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Pancake featured on Dysh app (username: sophiehollister)

 

 

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A response of sorts…

Ever since my last post I’ve been thinking about what to write next. Three months later and the page is still blank. Yesterday I came across an article (I’ll post the link below) about how to continue writing when “no one gives a shit”.
I’m sure this is a common thought amongst all writers that don’t have a wide audience, deadlines or any kind of job that doesn’t actually include writing. The hardest thing is to keep the momentum going, regardless of whether you think anyone will actually read it or not. If your job doesn’t revolve around writing it can often take a back seat to other, more mundane activities – between work, the gym and sleeping I find there isn’t a lot of time for much else, let alone something that takes as much mental effort as writing a decent blog post does.
If you’ve come to the conclusion that “no one gives a shit” but you still somehow want to write, it has to be for enjoyment above anything else. Personally I think about writing all the time and I’ll say “I need to write something” or “what should I write about?” or perhaps the most common “I haven’t written anything for ages…” but sadly saying those things don’t bring as much inspiration as I’d like.
One of my friends, also an aspiring writer, messaged me saying “I really needed to read that link you just shared” after seeing my post on Facebook and simply knowing that made me feel like I’m not the only one having these thoughts. Another close friend sent me a message the day after saying “I saw the link you shared – I care if you write something”. She may be biased but nevertheless it made me think that maybe that’s all it takes. Perhaps you only need to have one person be affected by something you write. Maybe it could make them laugh or make them think; even if only one person appreciates it, that makes it worth your time. So I guess this is a response of sorts to that article regardless of whether ones person reads this or 100 people. I know no one may care about the original article and if they don’t then they especially won’t care about this one but I guess the most fundamental part of it all is that I care. If I didn’t I wouldn’t mind that no one else did either but I do care and hopefully someone out there will care too.

Here’s the original article, thank you Jennifer Garam for being my source of inspiration. www.jennifergaram.com/blog/2016/1/16/how-to-keep-writing-when-no-one-gives-a-shit

 

 

I thought I’d take a moment…

Hello hello, yes I know it’s been a while. Yet again. It’s been a few weeks since I got back from Madrid and so I thought I’d sit down and write something new for you, although this time it’s a little different. This post takes a bit of a break from travel inspired pieces or monthly favourites and focuses on something a bit more meaningful; at least for me at the moment. I thought I’d take a minute to talk about the people who make a significant difference to our lives because I feel I have a couple of them that need a reminder of just how appreciated they are. I feel I should put a disclaimer here: of course family, best friends etc come under this section but this is for the people who perhaps don’t realise just how much impact they’ve had on you or how much help they’ve been. Or maybe it’s the people you don’t talk to every day or the people you no longer get to spend time with. I guess this could be classed as a thank you note of sorts.

I won’t name anyone directly but hopefully you’ll know who you are.

First up is perhaps my newest friend who quickly became one of my closest after “taking me under her wing” as she likes to say. I can’t disagree though, she did. Her bright, positive, infectious personality is hard to resist – add kindness, fun and a fair amount of sass on top of that and you’ve got yourself one of the funniest and most understanding friends you could ever ask for. Thank you for looking out for me – even when I don’t realise you are, and for encouraging me to be myself. I am forever indebted to you for that. Never stop smiling because you don’t know how many people you inspire by being yourself, myself included. Obviously. 

Now a quick mention to my friends that are far away, whether in different cities or different countries. Regardless of if we speak every day or just once every few months, just know that I appreciate you all – whether it was a specific message to make me laugh, talking about a memory we share or suggesting ideas for future plans, every conversation makes me thankful that I have such an amazing group of friends even if you may not be in touching distance. I promise I’ll see you soon. 

Finally, to someone who’s never read my writing but always encouraged me to pursue it. Someone who definitely didn’t know how much she was appreciated and looked up to (I’m sorry for that, I/we should have told you more often). Someone who impacted people more deeply than she’ll know. I know I only just gave you a similar letter but I just wanted to thank you again. If I can be half the person you are I’ll be happy – thank you for being exactly what I (and what we all) needed. This post is probably a coping mechanism for me because change is hard and things aren’t the same without you. You’re missed. 

Now, if you read all the way through this without knowing any of these people I thank you (and as cliche as it sounds when included in such a post) – I appreciate you and the time you spent here. I hope it made you think of the people in your life that might be in need of a little verbal (or written) appreciation and I encourage you to tell them, whatever form that might take. Write them a card, send them a song, or maybe a simple hug and a thank you could do the trick. Just let them know. And to those of you who know who I’m talking about, or if I’m talking about you, just know that I’m so grateful for you. Thank you for making me feel appreciated too. 

Just a quick final update…

Just a quick final update following on from yesterday… Whilst sat in Plaza de Oriente (just outside the palace) I found some wifi and Googled one of the other museum/galleries to see if it would be of any interest as I needed something to fill my time. One of them, the Thyssen-Bornemisza was another gallery, and personally I found it a little better than the Prado as it had impressionist paintings by the likes of Monet and Renoir who I actually really like. It had an exhibition on (until the 12th October) called ‘Vogue: like a painting’ which, if you love vogue like I do, you’ll find this interesting. One of my favourite photographers, Nick Knight was featured heavily as you’d expect in a fashion photography exhibition and this probably made my visit. His photos are gorgeous.

A couple of my favourites, Renior and Lichtenstein as well as the Vogue: like a painting exhibition entrance

A couple of my favourites, Renior and Lichtenstein as well as the Vogue: like a painting exhibition entrance

Towards the end of the gallery I sat down opposite a painting of Venice, I think it looked like I was in deep thought about it (which I partly was) but really I just needed to sit down. My feet are so tired.

I slowly made my way back towards my hotel and ate tapas at a nearby restaurant; the same place I had paella on my first night. This was mostly to use up some time before heading to the airport but honestly when is tapas ever a bad idea.

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And so my solo Spanish adventure had come to an end and I’d recommend it to anyone – both Spain and travelling alone. It might not be until you speak to someone else about what you saw/did that they realise your interests before you do – this happened to me on the plane home whilst sat next to two lovely people travelling with their Spanish club (hello to you if you’re reading, thank you for keeping me company!).

Now I’m back home and my brain is scheming for my next destination. Any thoughts, questions or queries are more than welcome and hopefully this can push you in the right direction if you’re on the fence about going at it alone.

Hasta lluego!

Madrid; day three

So the final day has arrived. Having seen most/all of the things I’d wanted to already I used this as more of a chilled day. Saying that I’ve still walked miles after getting momentarily lost in the banking district. Incidentally I saw “Relvo de la Guardia” which I’m guessing is like changing on the guard although a much smaller scale than Buckingham palace (I’m pretty sure it was outside a bank and since it was obviously all in Spanish I didn’t really get much clarification as to what or why or who). I don’t think the royal family were there but it was definitely someone important. The music was nice, kind of fairground mixed with dance break in a musical. I can’t fault Madrid on its music actually as it’s everywhere – the metro, the park, the street; I’ve heard ‘Hello Dolly’ played more than twice which, for anyone who knows me, knows how fine I am with that. As well as an abundance of music there’s an abundance of police which is quite reassuring. Even as I’m sat in the park there are four policemen on horses opposite me. Just a side note here – it must be about 29 degrees today, if I didn’t have a flight to get later I’d definitely be wearing shorts. That reminds, speaking of how warm it is – last night I popped out at about 10pm and firstly I couldn’t get over how warm it was, no sleeves were needed and secondly, how busy it was!! People everywhere, again with more than enough music and police.

If you haven’t visited Madrid I’d definitely recommend it for site seeing, beautiful architecture, lovely parks and gardens and of course autumn sunshine – sorry I can’t stop mentioning it, it’s like summer! I just burnt my arm on the zip of my tshirt. Hot. It’s also the perfect place for travelling alone, no one cares if you’re eating alone because so many people do it here. No one has asked if/why I’m alone so if you’re thinking about solo travel I say just go for it.

After my stroll round the banks I walked past the library which was impressive from the outside so I can only imagine the inside. I then made my way back to Retiro park from yesterday and ate paella – really good, octopus and everything, yum! I sat and listened to an Australian family discuss frozen beer while a saxophone was played in the distance. I tried to keep my cool as a wasp flew around me for the entire time I was sat there which made for possibly the least relaxing meal ever but delicious none the less.

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Now I’m sat in the sun writing this, it’s still so hot… I’ve got about 5 more hours at this point before heading to the airport so I’m planning on staying here a bit longer and then maybe doing to tour bus. I should have done that on my first day and not the last but hey! I found everything for myself instead. I even know some shortcuts now so maybe I should just stay here.
One thing I haven’t done is eat ice cream so maybe that’ll be sorted later…

Madrid; day two…

Today has probably been my favourite day. It started with a wander to find churros – I found the place everyone raves about but the queue was too long (I should have guessed!) so I went elsewhere for croissant and tea. After my little pit stop I made my way to the palace which I actually found by accident on my first evening – I thought it was just a really nice building, not realising it was the palace. Oops. The line for this was pretty huge so I took a few photos, basked in the sunshine and went on my way. Madrid is a lot smaller than I thought it was going to be, you can walk practically anywhere although the metro does come in handy for tired feet. By this time I wanted churros again since my craving hadn’t been fixed. I Churreria Chocolateria Las Farolas and the waitress gave me five churros as standard. I’m pretty sure I’ve blocked all my arteries. A cup of chocolate is also provided with a spoon – I know. They also did the best fresh orange juice which was much appreciated after such a carb-fest. The fact that they didn’t take cards should have been displayed somewhere as I got to the counter without a cent in my purse. Luckily she let me dash to the ATM and was very sweet about the whole thing but I nearly died of shame. I’m guessing from her reaction I’m not the first person to do that.

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Oops, I’m in Madrid…


Sitting alone at a restaurant really isn’t as weird or scary as I (and indeed many people on Google) thought it was going to be. I ordered a drink, which came with tapas (bonus!) and got out my notepad. As j was seated outside there were many things to watch or look at and so it was no big deal. I ordered paella too which was maybe the best I’ve ever tried – and I’ve tried a fair amount – all the while writing about the things I’d got up to so far.
I’ll tell you what they are now…

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Tuesday.
Last night I took a leisurely stroll in the area near my hotel, which turns out is pretty much the centre of Madrid. I don’t want to boast about the weather but since I left England it the rain and arrived to 28 degree heat I feel I have to. I didn’t even need sleeves. The architecture of the buildings and the little streets that dart off left right and centre remind me of Rome, every building is stunning to look at; even the apartments and hotels which line the streets are so pretty with their balcony railings and window shutters. I went to El Corte Ingles, a big departments store that felt a bit like debenhams with the added bonus of an underground supermarket. I bought the essentials – water, juice and amazing icing sugar coated pastries that may have already been demolished. Oh and I can’t forget the pizza flavoured crisps. I don’t hate them.
After a quick social media catch up it was time for bed.

Wednesday.
I’m forgetting what day it is and what time it is frequently, which is actually quite nice as I don’t really need to know either, making a change from usual. I spent today wandering to (and around) Museo del Prado. I’ve been to a far few art galleries in my time and this one was pretty standard apart from costing €14 for entry which in hindsight was too much. I took my time exploring the three floors of paintings but once you’ve seen one naked angel you’ve seen them all. There were few other subjects covered however some of the captions made me laugh to myself and I had to note some down. For example “still life with a vase of flowers and a dog”, “portrait of a gentleman” and “landscape with buildings” which all did exactly as it said on the tin. The last one did make me smile to myself as I thought those very words before even reading the name of the painting, I needn’t have bothered. One of my favourite (I use that term lightly, it was my favourite compared with the rest I saw… I wouldn’t want it in my house) paintings was called “The embarkment of Saint Paula”, I’m not sure what the story behind it was but the use of sunlight was pretty impressive, it looked like the painting had the glow of a sunrise.
A collection of paintings by J Brueghal also had this effect whilst having incredible attention to detail and colour with some of this works having paintings within the painting. One was so ornate with flowers it looked like a little fairytale world. I’m not a major still life fan but it has to be said, it was a welcome break from naked angels.

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Next on my list was the botanical gardens, just outside the Museo del Prado and cost €3 which in summer would probably be money well spent, in September not quite so much although the gardens were very tranquil none the less.

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By this time I was pretty hungry and whilst walking back to my hotel I stopped to eat the paella previously mentioned. I took a quick rest after this, mostly to let my feet recover (note to self, take plasters even if you think you won’t need them) and grab another drink and then I was out the door again. I hopped on the metro to find San Miguel market which I did and it was crazy in there! Any type of food you could imagine – fish, nuts, chocolate, gin, you name it it was there. I then tried to find El Rastro, the biggest flea market in Madrid which didn’t go so well. Considering it’s the biggest it’s darn hard to find. I think I’ll try again tomorrow though, my tiredness was probably setting in. On the way home I took a visit to Gran Via which was amazing; theatres, old cinemas hotels and shops galore. That might need a second visit tomorrow too.

Now I’m just relaxing, finishing this post and I might start my book (the most cliche of them all, Eat Pray Love). There’s an infamous churros shop nearby though so I may have to try them out, it would be rude not to…

So with one day until…

I know, I know… as always I start this by saying how I meant to write sooner and more often. This is the truth, however it’s hard to set aside the time to focus solely on writing. Although today is different; it’s the start of my weeks holiday from work and as I’m lying in bed I thought it was the perfect time to take a minute and tell you of my travel plans for the coming week. 

On Tuesday i’m setting off for Madrid on my first solo travelling adventure. I thought I’d take a mini break (it’s literally only four days) by myself to see how I go before jetting off alone to somewhere slightly more exotic. It’s a bit like practise. 

So with one day until I set off I thought I’d just write a super short piece to say where I’m going so that if/when I next write about my time away it’ll make some sort of sense. 

Any tips, tricks and advice for travelling alone would be more than welcome! 

As it’s hot and sunny…

As it’s hot and sunny and I’m actually able to enjoy it on my one day off after working the past six, I thought I’d do a bit of blogging… Well at least try anyway. I actually hand wrote the first copy of this, my laptop is on its last legs and taking outside is probably just a step too far. Handwriting things makes you think about what you’re actually putting on the page though, like, “is this worth me writing?” Or “no one will care if I leave that out”. Hopefully though you will care about this post as I think it’s something a lot of you might feel a resonance with. 

After graduating in July last year I travelled for a month using my life savings and came back with a whole host of amazing memories but not a lot else. I was back home, I had little money and no job and only one or two friends that were close by. September soon came round and I found a job in retail which (unless you’ve worked in retail) is looked down on as not being a “proper job” – I’m guessing that’s because I’m not using my degree. That is a fair point although good luck trying to find someone I work with that doesn’t have a degree – everything from art to psychology to business studies. 

However there are those people that managed to get a job in their chosen field and I congratulate you whole heartedly as we all know how difficult that can be. One of my best friends did just that. While I was moving back home and readjusting to home life she was moving into a house, making new friends and starting an amazing job and I can’t say I wasn’t jealous. 

It’s been nearly a year since I started my job and although sometimes the hours aren’t great and rude customers leave clothes on the floor and there’s never enough staff, I wouldn’t have changed it for the world. Last year wasn’t the best for me for a variety of reasons and so to finally have more friends, a job with incredible people that are honestly like a little family to me (I don’t even care how cheesy that is, I know they’d all agree), to be happy to go to work (and offer to go in on my day off must mean I’ve got a good thing going) but just to be generally happy is a really great thing. Having the job you think you should have (or a job others think you should have) may be okay for a while but if it’s not making you happy, what’s the point? All the love and hugs to my best friend who left her job for exactly that reason – I have every faith you’ll find something even better. Shout out to the people that got the job they wanted and love it by the way, congrats and full steam ahead for you!! 

So just because I may not be using my degree now doesn’t mean I never will, and I don’t want to use it if the job it gets me makes me miserable. So if you’re in the same boat try not to be swayed by others because if you’re happy and making some kind of living/working towards something else be it moving out, travel or another venture – you do you. You’re doing better than you think. I’m so grateful to my little work family for helping me realise that, thank you. 

Take a trip with me…

After many many months of having no online blogging presence (and a lot of comments from my friends and family about how I should “write more”) I thought I’d start again with a post about my recent trip to Barcelona. I say “recent” – it’s been two weeks since I got back and writing this has been slow progress, bare with me i’ll get back into the swing of things soon. I’ve been to lots of the islands around Spain but Barcelona had always been first on my list to visit on the mainland and I’m not sure why… possibly from the poster of the Sagrada Familia that my grandparents used to have on the wall in their spare room or maybe just because of the generally stunning architecture, culture and of course, weather. To make this as comprehensible as it can be I’ve written about each site we went to as well as writing a little bit about the hotel, because quite frankly it was gorgeous.

Actually I’ll start with the hotel since that was our first stop. Silken Diagonal Hotel, incidentally it was on Avenue Diagonal, which is actually one of the main roads in Barcelona (we didn’t quite appreciate this until our last day) and was situated next to Torre Agbar, a skyscraper that marks the “gateway to the technological district” – thanks to Wikipedia for that information. It was a pretty cool building though, it light up at night so it wasn’t an eyesore; I’ll insert a photo below. We realised pretty soon after arriving at the hotel that we must have secured a good deal with Expedia as the price we paid was much less than the hotel deserved; shout-out to Alan on reception for being so friendly and helpful. Seriously though, the rooms were incredible although perhaps a little more suited to couples than friends as there was only glass separating the bathroom from the bedroom but we managed to sort out a lighting system (electronic window blinds up works best, just in case you’re thinking of going!). A mini bar, room service and the cleaning service were all great, the cleaners could have been a little quieter in the mornings but that would be my only complaint.

The hotel also had a foyer bar, restaurant, roof top bar and pool and although perhaps not an actual feature but the coolest lifts ever. There’s a video on their Facebook page about them so I can’t be the only one that was amazed. The roof top pool was very small and apparently very cold, admittedly I didn’t try it but the yelps of others kept me informed, but the roof top bar was great although a little expensive (as is the rest of Barcelona for drinks). I think the most impressive thing about the roof was of course the view which kinda goes without saying. You could walk round the top of the hotel 360° and look out at the whole of the city, including the Sagrada Familia which I got a little too excited about but I mean come on, I could see it from my hotel – how cool?!

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The location of the hotel was perfect, only a short bus or metro ride to the centre yet it was about 20 minutes walking distance from the beach and across the road from a shopping centre, Plaça de les Glories, which had the most amazing food court you could imagine, anything from octopus to waffles to ice cream.

Here’s the link to the hotel www.hoteles-silken.com/en/destinations/barcelona/

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Our first ‘tourist attraction’ would probably have been the shopping centre opposite the hotel had we known what it was but since we didn’t we caught the bus (super easy and super cheap) from outside our hotel which took us directly to Park Guell – the home of most of Gaudi’s architecture. The actual park requires a €15 ticket which may or may not have an allotted time slot depending how busy it is at the time. If you have to wait for a select time like we did there’s the rest of the park that you can wander round and its beautiful; lots of winding paths and stunning views out across the city as far as the ocean. Musicians were dotted along the pathways, taking shelter in the shade where little audiences would gather – all were incredibly talented and given very little persuasion I would have purchased a CD from each of them (those of you that follow me on snapchat or Instagram might have seen 10 seconds of Spanish guitar). After a quick pit stop lunch at the very busy baguette stall, more like a hole in the wall… quite literally, we made our way round to wait for our time in the park. I took this inconvenient time to feel faint – so much so that I couldn’t see and had to sit on the gravel, so refined. Becky was being nurse “Sophie sit on the floor and drink this” she said handing me a bottle of water and walking off to the (most likely illegal) water bottle seller, and bought an ice cold one; “put this on your wrist, it’ll cool you down”. I took a few minutes and stood up, thinking I was fine. I wasn’t. Back onto the sandy floor I went. After a little while longer we made our way to a shady area where I perched on a rock and Becky kept a beady eye on me. Two street artists thought this would be the appropriate time to chat to us – I’m not looking my best it had to be said – hot and sweaty and faint is not my usual brand but here we were. After a somewhat awkward (on my part) conversation about how I was like “ a classic painting” or “Cleopatra” and could they both have my contact details (which I politely declined), I gave Becky ‘the eye’ and we made our way to the park entrance.  The rest of the day wasn’t quite as eventful but did include relaxing by the pool on the roof of our hotel before our night out – it’s a hard life.

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Now the club we were originally planning on going to was Opium however to cut a long story short we decided against it and found a place where it was €20 for as many drinks as you wanted and then free entry and queue jumping to either Shoko or Pacha – we tried out both but Pacha was empty (that’s not an exaggeration, there must have been about 20 people in there…). Shoko however was another story; I could have stayed there forever. Two rooms, one inside which had the mainstream pop/chart/club tunes and one outside, a step away from the beach with no roof and still great songs slightly more “indie” but even I knew 80% of them so still great for dancing and singing along to. Clubs don’t open until 1am which leaves plenty of time for partying into the night (well, morning). *inserts mandatory selfie*

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The following day was a busy very chilled – proper holiday style. We woke up late and order room service BECAUSE WE COULD and it was such a goddamn novelty and spent the morning watching Spanish/German TV – whichever we could understand the most of because surprisingly there was only one English speaking channel which included world news and stock market figures which wasn’t quite the mood we were going for. After a 20 minute walk to the beach we set up residence on some FREE (I’m still shocked) sun loungers and spent the afternoon basking in the sun. We ventured into the ocean although it was only our ankles that felt the water as the water was pretty cold being the first few days of June. A Spanish child decided it would be hilarious to splash us though. Not funny. After Becky got a little too angry at the splash culprit we went for an afternoon snack at a little beach-side café, which didn’t tell us they couldn’t serve cooked food until we’d ordered drinks. We opted for toasties and then swiftly left for the tram back to the hotel for another quick blast of sun on the roof terrace before ordering more room service – which were incidentally the best burgers we’ve ever eaten. I took a photo but it didn’t do it justice. That night was chilled as I had a tight schedule planned for the last day.

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The Sagrada Familia was first on the list for our final day. I was excited as I’d seen so many photos, I mean who hasn’t, but wow – that building is impressive and probably the most impressive one I’ve seen to date. It’s hard to describe such a place to someone who hasn’t been but if you’re in Barcelona and haven’t visited before it’s definitely worth a visit. Its €15 to go inside but I’d say totally worth it if you’re up for gorgeous stained glass windows, architecture and a glimpse of Gaudi’s resting place. I’ll let some photos show you how amazing it was as I don’t have enough words.

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I suggested finding some of Gaudi’s other architectural works and so we set off on many metro rides to find the houses that had been noted on our trusty city map. We found them all which was pretty cool but once again we also found a café that didn’t serve food. They did however have a sink that Becky washed her feet in. That’s my girl! We eventually made our way to La Rambla which was really cool and I wish we could have spent a little more time exploring but we needed food pretty desperately and so we found a restaurant with food – who knew?! I had the most amazing prawn fajitas and a piña colada and once we’d eaten and rested we high-tailed it back to the hotel to collect our suitcases and take the metro to the airport. Or so we thought. We made it to the train station and then retraced our steps through the underground and back up to the station about three times, each time more confused than the last at where signs for the airport had gone. I think helping a woman carry a pram up a flight of stairs made me lose concentration and for a minute I thought we were lost. Turns out we weren’t and we actually had to get a train to the airport which was fine and worked out pretty well and even saw the sunset on the way, which if you’ve been reading for a while/know me well, you know that pretty much made my day. By the time we reached our departure gate we were tired, if not a bit sunburnt and after waiting for an extra 30 minutes in the queue and being told to put my handbag in my suitcase by an extra stroppy staff member – which by the way there was no chance of happening, was she kidding me? – we were ready to be on our way home.

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If you haven’t already, I would highly suggest visiting Barcelona, I’m so glad I can tick if off my list. The transport is cheap but so easy and reliable to use and the food is obviously amazing; I ate more paella than I should have (which was the best) however I won’t leave prawn de-shelling to Becky again, half of it ended up being flung on the floor although admittedly it did make me cry-laugh so it was worth the loss of the prawn. The people are so friendly and helpful with undeniably impressive English but if you want a city break that includes sun, culture, beaches and alcohol that isn’t measured – Barcelona may be just the place.

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