We enjoyed a wonderful weekend in the magical streets of Prague. The Laver Cup was great. The two tennis matches we saw were full of suspense, keeping us on the edge of our seats the whole time.
I love the colours of houses with their light yellow, copper green and orange, as well as the beautiful facades and pointy towers.
Armed with the USE-IT map of Prague and many great tips from my friend Eva, we enjoyed exploring different areas of the city. I especially liked spending time in the local cafés trying their amazing selections of delicious cakes and soaking up the atmosphere. Three days was way too short, there are still so many things we didn’t have time to see (and so many cakes we have yet to try), so we’ll have to go back:)
JOYFUL GRATITUDE #45
This weekend Paolo and I are heading to Prague ! It’s the first time I go there so I’m really excited to have 3 days to explore the city. We will go to watching tennis (the first ever edition of the Laver Cup) and spend the rest of the time soaking in the atmosphere, discovering wonderful places and hopefully eating lovely cakes 😉
It’s always a pleasure to look back at holiday pictures and I’m enjoying reliving the walks we took back in early June when discovering the spectacular the landscapes of the Knoydart Peninsula.
Being outdoors all day long and exploring by foot felt wonderful. Sometimes we walked on proper paths and other times we improvised our way up the hill through the bracken, Paolo ambitiously choosing the steepest side of the hill to reach the summit.
As we climbed the views were more and more breathtaking. The light constantly changes on the loch and the islands on the horizon, it’s impossible to portray in these photos how beautiful and vast the view was.
Whoever said it is always raining in Scotland is… not entirely correct. We enjoyed lovely sunny spells, though the weather does change very fast. Luckily there are cafés with cakes (including lots of icing), just the right thing to cheer up after finding yourself in an unexpected rainshower:)
Of course we couldn’t stay forever… This is the view of the cute village of Inverie seen from the ferry on our way back towards Mallaig, where we took the wonderful train ride back to Glasgow. It was a magical stay!
Here are a few more memories of our lovely time in Capraia… The ‘mulatiera’, a beautiful rock path that the mules use to follow to carry goods up and over the hills to remote parts of the island.
The splendid colours of the vegetation, lush and green in some parts and a drier orangy-red in other spots.
I’m captivated by the warm colours of salt-damaged surfaces that are so gorgeous in their imperfection…
Spending time looking through my holiday pictures takes me back to those moments and I’m reminded of the sun shining on my skin, and the tug of leg muscles slightly tired from hiking uphill, and the joy of spending all day outdoors… Can’t wait for the next holiday!
The village of Capraia has many wonderful little streets to explore and I spent several late afternoons strolling around to try to capture their beauty on camera.
My strategy was to walk around and enter the tiniest side streets and alleyways, following them to see where they would lead me… And I was not disappointed.
The Bougainvillea was flowering pink and purple everywhere giving a festive atmosphere.
People tend really well to their gardens and trees, and every corner I turned led me to another gorgeous place.
I also loved the warm coulours of the houses, different shades of yellow and pink, and how the flowers often matched perfectly with the walls.
Just back from Capraia with sparkles in my eyes about how beautiful the island is. With its 20 square kilometers it is the perfect size to explore by foot: walking to small coves for a swim or hiking up the hills to see the steep west coast plunging into the sea, with Corsica visible on the horizon.
The summer colours of the plants on the hills were beautiful (green, orange, yellow…) and apparently in spring with many flowers blooming it is even more spectacular (a good reason to come back;).
The village at the top of the hill is very pretty with its warm colours and many tiny winding streets to explore and get lost in. We had our appartment there, it is blissfully quiet, perfect for a good rest (indeed many afternoon siestas were enjoyed!).
The sea is amazingly transparent, and it beckons you to jump in from the rocks and refresh yourself after hiking under the sun. Underwater a ballet of fish awaits you, swimming leisurely around the rocks. So beautiful!
While researching what to do in Bangkok I had read about Bang Krachao, a “smog-free, government-protected oasis of green on the mighty Chao Phraya River”. It sounded like the perfect place to get some rest from the bustling city, so one morning I made my way to the pier in the south of Bangkok and took the boat across the river with many motor bikes and a few pedestrians. On arrival, I rented this wonderful red bike, and was handed a basic photocopied black and white A4 map.
Loving the sensation of freedom of being on a bike, I pedalled away enthusiastically and promptly lost my way. Most roads looked identical and they had the same name, being distinguished only by a number. Soon my sweaty map made all details completely illegible and was no use at all.
So after a while I gave up trying to figure out where I was and just rode around aimlessly, enjoying whatever I discovered on my way. There are these concrete paths which allow you to cycle through the mangrove. Going at a slow pace in order not to inadvertently ride off the edge into the water and mud, it was a great way to soak up the atmosphere.
I spent a great day watching local people going about their daily tasks, passing many colourful temples and enjoying having lots of time to observe all the details of the plants and butterflies.
JOYFUL GRATITUDE #34
Today some flowers that look kind of like fireworks to celebrate the fact that I’m on holidays! I’m going to Italy with Paolo to a small paradise island called Capraia. The plan is not to have any plans. I’m packing my camera, my journal and a pile of books… I can’t wait to explore the island, swim, eat good food and relax by the sea:)
JOYFUL GRATITUDE #30
I am extremely grateful for the lovely time spent last week on Knoydart peninsula with Paolo and some dear friends. It felt so good to spend all day outdoors in such a peaceful place and go for long walks in the breathtakingly beautiful landscape, as the light and clouds constantly changed over the mountains and the lochs.
There were so many magical moments during our stay… like sharing fudge and a nice chat on the gorgeous train ride up from Glasgow; quietly observing an otter eating a crab it had just caught for it’s evening meal; reaching the top of a mountain with an unpronouceable name and looking down at the incredible view of the hills, the lochs and the islands all around; listening to an amazing concert of bagpipes, flute and guitar as the room shook with the audience tapping their feet to the beat and dancing all together as the musicians played on and on into the night…
One year ago, at this time, I was enjoying my adventure on the Camino del Norte. It had been one of my dreams for many years, however I had no idea what was in store for me and what it felt like to walk about 6-8 hours a day along the coast of Northern Spain.
Looking back after having processed the trip in the last 12 months, here are some of my personal highlights and lessons learned.
- Architecture-wise, the coolest place was the guided tour of the El Capricho designed by Gaudi, so many insanely creative ideas built into one house!
- The favorite albergue where I stayed was La Ferrería in Alimandi. I remember the warm welcome from the host Sergio serving us local cider and picking fresh japanese plums in the garden. Great chats with the other peregrinos over a delicious vegetarian dinner, while rainshowers came and went outside.
- The most improbable place I visited was the sand cemetery near Bayonne, where the tombstones are made from sand and decorated with beautiful scallop shells. Since the elements erode the sand, the tombstones need to be made again every year.
- The awesome people from all over the world who I met and travelled with on the Camino made the experience unique. I’m so grateful to have shared this experience with Tom and Cindy, Kim, Sara (and her courageous dog Freccia), Anna, Isolde, Justine and Mike, Maricruz, Carlos and Irene. It’s funny how quickly conversations with near-strangers become deep and personal when you walk kilometer after kilometer together and share a ‘menu del día’ after many hours on the road. Also the joy of meeting pilgrim friends again by chance after our paths seperated was wonderful.
- Take more time off that seems necessary. I regret having shaved a few weeks off from the 2 months I had initially asked to have off work. In the end the difference between 6 weeks and 8 weeks off is minimal when you are at the office, but 2 weeks extra would have been wonderful on the Camino.
- People always want to give advice and tell you how you should walk the Camino, but in the end it’s your Camino. You will see people doing it differently and making other choices. They may walk more or less kilometers per day, stay in cheaper or more expensive accommodation, carry heavier or lighter backpacks, get up earlier or later, spend more or less money, taking leisurely breaks to drink wine at lunch time or rush to arrive first in the albergue… Comparison is the thief of joy, in the end you have to do it your way if you want to really enjoy it. It’s your Camino.
- I loved the power of the Camino to make everybody equal. It is humbling to see that when we walk several hours a day we are all the same. No matter what our age, nationality, sex, strength, equipment or how healthy we are, everyone is doing the same thing, putting one step in front of the other and doing their best. There’s an amazing common feeling of empowerment linked to the simple act of being able to walk great distances.