Sunday, 15 December 2019

Day 3 On The Camino: Palas De Rei To Arzua

Morning Has Broken On The Camino

It is still dark at 7:20am when I join Jorge for breakfast. My night as the only guest at the villa went well, no Japanese spirits tried to kill me and I feel refreshed and ready for food.

This is my first breakfast since I left home and, for a pilgrim, this is a feast: there are different jams, fruit, cakes, orange juice, fresh hot croissants, hot chocolate, a whole cheese and meat platter and more. Will I manage to eat all of this? Have to!

Jorge joins me and shares his stories from the Camino including his own pilgrimages to Santiago. He's done it three times so far! I'm impressed and admire his pilgrim passports which are full of colourful sellos. Of course, Jorge stamps my passport to document my stay at his guesthouse.

I really enjoy breakfast and have a great view over the Camino which passes the villa and the first people are already on the hike! Sometimes this hike feels like a race. Before I leave the villa, Jorge has kindly organised a local luggage transfer for me. A bit sceptical, I leave my backpack behind. Fed, well-rested and a couple of kilos lighter I can start my day.  

With the sunrise at 8:30am, I'm ready to leave and as the day before, the Camino is busy. I join straight into a pack of chatty pilgrims and get carried away with them. The next two hours are very productive and I make great progress as the landscape is flat and allows a smooth hike.

Monday, 9 December 2019

A Perfect Day In Madrid

jorge-fernandez-salas-madrid skyline

On my way home after hiking the Camino de Santiago, I made a stopover in Madrid. Here I had less than 48h to spent so I filled my day with some quality sightseeing and culinary treats. Unlike sightseeing in Rome or my previous trip to Athens, I feel Madrid is not the "traditional" capital I would choose for a sightseeing heavy city break. However, there are a few things worth visiting as the city has an incredibly lively atmosphere with excellent food and interesting architecture. I had a great time and if I had to relive the day it would look as follows:

Starting The Day In Madrid

9am: wake up at one of Madrid's ├╝berstylish hotels. Barcel├│ Imagine, H10, the NH collection or Tryp are all great choices when staying in Spain's capital. A great hotel can make all the difference and excite you to start the day, plus all of these are located centrally and are in easy walking distance to all the actions in the city.

breakfast served at antipode australian cafe in madrid

My stop for breakfast would be the Australian cafe Antipode in Calle de San Bernardo Street for 10am. The cafe offers healthy vegan and classic breakfast options such as avocado on toasts with poached eggs, but there's also porridge, homemade granola, and pancakes. Literally, anything from the menu is a winner. I ordered a variety from the card such as their tropical oats and matcha pancakes. Add a berry smoothie and freshly pressed orange juice for a perfect start to the day.

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Bruges Pre Christmas Is Always A Good Idea

olivier-depaep-bruges during christmas time

Pre-Christmas getaways are just as popular as the regular weekender and experiencing the Christmas spirit in another country is always a big winner to get into the festive mood even more for many. 

Having said that, coming from Germany I'm already spoilt by the traditional markets in Dresden in Leipzig which are beautiful, however, there's one more city which has Christmas written all over it and to me that is Bruges. Protected by the UNESCO World Heritage, this medieval 13th-century town has everything to give you all the festive feels: adorable fairy tale buildings, chocolates galore, seasonal decorations, enchanting lights and a good portion of chilly winter weather. 

A visit to this fantastic little town is a treat trip extravaganza, so be prepared for lots of food, cosy cafes, and unforgettable food comas.

How To Get To Bruges & When Is The Best Time

The fastest and easiest way to get to charming Bruges from London is via Eurostar. Keep in mind the Eurostar train is not for the spontaneous as tickets are expensive on short notice. Therefore, start as early as possible to monitor for deals - as early as three months in advance and be flexible with dates. You can also gamble and wait for the BlackFriday Deals but better avoid the disappointment of missing out by checking prices regularly beforehand. 

I managed to get return tickets from St Pancras for £60 for a two-day trip in mid-December. A one night stay is just about the right amount of time to explore all the festive markets and roam the fairy tale cobbled streets at night, which is an absolute must! 

vanveenjf-bruges at night
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