Lazy Hazy Beach Dayz

Happy Summer Solstice! No more classes, no more worries (ha), just me with my toes in the sand and the sun on my face. Enjoy the summer peeps!

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A hotel, a restaurant and an airline

I have three, no wait, FOUR, fantastic recommendations for you. I went to London the other weekend (no, not for the wedding, my invite must have been lost by the Spanish Post) and thoroughly enjoyed my hotel, found a great restaurant and a free product from the hotel which I recently ordered a larger bottle of their fabulous pillow spray.

Let’s start with the airline since I needed one of those to get to London in the first place. This was my first experience with Easy Jet and I was happily surprised at how smooth the transaction was with everything. I thought I had paid for my small suitcase to be carry-on but when I got to the gate she put a tag on it for me to check it when I boarded. In the end the plane wasn’t that busy so I was able to just keep it with me. With the return I did check it in London Gatwick and it was a super easy, do-it-yourself process. Plus the flight was pretty inexpensive and the flight attendants were some of the nicest I’ve experienced in quite awhile. Thanks Easy Jet! I will be a return customer.

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Okay, what do you want to hear about next? How about the hotel. I met Jeannie at the Andaz London Liverpool Street hotel. There wasn’t a single thing I can complain about. The staff was delightful, the hotel was modern and hip, the room was spacious and clean. It’s a 5 star boutique hotel located in the heart of bustling East London, just next to the Liverpool Tube Station. We used the Central and Circle Line for getting around and getting back but it also connects with the Hammersmith and the Metropolitan. Perfect for traveling cheap!

The rooms have free Wi-Fi, a free (non-alcoholic) daily stocked minibar and we were welcomed with a lovely bottle of Prosecco in the room when we checked in. And in the room they also had a free sample of REN & Now To Sleep Pillow Spray. It’s a soothing natural perfume, blending floral notes of lavender with deeply restful Frankincense, to relax both the body and mind. I loved it so much I just bought two larger bottles for my bedtime routine. I’ve been sleeping like a baby.

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You also have free access to the Health Club, where we really enjoyed the steam room. And the free apples for after you have sweated everything out. The last night we were a bit tired and decided to try their sushi restaurant. Try the saki sampler!

But the best thing and maybe it’s just me but the hotel serves complimentary (that means FREE to me) wine and canapes (one night it was small sushi rolls and the other some bread with paté) from 6 – 9 pm. It was lovely to come back from a long day of sightseeing and relax in the lounge area with a snack and a glass of wine. Or two. 🙂 FOR FREE Y’ALL.

And now what I know you’ve been waiting for – FOOD. The restaurant. It was fabulous. If you love Indian food you must go. Dishoom in Shoreditch (they also have a few more locations around London) was where I had the best Indian food of my life. It’s a big restaurant and they only take reservations for parties more than 6. So arrive a little early, put your name on the list and head over to the bar for a tipple or two while you wait for your table. I highly recommend the whiskey sour.

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Jeannie doesn’t eat foods with gluten and they had a large variety of items that she could eat. So feel free to eat your heart out. We shared the Crunchy Pomelo salad (with fresh kale, pink pomelo, pistachios, mint and coriander) and the okra fries (not gluten-free but Jeannie had a few). I haven’t had okra since my Oklahoma days! For the main dish I had the lamb Sheekh Kabab and Jeannie had the Chicken Tikki. It did not disappoint. They are also open for breakfast and the menu and teas look totes amazeballs. Just go already.

And I actually have one more rec for you. The good stuff just keeps on coming! If you do go to the Dishoom Shoreditch locatation and you feel like going out and dancing a bit, stop by Momento Lounge bar for some drinks and good tunes from the live DJ.

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And there you have it. Great times are made even greater with a good hotel, good food and good experiences.

But nothing compares to GREAT FRIENDS. And when you have this kind of happiness and fun together, it doesn’t really matter where you stay or what you eat.

Happy weekend y’all!!

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Kitten Development Stages

Welcome to adorableness!

I’m not sure if it’s the same where you live, but here in Mallorca we have many feral cats. And feral cats mean pregnant cats and pregnant cats mean kittens. Recently we had a little grey cat show up and I tried to catch her in time to get her spayed but ehem, nope. And now we have some kittens!

While they are so stinkin’ cute I needed to refrain myself the first week or so to not touch them and just let them be with mama (aka Carla)

Week ONE:

Kittens are born with their eyes and ear canals closed. They do not have any sight or hearing and will most likely stay close to the mother. Their main activities will include eating, sleeping and passing waste. The mother cleans the kitten regularly, and this also helps stimulate the newborn.

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We weren’t sure exactly where Carla had the babies. We thought it was in the abandoned lot across the street but at about day three we found her with FOUR(!!) babies on our old lounge chair on the back upstairs patio. We had a bike on the lounge chair with a cover over it and she had made a little nest in there. Hi Carla!! Shhhhh kittens sleeping.

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And then about five days later she brought her babies down and placed them on our couch!!! Sadly, one had fallen off the lounge chair and died. 😦 So we are down to three kittens. But she carried them down one by one, each time nursing them and getting them quiet before going to get their sibling. But when they were all on the couch mama really settled in with them. And now we were getting close to week two.

Week TWO:

The eyes will begin to open, but vision will be blurry. The kitten will start to develop its sense of smell.

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Isn’t that just the sweetest.

Well, that couch is THE main couch and Carla and the kittens couldn’t stay there. We fixed up a nice box with a blanket Carla had been using before the birth. And then we moved the kittens over to the box. Well, sadly Carla did not like that and she took the babies away. This time to the lot where we thought they were born.

And then came the rain. Mallorca was cold and had a lot of rain for several days. I was hoping she would come back with them because it was so cold and wet. Finally a few days later she did. Three kittens and Carla were in the cat basket upstairs one morning. And I was so relieved! They were all good.

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Their eyes were open (all blue at the moment) and kind  of stumbling around a bit. We have been giving them lots of time with mama but also picking them up a bit and petting them to get them slowly used to humans. I need them to be sweeties and not wild, feral cats! We are looking for homes for them but who knows, maybe we’ll end up keeping them.

Week THREE:

The kitten may have blue eyes at birth, but this will change as the kitten ages. You may start to see this change in the third week. Hearing begins and starts to improve, and you may notice that loud or abrupt noises scare the kitten. Because of the change in hearing, the kitten’s ears will begin to stand up.

The sense of smell continues to improve, and the kitten will begin to pass waste without prodding from the mother. Teeth may start coming in this week, and purring might commence. Your kitten may also go mobile and start walking this week!

And they have slowing started trying to walk with mama’s encouragement. I seriously can’t get over the amount of cuteness.

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Can you handle it!? We are almost to the fourth week. Where they really start to get their own personality and getting a bit bolder. This is where I leave you but I will be back with updates as we get into the next weeks.

Week FOUR:

The kitten will start working on balance and will walk more. The head is usually large compared to body size, so your kitten may be wobbly while moving around. The kitten will begin to explore the surroundings, and you may find yourself on the hunt!

Evaluate any harmful items, chemicals, plants or small openings to minimize risk to the kitten. The kitten will still be nursing at this time, and you can start the introduction to the litter box. Don’t be afraid if the kitten tries to eat the litter; this is normal.

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Dia de les Illes Balears

March 1 is always Balearic Day here on the islands. All schools take advantage of this day to make it a long weekend (they call it puente – a bridge). Hey, I am NOT complaining, cuz it means I get a few days off myself. Today was a lovely day (a bit windy) of sleeping late, catching up on some cleaning and laundry, a little exercise and some new t-shirt designs.

This date commemorates when the Balearic Islands’ Statute of Autonomy came into effect on March 1, 1983. And if you’re on the island it’s not too late to join in the festivities. Or just go out to dinner and celebrate with the locals like we are about to do.

No matter when you visit Mallorca (or any of the Balearic islands), a gorgeous spot is right around the corner.

Picture taken from a hike north of Andratx in the Tramuntana mountains, gorgeous!

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Parc Güell ~ Barcelona

The first time I visited Barcelona, I was twenty-one years old with a mission to see as much of Europe as I could. I had bought a month long eurorail train ticket and was trying to visit as many European countries as humanly possible with not much money. Back then I only spent one day in Barcelona and it was a mix of seeing the Olympic Park at Montjuic Mountain (which I found a little boring) and checking out the Picasso Museum (amazing).

But the next time (and the next time and the next time) I returned to Barcelona I had a plan. I knew what I wanted to see, which was pretty much everything created by Gaudí – Parc Güell, La Sagrada Familia, La Pedrera and Casa Battló. And all of these are so remarkable and beautiful that I must focus on each, one at a time. And first up is Parc Güell.

A little history for you – in 1890, the industrialist Eusebi Güell hired Antoni Gaudí to design the park which was originally planned to be a garden city with villas high above Barcelona in an area called Bare Mountain. It was inspired by the English garden city movement and its intent was to exploit the fresh air and enjoy expansive views of the city and the coast. There were sixty triangular lots available for luxury houses but nobody was interested. Only two homes were built on the land (neither by Gaudí), with Gaudí buying one of them and living there from 1906 to 1926, it is now the Gaudí House Museum.

By 1903 the two entrance pavilions had been constructed, as well as the main flight of steps, the shelter for horse-drawn carriages, the outer enclosure, the viaducts and part of the great esplanade, together with the water evacuation system.

The Dragon Stairway:

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The great entrance leads to the Hypostyle room, which was designed to be the market for the estate. It is made up of 86 striated columns inspired in the Doric order. The outermost ones slope in an undulating movement clearly contrary to the rules of classical composition, while reinforcing a perception of their structural role.

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Inside the room the absence of columns in some sections creates spaces that simulate three naves, like a great church. The ceiling is formed of small domes constructed using the traditional technique of clay bricks decorated with original tile-shard mosaics made by Josep M. Jujol, one of Gaudí’s assistants.

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My favorite area (and I think most people’s favorite) is the Greek Theatre but it has more recently been rechristened as Plaça de la Natura (Nature Square). Its original name was due to the fact that it was planned for staging large open-air shows that could be watched from the surrounding terraces. Although Gaudí always respected the lie of the land, this large square is artificial. Part of it is dug into the rock, while the other part is held up on top of the Hypostyle room. The focal point is the long bench in the form of a sea serpent and the views are breathtaking. The curves of the serpent bench form a number of enclaves, creating a more social atmosphere.

This bench is world famous, even Salvador Dalí called the bench once the precursor of surrealism. And he has sat there!

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I mean seriously, check out the view.

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On the eastern side of the Greek Theatre square there is an original iron door which leads to where there used to be the gardens of Casa Larrard, the former mansion that Güell adopted as his own house, but which has been a school since 1931. The route, which runs at a level higher than that of the house, passes through a pine grove with the portico backing onto a retaining wall made from unworked stone. The portico adopts the shape of a great wave atop slanting columns, with a double colonnade that acts as a buttress. It is one of the finest examples of the organic architecture upheld by Gaudí.

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While the park is completely enchanting with all of its, let’s just say “stunningness”, my favorites are always the gorgeous mosaic tiles. Which a lot of were planned and designed not by Gaudí but by his often overlooked colaberator, Josep M. Jujol.

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And the best mosaic of them all, the dragon which guards the entrance to Park Güell – El Drac. A conduit running inside the Hypostyle toom collects the rainwater that filters down from the square, sending it to an underground tank, which uses the dragon’s mouth as its overflow. Genius, I tell you.

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There is a large area of the park that is open free to the public. But all of these areas to visit mentioned above you need to buy a ticket, adults are 7.50€ and children are 5.25€. I would advise to buy tickets online to bypass the long line that sometimes happens with the beautiful park.

I would love to hear about your experience at Parc Güell if you go or if you have been before. I find this such a magical place that it always draws me to it every time I am in the fabulous city of Barcelona.