Things I saw in Paris | France

Église Saint Germain des Prés
My two favourite things in Paris were:
1. The Coulée Verte/Promenade Plantée – an elevated walkway built on top of an old railway line that runs above the city from Bastille to the Bois de Vincennes. A garden in the sky, if you will.
2. Sparkling water fountains! Ice cold sparkling water! For free! Welcome to the future.
More sketchbooks from France here 

Leave your furniture on the street | Barcelona

10 de Julio

1:21 The thing where people put old stuff in the street to recycle, does it have a name? Like a Catalan thing / Spanish term maybe?

1:22 Mmh no I don’t think so

1:22 People would call it ‘Deixar els mobles al carrer’  which means ‘leave your furniture on the street’ and in Gràcia it happens on wednesdays but it doesn’t have a term as far as I know

Ciutadella Sketches | Barcelona

Maybe you won’t be able to tell from looking at these pictures but: I drew these sketches with a smile on my face. My eyes are screwed up and squinting because of the early evening still-hot sunshine. I’m crouched over the paper and the heat and this posture are giving me a headache. I sit up straight and drop my shoulders (remembering the instructions from Luz) I can feel the tension run down from my temples and roll off my shoulders. I can hear music pouring from two different speakers on either side. Two groups of people and two songs coinciding. Mostly, the different types of music clash and add to the molstrum of sounds, the skaters, the shouting, the cars and the buses. Occasionally, it works. There are a few seconds where they sound in perfect harmony. Like a bad dj who doesn’t understand what he’s doing but occasionally, occasionally and by accident there are moments of magic.



Winding lanes | Perros – Guirec, France


Perros - Guirec

I’m on a bus winding around these lanes. Past every corner I keep seeing my dream house: slate roof, colourful shutters, palm trees and a glimpse of craggy coast and blue sea behind.
This bus is free. It runs every Tuesday and Friday morning. Everyone who gets on the bus says hello to everyone else and when they leave they say goodbye in the same way. My french is really coming along. “Bonjour!!!” I say. I don’t understand all of the conversations but I’m smiling and nodding a lot.


Back for the summer | Vila de Gràcia, Barcelona

Yesterday I saw a toddler being carried down the street. He was looking around at the city and pointing at everything excitedly. The buildings! The cars! The people! The balconies!!! He was so amazed and delighted at what he was seeing that he couldn’t help wriggling in his father’s arms and smiling at everyone he saw. It was early evening and it’s early summer and everyone in the street was happy to be heading home from work, even the people who were rushing or stressed felt a little bit better just for being outside, surrounded by the noise and the orange glow and the clear sky and the palm trees and the gentle heat and the thought of a cold beer waiting for them in a full plaza at the end of their journey.



Take a breath | Colonia del Sacramento

I spent two days wandering around Colonia on my own but despite my best efforts, I didn’t get lost at any point. It’s small and the paths keep ending up in the same place. It feels like no matter what direction you walk in, you always end up heading down to the shore and the buildings frame the water like curtains either side of a stage. There’s an old town designed by the first Portuguese colonisers and it’s all set into a beautiful landscape. The biggest flurry of activity I saw was in the evening when it seemed like everyone in the town headed down to the water’s edge to drink mate and watch the sunset, that was fine by me. 

The journey from Buenos Aires to Uruguay costs around €40-50, takes less than a couple of hours and as such is a well travelled route – as a weekend away, a visa run or a stop on the way to Brazil. I wasn’t sure what to expect  but I’m glad that I chose to explore a bit and didn’t just head straight for the capital of Montevideo. Colonia shouldn’t be overlooked, especially if what you’re after is a change of pace after losing your mind in the gorgeous sprawling mass of Buenos Aires.

Galeria del Viejo Hotel | Buenos Aires

El Patio de Cabo Verde | Galeria del Viejo Hotel | San Telmo | Buenos Aires

This old hotel in San Telmo was converted into a gallery and houses the studios and shops of more than 40 artists and craftspeople. We sat on the patio in the middle of all of the workshops until the sun started to set.

“.. una de las principales atracciones de la Galería, para vecinos y turistas, es el bar-restaurante de la planta baja. Allí también suelen juntarse los artistas de la casa para debatir en grandes mesas hasta que arremeten empanadas, vinos y cervezas.
Al caminar por estos pasillos, se respira el olor de las paredes recién blanqueadas, se aprecia el verde de las plantas que se extienden de balcón a balcón mediante hilos bien dispuestos.”

(Alejandro M. Zamponi)

Visit one of Europe’s oldest open air markets ENCANTS | Barcelona

Illustration of Els Encants Barcelona
Els Encants Market

The first time I went to Encants I was overwhelmed. The multi – levelled, mirrored structure creates distorted reflections of the stalls and mountains upon mountains of ephemera. Despite looking compellingly futuristic, Encants is reputedly one of the oldest open air flea markets in Europe. Dating from the 14th century, Els Encants has been housed in Glories since 1928 and is still up and running today. The metal canopy (the result of a renovation in 2013) also means the ‘open air’ market can trade in all weathers. This isn’t one of those trendy, or especially pretty, vintage markets but a real old style wade-through-tat-to-find-your-treasure and then spend 20 minutes bartering, to leave with a bargain, kind of place. Be prepared to spend some time rummaging with your elbows out and it will be great.

The market is located on the edge of the center of Barcelona but is easily accessed by metro to Encants (L2) or Glories (L1). There are food stalls on site and the Design Museum of Barcelona (Museu del Disseny) is a couple of minutes walk away, so there’s enough around to make a visit to Encants worth the short journey.

Map of Glòries
Map of Glòries



MACBA | Barcelona

It’s a modern art museum tucked in between historic buildings and the winding, narrow streets of Raval, it should be out of place but it just feels…right.

Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art – Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona – MACBA

MACBA’s permanent collection of art is vast and it hosts frequently changing exhibitions, best of all, it’s free to visit Saturdays 4-8pm.

For me, the best part of MACBA is outside. Follow the sound of wheels through Raval and eventually the narrow streets will open up into the Plaça dels Àngels– the front of the museum serves as an unofficial skate park and meeting place. There’s something poetic about the way this obviously uber modern building sits between the old edificios in Raval, and how the noise and movement outside contrasts with the calm hush that covers the interior. Everyday throughout the week this square is buzzing, come to relax, skate – or just watch the tricks and wince at the falls onto concrete.

It’s amazing to see and really something you should experience for yourself. Great pit stop in the city because there are loads of bars, the Raval neighborhood has some of the cheapest prices in Barcelona.