Thursday, 31 December 2015

Some travel and blogging thoughts and resolutions for the New Year

As 2015 draws to an end, it is only natural to reflect on the past 12 months and the year that is about to start. In terms of both travel and blogging, it has been a successful one and I hope to build on this in 2016. I've been lucky enough to travel to Malaga with work and discover a highly compatible travel companion in the wonderful Tania. We spent a crazy two weeks dashing around northern Argentina and discovering the charms of Uruguay with a brilliant 12-hour stop-off in Munich on the way back. I look forward to more travels with her in the future.

That South America with an added dollop of Germany trip taught me that circumstances can lead to some very serendipitous happenings. Our flights to Buenos Aires were cheap, seriously cheap, with our stop-off in Munich being one of the reasons why. But it ended up being a highlight of our trip and just goes to show that making the most of such situations can lead to brilliant experiences.

It would be impossible to look back over 2015 and not mention the craziness that was La Tomatina. Despite the early morning start, the GoPro getting nicked (and returned) and washing tomato out of our clothes three days later, it was a bucket list experience I'll never forget. I'm not sure I'd want to be squashed into the streets of Buñol again, but I'm really glad I did it once.

Having clear targets, supplied by my bucket list, has added an extra dimension to my travels and helps to gauge where to go next. Many of the principles I applied to 2015 I simply want to continue and this goes for both travelling and blogging. Trying to post at least once a month and ending up with more articles in total than the previous year is a definite aim that I intend to stick with. I may have slipped ever so slightly on the first point, but the second one I have achieved in 2015 and hope to improve upon in 2016.

Planned travels for the coming year

Morocco in February - because I can't think of anywhere better than the Marjorelle Gardens to celebrate turning 30

Jordan in May/June - this year's girly trip with my wonderful travelling companion Tania

Prague in November - the trip I have been dreaming about with two of my friends for years. The plan is to stay at The Alchymist Hotel to mark all our 30th birthdays

Some resolutions for 2016
  • Keep up the good work - try and blog at least once a month with an additional post wherever possible
  • Finish posts that have already been started - I have 18 blog posts in my drafts. Not all of these will become fully fledged posts, but many of them have the potential to be, so I need to get them finished and published
  • Travel more slowly - after dragging my other half around Barcelona and Valencia at break neck speed this summer, I realise I perhaps need to plan fewer activities and relax a little more on holiday
  • Be on holiday - speaking of being on holiday, I think I also need to remember to switch off the travel writer/blogger mode while I'm away sometimes. Turn off the camera and live in the moment

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

La Birreria - A new addition to Valencia's craft ale scene

The craft ale revolution seems to have spread to all corners of the globe, ensuring a glass of local, small-batch brewed beer can be found in most places. This goes for Valencia as much as anywhere else, as my boyfriend and I discovered when we were visiting to coincide with La Tomatina Festival this summer.

In the centre of the city, we stumbled upon The Market, offering a good selection of brews including some we had heard of and a few new to our pallets. This little place close to the Central Market had all the makings of a great craft beer bar - a bit dingy inside, an upturned barrel on the street used as a table and a friendly and knowledgeable barman keen to match the right beers with his clientele.

While we enjoyed a few beers here, a real find came a little later on when we were exploring down the route of the former river towards the sea. Keen to check out the ultra-modern buildings that had been built down there we took a wander, but decided to stop for some lunch on the way. The receptionist at our hotel had recommended a few places to get a traditional paella, but at the height of the summer we found most of them were closed. Eventually we got to Raco de Turia, where we had a delicious lunch, but we walked past La Birreria as we wandered about the area.

It was closed due to the hour (lunchtime), but we vowed to stop by on our return journey later that evening, which we did. This lovely little modern bar serves up artesan beer from Valencia, Spain and the wider world and we later found out, was just three weeks old.

Sitting at one of the tables in the street we watched as a member of staff laid a small table for a party. It turned out that the celebration was to mark the owner, Roberto's, birthday. As we sat and tried various beers, including a sea water one called Boqueron, we were welcomed into the festivities and given morsels of tapas and birthday cake. Surrounded by Roberto's friends and family, the atmosphere was really fun and inclusive.

If you are in Valencia and are a fan of craft beer, be sure to head a little way out of the historic centre of the city to find La Birreria. We are sure you will receive a welcome as warm as the one we experienced. And we wish Roberto and his staff lots of luck in their venture. It deserves to do well.