Rowboats and Abanicos

If I can recommend you do two things in Madrid, they would be:

  1. Buy an Abanico

  2. Give the boats at El Parqure del Buen Retiro a go

An abanico is a fan by the way. Not just a gimmick, these things are very useful. Madrid is a bustling city, in the centre of Spain and therefore it is HOT. And at times, very HOT, as in ‘three-days-and-we-haven’t-felt-a-breeze’ HOT. So, believe me, an abanico will prove very handy indeed.

Then of course there’s the novelty of having a fan.

Outfit feeling a bit bland? Create some drama with an eye-catching fan.


Hit a sudden lull in conversation? Whip out that fan and gaze mysteriously into the distance. By time you zone back in somebody’s bound to have found something to say.

The abanico is a great distractor, making eavesdropping, gawking and all kinds of being a nosy goose become muuuccch easier.

Enjoy the feeling of superiority as you watch others fail to yield the fan with the same flourish you do.

Unleash your fan, bat your eyelashes and seduce anyone with in a 5-mile radius. *Note: this one only works if you can release the fan properly. Fail to do so and you might just end up looking like a clown! On the bright side, should that happen you can always use the abanico to fan away your embarrassment. Proving once again, the wonder of the abanico.

There also cheap as chips, so why wait? Beat the heat, release your inner cooooooool and get yourself a fan today!!

IMG_3514 (1)

A boat is, well, a boat. El Parque del Buen Retiro, ‘Park of the Pleasant Retreat’,  is one of the biggest and one of the most popular in Madrid. There’s plenty to see here – The Crystal Palace, the Rosaleda rose garden as well as The Fountain of the Fallen Angel and El Angel Caido, claimed to be the only known public statue of Satan. Many of the parks walkways are named after south American countries such as Avenida de Mexico and El Paseo del Argentina, and there’s no shortage of bars, cafes and restaurants inside the park – perfect for a quick pick me up.

Right in the centre of the park lies El Estanque del Retiro, a large man-made pond. The best way to enjoy the lake, and the view of the monument to King Alfonso XII, is in one of its many rowboats. 2pm might not be the most advisable time to give the boats a whirl – direct overhead sunshine and all that. But lash on the SPF, grab a hat and it’ll be grand. (I accept no responsibility if it’s not ‘grand’ 😉)


At 6£ per boat for 45 minutes on the lake, it’s a fun way to chill out without burning up all your moolah (that’s what the shops on Gran Vía are for!!)

However, the actual rowing of the rowboat can prove a little tricky. Picture a boat going around and around in circles – that kind of tricky. With that in mind, here is my no.1 boat rowing tip:

  • Possibly two very capable, very in-sync people could row the boat as a team, but it seems to be a lot easier to let one person take both oars!
  • If you really want to win at the whole rowing thing I recommend not rowing at all, sit back and relax while someone else propels the boat 😉




An altogether more important rowboat tip is; bring the abanico with you! In a practical sense it’s going to be HOT and because of a very simple equation: Abanico + Rowboat = Excellent Photo-Shoot Conditions. (Look at me putting all those years of maths class to good use!)

Until Next Time,

Happy Posing




Shakespeare and Co : Somewhere You Need To Go

Shakespeare and Company is an independent bookstore nestled in the 5th Arrondissment, 37 Rue de la Bucherie to be exact. The store is open 7 days a week, 10am to 10pm. Here you can find new and used (english) books of all kinds as well as a café. The store also hosts several events each month, inviting the public to meet authors to discuss their works and writing.


I first discovered this gem while day-dreaming about Paris one winter’s evening in 2015. I read everything the website had to offer as well as many reviews, blog posts and visitor guides. I book-marked the web-page and vowed to one day see the place for myself. On Tuesday 19th December 2017, I finally did.  Shakespeare & Co is truly a treasure in the heart of the Latin Quarter. It’s a place steeped in history with unforgettable charm and character that has been years in the making.


The bookstore has been meeting place for Anglophone writers and readers since its opening in 1951. The building itself was constructed in the 17th Century and was originally a monastery, La Maison du Mustier. In 1951 it came into the hands of George Whitman and became a bookstore called Le Mistral. In 1964, the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth, the store was re-christened with the name so loved today.

Whitman’s philosophy “Be not inhospitable to strangers lest they be angels in disguise.”, was inspired by the kindness of strangers he experienced while travelling across America. This journey had a profound effect not only on Whitman himself, but also on the bookstore which would come to serve as a resting place for some 30,000 writers and artists. Of these guests, known as Tumbleweeds, three things were asked; read a book a day, help at the shop for a few hours each day, and produce a one-page autobiography. Thousands of autobiographies have been collected, capturing the many stories, dreams and adventures of all those welcomed to Shakespeare and Co. Now the store is run by Whitman’s daughter Sylvia. The sense of community can still be felt today, indeed it is still possible to become a Tumbleweed!


Shakespeare & Co will forever be one of my favourite places in Paris. The store is warm and welcoming, always filled with interesting people and a very chilled-out cat. While its layout could be described as organised chaos, I think it’s just perfect – there’s a place for everything and everything is in its place. I cannot tell you how many times the store saved me from the freeeeezing cold that is Paris, nor can I tell you how many hours I whittled away sitting upstairs in the poetry section, or how many versions of ‘Oh My Goodness I love this place’ I’ve heard from other visitors. I can’t tell you what exactly it is that makes Shakespeare & Co so magical, but I assure that it is just that – Magical.  So, if you find yourself in Paris, a) don’t miss your chance to visit a most beautiful bookstore, and b) know that I am oh-so jealous!


Top-Tip: The store is very popular, especially on Sundays. I recommend visiting on a weekday, (evenings are ideal!) to have the best experience possible.

Til Next Time,


Dear Disney Guests…

A rather ranting piece containing all the things I wanted to say on a daily basis while working in Disneyland Paris. But couldn’t because ‘Blunt Honesty’ is not one of Disney’s Four Keys, and didn’t because I am a master of patience and self -control…


Parade starts at 5 on Main Street. This is the absolute base level of park info; does anyone even look at the programmes?


Does this look like the entrance to Walt Disney Studios Park? I mean, really, there are no signs, no Cast Members in costume, it’s not pretty or welcoming and most importantly there’s no other Guests queuing up. Put all those things together and what do you get? A Cast Member Only entrance, not very magical at all. So for your own sake, just get outta here!


I will happily give you directions, but if you expect me to take your hand and bring you to Small World you’re gonna be disappointed!


I know I’m wearing a name badge right now, but it’s still kind of strange for you address me by name. Especially when my name is not actually Delphine…


How have you got to this stage of life without learning how to use a bin?

*And I’m not talking about the people who refused to use bins here. I mean grown adults who struggled to find the opening of the bins! *


You’ve queued for 45 minutes and you still don’t know what you want to order. Bruhhhhhhh – I have no sympathy.


Allow me to repeat myself here. This voucher entitles you to a meal costing 65. And you want to use it for a €15 burger and fries? Are you sure??


I get that the whole – ‘I’ll pay for this’, ‘No you won’t, it’s my treat!’, ‘Stop that I’m paying!’ – is a thing that happens. But please don’t both of you stand in front of me waving money. If you do, I’ll accept both payments and call the extra a tip for dealing with your indecisiveness.


I know I’m being picky here, but hear me out. A pain au chocolat is not a chocolate croissant. Thank you


It’s Disneyland mate, there are quite literally tens of thousands of people here. Meaning there are going to be queues – for attractions, for shows, for restaurants, for toilets, the lot! Let me blunt – you’re going to have to wait. Even if wanted to, I couldn’t change the situation. Deal with it.


Yes, this is the kid’s chocolate cake. Oh, the white stuff on the top? That’s called icing.


No, there are no shows here today. And no, I don’t accept responsibility for your disappointment. Now, be gone and leave me in peace!


Yes, it’s true, there’s no Wi-Fi in the Disneyland Park. Guess your trip is ruined now, huh?


If you get your kids yoghurt or *God forbid* apple compote for dessert, instead of cake or ice-cream, I just want you to know that I will judge you. Harshly.


Why are there so many different words for sparkling water and hot chocolate in French? Let’s not even mention the whole calling a pain au chocolat a chocolatine fiasco.


See those people wearing red? They are Guest Flow and it’s their job to answer your many questions. So please, go bother them and let me walk to lunch.


If it’s 9:50pm and you’re not on Main Street waiting for Illuminations (the nightly firework show), I think you need to a) reassess your life and b) RUN.


Disclaimer: I’m only sometimes a ball of rage and there are plenty of nice things to be said about Disney Guests. But that’s a story for another post 😉

Til Next Time,

Boil on the Inside, Smile on the Outside


On Losing A Passport…

No #weekendwithbae is complete without chaos, panic and a little drama. In Paris it was falling phones and métro fines. Amsterdam did not disappoint, the highlight of all mishaps being the losing of a passport…

Not my passport, but bae’s. It was our first night in the city, we were in our hostel getting ready to head back out. All was going well. Until bae went to grab her ID, which was in her passport, which was nowhere to be seen.

Dun, Dunnn, Dunnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn !!

Queue turning our cases upside down, stripping the bed sheets, clearing the lockers, interrogating roommates, running to reception, ‘What am I going to tell my parents?!’, ‘There goes our night out!’ panic.

Along with some more practical ‘what-to-do-when-you-lose-your-(Irish)-passport-while-abroad?’ google searches. Which is why I can now say that, at least in theory, I know what to do in such a situation.

And I’m sure you all want to know too, so without further delay:


What to do When Your Passport Goes Missing While Abroad:

  1. Report the loss to the local police within 24 hours – the sooner the better!

  2. Make sure to obtain a written report of the loss at the police station. Maybe make a few extra copies, just in case.

  3. If you have travel insurance, now is the time to contact your provider. (I never have insurance so I can’t give much advice on this point!)

  4. Head to the Irish Embassy/Consulate of the country you are in. You’ll need to have the police report with you in order to obtain a replacement travel document. (The Netherlands’ Irish Embassy is in The Hague, btw)

  5. Depending on how soon you need to get home/continue travelling, the Irish Embassy will provide you with either a replacement passport or an emergency travel document.

This next tip is my very own – check everywhere. And I mean everywhere. We thought we had searched everywhere. Then I checked the pockets of my trusty denim jacket, and what did I find? You guessed it – the missing passport.

Queue tears of joy, ‘Thank goodness we don’t have to go to the embassy’, ‘Why are we so foolish?’ absolute relief.

So I can’t comment on what it’s really like to lose your passport abroad (and hopefully I never will be able!).  Coincidentally though, on our flight home there was a girl with one of those emergency travel documents whose passport had been stolen. She got home and she seemed to have had a fun weekend, so I guess a lost/stolen passport doesn’t have to ruin your trip!

Til Next Time,

Always Check Your Pockets 😉

Snapshots : Amsterdam

First thoughts, final thoughts, in-between thoughts on a beautiful and surprising city….


WOW – they were serious about the bike thing. No exaggeration at all.



Church bells are ringing again. This is the 7th time and I’ve only been here 4 hours!? Are they the same bells? Are they actually church bells? Are they even bells?



Are the fries really worth the out-the-door, round-the-corner queue? (yes!)



Public Street Urinals. Odd but effective.



I wonder how deep the canals are.



It would have been a cool idea to keep track of how many bridges I’ve crossed this weekend.



*Standing on any street in the Red Light District at 11pm* This place sure looked different 12 hours ago…



How many travellers here are somewhere along their ‘Europe Tour’? MANY. How many are American? Ouite a few.  (Shout out To New York gals!)



Can I bring home real tulips?



I’ve seen that dude before. At the airport. At Central Station. I saw him go into his hostel. Saw him at the bar last night. And now he’s in that Coffee Shop.



Who knew there was more than one of those Iamsterdam signs? Not me. There are 3, each as crowded as the last ;p One behind the Rijksmuseum, one at Schilpol Airport and another travelling set currently found at the EYE Film museum.



I’ve never felt so safe in a city before. (This was still true at 4am on strangely misty streets!)



I expected a lot less from this city. With all the tourists I thought it would be somewhat tacky and overrated.  I was wrong. Amsterdam, you have impressed me – you are welcoming, exciting, uplifting and relaxing all at once.  And I hope to see you again soon!


Til Next Time


Marché Aux Fleurs

Somewhere between Sainte-Chapelle Chapel and Notre-Dame Cathédrale, lies Place Louis Lépine. The home of one of my most loved, most visited markets in Paris. Marché aux Fleurs.


As the name suggests this market specialises in flowers, as well as a wide selection of other plants and all sorts of garden knick-knacks.


This place is always worth a visit. Even if it’s just for the colours, the scents and the dreamy window displays!


From Hôtel de Ville or Notre-Dame Cathédrale the market is easily reachable on foot, there are even handy signposts! Metro line 4 brings you to Cité, which is located right beside the market.


A large portion of the market is indoors or covered, making it a winner even on rainy days (which Paris gets a lot of!). Plus most of the market is open daily, and has been doing so since 1880.


However, this marche really comes into bloom on Sunday. *Which is, by the way, my preferred day for a lazy market stroll!*

As I’m (sadly) no longer in Paris I will (sadly) not get to see the market in summer. For now then, imagination will have to suffice 😉


Until Next Time,

Always Stop to Smell the Flowers!

What is this playlist though?!

Levantine. A hummus bar, just a little way from Place de la République and close to Canal St Martin. Like Falafel Cafe, a paradise for hummus lovers. And like Rue Crémieux, found through Instagram. (Merci Pilar !!)

I’m not sure how she found this gem but I’m glad she did. It’s so super cute (excuse my lack of more original adjectives). The restaurant is, however, something original. Everything – the furniture, the walls, the lights, the plates – is odd and mismatched, yet somehow it all blends seamlessly.


The tables are low, and in typical Parisian style space is tight. All the better for intimate conversations and whatnot.



I didn’t take any pictures, but my people, let me tell you, the bathroom is a wonder. Trust me. Just go there and go pee. I’ll say no more. 😉

Of course, quirky restaurants need more than just quirk. They’ve got to get the food right too. Levantine has got both down to a perfect tee – the quirk and the food.


Sharing dishes is very possible.

But I would not begrudge anyone wanting to eat all that hummus alone. I could definitely do it. :p


The menu is made up of staples, like falafel, tabbouleh, halloumi and hummus (Duh!) as well as a variety of signature dishes and ever changing specials.



As to the inspiration for this post’s title – THE PLAYLIST. It’s nothing fancy, mostly acoustic covers. But really beautiful ones. I’ve searched for something similar on Spotify – no luck so far.  We even messaged the restaurant, we’re still awaiting a reply but we’re still hopeful 😉


In conclusion, by all means visit Levantine, but be warned leaving will not be easy! Why?

  1. The Food
  2. The Decor


Til Next Time,

Get me Some Hummus, please!!

À la Prochain, Disneyland

I like balance. On the 2nd of November I posted a blog detailing my first three day working at Disneyland. Six months later, my contract has come to an end and I am no longer a Cast Member. In the interest of balance then, here’s a look at my last three days working for the one and only, Mickey Mouse…

Thursday 26th April

A 9am start. Which meant taking the 8:02 bus, which meant I should have gotten up at 7am. But alas I overslept and rolled out of bed at 7:53. I kid you not – 7:53. Yet, somehow I made it to the bus. When you forego things like showering, eating breakfast and mascara the time it takes to get radically reduced. The downside is of course, looking a little dishevelled.

Coincidentally Thursday was not only the day I overslept, but also the day we had our Remise de Diplome ( the day we received our diplomas having completed the programme). AKA a day that involves picture taking. So some people made a special effort, meanwhile I had not even brushed my hair.

It was somewhat un-organised, as in we weren’t clear on what was happening until it was.  But all was well. Diplomas were received, cringey pictures taken, and Mickey graduation hats tried on. You don’t get to keep the graduation hat, which is a little rude if you ask me. Although it’s unlikely I would have managed to squeeze it into my case.

Most importantly there were refreshments afterwards aka CAKE! Which made up for the cake we had not recieved on our last day of class. Our teacher had promised us cake on our last day. I will never get over the betrayal.

Everything wrapped up before 4pm, giving us enough time to catch the last Pirates and Princesses Parade;

1. Peter Pan is such a sweetheart!


0262. The Pirates and Princesses Festival is such a hit. It’s so much fun. I miss it 😦


0623. The music – so damn good



We also watched Mickey and The Magician ( the most magical show at Disneyland Paris), faced the Tower of Terror ( it was my first time, I should have done it sooner) and Rock n’ Roll Rollercoaster ( a new kind of hell).




To celebrate, and also because Sophie is MAGIC, we had a special dinner with Mickey et ses amis at Café Mickey. Very cute, lots of fun, and actual food (something lacking in my final week in Paris!).

Friday 27th April

Friday I was sent on a transfer, to the Kiosques in Walt Disney Studios Park. Nice – getting the chance to work in both Parks. Not nice – not knowing where to go. But as ever, all worked out well and I found the Kiosque headquarters and the Cast Member I would be working with. He was super nice – Thank you for making my 2ndlast day so much fun!


It was also incredibly easy. Disney, should I ever return, the kiosques are where I wanna go!

Although I realised just how little I know about Studios. Somebody asked me where he could meet Mickey, and I honestly did not have a clue. Oops. I hope you found him!


I had a slight hiccup in the afternoon when, an hour from finishing, I realised I had not badged in. Meaning I had worked all day for nothing – pas badge, pas paye. To be honest, I was too happy to be particularly bothered. I did speak to a Team Leader though, he said he would sort it. Next month’s pay check will show whether he did or not.

After work I met with a friend who has just become a Cast Member. Sadly we were too late for Tower of Terror (I was disappointed, she was relieved). So we spent the evening in the Disneyland Park instead (the best Park).

We laughed at foolish things, swapped work stories and bought some of those big-ass lolli-pops. We also went on Autopia, for a ride that involves driving a car around a track its actually good fun. Although, with good company most things are fun!

Sending you lots of love and lots of luck Kayowa!!

Saturday 28th April

My last day as a Cast Member.

First things first I had to go to Auchan because my cupboards were BARE. I don’t feel the frozen spinach that was in my freezer is worth mentioning. So I bought some breakfast, which I ate in Imaginations canteen.

Pretty soon pangs of ‘lasts’ started to hit me;

  • I had already came through the Minnie Gate (entrance to backstage) for the last time
  • I was sitting in Imaginations for the last time
  • I would soon go to costuming for the last time and take my last ever costume.

And so, yes, I arrived to work somewhat emotionally fragile (whats new HA). The day was, however, really good. No super annoying guest, no mistakes on my part. In fact, after lunch it was so quiet that I spent my last few hours doing RIEN, which is always nice.

After I had badged out (for the last time!) I hung around for an hour until Bradley was finished – walk in together, walk out together. And then it was time for us to go.

In many ways our last day was quite the anti-climax. No big fuss, no over the top farewells. It was better that way, those big fusses will be the death of me. However, I do hope my co-workers know how grateful I am to have worked with such a friendly and welcoming group of people.

That evening was spent in the park. Naturally. I wanted my last time watching Illuminations (fireworks show at the each day) to be perfect. But sadly it was not so. Why, I hear you asking. Let me answer in bullet points:

  • Far too many people – ew
  • If you have a stroller how and why are you in the middle of this big crowd?
  • Why are you leaving halfway through, obstructing my view even more?
  • Those people with strollers who were pushing their way out halfway through. No comment
  • The age old dilemma of having the perfect view, until someone lifts up their child and now you can see NADA, RIEN, NULL
  • The 21stCentury dilemma of seeing nothing and yet seeing everything through a hundred different phone, tablet and camera screens. It will always look best through your eyes – please people, at least let me enjoy the spectacle!

So my last time watching Illuminations was far from magic. And although I was a little disappointed, that’s just the way things go. I have watched Illuminations on random nights after work and cried (I know it’s not Dreams, but it’s still beautiful), I have seen the fireworks from behind the castle and been in awe at the magic. And the night I take the time to plan it, the result is meh.

Those magic moments can’t be forced, the just happen. And so, we need to learn to embrace them and enjoy them while we can.

Flash forward to after Illuminations and after all the crowds had left ( it took a LONG time), as Jennifer and I were standing in Central Plaza enjoying the Castle view and guestless Main Street. It was there that we witnessed a very cute proposal. She said yes, he was crying, my night was made. Magic moments- you never know when they’ll find you.

Our night ended in Five Guys. I can’t say anything about the burgers, but I can say that the fries are top-notch. Many thanks to Jennifer and her car for saving me from that walk to Les Pleiades from the bus stop!

And that rounds up my last three days as a Cast Member. Little did I know I was about to face a hell like no other in packing up 7 months in 2 days…..


À la Prochain


Yellow Means Books

It seems to me that a lot of people read in Paris. Every time I have taken the métro or RER, there has always been at least one person with a book in hand. The more I’ve noticed this phenomenon the more I’ve looked out for it. Meaning I have counted the number of people reading at once – the record so far is 9 readers in one carriage. And so I wondered about the why of this trend. You’ll be glad to know that I have come to a conclusion of sorts. Paris is home to many many many wonderful bookstores, so you’d be crazy not to make the most of it!


*spoiler: there may be no correlation at all. Nothing about this post is anything other than my late night musings 😉 *

Gibert Jeune is one of these bookstores and another reason to adore the Latin Quarter. The store, just a little way from Notre Dame, is yellow, has seven floors and is filled with books.


What started as a bag of books and a bouquiniste stand on quai Saint-Michel, became a fixed shop in 1888. The business enjoyed immediate success and continues to do so today. It is still run by the Gibert family who share Joseph Gibert’s passion and respect for books, culture and learning.


The place is a treasure trove of books; new and used, fiction or fact, books for learning, books for leisure, books with pictures, books with none, biographies, books about philosophy, books about history, books about travel, literature, best-sellers, and every other kind of ‘seller’.

You get it, a LOT of books.


They also have a mint stationary supply (stationary is cool, don’t deny it) and some super cute postcards.

*Here comes a side story………*

On my first visit to Gibert Jeune, one dark and blustery Tuesday in November, it was the postcards that caught my eye. I deliberated and eventually decided not to buy them. I later regretted that choice, not because I wanted to send them to anyone, but because I imagined them looking very nice on my wall.

Naturally, a return visited was desired and needed and had. I got the postcards. And, yes they make my wall look fab-U-lous.

*Back to the main story…….*

Gibert Jeune gets a bonus point because the books are relatively in expensive. And so I have bought many books. Far more than someone who has less than a week to pack seven months of living into one suitcase ought to have.

But no worries, because:

  1. Now I have every reason to be a too-cool-for-you, reading on the métro type 😉
  2. You can also sell your books at Gibert Jeune, so should packing be a catastrophe I do have options. (Although, I will more likely struggle home with a far too heavy suitcase than part with my books!)
  3. BOOKS! – Need I say more?


Til Next Time,

Read and Stay Woke

Hashtag Rue Crémieux

Sometimes I just happen to wander onto pretty streets. And other times I have to thank Instagram for new discoveries. This was the case with Rue Crémieux, which I found while having a good ‘ol scroll. You know the kind, where one hashtag leads to another and then another and then suddenly you’re saving every second post because ‘ Oh My Goodness – gOAls!’. Well yes, that is how Rue Crémieux was added to my ‘Streets I Need to See in Paris’ list.


Guided as ever by Google Maps I took Metro ligne 5 to Quai de la Rapée ( you could also get off one stop earlier at Bastille, I judge the distance to be the same). Having studied the map outside the metro stop I believed I had a pretty good idea of where to go. I then walked off in the completely wrong direction, so my belief was clearly misjudged. But not to worry, I headed back to map and got things a lil’ clearer. How I managed to go wrong is beyond me as it was in fact very easy to find. Don’t cross the bridge, stay on Boulevard de la Bastille, head towards Place de la Bastille ( the big tall thingy, you can’t miss it), take a right onto Rue de Bercy, just keep going and Rue Crémieux will be on your left.


It’s easy to see why this street has starred in many an Insta post. And when I say many I mean no less than 22, 837 posts!



It’s picturesque, colourful houses bring a refreshing vibrancy to this sleepy little area.


Some houses display signs asking visitors not to take photos and keep noise down. This is an understandable request and I do hope its respected. While they might be ‘Oh My Goodness – gOAls!!!!!’, these are primarily people’s homes and businesses.

 Other residents, however, seem to not only bask in the glow of their Insta fame, but also cultivate it. I’m looking at you, numbers 21 to 24!


These houses are especially bright, an alluring beacon for any Grammer worth their salt.


Whether you #hashtag it or not, Rue Crémieux is by all means a nice little wander. And with the current blast of sunshine hitting Paris I imagine it to be even more enchanting!



Til Next Time,

Lau xx