Two posts today!! Well, I posted my book review and then came across this blog link-up hosted by Cynthia, Courtney and Mar and decided it would be a good opportunity to recap five things I have done this summer – as I am returning to the UK at the end of next week it definitely feels like the summer is almost over, and this has been an incredible jam-packed summer!
1) lived in a foreign country
My summer has been longer than most summers as I’ve spent it in Madrid! We have had wonderful weather for months and months now – even back in March when it was cold, the skies were blue and the sun was shining. I have made the most of exploring Madrid as much as possible, trying to see all the tourist attractions, eat in all the non-touristy restaurants and run/ride all around the city.
And for the large part, I have managed it! If you are coming to Madrid at any point, here is my post on What to Do in Madrid (hopefully so you avoid ending up getting sucked in by the tourist traps, exhausting yourselves and then wondering what else is there to do?!) and here is my post on My favourite restaurants in Madrid (I did a LOT of research for this post! 😀 )
2) used being in Madrid as an excuse to explore the rest of Spain.
I had a whole ten days over Easter cycling in Andalucia with hundreds of blog posts (okay, not literally hundreds). I wrote about our cycles here, here, here and here. If you’ve been watching the beginning of the Vuelta de España this year you may enjoy these posts as we were cycling on some of the same routes as the peloton! Especially the finish up by El Chorro – on which the hill was so steep I actually fell off my bike (to much hilarity from James)!
We visited the Sierra Subettica, El Chorro, Frigiliana and beautiful, beautiful Antequera. I drove down from Madrid and broke the journey with an overnight stay in Manzanares and a run through Daimiel National Park. It was stunning beautiful and while I wouldn’t recommend visiting Spain just to go here, I would definitely recommend doing some travelling across the country and breaking your trip around here. Manzanares was a completely non-touristy, typical Spanish town complete with large square filled with restaurants and bars, and families getting together and enjoying themselves.
But there were so many places in Spain I didn’t get to go to. I really want to take ten days and go to Bilbao, eat my way around San Sebastián, and then get up into the Picos de Europa for some fantastic cycling and hiking.
3) two foreign weddings!
The first was in Greece – we spent a few days in the beautiful island of Spetses for the wedding, and then went to Athens for 24 hours. I really, really loved the holiday and would love to go back to Athens.
I am currently about to get on a plane to fly to the second wedding at the moment…. The wedding is in Siena, Italy, with the reception in a CASTLE in the Tuscan countryside. I’m excited 😀
4) an Olympic distance triathlon
Oh wait – some exercise?! Yep – some exercise. At the end of June I did my second Olympic distance triathlon (race recap here!) on a day that was hotter than the sun, on a hilly and bare course. No, it was not fun. Yes, I considered dropping out (actually, I hoped I would faint or fall off my bike so I would have an excuse to drop out!) Yes, I eventually finished. It was slow and not pretty but I did learn a few things – well, one thing mainly: nutrition, nutrition, nutrition. My electrolyte drink just didn’t work for me in the heat – it was so hot as a result of sitting out in T1 and it made me feel kind of sick when I drank it. As a result I got really dehydrated. Obviously I wouldn’t recommend putting your water bottle in the microwave before a training ride but I really should have thought about testing out how I would get on with it in the heat!
5) begun training for a half ironman triathlon!
This, combined with all the travelling and enjoying Madrid, has generally been pretty hard. I’ve broken my body and have spent the last three days sick, and almost the last month unable to run due to pain in my left leg. It’s annoying, especially when I don’t feel that I am training that hard, or that many hours – it is more all of the training, plus all of the fun, and none of the rest. For example, my Jawbone shows that at the end of July I had a week with over 24 HOURS active time!!
That is a whole day out of 7 spent on my feet – and that doesn’t even include swimming or things like yoga / strength work. It has been awesome, but it has also been exhausting. I have loved getting to know Madrid on my own two feet, exploring its huge park, the Casa de Campo, cycling on properly segregated, tarmacked, fast cycling lanes right around the city and out to the countryside, hiking in the mountains, finding a beach, and much, much more.
It’s been an incredible summer.