The Last of 2017

Happy New Year! I hope 2018 brings you everything you want and more, and as you slide down the bannister of life, may all the splinters be facing in the right direction. I hear that old Irish proverb plenty of times throughout my year from a close family member and I think it most definitely applies. Although none of us knows what’s in store, here’s hoping it’s as splinterless as possible, right?
I loved December. I only really had the time to sit down and process it once January rolled around, and as always I have a collection of photos. We can all relate to how fast December goes by (well, the rest of any year once Halloween passes) so I’m glad I managed to document it for the most part. Although I enjoyed the last few months, I think most will agree that they are more than happy to start a fresh new chapter.

I returned from Portugal a few days into December, just as Christmas really kicked off in Granada. The lights were switched on on December 6th and the markets popped up everywhere. El Corte Inglés had all their Christmas offers going, their animatronics display outside (very like It’s a Small World, but Spanish style!) and chestnuts were roasting on several fires throughout the city. The smoke would choke you, but hey, they taste good.

I enjoyed a handful of days at home in my little corner of Granada before leaving for Madrid. This was my view as we whizzed along the motorway. I left Granada until the new year, ready to spend time with family in Madrid before Christmas in Dublin.

Walking around Capitan Haya, becoming reacquainted with Madrid. Although I don’t live there anymore, it sometimes feels like I do. I’m almost there as much as Granada, I love having variety and contrast. 2018 will be no different; I’ll be back in Madrid in a couple of weeks.

The best nachos in the city are at the top of El Corte Inglés in Callao, at Central Mexicana. As much as I love their margaritas, they’re crazy strong (and we went with post-Christmas shopping empty stomachs) so we ordered beers and shared a plate of their nachos with guacamole. One of my favourite spots I constantly return to (and did 2 times more on that trip) and their playlists are always the best. The place will give you life and you’ll leave in a great mood!

The dreamy interiors of Cinco Jotas, a brand known for their amazing acorn-fed jamón Iberico. The best ham by a mile. Cinco Jotas has tasting experiences and a few restaurants dotted around Madrid. My parents were due to arrive that evening to visit us for a few days, so Iñaki and I went to Cinco Jotas before the airport run for a drink.

Lunch at La Galeria, Florida Retiro with my parents. We found this spot last January by chance, amongst a little line of eateries at the edge of the park. We enjoyed it so much, we planned to go back. It was just as good this time, and the setting is beautiful. Perfect for lunch or a drink in the Parque del Retiro. The artisan hot dog made me very, very happy! The dishes are tapas style and the quality is excellent, ordering a few to share is always a good idea. They also make Spanish tortilla cooked to order, which arrives in a little skillet, just for you!

Post lunch walk around the park in the December sunshine.

Christmas markets at The Plaza Mayor. Although there isn’t much more than a few knick-knacks on offer, the atmosphere and toing and froing of locals and tourists are nice to observe. We planned on a terrace coffee at one of the many bars and restaurants in the square but they don’t seem to put seats out while the markets are on the go.

Sunset over Madrid at Club del Gourmet with views of the city and the famous Schweppes sign on Gran Vía.

An amazing meal (as always) at De María, and the parents meeting. We translated from Spanish to English and English to Spanish and everything went exceptionally well.

Cosy setting and Christmas drinks at H10 Villa de la Reina Hotel on Gran Vía. We left my Dad here while we went to Calle Fuencarral around the corner to do some shopping. I used to live so close by on Calle del Barco in Malasaña. Ah, memories!

The supersized Christmas tree at Puerta del Sol.

Our original plan to see El Clasico was postponed as the match wouldn’t take place until December 23rd, which was too close to Christmas. We didn’t have much time to squeeze any other match in, so the day before we left for Dublin Iñaki’s parent’s surprised mine with lunch at Puerta 57 with the whole family to show them Santiago Bernabéu and say their goodbyes. 9 of us dined together overlooking the pitch; a lovely gesture which we all really enjoyed. Home to Dublin and I was happy to see all the decorations and lights all around the place, and of course our glistening tree. Nothing beats Ireland for Christmas. Name a better place? I’ll wait.
Catching up with friends during the Christmas break. These photos are black and white and faded for a reason…#merriment
Fresh crisp weather, perfect for winter walks. Iñaki and I walked around my village whenever we got the chance. It really clears the head, and I appreciate it more as it’s a completely different world to what I’m used to now in Spain.

Christmas day. The pictures aren’t in order, as the first is the cat (exhausted) after the excitement over mounds of wrapping paper everywhere after we opened our presents Santa left. You’re never too old for Santa in my opinion. A pint of Guinness around the house at this time of year is pretty normal, we always have a winter barrel. An Irish coffee, just because, and presents I wrapped ready to give to family and friends.

Santa gifts complete with selection boxes. The stocking is always my favourite!

Obligatory Christmas morning breakfast just after Santa presents. The works, with champagne. Always.

The main event. Christmas dinner in the evening with my family (including my Nana and Iñaki). Dinner was delicious, as always – the ham is my favourite, eaten with more mustard than my sinuses can handle. After dinner, we opened the rest of our gifts, pulled the worst ‘luxury’ crackers ever (who needs a key cover or a large paperclip?!) and things got a bit heated over Family Fortunes. Iñaki and I watched Christmas movies until the food and drinks finally caught up with us and we fell asleep around 1am.

A few snaps from Dublin city during my time at home so far. Walks on Grafton Street, pre Christmas drinks at Sweetman’s pub, Trinity College, the new Luas line tracks (I can’t believe they’re finally finished!) Christmas decorations at Brown Thomas and the chipper sign at Super Miss Sue. Iñaki and I shared our favourite scampi at SMS, two happy heads sitting in the window sharing a bag while looking out on Stephen’s street and people watching. You can’t beat it.

We then went to Stephen’s Green shopping centre where Iñaki had to have a 99, another Christmas tradition he set for himself.

A delicious meal at Il Posto with my sister and Iñaki on his last night in Dublin. He went to Barcelona for New Years, I stayed in Dublin to organise my Mam’s 60th birthday party (a January 1st baby!) which was a success. I’m glad it went well, as 2018 will be full of birthday milestones.

Since then I’ve been laying low, back to work and writing down my goals for 2018 (I just started The 52 Lists Project, a Christmas gift from my sister). Resting up and taking it easy after a fantastic December…at least until the weekend anyway.

Happy Thursday and I hope you enjoy the first weekend of 2018!

Emma xx

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