There is a stunning walk in El Escorial, from just below the monastery down to the Casa Del Principe. The warm, pine-scented wind and total silence accompany you down towards the station at the bottom of the hill.
…is up to you, only up to you, and not up to anyone else. Look after yourself, do things you like, love yourself (and other people will love you more as a result)
…means being peaceful
..is about stopping a lot
…is about realising all the reasons you already have to be happy
…is about giving up ideas about things you don’t have or aren’t doing that you are convinced will make you happier when you are already actually quite happy as it is
…is about giving more to get more
…is living in the present, not the past, not the future
…is about positivity
…is getting out and about
…is getting unstuck
…is moving, but not striving
…is just relaxing and not trying too hard
…is saying, OK, why not, that should be interesting
…is letting go
…is realising all crises are impermanent (and so is everything else)
…is listening to the birds, or the wind in the trees
…is walking up a new hill
…is giving the person you are with all your attention
…is thinking I was writing this post on another
secret (no longer secret) ‘in the works’ blog project of mine, then suddenly realising I am writing the draft post here on Notesfromspain.com by mistake instead, and deciding to publish it here anyway. I’ll add a pretty photo to the top too, of the super-happy guy who skates around the statue of the devil in the Retiro park. Hopefully the photo or the words will make someone happier. Maybe I’ll explain all the points one by one on my the new blog if anyone is interested. Or here. There are no mistakes after all! Un abrazo, Ben
What makes YOU happy?
One from my photo archives – Cadiz old town is one of the most intriguing places in Spain, it transports you to different eras at every turn. Go and see it some time!
Over at Notes in Spanish: More Photos, and Fun Spanish Food and Snacks Vocab
He may have a bit of mud to contend with, but have you seen his view? Only in Asturias…
And a gentle trot down the track brings him to the magnificent Playa de Cuevas del Mar. Lucky Cow.
From woodland near Arriondas… though almost any pathway in Asturias will turn up beautiful things like this at this time of year.
Check out Spain Expert and Pro-Photographer Mike Randolph’s excellent Spain site www.spainbymikerandolph.com
Photo – Madrid’s Retiro Park
It’s still unseasonably sunny here – I mean it’s sunny every day, hardly a cloud in the sky – no snow this year. That was one of the things that most impressed me about Madrid when I first moved here 13 years ago, opening the curtains in the morning (or the shutters, to be more precise), and seeing bright blue skies, rather than the grey gloom I’d been used to for 3 years of London winters previously.
Lago Ercina, The Higher of the Covadonga Lakes.
Playa de Cuevas del Mar (Map)
Asturias is still as green and majestic as ever (as if it would have changed!) Where else in the world can you leave such a stunning coastline and in under an hour be high up in mountains so impressive that they even look down on other slightly smaller mountain ranges below! Thank goodness it rains so much in Asturias, to keep it all so deep green, and to keep the developers at bay!
We stayed at the extremely nice, exceptionally friendly La Rondita. And it didn’t rain once!
According to the press, Amazon is due to open in Spain on Sept. 15th. [Update: Amazon.es is now open.] This is hardly surprising – all over Madrid you see MRW vans delivering Amazon packages every day, and it isn’t just expats like me buying English books. Many Spanish people have been turning to Amazon for some time to ship better priced electronics to Spain with the minimum of fuss and good guarantees: cameras etc are generally cheaper on Amazon than from major retailers here. Apparently one million Spaniards already visit Amazon websites every month.
Importantly, Amazon opening in Spain could have huge implications for the Spanish on- and off-line market.
First of all e-commerce is way behind in Spain, and one of the reasons I’ve always posited for this is that Spain never had Amazon. I believe that Amazon.co.uk/.com/.fr/.de has had a huge role in fostering trust in ecommerce in those countries. Buying on-line in the US or the UK is largely considered normal, safe, and reliable thanks to Amazon, whereas here in Spain it is still not considered a normal way to shop amongst large sectors of the population.
Spain sits about 3 times behind the UK in terms of ecommerce. Online sales accounted for only 3% of all retail sales in Spain in 2010, whereas in the UK online sales accounted for 10% of all sales in the same year.
First quarter online retail sales in Spain were up 23.1% this year with respect to 2010 first quarter sales, but Spain still lags a long way behind. Amazon opening in Spain could change that in the same way it helped develop ecommerce in countries like the UK – by doing things well, efficiently, and offering generally great customer service.
The question is, if Amazon Spain brings these same important retail values to Spain (good customer service, efficient product delivery etc), could it have a knock on effect for off-line retailers as well, as Amazon sets new higher standards (e.g. in returns policies and customer service) not always seen here before?
Who knows, but one thing is for sure, I would be worried if I ran any kind of books/electronics/household goods ecommerce site in Spain right now – the bar is about to be lifted significantly, and Amazon is going to make other online operators who aren’t providing an immaculate service already, look pretty bad, very quickly.
Personally I think this is great news, I hope Amazon does in Spain everything it’s been able to do elsewhere – offering the same range of products, good customer service, and guarantees. We’ll find out what they have in store for us on September 15th.
Update: As mentioned above, Amazon.es in now open, and will thrive.