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Category Archives: Europe

Beautiful Barcelona

I am a massive fan of the weekend away as it allows you to see the beauty of another country without using up too much annual leave.

And this Spring I booked a little trip to Barcelona as I have a friend who now runs his business from there, and I wanted to visit him.

I went to Barcelona for the first time when I was fifteen on a school trip with my textiles and sewing class; a trip designed to make us think about the composition for our final pieces, how we would make the patterns move and what we would design when it came to the exams.

We visited all the Gaudi works and watched the flow and colour to see if it gave us inspiration, and the class came home and produced some of the most beautiful textile pieces ever. It was a huge success.

So going back was something that I really wanted to do, and I wasnt disappointed.

I got there on the thursday and my friend had to work so I amused myself with doing the touristy thing and pottering around all the sites.

The Sagrada Familia is one of my favourite places, and so I poodled about there a bit by myself before meeting my friend and going to spend the evening in some bars, dining on fantastic little tapas and dancing the night away.

All in all it was a fantastic trip made all the better for seeing my friend, but a place that I would strongly recommend going.

Ibiza Rocks

People love Ibiza.

Whether you are heading off on an 18 – 30′s trip or you are older and want to hit the more beautiful part of the island, it offers something for everyone. So when a friend of mine suggested I join them for an opening season trip because someone had dropped out, I jumped at the chance.

A long weekend in the sun, lying on the beach and dancing the night away? Yes please.

We boarded the flight on the Thursday evening after work, armed with Travel Insurance and suncream and I was full of excitement. I had heard the hype surrounding Ibiza and I was really excited to see if it was all it was cracked up to be.

And the island didnt fail to disappoint. It was sunny and gorgeous, and the days were spent in an idyllic location, kicking back and relaxing with a drink by the pool or laying on the white sand at the beach, sleeping off the night before.

And the evenings were insane! nightclubs bigger than anywhere I have ever been, and people covered in glow paint and brandishing whistles, ready to dance til dawn.

We were staying in San Antonio, and we had the chance to visit pacha and amnesia; two if the biggest clubs on the island. It was great fun although not something I would be able to do for more than a few days, but the atmosphere was less of the druggy feel that I thought it would be and more of a family orientated, fun place to visit.

Don’t get me wrong, the nightclubs were insane, but I found it to be a lovely place to spend a long weekend in the sun.

Have you ever been? How did you find the experience?

Courchevel

Courchevel is one of the most popular skiing resorts in the French alps, loved by the rich and famous and skiers and snowboarders all over the world. It’s part of Les Trois Vallees which is that largest linked ski area in the world, and it’s a really pretty region.

I’m not a massive skier but went as I didn’t want to miss out on the action, and I had previously snowboarded a little in Canada. I went with three other friends who love the powder, determined to try and love it a little, although secretly wishing we were embarking on a hot and humid holiday.

I spent the first couple of days pretty much 90% face down in snow, and the rest of the time enjoying the warm toddies in the little cafes. On the last two days I decided not to ski but to stay in the chateau and have a massage, read my book and relax out of the cold.

Skiing isn’t for me, but the region is simply beautiful and the après ski is to die for!

it can be pretty dangerous though so make sure that you take out Travel Insurance, and make sure that it covers you for winter sports!

Dorset

My blog has focussed a lot recently on the fantastic places that I have visited outside of the UK, but I thought that today I would talk a little about the country that I live in, England. You would be right in thinking that when the weather is dismal the country is grey and dreary, but when the sun is shining there is not a prettier place in the world.

And I think that Dorset is the icing on the cake.

In the summer months, Dorset is a great destination for a weekend away of a trip to the coast, and it offers you plenty of spectacular views of the coast.

The Jurassic coastline is the first World Heritage Site that The UK has to offer, which spans through Dorset and East Devon. The landscape is rugged and its no surprise that it has joined the heady heights of the Great Barrier Reef and Grand Canyon, we have wonders of the world in England too! If you come to the area then you can hunt for fossils on the beach and visit the Dorset County Museum for a chance to see ones that someone else dug up. Keeps the dirt out from under your nails!!

The winner for most people along the coast is Durdle Door, which is one of the most iconic features in the region. It’s an arch in the rocks and it is said to be the most photographed rock formation along the coastline (according to my Dad). Each year there are over two hundred thousand people who walk along this stretch of the coast line, and it is truly beautiful. Due to the pressure of the spray from the waves, eventually the arch will disappear and it will just stand as a stack of rock in the water.


If you came across Dorset on a sunny day you would be mistaken for thinking that you were in Europe; we too have white sandy beaches and crystal waters! (although swimming in them is not for the faint hearted, be warned!) The best beach in the region has to be Sandbanks, where the rich and fancy free live.

The closest town to the beach is Poole, but the area is often nicknamed Britain’s Palm Beach by writers and journalists. The are has the fourth highest land value in the world, don’t you know!

 

 

Cruising Around Norway

I have always had a passion for travel, since the first holiday abroad that I remember; two weeks with my family in Italy. I remember thinking how majestic Venice was and how when I was a grownup I would like to travel to work by gondola.

So in 2004 when I passed my A levels, my mum offered to take me on a cruise. “Oh God!” I thought “a cruise is full of old people!” but I obviously sucked it up as she seemed so excited.

And it was absolutely magical. The cruise that we took was around Norway and I would strongly recommend it to anyone who doesn’t like flying (a firm plus in my mum’s positive tick sheet) and who loves to see areas of natural beauty from a different perspective.

The cruise left from Southampton and headed straight to the Norwegian town of Bergen.  We took a funicular (like a cable car) up the mountains to see all of Bergen and get out first glimpse of the ffjords, and then reboarded the ferry for our journey.

I was obviously panicking the entire time as I hate heights, but I coped and by holding firmly onto the edge of the car I saw some beautiful snowy mountains and chocolate box houses.

We then visited the Royal City of Trondheim and saw their attraction, The Old Town Bridge, which was once the only way in and out of the town centre, when the city was the hub of Norwegian trading.

Over the next few days we sailed through the arctic circle and down the Raftsund strait, stopping on Harstad (the largest of the Norwegian islands) and seeing where explorers had been before us.

We sat and had coffee in the university town of Tromso; soaking up the atmosphere and watching people go about their daily lives before we boarded the ship again, ready for an excursion where we got to go kayaking in a ffjord.

I thought that sort of stuff only happened in the films! With hindsight, I don’t think my Travel Insurance covered this, and with the recent news of a teenager dying after a polar bear attack in the country, I realise we were luckier than we thought. We didn’t see polar bears, but saw a whole host of other wildlife on our sail.

On the return part of the journey we visited Seven Sisters (not the borough in London!) where folklore tells that the arrow from Hestmannen’s bow formed the hole in the mountain, and you can see the prettiest landscapes in the area.

On the return part of the journey we visited Seven Sisters (not the borough in London!) where folklore tells that the arrow from Hestmannen’s bow formed the hole in the mountain, and you can see the prettiest landscapes in the area.

If you really are scared of flying then a cruise is a great way to see the world, and give you a really interesting perspective. Its also great value for money as you get to see a lot of different towns and sights with your accomodation and travel paid for.

Take Me To My Beach….. The Amazing Algarve

Beaches are one of my favourite places to be. I’m not fussy as to whether they have black sand, pebbles or white sand, but hand on heart my favourite is a white sandy beach. I love the feeling when you sink your toes into the grains and they heat your feet with alarming speed so you need to run as fast as your little toes will take you and plunge them into the sea.

And that is why I go back to the Algarve time and time again. Portugal is the quieter companion of Spain; content to sit quietly as its friend dominates the conversation, but I absolutely love it. My grandparents have a house there and I feel serene when I step off the plane and make my journey down the coast. I’m back.

The house is outside Tavira, in a little area called Cabanas. It’s a small town with a boat that can take you across to the island beach, and the shoreline teems with cafes and bistros serving only the freshest of foods; fish, olives and still-warm bread for you to eat until you can eat no more, all washed down with some delicious wine.

If you want to do more than soak up the sun and sip on the sangria then you can ride the bus into the nearest big town, which is Tavira and is a short journey again. I love the town because it is one of the last fishing villages on the Algarve that hasn’t been caught up in tourism, although it is far more built up than when I was there a decade ago, the first time. Tavira has a fantastic fish market; you have to get there early but you can get some great bargains on fish caught that morning. I love wandering up and down the aisles and seeing all the fish; gigantic tuna next to trays of prawns (like nothing you will ever see in the UK, they’re huge!) and swordfish, mullet and mackerel, all lined up like soldiers.

The town is really close to te Spanish border (you cross at Villa Real) and the port that welcomes you on the other side is a small town called Ayamonte. Its beautiful there as the town is organised around a square covered in mosaic and tiles. As a child we used to visit a tapas bar in a street next to a church; I like to go back there and watch the next generation of tiny children running up and down the steps as their parents eat the little plates of sumptuous delights. Did you know tapas were first given to be a way of keeping flies out of beer? The little plates of food were put on top of the glasses to keep out unwanted visitors. Another thing I love about the region.

Portugal is so close to England too. The flight is only a couple of hours so you could easily go for a weekend and not eat into the time off that you get from work each year. Avoid resort towns like Albufeira unless you like row after row of restaurants that serve English food and have no charm, and opt for Val de Lobo, Tavira or Villa Real. You wont regret it.

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