Pantheon is most unique building I’ve seen because of it’s open dome (meaning a hold on the roof). It is about 20 minutes walk from Colosseum. Being one of the best-preserved and most influencial of all Ancient Roman buildings, it has been in continuous use throughout its history.

It was built as a Roman temple dedicated to all the gods of pagan Rome. As the brick stamps on the side of the building reveal it was built and dedicated between A.D 118 and 125.

The coffered dome has a central oculus as the main source of natural light. When it rains, it also rains inside the Pantheon.  But the floor is slightly sloping floor with 22 well-hidden holes help the water flow away, thanks to an effective drainage system.

One of the masterpieces of architecture present in Rome, it is a must see. The original Pantheon was destroyed in a fire around 80 A.D. It was rebuilt by Emperor Domitian, only to be burned down again in 110 A.D. Hadrian became emperor in 117, a time when the Roman Empire included much of present-day Europe, as well as parts of the Middle East and northern Africa. The final Pantheon was entirely rebuilt in 126 AD by Emperor Hadrian, using more up-to-date architectural and engineering techniques. In honor of its original builder Agrippa, Emperor Hadrian did not take credit for it by inscribing its own name on the building.

Since the Renaissance the Pantheon has been the site of several important burials. Today, this impressive museum is free to visit.

From Pantheon, walk towards northern east direction, you’ll reach Trevi Fountain in 10 minutes also.

The Trevi Fountain is one of the oldest water sources in Rome. The fountain dates back to ancient Roman times, since the construction of the Aqua Virgo Aqueduct in 19 B.C. that provided water to the Roman baths and the fountains of central Rome.

The fountain is located in Rome’s Trevi district, abutting the Palazzo Poli. An earlier fountain on the site was demolished in the 17th century, and a design competition for a new fountain was won by Nicola Salvi in 1732. His creation was a scenic wonder.

trevi fountain

Trevi Fountain, Italian Fontana di Trevi, fountain in Rome that is considered a late Baroque masterpiece and is the best known of the city’s numerous fountains. It was designed by Nicola Salvi and completed by Giuseppe Pannini in 1762. The fountain also features statues of Abundance and Health.

According to legend, tossing one coin into the Trevi Fountain means you’ll return to The Eternal City (Rome), tossing two coins means you’ll return and fall in love, and tossing three coins means you’ll return, find love, and marry. An estimated 3,000 euros are thrown into the fountain each day. In 2016, an estimated €1.4 million (US$1.5 million) was thrown into the fountain. The money has been used to subsidise a supermarket for Rome’s needy. Not surprisingly, there are regular attempts to steal coins from the fountain, even though it is illegal to do so.

Remember the scene in the movie Roman Holiday? The right way to throw a coin is to toss a coin with your right hand over your left shoulder, with your back to the Fountain. 🙂

Head north for another 10 -15 minutes, you’ll reach another famous spot – the Spanish Steps.

But in reality, you might be stopping here and there in between because this is the ancient centre of Rome. Nearly the whole walk is lined with buildings of interest, bars and small restaurants. Do get a good guide book and pick up a detailed street map to guide you throughout the journey.

Standing at the top of the Spanish Steps is Peter’s Basilica. the 16th-century Trinità dei Monti church, which was built using French funds, having been commissioned by King Louis XII.

The Piazza di Spagna at the foot of the steps is named after the Spanish Embassy there, so the name simply extended to the steps, which were built in the 18th century to connect both the Embassy and the Trinita dei Monti church (which was under French patronage) with the Holy See – the seat of the Catholic Church.

That scene of Princess Ann eating ice creams while sitting on the steps in the movie Roman Holiday made those steps famous worldwide. I was lucky enough to have visited it in earlier years, so siting and chilling on the steps were not a problem then. Unfortunately sitting on the staircase at Rome’s Spanish Steps has been banned now. The move is reportedly part of the raft of strict new regulations which recently became available to the city’s local police force.

The steps are a wide irregular gathering place consisted of 138 steps placed in a mix of curves, straight flights, vistas and terraces. They connect the lower Piazza di Spagna with the upper piazza Trinita dei Monti, with its beautiful twin tower church dominating the skyline.

A couple of days ago out of boredom, I watched the movie “Roman Holiday” again. Can’t believe the movie was made nearly 50 years ago. 50 years! Time marches on but Rome remains timeless.

Watching the movie brought back fond memories of travelling in Italy years ago, especially time spend in Rome. Not sure what Rome will look like after this pandemic, but I can never forget that gloriously beautiful summer in Rome.

Rome – Part One

The Arch of Costantine – The Roman Forum – Colosseum

Walking from Via S. Gregorio and you can’t help but admire the Arch of Costantine – the most famous of all the ancient arches of Rome. Built along he Roman street it was used for celebrating the victories and it’s the biggest honorary arch that reached the modern ages. Started in 321 to celebrate the victory of the Emperor Constantine at the Milvian Bridge, it was completed in 315 in time to mark the tenth anniversary of the reign of Constantine.

Upon the Palatino hill, it was where the first core of the city was established. It was all around the base of the Palatino that Romolo outlined the sacred boundary line of his city, Rome. Palatino Stadium (or Hippodrome) is situated in the private part of the Domus Augustana. It occupies a large space with an extended rectangular shape and a minor side curved. The satdium was ploughed by a large circular avenue furnished with every kind of statues and marbles.

The Roman Forum, for centuries the centre of the public roman life, in origin was a marshy valley included among the hills. The valley in which the Roman Forum came into existence was formed by the Tiber’s erosion of the sides of the volcanic lava which constitutes the base of the seven hills. The lower part of the this basin, stretching roughly from the central area almost as far as to the river, was occupied by a marsh know as the Velabrum. On the edge of this marsh, at the foot of the Palatine, rose some of Rome’s most ancient monuments, such as the Regia, seat of the ancient kings. The draining of this zone, happened around the 600 B.C. The valley was relaimed and the waters drained into a sewer, the Cloaca Maxima. The area was now ready for use by the tribes who were already living on the surrounding hills, providing them with a place to meet, exchange goods and carry out the main activities of daily life. Thus the Roman Forum was born. It was transformed into the commercial, juridical, religious and political centre of the city. It reached its definitive settlement under Cesare and Augusto and kept for a long time its function of representative place. The Forum is the biggest monumental complex of the ancient Rome that has reached us.

The monuments that form the Forum are: the Holy Street, the Basilica Emilia, the Curia, Romolo’s tomb, Settimio Severo’s Arch, the Nostrum, Saturno’s temple, Concordia’s temple, the Forum’s Square, the Basilica Giulia, Castrori’s temple, Santa Maria Antiqua, Cesar’s temple, Vesta’s temple, the Regia, Antonio and Faustina’s temple, Romolo’s temple, Massenzio’s Basilica, the Aniquarium Forense and Tito’s Arch.

Leaving the Forum area, through Via di San Gregorio, you’ll arrive Via dei Fori Imeriali and the in the Colosseo square. There it is! The symbol of Rome itself: the Coliseum.

The place where the Colosseum now stands was occupied by an artificial lake which was drained after the emperor’s death to allow for the construction of the grand new monument. This was brought about by the fusion of blueprints for two theatres, resulting in an elliptical building designed to hose spectacles of wild animal hunts and gladiator fights. Its actual name was the Flavian Amphitheatre, because it was built by the Flavian emperors. It was inaugurated in 80 A.D, by the Emperor Tito with a series of spectacles lasting a hundred days, which saw the slaughtering of over five thousand wild beasts. A retractable canopy was installed, manned by a special crew of sailors, in order to furnish the seating area with shade. The name Colosseo goes back to the XI century and has its its origin from the closely positioned and colossal, more than 35 meters high. Nero’s bronze statue, inspired by the Colossus of Rodhos. 53 meters high included in an area of 19,000 sqm. Four orders of floors of 80 arcades each and it could accomodate about 70,000 people.

Renouncing the possibility of the flooding the arena, an underground system of passageways was created with equipment for facilitating the rapid succession of animals and scenes. The amphitheatre was repeatedly stricken by earth quakes and fires and was repaired many times over the years. in 523 it hosted its last wild beast hunt. the Coliseum’s ruin began. In the Middle Ages it was Converted into a fortress by the Frangipane and then the Annibaldi families. The monument’s decline accelerated after the 1349 earth quake, when the materails in marble, bronze and iron started to be stripped systematically. For centuries the Colosseum became nothing but a city building material quarry.

In order to save it, Pope Benedict XIV pronounced it a holy place in 1744 due to the blood spilt by the martyrs. The restoration of the monument began in the 19th century, but its condition only improved notably after 1870. The amphitheatre is elliptical in plan, measuring 188 metres by 156, and travertine was used for the exterior and load bearing parts. The cavea, which seated a public of as many as 50,000, was planned with particular care, with the seating rows plotted on radial walls, inclining at about 37 degrees. At the bottom and middle levels the seating rows were of marble, as these were the places taken up by the most important spectators. In the upper section of the cavea the structures were of wood. Rationalised systems of access and numbered entrances facilitated the rapid transition of spectators. The imperial family and the highest ranking state of officials enjoyed the use of entrance passages especially designed for retinues, without steps or long diversions.

The architectural structure of the building was of three orders, each with eighty archways, framed by engaged columns set in the middle of piers. The lowest order was in the Tuscan style, the middle one Ionic, and the upper on Corinthian. The attic contained windows alternated with bronze shields in ancient times. Two thirds of the way up the attic we can still see the large stone brackets which held the masts used to hoist the canopy. The underground sectors included storage areas, lifts, ramps, trapdoors, cages for the wild beasts and various facilities. There was also an underground passageway via which combatants might reach the amphitheatre from the nearby gladiatorial barracks.

Image via Pexels – CC0 Licence

If you dream of freedom and unrestricted, freewheeling travel, then you’ll probably have considered a campervan or a motorhome holiday before. When there are so many incredible road trips to be taken in the world, it’s not hard to see the appeal of a break in multiple locations, exploring on your own terms. The campervan holiday is gaining more and more popularity, and Instagram feeds are filling with scenic shots of beautifully fitted retro camper vans, gleaming Airstream trailers and super modern plush motorhomes. Searches for videos by people who live part or full time in their vehicles – commonly referred to as ‘tiny homes’ –  are up. More and more of us are feeling the oppressive weight of consumerism and the push to earn more and more spurious status symbols, and rejecting that in favour of pursuing minimalism and life experiences instead. And even if it’s only for a few weeks, the motorhome holiday feeds into that. The idea of packing up a few belonging and driving off into the sunset is massively appealing. Touring Europe in a camper van is a brilliant place to start – you can experience so many locations and cultures in a relatively close together distance, which lends itself to this kind of experience. But actually taking the step to make that trip a reality can be daunting – if you haven’t experienced this type of break before and aren’t sure where to begin. Here’s what you really need to know to begin planning your dream motor break.

Getting Your Wheels Sorted 

Of course, the first logical step is to get your transport and your accommodation sorted in one fell swoop by organising your vehicle. You have a few choices here – there are plenty of companies who rent fully equipped vintage restored camper vans or all mod cons motor homes, and if you’ve never used one before, it’s a great place to start. You could also look at purchasing one, either new or secondhand – there are pros and cons to each option. If you do want to purchase, then consider whether you also need add-ons such as camper trailers.Renting is definitely advisable if it’s your first motorhome holiday – there’s no way to truly know whether you’ll enjoy it and want to use it frequently otherwise. But you have to do what feels right for you. If you’re planning a period of several months of travel, it could well be wiser to buy one.

Preparing To Hit The Road

Once your wheels are sorted, there are several things you need to do to get prepped for your European trip. First of all, never embark on a driving holiday abroad without comprehensive insurance – both for the road and for foregin travel. Of course, no one likes to think of the potential for bad things to happen, but sometimes life likes to throw us a curveball. Finding yourself in a foreign country with no access to healthcare if you get ill or have an accident or without breakdown recovery when you’re stranded in a remote location is not something you should let happen. Find travel insurance cover and shop around for the best price. Sometimes if you’re hiring a campervan, breakdown cover will be included, but if it’s your own then make sure you have your policy in place well before you set off. You may also require an International Driving Permit depending on what your destinations are, and you should apply for this well in advance. Making sure you are legally allowed to drive the motorhome in your country of choice is definitely the first step! Once that’s sorted, spend some time getting your travel documentation in order. You will need to take quite a few things with you – store them together in a plastic document wallet somewhere secure. Of course you’ll need to take a valid passport for everyone travelling – ideally with at least six months before expiry, any visas that you require, an in-date driving licence for each person who will be driving on the holiday (both parts), personal travel insurance documents, a European Health Insurance Card –  which guarantees you care while in Europe, if you are eligible – a pet passport and details of their vaccinations, travel details and bookings, details of campsites or hotels that you are planning to stay at, personal contents insurance in case of loss or theft, and a vaccination record for yourself. You will also need quite a lot of documentation relating to the vehicle, especially if it’s your own – the original copy of your Vehicle Logbook, vehicle insurance valid in the countries that you’re travelling to, an MOT certificate which is up to date, breakdown cover details, any tollpasses, and be aware that if you are driving in France, you’re legally required to carry a breathalyser kit as well. If you’re hiring your motorhome or camper van, then you will need proof from the hire company that you are allowed to cross international borders in it. It’s quite a lot to remember, so be sure to gather all your paperwork in good time before you need to set off.

Image via Pexels – CC0 Licence

What You Need To Take

With the paperwork all sorted, what you need next is create a personal packing list. As travels in a motorhome typically tend to be longer than average breaks, and you are more likely to be visiting multiple countries with different weather, this can be harder than it seems. Holidays on the road should be all about freedom and spontaneity, so you want to take a minimal approach to packing. But equally, as you aren’t staying in somewhere with the amenities of a hotel, you also need to make sure that you have all the bases covered yourself. Try to pack lots of lightweight layers which you can combine in different ways to suit different weather conditions. Taking long sleeved, thin thermal tops, cotton tshirts, and ultralight down jackets which pack away to nothing but which are warm, is a really good move. You may need items such as a waterproof or swimming clothes, and you may choose to take a sports kit if you’re going to be exercising while you’re away, as well as hiking boots if you intend on serious walking or climbing. Other essentials to pack include a first aid kit and a small medicine chest with things like paracetamol, plasters, eyedrops and antihistamines as well as high factor sunscreen. Don’t forget chargers for all of the electronics you may be planning on taking – speakers, phones, cameras, laptops or tablets, a Wifi dongle and a torch with spare batteries. You also need to pack a box of kitchen essentials – condiments, salt and pepper, basic utensils and pans, sponges and washing up liquid, cutlery, plates and glasses. Being well prepared will help to ensure that your trip goes smoothly and that you don’t have any last minute panics on the horizon.

Last Minute Vehicle Checks Before You Go

Your vehicle is about to become both your home and your transport to get you around Europe, so it’s essential to know that it’s in tip-top condition and that you’re prepared in every way. Start by taking your van to the nearest weigh bridge –  most places you will need to phone in advance, and pay a variable fee on obtaining the weight. Keep the paperwork you get with you as proof which may be needed abroad. Then perform your vehicle maintenance checks – the tyre pressure, washer fluid, windscreen wipers, door locks and then all the vehicle systems – sat nav, heating, air con, solar panel, batteries etc.

Your Destinations

When you’ve decided on the best route for driving through Europe, which hits all the major locations you’re most interested in, then you’ll need to decide where to stay when you get there. It’s much easier to plan out your stay using dedicated campsites – these also tend to have a number of amenities such as shops and launderettes – but you can also do wild camping, where you stay in a place that isn’t a designated campsite for just one night, and move on the next morning. Within Europe, there are sites called Aires, which are approved overnight stopping places, or you can opt to go completely wild. Download a few motorhome parking apps before you go, so that you can search for a site on the go. Make sure that you are safe and legal and also that you are security conscious. Although on the whole travelling in a motorhome or camper van within Europe is fairly safe, you still need to take sensible precautions, and keep valuables in a location which is a little less obvious. Make sure that you research the legal requirements of driving in each country that you’re planning to go through –  for example, in a lot of European countries, side lights must be switched on at all times, there may be low emissions zones that you cannot enter, and in many countries any fines issued must be paid on the spot in cash. Do your homework beforehand and then all you’ll have left to worry about is making a great road trip playlist before you drive off into the sunset!

Pathon - Latin Quarter Paris

My friend recommended Latin Quarter Paris before my first trip to Pair many years ago. I was curious to find out why it’s such a fascinating area. Conveniently, my hotel located in Saint Germain is only walking distance from Latin Quarter Paris. As you can image, I fully took the advantage of my perfect location and explored the neighbourhood quite throughly and couldn’t get enough of it. What’s so special about Latin Quarter Paris? Here’s why:

History

Since Roman times, the Quartier Latin (Latin Quarter Pairs) has been Paris’s intellectual centre. For 700 years Latin was the language of it’s inhabitants. Hence the name Latin Quarter.

Latin Quarter Paris is where Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Joyce hung out in cafes drinking and engaging in earnest debate. One of the sure shot ways of engaging in a friendly debate about politics, history or just about anything, is to wander the streets of Latin Quarter Paris.

If you are a debate lover or simply bored and can speak a bit of French, you are good to go. The streets here are riddled with intellectuals, who are more than happy to spend hours talking to a complete stranger debating over a topic that is just waiting to be explored.

Famous places of interests of Latin Quarter Paris

If debate is not your thing, don’t worry. Latin Quarter has a nice blend of awesomeness and places of interests. Also known as 5th Arrondissement, Latin quarter is the central district of Paris, and saying it has good architecture is like saying Arnold Schwarzenegger used to lift a little. Monuments and buildings here are larger than life and are sure keep even the most seasoned travellers mesmerised for hours.

Here’s a list of a few must visit places in case you only have limited time to explore this area:

1. Place St-Michel

Napoleon III planned this place and it is famous for it’s fountain: Davioud’s 186o sculpture of St. Michel slaying the dragon. The place St-Michel has ben a centre of activity for hundreds of year. Traditionally, celebrating students from the Ecole des Beaux-Arts go for a swim in the fountain after their annual ball. Hmmm… who knew fountain can also be a bath tub.

2. Shakespeare & Company

This is a must for book lovers of course. Not Sylvia Beach’s original, this name sake is run by George Bates Whitman. Whitman purchase part of Sylvia Beach’s library, which is housed at the top of a treacherous flight of stairs. Notice the cots located in niches around the shop? They are kind of both for sitting and sleeping. People say Whitman once in a while allows poor writers to spend a little time here until they can secure enough money to get a room elsewhere. You’ll get the offical Shakespeare & Company inscription:”Shakespeare and Co. Kilometre Zero, Paris.” stamped on each book purchased here.

3. Musee de Cluny

At the beginning of the 3rd century a Gallo-Raman building, the Palas des Thermes stood there. Archaeologists presumed the site to be Roman baths. The baths date from between A.D. 161 and 181. Barbarians burned them down several times. About a thousand years later, Piere de Chalus, abbot of Cluny-en-Bourgogne, bought the ruins and the neighbouring land in order to build a residence for visiting abbots. The building we see today is the work of another Abbot, Jacques d’Amboise, who turned it into something of a palace. After the Revolution, the property changed hands several times, until it was finally purchase by Alexandre du Sommerard, a state official and medieval art collector. After his 1842 death, his house and its contents were sold to the state. The museum opened in 1844, with Alexandre’s son as a curator.

Today, thanks to both Sommerards, the museum houses one of the world’s greatest collections of medieval art and artifacts. You’ll find finely wrought jewellery, brilliant stained glass windows and some amazing tapestries in the museum. Most importantly, don’t miss the original Abbots’s Chapel, complete with an incredible vaulted ceiling.

4. La Sorbonne

It is the oldest University in France. In 1253, Robert De Sorbon, confessor of St. Louis founded the Sorbonne (with the help of the king). It was for poor students who wished to pursue theological studies. He wanted it to be a place where they could live and go to school without having to worry about money. Since then, it has seen famous teachers as St. Thomas Aquinas and Roger Bacon and such famous students as Dante, Calvin, and Longfellow.

In 1469 France’s fist printing press was set up here; during the Nazi Occupation the Sorbonne became the headquarters for the Resistance. The courtyard and galleries are open to the public. Statues of Victor Hugo and Louis Pasteur are in the Courd’Honneur.

5. Pantheon

One of Paris’s best known monuments. Built originally as a church, the Pantheon now acts as secular mausoleum the houses the remains of the most individuals in French history. The story about Pantheon’s foundation goes like this. In 1744 Louis XV fell seriously ill. He then vowed that if he recovered he’d rebuild the Ste-Genevieve abbey in the patron saint’s honour. Upon his recovering, he entrusted the job to the marquis de Marigny, who passed the responsibility to  architect Jacques-Gerain Soufflot. The original plan called for a church. But construction stopped due to financial difficulties and Soufflot’s death. After the death of an important Revolution-era, the French parliament decided the Ste-Genevieve church should be changed into a “Temple of Fame” to hold the remains of all the great men of France.

Pathon - Latin Quarter ParisIt’s not only great in its size and stature but also features amazingly beautiful and intricate Gothic architecture. Apart from housing the remains of people like Voltaire, Alexander Dumas and 2 time noble winner Marie Curie, its architecture alone draws in millions tourists from all across the globe. Before you pack your bags and head off to visit the place, be sure that your camera has enough juice and memory. Why? Because there’s going to be some serious clicking all day long

6. Jardin des Plantes

In 1626, Louis XIII began to execute a plan for a medicinal Botanical garden that Henri IV and his minister, Sully had conceived. When Louis XIV became king, his doctor traveled around the world collecting specimens an set the groundwork for the curator, Buffon. Buffon was later able to finish Henri IV’s plans. The original name was the Jardin du Roi (The King’s Garden). Some of Frances’s greatest naturalists have worked in the gardens. Today the gardens include greenhouses and a maze, cover 74 acres. From April to October, Jardin des Plantes is an amazing riot of colours and scents.

The zoo inside Jardin des Plantes is the oldest in France. The first inhabitants were just your average zebra, hartebeest and rhino. Elephants were brought here in 1795.

The park also contains the Museum of Natural History, which possesses a major collection of mineral and insects.

7. Mosquee de Paris and Institut Musulman

Constructed between 1922 and 1926. You can see the grand patio with its cedar woodwork, eucalyptus plants and gurgling fountain as you enter those buildings. On the walls of the mosque are some lovely mosaic friezes with quotations from the Koran. The prayer rooms house an incredible collection of hand woven carpets, some from the 17th century. The Institut Musulman teaches Arabic and Islamic culture.

8. Mouffetard Market

Head down to one of Paris most ancient street, Rue Mouffefetard where the famous fresh food market are.Another of Paris’s colourful outdoor food markets, it may become one of your fondest memories of the city. This narrow, winding cobblestone street is lined with ancient shopfronts. With award winning bakeries and some of the best cheese, sausages, olives and oysters, known to mankind, this is a place you might regret not visiting. You can always take a guided tour of the place, however to get an authentic experience, just walk in and act like you belong. By the time you get out, you stomach will thank you for the best food the French has to offer.

Cafe, bars, crepe stores and restaurants

Tired of exploring? There are plenty of cafe, bars and crepe stores in Latin Quarter Paris for you to take a short break. Feeling really hungry? There are restaurants and eateries of different cuisines. Take whatever you fancy: Italian, Vietnamese or Chinese. Wait a minute, what about French? There are lots of restaurants offering set French menus. So if you want to have more of those little slippery suckers, go for it!

Shopping

More shopping? You’ve got it. Latin Quarter Paris is filled with antique shops, late opening bookstores an fashion boutiques. You’ll be spoiled with choices among international luxurious labels as well as shops full of character.

latin quarter paris

A little bit tourist shopping, Latin Quarter Paris. Because, why not?

Latin Quarter Paris has historical sites, food, shops and architecture that screams out “Paris“. Visiting this part of the capital is an absolute must for all, be it hardcore food lovers,shopaholics, architecture geeks or plain old tourists like me.

People who have travelled across Europe can tell, the wide range of cultures and people to encounter is incredible. From the many different cities sprawl a wide range of customs, traditions, architecture, and history. For many from the US, Canada, Australia and more, the opportunity to visit the lands of their ancestors presents a unique experience.


There is really something to see in practically every country on the continent. As cultures, terrain and scenery differ, so does cost. I’ve travelled many places in Europe but never backpacked. Wish I’d done just to experience it when I was younger. For those who want to see Europe – but on a shoestring – these are the five most affordable places to head to. Rather than emptying your bank account and maxing out your cards only to dread a credit check on your return, these places will give you serious bang for your buck!

  1. Kiev, Ukraine

While the Ukrainian capital has always been fairly affordable in comparison to many other European cities, it has certainly cemented its place as the least inexpensive in recent times. The unrest and conflict which peaked in 2014 certainly contributed to better prices for tourists, given the fact that many were put off by the troubles.

It is estimated that the average price for accommodation, food, drinks and general expenses comes to very little over $25 dollars per day.

  1. Krakow, Poland

This city is, without doubt, one of the best places I have ever been. What really puts the icing on the cake is the fact that it is so, so cheap. In the three times I have visited Krakow, I have found the convenience, service, food, and entertainment excellent. There is so much to do, and at prices that make most other cities in Europe appear stupidly expensive.

Krakow ranks as the second most inexpensive city in Europe for backpackers, at an estimated daily expense of just under $28 per day.

  1. Belgrade, Serbia

Belgrade’s history still deters many tourists from visiting, but most people love it when they go for a visit. Despite having no Eiffel Towers, Coliseums, or Temple Bar’s, the city is full of charm. The architecture, history, and warmth of the people make it an excellent destination for intrepid travelers who want an easy trip worth the investment.

Priced at an average of just over $28 dollars per day, Belgrade is an excellent place to visit for prudent backpackers.

  1. Bucharest, Romania

The Romanian capital is hardly what many would consider as one of the top attractions in Europe, but there are certainly a good number of attractions. For the more macabre-minded, a few hours on a coach will take you to Transylvania, the legendary home of Dracula…

Clocking in at an average of just under $29 per day for backpackers, Bucharest is the fourth least inexpensive city in Europe to be a backpacker.

  1. Sofia, Bulgaria

Similar to it’s close neighbor of Romania, Bulgaria’s capital city is far from the top of the list when it comes to tourism for many. However, for those looking to explore real European terrain in classy bars and restaurants at stupidly good prices, Sofia is the place. Bulgaria’s main city will not cost you the world to visit.

Sofia ranks at an average of $32.15 per day for backpackers.

 

The Malvern Hills are the most renowned and internationally famous travel destination in central England. Whilst perhaps not being the same as a trip away to locations in Australia, or other popular European travel destinations, Malvern has a cultural history, a celebrated past, and amazing hiking opportunities. It is well known that the composer Edward Elgar famously came up with his Pomp and Circumstance (Land of Hope and Glory) here, inspired by the countryside and the peaks of the Malvern hills.

malvern hills

The Malvern Hills End to End

The Malvern Hills have been designated a Biological and Geological site of special scientific interest, as well as an area of outstanding natural beauty which stretch around 13km from north to south, rising and falling across the vast flatness that surrounds them on either side. The highest peak, the Worcestershire Beacon that reaches 425 metres (1,394ft) is a popular hiking destination. The region boasts leisurely, intermediate and some quite steep routes, so hiking sticks to steady your feet are recommended here. The hills are also particularly famous for their natural springs, with springs cropping up at many places set into the hills.

Another common hike is the walk from end to end, inbetween the villages of Great Malvern and Colwall, and is easily short enough for a strong day’s hiking, but many split it into two, stopping at the various and plentiful sites along the way. The pubs and country shops (an especially quaint and picturesque one being the hidden Saint Ann’s Well) sell local produce and detours into the town of Great Malvern can be made easily across the route. A final destination for the walk, (or one that is often walked in its own right) is the hill known as British Camp, the name referring to the remains of a Bronze Age hill fort that ripples down the hillside. At the top there are views to the north and south, with both the Cotswolds, and the Brecon beacons visible in the distance. On stormy days, the peak has an ancient feeling to it, the force of the winds often amplified by the folds of the hill, and people take cover within the safety of the mounds.

Quarry’s, Lakes and Reservoirs 

Walking the route, there are woods to pass through, springs to stop at, quarries, lakes and reservoirs to view. The Malvern Hills Trust lists a number of these. Gullet Quarry is well known for its steep face and the depth of its water, where many people congregate in the summer or walk around for the view and the wildlife in other seasons. There are many stories about Gullet Quarry, and its location close to the market town of Ledbury, close to the Malvern Hills, means that it can be visited easily. There the town hall, the Victorian facades of the buildings and the many cafes and independent shops are visibly close to the hills, alongside other walking routes of Dogwood or The Conigree.

The Wytch Cutting is another well known and dramatic destination along the course of the hills. Close to the Worcestershire beacon, the roads rise to cut through the hills themselves, passing through a rock face at one of their peaks. Here, set into the rock are a number of small pubs and hotels with undeniably beautiful views, the ability to sit out in pub gardens with a view only usually reached at the peak of many of the other hills.

The Malvern Hills are definitely a world renowned site, on a par with many locations around Europe and at the heart of England make a day out that can be both child friendly, or more challenging, with culture sites and beautiful views that see people returning year after year.

The world is full of places that people want to see, foods that they want to taste and cultures to experience. Travelling is often cited as a young person’s game: backpacking is the calling card of the gap year crowd and one of the most popular places that they all go? Europe.

Europe during the summer months of the year can be a crowded, busy place to see. The hottest months encourage the tourists, and when you are spending time jumping from country to country it can get expensive in the peak months of the year. Of course, if you’re going to take a year out and see Europe, you can see all climates, visit all beaches and experience skiing in some of the best mountain resorts. During those busy months, the hostels and the resorts are packed with people from all over the world, giving you the chance to meet new people and make new friends. The summer makes the sun dance off of the sand and when you add in the sheer range of festivals available across Europe throughout the year, you can make sure you pack in as many experiences as possible.

Screen Shot 2017-11-25 at 5.57.35 PM

Planning your backpacking trip can be as complicated or as easy as you want it to be. Before you get started, though, you have to decide how long you are going for, whether you’re travelling alone and what documents you need. Your insurance for travel is going to be varied depending on how long you are staying on your trip for. The situation with your visas is going to be delicate, as there is a lot you will need to research before you go, and you also need to plot your trip so that you get to see everything that you want to see. So, where do you start?

Firstly, you need to buy your ticket to where you want to go first. Still stuck on that bit? Go where the airfare is the cheapest and start your trip from there. The reason you should start where it’s cheapest, is that flights tend to be the biggest expense of a trip. The next thing that you need to do is stop trawling the internet looking for tips on planning your backpacking trip. There are so many different websites and different ways of doing things, you can find yourself totally overloaded with information and instructions. This type of confusion can really put you off the trip altogether, so it’s best to stay away. Information may well give us some power, but it can also make us chicken out of the biggest trip ever!

Once you’ve got your first ticket, you can relax. Europe has everything that you need for cultural experiences, and that first ticket is the first step on a new adventure. We’ve got some tips for getting the most out of your backpacking experience, so that your time in Europe is as well spent as it can be.

Pick Your Season

You could be planning to spend a year out of your life and seeing one of the greatest continents on the planet, but you have to start somewhere! We mentioned how busy things can be during the peak summer season, so it makes sense to start in the Eastern Europe area. The Baltic cities and Slovenian mountains are a great start to getting the most out of your cash. When the autumn months start approaching, change course and go toward the Mediterranean. Everyone loves visiting the coastlines, and they are less busy at this time of the year. The winter months bring around the skiing season at its peak, giving you the chance to sample some of the best Swiss mountain resorts. When the spring season comes through, heading to the Netherlands and France can give you the chance to see some beautiful blooms.

Travel By Train

Your initial journey to get to Europe may well be by air, but the remainder of your trip should be by rail where possible. You can really appreciate how diverse Europe is, while saving a lot of money! Overnight sleeper trains from country to country helps you to avoid accommodation costs, and depending on your budget, you can get everywhere you need to go with the right rail pass. Check out these tips for train travel through Europe.

ski europe

Be Smart About Accommodation

You may have your mind on your money, but don’t panic. Accommodation throughout Europe needn’t be a huge expense. The hostels that are available throughout Europe can virtually guarantee a trip of a lifetime, because even in the priciest destinations, the hostels can be cheaper than you expect them to be. You can even save money by choosing to camp out during the summer months. There’s nothing quite like heading to a beach or cove and camping out under the stars. Always search and book in advance: there are plenty of Facebook sites and review websites that are around to check the opinions of previous backpackers.

Be A Festival Goer

One thing that Europe has going for it, is its sheer volume of festivals and concerts that can be seen. Planning your trip so that your itinerary takes you to some of the biggest ones out there is going to make a huge difference to your trip. Plan in advance for these, because the St Patrick’s Day shindigs in Dublin, the Roskilde festival in Denmark and the Ivrea battle of oranges all get booked up pretty quickly. You need to party like a local and book your accommodation and train travel to get you to your destination before you leave.

Cultural Immersion Matters

When you visit new cities, you need to act like a local. Find the eateries off the beaten track. Sample the local cuisines and street foods and make a point of trying the local wineries. Shunning the tourist traps and sitting down like a local for their most popular cuisine can mean your backpacking budget stays secure, which is exactly what you want to do! Keep your budget intact but eat like a King on your travels. Tapas in Spain, spaghetti in Italy and continental breakfasts in France can give you the chance to taste the culture as much as see it. Europe holds some of the world’s greatest cuisines and it would be a shame to miss it!

Embrace The Outdoors

There are a lot of things to see and do in Europe, from museums and galleries to shopping and built up capital cities. The one thing that most backpackers forget, is that there are a great deal of open areas and scenery to be appreciated. Horse riding in the mountains, cave diving on the coast and cross-country skiing in Norway are all experiences that you need to have to fully appreciate the diversity in cultures in Europe. Soaking up the scenery from the sunrise to the stars can give you a bucketful of memories to take home with you.

traveller

Off The Beaten Track

There are an awful lot of tours and traps across Europe that you can get sucked into. The wonders of the cities and the experiences you can gain while you’re touring the continent alone mean that you can find so many places to visit off the beaten track. Go under the radar and hit the towns that are lesser known in the guidebooks but are just as relevant and beautiful as the capitals. Try out Olomouc in the Czech Republic, which is very much like Prague but with a lot less people to contend with. There are cobblestones for miles and delicious food to try, so much so you won’t regret it at all.

Be Safe

Touring a whole new continent with city after city of people and trains means there are a lot of opportunities for your safety to be compromised. It’s one of those subjects no one wants to talk about, but safety is absolutely key when you are travelling through a new continent. It’s not the best idea to walk around with an obviously expensive camera around your neck, nor is it advisable to be obvious about your cash. Money belts and ensuring you padlock your backpack and wallet is key. Where you can, keep electronic copies of your passport, visas, insurance documents and tickets so that if you ever misplace your paperwork you have a back-up. You will meet a lot of new people when you’re travelling, but keep your distance where you can until you know people better. You can never be too careful when it comes to your safety.

Going for a year out to travel the world should be a fun experience, not one that causes stress and upset. Plot your route based on the things you’re interested in the most, especially cuisine, and you should always try to keep a journal of your experiences as you go. Documenting how you feel as well as the things you see gives you something to look back on one day – don’t miss the chance!

If you are obsessed with the conviviality of Spanish food and believe that tapas is the best kind of food that you could find, then maybe you should plan a trip to Spain. There’s no denying that tapas have a lot to satisfy most hungry mouths, from the diversity of tastes and textures to the friendly atmosphere that they can create, so the best way to embrace your love for tapas is to go and try them in their natural environment, in Malaga where the country eats the most of these delicious little dishes. So get your best sunglasses, and prepare yourself for a taste of Malaga and its culture.  

Getting There

While Malaga is the fourth busiest airport in Spain, it is unfortunately only connected to European flights. If you are a long-distance traveler, you will probably need to look for a connecting flights. Thankfully, most long distances flights land in London, Zurich or Paris in Europe, and these airport offer direct connections to Malaga, so your trip shouldn’t be too difficult to organize. Malaga is part of the EU zone, consequently EU travelers, US and Canadian travelers won’t need any visa authorization to get there – at least for holidays of less than 90 days. While you will find public transport from the airport into the most local towns, most holidaymakers prefer to organize a taxi ride with a local company such as booktaximalaga, as this is the easiest way to get to your hotel or your rented accommodation. As late flights are not uncommon, you probably want to relax in a cab before getting to your hotel and going to bed: This is better than trying to find your hotel at night and on your own!

Typical Malagan Cuisine

The traditional Malagan cuisine follows the same principles than you would expect from any Mediterranean country: Plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, fresh fish, good quality olive oil, and delicious wines, without mentioning the daily-baked bread that is almost mandatory in the south! But Malaga has also very typical dishes from the region, like deep-fried fresh fish, or pescadito frito, porra which is a soup consisting of tomato and bread, and the ajoblanco, an almond and garlic version of the famous gazpacho soup. Almonds are an essential part of the Malagan cuisine, and you find it everywhere from soups to cakes. You will also find fun wine tours in Malaga, especially a wine and tapas cycling tour for the foodies who love to stay fit.

Don’t Forget The Historic Pause

Finally, once you’ve tasted the delicious food and drunken the best Andalucian wine, it’s time to embrace the cultural side of Malaga. Indeed, as the birthplace of Picasso, you will find that the place has a lot to offer, especially with a museum entirely dedicated to the painter’s life. If you are after a historic immersion, plan time for a visit to the Alcazaba fortress, which was built by the Moors in 1040. The fortress is built on ancient Roman site, unfortunately the Moors have repurposed the Roman stones so the nearby Roman theatre needs renovation work to show its true splendour. It’s interesting to know that the term Alcazaba comes from the Arabic al-qasbah, which is the original name of the building. It means the citadel.  

640px-Roman_Malaga

The Roman remains in Malaga

 

buckingham palace

For millions of visitors, Buckingham Palace is one of the most iconic sights in London, and indeed in entire England. The palace started as the Buckingham House in 1761 when George III bought it for his wife, Queen Charlotte. Later, the house was transformed into the palace we know today by George IV. However, the first sovereign to take up residence at this palace was Queen Victoria, who moved there in 1837. Today, this palace is the official residence of the British royal family.

The Holiday Inn London West is one of the best hotels in Acton, takes pride in this British icon, which is the queen’s official and main royal London home. They suggest that cheap & budget hotels in Acton can be a great way to save money that can then be spent on sight-seeing and souvenirs.

But what makes Buckingham Palace so special, apart from the fact that it is home to the royal family? When you make your way through Buckingham Palace, the first thing that catches your eye is the flag on the roof. Once inside, you can actually go clock-spotting, with more than 350 clocks and watches throughout the palace, the largest collections of working clocks in the world!

Apart from this, make sure you see:

The Staterooms

Buckingham Palace has 775 rooms, including the 19 State Rooms and 78 bathrooms. The Staterooms are lavishly decorated public rooms where the monarch receives, rewards and entertains her subjects and visiting dignitaries. During the royal wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, or our very favourite, William and Kate, several of them were used for the reception. These rooms are awash with sparkling candelabra, marble columns, sumptuous carpets, damask wallpaper, sculpture, fine furniture, and multiple works of art.

The Grand Staircase

The magnificent bronze staircase was designed by architect John Nash, as part of his commission to remodel the palace for King George IV from 1825 to 1830. The impressive double balustrade features an intricate pattern of acanthus, oak and laurel leaves. It represents some of the world’s finest bronze casting work. But that’s not all, the stairs are lit by an etched glass dome in the ceiling. You can easily visit the palace to see this sight and more by opting to stay at hotels close to Wembley Stadium & Twickenham.

Explicit Fine Art

On your tour, you’ll come across paintings by Van Dyck, Rubens, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Poussin, Canaletto and Claude, as well as sculptures by Canova and Chantrey. You’ll see some wonderful portraits of past and present royals in the State Rooms, including those of Queen Victoria, George III and Queen Charlotte, and, of course, the current royal family.

The Throne Room

The majestic Throne Room contains the thrones that are used for investitures and ceremonial receptions, such as at The Queen’s Jubilee. The room also doubles as a ballroom on occasion. The room has famous royal wedding photos including those of Princess Elizabeth II and The Duke of Edinburgh in 1947.

The Garden

Covering an impressive 39 acres, and containing more than 350 types of wildflowers, around 200 trees and a three-acre lake, the garden at the Buckingham Palace will leave you awestruck. The Queen’s annual Garden Parties are also organized here. Don’t miss the tennis courts where King George VI and Fred Perry played in the 1930s.

When planning a trip to London, check out hotels in Acton and hotels close to Wembley Stadium & Twickenham so that you have easy access to all the important sight-seeing locations.

townnnewburyAs exciting as it can be for you to think about planning a big anniversary party, holiday party, reunion or wedding, the truth is that once you undertake the project, a great deal of work’ll be involved. Stay calm and collected, otherwise it could be stressful. There’s so much to plan that down the track, you may not have enough time to make sure all of the details are taken care of, everything is within budget and everything about the venue is perfect. No matter what type of party you are looking to hold, when trying to find party venues in Newbury, there are a couple of basics that you’d want to consider:

  • Location-The location of the venue that you select for something like a Christmas party in Newbury is very important. You not only want to make sure that the venue you choose has the appropriate space to accommodate the size of your party, but you also want to make sure that the location is in a place that is easy for everyone to get to. Having a place that is difficult to find or far away from the majority of the people attending may cause a problem. If you can pick a place that is right off a major highway, it’ll be much easier for everyone to get there without any trouble.
  • Catering-You may want to consider choosing a place for your party that’ll provide you with all of the catering. It takes a lot weight on you and very often, this can save you money for your party too. Places such as hotels will provide you with the space that you need and can then turn around and offer you the different types of dining that you may want. You want to choose foods that everyone will enjoy and you can then decide if you would prefer to have a sit-down service or a buffet style meal. You might also want to think about the different bar options that you want available since this can play a large role in the overall cost.

When you are trying to decide where you should have your big party and looking at the different wedding venues near Newbury, the Best Western West Grange Hotel could be a good option. It’s ideally located right off of A4 between Newbury and Reading so that everyone could get there easily. The hotel has all of the space that you will need for your event and can work with you to create the beautiful scenery and different dining options that you require so that you can be sure your party is one that is always remembered.

Of course there are different choices available in Newbury but in many cases, you will find that hotels in the area can be the best place for you to choose for your large party. Hotels not only have space available for events like this but they also give you the opportunity to get hotel rooms that your guests will be able to use so that they can enjoy themselves at the party without having to worry about driving home afterwards.

Photo credit: Berkshire Rooms

theatreland

While there is plenty for you to do if you are going to spend four or five days or a week or more in London, for those that might only be coming to the city for a night or two you want to make the most of what little time you may have to do something. One of the real draws in London is getting the chance to go to the West End and take in one of the great musicals or plays that are currently running. Going to a show like this may be something you have never had the chance to experience before so it can be something new and exciting. You can make your night in London special by seeing a show at staying at one of the hotels near Theatreland to really make it a grand experience.

At any given time there may be up to forty different shows playing in the Theatreland area in London. You can choose from famous shows that have had long runs in the area, musicals where you know all the words to the songs, famous plays starring world-famous actors of the stage and screen and little-known gems that can open your eyes to a whole new world of comedy or drama. As fantastic as the different shows can be for you to see, even just stepping foot into some of the historic theatres in the area can be a big thrill for you. Many of the theaters are older and date back to the Victorian era, making them historical sites of their own just so you can see the history and architecture of the buildings.

If you are coming into the city to see a show it is always a good idea to make a special night complete by staying at one of the bed and breakfast hotels in Victoria London. This will keep you right in the area of Theatreland so that you can easily walk to the show you are planning to see without worrying about getting a taxi or finding a way to get to where you want to go. You can start your day early and have a wonderful dinner at one of the great restaurants in the area, go to see your show, walk back and have a drink at a local pub, then return to your hotel for a comfortable night of sleep before getting on your way the next day.

If you want to create a great day in London and are looking at the hotels in Theatreland London, check out the Best Western Victoria Palace as a place to stay. The Best Western Victoria Palace is in the ideal location so that you can easily get to any of the great theatres in the area, have a nice play to stay and do it all without spending a fortune on a hotel in this part of the city.

Photo source: Dpreview

From charity-shop finds to designer bags, it’s not that hard to spend your hard/easy earned cash in London. Just like New York, Pairs and Rome, London is frequented by visitors from all over the world for some of those big-name shopping attractions, off-beat vintage finds and ever-evolving high street chain stores. A London shopping trip can be a lot of fun but also very expensive – prepare to give your wallet a good workout. Don’t worry to much though – with some strategic planning, your London shopping trip could be even more fun and extremely rewarding.

london shopping trip-002

Here are some practical tips to help you save on your London shopping trip.

  • Research and Plan. The key is to plan ahead. Last minute of everything can be expensive and stressful. Figure out what you want to buy. Research to find out where you can get those items in London. Plan your trip literary in details and start book your flight + accommodation well in advance.
  • Check airline baggage limit and pack sensibly. You don’t want overweight baggage resulting in heavy fines. Pack and shop sensibly will help you avoid unnecessary headaches.
  • Arrange travel insurance. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Travel insurance is god-sent in case of lost luggage and illness. With many major credit cards suppliers, you can get free overseas travel insurance once you made a travel booking by your credit card.
  • Inform your debit/credit card company of your travel plans. Major credit cards are accepted everywhere in London but be aware that credit card companies might lock your credit card after one day of your heavy spending overseas, leaving you empty handed in the shops (this happened to me twice). You can avoid this situation by simply calling your credit card provider before you go, advising your travel plan.



  • Choose the Right Time to Travel. If you are going to a London shopping trip, there’s no point going during Christmas time. All shops are closed on Christmas day and plane ticket can be expensive. Besides, it’ll be freezingly cold! Keep an eye out on special offers from different airlines. Often you can save quite a bit by booking your flight well in advance. Shopping malls and designer outlets usually offer Sales at a particular time of the year so you might want to plan your travel time accordingly too.
  • Stay in the Right Location. Accommodation in London can be painfully expensive, and you’ll almost always need to book your room well in advance. The good news is that decent, central hotels are easy enough to find and also offer reasonably priced rooms. Take a look at the hotels near Westfield Shopping Centre in Chiswick. Charming and safe, Chiswich is at an ideal location from which to travel to various sites in London. The Best Western Chiswick Palace could be the perfect place for you to stay. It offers comfortable rooms in the right location, at a price that allows you to enjoy your shopping even more.
  • Work by neighborhoods to avoid wasting time (and money) on transport. London is huge and there are different shopping areas so plan your day trips accordingly.
  • Use Public Transportation – Taking advantage of the public transit system in London. The quickest (but most expensive ) from of public transport is Underground (Tube). Trains run from 5.30am to 12.30am (7am to 11.30 pm Sunday). The train is also an easy way to get to anywhere in the city fast and is very affordable. Bus is slow going but cheap and offers ace views from double-deckers.
  • Avoid rush hour (6.30am to 9.30 am and 4pm to 7am) Tube. Fares are more expensive and it’ll be uncomfortably crowded. Most shops in central London are open seven days a week, though they can only trade for 6 hours (usually noon to 6pm ) on Sunday.
  • The cheapest and most convenient way to pay for public transport is to buy an Oyster Card. Oyster Card is a smart card on which you can store credit. If you are planning to stay more than just a few days, you get also get a weekly or monthly travel card.
  • Need some extra cash? The best place to change money is in post office branches, which do not charge a commission.
  • London travel trip

    A grumpy guard and me, somehow in matching outfit

paris is always a good idea-2

paris is always a good idea-3

paris is always a good idea-4

paris is always a good idea-5

paris is always a good idea-6

paris is always a good idea-7

paris is always a good idea-8

paris is always a good idea-9

paris is always a good idea-10

paris is always a good idea-13

paris is always a good idea-14

paris is always a good idea

I stood in front of a scale in the supermarket, trying to match the pictures with those fruits I just picked up to buy.  You need to get the labels for the fruits first before proceeding to the checkouts and I couldn’t read the names in French next to the pictures on the scale.

Just then, a hand merged from the side and within a few seconds all the buttons were pressed for me, labels done. Before I couldn’t say “thank you” in French, he quickly flashed a broad smile and walked on. That was just another friendly stranger in Pairs.

Have you heard about the saying that Parisians are “arrogant”? Well, don’t believe in rumors:). I had a Parisian lady kindly showing us directions without being asked and apologizing “My English is not so good.” at the same time. I haven’t met anyone politer than that. I guess there are different kinds of people everywhere in the world. When you are feeling happy, you notice things and people make you happy. Travel makes me happy.

Some people dream about changing the world. Some people dream about saving the planet. Some people dream about growing up being a doctor. I dreamed about seeing the world and dreaming all day. Paris is a sweet dream that you can touch and feel. Paris is a real beauty without any need for Photoshopping.

Merci Paris. You are always a good idea to many people, myself included.
———————————————————————–
Photos by CandidTown Photography.




Cotswolds hotel swan hotel

cotswolds hotel, swan hotel

Outside the hotel the next morning


I loved that pretty and most comfortable Cotswolds Hotel. Loved it. We hired a car to drive through The Romantic Road, Cotswold in England last Summer, stayed at Swan Hotel in Bibury.

Our journey to The Cotswolds Romantic Road started from London. The day we left London was the first beautiful sunny day after we arrived so I was picturing, dreaming really, the beautiful Cotswolds rolling country roads and charming cottages in the sun. You know, blue sky and all that stuff.

On the way we visited Winsor Castle and the Stone hedge. Both sites are grand in their own ways and breath taking. For one day, we had perfect weather and beautiful blue sky.




We booked one Cotswolds hotel (Swan Hotel in Bibury) to stay overnight. It was a punt. Both of us knew nothing about Bibury or Swan Hotel before the trip. But Bibury was once described by William Morris (1834-96) as “the most beautiful village in England” so I was keen to explore the town.

It was quite dark when we got there.  Swan hotel is furbished as the 17th century country house style, sitting in the heart of the village on the banks of a river. I was immediately attracted to its charming appeal.

Cotswolds Hotel swan hotel

View from the window

Hotel stuff was very friendly and I couldn’t wait to have something to eat. It turned out this Cotswolds hotel offered Award winning food and a good selection of fine wine.  Walking pass the beautifully decorated lounges with real log fires, we sat down in the gallery restaurant. My dinner was smoked (whole) trout with baby potato salad and it was divine! Later I found out that Bibury trout farm was just a stone’s throw away. No wonder my trout tasted so fresh.

Swan hotel won the best breakfast awards many times and it certainly didn’t disappoint us. I ordered smoke salmon with poached eggs. Happily to report that it was not salty, super market quality smoke salmon. It was simply unforgettably delicious!

I didn’t love it just for the food. Mineral rich, natural spring water (bottled at the source) was provided in the bedrooms. Our room was supper comfortable with luxurious bathroom. Everything was so cute, making me wanting to stay longer.

Cotswolds hotel swan hotel

The bathroom is pretty grand.

Cotswolds Hotel swan hotel

Cuteness

Rain started at night. It continued to rain heavily for the next 2 days. Our journey through romantic road Cotswold was filled with rain and chilled air. I had to put on both my jumper and thick jacket to keep warm (August in UK). But we still managed to go out and about in the rain cause we were tourists from overseas.

Cotswolds Hotel swan hotel

In front of cute cottages with extremely low ceilings

How I wished I could just stay in that romantic country house, having a warm bath and eating freshly smoked salmon. Or Trout.




Lots of bicycles. bicycles (1 of 1)

Heineken.

heineken experience (1 of 1)

What’s that? lol

Amsterdam is loud and naughty. This might be the most photographed shop window:

amsterdam (4 of 4)

Cruise!

amsterdam boat (1 of 1)

The largest Chinese Restaurant in Amsterdam.

amsterdam sea palace (1 of 1)

Can’t take these bulbs back to Australia:(.

amsterdam (1 of 4)

amsterdam (3 of 4)

Wooden shoes will be problematic going through Australia Custom too. So these shoes are good alternate souvenirs.

amsterdam (2 of 4)

Yum! Last  few bites of waffle with ice cream.

yum