I first sampled the bohemian splendour of Budapest a couple of years ago on a birthday getaway with friends. This grand bohemian city has a strange but unique feel to it. I don't quite know how to explain it but there was something drawing me in. I have visited many cities since my first trip to Budapest, but I have not experienced this feeling again. I knew that before long I would return to sample more of the bohemian capital.
I love nothing better than taking a couple of days out to explore one of Europe's beautiful cities. Last summer I enjoyed my first city break to Portugal; I spent an amazing few days in the capital city, Lisbon. From getting lost in the picturesque district of Alfama, to sampling some local cuisine in Bairro Alto, to just relaxing with an ice cold drink at one of the cities many miradouros whilst taking in the breath-taking views. I had enjoyed Lisbon so much that after only being home a matter of days, I had already booked another trip to Portugal, but this time to the city of Porto. Porto is located on the banks of the River Douro, to the north of the country, and is most famous for being the home of Port.
When you are in Porto it is highly likely that you will sample some finest Port at least once. Either with a meal or on its own, or perhaps you will make a trip to one or Porto's famous Port cellars for a professional Port tasting. This was at the top of my to-do list for my recent trip to Porto. I would recommend booking a tasting for the afternoon, perhaps after lunch.
One of my favourite things about this time of year is making a visit to one of Europe’s beautiful Christmas Markets. Each year I try and visit at least one destination, sometimes more. Having previously visited markets in Germany, Croatia, Spain and Sweden, I decided on the Christmas Markets of Basel for this year’s trip.
For those of us in the UK, the clocks have now been turned back and the early nights are drawing in. I have had a great summer and visited some fantastic destinations, but I'm now looking forward to the cooler months, and all the wonderful winter escapes that I have planned. Here are some of the amazing destinations I'll be visiting this winter. Where are you off to?
This year I visited Scotland for the first time in almost 10 years. Although it was just a short 24 hour trip it made me realise just how long it had been since my last visit. This prompted me to plan a longer trip up to the Scottish Borders for a weekend break with my family, over one of the May bank holiday weekends.
With the leaves on the trees beginning to turn a crisp golden brown, and the cool morning chill which has been creeping up on us now day by day, I think it's safe to say that this wonderfully warm British summer is now coming to an end. Over the past few months I have been on many trips, and enjoyed some wonderful experiences, all of which have made this the perfect summer.
The Isle of Wight, with its stunning coastline and beautiful beaches, has long had a reputation for being a holiday destination aimed at families who want a budget summer holiday close to home. The result is that the island has also gained the reputation as offering nothing more than beaches and amusement arcades.
Spitbank Fort is one of four forts built in the Solent as part of the 1859 Royal Commission to protect Portsmouth's dockyard from a possible French invasion. They formed the most expensive defensive system undertaken by Britain during peacetime. By the time the forts were completed all perceived threat to Portsmouth had passed, and because of this the forts became known as the Palmerston Follies, named after the Prime Minister at the time, Lord Palmerston, who had defended the enormous build cost.
The typical British weather, especially during the long winter months, is enough to make anyone want to escape to warmer climates. Last winter I decided to book an impromptu weekend break to Barcelona to get away from the rain and cold. I had been to Barcelona many years before, but as this was such a long time ago I felt it was time to refresh my memories and review what this beautiful Catalan city has to offer.
One of my local wine stores, Hennings Wine Merchants of Chichester often holds wine tastings on Friday evenings. Each evening is usually themed on a specific wine region or wine. A couple of weeks ago they held a Croatian wine evening, and after having been to Croatia a few times and enjoyed the local wines, I decided to book to go with some friends and experience more of what Croatia has to offer the wine world.
The latte and smoked salmon and scrambled egg bagel we grabbed at St Pancras somewhat compensated for the rude awakening at 05:00 on Saturday morning. Getting on the first train to Victoria, then the London Underground to St Pancras allowed us to board the 08:58 Eurostar service to Brussels. After a quick journey through the garden of England, and under the English Channel, we were soon flying through stunning French and Belgian countryside, whilst sipping champagne and enjoying a snack of saucisson. We arrived at Brussels Midi station just two hours later, a few minutes after midday.
On my recent visit to Lisbon I decided to go on a day trip to the coastal town of Cascais. Cascais is located about 20 miles away from Lisbon, along the coast. You can drive there if you like, or you can take the train from the station Cais do Sodré, that operates coastal train services from Lisbon, for as little as 4.80€ for a day return.
Lisbon, the city of seven hills, has a unique character and charm, different from most European capital cities. One afternoon a few weeks ago I stumbled across a deal to a top hotel in central Lisbon, that really was too good to miss. It did not take much persuasion for me to quickly book some flights. I had long yearned to visit Lisbon and here was an ideal opportunity.
We arrived at Carr Taylor Wines on a warm Sunday afternoon. It was a beautiful day, with hardly a cloud in the sky. After checking in for our vineyard tour and wine tasting at their cellar door we were shown to a sun-kissed terrace, where a handful of other people were sat around wooden picnic tables (the kind you would find in a traditional pub garden) happily chatting while waiting for the rest of the guests so the tour could commence. The terrace area was absolutely beautiful, an old rustic farm house to the side, the cellar door in front of us, and just fields of vines as far as the eye could see.
Earlier this year I spent the perfect weekend in Prague - a belated birthday present to myself as I have always wanted to visit Prague. By researching online before my trip, I ended up with a list of places I wanted to visit and things I wanted to see and do during my short stay in Prague. As always, my list was far too long for a mere two night stay, so some things had to be cut out for this trip or I just wouldn't have had time to stop, let alone sleep. So here is my list of 5 must-do things for a short stay in Prague - you won't be disappointed!
I have travelled to Spain many times, probably more so than any other country, the reason being that my family have a home in Andalusia. I have driven to Andalusia from the UK many times, either passing through or around Madrid, but I have never yet had the chance to stop in Madrid and discover what the Spanish capital has to offer. I thought it was time to change that….