My 5 Favourite Travel Apps

I can’t believe we are into July already! Where has the year gone?! Although that means that we are into Summer or the less cold months as we call it in Scotland! In all fairness the weather has been over 20 degrees which is pretty amazing for Scotland….

This blog post is going to focus on the 5 travel apps on my phone that I don’t board the plane without. 

1. Google Maps

I honestly don’t think I would be able to get around if I didn’t have this app downloaded, as I’m terrible at reading maps and have zero sense of direction! Not good traits for a traveller I admit but with this app it doesn’t matter about my lack of skills…

Google Maps is great for estimating the time that it takes from A to B and I particularly love the fact that it can detect where you are (especially in winding alleyway) before you know yourself.

I also use this app while travelling to detect good places to eat and drink if I make an unplanned stop. As the app can detect where you are it also gives you the option to look at restaurants close by.

2. Like A Local

This app is perfect for discovering all the cool spots during your city-breaks!

For those of you who haven’t heard about Like A Local  before it’s an app created for travellers (not tourists) who want to discover some of the best LOCAL hangouts…hence the name. It’s very easy to use and it can detect what location you are in, similar to Google Maps.

Don’t know where to go to have the best night out in Barcelona? Don’t worry, this app has got you covered with multiple party destinations handpicked by locals.

In addition, this app can let you become the expert you are by offering advice about YOUR CITY to other travellers. You can even get PAID for showing someone your favourite places, sound fun?

3. TripAdvisor

Now this is a tricky one…I’m not saying that I use this all the time for restaurant recommendations while travelling as the best places are often stumbled upon by chance.

However, if you don’t want to be wondering the streets for ages on an empty stomach getting grumpy (I can’t be the only one like this) then TripAdvisor is the way to go! It has hundreds of reviews for places all over the world which makes it easy to find somewhere nice to dine.

I also love this app because you can filter down the recommendations according on what cuisine and type of meal you are after.

When booking accommodation now that’s not on Airbnb I always look at the TripAdvisor reviews first. I have almost been caught out before by using Booking.com because obviously they show more of the good reviews!

4. Airline Apps

What an amazing invention airline apps are! I really don’t know why every airline doesn’t have these created. They save time, paper and most of all STRESS. 

In the past I have been super paranoid about losing my boarding passes that I have been the person to take multiple copies…just in case.

Should I put it in the security tray?

Should I keep holding it?

Where is the safe place I stored it?

Download the app for free…..insert your account details…. BAM it’s saved on the most precious item you posses, your smartphone.

5. Uber

This may seem like a strange one to include but it has been my saviour more times I’ll care to admit.

Uber….the black cab killer or your safest and often cheapest way to get back to your accommodation.

When you have had one too many vodka and cokes is it really a good idea to try and work out the London Underground , that has 11 lines and 270 different stations? No, no it’s not the best idea. With this app you can order a car with no cash needed and your location will be automatically detected (which is insanely helpful in an unknown city).

Weekend in London – Day 3

My last day in London was a bit of a whirlwind and unfortunately I spent a lot of time in transit as I had to be at the airport for 5pm.

However I did manage to eat and drink my way though Camden Market before my departure…

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Camden Market is such a cool place to visit, it’s situated in Camden Town which is easy to reach by tube if you get off at Chalk Farm station.

It is London’s largest and most varied market that really has everything on offer. If you fancy some tasty street food, freshly squeezed fruit drinks, boutique clothing stores and vintage vinyl records hit up Camden Market! If I was a Londoner I would make this my Sunday lunch spot, you would never get bored….

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WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LEMONS….

We spent a couple of hours indulging in the markets offerings before wondering down Regent’s Canal towards Primrose Hill.

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Regent’s Canal

Primrose Hill is another beautiful green space in London with one of the best views of the city’s skyline. This calm space is the perfect spot to spend to a sunny afternoon with a picnic, away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre.

On my journey back to Edinburgh, I spent some time planning what I would do the next time I visit (which will be a lot sooner this time)! A weekend in London is certainly not enough time to do even half of the things you would want to do, but it was a great flavour of the city that left me wanting more. I am genuinely surprised about how much I enjoyed roaming London. Maybe it was the company and the good weather, but I have a feeling that is was because it was full of life! At every turn there was something different to see. Whether that was a historical site, a street-performer or newly invented version of the ice cream cone (Milk Train)…..London has it all.

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Weekend in London – Day 2

I hope you all enjoyed reading my Day 1 post about London but if not click here!

We started off our second day in London by flying high on the Emirates Air Line  which gives you a unique view of the River Thames and the skyline. It’s a cable car experience that only opened in 2012 around the time of the London Olympic Games. The ride only costs £4.30 and can be paid for via the contactless machine (just like the underground stations) or you can purchase them from the attraction’s ticket office.  It definitely felt like the first class experience  minus the champagne unfortunately. However, they did make up for the lack of fizz by offering us a free souvenir photo at the end of the trip. You can pop into the photo booth, pick your destination (eg Maldives) and magically your photo looked like you were enjoying your holiday at the other side of the world!

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After our long flight to the Maldives we decided that we needed some brunch to recover from the jetlag. Sophia knew of this gorgeous garden cafe that sits inside Regent’s Park, Regent’s Bar & Kitchen. I can honestly say this was my favourite place we went for food in London, it was perfect! Just watch out what time you go because we wondered in at 11:30am and apparently breakfast was no longer being served and their lunch menu didn’t begin until 12pm! We said that was fine and enjoyed a muffin and an iced coffee in the garden while we waited patiently….

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Al Fresco Lunch in Regent’s Park
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Regent’s Bar & Kitchen
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Regent’s Park

Our next stop was the Rose Garden within the park and it did not disappoint! This area was beautiful and had quirky names for all the types of roses….ice cream was my favourite….

Like I said we came to London in a heatwave, so it was ideal weather just to lie amongst the roses for a couple of hours!

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Rose Garden ft SandCloud Wanderlust Towel

If you love the look of my towel use my personal code CatrionaKe15 for 15% off all orders at the checkout! A percentage of all Sandcloud’s profits go into saving marine life by supporting conservation charities. #savethefishes

After enjoying the rays at Regent’s park we headed towards the crowds in Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square. Piccadilly Circus reminded me of what I imagined a mini Times Square to be like….hectic, touristy and full of large screens!

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Piccadilly Circus 

We didn’t spend much time in Piccadilly before moving onto Chinatown! This is such a cool area of London, especially the decorated gateways. If we were’t so full from the pizza we would have grabbed something from one of the takeouts, everything smelled AMAZING! 

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Chinatown

After walking through Leicester Square we went to a quirky courtyard area that Sophia knew about called Neal’s Yard. I would have quite happily stayed all evening discovering the independent eateries and bars in this little garden space. Not far from Covent Garden and just off Monmouth Street you will find this secret little alleyway full of colourful buildings and places that you wouldn’t want to miss!

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Nearby Neal’s Yard we found a pretty little bar called Boki

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We found seats at the botanic-styled cocktail bar and chatted to the bartenders as they created our recommended concoctions….

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We spent the night partying at a rooftop club called Queen of Hoxton, which was in the up-incoming Shoreditch area of London.

I hope you enjoyed reading about my second day in London, stay updated for my final instalment!

Weekend in London – Day 1

“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.” (Samuel Johnson, 1777)

As you may of noticed from my Instagrams you will have seen that I spent my weekend in London. I’m sorry for the spam pics but London is soooo INSTAWORTHY, especially Covent Garden! I had been to London once before when I was younger so I had done the major attractions but not the “real London”. It was amazing this time to explore the city with my best friend because she could show me hidden gems, as she has lived in London previously.

Somehow all my salary ends up in EasyJet’s pocket…..this time it was to fly from Edinburgh to London Luton. I knew that all the airports were outside London centre anyway so it didn’t really matter which one I flew to and Luton was the best price. I started off my day with a croissant and chia latte from Cafe Nero (pre-flight ritual) and was in London before I knew it (1 hour flight). From the airport I had already pre-booked my bus transfer to get me towards my Airbnb in Canning Town through EasyBus. The bus was £10 per journey and took my to Baker Street station (40 minutes) where I could get a direct tube to Canning Town.

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By reading this you may think I was clued up on London transport prior to my arrival…that would be incorrect. I had already asked for transport advice from my lovely Airbnb hosts and they were more than happy to help! That is one of the aspects of Airbnb that I love most, the hosts local knowledge. This is my 5th Airbnb I have stayed in so far and I have been blown away by the friendliness of each one of the hosts! For my trip to London I booked myself into Amir and Helena’s home which was only 20 minutes from the centre and had everything I needed. Fresh towels were laid out upon arrival and I was able to have a flexible check in as there was a key safe – very convenient when arriving early!

Click here for £25 off your first stay! 

After unpacking I headed to the Temple area to start my Hidden London Tour with Fun London Tours. Danielle the tour guide was excellent, especially when she sang  the Oranges and Lemons nursery rhyme at St Clements Danes Church! I thought this tour was particularly cool because it showed you areas of the city that the average tourist wouldn’t pay attention to.

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Gringotts Bank in Harry Potter
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St Bride’s Church – Inspiration for the tiered wedding cake!
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Printing Press Mural – Magpie Alley

After walking around the Temple area I walked 15 minutes to Covent Garden to soak up the atmosphere with a cocktail in hand…

 

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Royal Blush at Tuttons

To be honest, London is NEVER EVER going to be cheap but it really wasn’t anymore expensive than Edinburgh. Obviously it depends where you go, but a cocktail in the centre of Covent Gardens ranged from £8-£13 which is pretty standard.

 

Covent Gardens is such a beautiful area in the Summer. It’s buzzing with street performers and dressed with gorgeous flower displays. I went a little Insta-mad here but it would just be rude not to make use of all the perfect picture opportunities….?!

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By late afternoon I thought it was time to visit all the touristy places that I knew Sophia wouldn’t want to spend time seeing! I walked along the Hungerford Bridge enjoying the London Skyline featuring the London Eye and Big Ben.  After taking a few different wannabe photographer angles of the London Eye I ventured over to take in the view across the River Thames.

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Hungerford Bridge
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London Eye
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View from the Hungerford Bridge

After spending some time chilling in my Airbnb (recovering from my 22,000 step day) Sophia and I took the tube to Canary Warf. Unlike the rest of London that is continuously hectic we headed to the business hub for a more relaxing evening. As Canary Warf is the home of glittery office skyscrapers it’s a lot more chilled after office hours end!

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It was just after 10pm and the Crossrail Place Roof Garden  caught our eye. Unfortunately the garden closed at 10pm and they were just locking up…after a little persuasion we were allowed in to explore by ourselves!

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Crossrail Place Roof Garden At Night

After our private garden experience we headed towards the Giant Robot, which is a rooftop bar filled with lots of cool street food stalls. I would definitely encourage you to check out out this cool place! Rooftop, DJ and burritos….what’s not to like?!

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I hope you have enjoyed reading about my first day in London…stay tuned for day 2!

 

 

 

3 Countries, 1 Holiday -Bodensee / Lake Constance

I am just back from our road trip around Lake Constance and  just as the title suggests I really did get to explore parts of 3 countries!

No wonder Lake Constance (Bodensee in German) is such a popular place for a holiday. Whether you are a couple, family or solo traveller there are so many stunning towns dotted around the lake, and as my phone memory suggests countless photography opportunities! I had never been to this part of Europe before, but luckily Lukas surprised me with his secret itinerary, jam packed full of interesting places.

In this blog post I will give you a run down of where I would suggest you visit around the lake!

Switzerland – Landschlact

We were based on the Swiss side of the lake in a village called Landschlact. Again we chose to stay in an Airbnb and could not have chosen better. We were hosted by Marco in his spacious house (link to the Airbnb ). I could not recommend his home enough, it was in an ideal location to visit many parts of the lake and his hospitality was excellent! We would definitely love to stay in his home again.

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Would like £25 off your first Airbnb stay? Book through my personal link

Austria – Bregenz

Just WOW…this pretty city on the eastern side of Lake Constance should be on everyone’s list!

Pfänder

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When we arrived in Bregenz after our 50 minute scenic drive we hopped on the cable car that took us to the top of  Pfänder. The price to ride the cable car was 13 euros for a return ticket….much faster than walking.  Being on top of the mountain was incredible….the scenery was so classically Austrian, and being a Sound of Music fan I was not disappointed!

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We are never usually as organised as this (EVER) but we had already made a picnic to bring along for lunch. Off we went with our picnic and blanket to find the perfect spot to relax in for an hour or so.

We found it…. 

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If you love the look of my towel use my personal code CatrionaKe15 for 15% off all orders at the checkout! A percentage of all Sandcloud’s profits go into saving marine life by supporting conservation charities. #savethefishes

 

Bregenz Centre

Even though we didn’t quite hike down the mountain we still thought it was time for ice cream….

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It was really chilled wondering around the shore of the lake….even if it did make me lust for a boat….a girl can dream!

We even checked out the floating stage that is used for the Bregenz Opera Festival every Summer. It’s definitely another bucket list idea!

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Germany

Lindau

I keep saying that everywhere is a MUST VISIT but honestly when you are at the lake nothing is too far away so it would be a shame to miss out!

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Lindau is no exception… this old Bavarian town is situated on Lindau island . We spent the sunset hours walking along the promenade here and felt like a local sitting on the wall listening to everyone’s speakers!

After walking along the Seepromenade we made sure we found somewhere to dine that would allow us admire the view of the old harbour! We found the perfect spot….

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This picture was taken from the terrace restaurant/hotel that we had dinner in called  Lindauer Hof. It was the ONLY restaurant that had a terrace! The meal was incredible too, traditional German cuisine. I ordered a….  ZÜRICHER RAHMGESCHNETZELTES….lets just say she smiled politely and asked if I was British….story of my life.

Meersburg

On our last full day at the lake we explored the medieval town of Meerburg. This attractive town, homed to vineyards and panoramic lake views is said to be one of the FIRST places to ever build a FORT! Still to this day visitors enjoy roaming around the cobbled streets and taking in the beautiful architecture.

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Alte Burg / Old Castle

Bodensee is another beautiful part of the world that I have been lucky enough to see. I understand now why so many people holiday here and even retire.

I am a very “get up and go” kind of person, I like to be busy. Although what is the point of always looking forward to the next stage, the next thing if you are not appreciating the moment you are in just now.

Therefore, having the time just to relax and do simple things like watching the sunset or having an old fashioned picnic really hands you a pause button in a world that is constantly on the move.

Heidelberg

Heidelberg…. the place where your dreams come true! My bad, that’s Disneyland but this place is just as magical…

Heidelberg in South Western Germany is a place for romantics, tourists, students, photographers and writers. Exactly my kind of place!

It is IMPOSSIBLE not to take an impressive picture of this town that MUST be  plastered all over your Instagram page! This place just begs you to take as many photos as you can to capture the iconic “I’m in Heidelberg” picture that focuses on capturing the town from each angle of the Alt Brucke (Old Bridge). 

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I think my phone memory is full with photos from the weekend here…I have an extremely patient boyfriend/photographer…. 

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It was our third time staying in an Airbnb which I cannot recommend enough for a type of accommodation! We always find the coolest places and the hosts we have met so far have been extremely helpful and laid back.

If you would like £25 off your first stay you can use my referral code www.airbnb.co.uk/c/catrionak205

I flew into Baden airport with Ryanair which is an hours drive to Heidelberg and 1.5 hours on the train.

DRUM ROLL PLEASE!

……my flight was the grand total of £10!!!!!

Yes it was a one way ticket seeing as I was flying back from Stuttgart but £10! I pay more going from Edinburgh to Fife, seriously one way is £11.

If you think about it…..you could fly 900 miles for the price of a takeaway pizza….just a thought….

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We did not arrive in Heidelberg until the evening so after leaving our suitcases in our room for the night we headed into the centre. The weather was INSANE! It was even around 20 degrees at night! Everyone said it was unusual temperatures for the time of year…I guess I brought the sun from Scotland…

We rode on the tram to the town centre which was not the easiest system to work out….I think the machine was broken but we got there in the end and took the bus back! Just a little piece of advice…it may seem obvious…. but PAY ATTENTION to the station you get on from….we had no clue…

By the time we got into the main centre we were eager to find a restaurant quickly! We stumbled upon Perkeo (traditional German cuisine) hidden away in the winding streets. Apparently Perkeo was the Jester that kept the barrel in Alt Schloss (Old Castle) safe. I ordered Maultasche which is a must have when in Southern Germany. It’s similar to ravioli!

Fun Fact – Perkeo consumed 18 bottles of wine on a daily basis but died after drinking a glass of water…

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Heidelberg is a perfect place for a weekend break, it has enough buzz about it with the student bars and coffee shops, but also ideal if you want to see some sights! Unlike my previous weekend in Munich (which I loved) this trip was so much more relaxed.

We did see the famous attractions and landmarks but also had enough time to take it easy and enjoy the beautiful surroundings. However….the weather did make such a HUGE difference and made it more enjoyable to do less. It was 30 degrees during the day which was the ideal weather for stopping for iced coffee and frozen yogurt!

After walking along the riverside into the centre we headed straight towards the Alt Brucke (old bridge) so I could snap the iconic Heidelberg pictures!

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Walking through the winding streets really does make you feel like you are in a fairy- tale, especially at the Schloss Heidelberg  (Castle)!

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Even though all that remains of the castle are it’s ruins it attracts millions of people every year. At many points in the year a beautiful firework display takes place to commemorate the  attacks on the castle in the late 17th Century.

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After exploring the castle we spent our afternoon soaking up the sun at the top of the Philosophenweg (Philosophers Way). This walk is famous because it is known to have inspired many philosophers and writers throughout history! Don’t worry if you are not keen on long walks, it doesn’t take much time to get to the viewpoint at the top and there are many stone-made seating areas during the trail.

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Does it get much more Insta-worthy than this???

We finished our day by soaking up the last rays of sun in a beer gardenwhere I drank the regional Riesling wine of course….

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If Heidelberg is not already on your list of destinations…. I think it’s time to revise that list….

Weekend in Munich – Day 2

It was a snowy start to our second day in Munich!

After over eating at breakfast in the hotel (I have already confessed to the amount of pastries on my plate…) we headed out to explore more of the city. I hadn’t realised that it snowed overnight until I looked out the window of the restaurant in the hotel. In my opinion it definitely enhanced the beauty of the city, especially the Englischer Garten.

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Chinese Tower

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When we were wondering around in the freezing cold we ditched the beer garden (some were actually open) and headed into a tiny cosy cafe! Just so I could feel my hands again (only reason of course) I got a gluehwein and relaxed on a furry coated bench to admire the gardens without catching hypothermia! You don’t need to leave Scotland for that….

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Once we warmed up a little we stepped outside and cooled down a lot….nevertheless we continued walking back towards the city centre. On the way there we walked through a tunnel that had been decorated with various pieces of street art. Like always I felt the need to take a few photos…

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Alice in Wonderland or just a bit creepy? I’ll let you decide.

As I have spent time in Verona and visited Juliet’s balcony I know the legend of Juliet’s golden breast. When I found out there was another statue in Munich, gifted from the city of Verona we made sure to take a look. Who would pass up an opportunity of “undying love”?! Little did we know that instead of touching her breast like in Verona, people in Munich leave flowers by her side in order to receive the magic. Unaware of this difference we went for the breast…I’ll get back to you with how well that worked!

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Juliet Capulet Statue 
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Find under the archway in the Marienplatz 

 

 

After being granted eternal love I figured I didn’t need any more from this wonderful city.

Munich I’ll be back when the sun shines over the beer gardens!

 

Weekend in Munich – Day 1

I have just arrived home from my weekend getaway to Munich….you might have guessed from my Instagram…maybe!

I think that was honestly the quickest weekend to date and the furthest I have travelled in such a short space of time. In total I travelled over 900 miles between Friday and Sunday evening, not including my journey back home!

The past couple of times I have visited Germany I have travelled around the Southern part of the country. I have been blown away by the incredible scenery, the friendly people and the outstanding amount of carbs that I can consume in my short time in the country…. (forget the Great British Bake Off….the cakes are amazing)!

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Schuhbecks Orlando

Exhibit A

I feel my official place of residence has changed to a window seat somewhere towards the back of an EasyJet plane…..

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This is because the flights are very cheap, especially out of season! I usually fly from Edinburgh to Stuttgart airport and so far the return flight has not cost over £80. Considering the average spend on a night out is between £40 -£60 (of course, depending on if you buy the cheap vodka or not) this really isn’t much less than a flight to a new place.

Enough money and cake talk and more about The Heart of Bavaria….Munich!

It was incredible to walk around he centre of Munich as there was always something to catch your eye. Everywhere you turn it’s impossible not to notice the detailed architecture.

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Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall)
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Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall)
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Marienplatz
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Bavarian Lion Statue at Odeonsplatz

 

Whilst exploring the centre we were also keen to see the stunning churches that produce the soundtrack to a day in Munich….all the church bells!

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Frauenkirche

When you are in Munich find some time to discover this hidden gem! The Asamkirche, this church was built in 1733. This is a beautiful, theatrical looking place tucked away between two ordinary buildings. Honestly, when we weren’t actively looking for this church we walked past it so many times and didn’t even notice! This is a must see…

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Asamkirche
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Asamkirche
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Asamkirche

After all the wondering around we went back to our cute hotel, Hotel Condor and relaxed until we went out for dinner. I have to say the location of this hotel was perfect, it was so central and close to the train station. The one to many breakfast pastries I consumed in the morning were also very good…

Studying Event Management really does get you into a particular mindset….schedules….timings…plans….however sometimes it’s more fun stumbling upon a great restaurant or bar by chance. So guess what? That’s exactly what happened.

We left the hotel and headed into the centre of Munich (only a 10 minute walk) and  enjoyed the different atmosphere the city has at night. After a little while we found this beautiful restaurant called Cafe Luitpold.

If you like dining in pretty buildings this is the place for you! This restaurant/ cafe was built in the 19th century and has retained it’s original pillar structures. They had a large menu which made it difficult to choose what we wanted to eat…so we didn’t. We selected the tapas selection and were given a tapas styled starter, main and dessert! cafe

After dinner we had a few drinks in Fedora Bar where a DJ was playing, which was a great way to end the night. I ended my first day in Munich right…. after finishing my first pint of beer….i’m a wine gal… but when in the home of Oktoberfest!

 

 

Scottish Highland Escape

Day 1

As much as I love Edinburgh it is always good to travel further north. Scotland is wild and whimsical. That’s why thousands of people travel, from all over the world, to visit this small welcoming country. Whether it’s a home from home, as so many people are lucky enough have a little Scottish blood somewhere in their roots……whether it’s to seek the Loch Ness Monster or brave a piece of haggis with breakfast (without googling the ingredients)…. Scotland is a thriving destination.

I have visited Aviemore and the Cairngorms many times on family holidays but have only discovered it’s true charm after living in a city for a few years. The rustic villages and surrounding woodland makes it feel like you have travelled so much further than a few hours out of the capital city! As well as being able to relax and take things at a slower pace than 9-5 allows Aviemore is also a hot spot for outdoor activities. It has many horse riding, quadbiking and water-based activities that really let you explore the Highlands in a unique way.

 

We rented a car from Europcar and picked it up from Edinburgh airport which was easy then we were on our way. On the way to Aviemore we decided to stop off in Pitlochry along the way. This turned out to be one of the trips highlights as we found this quirky cafe called Cafe Biba which served an extensive range of pancakes (always a foodie)!IMG_3228

 

After rolling our way out the cafe we walked around the village and journeyed up to visit the 4* hotel and popular wedding venue, Atholl Palace.  The location of this hotel is perfect, hidden away within the trees really enhances the fairytale-like atmosphere of the place! IMG_3219

After travelling another hour up North we checked into our well situated Airbnb  . I honestly can’t rave about this website enough! It is so easy to use, accurate, well-priced and bursting with insider tips on the local area. This time we stayed with Yvonne in her cosy ensuite room in the Spey Valley. I know there are some sceptical people over the whole Airbnb situation, I was one too! However, I did not know that many rooms were just as private as a hotel room, with your own bathroom and entrance facilities (some even have their own mini kitchens). On the 2 occasions that we did meet the hosts they were very warm and welcoming.

On our first night in Aviemore we had dinner and drinks at The Winking Owl . This restaurant is owned by the Cairngorm Brewery Company  and is full of unusual craft beers such as the Nessie Monster Mash and the Sheepshaggers Gold Beer… Aside from the beer the place has a lovely atmosphere and serves hearty dishes!

Day 2

On the second day we drove 20 minutes to Loch an Eilein. This has always been my favourite spot in the area as you can walk around the whole loch (1.5 hrs)! This is one of those places in the world that really makes you feel lucky to be surrounded by so much nature – time stops.

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After our walk we headed back to the car (£2 for parking) then journeyed up to the Cairngorm Mountains. We were incredibly lucky with the weather this time! It was a complete winter wonderland, everywhere was covered with snow and the sky was clear blue.  It took around 30 minutes to get from the loch to the Glenmore Forest Centre where we had lunch watching the loch below.

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When we got to the Cairngorms we headed to the car park to ride all the way to the top of the mountain on a funicular train. This is definitely a must whether you are there to ski or not! The view from the top is breathtaking….. but make sure you layer up….my hands felt like they were frozen solid…. If you don’t want to spend too long in the snow there is a cafe and bar at the top of the mountain with panoramic views that are hard to beat!

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That evening we decided to indulge at the most popular restaurant in the whole of Aviemore – La Taverna .  In my opinion no trip to the area is complete without at least one trip to this place! They are known for serving their pizza and pasta buffet all night everyday of the week – make sure you eat lightly throughout the day 😉 La Taverna is always busy so make sure to book in advance!!!

Day 3

On our way back to Edinburgh we stopped off in Dunkeld to break the journey up a little. Dunkeld is a town that is sometimes also known as the “Gateway to the Highlands” and is situated between Perth and Birnam. We didn’t have much time here but we did manage a beautiful walk along the riverside and admire the 13th century Cathedral.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Southern Germany Trip – Colmar and Freiburg

Yes I am aware that Colmar is in France….

Colmar

After spending my third day in Karlsruhe we drove 3 hours and stayed in Colmar just over the German/French border. It was another picture perfect town that has somehow managed to escape the modernisation that has tainted many other places due to it’s old town centre being a “protected area”. Colmar should definitely be on your list of travel destinations you are wanting to visit. It is impossible not to be enticed by it’s colourful houses, flower displays , famous wines and intimate dining options. IMG_2407

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When we arrived in Colmar we checked into our hotel for the night (Les Maraichers). Once again I felt like a complete Brit as we entered attempting to speak all the French we knew. The receptionist saw our obvious lack of knowledge and told us that she could speak French, German and English. It was the same everywhere we went in Colmar, everyone could at least speak 2 languages fluently! Really puts my 25% Duolingo German knowledge and mere pass in French at school to shame…

After checking in we walked into the centre of Colmar (only a 15 minute walk) and searched for somewhere to have dinner. We stumbled upon a beautiful looking restaurant…complete with candelabras and lights….so we went in. I promise I didn’t pay attention to the name of the restaurant….but when you are here you must dine in…La Romantica Colmar (as cliché as you can be but the food and atmosphere is amazing)!  I had the traditional Tarte flambée with some recommended local wine by the lovely bilingual waiter.

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IMG_2517In the morning we decided not to have breakfast in the hotel and headed into Colmar. We found this little cafe called Au Croissant Doré that is situated through the arches in the centre of Colmar by the church. The croque monsieur and thick hot chocolate definitely set me up for the day.

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After breakfast we explored Colmar and of course took the postcard perfect snaps at Petite Venise…

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Au revoir Colmar…I’ll be back!

Freiburg

We left Colmar to travel to Freiburg mid afternoon. In hindsight we probably packed in a little to much for my first 5 days in Germany but there was never a dull moment! The drive took only 40 minutes to Freiburg so we were still able to enjoy most of the day there. I have been incredibly lucky on this trip to see many truly enchanting places. This university city takes you back in time, walking through it’s medieval streets, as well as having the famous Black Forest as it’s backdrop!

After wondering into a dozen quirky shops we headed up to the Schlossberg viewpoint overlooking the city on one side and the Black Forest on the other. What a view…I don’t know if it was the time of year but when I went there was always a misty haze over the forests which added to the beautiful landscapes.

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P.S – Rumour has it if you want to marry a Freiburg girl paddle in the streams that flow through the city….

You can’t leave the home of the Black Forest without tasting some of it’s famous cake…..well that was my excuse. Head to Café Schmidt ,this family run business will show you what a true Black Forest Gateau Cake should look like! IMG_2573.JPG