This was a long awaited trip seeing as Klau has been trying to get me to visit her in Poznan since we met last year. She said that I would love it and loving it was exactly what I did! This was my second time in Poland and I noticed that Poznan has been far less damaged by the wars, therefore much of the original charming architecture remains.
There are many benefits of having friends all over the world but my favourite part about it is exploring their hometowns like a local. I have been able to visit the coolest bars, eaten the best food and seen beautiful sights that aren’t featured in the guidebooks!
Klau (being the gem that she is) met me at the bus station and helped me with my luggage back to her flat nearby. After settling into her gorgeous flat we took the tram into the centre of Poznan for dinner and drinks.
Pro tip – remember to buy your ticket before you board the tram. When you are on the tram you need to validate it….just don’t let the machine eat your ticket (typical tourist mistake or just my luck)….
I knew Poznan was going to be pretty but I wasn’t prepared for how fairytale like this place is! I took about 30 pictures just of the main square!
From being in Warsaw before I knew that as soon as I was back in Poland I would need to hunt for the best Peirogi, no need , Klau knew the perfect place! The restaurant is called Pierozek i kompocik and is situated in the main square (which makes it the ideal location to soak up the atmosphere)!
Before we went for dinner Klau showed me the pretty St Stanislaus church and we found out that there was actually an open air film festival going on in the gardens. I got super lucky as it just so happened to be showing an English speaking film – what are the chances?! So we spent the night at the festival.
We started of the morning by going to a cute cafe (there are sooo many to choose from) called Orzo . We chose the menu where you could pick a breakfast item and your coffee was only 1 zl (20p)!! Over breakfast Klau gave me her favourite suggestions so I could explore the town as much as I could on my only full day!
Smoothie bowl done, coffee done….time to get going!
First stop was the tourist information shop in the centre to pick up my map of Poznan (going retro)! In there I also booked into the Rogalowe Museum (croissant making class), I’ll write more about that later.
It was a beautiful sunny day which really made all the colourful buildings pop…so I couldn’t resist taking a few more shots!
After thoroughly snapping every inch of the town square I headed to the Royal Castle which has the best panoramic views over Poznan.
Before leaving Klau at breakfast she said that I HAD to be at the town hall to see the showat 12pm. Taking her word for it I did, and it seemed like the whole world got the memo too! Everyone was standing outside the town hall for the famous Poznan goats to come out of the bell tower and do a little show at midday. I can’t really describe it you just need to be there….
I was on a time limit but there’s always time for ice cream so made my way to Kolorowa which is the best ice cream parlor in the city!!! On the way there I saw the Plac Wolnosci.
Running now from the ice cream place so I made it to class on time (it was a pastry making class …hence the rush). The class at the museum is a MUST DO when visiting Poznan! The chefs were so funny when explaining the history of the town, plus who doesn’t like tasting croissants?!
After the class head straight to a shop called Fawor that was opened in 1908 to buy the traditional St Martin’s croissant.
By the time the workshop was over it was time to meet Klau for lunch. We went to this vegan burger place called MiXtura which I would also recommend!
After lunch Klau was awesome and took a half day so we rented some city bikes and rode to Malta (not the country I’m afraid but a lake).
After returning our bikes she showed me the area of Srodkai which was once a run down place now it’s buzzing with cool restaurants and cafes.
Later on we met some people at a cool beach bar type place called Kontinenet Art for some volleyball, drinks and street food!
Last but not least….THE BEST HOST AWARD goes to this girl!
It was a super last minute decision to travel again so soon after Asia but with time to spare before I got my allocation from TUI I was straight on Skyscanner to book another flight! I chose to visit Berlin because 1. It was cheap to fly there from Edinburgh, 2. I had been many places in southern Germany so wanted to visit the capital and 3. I have a friend living across the Polish border in Poznan so would see her too!
I took an easyJet flight (think that’s got a bit of every pay check I get) and flew to Berlin Tegal. After speaking to a couple of people who know Berlin it didn’t make much of a difference whether you fly into Tegel or Berlin Schönefeld airport , although Tegel is slightly closer. Before I got to Berlin I bought a Berlin 72 hours BerlinPass as I wanted to see as many things as possible in my short time there. It also gives you unlimited access to public transport (including airport journeys).
A couple of days before I went I also booked a hostel to stay in. Believe it or not I haven’t actually stayed in a hostel before, always Airbnb’s or hotels. I did some research and booked The Circus Hostel through hostelworld. It was great! The hostel was super clean and I met this cool American girl who I was sharing with.
Eager to explore Berlin in the limited time I had, I left my luggage at the hostel (they had a locker that fitted my hand luggage case) and headed to the Brandenburg Gate to get my BerlinPass. I got a metro (Rosenthaler platz ) which was just opposite my hostel and took it to Brandenburger Tor station.
After getting the pass I walked Unter Den Linden in the direction of the remains of the Berlin Wall, the East Side Gallery. The wall is now full of incredible street art and a definite must see when in Berlin!
I decided to just keep walking around the area and ended up in the cool hipster area of Kreuzburg I felt like a true Berliner wandering in and out of the quirky vintage shops there! Before visiting Berlin I asked a few friends I knew who were either from Berlin or who had lived in Berlin before for some cool suggestions. One of them suggested a visit to Burgermeister which is known to be the best burger joint in the city. By chance one of them was opposite the vintage shops in Kreuzburg under the tracks of the u-bahn.
Fun fact – This green building now housing the burger joint used to be a public toilet (a long time ago I hope)!
I walked back along the River Spree and found out that Mercedes Benz had their own platz here which was kinda cool and flashy.
As this was my first solo travel experience I was a little nervous about being alone at night as I knew that I would not want to stay in the hostel too much. However, if you are a frequent solo traveller you may laugh at my uncertainty because if you don’t want to be alone you never have to be! I spent the night exploring the streets of Berlin and finding nice restaurants and bars with the American girl who I was sharing a room with.
We were not too sure about where to go for dinner so we wandered around the area of the hostel and found a main street called Friedrichstraße. Here we found a nice restaurant called Gendarmerie that used to be a bank so it was very opulent inside with lots of impressive wall art!
After dinner we headed back further towards our hostel and went into a bar nearby called Mein Haus Am See (cool vibes, would definitely recommend)!
This is my final destination post in my South East Asia series and I really hope you will enjoy it!
We wanted to spend the last days of our adventure relaxing and soaking up the sunshine before heading back to Edinburgh for our Graduation celebrations. The planning process of this trip was so much fun but also a lot of work! Choosing our island destination was particularly challenging as there are so many beautiful islands around South East Asia! After reading blogs, checking instagram, Pinterest and speaking to people who had recently been to this island cemented the decision for us.
Not to put you off visiting this stunning, UNTOUCHED island but the journey getting to and from the island was not fun. We got a bus from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville with the company Virak Buntham Express. That was our first mistake… the company have 0 safety standards and the trip took 2 hours longer than it stated on the website. Unless you go in a super car you will not get from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville in 5 hours…EVER….it takes 7. Not even joking the bus driver was opening the doors at random times on the road and several times made passengers fear that we were going to crash!
So after the bus ride from hell we missed our prebooked ferry to the island (therefore I would not recommend booking in advance as there is a high chance you will miss it due to the roads and you can easily buy tickets there). Unfortunately the bus station was no where near the pier so we had to get a tuk tuk which was also not the safest ride, but we got to the pier in around 15 minutes. We managed to get a one way ticket (11 USD) as our return ticket should still have been valid. Finally we were able to relax on the ferry to the island which took around an hour.
We got off the ferry at Mipai Bay and checked into our first Airbnb called The Beach House . The accommodation was very basic and small for 3 people to share. There was one double bed and a small “bed” upstairs in the attic area that none of us really wanted to sleep in! However, the staff were lovely and the location was great for the beach (literally outside your door).
There are many beautiful bays around this small island so we wanted to make the most of our time by staying on 2 bays. Mipai Bay is definitely more authentic and has a very boho vibe. As soon as we checked in we headed straight to the beach to enjoy the crystal clear waters that everyone raves about. The beach did not disappoint! It was amazing and so warm! For dinner we got recommended a little restaurant by the sea that was supposed to serve amazing Red Snapper but they were so popular they had run out by the time we got there!
We still enjoyed a BBQ style dinner! As it was the 23rd of the month the islanders have a party that tourists are welcome to join! It was such a cool atmosphere!
For breakfast we headed out to the local cafes and picked one that had pancakes and fruit salads on the menu.
We got told by our host that the stretch of beach that’s a 10 minute walk away from the house was beautiful so we went there for the morning. I definitely enjoyed the beach a little too much that day as I got so badly sunburned (typical Scottish girl)!!
For lunch we checked out another little cafe called Lost and Found which instantly became out go to spot! It had homemade bread and WIFI!!!!
After a full day of relaxing we had a nice “family” dinner at our Airbnb with some of the other guests.
We had been so lucky with the weather up until this day on the island where all it did was rain….ALL DAYYYYYYY. It wasn’t too fun but made the most of it by playing card games and intense games of jenga at a bar! For dinner we went to Bong’s which was a really busy restaurant (with backpackers and expats) serving a variety of food.
It was a big day because we were excited to head to Saracen Bay and see another part of the island. We had breakfast at our favourite cafe, Lost and Found. We took a long tail boat for 6 USD over to Paradise Pier where our new accommodation was situated. Let’s just say that it was a traumatic experience sailing over to the next bay as it was an open roofed boat and we sailed through a thunder and lightening storm….not ideal!
After hauling our now soaking wet backpacks off the boat and onto the pier we headed to our new accommodation (Paradise Villas ). As it was still raining and we were still a bit early for check in, we did what everyone else was doing and stayed in the restaurant/bar area and played game!
It was actually a really cool atmosphere in there with the cushions on the floor etc. We also ate lunch at the restaurant which was very tasty (Khmer curry). When we got into our villa we were pleased as it was much bigger and cleaner than the last accommodation we were in!
When the rain finally stopped we headed straight outside our door and to the beach! This beach was the definitely the most beautiful beach we had ever seen, crystal blue waters and soft white sand. There were even 2 cool hammocks that were located just into the ocean!
Take into consideration that the Cambodian islands are a bit more expensive than the mainland
Day 5 and 6
After such an intense holiday we loved spending our last couple of days just chilling on the beach.
– Story time starts –
One of the reasons that we chose the island was that it was known for its GLOWING PLANKTON! When we arrived at the hotel we noticed that they were organising trips at night to see the plankton. We organised to go our 5th night and spoke to the guy who was in charge of the trip and he said we would only go if the weather was suitable. We came back at 8.30pm and the trip was supposed to be at 9pm to see if the weather was okay and the trip was happening, he said it was so we went to change into our bikinis. We were told to grab either a stand up paddle board or a kayak (even though I’d never used one before I close a paddle board, thought I’d give it a go). We paddled out into the ocean heading for a little long tail boat that apparently had snorkels on it so we could see the plankton. We got to the boat and the guide tied our boards to the boat and we swam to see the plankton, its so beautiful, we had never seen anything like it! But….things quickly took a turn for the worst when I could feel a current trying to pull me under the boat so I said to the girls and we all got back on the boat. As soon as we climbed aboard the rain was pouring down, the wind was strong and the thunder and lightening was just about to come! Long story short it turned into a bit of a horror story I’m afraid as there seemed to be 0 health and safety regulations or any way to communicate with anyone on shore! Buttttt we lived to tell the tale!!
– Story time ends –
I really hope you enjoyed reading about my rollercoaster experience on this island and have been clued up on the do’s and dont’s when you visit! It you are a beach bum this island is for you!
It feels bittersweet writing this post as this is the last in my South East Asia series! The trip was an experience of a lifetime with the best travel buddies and has only grown my desire for travel.
Welcome to the 6th blog post in my South East Asia series! Thank you for sticking with me, it’s a little crazy at the moment preparing for the move to Ibiza but here we go with the Phnom Penh post!
In my personal opinion, 2 days is enough in Phnom Penh. Before travelling to this city I had heard mixed reviews, to be honest we did not like it very much. However, if you are visiting Cambodia it is just as important as visiting the temples (if not more important) to visit the Killing Fields and Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh to learn more about the country’s tragic losses.
Again, we booked through Airbnb for our accommodation. We were actually booked into a hotel room but still through Airbnb which we thought was a nice surprise…. The hotel that we were staying in was called The Bridge and appeared to be very popular with Chinese business men and woman. Our experience at the hotel was not great to be honest. When we were checking in, the receptionist said that there had been a mistake and we were booked into a room for 2 people (not 3). They really were not very helpful and did not try hard to fix the situation. It was quite late when we arrived so decided a room with one bed was a lot better than no room at all (thankfully it was a HUGE bed…). As it was a hotel, breakfast was included. It was nice but had very limited choice…we had french toast everyday..…
On our first night in Phnom Penh we went to the Night Market and tried some street food. Some were better than others and the fried options were very heavy. It was a cool area though, full of locals just enjoying their evening.
Unfortunately, we did not feel safe in this city and sensed that from the first night. I mean don’t get me wrong we were fine, nothing happened…it just always felt slightly dodgy during the day and night.
The next day we wanted to explore as much of Phnom Penh as we could as we had planned to visit the Killing Fields the next day. We got a tuk tuk driver to drop us off in the centre so we could start sightseeing.
The tuk tuk drivers will 100% try to rip you off, so if you have been in Cambodia for a few days try to gage how much you are paying per journey. A 10 minute journey will usually cost 3 USD.
We were dropped off right outside the Royal Palace which is also home to the Silver Pagoda. Unfortunately when we arrived in the morning (around 10am) it was not yet open. So we took some pictures from the outside and moved on!
After doing a little research we knew that we wanted to see Wat Phnom which is set upon the only “hill” in the city. According to the locals, Wat Phnom was the first Buddhist temple created on this site and was built in 1373. It was discovered by Lady Penh who the city is named after. Many people visit this ancient site to wish for luck involving their business deals or exams (I guess it worked as we were over the moon with our degree results days later)!
For lunch we headed to Friends the Restaurant which supports and trains teenagers in hospitality who do not have the opportunity to attend school. IT WAS AMAZING!!!
After lunch we saw that there were stalls opposite that are related to the Friends company, so we went over for a bit of shopping.
We saw that the students were also doing beauty treatments such as nail painting and hairdressing. I left the girls to get their nails done and I went over to the other side of the road to get a NEEDEDKhmer massage.
Before heading back to the hotel to chill by the pool we stopped to look at the beautiful Buddhist temples along the way!
After the second breakfast of french toast we headed out the hotel to get our tuk tuk. We asked previously if the guy who took as from the bus station to our hotel the first night would also drive us to the Killing Fields and the Genocide Museum. We knew that this day would be distressing but nothing can quite prepare you for learning about the inhumanity of the Khmer Rouge.
We visited the Killing Fields first which is a little outside the city. The entrance was 6 USD which included an audio guide for in-depth information regarding the events that took place there. Afterwards, we drove to the S-21 Genocide Museum to find out about the lives of prisoners before they were taken to the Killing Fields. The entrance fee is 5 USD and an extra 3 USD for an audio guide.
After a long day we spent the evening enjoying the sky bar at our hotel before packing our backpacks again for our bus journey to Sihanoukville then onto Koh Rong Sanloem island!
If you are interested in my other posts about my time in South East Asia or the planning before, below are direct links to my previous posts!
After a couple of days in Kuala Lumpur (blog post in the link) we flew with VietJet to Hanoi (flight cost £40 each and lasted around 4 hours). Wow….what a place Hanoi was! It was nowhere like any of us had ever been before, so different from Europe! Hanoi has a beautiful blend of South East Asian, Chinese and French cultural influences. It’s one of the most ancient capital cities in the world filled with yummy street food, pagodas and temples that you can enjoy if you can survive the HECTIC Hanoi traffic!
Below I will give you a rundown of how we spent our 5 days in Hanoi.
We took some Vietnamese Dong out the ATM at the airport as we had to work out ANOTHER currency. Don’t be fooled…when it says on the screen withdraw 300.000 it’s only the equivalent of £10! Then we ordered a Grab car from the airport which was an hour to the Airbnb (again very cheap)
This Airbnb was particularly gorgeous!! For 3 students travelling around SE Asia on a budget….2 double bedrooms, 2 bathrooms with showers, 3 TVs, a living room space, big kitchen, washing machine AND balcony space overlooking the Red River…this was pure luxury! I have used Airbnb on….16 occasions now and have had on the whole very good experiences.
If you would like money off your first Airbnb use my personal code when booking!
Getting out the taxi we were immediately hit with an even more intense heat than we experienced in KL….bring back the wipes and no make up days….all part of travelling they say!
We were excited to get out and explore our new location so we ordered a Grab car to the Old Quarter (unless your accommodation is exactly in the Old Quarter then you cannot really walk into Hanoi centre as it’s not pedestrian friendly).
For dinner we decided again to try a place that all the locals seemed to like and we were not disappointed! We stumbled upon a restaurant called Bo Nuong for a BBQ style dinner that you cook yourself at the table! IT WAS AMAZING!!!! Do NOT wear your best dress…oil may splatter on you (you have been warned)! We also ordered the traditional Hanoi beer which made a very good combo.
After dinner we walked further into the centre which was cool because it had a real backpacker/touristy vibe. Although nothing was western about the seating arrangements….everywhere you went you sat either on the street or in a restaurant on these child sized plastic chairs!!! Good thing we were fairly small but good luck if you are 6’2! Despite the little chairs we managed to find a stall selling 20p beers and coconut ice cream with mango….so it was still a good night!
After breakfast we took a walk around Hoan Kiem Lake also known to the locals as Hồ Hoàn Gươm which means Lake of The Returned Sword. Legend has it that EmperorLe Loi was on the lake when a Green Turtle God surfaced and asked for his magical sword. After the Emperor had fought off the Chinese he returned the sword back to the Green Turtle God.
Whilst around the lake make sure to visit the beautiful 18th century Ngoc Son
As most of you know I’m a little Instagram obsessed right now but I think it’s such an easy way to find cool spots while travelling! So….after seeing this quirky cafe all over my feed for months we had to stop for a drink at The Note Coffee! I honestly don’t think I’ve been into a more aesthetically pleasing cafe it was just so damn cute. The staff were also lovely and were happy to give us tips of where else to visit during our stay in Hanoi which lead us to the best restaurant in town but more about that later!
Order a speciality egg coffee, keep the note you were gifted and write one for the next visitor.
This was a good egg coffee in such a cute little place….BUT….. according to the locals the best egg coffee is done properly when there is a thick creamy topping with very bitter black coffee underneath. We were on a food tour and our guide stated that egg coffee is like love….”sweet at the start and bitter at the end”...I will leave you with that thought!
After consuming our speciality coffees we had the best time taking the classic touristy shots on the tracks at Hanoi Train Street. People are literally all over the tracks taking pictures…drinking coffee…socialising…it’s a cool place, go see for yourself!
For lunch we tried one of the places that the staff in The Note Coffee recommended for the best Bun Cha in town. It did not disappoint (despite the tiny chairs AGAIN)!! Bun Cha is another traditional dish in Vietnam and is essentially noodles in a broth with meatballs, pork and mint leaves served with salad. You will find the restaurant by googling Nha Hang Bun Cha Dac Kim, Xin Thong BAO (not sure if its the name…the street or both).
Like I mentioned briefly we went on a street food tour at night which we booked through Airbnb. It was AMAZING! The company was called Local Vietnam Tours and cost £21 (so worth it). Our guide Dung was super friendly and made sure that we all had a fantastic time sampling the best of Vietnamese cuisine.
After speaking to our guide Dung on the food tour he convinced us to spend a day enjoying his hometown of Ninh Binh which used to be the ancient capital of Vietnam. We would definitely have missed out on something very special if we did not go on a tour here. We booked through the same company (Local Vietnam Tours) for £26 and the tour lasted all day and included lunch. What an incredible time we had on this tour but it was INTENSE! The drive to Ninh Binh was 3 hours from Hanoi and on the way to guide explained some more about the history of the Provence and our schedule for the day.
I have never been so exhausted as I was at the end of that day (don’t let this put you off it’s just a little warning). We started the day by taking a boat trip down the river then we went for a buffet lunch. After lunch it was all systems go again and we cycled (in 35 degrees heat with 1000000% humidity) around the rice fields before hiking up to some beautiful ancient temples. So yeah….it was a little tiring….and hot…very hot!
When we got back to Hanoi it wasn’t too late so we went around the Night Markets to pick up some authentic souvenirs such as handmade jewellery and bookmarks.
You can’t visit Vietnam without visiting Ha Long Bay and that’s what we did on our fourth day! We booked the tour through Charming Vietnam Travel which we found on TripAdvisor….but you can book through their own website for cheaper (£27).
Translated Ha Long means “descending dragon” because the legend states that the at the beginning of the country’s history Emperor Jade sent a mother dragon to help fight off the invaders wanting to take over the country. Ha Long Bay is supposedly where the mother dragon descended to protect the Vietnamese from the invading ships and she liked the peaceful bay so much she decided to make it her home.
Being out on the water with the cruise you definitely get the sense of mystic and magic that this beautiful place holds. During the 1 day cruise you get a buffet lunch onboard, visit the caves within the limestone rocks and get the chance to kayak in the emerald green waters.
Overall we did enjoy this trip but it is every bit as busy and touristy as you would expect. In my personal opinion it is still a MUST DO!
Wanting to squeeze in as much as we could during our time in Hanoi before our flight we still managed to fit in the Prison museum and grab one last Vietnamese iced coffee (bitter coffee with condensed milk).
I hope you have enjoyed reading about what we got up to in Hanoi! As always, any questions/advice please contact me via wordpress, email, twitter or facebook using the links at the top of my blog homepage!
Stay tuned for the next post about Siem Reap and the temples!
This is my 2nd blog post in the Croatia Series, if you haven’t checked out the 1st click here!
After the first week staying in Labin we journeyed further South of Croatia to Zadar. The drive from Labin was roughly 4 hours so we decided to stop in a pretty town called Opatija .
This town was a luxury travel destination in the 19th century and is scattered with incredible old villas that are now mostly hotels! We didn’t spend long in Opatija but did manage to grab an ice cream and walk along the Lungomare promenade.
I would love to book a night in one of the historic hotels in town!
Zadar is a must see place when travelling Croatia! The city is 3000 years old and has something amazing to see around every corner.
We stayed in our 6th Airbnb and it was definitely one of the best so far! Maya’s Studio Room was perfect for our 2 night stay in Zadar. It had private parking and an amazing air conditioner that we couldn’t have survived without!
If you would like £25 off your first Airbnb stay use my personal link when booking.
Explore By Day
During daylight hours Zadar is full of impressive sights and monuments to discover!
This is one of the most unique attractions in this interesting city. The Sea Organ looks like steps leading into the ocean! Within the steps are chambers that control how the water and air get in to create a unique sound from the waves.
Saint Donatus Church
This unusual church was built in the 9th century and is the symbol of Zadar city.
Saint Anastasia’s Cathedral
If you have time visit the largest cathedral in Dalmatia!
We enjoyed swimming and relaxing at the small beaches near our Airbnb the most.
There are many beaches around the city but the main ones like Borik get very crowded! If we had another day in Zadar we would have travelled to Nin to spend the day on the beautiful sandy beaches there.
Just before the day comes to an end, grab a blanket….maybe even a bottle of wine and enjoy what is said to be the “most beautiful sunset in the world”.
Explore By Night
Zadar has so much to offer in terms of nightlife – cool clubs, chilled cocktail bars and even an open-air dance floor in the middle of the city.
Again, I am referring back to the entrance of the city, but it really is beautiful to see it illuminated at night!
Lounge & Bar Ledana
This place is AWESOME it’s like walking into an enchanted forest! It’s surrounded by trees and colourfully lit water features.
This was one of our FAVOURITE places we found during the whole holiday. It has such a cool vibe and plays the kind of remixes that make you want to dance the all night!
Good DJ + Extensive Cocktail Menu = My Kind of Night!
Greetings To The Sun
Visit this Zadar attraction at night to watch the ground light up beneath your feet! This monument is dedicated to the Sun and consists of solar plates that absorb the Sun’s energy, to create a unique light display at night.
I have just got back from an incredible 10 day holiday to Algarve in Portugal! Our accommodation was owned by Villa Plus and was situated just outside Guia (the home of Piri Piri chicken…). The nearest town to the villa was Albufeira which is one of the most popular and lively resorts in Algarve. It was my first time in Portugal and it definitely did not disappoint. Aside from the postcard perfect coastline Algarve was home to friendly locals, an extensive choice of cuisines, lively bars and very unique clothing shops.
To ensure that this blog post doesn’t take up too much of your time to check out I will highlight my favourite places and experiences of my time in Portugal. I hope you enjoy reading!
During our first couple of days we explored the stunning Algarve coastline and found our favourite cove, that we became frequent inhabitants of during our time there. We drove to Galé beach and enjoyed the beach side restaurant for lunch. The location could not be more perfect, overlooking the waves and allowing customers to admire the unusual rock formations that makes the Algarve so unique. In particular the salads and toasties were firm favourites here…as well as the milkshakes! After lunch we continued onto the beach and further along to the next cove along as it was even more secluded.
Our villa was situated just outside Guia so it was an ideal place to go for a bite to eat without driving too far. As well as being the home of Piri Piri chicken, Guia is also home to Sir Cliff Richards vineyard – Adega do Cantor.
Adega do Cantor
We went on a pre-booked vineyard tour (10 euros per person) in the second week of the holiday. It lasted around 2 hours and went into enough detail without making people want to crack open the wine bottles early…
Dining in Guia
This was a very traditional Portuguese restaurant that was clearly very popular with local families. If you dine here you will definitely get a...unique dining experience. We loved it – best Piri Piri chicken we had ever tasted… sorry Nando’s! The waiter emphasised how much we wanted to order the chicken (that always came with a tomato salad and chips) by saying how long the steak took to cook. So…yeah..order the chicken.
This is where I had my second favourite meal of the holiday. From start to finish it was flawless. From the outside the restaurant looked empty but when we went inside they just managed to fit us in (definitely one to book) . This family run restaurant had the friendliest staff and amazing food. If you are a fish lover go for the monk fish medallions, they are served in a orange and ginger sauce – you’ll love it. Also if you have the second stomach for dessert like myself you must try the crepe drizzled with orange and Cointreau sauce served with your choice of ice cream.
We also did a lot of exploring of the Old Town in Albufeira, this was my favourite place. During the day it was a relaxing place to wonder in and out of the shops and restaurants. Also if you fancied a post-cocktail swim there is a lovely beach in the Old Town that you accessed through a beautiful tunnel carved into the rocks. There were also a good amount of sunbeds you could hire at the beach (10 euros per day) or you could bring your own towels and pick a spot. At night the Old Town came alive, it’s buzzing with energy and loaded with atmosphere! There are so many restaurants and bars to choose from here and by the time the clock strikes 9pm they are pretty much all full.
Dining in the Old Town
As I mentioned previously you are spoilt for choice in terms of wining and dining in the Old Town. I’m a major foodie and I have to say every single meal we had in Portugal was amazing…but of course I had my favourites.
The Beach Basket
This was the restaurant that I knew I wanted to dine in before the end of the holiday. It was situated in the most perfect location upon the high rocks overlooking the beach. The meal did not disappoint , the food, staff, view and atmosphere were all incredible. We booked the table closest to the window (that was wide open during our meal) for 8:30pm to ensure that we get to enjoy the sunset over the sea. The restaurant was busy with locals as well as some tourists and had a quirky interior. Every person loved their meal, especially the people who ordered the Portuguese steak (the sauce itself was amazing). All in all it was a great find!
Downtown is a chain of restaurants and there were 3 different Downtowns in the Old Town. There was the Sunset Beach Club which was great for a pre-meal drink as it offers a fantastic view of the sea as well as being furnished with probably the most comfortable chairs on the island! We also dined at the largest Downtown right in the centre square of The Old Town. It had a very extensive and varied menu from pasta dishes to steaks and fish. I would highly recommend the gnocchi to any pasta lover, it was very good…only made better by me totally intentionally spilling my glass of white wine over it half way through…
The New Town
This is the liveliest part of the resort which is also called “The Strip”. Like all “Strips” it is home to an extensive range of bars and nightclubs. Top tip… if you want to enjoy the biggest clubs such as Kiss and Libertos don’t go out until at least midnight or you will be in for a very expensive night. The clubs don’t get busy until 4am…. Also if you want to dodge the drunken Brits doing karaoke avoid the bars at the very start of the strip…we made that mistake once!
Albufeira Riding Centre
If anyone visiting Algarve is as addicted to riding as I am this riding school is well worth a visit. They cater for all riding abilities and have longer and shorter rides on offer. I went for an advanced ride for 2 hours (50 euros) and it was one of my favourite riding experiences. There were lots of places to canter as well as take in the beautiful Portuguese countryside. I fell in love with a horse called Sam…
The marina in Albufeira was a great place to go for a drink and admire your dream yachts of course. It was also a good place to book excursions around Algarve.
Dolphins and Caves Tour
This was definitely the highlight of the holiday for everyone, it exceeded everyone’s already high expectations. The tour was 2.5 hours and was in a fast rib boat that took us into the middle of the ocean in hopes of spotting some dolphins. The staff made it clear at the start that obviously the dolphins are wild so we may not see any…but we were very lucky. The rib had a tracking device that tracks fisherman’s boats because apparently the dolphins follow these boats in hopes of getting easy food. They were not wrong, we found 2 very playful dolphins that I just about managed to capture on camera!
After our time watching the dolphins the rib took us towards the shore again to look at the famous Benagil Caves, they were stunning.
In conclusion, visit Algarve. It will offer something that even the fussiest family member or friend will enjoy!
This summer I travelled to the liveliest part of Lanzarote, Puerto Del Carmen and had an incredible time! If you love a safe, friendly holiday destination with year long sunshine then Lanzarote should be high up on your bucket list.
I found some amazing places to sample the local cuisine and sweet treats, swam with the fish at the Playa Chica cove, watched the sunset over the marina at Puerto Calero, discovered the blue lagoon at Los Jameos del Agua, teared up the track at San Bartolomé and partied at a cool music bar in the Old Harbour.
Eat, Eat and Eat again
Lanzarote is a Canary Island off the coast of West Africa and administered by Spain. Therefore the authentic food on the island in Spanish. Don’t get me wrong there are hundreds of Chinese, British, American, Italian and Indian restaurants on the island but the Spanish cuisine is one to try if you are in the mood for something different.
My favourite meal on that holiday was at a beautiful restaurant suitable for Al fresco dining in the Old Harbour looking out at the ocean. Puerto Bahia was the perfect choice for a romantic and delicious meal. It serves traditional Spanish food as well as a lot of fish dishes. If you are a prawn fan the sizzling garlic prawn starter is a must! As well as being in a picture perfect location the food is very reasonably priced for that area.
To make the night even more perfect the staff provide you with cosy blankets to wrap around your shoulders if the open fire lanterns are not enough to fight the fresh sea breeze.
The Buddha Bar & La Taberna del Puerto
If you fancy getting active as well as experiencing breathtaking ocean views walk from Puerto Del Carmen to Puerto Calero. This walk start from the chained stairway in the Old Harbour and journeys along the waters edge to Puerto Calero. One tip….do NOT believe the locals when they say it will take 20 minutes, it will take at least an hour, especially if it’s a really warm day.
While in Puerto Calero have a cocktail at the Buddha Bar and admire the luxurious boats docked in the marina. If you are peckish after your walk then head to La Taberna del Puerto and order paella dish (perfect for sharing). The paella from here is honestly the best I have ever had so don’t miss out!
Grand Creperie Orient Express
I want to give this little crepe stand a very special mention! While we were in the Old Harbour we visited this stand 3 times (once at 11pm!). These are most probably the largest, cheapest and most delicious crepes on the island (only 3 euros!!) The Nutella and Banana crepe is a must have for any fellow chocolate lover!
You will never be bored in Lanzarote…
There are so many activities and attractions to enjoy on this island for all ages. Whether you like to chill out at one of the attractive coves or have an adrenaline rush on the jet skis you will never have a dull moment!
If you like the sound of flying over the waves then jet skiing is the activity for you to try. Book your jet ski experience at Playa Chica and prepare to have the time of your life. For a single jet ski it will cost 5o euros and 60 euros for a double jet ski.
Pretend your an F1 driver and race around the challenging circuit at San Bartolomé. This is a great way to spend a couple of hours away from the beaches and crowds. You cannot walk to this place from Puerto Del Carmen but you could travel by car or there are organised busses from central locations.
Party the night away in Puerto Del Carmen
Okay so Lanzarote is definitely not a “clubbing holiday” destination but that does NOT mean that you can’t have a fun night out! The Old Harbour and the main strip is packed of live music bars. If you want a proper night club venue head to Centro Atlantico for dance floors and cheap cocktail deals! (They honestly do buy 1 cocktail and get 3 free…) 😉
Los Jameos del Agua
Finally before you leave this fabulous island take a trip to the blue lagoon and caves at Los Jameos del Agua. This movie background/James Bond like piece of art was created by Cesar Manrique who has various other pieces of artwork around the island. When you visit this magical place you will journey down the stone steps and be welcomed by a shimmering lagoon. As you walk past the lagoon you will see tourists enjoy a snack and a drink at the unique cavern bar. Before you leave this wondrous place you will be directed through an exhibition about volcanoes and the island.
After reading this post I hope you visit Lanzarote and enjoy it’s unique charms like I did…