“It is the city of mirrors, the city of mirages, at once solid and liquid, at once air and stone.” Erica Jon
If you’ve read my blog before, you’ll know that we like to visit our favourite European cities in the quieter times of the year, during school term time and often during the colder months. If you are able to travel during these times – and you don’t mind some winter weather – you will discover a very different side to these beautiful and historical cities. In my first post about Venice, here, I talked about how it is perfectly possible to wander the canals and bridges without encountering crowds (and sometimes find yourself completely alone at night!). You just need to know the best times to travel and where to stay.
This month, my partner chose his Birthday weekend to visit Venice again (we needed an excuse to go back as we were having withdrawal symptoms 😆). This trip was all about relaxing, taking strolls around the city, and dining in fantastic restaurants. Of course with some Opera thrown in!
Read on to discover some more of my recommendations for this spectacular city..
It’s a cold, dark day in Amsterdam… the Christmas lights have been put up on our street, the clocks have gone back, the rain is lashing against the windows as I write. Hard to imagine that three days ago I was bathed in the warm Autumn sunshine of Barcelona, strolling down the Passeig de Gracia, popping into shops and stopping for delicious tapas!
There’s always something going on in Barcelona, and of course, you can’t look at the news without hearing about the Catalonia “crisis”, and the current political turmoil in this beautiful city. On Sunday, the streets were full of pro-Spanish unity supporters, draped in flags, peacefully (at least to my eyes) having their say. We walked among them, quietly observing, acutely aware that an important and decisive part of this country’s history was unfolding around us, whatever happens next.
All in all, it was an interesting time to be visiting one of my favourite cities! I recommend October as a great time to visit – the weather is still glorious, but the city is a lot less crowded. The daytime temperature is in the early 20’s (c) – a lot more comfortable than it can be in the height of summer, with cooler evenings.
Read on to discover my hotel and dining highlights and recommendations from this trip…
“My heart remembers fountains where children played…
Gardens where dreams were made”
Of all the times to visit this magnificent city, Autumn is probably my favourite. The first time I visited Rome was at this time of year, and we have travelled there each October since (as well as summer and winter, of course 😊). For warm sunny weather (around 23/24°C) with fewer crowds, October in Rome is hard to beat. Tony Bennett (and Andy Williams and Peggy Lee….) felt the need to sing about it, and it’s easy to see why.
Read on to discover some more of my recommendations and dining highlights. Don’t forget to check out my previous Rome posts for more ideas and inspiration..
In my last post about this stunning island, here, I wrote about the luxurious Sheraton Salobre resort in the South of Gran Canaria. If you want to try somewhere completely different (but still with a dose of luxury!) – this is it! It’s a 4* resort in the Northwestern part of Gran Canaria, in Agaete. Close to the fishing town of Puerto de Las Nieves, with stunning views across the Northern coastline of the island.
When I was 19, around £200 each bought us a week, self catering, including flights (!) to the island of Fuerteventura in the Canaries. We were met at the airport by a tour operator, crammed onto a coach with mostly retired couples, and dumped outside the resort, which was located basically in the middle of no-where, surrounded by sand dunes. I remember the weather veering between hot and windy to very cool and overcast. The island was pretty much a building site. It didn’t matter, as it was still an incredible adventure for a teenager, 1000’s of miles away from home.
Most British people will also have memories of holidays to the Canaries in your teens, excitedly looking through travel brochures (yes, actual brochures!) in Thomas Cook on your local High Street. Or your first thoughts may be the tourist trap resorts of Playa de las Américas or Playa des Ingles, choc full of British tourists and their kids grabbing a cheap package holiday in the sun.
Fast forward a few years (maybe more than a few 😆), and I have returned to the Island of Gran Canaria several times over the past two years. I was pleasantly surprised to find how much the island has developed and matured, and it’s now one of my go to places for a luxury poolside holiday. We steer clear of the crowded beach resorts, and head further into the hills, finding beautiful and luxurious resorts to enjoy spectacular food, decadent relaxation and – if you can tear yourself away from the pool – incredible hiking trails. This is Gran Canaria for grown ups! Read on for my recommendations and reviews of this beautiful island paradise (unfortunately you’ll need a bit more than £200 these days 😉)
Coffee & bagels, a picture perfect lighthouse & a secret beach
If you’ve read my previous posts about the stunning “Garden Island” of Kauai, you’ll know that its definitely my favourite of the Hawaiian Islands (so far!), and that I can’t recommend it enough as a magical and idyllic escape.. especially during the winter months.
Continuing my journey around the island, I thought I’d write a bit about one of my favourite ways to spend a morning on the North Shore. What could be better than perfect coffee and bagels, a spot of shopping, clifftop views, then sunbathing on a beautiful secluded beach? You can tell I’m getting excited for my next visit in December!
“We invite you to escape the ordinary; to leave the byways of man and immerse yourself in the wilderness grandeur of the Garden Isle. Only by exploring its natural wonders can you truly capture the meaning of this
Jack and Bev Harter
Everything but the doors! An open helicopter experience with Jack Harter
As I mentioned at the end of my previous Kauai post, In a land called Hanalei, if you are at all uncomfortable with heights, this will be challenging!That would be me!🙋 Put a tarantula on my hand, a snake round my neck, or a torch on my head and send me underground and I’m fine. I also love flying.. but I am not good with heights – especially cliff tops, or huge expanses.
That being said, in my opinion, seeing Kauai from the air is a must do in order to fully appreciate the island – just find the most comfortable way for you – whether by plane or helicopter.
I’m glad to say I lived to tell the tale of the helicopter with no doors! And here it is…