Where in the world? 

Every destination is different.  Each place I have visited has its own personal touch that makes it unique. That is why I love to travel- to explore the vast amount of great spots this world has to offer. Here is just a little insight into where you should visit for…

SIGHTS 

VENICE, ITALY 

Venice is famous for a lot of things, but none more so than its famous canals, glorious gondalas and enchanting islands, like Burano (pictured above). Everywhere you turn a different story presents itself and you could spend hours exploring the hidden alleyways and secret paths through the watery city. 

 A PARTY 

PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC 

Prague is home to some of the best nightlife in central Europe. It’s young, beautiful and lively crowd thrives to have a good time on every day of the week. Part of the reason for the incredible nightlife is due to the beer. Prague is well-known for it’s affordable and tasty home-brewed beer, which is a why people come here from all over the world. Whether you like to dance to techno at huge clubs, meet some people at a dive bar, or casually sip on a beer in a beer garden– Prague is your city!

SHOPPING 

NEW YORK, USA

When it comes to shopping, New York really is the capital. In New York, you’ll find many of the best department stores in the world, including Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s, as well as numerous Fifth Avenue boutique shops. You’ll also find iconic NYC specialty shops like Saks Fifth Avenue, fun open air markets like the Green Flea Market, and famous NYC toy stores. The city also offers many ‘out of town’ shopping villages including the fantastic Woodbury Common. 

GREAT FOOD 

ITALY 

Wherever you visit in Italy, the exquisite cuisine follows you around. Whether it’s pasta, pizza or a combination of both, the Italians sure know how to cook a memorable meal. Italian cuisine is characterised by its simplicity, with many dishes having only two to four main ingredients. Italian cooks rely chiefly on the quality of the ingredients rather than on elaborate preparation. Ingredients and dishes vary by region. Many dishes that were once regional, have proliferated with variations throughout the country.

ROMANCE 

BUDAPEST 

Not only known for being the economic, cultural and historic capital of Hungary, Budapest is becoming more associated with being one of the most romantic destinations for couples. Its romanticism has always been associated with the Danube river which divides Buda and Pest. Possible things to do as a couple include a romantic boat tour, a trip to the thermal baths, skating on Europe’s largest ice rink or a spectacular view overlooking the city from the top of Buda castle and the Fisherman’s Bastion. 

GREAT BEACHES 

AUSTRALIA 

Australia is home to some of the best beaches in the world. From sheltered bays to busy surf beaches, Australia has it all. 5 of the most popular beaches are: Whitehaven beach (Whitsunday Island), Surfer’s Paradise beach,  Noosa main beach, Manly beach (Sydney) and Turquoise Bay (Exmouth) . My personal favourites are Noosa beach and Palm Beach (north of Sydney). 
HISTORY 

ROME, ITALY 

Rome, Italy’s capital, is a sprawling, cosmopolitan city with nearly 3,000 years of globally influential art, architecture and culture on display. Ancient ruins such as the Forum and the Colosseum evoke the power of the former Roman Empire. Vatican City, headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church, has St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums, which house masterpieces such as Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel frescoes.

ADVENTURE 

MARRAKESH, MOROCCO 

Marrakesh has always been something of a marketplace where tribesmen and Berber villagers bring their goods, spend their money and find entertainment. At its heart is the Jemaa el Fna, an open space in the centre of the city, and the stage for a long-established ritual in which shifting circles of onlookers gather round groups of acrobats, drummers, pipe musicians, dancers, storytellers, comedians and fairground acts. The city’s architectural attractions are no less compelling: the magnificent ruin of the El Badi Palace, the delicate carving of the Saadian Tombs and, above all, the Koutoubia Minaret, the most perfect Islamic monument in North Africa.

THE FUTURE 

DUBAI, UAE 

Dubai has to be the biggest and best at everything and it is fascinating to see from the top of the Burj Khalifa how secluded Dubai is in the centre of the Arabian desert, but also how far it has come in the last generation. The ambition is clear to see and it is exhilarating to imagine how advanced Dubai will be in another ten years. Famed for having the tallest building, largest man made marina and largest shopping mall in the world, the aspirations are clear to everyone. 

RELAX 

SANTORINI 


The sheltered Greek island of Santorini offers surprises at every corner. Blue and white sugar cube buildings shine across a backdrop of spectacular views and sunsets over the caldera, which help paint Santorini as one of the most luxurious resorts on the planet. 

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48 hours in… Barcelona 

Barcelona has become one of the world’s greatest destinations with a formidable cultural landscape, stunning art nouveau architecture, an electric nightlife scene and an envious football team. The quirky districts set Barcelona apart from its European counterparts, as Gaudi’s influence is present throughout the distinguishing city. 


DAY 1:

Following a cheap budget flight from the UK costing as little as £20 with EasyJet or Ryanair, the easiest way to VOYAGE to the city centre is by train and the RENFE train service takes around half an hour. 

We stayed in the Gràcia neighbourhood, once a Spanish village, in a great location nearby to Park Güell. Residencia Erasmus Gràcia is a cross between a hostel and a hotel, but provides extremely cheap, clean and spacious rooms. We thought it was a fantastic find in order to RELAX and placed us close to various amenities in a homely neighbourhood. 

Park Güell is the perfect place to have an ADVENTURE and was first on our attractions to visit. With urbanization in mind, Eusebi Güell assigned the design of the park to Antoni Gaudí, a renowned architect and the face of Catalan modernism. The park was built between 1900 and 1914 and was officially opened as a public park in 1926. 

Gaudi’s unfinished masterpiece, the Sagrada Familia is due to be completed in 2026- 100 years after Gaudi’s death! It is a must see in Barcelona, representing his greatest achievement. LEARN about the stupendous temple which occupied his last 12 years- perfect for an afternoon trip as the sun starts to settle down. 

In the evening, bar hopping reveals the true extent of how enchanting the Gràcia district is- we found a lovely bar called St Germain. I would definitely recommend to TASTE the hand crafted mojitos. 

DAY 2:

Camp Nou is the home stadium of FC Barcelona since its completion in 1957. With a seating capacity of 99,354, it is the largest stadium in Spain and Europe, and the second largest association football stadium in the world in terms of capacity. Even if you aren’t the biggest football fan, this is a must see whilst in Barcelona and is a perfect trip for a morning; it is accessible via the metro and takes around half an hour from Barcelona city centre. 

EXPLORE the beautiful medieval quarter in the afternoon. The Barri Gotic features narrow streets and cool fountains. 

The busy central square of Plaza Catalunya is the northern end of the famous Las Ramblas, the wide pedestrianised tree lined avenue that is the beating heart of the city. 

With everything else Barcelona has to offer, it’s easy to forget the city’s port in the Barceloneta area, but it is arguably the best urban beach in the Mediterranean. The port has expanded in the last 10 years to accommodate the tourists and features numerous bars and restaurants, whilst the elemental process of boats unloading cargo and the mysteries of the fish auctions remain unaltered. The perfect way to end a 2 day whistlestop tour of Barcelona, by watching the sun set over the picturesque port. 

Bondi to Brisbane: An east coast Australian tour 

My 3 week trip to Australia encompassed some of the best sights on the east coast- a truly once in a lifetime experience for a Brit, following a gruelling 24 hour flight. However, it is truly worth it in order to immerse yourself in the Australian adventure. 

BRISBANE:


My journey started in Brisbane, following a brief 4 hour pit stop in Singapore. The expensive flight didn’t particularly feel like value for money, but I curbed costs on accommodation down under by staying with a friend and touring hostels and camping. 

Brisbane is the capital of Queensland and feels very cosmopolitan, attracting visitors from around the globe all year round. Having visited in late September, the climate was a pleasant 20-25 degrees and perfect for enjoying the flourishing cultural scene with trendy bars, restaurants and cafes catering for everyone. The friendly locals make you feel instantly at home in Australia’s third largest city and is a fantastic base for exploring the rest of the east coast. 

NOOSA: 



Just under a 2 hour trip from Brisbane takes you to north to the Sunshine Coast with beach towns, surf spots and rural wildlife. A Greyhound bus would be an economic and affordable way of approaching the many towns alongside the coast, but we opted for hiring a car to take in the sights. 

In particular, Noosa is one of the most fashionable resort towns in Australia with crystal clear waters. Noosa is etched in my memory as an upmarket destination with designer boutiques, beach bods, exquisite restaurants and lakeside villas for the most affluent. 

We stayed in Nomads Noosa, backpacker accommodation located in the heart of Noosa with dorms starting from around £10. The Nomads brand continues with accommodation in various locations along the east coast. 

RAINBOW BEACH:


Although we visited Rainbow Beach (90 minutes north of Noosa) on a rather dull day, its endearing qualities still shone through. Take a walk to the Carlo Sand Blow with picturesque postcard views and explore the natural beauty of the rainbow shores and coloured sands. 

If you have time, take the vehicle barge from Inskip Point to visit Fraser Island to discover a place of exceptional beauty (sadly time restrictions prevented us from doing this). 


TIN CAN BAY:

Only half an hour away from Rainbow Beach is Tin Can Bay, a peaceful seaside town with safe beaches and calm waters perfect for tourists. 


One of the biggest attractions to Tin Can Bay is being able to feed Indo-Pacific dolphins in their natural environment. The dolphins come in to Norman Point boat ramp most days between 7-7.30am to be hand fed and offer a great encounter with the wild species. 



SURFERS PARADISE: 

A u-turn back towards Brisbane, then further south lands you in Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast. Surfers Paradise truly lives up to its name and is perfect for either a day trip or weekend break. I would recommend the glitter strip, which runs alongside the famous Surfers Paradise sign. Also with over 70km of beach, it’s almost certain that you will find your own slice of paradise here. 

SYDNEY:


Sydney is Australia’s most populous city and the capital of New South Wales. From Brisbane the city can be reached by plane in 1 hour 30 minutes and can cost around £80 with Jetstar and other Australian economy airlines. 


From the Sydney Opera House to the Harbour Bridge and beautiful beaches, Sydney has it all for every type of traveller. No matter how many times you see it in pictures, the famous opera house really does take your breath away when you first set your eyes upon it. 


We stayed in the Sydney backpackers hostel , located in the heart of the central business district, within walking distance of many tourist sights, including Darling Harbour.


The harbour boasts a splendid waterside location in the heart of Sydney with some marvellous attractions such as an aquarium and great dining options. Within the area, Cockle Bay and King Street Wharf offer modern nightclubs, wine bars and bistros serving fine food and delicious cocktails.

The Rocks is where the story of modern Sydney began. Discover the city’s past along historic lanes and cobblestone streets and relax in historic pubs, whilst admiring some of Australia’s oldest architecture. 

MANLY/BONDI BEACH:


Bondi beach is Sydney’s most famous beach where you can stroll across the promenade and grab some fish and chips like the locals. It is located 4 miles east of Sydney’s CBD. 

 

Conversely, Manly beach can be reached by ferry from Sydney’s main ferry terminal at Circular Quay, taking approximately 30 minutes. The ferry trip is the best part, as you get to see the extent of Sydney right out to the headlands. 


PALM BEACH: 

Perhaps one can only truly appreciate this beach if they have ever been a fan of Australian soap Home and Away. Nevertheless, Palm Beach (or Summer Bay as it is known to soap fans) is a stunning location 41km north of Sydney. At the foot of the beach is Barronjoey Lighthouse, often seen in the background of scenes on the famous soap. When I visited the set I was amazed to see the longest serving actor on the soap, Ray Meagher (Alf Stewart) casually filming a scene whilst the remainder of the beach stayed open for tourists.


As seen from the above pictures, the weather was very hit and miss during my September trip touring Australia, but it was undoubtedly the trip of a lifetime and enlightening to see the laid back Australian way of life. 

Top Winter City Breaks

It might still be summer, but now is the time to start thinking about your next getaway to beat the bitter blues and make the most of the coldest season of the year. Whether it’s a romantic trip through a snowy Central Park, warming up in Budapest’s thermal baths or walking through a Parisian Christmas market, there is so much to embrace, even on the shortest days of the year. 

1. NEW YORK 

New York is a destination which is magical any time of the year, but having visited in both summer and winter I believe it comes into its own in the latter season. The sky is electric blue and when it snows the streets and parks are covered in a serene white layer, which continue to glisten in the department store windows- especially when the Christmas lights are glowing. 

A trip in a horse and carriage covered by a cosy blanket is at the top of many lists, especially when you’re lucky enough to see a snow covered Central Park. Prices may vary and often charge by the minute, so make sure you agree a set time as they may try to keep on going to charge you more. 

The snow filled streets decorated for the festive season bring back memories of childhood Christmas films- take a walk up to Rockefeller centre which remains illuminated long after Christmas. 

January seems to be one of the cheapest times to visit New York, as the Christmas/New Year tourists have been and gone and people seem short of money. Furthermore, due to the severely heavy snowfalls New York can face there is a risk that you may not be able to fly, hence the cheaper flight prices. However, if you are lucky this can work out for the best as we visited approximately a week after the heavy snowfall in 2016 with the snow still frozen on the ground creating a magical experience. 

If travelling before Christmas, make sure you take a trip to a shopping outlet. We visited Woodbury Common which had more than 220 stores including Armani, Converse, Yankee Candle and Calvin Klein. The stores had some fantastic offers which make great Christmas presents. 

2. BUDAPEST

Budapest in Winter is beautiful. When the sun is shining over the frozen Danube river, separating Buda and Pest, it is a breathtaking sight to behold- especially when viewing from the top of Budapest castle. 

Take a trip to the largest ice rink in Europe situated near Heroe’s Square which is often stated in many tourist guides as one of the best winter activities to do in Europe. Opening times vary through the winter months. 
After a frosty skating trip, try the nearby world renound thermal baths to warm up.  Szechenyi Baths (built in 1913) is the most visited and much praised attraction in Budapest: relaxing, fun, affordable and, at night, romantic. In addition to the marvelous medicinal natural hot spring waters in the 18 pools, there are 10 saunas / steam cabins, several massage therapies, facial treatments, and more.

In the evening, take a trip to one of Budapest’s many hip bars and clubs. A fine start would be the Ice Bar, appropriately set to -5 degrees all year round. Following this, a trip to one of the well known ruin pubs where the atmosphere is laid back, the design is a mixture of old and modern, and where everybody seems to be having a blast. 

3. PARIS 

Naturally, Paris is popular all year round, but it especially stands out during the festive season as the designer stores along the Champs Elysées become tastefully decorated and Christmas markets pop up- usually starting in the first week of December.

The Christmas markets sparkle with lights and fill the air with the scents of cloves, soaps and mulled wine. Small wooden booths fill the streets with the sights and sounds of the Christmas season and are great places for finding gifts you can’t get anywhere else, often from local producers and artisans. 

Before taking a river cruise at night, we sat along a typically French cafe facing the river drinking a warming glass of mulled wine. There’s nothing more magical than taking in the crisp air along the river Seine looking at the grand buildings in the clear winter light. When the summer tourists are gone, you feel the city is your own.

Eurostar fares remain cheap in the winter months- especially mid week where a single trip to Paris from St Pancras can cost as little as £30-£35 with no hastle. 

Paris is another city I have visited in both summer and winter but it seems to take on a different dimension once winter arrives. 



4. BERLIN

In a similar vein to Paris, the German capital offers beautiful Christmas markets packed with Glühwein and Bratwursts. 

However, this is a grey and typically unbeautiful city crammed with history and ghosts, and the chill of winter provides an atmospheric backdrop for dipping in and out of the enlightening museums exploring its past, and warming up with coffee and cake in between.

Flights from budget airlines such as Ryanair and EasyJet start from as little as £20 and if you plan your trip right you can get return flights and a hotel for around £100 per person. 

5. KRAKOW 

Krakow also offers very cheap flights and accommodation prices reflect the lack of tourists in the winter months.

Even though the city can appear very secluded and abandoned, the centre is illuminated with huge baubles and blinking chains which make the Krakow nights brighter. 

The main square remains quiet, however the quaint bars remain frequented by the locals and provide a cosy atmosphere for warming up after spending the day in temperatures of up to -10 degrees. 

Although a harrowing experience, a visit to Auschwitz in winter becomes even more eerie as you get a small glimpse of the freezing temperatures that the victims had to endure with no shelter or warmth to protect them.  

Other notable cities on my bucket list, which I would love to visit in winter include…

BRUGES: famed for its gingerbread type buildings, when lit up at Christmas you’d be forgiven for thinking you were in a real life gingerbread city. With its stunning streets and beautiful canals, this city was designed for hosting the Christmas season. 

COPENHAGEN: Cool, crisp and sometimes snowy days are part of the Copenhagen winter experience. The city offers a variety of activities and when the time arrives for heading inside for a nice meal,  the city has the best cafés and restaurants to safisfy any budget. 

Santorini: sunsets, surprises and secluded shores. 

The sheltered Greek island of Santorini offers surprises at every corner. Blue and white sugar cube buildings shine across a backdrop of spectacular views and sunsets over the caldera, which help paint Santorini as one of the most luxurious resorts on the planet. 

However, Santorini has more to offer than just sunsets. Fira has a vibrant nightlife, Pyrgos offers history as a typical fortress settlement for the Cyclades, Perissa boasts one of the most beautiful dark sand beaches and Imerovigli is a quaint traditional village with picture perfect panoramas and divine gastronomy. 


TASTE:

It is difficult to know where to begin with Santorini’s vast range of authentic restaurants. A luxurious start would be La Maison in Imerovigli offering incredible twists on classic cuisine. I ordered the beef fillet which I can still taste in my mouth now. The succulent flavours of the velvety beetroot purée combined with Alicante mousse, pine nuts powder and white truffle were astonishing- none of which were flavours I would usually choose, but the modest portions explode with flavour in your palate. 


Avocado restaurant, also in Imerovigli,  offers a more traditional Greek menu, with fantastic hospitality and complimentary Ouzo shots (provided by many restaurants on the island as an aperitif). 

If you are looking for larger portions at reasonable prices, the Santorini capital of Fira offers a more cheap and cheerful approach with many fast food restaurants and a more British seaside feel to it. I would recommend Diverso for amazing desserts (like the enormous waffle pictured below), and the establishment in the heart of the main street also offers a full bar menu. 

If you fancy sipping a local tipple then I would recommend you try a Greek mojito flavoured with Metaxa, a Greek brandy. The islands gluggable wine industry can also be explored at Koutsoyannopoulos Wine Museum where you can taste Visanto, the amber coloured dessert wine. 

RELAX:

On The Rocks is simply the best. Situated in Imerovigli, it is about half an hour from the airport. The view when we arrived was truly breathtaking over the caldera and the cave based rooms created a grey and white theme sustained throughout. Although there were a lot of steps to climb in Imerovigli I would definitely recommend this upmarket resort when staying in Santorini, as there were many small hotels and On The Rocks was also part of the ‘Small Luxury Hotels of the World’ brand. 


ADVENTURE:

Santorini volcano is a spectacular sight, but despite us not taking a trip there, other locals and tourists had pre warned us that close up the volcano doesn’t look as wonderful as from a distance. However, it would be a good trip to take to see the volcano which shaped the Santorini we know today, as the island is essentially what remains after an enormous volcanic eruption that destroyed the earliest settlements. 


An alternative trip would be to the island of Therasia- with a population of around 300, it is what Santorini originally was years ago. There is very little to see aside from churches, but it is a beautiful peaceful day out to see how the locals live, where the only language spoken is Greek. Day trips from Santorini leave on Wednesdays and Sundays, but make sure you make the ferry back otherwise you may be stuck there! Additionally, I would recommend taking a picnic as there are few places to buy food on the small island. 

VOYAGE: 

The buses are a great way to get around costing only €2.40 for a single ticket and there is a regular bus service to the majority of villages on the island. Alternatively, quad bikes are popular amongst tourists. 

Santorini airport is certainly a unique experience. The best way to describe it as a small chicken pen trying to cram in as many people as possible. With no waiting area after passport control and passengers having to make U turns the lady checking passports was full of self deprecation of her workplace shouting  ‘Is there anything logical about this airport? NO!’ 

EXPLORE:

The island has some incredibly cute shops along the winding paths for you to explore. There are many individual boutique shops alongside the more touristy options. 

Perissa beach and promenade is a lovely day out to view the dark sands and cliffs. Sadly it was raining when we visited here, but we imagined it to be bustling in peak season. Nevertheless the village wasn’t as picturesque as Oia or Imerovigli. 

The aforementioned Oia is the place all tourist guides recommend. Visitors come here for the stunning sunsets and clifftop walks. Naturally, it is a beautiful village and you will struggle to take a poor photo, but the flock of tourists can often be offputting. We visited in April before the main season officially began and generally this was a great time to go as the majority of streets were quiet, yet all the restaurants and attractions were open. We had one poor day weather wise, but overall it was worth it to appreciate the more secluded spots.  
LEARN: 

A short bus trip to Pyrgos takes you to the highest point in Santorini to take those classic poster shots of the island. Pyrgos is a typical Fortress Settlement of the Cyclades. On the hilltop you can find ruins of Kasteli Castle, one of the five ‘kastelia’ on the island. There is a memorial plaque near the entrance to the castle, commemorating those who died in the Second World War.

Pyrgos has traditional architecture, remains of neo-classical mansions, narrow winding paths leading up the hillside, small white houses, galleries, vineyards and churches making the small inhabited village a truly magical experience. 


Lake Como: timeless antique appeal amidst breathtaking scenery

Situated only thirty miles away from Milan, the slender lake couldn’t be more culturally disparate from its northern neighbour. The preservation of the historic villas and gardens is incredible to see and the way the lake is shaped means there’s a different sight round every corner. At the centre of the lake is Bellagio, often misunderstood in relation to the Las Vegas casino, however this dignified lakeside village doesn’t have a gaudy aspect at all. Lake Como truly does retain its timeless antique appeal. 

TASTE:

The villages host an array of restaurants and cafes and it may be a struggle to find the best one. A fine start would be a stop off at ‘Isola Comacina’, a small wooded island housing only one restaurant Locanda dell’Isola Comacina with stunning romantic views providing a unique experience. 

Further along the lake in Bellagio is Terraza Metropole where we dined. It offers a view that removes you from your ‘normal’ life for a split second as you become transported into a peaceful haven with divine Italian cuisine. 


RELAX:

Swimming costumes are recommended! Many of the villages we passed on the boat featured designated areas for swimming in the lake. As the lake offers a fantastic micro climate, the summer months are a perfect time for taking a break in the Italian heat. 


In fact, anywhere you go along the lake is filled with exclusive ways to immerse in a state of relaxation from afternoon tea in a Roman villa to a morning trip on a seaplane along the rippling surface.  

ADVENTURE:

Abele Experientia Artis offers courses in painting by the lake and gypsum casting. Aero Club Como also provides introductory flights with an instructor, as one less activity to tick off the bucket list. 

VOYAGE:

Naturally, a boat tour is the best way to be able to take in the true beauty of the turns of the lake which is shaped like an upside down Y. An alternative method of transport could be to hire a car or a bike, however the narrow winding roads mean this can offer take a great effort to reach the towns and villages. 


Como can be accessed via train from Milan’s central stations within an hour and provides an easy route for locals wanting to escape the busy nature of the metropolitan city. 

EXPLORE:

Como is the base for taking boats and ships from Navigazione Lago di Como, which connects the city to the villages on the shores of the lake. 

Other villages and towns worth seeing include Bellagio (featuring luxurious backstreets and rustic buildings), Laglio (one of Lake Como’s oldest settlements), Lenno (starting point for panoramic walks and featuring Villa del Balbianello) Menaggio (offering a stunning lake promenade) and Ossuccio (known for the Sacro Monte, a site of pilgrimage). 

LEARN:

The city of Como, named after its watery namesake boasts the clean cut profile of Como Cathedral. It is often described as the last gothic cathedral built in Italy and the construction was completed in 1770. 


However, it was George Clooney who truly put the Italian retreat in the spotlight with his Lake Como mansion in 2002. Situated in Laglio, Villa Oleandra has a tennis court, gym, ornately carved ceilings and a wall constructed to prevent the lake pouring directly into the house. 

Villa del Balbianello continues the Hollywood theme as this location has featured in Casino Royale and Star Wars Episode II. 


Whilst A listers have made Lake Como a holiday destination to be able to act inconspicuous, it remains a true natural wonder of the world and a must see Italian destination for the avid traveller.

My wonders of the world 

Sometimes you visit somewhere whilst traveling that mesmerises you and remains in your thoughts forever. Here I have listed 5 places and events that have been left engraved in my memory for different reasons: 

1. Niagara Falls


The sight of Niagara Falls is breathtaking from above, but nothing can prepare you for the feeling as you are gliding through the mist. The boat tour immerses you into the heart of the waterfall as you hear the thundering roar and mighty rush of the gallons of water. 

2. Santorini sunset 


A slightly drier affair is the beautiful sunset that occurs in Santorini. This photo is taken from Imerovigli and the contrast of the bright orange sunset with the whitewashed buildings enables this sunset to be unique. An alternative view could be from Oia, where people arrive in droves to view the sun’s disappearance. 

3. New York helicopter tour


New York is an amazing city with so many sights to see, however it can often feel very restricted and confined, due to the vast amount of skyscrapers and limited space between buildings. To get a true feel of the city from above, a helicopter tour gives a bird’s eye view of the city that never sleeps, where one can see the iconic sites in their glory. 

4. Palm Beach (Summer Bay), Australia 


Perhaps one can only truly appreciate this beach if they have ever been a fan of Australian soap Home and Away. Nevertheless, Palm Beach (as it is known to local residents) is a stunning location 41km north of Sydney. At the foot of the beach is Barronjoey Lighthouse, often seen in the background of scenes on the famous soap. When I visited the set I was amazed to see the longest serving actor on the soap, Ray Meagher (Alf Stewart) casually filming a scene whilst the remainder of the beach stayed open for tourists. 

5. Burano, Venice 


Buruno is an island in the Venetian lagoon and can truly be described as a ‘hidden gem’, however more and more tourists are locating the small island inhabited by only 2800 people. It is situated 7km from Venice itself and can be reached by boat. The main attraction is the variety of colours within the buildings, making every corner a new photo opportunity. 

Europe in a Day

It has become easier and more convenient to travel in 2017; with cheaper flights and faster trains we can reach our desired destination in no time. However, with people seemingly having less time to spare it is essential we can fit as much in to a short time frame. I have hand picked 5 top European cities which can guarantee you a round trip, whilst seeing the top sights, all in the space of a day.

PARIS:


The easiest way to reach the romance capital of Europe is by Eurostar, where tickets start from around £30 each way:

*London St Pancras (7.01) – Paris Gare du Nord (10.26)

*Return: 21.13 – 22.39

10 single tickets for use on the bus or metro can be bought for €14.50, which proves the most convenient way to get around. 

  1. Eiffel Tower– no trip to Paris is complete without a viewing of the famous structure- and a fantastic view of the city! 
  2. Champs Elysees– walk down the famous shopping street with the Arc de Triomphe at the helm. 
  3. River Seine cruise– the easiest way to see the entire city, whilst enjoying a relaxing trip along the Seine. 

AMSTERDAM:


EasyJet offer daily return flights from both Manchester and Luton. The flight time of just over 1 hour means you can enjoy a solid 12 hours of canal hopping. 

*Manchester (7.05) – Amsterdam (9.25)

*Return: 21.50-22.10

*London Luton (6.00) – Amsterdam (8.15)

*Return: 21.40-21.45

A day ticket on the extensive tram network costs as little as €7.50. 

  1. Anne Frank museum– a real must see to truly immerse yourselves in an historic phenomenon. 
  2. Vondelpark– the most well known park in the Netherlands and in my opinion one of the most picturesque in Europe. 
  3. The Jordaan- stunning neighbourhood overlooking some of the most famous canals. 

PRAGUE:


Flights from Gatwick airport with EasyJet take just 2 hours and a tourist pass for the subway and tram system can cost as little as £4. 

*London Gatwick (9.00) – Prague (11.55)

*Return: 21.55-23.00

  1. Old Town Square- start your journey in this historic square to use as your base for the day. 
  2. Petrin Hill- situated 130m above the river, the hill is a great recreational area and offers gorgeous views over the city. 
  3. Bars- Prague is famous for having hundreds of vibrant bars, so have a tipple if you get chance. 

BERLIN: 


A weekend trip to the German capital can be reached via EasyJet from Luton airport. In addition, a day ticket on the S & U Bahn costs only €7. 

*London Luton (5.55) – Berlin Schoenefeld (8.50)

*Return: 22.55-23.55

  1. Brandenburg Gate- 18th century must see monument. 
  2. Museum Island- UNESCO world heritage site with 5 museums dedicated to archeology and art. 
  3. Gesundbrunnen Bunker- one of only 100 bunkers to remain in Berlin – immerse yourselves with an underground tour. 

LONDON: 


A surprising addition to this list- and the actual train journey time from Manchester is longer than most other destinations on this list. However, London remains a must see cosmopolitan city. A day travelcard on the London Underground can be purchased for £12.30. 

*Manchester Piccadilly (5.05) – London Euston (7.26)

*Return: 21.40-23.55

Train times are very flexible with departures around every hour from Manchester. 

  1. London Eye- the best views of Big Ben & the Houses of Parliament, as well as the wider city. 
  2. Natural History museum- a visit to a museum is a must see whilst in London and I would recommend the museum which keeps a vast range of specimens from various segments of natural history. 
  3. Covent Garden- a district of Westminster, featuring cocktail bars, restaurants, designer shops and street artists. 


Milan: is the fashion capital losing its crown? 

Milano, Italy, dubbed as the fashion, design and innovation capital of the world. However, upon arriving you are greeted with the contrast of dilapidated buildings and streets not distinct enough compared to its Italian counterparts. Whilst the city is expanding with the futuristic Porta Nuova, has the cosmopolitan city left it too late to catch up with its European neighbours? 


TASTE: 

With over 6500 restaurants, there’s an immense range to choose from and if you’re only there for a couple of days, you want to make sure you select the right one! Pizzium is a great start for a fantastic homemade pizza in a traditional Italian kitchen environment at a reasonable price. Sometimes the more local estabishments are the most cultured as you become immersed in homely setting: Casati 19 is a perfect example, with the local restaurants often set away from the more obvious tourist destinations and costing around €10 for a meal. 

The number one bakery in Milan, Pave, offset from the principal tourist avenues,  certainly lives up to expectations. The quirky way of presentation and back to front tiles demonstrate how advanced and experimental it is. 


RELAX: 

We stayed in NH Milano Machiavelli which was a perfectly clean, friendly and central hotel for our stay in Milan. It provided a base for relaxing after a long day exploring the vast city. Mid range hotels, like this one, can cost around £100 per night due to the prestige tag that Milan carries. 

To escape the hustle and bustle of the city, try out the Parco Sempione , a large park established in 1888. However, whilst it appears a tranquil haven in comparison to the non stop city life, it falls short to Hyde Park (London), Park Guell (Barcelona) and City Park (Budapest) amongst others. It appears to be lacking that special je ne sais quoi. 


An alternative way of relaxing would be in one of the many rooftop bars and restaurants overlooking the cathedral. Maio restaurant is an excellent start with an informal setting over the backdrop of the largest church in Italy. 

ADVENTURE: 
If you’re at a loose end and fancy something different, how about trying a Milano mystery tour, discovering the deepest darkest secrets of Milan whilst traveling through the various myths and legends. On the other hand, for some evening dining and entertainment, try the Maison Milano dinner show offering caberet and live entertainment- an early 20th century post office has been transformed into a visually stunning restaurant. 

VOYAGE: 

The two main modes of transport around Milan are tram or metro. The former is a slower option, yet is exciting to travel on a form of transport that has been in operation since 1881, with the number 10 tram (as seen below) 124 years old. A day ticket used simultaneously on trams and metros costs a mere €4.50 and is well worth the value for the amount of trips you could take. 


EXPLORE: 

Milan’s location is central to easily access nearby Venice, Rome, Lake Garda and Lake Como– the latter of which we enjoyed an incredible day amidst breathtaking scenery and a truly romantic atmosphere. (Blog post to follow solely on Lake Como). 

Inside the city itself is the Navigli district- the closest feature Milan has to the classic canals of Venice, however one can only compare the two and see how neglected the Navigli district is with graffitied walls and run down buildings. That said, it makes a nice alternative in the city and the canal banks are adorned with restaurants, bars and occasional markets. 



LEARN: 

Milan is stooped in history. The epicentre of the city houses the revolutionary Duomo di Milano. The gothic cathedral took almost six centuries to complete, but it is truly spectacular in all its glory as it shines fearless on the Piazza del Duomo.  

To one side of the gothic cathedral is the enlightening Gallerie Vittorio Emanuele II, resembling a cathedral of shops from Prada to Versace. However, it is the soaring glass roof in the 1870’s construction that takes prominence over the shopfronts.

Arco della Pace (arch of peace), completed in 1838, was designed to celebrate Napoleon’s victory and was originally named the ‘arch of victory’, but when Napoleon abdicated as emperor it was later dedicated to the unification of Italy in the late 19th century. It stands strong at the end of Parco Sempione within Piazza Sempione. 

Castello Sforzesco was built in the 15th century; gradually enlarged over the years it now houses the city’s art collections. Parco Sempione was created behind on the former parade grounds. 


For the design aficionados, the futuristic area of Porta Nuova is captivating to see, with jaw dropping buildings that may feel juxtaposed against the classic monuments, but as you can see below this area is still under construction. 

Overall, despite Milan being the fashion capital, I feel Paris and New York have overtaken the Northern Italy city and can offer the same luxury fashion brands alongside the High Street names. The last few years have seen a major developmental step in order to stay on the map as a must see destination, but is it too late? 

The history will always remain and as the city remains fuelled on espresso and gelato, it will be engaging to see if Milan can transform itself into the innovative European destination it so desires. 

Dubai: unpretentious fishing village to modern metropolis 

Stereotypes present Dubai as only a destination for the most affluent in our society and whilst it may be an adult playground for the rich, there are still affordable options for everyone else.

The rustic charm is still prevalent, but with a modern twist. The achievements and progress made in the last 40 years is incredible and I believe in another 5 years the megalopolis will be even more enticing for the casual tourist. Dubai had never been on my ‘must see’ list, but  after visiting it’s certainly a place at the top of my ‘must see again’ list. 


 TASTE: 

Portion sizes are incredibly exaggerated the Dubai, with restaurants reminiscent of those in the USA. A fine place to start would be the main Dubai Mall in Downtown Dubai which houses the (one of the many) world famous Cheesecake Factory boasting a variety of over 200 cheesecakes. Not only does it make the famous dessert, but the main menu also has food for everyone to enjoy from steaks, to flatbreads to nachos to salads. Whilst dining in the mall, I would advise taking full advantage of the breathtaking scenery of the fountain spectacle and the Burj Khalifa. 

If you’re opting for something more traditional, Dubai’s old town presents a more rustic Morrocan type of charm with several spice souks and mint tea has become a delicacy here too. In our hotel we offered to try several Arabic drinks- one of which was the Jellab; a blend of grape molasses and rose water, topped with pine nuts. The combination of flavours was exquisite and with alcohol supply limited in Muslim countries the alternative was definitely up there with many of our famous cocktails. 



RELAX: 

The Palace Downtown was everything you imagine about a luxury hotel in Dubai: extraordinary, enticing, yet elegant. This hotel was easily the best I have ever stayed in. The attention to detail was extraordinary-the individual rose petals spelling out my name, birthday surprises in the room, his & hers bathroom equipment and the incredible views made this destination one enviable to other travellers. 

We obtained a great deal for our money as we travelled the week before Ramadan, which meant a lot was being set up for the month of fasting. This gave us even better value for money, as the location was perfect – set in the heart of Downtown Dubai, reflected in the background of many tourist photos. 

Alongside The Palace were the famous fountains, designed by the Californian based company who designed the Las Vegas  Bellagio Hotel fountains. Shooting water up to 500m in the air with a backdrop of the tallest building in the world; it was one of the most awe inspiring  spectacles I have witnessed. 



ADVENTURE: 

Although set in the heart of the Arabian desert, Dubai is famous for its many water parks. These are the best way to get the adrenaline pumping and have a fun day out at the same time. Aquaventure and Wild Wadi are considered two of the best. 

XDubai aims to make Dubai ‘the adrenaline capital of the world’ by inviting you to take part in many different sporting activities and events. Whilst in Dubai, we witnessed the remarkable XDubai zipline travel above our hotel, alongside the fountains and Burj Khalifa, but sadly I believe this has now become invite only. 

VOYAGE: 

One of the first mistakes we made was getting into a black cab- they appear to be able to charge at their own discretion. Make sure you get into a cream coloured taxi with a coloured roof, as they are much more reasonably priced. 

The Dubai tram, opened as recently as 2014, is a quick, reliable and modern form of transportation in Dubai and phase 2 is still in construction to extend the tram route even further. 

In Old Town Dubai, a popular form of transport is the water taxi, which as seen below is popular (and cheap) amongst the locals. 


EXPLORE: 

The must see attraction has to be the Burj Khalifa , with a total height of 2722ft, it is the tallest structure in the world, symbolising Dubai’s craving nature to become the biggest and best at everything. 


In relation to this is the Dubai Mall in Downtown Dubai, which is the world’s largest and most visited mall- a shopper’s paradise featuring over 1200 shops and 160 food outlets. 


Dubai Marina
is dubbed ‘the most luxurious man made marina in the world’. As with many districts in Dubai, it is still under construction, but it remains a peaceful haven where one can relax in luxury. 



LEARN: 

Old Town Dubai offers a glimpse of the past with the traditional souks where you can explore the Arabian markets used by both locals and tourists. The gold and spice souks are the most popular with other ranges including textiles and perfumes. Whilst here, you could take a trip to the Dubai Museum too and learn about the history of Dubai, before the rapid expansion. 


It is fascinating to see from the top of the Burj Khalifa how secluded Dubai is in the centre of the Arabian desert, but also how far it has come in the last generation. The ambition is clear to see and it is exhilarating to imagine how advanced Dubai will be in another ten years.