27 January, 2017

Flashback Friday: Rosslyn Chapel

Rosslyn Chapel was built in 1446, and is one of Scotland's most remarkable buildings. It's just seven miles south of Edinburgh's city centre, and is still used as a place of worship. It's always been a popular visitor destination, but it's profile increased when it was mentioned in Dan Brown's novel, The Da Vinci Code in 2003. 

Almost every surface of Rosslyn Chapel is carved featured incredible carvings - there are hundreds of figures and scenes carved in the Chapel, and the Apprentice Pillar is the most elaborately decorated with an incredible story behind it. Read more about it in my original post on Rosslyn here.

20 January, 2017

Travel Photo Friday: Beautiful Barbados

Crane beach is considered to be one of the most beautiful beaches in Barbados. It is so called because it was a small commercial port in the mid-18th century, and they raised and lowered cargo by crane. It has been rated as one of the ten best beaches in the world - and I have to agree with that tag! It's not just the wild waves; wonderful sea breeze, or the beautifully warm turquoise water but also the incredible pink sand....yes pink! 

My first step on the sand on this beach always has to be done barefoot, because it's the most powdery sand I have ever walked on. The pink colour comes from pink coral that has been pulverized and washed up over time. This beach is on the south east side of the island, but is well worth a trip from the west coast if that's where you're staying.
Top tip: Park at the Crane Beach hotel and enjoy the view while having lunch or a drink in the bar before heading down to the sea.

13 January, 2017

Friday's lightbulb: Venice on a budget

Venice is a city with a reputation for being beautiful but expensive, so I'm going to give you a few tips to make it a bit more affordable. Some of the city's most stunning sights don't cost anything. Entry to the Basilica di San Marco is free of charge, and there are also free guided tours between April and October. 

Wandering around the city costs nothing of course, and you can easily spend a lot of time wandering around the winding lanes lined with antique dealers and glass merchants - just make sure you take a map, it's easy to get lost! 

Venice's bustling Rialto Market is where people have been shopping since 1097, and there's no better show in town! The produce is unloaded from barges which start arriving at dawn, and by 8am the vendors are bargaining with customers! It's best to arrive early, and you can buy wonderful ingredients here for a cheap and healthy picnic - another way to save money.

A visit to Venice wouldn't be complete without taking to the water, but it doesn't have to cost you a fortune. The vapporetto, or waterbus, is a budget way to get a tour of the city. You pass palaces, churches, and Bond film backdrops all for the bargain price of just seven euros.
Top tip: Venice is so popular that there are days when tourists outnumber locals by two to one, but it's  also a stunning place to visit in the winter, when visitors are few and far between.

06 January, 2017

Friday's lightbulb: Porto

I took a long time to decide where to feature for my first post of 2017. A new year, a new start....so how about a new destination for a city break, and one that's perfect for those who love their food and their culture.

For some reason, Porto is still a bit under the radar when it comes to European destinations, which surprises me because it's both affordable and fun. It's Portugal's second-largest city behind Lisbon, known for it's beautiful bridges and the production of port wine, which is still stored in vast cellars that stretch along the Douro river.

 The medieval Ribeira district is the oldest district of the city - a beautiful warren of narrow cobbled streets and plenty of wonderful family owned restaurants and bars.

Top tip: If you're looking for a belly busting dish to try, the francesinha sandwich is a Porto institution.  It's a huge doorstep layered with pork, bacon, smoked sausage, beefsteak all topped off with a fried egg and cheese. Loosen your belts people!