25 August, 2017

The cost of a day on the beach

Having spent most of the summer on the beach myself (yes, I'm a lucky girl!), I found some new research about the costs of beaches very interesting. TravelBird's Beach price index ranks over 300 beaches around the world on the cost of spending one day at each. 

After pricing five essentials (sun cream; water; beer; lunch, and an ice cream) they ranked them to give holidaymakers the information they may want before booking a holiday. The most affordable beaches in the world are in Vietnam, while the most expensive were found in Norway. 

The bit that interested me most about the research though, was the beaches in the UK. I sometimes feel for families who stay at home to holiday in the British Isles, but end up spending more money than if they'd gone out of the country to holiday. For instance, the research revealed that the UK's most expensive beach is Priory Bay on the Isle of Wight. 

Priory Bay, Isle of Wight
So where is the cheapest beach in the UK I hear you ask? It's Botany Bay in Kent. It's the northernmost of seven bays in Broadstairs, with safe swimming, and spectacular chalk cliffs and stacks. Not only is it beautiful, but it's relatively secluded too. 

Botany Bay, Kent
 For me, that seclusion can be the key to the perfect day at the beach. Some of the best beaches I've come across in the world are those that are hard to get to, and therefore more often that not, deserted. I often take a picnic with me, meaning costs are kept down anyway, and while it's nice to enjoy lunch at a beach bar, there's also something lovely about not moving from your spot on the beach and enjoying a little homemade snack!If you want to see the full list of beaches, then click here to see the research in full.

18 August, 2017

Friday's review: Don't be a tourist in Paris

I started my travel blog to bring some of the wonderful off the beaten track places I've discovered on my travels to other people, and I've recently found someone else who loves doing a similar thing! Vanessa Grail is a London girl who moved to Paris, and has written a book, 'Don't be a tourist in Paris'. The book gives readers some brilliant insider tips, and Vanessa shares her ideas of how to avoid the tourist traps and uncover the real Paris. Below are just a few of my favourite ideas from the book.

Old artist studio in Musée de Montmartre
 Montmartre is one of my favourite places to visit in Paris, but I had never heard of the Musée de Montmartre. It's inside the oldest building in the area and one of the old artists studios as been restored so you can imagine how it felt for the likes of Renoir to sit and paint in the French capital. 

Le Refuge de Fondues, restaurant 
So what about eating off the beaten track? Vanessa writes about Le Refuge des Fondues - a dining experience which involves drinking wine from a baby bottle. It's not just a gimmick - it's the owners way to avoid French tax on wine glasses!

The book doesn't just focus on the centre of Paris - and has several ideas for those of you who want to explore a little further afield. Less than an hour's drive from Paris, Barbizon is on the edge of the Fontainebleau Forest. If you're into art, then you'll be interested to know that this picturesque quaint French village is where Claude Monet and Pierre-Auguste Renoir came as young Parisian art students in the 1800s. 

Port des Champs-Élysées on the banks of the Seine
Sometimes the best things in Paris are not the expensive touristy sights, but taking time to enjoy a bit of wine and cheese with a great view of the Eiffel Tower, as Vanessa did in the photo above!
I've visited Paris many times over the years, but this book has so many wonderful tips and ideas for places I've never heard of that I am already thinking about when I can head back to the French city again. Well done Vanessa - your book is a delight for those of us who want to find those hidden gems!

All images courtesy of Vanessa Grall, ‘Don’t Be A Tourist In Paris’, 2017

11 August, 2017

Friday's Lightbulb: Charming Cefalù

I know plenty of people who love Italy with its stunning scenery and delicious food, but many of them have never ventured to Sicily, and that's the place I'm featuring on my blog today. Cefalù is a charming fishing town on the northern coast of Sicily, just a forty five minute drive from the island's capital, Palermo. 

It's set against a dramatic backdrop of craggy mountains, and is the perfect size to wander round for a week or two and not get bored. If you're looking for the glamour of the Amalfi Coast, then this might not be for you, as it's wonderfully rustic. However if you fancy a change from that glamour, which almost always comes at a cost, then I can't recommend Cefalù highly enough.

As well as having a fabulous beach (a great place to watch the fabulous sunsets); the town has lovely little winding medieval streets, a beautiful cathedral and some superb restaurants. The cathedral has some lovely little cafes around it and it's a great place to end your evening, sitting outside enjoying the last of the day's heat.

If you like all things Italy, but want to avoid the crowds, then give this wonderful little town a go - it's so good I've been twice, and can't wait to return one day!

04 August, 2017

Edinburgh - Get the festivities underway!

As a proud Edinburgher, it wouldn't be right to blog today without mentioning the fabulous festivals that get underway in Scotland's capital city. The Edinburgh International Festival celebrates its 70th birthday in 2017, and was founded to foster a "flowering of the human spirit" after the second world war.  I don't think anyone realised just how successful it would go on to become.

To mark the anniversary, this year's events are expected to be bigger and better than ever, with a grand opening party, and ending with the usual fireworks spectacular over the castle. It's not just the International Festival that runs this month, the hugely popular festival fringe is also on during August, as is the book festival.

While you need tickets for the main events, the city is awash with entertainment during August, and you can watch plenty of fantastic street acts running the length of the Royal Mile, and by the city's art galleries on The Mound. 
Top tip: Accommodation can be hugely expensive during August, so if you haven't already booked, consider staying on the outskirts, and travelling into the city each day.