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Where next?

Corfu

I’ve never booked a holiday quite so last minute before – I leave in 36 hours as I write this, and we booked and paid today! With COVID-19 still causing uncertainty with travel at the minute, we waited until the very last minute and for the government announcement on travel corridors for the week before committing. But I can now say I’ll be spending a week in Corfu with a friend, and I cannot wait for the Greek food and the warm hospitality I find on any island I vist.


Amsterdam

I’m heading back to Amsterdam in October with my sister. We were meant to stay at Roommate Aitana over Kings Day in April, but due to COVID-19 the trip was sadly cancelled. The hotel have kindly offered us an upgrade for our rebooking, so we’ll be staying in a junior suite, and I can’t wait!

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Valencia

Located on the East coast of Spain, Valencia has a lot to offer for those looking for a long weekend away. With a charming Old Town, excellent food, buzzing nightlife and a beach just a short metro ride away, there is something for everyone in this city!


  • Currency: Euro
  • Local time: GMT +1
  • Language: Spanish

Stay: Expo Hotel

The Expo Hotel in Valencia is in a great location for exploring the city; within walking distance of Old Town and also with easy access to the Metro for trips to the beach or the hip Russufa district.

The rooftop here steals the show, with a large swimming pool, plenty of sun loungers and a bar selling local drinks and excellent burgers. It’s the perfect place to spend some time relaxing after strolling the streets of the city.


Do: Botanical Gardens, City of Arts and Sciences, Eat Tapas, Explore El Carmen, Turia Park

Although it would be easy to spend the entire time just eating and drinking your way around the city, Valencia has lots to see and do, so put on some comfy shoes and get exploring!

On the edge of the city – just a short walk from the Expo Hotel – there are lovely Botanical Gardens that are definitely worth a visit. Home to many of Valencia’s stray cats, along with (of course) a fascinating array of plants and flowers, it’s a great place to wander around and take a pause from the busy city streets. If green spaces are your thing, also set aside some time to stroll the Turia Park, which runs around the city centre and is build in an old river bed.

The City of Arts and Sciences is a huge complex that is home to the Valencia Opera House, the Museum of Science, an Oceanographic and a Hemispheric, plus lots of events taking place throughout the year. Tickets can be purchased in advance for individual attractions or in bundles if you want to visit more than one and save money. Hop on the Metro and you can reach this area within 10 minutes from the central city.

Technically, ‘sample the tapas’ should be under the eat heading, but it really is a way of life here and so it’s made it to the list of things to do! Many places, for small side street cafes to large restaurants serve tapas all day, and you will rarely see empty seats outside the cafes in the summer. Add a jug of Agua De Valencia (cava, orange juice, vodka and gin) to your order and watch the world go by while picking at some lovely fresh nibbles.

The neighbourhood of El Carmen should definitely be on your list to explore. A maze of small winding streets that are covered in amazing street art and murals and are home to some of the best backstreet bars and cafes that we found on our trip. The more lost you get, the better!


Eat: Bar Cordellats, El Rall, Restaurante San Miguel, La Chipirona

There are SO many amazing places to eat in the city that these really are just a selection of restaurants for inspiration more than anything.

One this that we did notice was that a lot of restaurants offer a ‘menu of the day’ – some for lunch and some for dinner – but they were always excellent value and really tasty food. One of the best upmarket menus of the day we did was a lunchtime menu at La Chipirona. Fresh fish is huge here, and while the starters come in meze form to share, for main there were three dishes to choose between. We went for the local fish/rice dish and were definitely not disappointed!

For a quick lunch stop thats guaranteed to fill you up, grab a Bocadillo (a Spanish type of sandwich) at Bar Cordellats. Located near the central market, this is a great place to stop if you are exploring the city centre in the day time.

One of the best paellas of the whole trip was had at El Rall, a permanently busy restaurant located in a small but charming square in El Carmen. We ordered the traditional Valencia paella along with two glasses of Agua de Valencia, and it was the best version of the drink we had too!


Drink: La Bella De Cadiz, Che Vins, El Carmen

Located in the trendy Russafa district is La Bella De Cadiz – a quirky cocktail bar with a huge variety of drinks. It’s a great place to go for some late drinks after dinner, as it stays open until 1.30am and 2pm on weekends!

Che Vins is the perfect place to stop for a glass of wine, and the owner was super knowledgable, talking through the various wines he had in stock and making recommendations based on what we usually liked drinking. We went for the wine of the day, which was served with some tapas on the side and was such a reasonable price.

There are lots of lovely local side street bars that can only be discovered by strolling the streets after dark. El Carmen is the perfect district for this, as it’s full of winding streets and neighbourhood locals.

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Prague

The capital of the Czech Republic, Prague, may well be known for its abundant stag dos and very cheap beer, but it is also a stunning city with plenty of culture and lots to explore! Visit in the summer for outdoor dining and drinking, or in December for crisp winter days and gorgeous Christmas markets.


  • Currency: Czech Koruna
  • Local time: GMT +1
  • Language: Czech

Stay: The Majestic Plaza

Centrally located and very reasonably priced, the Majestic Plaza hotel was a short 10 minute walk from Old Town Square, and the same distance from the river. The area it was located in was safe and far enough away from the crowds that we got a quiet, peaceful nights sleep.

Breakfast was included in the price and there was an excellent selection, including continental hams cheeses and breads, cooked hot food, fruit, yoghurt plus a wide selection of drinks, including sparkling wine!


Do: Charles Bridge, Old Town, Wallenstein Gardens, Boat tour

The architecture in Prague is gorgeous, so definitely spend some time wandering around the city and taking in the sights. Old Town Square is a great place to start, and several walking tours can be taken from here too.

The streets of Old Town offer everything in terms of food and drink, from pizza, pastries and spit roast pork through to chimney cake and ice cream. No trip to Prague is complete without trying the Chimney Cake (trdelník), ideally with a huge swirl of ice cream running through the middle! Similar to a donut, these cakes are made from rolled dough that are then roasted on a spit.

Crossing the river away from Old Town, you will find the entrance to the Wallenstein Garden. A manicured garden that is home to the Senate building, these gardens are a lovely place to stroll around and take a break from the large crowds that often overtake Old Town. There are many boat trips offered along the river, several of which can be booked from outside the Wallenstein Garden. We opted for an open top boat tour (50 mins) as the weather was lovely, and at 250 CZK (around £8.50) it was a fun and very reasonable way to spend an hour.

Although a lot of peoples evenings are spent in the bars and clubs in Prague, it’s also a lovely city to walk around in the evening and take in the views across the river. The best is arguably from Charles Bridge, looking over towards the castle on the other side of the river.


Eat: Karlova 30, Bohemia restaurant, Fat Cat

Karlova 30 may be located in a touristy part of town, but served local and authentic tasting food in a cozy atmosphere. I ordered the Czech goulash which was served with dumplings and it was great. The food was great value, and the wine was reasonably priced at around £3 a glass, but it’s worth noting they only take payment in cash.

In Old Town, Bohemia restaurant had a lovely outdoor courtyard for dining in if the weather was good, and a large indoor restaurant incase it was not! The local pork dish here was very tasty, served with a fried egg and chips. Again, this is a cash only restaurant.

For some fast food in an upbeat environment, head to Fat Cat. With a big menu of carb heavy food, it’s the perfect place to go before you head into town for some drinks! The parmesan fries here were very good, and we washed them down with a great cherry beer. The list of beers here is impressive, so definitely stop by if you’re a fan! This restaurant and brewery takes card.


Drink: Švejk, Café Mánes, Pub Sul Fiume

There is no shortage of places to drink in Prague, but my favourites were definitely the ones where I could sit outside.

Café Mánes was situated right by the Vltava river, and has a lovely outdoor terrace overlooking the water. The drinks here were a little more expensive than the standard bars in town, but the view more than made up for the extra cost. It’s cash only (this turned out to be very common in Prague!) so make sure you have plenty on you as there weren’t any ATMs nearby that we could see.

Švejk is another outdoor drinking spot, serving very cheap local wine. A bottle here was around £8, and was served ice cold. Another cash only bar, but we were used to it by this point, and also appreciated the waiting staff telling us in advance.

We stumbled upon Pub Sul Fiume, which depending on where you look may not be listed on a map. It’s an outdoor garden bar located on the banks of the river, away from Charles Bridge and Old Town. It had a lovely atmosphere, shairng tables which encouraged chatter between visitors, and a great wine and cocktail list. This was – shock – cash only!

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So, where have I been?

There’s nothing like filling in a map to realise how much of the world you haven’t seen. But I’m using it as motivation – this map is officially a work in progress.

According to the app Been (which is my latest app addiction) I have seen 13% of the world. Not good. I’ve covered 45% of Europe, which sounds slightly better, but still means there is 55% of it that I haven’t experienced.

I love to travel, and I really love to experience life the locals way whenever I can. Whether it’s finding a tucked away brunch spot in a quiet corner of Milan, a romantic candlelit restaurant for dinner in Bratislava or learning to barter at the local market in Ubud, I try and make the most of every minute I spend in the country I’m visiting.

So for now, I’ll be documenting my trips, tips and future plans whilst I try and colour in as much of the map below as possible!

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Finding cheap flights

We all know the struggle – Desperate to travel as often as possible, but limited by our constantly empty bank accounts. The good news is, its much easier to travel on a budget than a lot of people think, as long as you aren’t too precious about exactly when or where you go. And before you worry, I’m not talking going to Greece in the middle of November when it’s freezing – It’s often just a case of altering your departure date by a day either way and suddenly your flight prices have plummeted. Read on to see my best tips on finding cheap flights…


Be flexible with travel dates:

Skyscanner is excellent for searching multiple airline prices at once, and they have the option of searching for prices over the whole month, meaning you can instantly see which days are cheapest (shown in green) through to most expensive (in red) to fly on. I’ve put an example of a flight search for London > Budapest below for the whole month of October. It’s an amazing tool to use if you aren’t tied to a specific date to travel on!

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Be flexible with your destination:

Not decided on where you want to go? Time to check out the fare finder on the Ryanair website. You simply enter your preferred departure airport and a rough budget and they list, in ascending order, the cheapest places to travel! Prices may alter slightly depending on dates you select, but it’s the easiest way to find the cheapest places to visit. Who knows, you might even discover your new favourite city!

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Browse in private windows:

It may be that you’re set on your travel days and your destination, and thats fine! If this is the case and you’re looking to book flights but notice they keep going up in price the more you search different websites, consider searching for them in a private web browser. This stops cookies being stored, meaning the flight companies won’t know you are repeatedly searching for the same routes, and you will always be shown the cheapest price available.

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