19 June 2019

Eating Cream Cake in Slovenia

Towards the middle of 2018, I wasn't sure where was next on my travel list. That year I promised I would save money and spend it on my house, but then I got a shiny new job, which meant lots more shiny pennies and I thought, fuck the house, I want a holiday. My friend inspired me by backpacking around Bosnia, and I thought that I hadn't really got back to my backpacking routes since I came back from my 3 year backpacking stint around the world. So I thought, where can I go? Croatia had always been on my list but I felt the need to combine it with another country that I hadn't visited. So I looked around and thought Slovenia was appropriate. Little did I know just how cute Slovenia was, how much there was to do there, and how I probably should have done some research before I arrived.

The trip overall was quick as I didn't have many days annual leave from work. So I had around 11 days to explore both Slovenia and Croatia in one go. It made sense to work south, so I hit up Slovenia first and then travelled down and eventually flew back from Dubrovnik in Croatia. This then questioned, how would I get to Slovenia? Direct flights from Manchester are pretty non-existent and any stopover flights were expensive and took too long. So, I opted to fly to Zagreb and get the bus/train over the border. This was a longer task than I first imaged but easier and cheaper than trying to fly to the Slovenian capital, Ljubljana. So I flew to Zagreb, got an airport bus to the main bus terminal, then I had already booked a bus with GetByBus to Ljubljana. Simple.

Upon arriving in the Slovenian capital, even though fairly late at night, it was quickly apparent how adorable this city was. Stunning buildings, quaint fountains and an overall cute charm, which hadn't appeared in my brief visit to Zagreb. There was something extremely romantic about Ljubljana, from its cobbled squares, dimly lit streets and the typical man playing a guitar by a smooth flowing river. I instantly fell in love with this city.

But what did I get up to?

I only had a day and a half planned in Ljubljana before I got the bus to Lake Bled, which was my second and final stop in this wonderful country. Again, something I later regretted, having found out how much Slovenia has to offer. However, a lot can be covered in such a small amount of time, especially in this compact capital.

I stayed in an Air BnB right in the centre, among more cobbled streets lined with quaint restaurants, therefore I was in the perfect location to explore. On the first day I went for breakfast at a cute cafe near my accommodation and got the funicular railway to Ljubljana Castle. You can walk up, but with a ridiculous amount of steps up, the €2 ticket was worth it. The castle was small enough to look around in just a few hours and the cost was minimal so it's worth exploring the grounds and seeing the city views. You can pay extra for certain parts such as the Puppet Museum (weird and creepy...) and the viewing towers.

After the castle I donned the streets for bars, bars and more bars. Not the cheapest of capital cities in Europe but definitely not the most expensive by any means! After a stop off at a few riverside jaunts, I walked over to the great Tivoli Park, which essentially is just a park, and then stopped off for dinner at one of the restaurants which kept cropping up during my research, Ć pajza Restaurant. The restaurant felt like I was in the middle of a Slovenia home, with the friendliest of hosts. The menu treats were mainly pretty meaty, but trout is really popular here as well so I opted for that.

There is of course so much more to enjoy in the Slovenian capital such as the botanical gardens, which are a bit out of the centre, Metelkovo Mesto which is an autonomous culture zone and plenty of museums to sink your highbrow teeth into.

What up Bled

Day two involved getting a short bus to Lake Bled, which was easy enough to catch via Ljubljana's main bus station, at the cost of around €10. Only a two hour bus ride to the prettiest of towns, Lake Bled should definitely be on your Slovenian to-do list. Again, I had booked a fairly central Air BnB, which allowed me a good day and a half to see what this lake town and top Slovenia tourist spot had to offer.

Lake Bled is clearly a popular place among locals and visitors, and even though I travelled out of season in October, the town was still booming. So this may be worth noting if you actually visit during the busier times of the year.

There is plenty to keep you busy over two or three days, especially if you love a walk and a bit of nature. I recommend starting your walk half way round the lake then taking one of the guided walks at either Osojnica or Kuhovnica. You'll be able to find where these start from tourist maps around the lake, and the openings are pretty obvious. These two walks aren't for the faint hearted but the view is worth the sweat. You can see all over Lake Bled and take a few pics worthy for the gram.

After getting in your steps for the day, you might as well continue by walking up and seeing Bled Castle. At only €10 for the entrance, it is worth the visit and again the views. Watch out for the tourist buses though as it was pretty packed when I went.

I didn't actually make the gondola over to Lake Bled, as I spent most of my money on beer and the Bled delicacy of cream cakes (basically a fancy vanilla slice), but the small boat trip looked cute and there is apparently a really nice restaurant in the middle of the lake, as well as a quaint church. But if like me, you would rather spend more on beer than gondola trips to churches, then I'd recommend getting a few beers from the shops around Lake Bled and just chilling on the lake itself.

Heading out of the centre

If you have time, head a bit out of Bled centre to Vintgar Gorge, which is easy enough to get a bus to, and then I walked back. The gorge is impressive and has some mammoth walks around if you can be bothered, but again it was pretty rammed. You only have a small path to walk the actual gorge and you can be often held up in the path if people are cramming for pics. I'd suggest heading early in the day to get the place to yourself.

But what else?

Well there you have it. My short but sweet filled (cream cake filled) trip to Slovenia. I really didn't know what this country had to offer until I got there and it really is such a cute and scenic place. From my Air BnB hosts I was recommended to visit other popular parts of the country such as Piran a cute coastal town, Postojna Cave and Bovec for more thrilling adventures. Next time I'll hopefully have more time and I'm sure all these places do cream cake too, so I'll be set.

6 May 2019

When in Rome

Rome, a city of so much history, architecture, culture and such good food. I recently spent just a day and half in the Italian capital, with it been my second visit. I got a super cheap deal on lastminute.com and jumped at the chance for a bit of warmer weather in November, and the best pizza and pasta around. Rome certainly wasn't built in a day, but if you only have a few days then that might just be enough. I knew my time in the capital was limited but I managed to get through a hell of a lot in 36 hours.

So what is there to do?

Top sites are easy to know and come by in Rome. From the Colosseum, Trevi fountain, the Vatican, all can be covered in just a short amount of time

The Colosseum

The Colosseum is right in the centre of the city and has it's very own metro stop so you can easily stop off. I arrived to the Colosseum on the day and expected a bit of queue but not a massive one. I was wrong. I highly recommend booking online the day before, something I wish I had done! It's not that expensive at 12 and it's free for under 17s. Once you finally get in, you can opt for a guided tour or just roam around yourself. It is pretty spectacular inside, but without a tour, you don't really learn too much as there isn't that many signs and stuff to read. But still awe inspiring at the same time.

Trevi Fountain

Best discovered at night as the fountain lights up and it looks stunning. I imagine the Trevi fountain is packed at the quietest of times so don't expect the place ever to yourself and watch out for pickpockets.

The Vatican

The Vatican is a beast in itself to explore and you could spend a few days just enjoying this country alone. As The Vatican City is the smallest country in the world, there certainly is a lot to take. To make it easier, you can get tickets to the Vatican Museum, St Peter's Basilica and the Sistine Chapel, which you can visit at the same time. This allows you to explore a small part of the Vatican and then to see the famous Michelangelo's ceiling mural. I'd advise to get your tickets online beforehand, otherwise you will spend half your time queuing. 

Missed Spots

Of course, there are plenty of other places to visit in Rome, but when you have less than 48 hours, you can't really explore them all. Other places of interest are the Pantheon and the underground Rome tour if you want to find out about the city's many catacombs.

How to get around?

Rome is a city that is really easy to get around. The two airports aren't too far from the city centre and you can opt to take a bus from Ciampino airport or take a train or bus from Fiumicino airport. Both airports' transportation takes you into the centre of Rome, so really easy to make your way from there. 

To get around, you can choose the underground, which is crazy easy to follow and not that big at all. Buy a day ticket and make your way to the Colosseum, Vatican, Trevi fountain and so many more sites from the few subway lines that exist in the Rome's centre. The city however is really easy to walk around and your main sites can all be accessed by foot. This is often the best way as down the little back streets, away from the main squares, you can find the best food.

Pizza and pastas for days

There are probably top, must go to restaurants in Rome, but as it's Italy's capital, you're never going to be short of great food! I assumed as a capital city that the prices would be quite steep but I couldn't believe how cheap some of the restaurants were. As just stated, head away from any main square just by a few streets and you will find small Italian restaurants full of pizzas, pastas, risottos, tiramisu and ridiculously good food. I tried a pizza place opposite the Colosseum but just a few little streets down the back alleys and the pizza came to around 8 and it was huge and so tasty. Do as the Italians do and try some great Chianti wines and I love the aperitif culture of an Aperol spritz before dinner.

Such an amazing city and worth a few days of your time. I wish I had more than my day and a half but we managed to fit so much in there and eat so much great food that it still was amazing!

Ciao bella for now!

26 April 2018

My top five European cities

When thinking of my top five European cities, it is actually quite difficult, as we all know how much this continent has to offer. Whenever I meet travellers who have never been to Europe, I find that they often think they can cover off Europe in a few weeks. I’ve lived in Europe for over 27 years and I haven’t even touched the surface. Even though we may be a small continent, we sure make up for it in terms of culture, cuisine and history. Every European country is vastly different from the next, and the same goes for the cities as well, but I think I’ve managed to narrow my European city ventures down to my top 5.


Ruin bars, an old city, Turkish baths and cheap beer. What is not to love? One of my fav European cities is the Hungarian capital, Budapest. I have only visited once but I’d happily visit again and explore the nooks and crannies of this place, as my first trip did result in a lot of hangovers…

I’d recommend to spend a few days here, explore the beauty and history of the old town, grab a few drinks from the ruin bars (popular ones are Szimpla and Instant), then head to the baths and relax in the heat. Or, consider taking a boat trip down the Danube to nearby towns and suburbs of this capital and see what else is on offer.


I am in love with Paris. Some say they find it underwhelming when they arrive, that actually Paris has some quite grimy parts, but that’s why I love it. The majority of the city, or the bits you see as a tourist are inspiring! Beautiful architecture, ornate statues and generally just incredible sights. I can walk around this city for days and I’d still find that I am in awe of it’s beauty. I also need not really mention the food that the French capital has to offer. Pastry, wine, cheese, bread, but why aren’t the Parisians fat?! Maybe they save it all for me?

Anyone that hasn’t been to Paris, needs to really go. It may not be the cheapest European capital to stay in, but you can get by with the right tricks and the right deals. I stayed for 3 nights, with flights from Manchester included for just £200 on a last minute deal. Yep I probably spent more whilst I was there, but I do love a grog au rhum after all.


I have been to Prague trice now and I still haven’t touched on what the Czech capital has to offer. A smallish European capital, as you can walk around the main sights and hotspots but there is still plenty to do over a few days. Prague is getting more and more popular each year, and with that comes more and more expense, but I find that it is still a relatively cheap European capital.

You will find a big mix of history and culture, plus more modern and edgy parts of the city. Head to the John Lennon for graffiti heaven. Or for a more scenic day, walk on the Charles Bridge and listen to local musicians playing along. Head over to the old town and explore great views teamed with great wine. Or head just a little out of the city centre to see Sedlec Ossuary, which is a type of church made up of over 40,000 skeletons…


This may be an odd one to add onto the list but I couldn’t get enough of this Austrian city and it’s charm. Salzburg may be most popularly known for the location from the Sound of Music, or for the birthplace of Mozart. Therefore, the culture and history of this city has so much to offer the average traveller.

When you picture a typical Austrian town (or at least when I picture it), then everything that is pictures is all envisaged within Salzburg. Freshly made pretzels sold my local vendors, beautiful European architecture, incredible mountain views and good beer. This city is worth adding to your European Must-Do’s and it’s worth a day or two of your time. Easily accessible from Vienna on the train and everything is moderately priced. But a lot of the beauty of this Austrian city is the buildings and nature, so you can tick a lot of free things to do off your list.


Last but not certainly not least, is one of my favourite cities, and my current home, Manchester. I moved to Manchester two years ago, after only visiting once or twice and mainly making the trip to use the airport. I can’t believe this amazing city was on my doorstep for so many years and I never really bothered to visit. The city has so much to offer and it has that great Northern British charm about it. From great bars, great restaurants, beautiful buildings and a lot of history as well.

For example, did you know that Emily Pankhurst, Antony Burgess and so many incredible musicians were born here. With that, then comes a lot of culture and history. The music scene in this city is incredible and you can enjoy a vast amount of live music and comedy for a great price. There is also a fantastic sense of community and people are really proud to be from this Northern powerhouse, plus it’s easy to understand why. When the tragic bombing happened at the Ariana Concert last May, it was overwhelmingly brilliant to see the whole city pull together and show how incredible we are at been there for each other.

I don’t plan on moving away anytime soon as I really do love it here, and after all, I still have so many more bars I need to tick off.

2 April 2018

Why a package holiday isn’t for me

When I think of a package holiday, I think of Butlins, Thomsons (or whatever it’s called now) and a pool on the coast of Spain with screaming kids. All reasons why I don’t necessarily think a package holiday is apt for a former backpacker.
When I was a child, my family and I would go on a package holiday every year. Without sounding completely ungrateful and brattish, I don’t think I ever really liked them. My parents probably spent a fortune to take my two sisters and myself away each summer holiday, and it was always too hot for me, I hated sharing a room with my two sisters and I couldn’t stand putting on sun cream every day.
Fast forward 10 or so years, and I’m booking my first package holiday without my parents…
I wasn’t supposed to be the package holiday type (and it turns out I still aren’t) but when my flights to Cuba were cancelled last October because of the devastating Hurricane Irma, I wanted to find a last minute trip that required zero effort. I had just bought a house and was in the midst of moving in, so planning a holiday around this time wasn’t ideal. My boyfriend wanted a relaxing holiday due to all the house stress, but I knew that sitting around a pool for a week would leave me sunburnt and bored. Therefore, we comprised and opted for a package holiday typical getaway, but in Marrakech as Morocco had been a country I had wanted to go for years.

I left the planning to my boyfriend, and in the end we picked a 4* resort, in the heart of Marrakech with a huge pool, all inclusive, flights, all for just over £500 each for the week. Crazy cheap prices in my eyes, considering flights to Marrakech are over £250 alone (but it really was the all-inclusive drinks that swayed it).

I considered how far the resort was from Marrakech and it all seemed close enough, and the hotel had their own bus service to takes guests straight from the front door to the outskirts of the Medina. Perfect! A winning combo of a relaxing lazy holiday by the pool with a drink in hand, teamed with a backpacker exploration of Marrakesh's heart.

There were aspects that were great, huge bedroom with all the amenities, enough sunbeds to relax on and of course all-inclusive food and drink. But the majority of negatives outweighed the positives. Firstly, the food. I thought I knew Moroccan food, but when all you’ve eaten for a week is ‘resort’ food then I’m not really sure what Moroccan food is meant to be. This type of food was good, but it was a toned down version of what I assume the locals eat. Moroccan food with a heavy British influence, after all there was even a pizza ‘bar’ in the hotel’s restaurant. Plus, all of the restaurants were buffet style. I wanted a nice sit down meal where I didn’t have to search high and low for a knife and fork and wave hectically at a waiter to take away three empty plates on my table.

But that really wasn’t the case. Firstly, Marrakech didn’t really do it for me as much as I hoped after many years of wanting to visit (find out why here), but overall the whole ‘resort’ life didn’t really do it for me either.
Secondly, the drink. All-inclusive drink but did I feel drunk at any point on my trip? No. It all must have been watered down or extremely weak.
Thirdly, the entertainment. I assumed some kind of belly-dancing, Moroccan music but we were left with a severe lack of entertainment every night.
Fourthly, kids. I’m not a huge fan of children so I don’t need to fight my way to the pool against a chubby four year old.
I may seem snobbish writing all of this, but overall the package dream that the website sold me, just didn’t happen. I should have stuck with my backpacker roots and avoided all other British package holiday tourists, and found a ? in the heart of Marrakech. I bet the food would have been 10 times better, I bet I wouldn’t have to listen to the pool’s music of Pitbull every day, and overall, I bet I would have found a bar where the wine got me a bit drunk.


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