How to make the most of your time in Luxembourg City

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If you are looking for somewhere to spend a long weekend in Europe then look no further than lovely Luxembourg.

Here is a guide for getting into and around this tiny city, and some ideas of activities you can do to make the most of your time there.

Recommended time here

2 days for Luxembourg City.

4 days or more for Luxembourg City and the wider country.

Getting into Luxembourg City

The airport is teeny tiny and you will have no problems getting into the main city. Ditch the taxi and jump on a bus directly outside the airport. If you need to arrive right in the city centre then be sure to jump off at Hamilus. The bus costs between €2 and €4.

Passport stamp from luxembourg

How to get around

Many cities claim to be “walking cities” and many are lying to you. Luxembourg City truly is a walking city. You will be surprised how easily you can walk around the entire city without feeling ridiculously tired and over-walked.

The hop on hop off buses here, in my opinion, tend not to be value for money comparative to other larger cities that are navigable by road. As the majority of the city centre, and therefore many of the main attractions, are inaccessible by road this really is a city best seen by foot.

If you are branching out to see Kirchberg (just outside the main city) you should however jump on a bus to save time.

Heading further north, south, east, or west? Many buses can be caught from most of the main roads surrounding the city centre which will take you to the train station.

 

Choosing your hotel in Luxembourg

Something I learnt very quickly was that the map of Luxembourg City makes the city look a lot bigger than it really is. This should aid you in choosing the most cost effective accommodation.

Any hotel listed as being in a ‘good location within the main city’ will be within walking distance of all the main attractions, so you may want to save some cash and opt for the cheaper ‘inner city hotel’ option available.

Staying in a hotel right near the centre is a good idea for those with one and a half, or two days here.

Looking over the grund in Luxembourg city

Staying for more than 2 days?

If you are staying in the city for more than 2 days I recommend staying a little outside the of the centre. This is not only a little cheaper, but will also provide you with a little ‘escape’ from the busy tourist scene as you wander back to the hotel in the evening.

We stayed in a hotel to the north of Parc Municipal which gave us the nice 15 minute walk to and from the centre via the park each day.

 

Attractions in the city

History, science, and art museums are easily found here with many offering free admission for international students.

In Kirchberg, Fort Thüngen has been converted into an art museum, and whilst art museums aren’t my idea of a holiday activity, seeing an old fort certainly is.

Luxembourg City History Museum was our favourite museum due to it’s variety of topics covered – despite there being no information provided in English. The funfair exhibit on the top floor was nothing less than random, especially when we couldn’t translate the supporting information.

The Science centre/ museum is also a great way to spend a few hours with workshops taking place throughout the day.

A girl stands inside of a blue arty circle

Visiting with children

The capital city of Luxembourg, aptly named Luxembourg City, makes for a wonderful weekend trip whether you’re on your own, with friends, in a couple, or with the family.

If you are travelling with children, you can expect to spend hours at the huge pirate park in Parc Municipal playing with water and sand, sliding down the huge slide, and swinging from mini ropes.

Pirate park in Luxembourg Municipal Park for children

Aside from the incredible pirate ship park, the science museum, and local history museum offer plenty of opportunities for your children to get involved and learn a little about Luxembourg along the way.

The city is very family friendly and during the summer months you can expect the community to run events and mini shows for children to get stuck in to.

 

Do you speak Ger-Fren-glish?

The perplexing mix of germanic/french languages can be confusing and sure kept us on our toes. Many of the restaurant staff spoke French as we entered but switched to English when they realised how poor our French was.

Strangely, despite everyone approaching us in French, most of the writing that we saw on shop windows and on numerous menus was in German… Google Translate app at the ready!

Street view in luxembourg

 

Other activities in Luxembourg City

Bok Casemates – With the weather forecast not looking so good for our second day, we saved our visit to the Bok Casemates for the second day. As the Casemates are at the edge of the city, you can grab a bus here, or a taxi for a reasonable amount.

A woman looks over the town from the casemates

The Casemates are interesting but sparse on information. As you enter you should take a flyer (not available in English) and attempt to learn a little about why they are there.

The Grund and Neumunster – This UNESCO Heritage site can be seen on foot, or better yet from above. We took a walk through the Court of Justice of the European Union, past the fountain there until we reached some benches where we sat and admired the Grund and Neumunster in it’s entirety.The grund in luxembourg. Water reflects the trees

From the Casemates you will inevitably find yourself walking down and up the walls of the Corniche where you can grab some incredible panoramic views over the Grund atop of “Europe’s most beautiful balcony.”

Cathédrale Notre-Dame – This is only in France right? Wrong! The cathedral is huge and beautiful on the inside and out. Whether you are religious or not you are sure to find the underground crypt interesting.

St Michaels Church – As the oldest church in Luxembourg, this beautiful piece of architecture should not be overlooked. Take the look at the stain glass windows and admire the interior for a while before heading to the next place of interest.

Grand Duchal Palace – Why not spend time visiting the home of the world’s only Grand Duchy. This building, despite having “grand” in the title, is easily missed as it blends into its surroundings (especially on days where the guards aren’t stationed outside!).

Grand duchal Palace luxembourg city

One last thing

Enjoy your time here and make sure you make the most if your days in the city. We found that we visited all of the main sites and more within a day and a half. Considering we were leaving the hotel at around 11am, stopping for a good hour for lunch, and longer for dinner, it’s safe to say that if you are in Luxembourg for longer a day trip out of the city may be the best option for you.

Have a fabulous trip!

Budapest: Feeling Outdoorsy – Top 5

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Feel like exploring the great outdoors? No problem. This guide will help you in finding the best outdoor activities for you.

I had a tough time choosing just 5 of the top outdoor activities! There are so many more but these should get you started…

No. 1 – Heroes’ Square

As you walk up to the entrance of City Park it’s hard not to miss the impressive structure that is Heroes’ Square.

This historic Square is significant to the history of Hungary playing host to statues of several important Hungarian leaders.

Heroes Square in Budapest Hungary.

Just one part of this huge square.

Travel Tip: If you don’t want to walk up to hero’s square then jump on the metro to Hősök tere where the Square will be waiting for you directly opposite.

No. 2 – Gellerts Hill, and the Citadel

In the morning head up the steep steps and slopes of Gellerts Hill for incredible views over Budapest and a close up view of the Liberty Statue.

The liberty statue in Budapest Hungary with blue skies

The Liberty Statue in Budapest, Hungary.

During the uphill climb there are benches scattered throughout so that you can chill out whenever you need to.

One you get to the top real the benefits with a stroll around the fort to admire the view.

View over Budapest from the citadel where you can see the Danube river. Hungary.

Worth the hike? Definitely.

Travel Tip: Toilets are situated directly in front of the walk-up entrance but you will need to pay to go.

No. 3 – The Danube River Promenade

We unintentionally found ourselves walking across the Danube river multiple times to admire the views on foot rather than from the tram.

Head for the Pest side of the river and admire the statues and memorials by the waters edge.

Sunset in Budapest from the promenade with a statue sat on the fence.

Ain’t no sunset like a Budapest sunset.

Keep walking and you will encounter the Parliamentary building in its full glory. If looking at it from the outside isn’t enough then get online and book onto a tour.

Parliament from the other side of the river

Travel Tip: Short on time? Jump on the tram to get from one side of the river to the other.

No. 4 – City Park & Vajdahunyad Castle

If the weather is nice take a stroll through City park and discover Vajdahunyad Castle and it’s fairy tale style grounds.

Jemsadventures girl with statue sat down in Budapest castle

Take a seat and admire the view

If you are a lover of architecture, moats, and selfie-worthy statues then the castle grounds are easy to spend an hour or so milling around in.

The park itself is large, family, dog, an bike friendly. If you want to cover all areas of the park then bring a picnic and allow a couple of hours to chill and enjoy the fresh air to its fullest.

Travel Tip: In low season the moat may be empty!

No. 5 – Buda Castle & Fisherman’s Bastion

One of our favourite activities whilst in Budapest was strolling around Buda Castle.

Whilst there’s lots to do inside the buildings within the castle we much preferred walking in between the main attractions.

Soldiers display at Buda Castle.

Soldiers march at Buda Castle.

Don’t underestimate the size of this giant castle. We spent a whole 3 hours here one day and even popped back for a further 2 hours on our last day.

Travel Tip: Fisherman’s Bastion is just behind Matthias Church. It’s easy to miss so keep an eye out!

Not our style… But you might enjoy

Monument Park

This was on our backup list if we ran out of things to do. Unfortunately we missed this attraction but we did hear good things about it. I’m summary (As told by our hostel) ” basically they just took all the old communist statues that no one wanted to look at any more and dumped them in a park”.

The Music Fountain

The music fountain is (as told by the hostel people) “Yea its a cool colourful fountain that lights up at night. Don’t go there in the day because it’s boring.” Take this advice as you see fit.

Budapest: The Great Indoors – Top 5

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Welcome to the indoor activities of Budapest!

Here is a top 5 guide to staying indoors and having a great time whilst there.

These activities are perfect for when you are feeling adventurous but the weather just isn’t on your side.

No. 1 Szimpla Ruin Bar

“What is a ruin bar?” I hear you ask.

Ruin Bars are what they say on the tin- bars that have been built within the ruins of abandoned buildings in district VII of Budapest. They aren’t just your typical bar that you would find at at home.

Budapest is buzzing with ruin bars and they are well worth the visit.

Our local (and favourite) Ruin Bar had to be Szimpla. Upon entering it was a feast for the eyes, ears, nose, and any other sense you had yet to discover.

Szimpla Ruin bar during he day. Art work and graffiti on the walls

Szimpla’s walls come to life with art and graffiti.

From the outside you could be fooled into believing that you are about to walk into a steampunk underground rave.

An exciting line up of activities, performance, and other goings on can be found on the website or on the program guide.

Whilst we were there, this gem of a building played host to life drawing classes, open mic fun, Kraft beer, cocktails, foozball, art showings, and so much more.

Szimplas shisha pipes under a vintage “angels” sign

It’s never a dull night in the shisha room.

Travel Tips: Go at night for the full effect, and poke your head in during the day for a brighter perspective. The food is a little pricier but it’s also super yummy.

Entry is free of charge and you can expect a quick frisk search if you are coming in later in the evening.

Szimpla Kert website: https://szimpla.hu

No. 2 – Dohány Street Synagogue

The largest synagogue in Budapest is easy to miss nestled in amongst rows of buildings upon buildings on Dohány Street.

The outside is beautifully designed, and the inside is a treat that is well worth the admission fee.

The main room of the Jewish synagogue on Dohány street.

The main room of Dohány Street Synagogue.

Upstairs you will find a quaint museum where you will learn all about Jewish culture and the history of Jews in Hungary. Downstairs you can admire the many memorials and learn about the tragic past of the Synagogue by way of countless memorials and photographs.

Memorial for Jewish people that have passed away.

Memorials to those Jews who have passed.

Travel Tip: Men will be asked to cover their heads with a card kippah given out at the entrance, or (if you have one) you may wear your own hat.

No. 3 – House of Terrors

This museum offers an interactive and fully immersive education through activities, slow moving lifts (you will understand once you’ve been there), and excellently themed decor.

House of terror in Budapest outside view.

This exterior roof makes The House of Terror hard to miss.

Whilst inside you will learn about the fascist and communist regimes in 20th century Hungary like never before.

Once you have paid admission and left your bag with the free cloakroom you will be directed to the top floor before working your way down until you are in the basement of the museum.

Inside the house of terror in Budapest is a tank and a wall of victims faces.

Many of the victims and a tank are visible as you enter.

Travel Tips: On a budget? Rather than pay for an audio guide, read the sheets of paper situated on the walls of each room and read about everything for yourself. Hungry? A small cafe is located inside the entrance.

House of Terror website – http://www.terrorhaza.hu/hu

No. 4 – Matthias Church

If you think this church is grand from the outside then just wait until you get inside.

Located within the centre of Buda Castle this one is pretty impossible to miss. The funky colours of the external roof tiles are just the tip of the design-berg as you are greeted with a splash of colours within the church walls.

Matthias church from the outside you can see the white spires and mosaic roof

This impressive church is hard to miss!

Head upstairs for information on the late Queen Elisabeth and information about how the church was built and its history.

Statue of The late Queen Elisabeth of Hungary in front of stain glass windows

The late Queen Elisabeth of Hungary.

Travel Tip: The church is made child friendly by its array of interactive touch screen games in the upstairs rooms.

Matthias church website: https://www.matyas-templom.hu

No. 5 – The Labyrinth

This underrated attraction is enough to make a grown man fearful of the dark. When we had purchased our tickets the woman on the front desk told us the following…

1. Don’t panic if you get lost because we can see you on the cameras

2. You will have no phone signals don’t worry.

True enough, but when you can’t tell your left from your right because it’s so dark; knowing that someone is probably laughing at you in a cctv room offers little comfort.

Opera re-enactment within the Labyrinth

Do you hear opera music?

Why not pay an educational visit to these dark tunnels whilst up at Buda Castle to spice things up a bit. Yes there will be moments of “are we going to be stuck here forever” but if you follow the arrows instead of winging it you will be just fine.

Travel Tip: Your phone torch won’t work in the tunnels that are full of smoke! The light bounces right back at you.

Labyrinth website: http://labirintus.eu

Not our cup of tea… But it might be yours.

Thermal Baths

During our stay in Budapest the question of whether or not to enjoy the thermal baths cake up a lot. Ultimately we decided it just wasn’t something we wanted to do. If it is your kind of thing then Király and Rudy and Gellert Thermal Baths came highly recommended by numerous people.

Opera House

Feeling fancy? If you are then head for the Hungarian State Opera for a tour. Admiring the outside was enough for us, but you may want to witness its grandeur from within.

Hungarian State Opera website: https://www.opera.hu/programme

Whatever you end up doing you will have a wonderful time in Budapest I’m sure of it.

Hotels, Hostels or Homes? How to save money in your sleep whilst on Holiday.

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The decision of whether to stay in a hotel or not whilst on holiday is not usually at the forefront of many people’s minds. Most holiday goers will book their flights and then the top recommended hotel without even a second thought as to where else they could stay.

Why are so many of the population failing to remember that there are alternative, cheaper,  more immersive and entertaining options available. Or maybe they just haven’t been informed yet. Well in that case, let’s begin.

And a hostel in Venice offers comfy and private beds with a large communal area bar and kitchen. Very code to the train stationAt crazy affordable prices – Anda Venice offers comfy private sleeping areas, bar and kitchen areas, and a communal space that spans the entire ground floor.

Hotels: What are you paying extra for? Absolutely nothing.

If you enjoy late night strolls around a resort, listening to a British expat performing Whitney Houston Covers, and fighting other holiday makers for the sun lounger closest to the pool then hotels are definitely for you. Hotels are notoriously safer, and offer heightened security for families with private lockable rooms with en-suits and balcony areas. Great! But this is not the say that the same quality can’t be found elsewhere.

To offer some tangible evidence of what Hotels offer lets look at ibis hotels.

Whilst staying in an ibis hotel I couldn’t fault the breakfast service, the room, or anything else for that matter really. Although, the common area was less of a common area and more of a standard entrance area into the hotel.

Ibis hotels make good on the buffet breakfast and provide you with all your breakfasty needs from cereals to continental meats you’ve probably never thought to eat for breakfast.

This is all well and good you might say, but why oh why am I paying £50 – £100 (or more) a night. One person, one room, one bed, one breakfast, and you are asking for £60. Call me a cheapskate (because I am) but I say this pricing is totally unnecessary!

Hote de Paul in Belgium Bruges is small but charming At over £50 a night Hotel De Pauw offers a breakfast buffet, close proximity to the main square, and a nice view of a church…

To be completely fair to ibis hotels, I searched the going rates across 10 countries in Europe, even ‘cheap’ countries and the prices were pretty similar across the board. Ibis hotels aren’t the only offenders of high prices for little in return, Premier Inn, Travel Lodge, Best Western, Hilton, Marriott…  You name it, it was all a little too overpriced for me.

In my opinion, if anyone is paying £50-£80 per night, this is the least you should be asking for:

  • Blackout Curtains
  • Sound Proof Walls
  • Breakfast and Dinner
  • A fun, free, functioning common room
  • Outdoor seating areas
  • Comfortable bed and en-suit
  • Tea and Coffee in your room

If your paying over £80 for a hotel room then firstly – what on earth are you thinking? And secondly, there had better be a huge heated pool and a sauna with onsite creche for the kiddies to play in.


 Hostels: It’s not all doom and gloom

Once you understand that not all hostels are as grubby as they seem in the movies your holiday savings will increase, and your holiday experience will change forever.

Hostels are available in almost every country in the world, and at a fraction of the price of booking a hotel you’d be silly not to consider it. Some of the nicest places I have ever stayed have been hostels costing no more than £13 a night WITH breakfast included. For more information about what staying in a hostel is really like read Myth Busting: Hotels – To stay or not to Stay.

Bosnian hostel sign on the front gate entrance pink sign This is one of the most enchanting hostels in Bosnia. The host is friendly, helpful, and fun. The location is excellent and the vibes are chilled.

So, let’s address 3 of the main issues that people talk about when I suggest that they stay in a hostel.

1- “I don’t want to stay with 10 other people with no privacy or bathroom to myself.”

2- “It won’t be a safe environment for the kids to sleep in or to be able to walk around in.”

3- “I’m not sleeping in a dirty room where the sheets are gross and the bathroom smells”

I am happy to report that for the most part I have found none of this hearsay to be true. Read

Overall I have found hostels to be more welcoming, friendly, cleaner, entertaining, and helpful than any hotels I have previously stayed in. Private rooms are always a little pricier, but you get what you pay for after all. Booking is easy with sites like Hostelworld and HostelBookers offering a transparent efficient service to users.


Home Stays: Living like a local

Staying in someone else’s home can feel daunting, especially if the family are still in the vicinity during your visit. Unless you had selfish plans to trash the place there’s no reason to feel nervous at all, provided  that you have done your research beforehand.

Jemma Miguel Katie Juan Roxana jenifer Rocio Francisco Beth given Karen host famil picture in front of house in Nicaragua

Me with my incredible host family in Nicaragua. 3 months together and we were part of the family.

Whilst in Vietnam we stayed in a host home – accidentally.  The family had advertised their home on a hostel site. We were pleasantly surprised as, luckily, we got on well with the family. They were knowledgeable and friendly, and we learnt a lot from the experience.

Whilst some host family / home stays are advertised on the usual hostel sites your best bet is to head over to sites such as Homestay.com or simply type ‘host family stay’ into Google and check out the many country specific results available.

Another option is the increasingly popular Airbnb which offers a wide variety of options depending on your needs. You can rent a whole home, a room, or shared accommodation. The majority of places you find on Airbnb will be self catering, so you will miss out on the luxury meals you are used to at the hotel, but with thousands of yummy restaurants around every corner why not sample the real local cuisine in the streets. This also cuts out all of the moaning about the lack of diversity on the hotel menu.

When booking with Airbnb be sure to tick the ‘whole house’ option if you don’t fancy meeting the homeowners each day. Another mistake we made whilst in Paris was not ticking this. We didn’t mind ultimately, but we did find it strange that the owner was still at the house. That is, until we realised we hadn’t ticked the all important ‘home alone’ button.

Despite any booking errors we may have faced in the past, staying with a host family is always a very enriching experience. I’ll admit that it’s more of a solo traveller / couples travel option, but if children are welcome then why not just book the whole house instead for a fun family experience?


Will you take the plunge?

I think it’s clear to see that I am a hostel kind of girl. Be it a private room, or a communal room, it’s all good to me. Don’t forget to read my blog ‘Myth Busting: Hotels – To stay or not to Stayfor a real insight into why I view Hostels as being the best.

Camping serenissma in Venice Italy is a hostel and a camping ground pitch up a tent of stay in the bungalows pictured by the grassWhy not push the boat out and stay in a hostel camp site!? Camping Serenissma in Venice offers private bungalows or tent space, and even has a restaurant and pool!

Next time you book your accommodation for your holiday perhaps you may take a step back and consider just how much you could save to spend on enjoying expensive foods or activities, rather than on the £100 room that you could have got for £20 elsewhere.

Happy Booking!

Thailand, Vietnam – Mini Reviews: The Good And The Bad

2 months, a month, backpack, backpacker, beaches, destination, holiday, itineraries, itinerary

mahut attire at the elephant jungle sanctuary

Howdy!

After having spent a few months exploring the popular, and not so popular, sights of Thailand and Vietnam it’s time to help you all in choosing where you want to go. Whilst I’ve only included a few reviews, we travelled more of the countries and I would strongly recommend you do too!

Whilst in both countries, the big kid on the left and I purposely chose to visit some destinations that weren’t in your average itinerary. The destinations on this list can be visited in depth if you allow a month and or so in each country.

Below you can find the following mini reviews.

Thailand: – *Ayutthaya – *Bangkok – *Chiang Mai – *Chiang Rai – *Chumphon – *Lopburi – *Phuket

Vietnam: – *Dalat – *Ha Long Bay – *Ho Chi Minh – *Hôi An – *Phong Nha

good and bad things about Thailand reviewing the fun and not not fun stuff

Bangkok review the good and bad of Thailand and being there. Mini Review of the countryreview the good and bad of Thailand and being there. Mini Review of the countryreview the good and bad of Thailand and being there. Mini Review of the country

review the good and bad of Thailand and being there. Mini Review of the country

review the good and bad of Thailand and being there. Mini Review of the country

review the good and bad of Thailand and being there. Mini Review of the country

review the good and bad of Thailand and being there. Mini Review of the country

review the good and bad of Vietam and being there. Mini Review of the country

review the good and bad of Vietam and being there. Mini Review of the country

review the good and bad of Vietam and being there. Mini Review of the country

review the good and bad of Vietam and being there. Mini Review of the country

Happy travelling!

Berlin: Things to know before you go

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Getting in:

Flying into Berlin is a pain free, quick, and easy process that is truly reflective of that good old stereotypical German efficiency .

Shame about the train stations… The train stations that baffle and bewilder many a tourist ruin the efficiency illusion in an instant and, if you don’t speak German, will have you wishing that you had listened more in German class (if you even had the option to learn it).

Unless you have arranged a pickup, I strongly recommend that you research the route to your chosen destination BEFORE you get on the plane. If you are staying in Berlin then you will probably find that the S Bahn is your best option. Type your route into google maps and print it before you leave home. Google maps has a tendency to be rather incredible without shoving your stupidness in your face.

blue sky clouds Germany

 

When to go:

Berlin is a city that can be visited all year round with no real limitations to activities due to weather conditions. Just bare in mind that if you want to climb a tall building (because there are so many here) to get a great view, this is not going to happen when it’s poring with rain or foggy outside.

Remember that Sunday afternoons and public holidays can be quieter, with many museums and shops being closed.

Money:

The currency is Euro. Berlin can be expensive in and around popular tourist sites. Despite this, it is easy enough to find cheap food if you venture into the suburbs. Kebab shops, burger stops and chippies are never more than a five minute pace away.

Getting around:

The Sbhan is the easiest way around the city. If underground trains aren’t for you then grab a map and explore on foot. Many attractions are close to each other so you shouldn’t have to walk too far between sights. Typical to most European cities, Berlin’s inhabitants do fall prey to telling tourists that “it’s too far to walk” and that they should “take the train because it’s faster and easier”. At least once I challenge you to ignore the nice citizen and go on foot to see if it really is too far. And if come back and it was too far… Well, I’m sorry and I’m sure you made memories that made it worth it anyway right!?

Things to do:

Reichstag dome – Tickets must be purchased online in advance of your visit or you will be refused entry. Allow 15-20 minutes to get through the quick security checks before you enter. Upon entering through the mini airport security you will be transported by an elevator up into the huge dome that sits on top of the reichstag. Audio guides are free and automatically feed you information as you scale higher and higher into the sky. If you are scared of heights you may want to think twice as the majority of the dome is glass, so not looking down is not really an option! germany architecture berlij

Brandenburg Gate & Around – The gate is situated near some of Berlin’s other main sights and is usually tourist heavy. Before heading here have a walk through the Jewish Monument situated a ten minute walk away. Both the gate and the monument make a big impression at night when the lights come on.

History:

It is almost impossible to go to Berlin and not learn a little about the history it possesses. Going down to see the remaining wall is an interesting visit along with Checkpoint Charlie (be warned that it gets very crowded with tourists), and free museums such as the Topographie des Terror (a highlight of our trip).

Not so central – Venturing out of the centre is highly recommended. Just in the train and explore outer Berlin for some spectacular sights and entertaining things to do. Parks, museums, and more are easy to find.

olympic rings outside berlin stadium

A place to stay:

If you are looking for a decent place to stay then Plus Berlin Hostel is great. The hostel is by far the biggest hostel I’ve ever stayed in, and with a swimming pool, family friendly rooms, common rooms, restaurant, gardens and even its own art exhibition,it’s as though this hostel made love to a hotel and produced this huge beast. Staying in a dorm here was strange. The rooms were cleaned daily with cute chocolate pieces left on your pillow. Fresh towels were on the foot of the bed when you came back from a days adventures ( see! Just like a hotel right). The pool was a great addition. On one of the days when it was raining we opted for a swimming session which was totally worth it. The food was reasonable for dinner, and the all you can eat breakfast buffet was delicious. Every smart traveller knows – get up a little later and make the buffet a brunch instead of a breakfast for optimum money saving.

plus berlin hostel in central berlin

Extras:

 

Vibes- The general vibe in Berlin is a friendly yet equally standoffish vibe. Kind of like London but with less rushing and more chit chatting. An example of the humour and lightheartedness of Berlin was when I asked a guy if he would take a photo of us. He joked saying that he could not… I didn’t get the joke and stood apologising for even asking, embarrassed. My boyfriend, the comedian, and his friend found it hilarious and laughed at my expression.

Bears, green men, and red women-

If you really pay attention to your surroundings you will notice things that people often miss. Sadly for the unobservant (and I’ve asked around) many people return from Berlin having not seen a single bear statue. Considering its significance here it is sad that they have not one photo or memory of seeing one. Sadly, these same people also have no idea what I’m taking about when I ask them what they thought of the traffic light people. They stare at me blankly… “There are entire shops dedicated to the little people inside the traffic lights! How could you miss them?!” It turns out they just weren’t looking hard enough. Therefore, my recommendation is to pay close attention.

Overall thoughts:

Berlin for me is a standard city of art, culture, history, business and pleasure. Personal preference sways me to feel no real urge to return. A controversial feeling I am aware. Personally, having seen Potsdam, Dresden and Bonn I find that I prefer these smaller jewels for reasons of which I’m not quite sure. But why does it matter? Make up your own mind and get to travelling! berlin map on the berlin wall british and german

5 Things You Learn From… Travelling With Your Boyfriend

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Before jumping aboard the “couples travel” train I was quite against the idea of exploring with anyone other than myself. Why exactly? I’m not quite sure. I guess there is a common misconception that travelling alone means that you have more freedom of choice. I have learnt from travelling with a partner that this is (thankfully) not necessarily true, and that travelling with a partner can actually cause you to end up going to places you love that you had you been alone wouldn’t otherwise have gone to.

Here is what traveling with him has taught me:

1) You should always, always, always pack an extra day bag. Our first trip away together was to Rome. It was a dream for the following reasons. Whilst we explored… A) I carried my stuff. B) He carried his stuff. The end.

By the second trip away together however, we had obviously got comfortable with each other because well, let’s just say that if I have to carry his stuff because he forgot to pack a spare bag AGAIN then there will be trouble.

Now every time we plan a trip and start packing my first conversation with him is “have you packed a spare bag” to which his answer is usually “na, I’ll just carry my stuff in my hands”… (what he means is, “no i’ll butter you up and you’ll be carrying my stuff before you know it”

Berlin Wall. Irfan Chaudhary No Bag Hoodie Nike

Enjoying the Berlin Wall museum… Bagless

 

2) When he suggests going to somewhere you think you will hate you should just say yes and go along. The most notable examples here are Disney Land Paris and Berlin’s Olympic Stadium.

Dead set against going to Disney I moaned as he pressured me into coming with him. (By pressured I mean that he bought tickets and I thought meh it’s free why not.) When we arrived at Disney Land I absolutely transformed into a huge child. It became less about him geeking out, and more about me wanting to have a photo taken with Mickey Mouse and watch the princess show. Our time there was nothing short of FUN. Possibly the most fun ever.

The Olympic Stadium also hadn’t appealed to me. Being the supportive girlfriend that I am I said yes. It’s only fair that you both get to see things you enjoy right? Although it wasn’t quite as thrilling as Disney World I had to admit that the stadium was an impressive site, and I left there happy to have seen it in the flesh.

Jemma and Irfan in front of the disney Land castle in paris

Disney For Life

 

3) You will become a pro at masking your embarrassment (usually to do with his bad habits) and, at lying to other travellers to cover your partners back. I won’t go into too much detail here, but when your sharing a dorm in a hostel and your other half blocks the toilet, in one of the coolest and cleanest hostels ever, because “the plumbing is different than England”… you will find yourself pretending you know absolutely nothing about it. “Yea I know it’s gross, it was like that when we got here” you will say to the desperate, tired travellers who really need to pee but can’t. Your boyfriend will smile at you in solidarity, and you will never speak of it again. Until the next blockage. (Or you decide to write about it in your blog) – sorry Irfan ❤️

Sitting above the elephants on the right hand side in our mahut clothingAn embarrassment free day at the Elephant Nature Park.

 

4) You will always end up playing the role of 1) the head of logistics 2) linguistic guide and, 3) chief ideas generator.

“I’m taking you somewhere” he will say beaming from ear to ear. You will arrive in the country of his choice and await his instructions on where to go from the airport. Only to be greeted with “how are we getting to the hostel?”

This truly is when you realise how much you like them, because if you didn’t you would probably just walk away and make your own way there without them.

Being the loving person that you are you will get your phone out, google maps the data right out of your phone, walk up to random strangers and ask for directions in your best GCSE level French – all whilst he tags along behind you until a solution is found.

Note that he WILL make the trip excellent. He just won’t make the journey from the plane to the hostel an easy process.

Irfan Chaudhary and Jemma Reid stood outside the Lourve museum in ParisSometimes getting lost leads to the Louvre!

 

5) You learn how to live with them.

For couples that don’t already live together, travelling with a partner is an excellent test of whether or not you would survive/ put up with/ work well living together. Whether you are travelling for a weekend, a month, or longer seeing how you both cope in stressful situations is a great indication of how you will function as time goes on.

Lucky for us we have found that travelling together is no issue as long as you give each other space sometimes. Whilst on our travels we have met every kind of couple. The ‘glued at the hips’, the ‘I’ll go my way and they’ll go theirs’, the ‘this relationship only works at homes’… We have seen it all.

I’m not saying that we are ‘couple of the year’ (although we come pretty close) but one thing we have definitely learnt is that when you respect each others boundaries and let each other do their own thing, travelling together is easy and fun.

Tips: Exploring Thailand? had enough of staying in dorm rooms? Treat both yourselves to a private villa when in Thailand by staying Villa Varich in Chumphon.

standing on the edge of a cliff in Vietnam whilst on a motorbike tour in Da Lat. Look at that viewVietnam: Separate motorbikes, same shared experience.

 

Happy travels.

Travel Fashion That’s So Bad You Just Have To Try It Out

backpacker, destination, fashion, holiday, long weekend, travel

Ask anyone that knows me and they will tell you that fashion is not something I consider as a priority. That’s why when I’m travelling I’m more than happy to embrace local dress or copy the ‘quirky backpackers’ in the hostel’s fashion choices. I look like an idiot in many a photo, but I strongly recommend you try these fashion ideas out whilst exploring… Here are some tried and tested items.

When in… South East Asia:

Printed trousers (also known as ‘Gap Yah Pants’) – These are the epitome of backpacker fashion and scream “I have a care free attitude’ to all the non shoestring budget travellers. They’ve got zero stretch, making the most basic activities hard, but who cares when you look this cool ?!

Hippy Head Scarf/Wrap – So you were at the vegan hostel for a night and now you think you’re a Greenpeace representative? You bought a cool hippy scarf and you’re ready to show the world how organic you are with your head wrapped in a multicoloured cloth. Yeah, it will probably never see the light of day after your trip… but it makes an excellent sweat band in the ridiculously humid temperatures. Plus you look like a lovely free spirit.

When in… South America :

Never before worn hiking boots – There’s always that one backpacker that’s hobbling behind the rest of the gang because they didn’t wear their boots in. Despite the pain they will carry on because they look super outdoorsy and adventurous. If you’re nice you’ll give them the blister plasters your mum told you would “come in handy”.

When in… any country in the world:

Universally accepted alcohol advertisement shirts – When I went to Tanzania advertising the local beer ‘Tusker’ (hilarious as I wasn’t even old enough to drink yet). It may have been the elephant on the front, or the slogan “baada ya kazi” (enjoy your drink) written on the back that made me so compelled to buy it. Regardless, I bought it, and 8 years later I still have it, along with multiple other beer shirts from other global locations. The funny thing is. I don’t drink beer. Weird right?

Bracelet heaven. Forgotten what your wrists look like? Me too. When you get bored of buying magnets for your eclectic fridge it’s time to switch to bracelets. The best part is being able to tell a story about your travels to all those who admire them. The worst part is when you lose one or it falls off. When my Tanzanian bead bracelet snapped in a hostel in Germany I may have had a little cry in the middle of the dorm 👀.

When in… Europe:

The borrowed life guard jacket – All you need to know is that I borrowed one, did a slow motion Baywatch run down the beach, had a photo, pretended to be a life guard, freaked out when a kid hurt himself and thought I could help, and have the jacket back. Why wouldn’t you get one?

Socks and sandals – You know it’s a bad look when people would rather see your bare feet than what you are currently displaying to the world… Let me just clarify one thing. I do not endorse this look. Especially if you have sandals that go in between your toes. How do you even grip the shoe??? Anyway, if you are a wearer of the sock and sandal. I salute you for your courage, but I do not applaud you.

Whatever your quirky travel fashion choices are, continue to embrace them as I continue to observe, laugh, and join in!

Croatia, Dubrovnik: Seeing It All – 4 day Itinerary

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Dubrovnik, Croatia:

A practical blog with practical advice.

Scroll down for the itinerary.

But first… The practical stuff –

Getting in: Arriving in Croatia was a complicated mess of passport control, unoccupied help desks and tourists eager to get into the country before the other tourists. Luckily the airport is small and getting lost in it would require considerable effort on your part. If you are staying in or near the Old Town then work your way (unaided by no one other than equally baffled tourists) to the bus ticket shop.

The shuttle bus takes you down the beautiful coastline from a great height. Eventually after fretting over your drivers ability to drive on the edge of a cliff you will gain an incredible view of (cue Game of Thrones music) King’s Landing!!!! – I mean, The Old Town. At 40 croation kuna for a one way ticket this is the best way to head into town from the airport.

When to go: April was a strange time of year. With not many tourists around it was great to be able to walk round without having thousands of people pushing you out of the way or photobombing every shot. In the evenings however the atmosphere in Lapad, Gruz and other surrounding areas was non existent. The locals were all at home and, the tourists seemed to have gone to bed. Perhaps summer is the better time to experience night life.

Jemma Reid standing in the middle of the rocks of Lokrum Island in Croatia. You can see the sea in the background with more islands behind that where Croatia lie.

Money: Anything within the walls of the Old Town is expensive so we ventured a little outside of the vicinity for cheaper goods. Most places accepted Kuna and Euro. When paying with Euro we learnt to expect to receive change in a well calculated (yet highly confusing) mix of Euro and Kuna.

Getting around: Bus tickets can be purchased on the bus for 15kuna or at a ticket shop. We were tipped off that if you buy the ticket from a shop the price is 12kuna. Score! Money saved!!

The transport staff were notably miserable I’m sorry to say. We found no word of politeness from any transport staff. Whilst we knew that they owed us nothing, it was still a shock to be grunted at every time we jumped on the bus.

If you were slow entering or exiting the bus you would be either left behind or shut in the bus doors ( I was shut in the doors no fewer than two times ).

Fun Activities and things to do:

Walk the walls – If stairs are your thing then head for the walls and keep walking up. You will need to pay to do this and your fitness will need to be at a good level to get up the never ending steps. If you don’t fancy climbing your way into an asthma attack then opt for staying at ground level and following the wall around from the lower levels.

Cable Car

Why you should use the cable car in Dubrovnik. Information about the cable dar in Croatia and it's service information

How Long: Fast and Furious – If you intend to take day trips to Montenegro or Bosnia ( p.s. 1 day in Bosnia is not enough) then consider 5-6 days. If you are just intending to stay in Dubrovnik then 4 days in perfect.

Slow and Steady – If you tend to spend an hour or two a day people watching, or drinking a bottle of wine at dinner then you may want to add a day onto the fast and furious itinerary.

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4 Day ITINERARY

Lokrum Island is full of rocks and beautiful game of thrones artifacts this is a panoramic view of the edge of the island where the sea crashed against the rocks in Dubrovnik Croatia

Day 1. Arrive midday to see the old town lit up. Find somewhere on the Main Street for dinner before heading to your hotel. The further away from the main street, the cheaper the food – is a good general rule to go by.

Day 2. Grab a bus to Pile gate, walk around the back of the fortress and jump aboard the cable car. You can spend a good few hours exploring up here. Have breakfast in the restaurant before looking around the museum taking selfies and staring into the distance. Head back down before lunch and walk to the old town. You can spend the entire afternoon and evening here trekking in and out of the hidden alleys. Gasp at the Game of Thrones locations, walk the walls and marvel at the curious items in the museums. In the evening you can stay in the old town or head to Lapad for a quiet meander and a drink.

The Dubrovnik cable car in Croatia

Day 3. Islands are on the itinerary for today. If you want to see a few then opt for the three island tour. A less common (and less rushed idea) is to grab a boat to Lokrum island. Lokrum is a beautiful diverse island full of peacocks and rabbits. Wear your swimming costume under our clothes if you intend to swim in the mini cove on the island. Stroll around the monastery, botanical gardens and park before scrambling through the rock pools. You can also find the Iron Throne which is somewhat of a hidden gem as there is little advertisement to suggest it is even on the island! Following your visit to Lokrum head to the old town to revisit any areas you missed on the previous day.

On the Island of Lokrum sits a beautiful peacock on top of a small piece of ruins in Dubrovnik. It has a long feathered green tail sweeping from its dark blue body

Day 4. If you aren’t planning any onward travel or day trips use today to take the three island tour or a day trip to Cavtat. Enjoy the Game of Thrones Scenery, the crystal blue waters and, the historic fortress. Have an incredible time in Dubrovnik.

Bon Voyage!