A Weekend in and around Arundel, UK

travel

Depending on how fast you want to explore, 2 or three days is the perfect amount of time to explore Arundel and the surrounding area. Arundel is a great place to base yourself if you have a car and are interested in history, countryside, and beach visits. The area is diverse, with plenty to do. Here is my suggested itinerary.

(This blog is included in my animal blogs list because the entire trip (apart from the castle) was very dog friendly. Dogs were EVERYWHERE, in pubs, shops, at the beach and so on. If you want to take the pooch then I would say DO IT.)

Day 1

Arundel Castle and Gardens

Arrive early, settle into your accommodation then head straight for the castle. There is a car park opposite the castle entrance. Pay for the day (parking ends at 6pm) and spend the day here. START WITH A BANG at this incredible castle and make sure you purchase a ticket for the gardens as well. Wear comfy shoes and be ready to climb lots of steps and walk uphill. It is recommended that you pay the GiftAid charge if you are planning to spend any money at the gift shop. By purchasing GiftAid you will essentially get double your money back per ticket in the form of a voucher to spend there (accurate as of August and September 2021)

Arundel castle

Start with the Gardens – It is a good idea to start here because they open at 10am whilst some parts of the castle open later. Aim to spend an hour to an hour and a half exploring these beautiful grounds. Do not pick the apples unless there is a sign telling you otherwise, and do not pick the flowers.

Arundel castle gardens

Head for the main Castle and Keep – Get most of the stair climbing out of the way by starting with the Keep. It opens at 11am and is sure to give you incredible views over Arundel. If you are afraid of heights, chill out on the bridge instead and hear some amazing facts about the grounds from one of the many knowledgeable staff members. Once the Keep is done you are free to explore the castle rooms. The castle and gardens close at 5pm so feel free to return to the gardens once you have finished looking around.

Arundel castle The keep and stairs

Lunch

From the castle you can walk into the main town. We had lunch at a lovely pub before heading back out. No need to look at a map, the streets are small and you will find somewhere to eat lunch without needing to put effort into the search.

River, Museum, and Window Shopping

Walk back down the hill to the river to let the food sink down, then go to the museum (next to the car park opposite the castle) and spend half hour or so learning about the area. If you are up for more walking, take a walk around the town, spend your cash, or grab a coffee before you head back to your hotel for the evening.

Day 2

The beach and more

Start with the Cathedral – As it’s your last day to make the most of Arundel, park at the top of the hill to preserve your energy and save time… Take a quick walk around the cathedral and admire the architecture. Sometimes, events are held here that are open to the public.

Littlehampton – East Beach is a lovely lesser known beach that is super underrated. The beach is HUGE and well worth the visit. Once you’re finished with the cathedral, check the tide chart online before you go and aim for low tide. This way the beach doubles in size and you will find that you can paddle out for miles in your jeans! There are dog friendly areas further down the beach, (at low tide you can be assured that your dog will have plenty of sand and rocks to explore.) The drive from Arundel is around 15minutes and easy to get to.

Eat your traditional beach day lunch – East Beach has a few little kiosks that sell chips, any fish you could possibly want, kids meals such as chicken nuggets, hot dogs, warm doughnuts, and more. There is also a cute little seating area on the beach with tables and chairs in case you didn’t bring your own. Eat up and enjoy the view…. Oh, and do not feed the seagulls because they will poop on you and scare a lot of people as they swarm over the entire seating area.

Had enough of the beach? – If the answer is no, stay here and chill. If the answer is yes, be a child and get your cash out. There is a mini funfair as well as a traditional beachside arcade that you can playing in. My mum and I spent a good hour (definitely more than an hour) playing around in and spending all the pennies we had for zero results. If you don’t like the arcade, drive back into Arundel for a stroll.

Still not ready to sleep? – Drive up to the Bignor Roman Ruins and take a stroll around, or perhaps the WWT Arundel (Wetlands) to spot nature. Check out the Castle schedule of events too. Sometimes they hold open air theatre nights that you can book tickets for to fill your evening.

Day 3 – for those that aren’t ready to leave just yet.

Last Explorations before the drive home

Drive to Bognor, Worthing, or Brighton – If you have planned to spend another day here then branch out from Arundel and drive to Worthing or Brighton, or go the other direction to reach Bognor. These beaches are all quite rocky so you may want to opt for Brighton if you are less interested in rocky beaches. Brighton can offer more in the way of attractions than Worthing or Bognor.

Me and mum at Worthing beach

If you are looking for something to do on the route home, stop off in the beautifully charming town of Petworth. This place is the stuff of fairy tales. Park up and take a walk around the quaint streets or book a visit to Petworth House.

Don’t fancy Petworth? South Downs is so close and there is so much to see. Spend your last few hours looking around the beautiful countryside. Look at your options here – https://www.southdowns.gov.uk/all-abilities/family-activities/

Enjoy your trip to Arundel!

IG: @jemsadventure

Free London!

travel

So much to do, so little cash?

Why pay to have fun when you can do all of this for free! Here are 10 places to go for free in London. You won’t be disappointed.

1. The Temple of Mithras

Visiting the Temple of Mithras comes first on my list because it has to be the most underrated and random attraction in London.

Experience Roman London by learning about the culture and pastimes of the people who once lived there. You will then be directed downstairs into a dark room. Once there, the randomness begins. Lit head sculptures and moving screens will keep you entertained before you enter the main room. The main room experience is what really drives the whole theme and you won’t be disappointed by what you find inside.

When can you visit? Tuesday-Sunday 10am-6pm or Sunday 12pm-5pm

Pre-book or Arrive on the spot? Pre-Book to ensure your space.

How long should you stay? 30mins-1hour

Getting there: Walk from one of these underground stations to save time – Cannon Street or Bank Station or Mansion House.

2. Sky Garden

Firstly, good luck if you can get tickets! Secondly, if you get tickets book for a bright day. The Sky Garden was not as well lit at night as it could have been so we couldn’t see much in the evening.

The Sky Garden is exactly what it says on the tin with the addition of breath taking views across the city and the ability to grab a drink whilst you try to forget your fear of heights.

When can you visit? 7 days a week with a valid ticket and stated time

Pre-book or Arrive on the spot? Pre-Book a maximum of 3 weeks prior to coming or you won’t get in!

How long should you stay? Times to book your visit are available here- Plan your visit – Sky Garden – London

Getting there: Walk from Monument Station

3. Camden

A visit to London simply isn’t complete without a good shopping spree around Camden. Be prepared to embrace all of the quirky things in life as you walk through the crowds of confident locals and fellow bewildered tourists. If you don’t enjoy crowds so much then walk over the bridge towards the stables and look for the food court. Tables and chairs are laid out there.

The addition of Buck Street Market brings you away from the main market action and into a cosy food hub that will be sure to fulfil all of your culinary needs. As this blog post is about FREE activities you may want to pack a picnic and sit by the canal. It’s best not to eat your own food on the premises of another restaurant or food truck unless you enjoy being asked to move.

Make sure you check out the stable yard (sorry there are no real horses here). You’ll have plenty of free food samples being thrusted into your face, so many that you probably won’t be hungry come lunch time.

When can you visit? Camden never sleeps

Pre-book or Arrive on the spot? Camden is always ready and waiting for visitors

How long should you stay? You could stay all day. If time is limited allow at least 4 hours.

Getting there: Walk from Camden Town or Camden Road stations and follow the crowd.

Camden Monopoly – @jemsadventure

4. Trafalgar Square > Downing Street > Westminster > Buckingham Palace

Head to Trafalgar square and gaze up at the giant lions before being thoroughly entertained by a variety of street performers.

Once you’ve had enough of craning your neck to see Nelson on his column take a 2-5minute walk to Downing Street. There isn’t much to see aside from the famous door but it’s simply a must if you want to see everything on the list. When you’ve finished taking selfies keep walking until you reach Westminster.

The giant architecture and the imposing giant that is Big Ben will be sure to occupy your mind for a while. On the far side of the houses of parliament there are some public gardens which offer a less crowded view of the river and a place to eat a snack. From here you’ll be in the perfect place to walk to Westminster Cathedral and on to…

Buckingham Palace, A 10-15 minute walk from Westminster Cathedral will bring you to the very grand Buckingham Palace. Tickets are sadly not free, but the view from outside is more than enough to leave London impressed. Get there early for the 10:45am Changing the Guard which takes place most days throughout the year. Do a quick internet search to make sure it is happening on the day you are going.

The palace is surrounded by public parks and is the perfect place to spend a chilled afternoon in the sunshine.

When can you visit? Anytime

How long should you stay? A good 3 hours can be spent in between Buckingham palace and Westminster

Getting there: Walk between the attractions to save time. Jump off at Victoria Underground for Buckingham Palace. Jump off at Charing Cross for Trafalgar Square.

Westminster – @jemsadventure

5. Museums

I could sit here and list the many many many museums in London but with a quick Google search you can find what you’re looking for. Instead I’ll recommend my 2 personal favourites.

  1. The Science Museum – Why? Because it’s fun. They are constantly updating the exhibits, and even the simplest scientific discovery can become the most interesting thanks to the creativity of the designers. Website: Home | Science Museum
  2. The Natural History Museum – Why? One word. Dinosaurs. Ok so there is so much more to see than just dinosaurs but nothing ever quite lives up to seeing the scale of a dinosaur jaw. Website:

If you want more museums have a read of this.

6. Tower of London in November

The historic is a beautiful addition to your activities for the day. Whilst I would recommend putting aside some cash to go inside, you may have run out and need to admire it from the outside only. If you are in London in November make sure you head to the Tower to admire the incredible poppy display that fills the grass in memory of fallen soldiers.

Key information: Use the website for all the information you need to plan your trip.

Pre-Book or arrive on the day? Either, but bear in mind it might be busy so it’s up to you to take the risk.

How long should you stay?

7. The Thames

If you manage to visit London and don’t see the Thames River then what on earth were you doing? The Thames is accessible throughout the city. I would recommend hitting Waterloo or Westminster to get the best views of it. Waterloo is full of market stalls and random entertainment to keep you occupied as you meander down the river.

When can you visit? Any time!

How long should you stay? A day, a month. There is no limit on the amount of time you should spend here.

Keep your eyes peeled online for seasonal events, festivals, shows, and attractions that you can visit for free taking place around the Thames!

8. Battersea Park

Confuse yourself by seeing the wonderful Peace Pagoda right in the middle of London. Explore this excellent Victorian park and admire the river whilst you are there. Take a picnic and relax in this lovely park

When can you visit? All year round. Check the website for any scheduled closures.

How long should you stay? The park is open between 6:30am and 10:30pm so plan accordingly.

Peace Pagoda – @jemsadventure

9. Visit a Market or Two or Three

There are so many markets in London, the tough decision is choosing which one to go to. Camden is already on the list as I don’t really class this is a typical market. Here are some recommendations for some more traditional ones:

Borough Market – This is predominantly a food market. Good luck walking round without wanting to spend any money! Everything looks delicious here and the atmosphere is great. Check to see if there are any events on here.

Greenwich Market – I stumbled on this market after visiting Greenwich Park right next door. This indoor market is full to the brim of food, fashion, artesian trinkets, and antiques. Grab a takeout meal from one of the stalls and eat it in the park.

Covent Garden Market – Possibly the most upmarket market available in London. Walk around to a violinist playing classical music, peruse beautiful jewellery, or just grab a drink and embrace the atmosphere.

10. Free Exhibitions and Art Galleries

There are so many exhibitions constantly popping up around London. All you have to do is Google ‘Free Exhibitions in London’ and the world is your oyster. Just go for whatever takes your fancy. Aside from random exhibitions there are trusty galleries like the Tate Modern and the Guildhall Art Gallery.

Tate Britain – @jemsadventure

Nicaragua – Must See List

nicaragua, travel

This country is vastly overlooked by travellers and my question is why? I have put together a brief overview of the key places you should visit based on my 4 cumulative months spent there, and how long to stay in each of the locations.

Ometepe Island

This spectacular island is home to two volcanoes! Do I need to say more? No, but I will.

Rent a bike – thank me later for this suggestion. You will see so much more if you are on limited time. It will be well worth it.

Hire a guide and hike up the volcanos – get those legs moving and climb up the volcanos. Personally I prefer the view form the bottom of the volcano, but if you want the challenge then go for it.

Ometepe display twin volcanos

Petroglyphs – If you are a lover of history then seek out the petroglyphs. Don’t know what they are? Rock art! Ancient rock art.

Hostels – there are some really fun hostels on the island. Have a search on hostel world before selecting the first random hostel you see.

Go nature and monkey sight seeing – you will hear the monkeys in the trees, but can you find them? And can you find the waterfall?

Waterfall in Ometepe

How long? If you are not hiking up the volcanos then 3 or 4 days is plenty.

Masaya

Full of culture, friendly people, excellent nightlife, and beautiful markets.

Things to do:

Laguna De Apoyo – aka The hidden gem of Masaya. My favourite place for a swim in the fresh water lagoon. Panoramic views. Kayak rental, stone beach, restaurants, occasional monkeys and birds… Do not leave this off of your Nicaragua sight seeing tour.

Group shot in the lagoon

Cultural Center Old Craft Market – Get ready to spend all your cash on the amazing hand crafts available here. There are so many things on offer here. Make sure you have room for a hammock or two in your bag.

Near the market you can walk over to visit the Folklore Museum which offers fabulous insight into Nicaraguan culture and history.

Folklore Museum mural

Parque Central – A wonderful place with friendly people and lovely parks to chill out in. Head to the central park for a slice of pizza and wifi. Look around the surrounding bars for a Toña or cafe’s for a nice ice coffee. There are lots of places to jump onto the computer nearby, so bring some change so that you can surf the internet and speak to folks back home when you need to. It is a good idea to base yourself near the park.

Volcano Masaya – This active volcano is well worth visiting. It may be best to join a tour, and if you can visit in the day time and the night time then do it! The contrast is amazing. Its incredible what difference the night sky can make. You can walk to the volcano but the walk is verryyy long. Maybe take a car instead.

Me and Yamil at Volcano Masaya

How long? 4 of five 5 is a great amount of time to see it all.

Leon

Spectacularly colourful. Friendly people with excellent night life.

Cathedral Basilica – visit the biggest cathedral in Latin America for a small price. Admire the architecture and tick it off your list.

Volcano boarding / Volcano sightseeing at Cerro Negro – thrill seekers gather round. I recommend staying at BigFoot hostel for excellent packages and shuttles to experience volcano boarding. The volcano is about 45 minutes away from Leon.

Beaches near Leon – easy commuting distance made easier if staying at BigFoot hostel.

Relaxing in hammocks comes easily in Nicaragua

Walking Tour – find a walking tour and learn about the beauty of Leon.

How long? With day excursions, allow 3 or 4 days.

Granada

This city is the oldest town in Nicaragua and full of Spanish architecture.

Things to do:

Climb the bell tower of Iglesia de La Merced for amazing views across the city. You will need to pay a dólar or two but it is totally worth it.

Visit the Guadalupe Church for a lovely look at the old architecture, then head to the Catedral de Granada for a brightly coloured and completely opposite experience.

Whether you smoke or not, take a tour of the Mombacho Cigar factory. The place is intriguing and you will find their processes intriguing.

Embracing Nicaraguan culture

How long? 1 day or 2 is plenty to see the main sights.

San Juan Del Sur

Surfer paradise, beach vibes only, perfect place to relax and unwind by the sea.

Things to do:

Climb up the hill in my picture below and look out over the sea like a pirate, before coming down to the sand for a necessary sun bathe and sand castle building session. Then jump in the sea to cool off.

Surfing is best done at Playa Maderas if you are experienced and in need of big waves.

Jesus statue – Why not pay a visit to one of the biggest Jesus statues in the world whilst you are here? It is called The Christ of Mercy and costs a couple of dollars to visit.

How long? I love the beach vibe here, so 2, 3, or 4 days can easily be spent here if you love the laid back beach life.

Managua

This bustling city is a bit of a maze. Good luck navigating without a map! There are plenty of bus stops, so getting around is relatively easy.

Things to do:

Antigua Cathedral is a really beautiful location that is well worth visiting. You can spend a good hour exploring and learning about the history of Managua and the building itself.

Shopping – Managua is the perfect place to grab all of your essentials and more. Head for the Centro Comercial Galerías if you want a lot of shops and a cinema, or the smaller Metrocentro.

The best advice for Managua is just to explore. Just ensure you have 3 or 4 days to spend here. There is plenty to see and do. Take walking tours. Head for historical buildings or soak up the bustling city. Use Managua and your entry and exit point for easy access around Nicaragua. Buses are very easy to get from here. Use your spanish and be prepared to get a little lost now and then.

Estelí

Stunning mountains with an abundance of unforgettable views.

Things to do:

Being at one with nature – rivers, mountains, nature. It’s all here in Estelí.

Estelí views are extremely diverse.

“Fat woman” statues – These random statues are beautiful but bizmare. Dotted around Estelí you can expect to find a few of them holding different items. How many can you spot?

El Jalacate – Spend a few hours admiring the creative rock carvings. Paying to enter is not a problem when you see how much work has gone into this place.

How long? Day trips are perfect. But if you are enchanted by the mountains, stay for longer. I stayed for 3 days and have zero regrets.

There are so many things to see and do here! A month overall is recommended if you can get the time so that you can explore these places and more.

I hope that this has helped you plan your perfect Nicaraguan trip.

Things to see and do in Windsor and Eton

1 week, england, europe, holiday, itineraries, travel, uk

Things to see and do in Windsor and Eton

I live a 10 minute drive from Windsor, and wanted to share a few ideas with you as to how you can get the most out of your time here. Sure you can spend all day trying to spot the queen, but there’s so much more you can do!

Windsor Castle:

Let’s start with the main attraction. This castle is the main residence of Queen Elizabeth II who loves spending time here. This means that although you can go inside, you won’t be able to explore it in it’s entirety as some of it is shut off for the queen. There is plenty to see and explore and the ticket price I feel is justified.
A perk of visiting Windsor Castle is that it contains St. Georges Chapel which is usually open for visitors (unless a private event is being held, or there are renovation works.) If you go inside the castle you can expect to spend a decent amount of time staring at the impressive Queen Mary’s dollhouse.

Book Ahead – When visiting the castle you can expect queues to get inside, unless you book ahead. On three occasions I have tried to get into the castle to show my friends around, only to see that the queue was over 2 hours long to get inside. On more successful visits I have booked ahead.
Book tickets for the castle here: Windsor Castle – Visit Windsor

How Long?: Allow 3 hours minimum to look around

Windsor castle JREID

The Long Walk and Windsor Great Park:

This scenic path runs straight from the main gates of Windsor Castle and up to the Copper Horse Statue of King George III. The walk is…. you guessed it, long. Along the way you are sure to see plenty of deer in the surrounding fields grazing and resting.

If you start the walk from the castle you may want to take the dog for a walk at the same time. Dogs are welcome to join you on your walk, and if you are both well behaved you can let them off the lead. Once you reach the green gates, you are entering into deer territory, at which point your dog should be placed back on the lead and not interact with the deer at all.

How Long?: The Walk is around 2.6miles so take water with you. Allow a couple of hours maximum to make it there and back if you’re not in a rush. ALSO if you have prepared your parking then add an extra hour onto whatever you think you need because you won’t want to run back!

Long walk JREID
Windsor Royal Station:

The Queen’ Locomotive can be found here next to the main train station and is a stunning piece of history from the Victorian age. Great for a quick selfie and just a quick look to say you’ve seen it. Aside from this you can spend half an hour exploring the market stalls and shops inside the shopping centre. 

Diamond Jubilee Fountain:

This fountain is a lovely spot unknown to many tourists. Visit it at night to see it all lit up, or swing by during the day to enjoy the river views with the fountain splashing beside you. This is a perfect lunch spot. There is a cute bowls court next to it and tennis courts just opposite for some free entertainment.

Windsor Guildhall:

This enchanting little re-purposed museum is a small but interesting way to learn about local history. The museum is great for all ages and frequently hold small events for families and individuals to take part in.

Shopping:

Plenty of clothes shops available to spend all your hard earned cash! High street fashion shops and luxury brands are available. 

The River:

The river is a great place to take a walk whilst in the area and may be preferable to those not wanting to trek down the Long Walk.  Swan feed can be purchased from the small cafe where the swans nest. You can also rent a small boat and take a ride on the river or join a duck tour .

Windsor JREID

Escape Rooms:

Fancy a challenge? There are a couple of companies super close to the high street offering this fun experience  simply google “Windsor Escape Rooms” and take your pick. An hour of indoor guaranteed fun for all the family. 

Eton College:

As an operational college you can’t just expect to receive a full tour when you arrive here. The external architecture is worth the short stroll down the road and there’s nothing quite as British as seeing the students walking between classes in their traditional tails.

Eton High Street:

Much quieter than Windsor High street, Eton’s main road is arguable more charming with a church set back away from the road that is almost un-noticeable. Eventually you will reach Eton College, but before you get there, take a look at the quaint and quirky shops that line the street. Also… Look how pretty it is at Christmas! 

Eton Christmas JREID
Legoland:

Who hasn’t heard of Legoland?! Whether you have kids or are a big kid yourself be sure to visit if you love Lego before you leave. Expect to spend at least an entire day here, or maybe two if you want to spend the night in the Lego hotel!

Theatre Royal Windsor:

A lovely theatre located just outside the castle offering shows all year round for reasonable prices – Theatre Royal Windsor – live entertainment at its best in Berkshire

Windsor Leisure Centre:
If you would like a serious lane swim or a fun day out in the family pool then this is the best place to go. Look at the website before visiting for more price and time information: Windsor Leisure Centre (leisurefocus.org.uk)

Windsor On Ice:

Ice skating!!! During the winter you can expect to find a Christmas extravaganza in the form of an ice rink, charming food stands selling traditional bratwurst and candy treats opposite the jubilee fountain at Alexandra Gardens. You can get your tickets here: Welcome to Windsor On Ice | Windsor on Ice 

Windsor on ice JREID

Hungry in Windsor & Eton

Food for those on a tight budget these are some of my favourite foody places: McDonalds / Honest Burger / Weatherspoons / Starbucks / Krispy Kreme / Manny local restaurants! If you want to take a picnic to the long walk or by the river then this is not prohibited. 

Food on a slightly bigger budget: Flaming Cow Eton /  Gourmet Burger Kitchen / Bella Italia / Many more restaurants right on the castle’s doorstep or by the river.

Getting There

By Train: There are 2 train stations in Windsor. They are a 10 minute walk from each other so whichever one you choose it won’t matter because you’ll end up more or less in the same place! Here is how to get into Windsor and Eton via each one –

Windsor and Eton Central – To get to this station you will have to connect at Slough. The train journey from Slough is very cheap and takes around 5-10 minutes. If you are commuting from London Paddington you will connect at Slough before boarding the short journey to Windsor.

Windsor and Eton Riverside – This station connects Windsor to other areas of London such as London Waterloo. The train has many stops and may be less convenient time-wise than if you are able to get the fast train from Paddington to Slough and on to Windsor and Eton Central.

By Car – If you are driving from Slough/M4 come up the dual carriageway and take the first exit to the castle. DO NOT park near the castle or the river unless you don’t mind paying extra. Try Victoria Street Car Park for more reasonable rates. It’s a three minute walk from the shopping street.

Where to stay:

It’s nice to stay in Windsor… It’s also quite expensive to stay in Windsor. Opt to stay in Slough instead. There is a Moxy hotel, Premier inn, Travelodge, and many bnbs that will save you a heap of money. There are buses and taxis into Windsor for less than £10 so you do the math! If you are fixed on staying in Windsor then you will find plenty of options available online.

Have fun exploring Windsor and Eton!

PeruHop – Peru Journey Plan

2 weeks, a month, backpack, backpacker, backpcker, beaches, couples travel, holiday, hostel, itineraries, itinerary, return, review, travel, whirlwind

A colleague of mine. and fellow Peru lover, had recommended PeruHop following her trip to the incredible country.

Whilst I am usually the “you can go your own way” public transport kind of gal, I was also aware that I was attempting to see the whole of Peru (well as much as possible) in just over two weeks – just under half the amount of time that she had spent exploring the diverse country.

Expect to be fully immersed in Peruvian culture

With such little time, but so much we wanted to see and do, we figured that the sensible option was to book with PeruHop – the seemingly smooth sailing company, for ease of travel.

Planning our route

After trawling the PeruHop website for which bus route we wanted to take we decided on the ‘Full South to Cusco’ option. The payment was quick, and when weighing up how much it would have cost us to take separate buses, flights, and taxi’s we were satisfied that the cost justified the journey.

The optional yet included cultural bus options, whereby the PeruHop gang whisk you away on a mini tour or take you for dinner en route, only further affirmed our ‘bang for your buck’ rationale.

Pisco tour sign at the entrance in Peru

One of the excursions included a free tour to learn about the creation of Pisco

The dashboard and PeruHop interface online is basic (in a good way). Your itinerary is laid out really clearly and you can change your pick up locations, dates, and times really easily.

Wanting to have as stress-free of an experience as possible, we organised most of our pick-up locations and hostels before arriving in Peru.

Tip; If you change your mind about where you want to stay, or be picked up from, you can always opt for editing your choices closer to the time which is great for rogue wanderers.

Hostel Pick-Up Points

My partner and I aren’t what you call “party people” so for us we were a little worried about the recommended hostel lists provided as pick up locations by PeruHop as we had heard that many of them were quite rowdy.

Instead of plucking any hostel from their lists uninformed, we did a little research into each hostel settling on some of the quieter and less popular options.Whilst you can book a hostel that’s not available on the pick-up list, we decided that we simply couldn’t be bothered with lugging our backpacks to and from pick up points, hence the choice of PeruHop’s.

Bananas hostel in Huaccachina Peru

Bananas hostel in Huaccachina was B-E-A Beauuutifulll

The Overnight Bus

During the two weeks we spent two nights on the PeruHop bus. We considered this another justification as to why this was worth the money. We would have paid around £20-30 for a private room anyway so this was definitely worth the money -that is, if we had a decent sleep whilst aboard.

Luckily enough the bus ride was smooth and we managed to sleep for a decent enough proportion of the night. The seats were

Arrivals and Departures

Having spent time in various places around the world I am all too aware that not everyone operates with the same efficiency in mind. With this open minded attitude I anticipated long delays, slow drop-offs, and late pick-ups. Yet, to my surprise, the bus was always pretty much on time and always where they said they would be.

Getting that free T-shirt

If You take the route that we took you will end up in Cusco. From the Main Square the office can be found by walking up the narrow alley until you eventually turn left.

Upon arriving at the office you will be welcomed by a friendly PeruHop member of staff. Then you be asked to complete a short survey about your PeruHop experience, (make sure you take note of the hosts names as you will be asked to provide feedback on your favourite guides).

So they complete its time to try on some shirts and select the comfiest size!

Is PeruHop for you?

For us, PeruHop Offered us an incredible service that made it easy to see everything we wanted to see and more in the diverse land of Peru.

Along the way we met many travellers that had used public transport for the bulk of their journey, but had decided to give this service a try to finish up their trip comfortably. The resounding reviews seemed to be very positive.

I’d seen on the website that many people had made lots of friends during their trips. Whilst this wasn’t our main aim when choosing PeruHop, we found ourselves heading to the market with a lovely Canadian couple, adding friends on Instagram, and joking around with people on the bus when they reclined the chairs just a little bit too far. Our Machu Picchu Pals

We loved PeruHop and we think you will too.

Luxembourg City – Long Weekend, Travel Recommendations

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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!

Animal Lovers – 4 places to go in and around Nairobi

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Whether you are an animal lover or not, the pull of magnificent wildlife in Kenya is hard to resist.

The Giraffe Centre

Rothschild Giraffes reside here as part of an incredible conservation effort to increase their numbers. For less than $15 you can enter the Giraffe Centre, feed them, and admire them as they chill out in the sun. If warthogs are more your scene then you’ll appreciate the few that scuttle around under the Giraffe’s feet.

Giraffe kissing someone at the Giraffe centre in Nairobi I said no tongues!

No shouting or loud noises should be made in the centre as the giraffes are easy to scare. To see what else this amazing centre does for the Rothschild Giraffe visit the website: https://www.giraffecentre.org/our-sanctuary/

Giraffes standing to get food from people at the centre in Nairobi

Come face to face with giraffes.

The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

Open for just an hour or so per day, the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust opens its doors for feeding time in a successful effort to raise money to support the elephants that they care for. At around $10 to enter the centre there’s simply no reason not to go.

Elephant drinking water from the hose This cheeky elephant helps himself to the water supply

Tourists pile in the doors to witness the feeding of young elephants and learn about the reasons they live within the trust. Despite the high presence of tourists this centre is not to be missed. It is vital that all generations are continuously reminded of the importance of elephants and the need to conserve them in their entirety… tusks and all.

For more information visit the website and make sure you arrive on time or face disappointment at being turned away: https://www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org

Enough words… just look at these adorable elephants enjoying a drink!

Elephants cool in off by drinking water at the Sheldrick Trust in KenyaTime to cool off

Nairobi National Park

This National park is nestled within the city of Nairobi. It’s bizarre to drive so deep into the habitat of lions, water buffalo, wildebeest, and more, but to still see skyscrapers on the horizon.

The safari is pricey in comparison to the smaller rescue and conservation sites, but the expense is well worth it. With a good driver you can expect to see a lot of wildlife. We even managed to see a rare rhino!

Water buffalo in the sunshine at Nairobi national parkThere are plenty of water buffalo to see in the park

Within the park rests the historic ivory burning site. Marked as a picnic site you can take a moment to learn about the tragedies of Ivory poaching and Kenya’s role in preventing the practice. End ivory poaching. Kenya sign in Nairobi national park.

Elephants are worth more alive…

Lake Naivasha

If you love birds, gazelle, zebra and hippos then Lake Naivasha is he place to go. The lake is north west of Nairobi and best accessed by bus or private car.

The boatmen are full to the brim with animal facts and will assist you in identifying the creatures you see.

Hippos has n the lake. A pod of them you can just see their heads. A pod of hippos play in the lake

Pulling the boat up close to the hippos will be enough to set your heart racing. They will also strive to hep you experience the swooping of an eagle as they throw a fish into the water just meters from where you float. The payment for a boat tour around the enormous lake is per person and lifejackets are supplied. Learn more here: http://www.kws.go.ke/park-activities/viewing-lake-naivasha

Birds gather on lake naivasha in Kenya

Birds galore in Lake Naivasha

Have an excellent time animal spotting in Kenya!

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.