Cambridge is one of the most charming and quintessentially British places you can visit. Set on the banks of the River Cam, this picturesque historic city has it all: cobbled labyrinthine streets, honey-coloured buildings and old bridges, quirky shops and boutiques, along with an infinite number of pubs and coffee houses. Not to mention a total of 31 colleges that makeup the world-renowned university and its very own gondola-like experience – punting!
Founded in 1209 by a group of scholars from the University of Oxford who settled in Cambridge after a dispute with Oxford’s townspeople, the University of Cambridge is considered one of the most prestigious academic institutions in the world and is the second oldest University in the UK after Oxford. After exploring Oxford on a day trip last year, we couldn’t resist checking the other half of the Oxford-Cambridge rivalry – this time, with the help and recommendations of our friends acting as our own private local guides.
The art of collecting postcards is very old. ‘Can you get me a postcard?‘, would be one of the first things I’d ask friends and family who have just informed me about their plans for their latest holiday trip. They are used to it by now; they know how much I love postcards. It must be the anticipation of receiving an item from a different part of the world; or maybe it’s the excitement of finding a treasure with a message on its reverse, waiting on my doorstep. Perhaps, it’s both things at once – an enthusiasm that can only perhaps be surpassed when I’m the one buying postcards every time I travel.
They are my own souvenirs, after all. My own fragment of the world in a piece of illustration.
After some incredible days exploring Lisbon and Cascais, the beautiful city of Coimbra was the next big stop on our trip around Portugal. Located halfway between the Portuguese capital and Porto, our final destination, Coimbra seemed like the perfect location for the quick stopover we were looking for. With backpacks full of pasteis de nata and excited to grab a bite of its enviable history, we hopped on the first train from Lisbon to Coimbra. The former capital of Portugal from 1139 to 1250 is famous for its notable University and historical library, and it was now ours for just over 24h.
Did you know the Barbican Centre is home to the second biggest conservatory in London? Unbelievable, right? Concealed among the brutalist complex lies a dreamlike urban jungle with more than 2000 species of tropical flora. Often overshadowed by the impressive botanical collections at Kew Gardens, many tourists and Londoners are oblivious to the hidden oasis that grows within the heart of the city.
As a true London lover and someone who enjoys exploring the secret corners of my home, it wasn’t long until I added Barbican Conservatory to my Ultimate London Bucket List. I was somehow attracted to the flawless balance between the unnoticeable botanical scenery and its metropolitan surroundings.
Getting to meet the penguins was by far one of the most entertaining encounters I’ve ever had the pleasure to experience. Have you seen how insanely charming they all are? What about those fluffy lil’ baby ones? Cute, right? And please let’s not ignore the fact that penguins mate for life! I am sorry but that is just too adorbs.
There is something special about these stunning animals that I’ve always found incredibly captivating. In fact, the Meet the Penguins experience at ZSL London Zoo was part of my Ultimate London Bucket Listfor a really long time. So naturally, Sam and I couldn’t believe our luck when the amazing ZSL London Zoo team retweeted our Friday night escape to Zoo Nights and crowned us as the (ehem, ultimate) winners of that week’s Meet the Animals competition!
So what was it going to be? Meet the penguins, the rain forest animals or the giraffes? Our decision was already made even before our beloved Meet the Animals Gift Pack reached our home. Although we wouldn’t get to “P-P-Pick Up a Penguin” *insert 80s tv ad theme here*, how could we resist meeting plenty of them?
Have you ever wondered what happens at ZSL London Zoo when the sun goes down? Once all the visitors have left and the night zookeepers are the only ones wandering around, the zoo is pretty much animal territory once again. Thousands of different animal species from all over the world call London Zoo their home. Opened in 1828, initially only with scientific and educational study purposes, London Zoo receives hundreds of visitors each day. Tourists, parents and their kids, hopeless animal lovers, school trips (loads of kids), researchers, more kids…
The zoo is only for kids yeah? Wrong. As a self-sufficient adult (midlife crisis approaching), I’ve always found zoos quite fascinating and educational. They provide answers to wildlife’s most important questions. Do platypuses sweat milk? How do different species make babies? What are baby goats called? You know, all the interesting stuff. During the summer, ZSL London Zoo offers the opportunity to learn all about fauna in the most excellent Friday night plan, Zoo Nights. And yes, you guessed it, it’s ADULTS ONLY (sorry kids). Get ready to explore the secrets behind the zoo’s doors after hours, with loads of entertainment, delicious food and of course, wildlife without the horde of children and crowds of school trips! I obvioulsy had to add this to my Ultimate London Bucket List.
Welcome to Lisbon, the gorgeous city built on seven hills!
There are many ways I could describe Lisbon. It’s bohemian, yet it screams romanticism all over. It’s lively and spirited in nature, yet life seems to go calm and undisturbed. It’s Baroque, Gothic, Romanesque…all at once! There’s always something spectacular to marvel at in Lisbon and its magic and charm seem to have persisted throughout the years. Every corner, colourful building and cobbled street hide unpredictable surprises. I’d be lying if I said that Lisbon isn’t one of my favourite dots on the map!
As you can see, Lisboa is a very special place. Of course, I couldn’t resist encapsulating everything we love about the city of Fado in a travel guide. Grab a cuppa, sit down and get comfy, this is going to be a lovely long one…