The unexpected (but very much welcome) sunny weather in London last weekend had me truly wanting to soak up every beam of sunshine. I couldn’t have been happier to have clear blue skies and the regrettable coat choice weather well above the usual crisp degrees this time of the year. So obviously, we did what every Londoner does when the sun emerges from behind the clouds – pack up a picnic and invade the nearest park, or in our case, Kew Gardens (aka Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew).
Coincidentally, the annual Kew orchid festival was on, this time showcasing the world’s most biodiverse country and bursting with surprises in every corner. From February 9th to March 10th, wonderful colours fill the Princess of Wales Conservatory in celebration of Colombia’s remarkable biodiversity and vibrant culture, where orchids represent a key part of the ecosystems of this South American nation. Naturally, walking into the conservatory was arguably the easiest decision I had to make (especially when the entry is included in your pass!).
Bath is one of the most picturesque corners in the UK. Located in the county of Somerset, in the southwest of England, Bath somehow evokes a mix between a metropolitan, urban feel and an idyllic English countryside atmosphere. Being an hour an a half train ride from London and an even shorter drive from Bristol, it’s become a preferred destination for those seeking a natural spa treatment, a short getaway from the hustle and bustle of the big smoke and quite charmingly, Christmas markets lovers.
From the Romans to its world class Palladian and Georgian architecture, honey-coloured Bath stone buildings and winding cobbled streets, it’s no wonder the whole city is a UNESCO Heritage site. Its rather small size also means it can be easily seen in a day or two…and yes, I mean by foot! Who needs public transport when you have 2,000 year old Roman Baths waiting to be explored?
It’s no secret that you can eat some of the best food in the world in New York. From $1 pizza slices to gourmet dishes at renowned Michelin-starred restaurants, the Big Apple offers meals for all budgets in every corner. There is, however, a common misconception that better meals equal higher prices. As bizarre as it might sound, you don’t necessarily have to spend most of your budget to eat well in the Big Apple.
In fact, you can find food markets filled with stall after stall of tasty meals all over NYC. Not only do you get to sample great food from a variety of cuisines, this actually comes at the fraction of a price of a restaurant. Sam and I are always up for a good food market and, luckily for us, London is teeming with them. As is natural, our American cousins across the Atlantic have the same idea and we were happy to find some incredibly delicious food halls among the hustle and bustle of the city that never sleeps. Here’s a selection of some of the best food markets in New York City to grab a bite to eat.
More than half a century since its accidental discovery, the Terracotta Army is still one of the most important archaeological findings in history. And I am not surprised at all. Who would’ve thought that there was a hidden 76m tall underground tomb in a remote area of China? Sounds bonkers, right? Unsurprisingly, visiting the Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor has always been on my travel bucket list. I often find myself astonished at this wonder. How is it possible to build an underground city filled with thousands of warriors to serve and protect the self-proclaimed First Emperor of China in his afterlife? The perseverance of humankind never ceases to amaze me.
Naturally, when I learnt that the World Museum in Liverpool was temporarily exhibiting part of of the collection of this archaeological complex, I immediately had to add it to my Liverpool itinerary.
Undoubtedly, Christmas markets are one of the best things to get you feeling festive in the build up to Christmas day. I, for one, have a seriously soft spot for all things jolly and the festive period is my favourite time of the year. When the weather outside is frightful and the fire is so delightful, I am far from a Grinch and more of a Buddy and want to surround myself with all things Christmas.
There’s nothing better than a great Christmas Market to help feed one’s festive appetite and the best part is you don’t need to travel to another country to find a good one (if you live in the UK, that is!). Just an hour and a half train ride from London, Bath is home to the ultimate Christmas Market – considered one of the best in the UK and perhaps even in the world!
Liverpool is best know for being the birthplace of one of the greatest Rock’n’Roll bands of all time – The Beatles. However, there’s much more to this city than the Fab Four and their incredible rise to worldwide fame and recognition. A leader in maritime trade and transport during the Industrial Revolution, this city in the North of England has achieved a UNESCO World Heritage Site status in six of its locations, known as the Liverpool Maritime Mercantile City. Home to Aintree Racecourse and the famous Grand National, as well as two of the biggest football teams in the UK (Liverpool FC and Everton FC), no wonder Liverpool was named European Capital of Culture in 2008!
Either by plane to the John Lennon International Airport, or by train to Liverpool Lime Street Station like we did, The Pool is definitely worth visiting. There are so many things to do in Liverpool that it’s hard to know where to start. Luckily our “How to spend a weekend in Liverpool” travel guide is here to help!
Monaco is one of the most exclusive and popular destinations in Côte d’Azur. Nestled on the Mediterranean coastline, halfway between Nice and the Italian border, Monaco has traditionally been compared to the likes of Las Vegas and Dubai – on a much smaller scale, however! Despite having a total area of barely a square mile, the second smallest country in the world after the Vatican comes with its very own tax-free status and has been a worldwide reference for luxury and gambling for more than a century. The glitz and eternal glamour have survived throughout the years thanks to Grace Kelly, various James Bond movies, the Monaco Grand Prix, lavish five star hotels and casinos and countless luxury yachts and cars.
Its strategic location (just a 30min train ride from Nice!) and rather smaller size than its neighbouring French resorts make it the perfect place for a quick day trip. Exploring Monaco in a day is actually possible and the micro-state is full of lesser known hidden gems for those looking to be money savvy. Here are our top tips on things to do in Monaco on a budget.