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If there’s one question I had before visiting Macedonia, it was “how much money do I need?”. The travel blogging world seems fairly void of any articles on Macedonia and the main consensus, from the few articles I found, was that “it’s cheap” – but how cheap exactly?!

So here I am, setting out exactly how much money I spent in Macedonia. Maybe I’ll turn this into a “thing” with my future travels!

Currency

The currency is Macedonian Denar but Euros are commonly accepted for larger items such as long taxi drives and hotel costs.

You are unable to exchange money to Denar outside of Macedonia. You will therefore need to use banks in the country to withdraw your cash. We used an ATM in the city centre of Ohrid and had absolutely no problems.

Careful budgeting is therefore key to ensure you don’t have tonnes of excess cash to spare at the end of your trip (unless you want an excuse to buy ALL the chocolate in the airport on the way home)!

My Trip

  • Destination: Ohrid
  • Total number of days: 4
  • Total number of nights: 3
  • Date: May 2016 (off-season)
  • People travelling: 2 (some costs such as taxi journeys are therefore divided by 2).
  • Travelling style: Mid-range. We chose to stay in a nice hotel and have a really relaxing trip.

So, How Much Did I Spend?! 

For my entire trip to Ohrid, I spent the equivalent of £108.80. This is including accommodation, food, drinks, sightseeing and transport. Pre-arrival costs such as flights are not included as these vary so much!

To see a full breakdown of my costs in Microsoft Excel spreadsheet format, click HERE!

Accommodation – £43.86 – 40%

Now accommodation is a tricky one, we could have picked somewhere cheaper to stay. We also could have picked somewhere more expensive to stay.

We were also travelling in off-season. Most articles that I have read about Ohrid suggest visiting in June – September, as we were travelling in May, we could have experienced slightly lower prices than the average traveller. The prices for August 2016 on booking.com only seem marginally more expensive than what we paid for May – so you might be in luck if you’re travelling in Summer!

We chose to stay at Villa Kale and we couldn’t be happier with our choice. The family that own the hotel were helpful beyond words and always made sure that we were happy and satisfied.

There also appear to be some really great hostel choices on HostelWorld with some well-reviewed options having dorm rooms from as little as £4.24 per night in summer 2016 – perfect for backpackers!

Food/Drink – £42.44 -39%

We were in Ohrid for a relaxing time and to do a lot of exploring. As we visited in off-peak season, there wasn’t too much night-life going on (although according to our hotel staff, this changes in summer), therefore not much of this total is for alcohol.

We could have spent less on food but we decided to have a three course meal with wine and beer at one of Ohrid’s more expensive restaurants (Gladiator) and it was definitely worth it! We ate on the balcony overlooking the lake at sunset – perfect!

Sightseeing & Activities – £14.75 – 14%

Considering we were in Ohrid with the primary focus of sightseeing, I am pleasantly surprised at how low this total is!  A lot of Ohrid’s sights are monasteries, galleries and small things to see and do. The entry fee for each was usually around 100 denar (around £1.25).

The most expensive activity was a 600 denar half-day boat trip to St Naum and back. Definitely worth doing if you’re in the area!

I was tempted to do a tandem paragliding flight over the lake which would have set me back 59 EUR. We ended up not doing the flight but I’m sure it would have been worth the cost!

Transport – £7.75 – 7%

The only item included in this section is the taxi ride from Ohrid airport to the hotel and the return journey at the end of our trip. Our hotel organised this taxi journey for us and it was 10 EUR each way (the above total is made up of 2 journeys divided by 2 people at the exchange rate for May 2016).

Ohrid is well connected to other Macedonian cities and buses are available to various locations such as Skopje, Bitola, Prespa etc. The prices we saw for these journeys looked very reasonable – be sure to haggle any taxi prices, our hotel staff made us aware that taxi drivers might try to rip off tourists.

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and all thoughts are my own.
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Copenhagen seems to be appearing on more and more people’s travel radars, everyone seems to be going there! So I thought I’d try to be a bit helpful – here are my top things to do in Copenhagen!

Before we get started, I should warn that Copenhagen (as like much of Scandinavia) is a pretty expensive place to visit, however not to fear, I’ve also written a guide on keeping costs down in the city which you can read here!

1. Visit the Famous Nyhavn


If you had to send a postcard home to your loved ones while in Copenhagen, without a doubt it would be a picture of Nyhavn. The picture perfect colourful buildings, the canals, the pretty boats, what could be better? Be warned that restaurant and bar prices in this area can be more expensive however!

2. Tivoli Gardens

Another one of the more famous attractions in Copenhagen is Tivoli Gardens – a theme park set inside beautiful gardens in the city centre. I was disappointed to find that entry to the gardens isn’t free – everything inside the park you have to pay for (including access to fairground rides), so I think this is a bit unfair – the gardens aren’t that big! But it would be wrong to visit the city without taking a look inside Tivoli Gardens!

3. Botanisk Have – Freebie Gardens!


As an alternative to Tivoli, there are plenty of beautiful green areas to choose from! I visited Copenhagen with one of my friends who works in horticulture (hi Josh!) and I promised him before we visited that we’d fit some gardens into our schedule. As we were walking to another attraction, we planned a route through Botanisk Have (translates to The Botanical Gardens) and we had a great time! Even if taking the above “jumping photos” nearly resulted in my shoe falling in the lake… oops!

4. Eat all the Danish Pastries!


It would almost be criminal to visit Denmark without sampling a range of their pastries. Our favourite shop was Lagkagehuset, there is a store located on the main shopping street (Strøget -the longest pedestrianised shopping street in Europe!).

If you’re sick of pastries (is that even possible?!). Copenhagen is filled with other culinary delights, one being Noma, the worlds 3rd best restaurant! We obviously did not eat here… I think a meal here would have cost more than my entire trip… I did day dream about it though, naturally.

5.  Visit Freetown Christiania

If there’s something I didn’t expect a chilled-out, law-abiding city like Copenhagen to have, it’s a rebellious Freetown. Back in 1971, a group of hippies occupied abandoned military barracks and developed a town completely independent of the Danish Government. The Freetown is a mix of home-made houses, green parkland, workshops and some not so legal sales (some “naughty things” are sold, mainly on Pusher Street and for your own safety, don’t take any photos in the area, especially on Pusher Street!).

6. Take a Day Trip Over The Famous Øresund Bridge


Image Credit – Imgur

Copenhagen is a well connected city. A train from the main station (in the centre of the city) will take you over Øresund Bridge (made famous by the TV series “The Bridge”). While on the train, you won’t actually be able to see much as the bridge runs below the car path – I would love to drive across it!

There are a few different options you can pick for your day-trip into Sweden. The options we had were:

  • Return train across the bridge to Malmö (Sweden)
  • Return train across the bridge to Lund (Sweden)
  • Train to Helsingør (Denmark), ferry to Helsinborg (Sweden), train to Malmö (Sweden), train across the bridge back to Copenhagen.

After some extensive google-image searches and talking to tour guides/our hostel staff, we decided to visit Lund for the day and it was lovely!

However, I’d love to do the round trip through Helsingør, Helsinborg and Malmö. Helsingør is home to Kronborg Slot which was made famous as Elsinore Castle in Shakespeare’s Hamlet (as a literature nerd, this excites me a lot)!

7.  Visit the Many Palaces


The two photos above are of Paleis Christiansborg (Christiansborg Slot) which has the only free high-up view point of the city (see my post about keeping costs down in Copenhagen to read more about this)! However, there are a few palaces in Copenhagen including Frederiksberg Slot and Amalienborg which is the home to the Danish Royal family – make sure you get to see the changing of the guards during your trip!

8. Rosenberg Castle

When you’re done looking around the palaces of the city, what’s better than finishing off your cultural experience with a castle too?! Rosenberg Castle is beautiful but unfortunately my camera skills were apparently lacking when we visited!

9. Take a Walking Tour 


Walking tours in Europe tend to have a lot of WWII / Cold War era history within them, so it was really nice to be shown around a city with a different history. Swap your knowledge of men with dodgy facial hair (Stalin and Hitler I’m looking at you) for knowledge of men in funny pointy hats – the Vikings! Although apparently the pointy hats and big beards are a modern-day stereotype that isn’t close to the truth – how disappointing!

10. Take A Canal Tour

If walking isn’t your thing, then take a canal tour instead! Prices were reasonable for such a popular tourist attraction. There are a few different providers, so walk around Nyhavn to see which company is the cheapest. While I don’t think that this was the best way to see the city, a lot of the great sights of the city can’t be seen from the water, the architecture you can see is pretty and it gives your legs a bit of a rest!

Okay, neither of the above photos were taken on a canal tour, they were in fact taken on a walking tour. But taking photos from a low-down boat whilst dealing with the motions of the water didn’t work out too well for me.

11 & 12. Visit the Little Mermaid & Visit Kastellet on the Walk there! 

 

Photo credit lies with the Instagram account @yoeshi.

Now, I feel like this should be on any list of things to do in Copenhagen. The author of “The Little Mermaid” was Hans Christian Andersen, a Danish writer, and so it’s only fair that a statue is resurrected in honour of the fairytale.

However…. we never actually ended up getting to see The Little Mermaid up close. We saw it from afar on a canal cruise and can confirm that this tiny statue is absolutely over run by tourists. As we began the walk to the attraction before our late afternoon flight, the heavens opened. Getting drenched in torrential rain before getting on a flight didn’t sound like too much fun. I’d also have really loved to visit Kastellet on the walk there!

13. Rundetaarn (The Round Tower)

 

Photo credit lies with the Instagram account @dhowelldesigns.

Another attraction that I unfortunately didn’t get to see was the Round Tower. For some reason before my trip, I hadn’t heard anything about The Round Tower but since being back, it’s been plastered all over my Instagram feed! There’s something about that perfectly sloped curve that makes for such a satisfying photo!

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and all thoughts are my own.
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So, you’re finally going to visit Aushcwitz. Given the response I got from people when I said I was going, this has either been on your bucket list for forever, or you think this is a horrible idea and you’re being dragged by a loved one/feel like you have to go because you’re in the area. Who wants to spent time walking around a concentration camp after all? Me apparently! I fall heavily in to the former category and have wanted to visit Auschwitz forever. I love history and have studied this area heavily.

Entry to the camps is free, however you can pay to have a guided tour. From my understanding, in the peak months you have to join a guided tour. Our hotel had organised for us to have a whole day tour with Discover Cracow in which we were picked up from our hotel in Kraków, taken to Auschwitz for the morning (where the internal tour guides take over this section of your tour), returned to Kraków for lunch and then headed to Wieliczka Salt Mine for the afternoon. It was a long day but seriously worth it.

Auschwitz is split into three camps: Auschwitz-I, Auschwitz-II-Birkenau and Auschwitz-III-Monowitz. Auschwitz-I is where your tour will begin where the buildings are set up in museum-style with each one highlighting a certain area of life in the camps.

The most disturbing “exhibitions” in my opinion were the ones showing the victim’s belongings. Piles of abandoned suitcases, piles of human hair, piles of discarded shoes, piles of Jewish prayer mats, piles of tangled glasses. Once the Nazis knew that the Soviets were on their way, the Nazis tried to destroy as much evidence as physically possible. It’s hard to imagine that the piles of belongings on show are only a fraction of the total that were once there.

Another element that I found quite disturbing were a corridor lined with photos of victims, in an almost “mug-shot” like fashion. Rows and rows of victims. All in their striped uniforms, tattooed with a serial number, their names forgotten.

After you’ve been guided around the first camp, it’s time to jump on a bus and head to Auschwitz-II-Birkenau. The scale of this camp is absolutely insane. Rows upon rows of barracks which allow you to comprehend just how many people were held here.

This is where you will find the infamous train tracks, a very eery sight.

We were informed that there is very little left of the 3rd and final camp and therefore it’s not open to visitors.

On the whole, I found the guided tour of the camp quite rushed. We were in a large group and were marched through the camp, seeing all of the sights but very quickly. An elderly couple on our tour struggled to keep up and I thought this was quite unfair. While you could tell the tour guide was very passionate about the subject, you could also tell she was restricted with time and had to get you around the camp as quickly as possible.

Because of this, I felt like I didn’t quite grasp quite the horrors that have happened at the camps. More time to wander at your own pace, reading plaques, soaking in the information would have been good. As many of the buildings are now empty, I found it quite hard to visualise what things would have been like, especially when moving at such a fast pace.

But perhaps that’s also due to the complete atrocities that happened here, it’s almost hard to imagine that anyone could be capable of such devastation.

While concentration camps aren’t the happiest of places to visit and you’ll walk away feeling a bit depressed (some people I know have been utterly disturbed after their visit). I think it’s important that people continue to visit sights like this. Facing the reality of these sights is important, it helps us to recognise the cruelty within the human race. And after all, studying the past makes for a better future.

Have you ever visited Auschwitz or another “dark history” location? How did you feel afterwards?

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and all thoughts are my own.
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Another city break done, another list of top things to do list! Kraków is a great city to visit for a few days, but do also read my recent post about whether it lives up to the hype – you can read that here.

1) Spend Some Time in the Old Town


Old Town Kraków is gorgeous. From the Church of the Virgin Mary to the Cloth Hall, the architecture is amazing. However, my favourite thing about the city centre are all of the food stalls. The Polish will tell you that the food in the Old Town is overpriced, but compared to London prices, it’s dirt cheap! The soups, breads and crepes make for a great quick meal!

2) Church of the Virgin Mary


If you’ve seen a photo of Kraków, it’s probably of the Old Town Centre, specifically of the Church of the Virgin Mary. This is an incredible building that dominates the Old Town Square (however it does cost a small amount to visit the inside/climb the tower and the tower is only open in certain months). Every hour, there is a bugle call, make sure you look up to the window on the left tower to see the man playing the bugle – he will give a little wave after his performance!

3) Wawel Castle 


Wawel Castle is a gorgeous castle (from the outside especially). The inside isn’t anything spectacular. There are a few exhibitions inside, I’m more of a fan of ornate castles that have kept their original interiors! However, the outside of the building and the gardens are really worth the visit!

4) Jewish District (Kazimierz)

Once you’ve explored the main city centre of Kraków, make sure you head down to the Jewish district to explore some more! There’s plenty of history and culture to be seen here. A free walking tour is available of the area.

5) Planty Park

Planty park is a thin park which runs the entire way round the city centre – it did used to be the city moat after all! We visited in March, so many of the trees and greenery were bare and you probably wouldn’t want to spend too much time standing in the cold – but the area has great reviews in the Summer months!

6) Cloth Hall

Cloth Hall is the central long building in the Old Town city centre, it’s filled with more market stalls and there’s also an underground museum that you can visit! An interesting fact about Kraków is that most of the buildings have a floor or two underground due to the fact that the city kept becoming so downtrodden and dirty that instead of clearing up the area, they simply laid more and more concrete onto the floor multiple times.

7) The Ghetto Hero’s Square

This is a very poignant installation in the “ghetto” of Kraków. 70 empty chairs are stood in the square commemorating the Jews that lost their lives during the war in Kraków.

8) St Florian’s Gate & The Barbican

St Florian’s Gate and The Barbican are gothic towers dating back to the 14th century which adjoined the fortified city walls. Hard to imagine what the city was like completely surrounded by high walls!

9) Visit the many many Churches!

If I told you all of the churches to visit in Kraków, this would be a very long blog post. However, if you stumble around the city, you can’t miss them! There are hundreds. Take a look at the TripAdvisor top things to do in Kraków to see just how much the Polish love their churches/cathedrals!

10) Take a Daytrip to Auschwitz

This was the real reason that we came to Kraków, we really wanted to see Auschwitz and finally tick it off of our bucket lists. This was an incredible experience and one I’m really grateful for. A full blog post will be up soon!

11) Take a Daytrip to Wieliczka Salt Mines



As part of the same day trip to Auschwitz with Discover Cracow, we also visited Wieliczka Salt Mines. The sheer size and scale of these mines are incredible. This is definitely worth a visit, especially for the Chapel of St Kinga – a huge room 101m below ground. The entire room is made from salt – the walls, ceiling, floor, statues, wall carvings and even the chandeliers! Also, you can give the walls a lick anywhere in the mines – it’s salty!

12) Church On The Rock


As mentioned above, Kraków has many churches to choose from. My favourite is the “Church on the Rock”. A beautiful white building with lovely grounds – perfect for a great instagram shoot! Unfortunately the doors were locked and we couldn’t get in at the time of visiting.

13) Oskar Schindler’s Factory

Unfortunately I didn’t manage to visit the factory on my trip to Kraków but I would absolutely love to. I still need to see the film “Schindler’s List” the whole way through first! There are plenty of scenes which were shot on the streets of Kraków, so if you’re a fan of the film, you really need to visit!

14) Take a Free Walking Tour

Now I absolutely love a free walking tour, they are a great way to get your bearings in a new city, learn a bit more about the culture and work out what you want to do throughout the rest of your trip. Kraków has the best range of free walking tours I have ever seen in a city! Generally most cities have one free walking tour and the rest are paid for, but not Kraków! See a full list of the tours here.

15) Take a Free Food Tour! 

In a similar light to the above, there is also a FREE walking tour!! Yes, free! You will have to pay for food as you go through the city, however each location only charges 1 – 2 PLN per portion and you don’t have to eat anything you don’t want to. Stand out items for me were gorgeous breads, out of this world dumplings and an array of Polish sweets.

16) Enjoy Cheap Food Throughout the City!

Poland is known for having some of the cheapest foods in Europe. While all of the Polish people would recommend you to stay away from the Old Town as prices here are much higher than that of places slightly outside of the touristy areas, I found that even in the Old Town Centre, food prices were VERY good – especially when you’re used to London prices. Our favourite restaurant in the Old Town was La Grande Mamma (pictured above)! Yes, I  know this is Italian, not Polish but the food was gorgeous (as were the restaurant interiors!).

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So I recently got back from a long weekend in Kraków with 3 friends (one of which you may recognise as being on my trip to Prague last year!) and I thought I’d share my thoughts with you all!

Firstly, I’d like to make a small disclaimer that this is my personal opinion and everyone’s travel experiences vary due to a manner of variables – e.g the people you meet, the weather, the places you go, the accommodation you have, any mistakes made on the trip etc. The reason I’m including this disclaimer is that I read a similar post (here) on Nomadic Matt’s blog and was saddened that people felt the need to post semi-abusive comments telling Matt that he was wrong/uncultured/an absolute idiot. Surely the reason we all travel and write travel blogs to share our experiences and views, good or bad?

Anyway, on with the post! There’s a lot of hype surrounding Krakow at the moment. Solo travellers I’ve met have raved about it, many people I know at home have been there for weekend breaks and everyone loves it. So as you can imagine, I was excited to finally be going to the holy grail that is Kraków!

Firstly, let’s start with the good. Kraków is an undeniably pretty city. It’s hard not to appreciate the beautiful colourful central/Eastern-European style buildings, plenty of beautiful churches/cathedrals, a huge castle and beautiful old town.

Let’s also not forget the rich culture and historical side of the city. To add to this, day trips to both Wieliczka Salt Mine and Auschwitz are easily do-able (my two favourite activities of the entire trip!).

But I still don’t think I entirely clicked with the city. There are some cities that I fall in love with immediately and can’t stop thinking about months after my return – Budapest and Ljubljana I’m looking at you! Kraków didn’t have this same affect on me.

Don’t get me wrong, I had a great time and I’m glad I’ve finally ticked both Kraków and Auschwitz off of my bucket list but it doesn’t top my list of European cities (and boy I’ve seen a lot of them!).

I’m wandering whether this is because there is SO much hype. When everyone tells you that you’re going to love a place and how great it is, are you almost setting yourself up for disappointment? I’ve definitely found that some of my greatest trips have been to small towns/cities that don’t have much of a tourist reputation. When you don’t have any expectations, is it easier to be impressed?

Otherwise, I lost a close family member suddenly a few days before flying to Poland, I was feeling stressed at work and have a professional exam looming, so was I in the right mood for it?

In summary, if someone asked me to return to Kraków, I would (apart from the fact I’m currently working full time and have vowed to not use my very limited leave time from work to re-visit the same places when there’s so much more of the world to see!). And I’d love to go with someone who has a real passion for the city, I want to see what they see.

I’d love to hear about your experiences in Kraków. Was I just in a bad place at the time and couldn’t engage with my surroundings properly or have other people felt the same way? Alternatively, I’d love to hear if you’ve ever thought somewhere was slightly too over-hyped?

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and all thoughts are my own.
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Slovenia has well and truly stolen my heart. I fall in love with every European city and town that I visit, but not very often do I feel enthralled by an entire country.

From the capital city, to the coastal towns, to the little villages, mountains, lakes and even just driving around in the middle of nowhere, everything is beautiful (especially on a sunny day!).

Slovenia isn’t on the typical tourist map and this is why I think I loved it so much. A lot of travel bloggers have fallen in love with the country recently and I felt so desperate to go that this was my very first spontaneous solo trip.

Top Facts

Currency: Euro
Population: 20.1 million (For perspective, London alone has a population of nearly 9 million)
Capital: Ljubljana
Language: Slovenian
Well known for: mountains (The Julian Alps), outdoor sports and activities, lakes and beautiful scenery.

Where to Stay? 

It’s safe to say that I was nervous about my accommodation in Slovenia given that this was my first solo adventure. I knew that I wanted to be situated in the capital city Ljubljana, so I headed straight to HostelWorld to see where the best place to stay would be.

After much debating and my family asking me countless times whether I’d seen the horror movie “Hostel”, I settled on The Zeppelin Hostel and it was definitely a good decision.

A lot of travellers stop off in Slovenia to relax and unwind, so don’t expect a crazy party hostel. The hostel is small, cosy and definitely makes you feel welcome. From the relaxed vibe, to the clean rooms, to the local restaurants that send the hostel cakes as a thank you for sending customers to them, everything was perfect and nothing was ever too much for the staff.

Ljubljana is the perfect place to stay throughout the entirety of your trip to Slovenia. Day trips can be made to the surrounding areas easily as the country is so small!

My Top Tips!

1) See Everywhere: Slovenia is tiny and can be driven across in a matter of hours, so make the most of your time here and combine a number of different stops into one trip, the whole country is truly gorgeous! Use the capital city (Ljubljana) as a base for your travels and then move around as you wish each day. See below for my top day trips from the city!

2) Be Careful with taxis: I made the mistake of getting a taxi from Ljubljana airport to my hostel. Please make sure you get into a licensed taxi (these are the ones that have prices listed on their windows). It’s sometimes hard to avoid the scam taxis (as I found out) as you are herded into the next available taxi with no regulation, therefore it cost me a hell of a lot more than it should have to get into the city centre!

3)Use the Airport Shuttle Bus:If you don’t want to get a taxi from the airport, there are buses that run directly from the airport to the city centre. Alternatively (and my preferred option), there is a shuttle bus that runs between the airport and a number of hotels in the city centre, speak to your hotel/hostel to see which is the closest stop off point to you, it will save you a lot of money compared to a taxi!

4) Rent a Car: I am a nervous driver and I spent a fair amount of money on my trip to Slovenia by doing guided tours across the country. In doing so, I spent a lot of time on the road and decided that Slovenia is one of the few European countries that I would feel comfortable driving in (despite it being on the opposite side of the road to the UK!). If I were to return to Slovenia (which I hopefully will in the near future!), I would hire a car and drive around to ensure that I see as much of the country as possible. You will however need to purchase a vignette (sticker) at the border or from a petrol station if you want to drive on the Slovenian highways.

5) Check the Weather: This is a mistake that I made on my trip to Lake Bled! Slovenia can have fairly temperamental weather and if you have plans that could be scuppered by bad weather, re-arrange them! This is a truly beautiful country and should be seen at it’s best! I visited in September and the weather ranged from 28 degrees Celsius and very sunny to torrential rain and storms, to overcast and cold days – and I was only there for 4 days!

6) Plan plan plan! There’s so much to see and do in Slovenia, make sure you use your time wisely and know exactly what you want to see and do. On the other hand… having relaxing days and enjoying ice cream in a cafe on the River Ljubljanica is just as great too!

Top Places to See

1) Ljubljana (see my post here)

2) Lake Bled, Lake Bohinj & Vintgar Gorge (see my post here)

3) Piran (see my post here)

4) Postojna Cave

5) Predjama Castle (see my post here)

6) Škocjan Cave (see my post here)

7) Maribor

8) The wine region in the east

9) Hiking in the Julian Alps

10) Water sports in the Soca Valley

11) Day trip to Venice, Italy

12) Day trip to Zagreb, Croatia

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and all thoughts are my own.
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Danielle1

Malta isn’t somewhere that I had really thought about visiting. My grandparents visit the country most years and absolutely love it, however I don’t know too many other people that have been there. Therefore in my head it always seemed like a relaxed location for retired couples!

They had a week long trip planned to Malta in October 2015 and I had some holiday days left at work for the year. I hadn’t seen much of my grandparents during the year, so decided to fly to Malta for the last 3 days of their trip. I instantly fell in love with the place and I’m now sitting dreaming of being back in the 30 degrees Celsius sun while it’s freezing here in England!

Before my trip, my Grandparents reassured me that the country is very well linked transport-wise and therefore we could jet around seeing wherever we wanted whenever we wanted! On their arrival, they were told the old bus company had gone bust in July 2015 and the new ones were slower, more expensive, less frequent and generally much less reliable. So while I didn’t get to explore as many places as I’d hoped, the places I did explore really were special!

So without further ado… here’s my favourite places from my whistle-stop trip to Malta!

St Julian’s Bay / Sliema







This is my Grandparent’s favourite area to stay in, so obviously it gets mentioned first! St Julian’s is a small town that used to be a fishing village which has gained a lot of popularity in the past few years and therefore is much more touristy nowadays. It is also home to “Paceville” which is the hub of night-life in the area featuring many restaurants, bars and clubs. I obviously wasn’t in the area for a clubbing holiday, however if you are, this is the place to be! Otherwise, the area is lovely to walk around, get fresh food and generally relax.

My Grandparents absolutely love the Hotel Juliani (it has a beautiful rooftop pool!) and they recommend asking for a room that faces Spinola Bay (pictured above) with a balcony. It’s beautiful, especially at night! If you are looking for accommodation on a budget, I opted for a small guest house called Sogdiana which was basic but very modern and the staff were ever so helpful!

Mosta





There isn’t all that much to do in Mosta other than see the Rotunda (The Church of the Assumption of our Lady), the main reason for this is that the towns and villages of Malta are all so close together that by the time you’ve come into Mosta, you’ve driven out the other side without even realising, everything seems to blur into one! However, the Rotunda is DEFINITELY worth a visit. It gets quite busy in the high-season, so be sure to get there early. The building is absolutely gorgeous and is one of the few churches/cathedrals in Europe that I’ve enjoyed photographing the outside as much as the inside!

Dingli


Dingli isn’t on most tourist’s maps as a place to visit. It’s a small town with only circa 3,000 people living there, however, I think the views definitely make this a great stopping point! This is one of the highest point in Malta, so be ready for cliff-top sea views a plenty!

Rabat



We stopped for lunch here on our day exploring all of the different towns at a little restaurant called “Grapes” who offer a Maltese speciality dish for a low price, I would highly recommend trying the food, it’s delicious! Rabat is a lovely town with the main two tourist attractions being St Paul’s Church and St Paul’s Grotto/Catacombs – definitely worth visiting!

Valletta






Valletta is Malta’s capital, so it’s probably going to already be on your radar if you’re visiting Malta and rightly so! Be sure to catch the changing of the guards in St George’s Square, stroll around the city, explore the cathedrals and treat yourself to some ice cream in the blistering sun!

Mdina







Now I am definitely saving the best till last here! Mdina is also known as the “silent city” and is an old fortified bastion. The entire city is enchanting, due to the countless narrow streets, many beautiful churches, zero cars and beautiful houses (this is the most expensive area in Malta to live in!). This area is a UNESCO world heritage sight and you can see why!

Have you ever been to Malta? What did you think?

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Danielle1








You’ve all seen the pictures of Lake Bled that are making their way around the travel blog scene. It’s safe to say that this is one of the most romantic and beautiful areas in Europe, a  real hidden gem.

If there’s one word of advice I can give you before travelling to Slovenia, it’s check the weather forecast. I stupidly decided to ignore the weather forecast for the second day of my trip to Slovenia and booked a trip to Lake Bled, Vintgar Gorge and Lake Bohinj in torrential rain and fog.

My photos of Lake Bled aren’t quite as beautiful as those you may have already seen given the fact that fog was surrounding the entire area. Lake Bohinj was unrecognisable and we couldn’t get out of the car because the weather was so awful. We also couldn’t enter Vintgar Gorge because of how dangerous it would be.

It did make for an interesting boat trip across the lake to the island of Lake Bled however… for someone that’s afraid of boats, I did pretty well at keeping my calm in a tiny wooden boat during the middle of a torrential storm!

Typically, a girl at the hostel visited Lake Bled the next day and had glorious sunshine for the entirety of the day. I guess this is an excuse for me to go back in the future! For some really beautiful sunny shots of the area, visit the beautiful Adventurous Miriam who seems to be as in love with Slovenia as I am!

As I didn’t have a lot of time in Slovenia and I wanted to cram as much in as possible while feeling safe given that this was my first solo adventure, I decided to book the Alpine Fairytale Tour with Roundabout Travel and I would highly recommend this company, our tour guide tried to make the trip as special as possible, even though we were severely hindered by the weather.

If you don’t wish to do a guided tour of this area, Lake Bled is easily accessible from Ljubljana by bus/train, although I’ve been warned that there is a fair walk from the train/bus stations to the main base of the lake. Many people also choose to stay the night in this gorgeous area, The Ace of Spades Hostel is highly recommended by the people I met in Slovenia! It’s advisable to book this hostel in advance in the summer months as Lake Bled is such a popular destination with travellers!

Top Things to do at Lake Bled

  1. Hire a Pletna Boat and rowing to the island in the middle of Lake Bled
  2. Visiting the church on the Island
  3. Climbing to the top of the hill and visiting the Castle
  4. Taste the famous “Bled Cake”

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Danielle1











I recently took a short city-break to Amsterdam between Christmas and New Year with my family. We quickly blitzed the main sights in Amsterdam and wanted to get out into the countryside for a bit of relaxing time seeing as the hustle and bustle of Amsterdam was crazy in the run up to New Year’s Eve.

We had one day left in The Netherlands and didn’t know how to spend it. A friend recommended the Volendam, Marken & Windmills tour as a great way to see a selection of the Dutch countryside very easily in the space of a few hours.

I love to get a feel for the country I’m in outside of the main cities. Don’t get me wrong, Amsterdam is amazing, but it’s always nice to see what else a country has to offer! It’s also very nice to sit on a bus for a few hours after a few days of hardcore walking and exploring! My feet were very happy to partake in this day trip!

The main stops on the tour are:

  • Zaanse Schans: famous for it’s beautiful Windmills where you are able to visit a working windmill and climb to the top.
  • Marken: a former island where you will visit a clog making factory and have a demonstration on how they are made.
  • A 30 minute ferry ride from Marken to Volendam
  • Volendam: A picturesque fishing village well known for it’s seafood,  where you also get the opportunity to visit a cheese factory and taste a variety of Dutch cheeses.

The Dutch countryside is truly beautiful and easily accessible from the popular tourist destination of Amsterdam so it’s well worth a visit! Plus, who wouldn’t want to experience everything Dutch? Windmills, cheese and clogs, couldn’t get any more Dutch!

I’d love to see more of what the Netherlands has to offer, where have you loved?

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This was without a doubt, my favourite day of the entire trip to Slovenia. Given that I was so impressed with the tour given by Roundabout Travel the previous day on my Lake Bled day trip (despite the weather set-backs), I decided to give them another chunk of my money and booked the Karst and Coast Tour.

This was also the hottest day of my trip. The weather was around 28 degrees Celsius (in September) and was absolutely beautiful (thanks weather for not co-operating on my trip to Lake Bled – not!).

Predjama Castle



First stop was Predjama Castle, the famous castle in the side of a cliff! We were recommended not to waste time looking inside the castle as there isn’t much to see (I believe it has been turned into a small museum) but I would definitely recommend checking out the outside of the building and the surrounding mountain areas – absolutely beautiful!

Skocjan Caves


Photo credit: Skocjanske Jame Website

Next, on to the Skocjan Caves! There are two main cave networks in Slovenia, these being Skocjan and Postojna. While I didn’t have time to visit both, I made my decision on which one to visit based on the advice that Postojna caves are like the “Disneyland caves” as you sit on a tourist train and work your way around the caves whereas Skocjan is a lot more raw and authentic. No internet research told me quite how much of a work out the Skocjan caves are – be warned, there’s a lot of walking, a lot of stairs and a lot of steep climbs! But it’s definitely worth it for the spectacular beauty of these caves. Unfortunately pictures aren’t allowed in the caves due to artificial light affecting the colour of the cave structures, however this gives you more time to soak up the cave’s beauty without looking through the lense of a camera!

You are advised to wear jeans/covered shoes for the tour of the caves as it gets quite cold down in the caves, ignore this warning on a hot day! You will get sweaty for the rest of the day and the caves are such a work-out that you’ll heat up even while a couple of hundred foot underground!

Lipica Stud Farm



Lipica Stud Farm is one of the few places on my trip that I hadn’t heard about prior to my visit. It is the home to the beautiful white Lipizzaner horses. We stopped here briefly on our way to Piran and boy is it beautiful. Vast open green fields in the glorious sunshine filled with hundreds of beautiful white horses, I’ve never been somewhere so relaxing.

Prosciutto, Ham & Wine Tasting


The area of Karst is also well known for Kraški pršut (The Karst Prosciutto Ham). This tour takes you to a little beautiful restaurant where you are able to sample the amazing ham, cheese and wine while sitting in the glorious sun, shaded by a grape vine.

This is one of my favourite memories of the trip. Our tour consisted of me, a male solo traveller in his 30s, a young couple in their 20s and a couple who were in their 60s. We sat drinking wine, eating amazing food and getting to know each other. The older couple were two of the most interesting people I have ever met and we all sat enthralled by their round-the-world travel stories. Travel isn’t always about the places, but the people you meet too.

Piran




And finally on to our last stop, Prian! Piran is a beautiful seaside town where the weather seems to be eternally great!

We started our trip to the area with a stop at Prian Wall which overlooks the town from a cliff for a breathtaking view of the tiny Slovenian coastline, as well as the neighbouring coastlines of Italy and Croatia!

From here we were given free time to explore the town and do as we pleased (obviously, this meant a stop for ice-cream). Piran is absolutely beautiful and I would definitely recommend this as a town to get lost in.

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