Where to go in Prague

Unlike many of Europe’s other cities, Prague is definitely a place to visit just for the weekend. Despite it being the nicest city I’ve visited there are only a few key sights worth seeing, the rest is spent wandering around trying to resist your sixth strawberry and chocolate kebab.

Charles Bridge

13939533_695044717303488_7304448459095459797_nThis infamous bridge which connects the old town to the new town is well worth the visit. It’s best to walk over early morning, before the main tours and groups of tourists start to filter in around 10am, so you can take it at your own leisure. From the bridge you get the most amazing views of both towns and your walk is also accompanied by jazz bands which are based there throughout the day.

 

John Lennon Wall

13925224_695044793970147_2738023614707265956_n.jpgDating back to the World War 2 communism struggles this was by far my favourite thing in Prague. The wall is completely covered with bright, colourful messages of peace and love which you could spend hours reading. Again, the wall gets busier as the day progresses so try and get their early as this really is worth the visit.

 

River Cruise

13932891_695044750636818_1806307023845396321_n.jpgSeeing as you’re only in Prague for a short amount of time the river cruise is a great way to spend an hour of your day. Not only do you get to see many key sights but it also helps in getting your bearings between the Old Town, New Town and the Jewish Quarter. Everything in Prague is ridiculously cheap and the boat, with wifi and a bar, worked out to only £10 each.

 

Chocolate Museum

13892353_695048613969765_2398727028291862024_n.jpgBeing my guilty pleasure, I was very excited that there was a museum built around it. Located in the Old Town it’s a nice way to spend a few hours and successfully come out 3 stone heavier. There are combinations of chocolate you never would have imagined existed and the pre-made chocolate and strawberry kebabs are hands down the best thing I have ever tasted.

 

Car Tour

13902821_695045650636728_7820151328356726480_n.jpgOne of Prague’s best sights is the castle which is built on a very, very, very steep hill. Hiring one of the many old fashioned, open top cars for 30 minutes is a great way to see the castle and have a quick tour of the Old Town whilst you’re at it. It saves the walk and you get a pretty picture in front of the castle. Win win.

 

 

Hotel U Prince Rooftop Bar

13962757_325962691127216_1731824750142118864_n.jpgIf you want to get away from the never ending stag and hen do’s and swarms of tourists then this hotel rooftop bar is the perfect place. With views overlooking the astronomical clocks if you time your cocktail on the hour you get to see the famous spinning ritual. A bit more pricey than the beer cheaper than water bars but still well worth the visit.

 

Parizska

13912780_695044797303480_1975226689017614353_n.jpgIf you’re into high end shopping then this street could easily challenge Paris, New York and London. With every shop imaginable nestled in between swanky restaurants and coffee shops you’re able to shop peacefully without the usual hustle and bustle of the other sites.

 

 

 

why you need to visit Lake Garda

Located in Northern Italy between Brescia and Verona this huge lake is home to ten fairly small but intriguing towns. I have previously stayed in both Riva Del Garda, as well as Garda itself. For my third visit in just under 4 years, (a clear indication as to how amazing it is) I was once again staying in Riva. Describing this secluded part of Italy is immensely difficult and more often than not photo’s don’t always do it justice. Picture the biggest area of water you could possible imagine, whilst still being able to see land from every angle, couple it with mountains you can’t see the top of and then add in the most colourful, vibrant and rustic Italian buildings and you get a pretty good idea.

There’s not a single part of the lake which doesn’t leave you thinking “woah, defo insta worthy”, and alongside the endless amounts of pizza, pasta and ice cream your camera roll will soon fill up. The slightly larger towns of Riva, Garda and Sirmonie are fairly commercialised, as they rely heavily on tourism, but nonetheless you still get the ultimate Italian experience if you wonder further into the winding streets. The shopping is second to none with endless rows of boutiques and quirky stores and absolutely no sign of the bigger brands, which was actually quite refreshing. Visiting the other towns from where you’re staying is incredibly easy, each town has a small port with boats coming as frequently as every 20 minutes, so you’ll be able to get a feel for the whole lake and not just your chosen destination.

The majority of the hotels all have pools as despite the lake being one of the most picturesque places I’ve visited there is absolutely no sign of sand on the lakeside, so unfortunately you have to brave a rocky walk into the water. I stayed at the Lido Palace which was stunning from start to finish. Considering the original building dates back to the early 1900’s the hotel is impeccably modern from the rooms to the reception area, to the wellness centre. The gym was amazing, as were the spa and pool (all huge factors for me on holiday), and the food in the main restaurant was unreal.

So, if you’re looking for a different alternative for a holiday rather than your stereotypical Spain and Greece and you look for these eight things in a holiday then you definitely need to visit Lake Garda.

  • Chilled Atmosphere
  • Basically living off the Prezzo menu everyday
  • Unconventional views (not just a beach and the sea)
  • Boat Trips
  • Chatting to locals (they LOVE chatting to anyone)
  • Trying new things
  • Not just lying by a pool holiday
  • Walking round with no specific destination in mind

summer in Italy & France

Sometimes, the countries closest to us are often overlooked. So many of us dream of travelling to exotic destinations on the opposite side of the world, where for a mere few weeks we can leave our old lives at home and immerse ourselves into a new one. Point taken, that feeling is irreplaceable. But there are so many  breath-taking cities on our doorstep which can also provide a short escape from reality. Italy and France are prime examples of this. Whether you are lucky enough to live a short distance away, or even if you live outside of Europe, it is absolutely worth the trip.

Rome                                                

Rome does not disappoint as a capital city. The city is full of beautiful architecture, from the iconic Coliseum to the prestigious Vatican.  Every site you visit has a deep rooted history, but has been preserved to the highest standard. There is a clear air of affluence in parts where the streets are filled with high end designer shops and small Italian boutiques. The food is, as predicted, the best Italian food you have ever tasted. After the second or third restaurant you begin to wonder how you’re ever going to be able to eat Carbonara anywhere else again. If you’re lucky enough to stay in the centre of Rome everywhere is easily accessible. Most sights are within walking distance, but if not then it is just as easy to use the local transport. The locals are extremely friendly and welcoming and it is clear that they love their city just as much as you will by the end of your trip.

 

Lake Garda

Lake Garda is the ultimate Italian break. It’s the type of place where within the first few days of your visit you have that lovely breakthrough of “I could live here”. From the stunning beaches to the quaint towns you are transformed into both cultures. Due to the high number of locals in Lake Garda it’s not somewhere which strikes you as a tourist destination. Yes, there are the rows of restaurants and bars, but you truly  get the feel that the families who own them enjoy doing so. I have stayed in both Riva and Garda, which are the opposite ends of the lake, but they still share the same sense of tranquillity. You come home feeling utterly refreshed and already eager to plan a return visit.

 

Verona

Famous for it’s romance, Verona is a city which I can only think to describe as peaceful. There is no sense of urgency or the need to rush. Everything is calm, pristine and well looked after. From the famous balcony of Romeo and Juliet, to the outstanding opera house it is easy to see why this city attracts so many tourists each year. There is no doubt that Verona is one of the most idyllic places you will ever visit, but once you have seen the main sites and lusted after even more designer shops, there is little else to do. My take on Verona was that it was more of a city to appreciate for the day, rather than a long weekend.

 

 Venice

Venice is both an exciting and interesting city. With no transport except small boats and the traditional gondola, you feel as if you have entered a completely different world. It is extremely hard to portray Venice as everyone has a different opinion. For me, I absolutely loved everything, from the beautiful buildings to the endless streets full of traditional bars and restaurants. If you decide to take some time out from sightseeing for a glass of wine, then sitting in St Mark’s square is the only place to do it. You find yourself gazing towards packs of tourists taking pictures of the pearly white buildings to glamorous Italian women dressed from head to toe in couture. Venice is surprisingly hard to navigate around, so joining a tour, even if it is just for half your trip, is beneficial in order to be able to understand the true beauty of this city.

 

 Paris

Paris is the ideal place to visit if you love romance, have expensive taste and live for Chardonnay. Personally, I would describe Paris to have a strong “artsy” feel. The Eiffel Tower could be described as a monumental piece of art itself, alongside the extremely modern Louvre. But this isn’t what I mean. By feel, I mean walking alongside the River Seine to find countless stalls offering portraits, landscapes and abstract pieces alongside the hotels proudly showcasing piece after piece in their corridors. Art is also widely visible in a fashion sense. Designer shops are scattered all over Paris, alongside expensive bars and restaurants aligning the Champs-Elysées. It really is a place of taste, and I imagine the more times you visit Paris the more intriguing the city becomes.

                                                               Cannes 

Without a doubt, Cannes is a city dripping with luxury. Located in the highly reputable French Rivera the sheer volume of yachts and helicopters give you a good indication of the area’s affluence. Cannes is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited, and after experiencing the feeling of sunbathing on a jetty in the middle of the sea, whilst tucking in to a beautifully spread lunch, it soon becomes addictive. If you manage to tear yourself away from the clear blue sea then a nice way to spend an afternoon is wandering further into the town, where there are colourful fruit markets and quirky, local shops. Cannes is just as glamorous at night, where low lighting cocktail bars draw in lavish crowds fresh from the infamous casino. If you want to experience the life of the super-rich for a short while, then this city is exactly where you need to be.

                                                               Monte Carlo

 Monte Carlo is yet another conforming city to the South of France’s reputation. With a marina full of million pound super boats, coupled with Ferraris lining the entrance of hotels, Monte Carlo attracts those of a whole new wealth. What was so special about this city to me was that within such a short distance you could find yourself leaving the likes of Prada and Gucci to visiting a historical castle overlooking the sea. Yes, Monte Carlo is a shoppers dream but you can tell they are also exceptionally proud of their unique history. In my opinion, the best way to really discover the city is to wander around for yourself, but you can take a tour of the Formula 1 race track route which is definitely worthwhile. It is so easy to fall in love with Monte Carlo, not just for the extravagant lifestyle, but for the beautiful culture too.

Blue Waters

IMG_0790.jpgThe Caribbean is a place where you instantly feel relaxed. The outstanding beauty, friendly locals and breathtaking beaches make you feel like you really have entered paradise. The island of Antigua is no exception to this. I stayed at the Blue Waters Resort & Spa, which is located on the North-West side of the Island. This location was perfect in terms of distance from the airport, easy access to the capital of St John’s as well as being on the main route of many excursions and day trips.

The resort had everything you desire in a hotel, but nothing they offered could beat the view that you woke up to every morning. The crystal clear water coupled with the pristine, sandy beaches meant that it was easy to realise that you had already instragrammed 15+ posts within 2 days of being there.

The three restaurants all delivered impeccable food with the traditional fruity Caribbean spice. If you are a fitness fanatic like myself and you enjoy eating healthy, even on holiday, then Antigua makes it easy. Endless amounts of fresh fruit and vegetable prevent you from feeling even slightly guilty about swaying from your usual routine. The copious amounts of sun result in you drinking bottle after bottle of water, and coupled with the free iced smoothies which are served twice a day, it’s easy to forget about sugary cocktails.

IMG_0857.jpgMany argue that holidays are meant for relaxing and that diet and exercise shouldn’t come into concern. But if not exercising for two weeks sends you into a slight mental breakdown then there is plenty you can do to prevent this. Seeing as the sun rises so early in the Caribbean you often find yourself completely awake at just gone 7am. Utilising this hour before breakfast to go swimming, do a workout or have a game of tennis not only gets your day off to a great start but it comforts you in your daily quota of fitness. My main source of exercise whilst I was there was swimming. I found doing 20 lengths in the morning and 20 at night was not only a nice change from the usual treadmill cardio, but a great way to cool down from the 30 degree heat.

The capital of Antigua, St Johns, can only be described as going back in time. It has a rather rustic, yet vibrant feel which is instantly refreshing. You can easily walk round the whole city in half an hour, but as you wander off the main track there are plenty of quaint shops and bars where you can enjoy the rest of your time in St John’s.

13181190_654214351386525_1052160499_n.jpgLike all the islands there are many excursions and trips available to tourists throughout the year.  Our chosen day trip involved a high speed stint on a speedboat around the island, a visit to the literally breath-taking English harbour and a coral reef snorkelling session. The main benefit to booking an excursion is that you often get to visit private beaches and untouched bay’s, which allow you to feel like you really are the only people on the island. All three aspects of the trip were equally amazing and surprisingly, as a tanning fanatic, it made a nice change from consecutively lying round the pool.

Antigua is the type of holiday which you still find yourself dreaming about months later. The sheer luxury of Blue Waters coupled with the colourful and cultural sites on the island mean that although its past visitors may all be thinking about something that little bit different when they are asked about their time on the island, the result is still the same. They all wish to be back.