Monthly Archives: April 2017

Cinque Terre: the highlights and lowlights

27th April 2017

4/5 of the Cinque Terre villages: Vernazza, Corniglia, Monterosso al Mare, and Riomaggiore. The five coastal villages with coloured houses, little boats and dramatic mountains form the perfect Instagram background. Seriously, you walk into one of the towns, and it’s like you enter a behind the Instagram scenes set.

Although it was busy, it wasn’t overcrowded – like for example in Plitvice Lakes – and I loved the fact that there wasn’t actually that much to do. A bit of walking around, enjoying the views and people watching is one of my favourite ways to ‘pasta time’.

Me and my lazy ass actually enjoyed the hike trail between Manarola and Corniglia. On my visit, 20 and 22 April 2017, two out of four trails were closed indefinitely due to landslides so you could choose between the average trail – Corniglia to Vernazza- or the most difficult trail – Vernazza to Monterosso. We went for what they say is average, but were out-walked by an 80 year old woman and a 5 year old kid so I’m sure what that says about us or them.

I also love the fact that there are water taps around the towns so you don’t have to pay for h2wow. My Dutch cheapskate side loved this and I’m not even sorry.

Trains between the villages only go twice an hour, which clogs up the place, with all the tourist money they should be able to invest in more choo choos. Guess we have to forget about it.

The lack of ticket machines and information cheesed me off. At one of the stations, with only one ticket machine had a huge queue and it wasn’t till 2 minutes before departure that we found out they sold tickets at the shop next door.

Focaccia, focaccia and some more focaccia. With pesto, with garlic, with cheese, with veggies… there weren’t enough lunches to try them all. Despite my rucksack’s objections, I think I brought back enough goodies to sustain me until I can return.

Yes, but one day when/if all paths are open. And also to try the remaining focaccia toppings and visit Manarola as I didn’t see that one.

Meh, depends … I wouldn’t recommend it to someone who doesn’t get the allure – so anyone who uses less than 20 hashtags on Instagram.

Is the Cinque Terre something you want to visit? Or have you been already? Or have any other Italy recommendations?

January – March or Things I’ve Been Doing While Abandoning This Blog

9th April 2017

I must admit my weekly and even monthly round-ups weren’t doing it for me, so instead I’m presenting a quarterly update on things I’ve been up to while partly abandoning this blog.

Been There

Dullsville – an afternoon in Groningen – an afternoon in Breda – an evening in Amsterdam, Netherlands: mainly to catch up with family and friends, eat lots of food and to fly my next destination

Barcelona, Spain: to see what the whole fuss was about (yes, I hang my head in shame as a so-called travel blogger who hadn’t visited yet!)

Canterbury – Dover – Leigh-on-Sea, UK: as I may or may not have to leave the country at some point I better start seeing more of it.

Done That

I went into a blissful food coma after indulging in the amazing 7 course tasting menu at The Marquis, Arkham. Radish and gnocchi, who knew? So diverse! So flavorful! Thankfully it was good, as it was a bit remote, so no cheeky Nando’s was an option…

The Great Tower at Dover Castle English Heritage that was furnished as if Henry II and his court was residing at the castle. From the traditional kitchen to the dining hall and the bedrooms: the interiors give you an idea of how the castle looked and an insight of how lives were when it was used as a royal palace. It was nice to put my imagination hat on and imagine what they all got up to with swords, beards and lots of ale!

I was so lucky to have gotten tickets (#nospon) to see Neil Gaiman’s Q&A and read one of the stories from his new book, Norse Mythology in February. The man has such an amazing reading voice and is a brilliant writer and storyteller – his child is so lucky to have him storytelling before bed!

The White Cliffs of Dover is a literal highlight and one of my favorite things I saw during these three months. The views are just breathtaking and not only because I was out of breath from the walk from Dover Castle. AND free chalk! As much as I could carry! (N.B. Please buy chalk from your normal supplier and don’t head to Dover to stock up, it’s possibly illegal).

The scones at Tiny Tim’s Tearoom in Canterbury were absolutely another level. I actually had so little expectations that I didn’t even bother to take a photo as scones mostly disappoint, so you’re going to have to trust me on this one. The scone was bigger than your head – so you may be able to share one between two, three or four people.

I had seen The xx at a festival, in a tent, where it was hot, overcrowded and barely had any atmosphere so I could not image they could play an intimate show. But they proved me wrong and I felt they played for me at their Brixton gig until the lights went on that it, then it was back to the harsh reality.

Like every white basic girl I love a good map so I had to go wandering into the 20th-century maps exhibition at the British Library. My favourites included a Soviet plan of Brighton, Tolkien’s Middle-earth and the one map of Yugoslavia. Sadly you couldn’t buy the rare ones in the gift shop 🙁

Bucket list moment?
Finally setting foot on Spanish soil –  it is after all one of those countries that everyone and their Grandma visited, but a self-proclaimed adventurer like me hasn’t. This month I’m actually crossing off another classic holiday destination of my list.

Lowlight?
Well, just this little thing called Brexit, you probably haven’t read about. How I feel about it? To express myself in the words of USA’s 45th president: “sad!” I was born in a country that fell apart 25 years ago and I was assured it wasn’t me … but obviously it is me and I can’t help but wonder what next kingdom I’m going to break up in 25 years.

Online
Six posts went live over the three months, how pathetic! But now I’ve gotten out of winter cocoon, I predict great things coming up. In case you missed it: I wrote on Videy Island and another one on 6 places to eat and drink in Reykjavik, a post on my day exploring Dover Castle, one on monumental changes you’ll face when visiting London in 2017, highlighted some of my favourite things to see and do in Bloomsbury and New Year’s Resolutions For Travellers.

How have you been?

3 daytrips from London – that aren’t Oxford, Cambridge or Brighton

2nd April 2017

If you’ve been to London once, chances are she’ll charm you back over and over and over again.

But even Camden Town gets boring after your third visit right?

So to avoid death by boredom in yet another street market, I’m here to save you with some great day trips from London that will let you see a different side of UK that you won’t find in the capital.

To start off we’re be looking at three places which aren’t Oxford, Brighton or Cambridge (because you’ve probably already been there too) …

Canterbury

Wandering the cobblestone streets criss crossing the small alleys felt like I had been wizarded away to an open air Harry Potter museum and heading from Hogsmeade towards Hogwarts … but that’s not all.

The cathedral grounds reminded me of the Hogwarts’ school grounds, the boarding school where kids in uniforms rushed to their class added a little extra to the feel and one bit in the cathedral made me feel I WAS in the Great Hall. I’m not the only one who thought this by the way…When scouting for film locations Warner Bros wanted to use the cathedral and turn it into Harry’s wizarding school, but was turned down by authorities concerned about the story’s ‘pagan’ themes. Thankfully for us – that means it’s still pretty empty if you go early, I can’t imagine how packed the place would be if it had been the actual home of Harry and co !

How to get there from Central London? Take the train from London St Pancras Intl, which will get you in 1 hour 12 minutes to Canterbury West

Leigh On Sea Leigh On Sea Leigh On Sea Leigh On Sea Leigh On Sea

Leigh On Sea

Just a 45 minutes train ride away from London, Leigh-on-Sea is a world apart from the busy city life. It’s a place with quaint little streets, lots of eateries/pubs and tea-houses, and not forgetting benches to sit and enjoy the view.

This place is not a hidden or undiscovered gem by any means and if it hasn’t rained that morning it’ll be pretty busy by midday. But if you get there early morning, you’ll most likely have the entire promenade to yourself and a few lost dogs here and there. The tide going out is quite impressive to see, with dozens of boats strewn across the sand waiting for the water to come back in and rescue them from the crabs.

How to get there from Central London? Take the train from Fenchurch Street Station to Leigh on Sea

Eltham Palace

Way way back in the 14th century Elham Palace was the place to be but it fell into disrepair and ruins until it was saved by the new owners who put a definite Art Deco spin on their new digs. The couple were the ‘talk of the town’ at the time, the celebs you wanted to get to know, and if you were lucky enough be invited to one of their famed extravagant parties.

What I love about the place is that it allows you to pretty much explore every room in the palace and all the rooms have books, diaries and personal touches to feel like you’re looking at a living, breathing house, rather than a stuffy, cold exhibit behind glass.

How to get there from Central London? Take the train from Charing Cross or London Bridge to Mottingham and from there it’s about a 10 minute walk.