I avoid leaving the country on bank/public holidays, almost always have. I grew up doing jobs in hospitality which meant they were always days to work with the hope of overtime while everyone was out having fun, and that was fine by me. Then I worked in tourism, where you instead go on holiday during the low season and never pay the full price. Now I just avoid leaving London’s Zone 2 on bank holidays. Though many people would see it as wasting an opportunity, and I see why, it just isn’t worth the stress that it brings.
This bank holiday I was ducking and diving to avoid all the obstacles thrown at me and as each one hit me I clearly remembered why it’s not for me.
1 | Public transport is a mess
The drama already starts as soon as you leave the house. With a bit of luck someone’s decided it’s time to do some repair work on your route so you’re forced to get a bus, a train, a replacement bus, and alternative train and then a taxi. With journey times doubled or even tripled your patience may begin to wear thin as mine did, but whatever you do try not to think about the fact that the extra buses and train tickets really eat into that ‘cheap airline ticket’ deal you smiled as you purchased weeks/months before.
2 | Drama at the airport
If you do make it to the airport, chances are your flight will be delayed, plus everyone else’s will be as well, meaning it gets a little crowded in the tiny terminal and everyone’s eying up everyone in a desperate game of musical chairs while getting grumpy with the lack of information. If you succeed in grabbing a seat, be prepared to hold on to it with your life, and if you’ve got a plug nearby, make all you can it of it before it’s pounced on quicker than a 1st class upgrade!
3 | Expensive & Crowded
Ticket fares as well as accommodation costs go up during bank holidays to ridiculous amounts, meaning you’ll end up hurting in the wallet a lot more than you expect – 2-4 times as much in many cases (mine was 3 times for this trip) And while tickets for most attractions stay the same it gets super crowded, on a recent bank holiday I saw the lines double, possibly even triple for the London Eye
I’ll just stick it to staying in town and host a BBQ and support group for the people facing the same trauma.
Do you ever brave travelling on a bank/public holiday?
Blondies Kitchen are taking over London with their cookies + milk combo and if you’ve been on social media this week you’ll know they just opened a new location on Kingly Court. Their cookies are perfectly soft, ready to melt in your mouth and there’s tons of flavours to choose from. Try the white chocolate and biscuit butter with a glass of milk or go for a soft serve with cookies crumble and/or Nutella crunch for the perfect dairy/baked tastebud pleaser.
It looks like something out of Harry Potter, tucked away in the attic of an old church with potion-like herb collections with hand-written descriptions of their medicinal uses and apothecary bottles that will make your bathroom cabinets look so 2018. It also houses the only surviving 19th century operating theatre where performances are held, plus there’s a collection of torture-style instruments. So happy things have moved on since then.
Grand tudor palaces, gardens in bloom and a maze you need to get lost in… you can read all about my day of exploring Hampton Court Palace and its grounds here. And if that doesn’t get you on the train to the south west London then I have failed as a blogger.
I might not get Harry Potter tickets until 2024, but in the mean time I should watch another play here and there to stay cultured. Last year I saw a Shakespeare comedy at the Globe and this year I was ready for a tragedy. This version of the Scottish king gone mad tale is set in a dystopian world (I’m thinking Brexit aftermath) and includes a lot of beards (‘MacBeard’ would have been a much better title) … so if you like watching beards and drama while sipping on some fine red then this might be for you.
It was only a matter of time til the Dutch cuisine made its way over to the UK…but we’ll have to wait for the traditional ‘hutspot’ dish or the herring with raw onions for the moment! Until that joyous day there is the chips hole in the wall just off Leicester Square that sells what we Dutch call Flemish fries: thick-cut and double fried makes them crispy on the outside and super soft on the inside. And you know they are Dutch when they offer satay sauce. I’d like to see them a bit more crispy next time though and I need to ask what the name is all about as well.
The world’s leading travel guide has just announced their Top 10 Europe destinations, highlighting the hidden gems you have to visit when you want to avoid mass tourism. Being a self-proclaimed traveller myself I’ve crossed of a whole three of them: Vilnius (you can read my findings here), Dundee (maybe one day I will find words to describe my experience) and the province of Friesland in the Netherlands. I lived in Leeuwarden during a lost few months in my life so as an expert and expat I can tell you what to see and do there.
When you think of Netherlands you think of Amsterdam and perhaps Rotterdam or The Hague. But according to Lonely Planet, Friesland is where it’s at. It’s located in the North West of the Netherlands and stands out as it has its own language, traditions and lovely nature (very hard to admit from someone from the the rival province). What are some things to see, do and eat then?
Visit One Town Visit All Towns No matter which city of town you visit they all have the same blueprint: cute historical city centre with an old church, a random museum that showcased why it was important at some point in history and boats to escape to other places. If you have time to visit one city then make it Harlingen: get lost in the compact city centre and check out the charming houses, visit the port and see the #AccidentalWesAnderson light house and top it off with an ice-cream at Min 12. It was where I lost my salted caramel virginity and it changed the game (and jeans size) for me.
Culinary Sugar Explosion
The French have a croissant, the Scandinavian have cinnamon buns and Friesland has … sugar bread. It’s literally a white loaf of bread, with large lumps of sugar mixed in with the dough. Wait … what? It gets better… To top it off you it’s best when served with a layer of butter. So definitely not for the ones working on their #Summerbody2018.
Bring Out Your Inner Water Rat (It’s a weird Dutch phrase, but bear with me!)
Friesland is the watersport capital of the Netherlands and many school trips have taken me there. Canoeing or sailing are great, but you really want to go traditional rent a sloop and explore by boat. The engines are silent so you can also combine it with nature and visit a reserve like De Alde Feanen.
If you like climbing poles Fierljeppen might be for you: you basically jump and grab your pole (usually between 8 and 13 metres) and then climb to the top of the pole while trying make sure it moves forward and lands on a designated spot.
Or perhaps mudflat hiking: Twice a day – when it’s low tide, the Wadden Sea gets all dry and you have can actually walk in the gooey seabed to one of the nearby islands. I did it twice and ended up crying both times, once out of frustration and other time out of happiness that I made it. Make sure you book a guided tour unless you want to end up stuck in the mud!
Have you been to any of Lonely Planet’s Top Europe Destinations?
Getting lost in a city isn’t something you always want on holiday, but places like Dubrovnik practically beg you to escape from the crowd and savour the architectural treasures of the old town, imagining all the drama that took place on these cobbled streets over the centuries.
Though most people rent out their place in summer you will still spot signs from the locals: the old ladies who are chatting, hanging laundry out to dry, and cats sunbathing all day and give you a fuck off when you try to take a photo. While you, me and everyone’s grandma seems to have discovered the place, it suffers from overtourism (there are plans to only let 4,000 people a day in) so enjoy those views while they last.
If Dubrovnik was a travelquote it would be something in the line of: every alley leads to new adventures so don’t be afraid to get lost in the labyrinth. Like you might stumble upon a hidden bar built into the side of the cliff that also happens to be a cliff diving spot. You can watch people jump or decide to actually to embrace your inner daredevil and take the leap.
Kew Gardens’ revamped Temperate House re-opened the other day and it’s all over the press and Instagram this weekend. I went a few weeks ago and found the place a lot more building site than world class botanical garden.
It was a ‘glass half-empty’ kind of experience for me, I knew the Temperate House was still in the works, but nowhere was it mentioned on the main website or when you booked tickets that the famous Pagoda was closed for refurbishment, so I was a bit shocked when I saw it under cover as my bus approached…It was a day of mixed emotions, and got me thinking about the previous times I’d encountered hiccups in my adventures.
Times it wasn’t so good:
Cinque Terre is known for its beautiful winding walking trails descending high above the Tyrrhenian Sea, aside from my time there, when half of them were closed.
Hiking up the Alps in Innsbruck and joining Maria in the Sound of Music is every girl’s dream, except when the ski-lift is closed for the season and you have to walk all the way back down on blistered feet.
Putting on my belle of the ball gown and dancing down to Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria was meant to be Disney-worthy trip of a lifetime- except the Beast had the builders in…
When every cloud has a silver lining and it turned out for the best.
I went to take rightful place at the seats of gods at Athens’ Akropolis (I’d be the Goddess of Tea) and sections might have been closed, but you get a half discount, so more money to spend on souvlaki!
Dover Castle managed to withstand the Avengers assaulting it, but when I headed down there, it was a tad too windy to be able to open for the public. But this meant I went on an adventure of mine own to nearby Canterbury and the following day the castle was empty so it was even better!
In the paradise of Kotor, me and my friend thought we could just rock up and expect two beds in the town’s only hostel – of course it was fully booked, but the kind owner went out of her way to find us a lovely space in an old grandma’s house, which ended up being one of the highlights of the trip (local knowledge!!)
What was your best/worst ‘when travel gives you lemons’ experience?
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