Travel as a menu #travellinkup

a dessert in Paris

Quite an interesting topic for this month’s travel linkup: comparing travel to a menu. Now, usually the dessert part of a lunch or dinner is my favourite part of the entire meal and I often choose what I want to eat for dessert before I even choose the main. But I guess most people don’t do that  🙂 So, let’s start at the beginning. What place is your starter? Tough question. Since I mostly just travelled around Europe almost all of those places could be classified as short-haul. I didn’t really do any long-haul flights e.g. going across the Atlantic to the USA or flying to Dubai or visiting China or New Zealand like some other travel bloggers. So, I’d need to divide my destinations into short-haul (starters) and long-haul (main) even when they aren’t that far away from each other. Regarding the dessert part of my meal, oh boy, there are several amazing places that have left a lasting impression on me.

I’d choose Italy as my starter. I’ve travelled extensively around Italy but there are still many places that I haven’t visited such as Sicily or Cinque Terre. If I have to pick a favourite place then it’d be Bologna. I already blogged about it so you can read why I like it so much if you want to. I’ve been to Florence  and Rome and Venice several times but I’d rather spend a relaxing day in Bologna hanging out with the locals than brave the crowds in one of the above places.

Bologna

The main. Well, there’s only one possible main for me. And that’s London. I could always go back to London (and I have, 11 times so far!). It’s like my favourite meal. I could never get enough of it and it always tastes great. You might wonder now what’s my favourite meal…but I won’t tell you 🙂 What would be the furthest I have ever travelled? If I look at the map and the distance from my hometown to a place, then the furthest place I’ve ever travelled would be Lisbon , Portugal  which is over 2 000 km from my hometown and which was definitely the longest flight I’ve ever took. I absolutely loved Lisbon and I’d love to go back.

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Unexpected places (June Travel Link Up)

in Stockholm

It’s been a month of travel for me: a short weekend break to Stockholm, Sweden with my husband followed by a trip to London on my own and then another business trip to the South of France last week. It sounds great but honestly I just feel exhausted now. Not because of all the travelling I did but because of all the work that I’ve been doing lately. And I still haven’t written much about my travels (especially about Stockholm). So, when I saw the new topic for June’s Travel Link Up I didn’t really know whether I’ll have the time or the energy to write anything but since I really like the topic I decided to give it a try.

What makes a place unexpected? Our expectations, scenery, people or something else; it’s hard to say really. I rarely go somewhere without the exhaustive preparations which include hours spent online (and offline:guidebooks) reading about the sights/landmarks/interesting things to do and to see in a city/country. But sometimes I don’t have enough time to do my usual travel preparations or I just book something almost on a whim and decide not to explore the place too much before the actual trip which usually results in being pleasantly surprised by such a place.

Stockholm
Stockholm

So what places have surprised me lately?The most recent city that I’ve found to be extraordinarily beautiful is Stockholm. My husband and I arrived on a Friday evening (in April) and left on a Monday morning so in reality we only had 48 h to see Stockholm. That’s why I didn’t want to over-plan our stay and I’ve decided to focus mostly on the Old Town (Gamla Stan) and to visit a few museums. Anyway, I was very pleasantly surprised by Stockholm since I really didn’t expect to like it so much.

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A fun boat trip in Bruges (April 2015)

this is where we started our boat ride (just off the Burg square)
this is where we started our boat ride (just off the Burg square)

As I’ve mentioned in my previous post on Bruges ( A perfect day in Bruges) we took a boat trip along the canals. It cost 8 euros per person and lasted for half an hour. The driver/guide also spoke about the sights we were seeing from our boat but to be honest I didn’t really pay much attention to him since I was too busy admiring everything around me. The boat was full of people which made taking good photos a difficulty. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed the boat ride. It was great to see the town from its waterways and to wave at the people at the bridges 🙂 It was also fun when we had to go under the bridges since some of them weren’t that high and you felt like you were going to hit your head. We saw some beautiful swans too. It was a sunny & warm day but the water was really cold; I know because I put my hand in it 😉
All in all, a great and fun experience.

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A perfect day in Bruges ( April 2015)

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Have you ever had a perfect day trip? Our trip to Bruges was just that.

When I planned our Brussels weekend trip my husband suggested we spend a day in Bruges. I was against it since it was just a short trip but I’m so glad that he managed to change my mind. Bruges is a perfect picture postcard town. And it kind of reminded me of English countryside towns and I seriously love the English countryside.

So, on a beautiful Sunday morning we boarded our train to Bruges from Brussels Midi station. The train was packed full with tourists and somehow after walking through several carriages we eventually found ourselves a place to sit. It was only a short train ride since Belgium isn’t really big and on our way to Bruges we passed near several other tourist-worthy Belgian towns such as Ghent. There was an older Belgian gentleman sitting opposite me and he struck a conversation with me. I have to say that I speak some French and I tried to use my French as much as possible during this trip but everyone we met spoke good English. So we talked briefly about Brussels and Bruges and Belgian coast and about French and Flemish language representation in Belgium.
Soon we arrived to Bruges and followed the mass of tourists out of the train station and into the town. However, the groups of tourists dispersed quickly since everyone obviously had another idea of how to get to the strict center of the town.


We walked past a row of old small houses which looked more like they belonged in a fairy tale book than in a modern-day world. Passing the St.Salvator’s Cathedral we found ourselves in a busy street leading to the main square Markt. And what a sight to behold! The square is surrounded by colourful picturesque buildings from different periods. There’s also the majestic Provincial Court building which can be mistaken for a town hall and of course looming over the square is the 83-meter-high Belfry tower from 1248. There was also a kind of carnival at the square which I must say looked a bit out of odds with the beautiful square. You could spend hours at the square just admiring the beautiful facades of the buildings or watching the world go by from one of the many café terraces on the square. But the first thing we did in Brugge or Bruges was to climb 366 steps up to the top of the Belfry tower to see the whole town. However, it wasn’t an easy climb since the passage was often very narrow and steep and we had to wait in queue for half an hour before. There’s not much inside the tower except from the big wooden chest in the Treasure Room and the intricate clock/bells mechanism further up. Nevertheless, the view alone was worth the climb and the hefty 8 euros ticket.

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