The Travel Diaries: Tenerife September 2016!

I thought Sunday required a nice chilled out post so let me transport you to the Canary Islands for a few minutes for some sun, sea and relaxation. I got to spend 8 lovely days in Costa Adeje in southern Tenerife with Tom last month and I wanted to give you some hints and tips on where to go and what to do when you’re on the island even. We did nothing but lazing around in the days we were there but i’ve been going back to the same location in Tenerife for about 10 years now so I’ve got plenty of good things to share with you! (Sneaky little fact for you, but Costa Adeje is actually the ‘Isle of Fernando’s’ from Take Me Out for all you fans of the show!)

Where to stay?

We always stay at my Auntie & Uncle’s apartment in the El Beril Complex, however, there are numerous hotels and other aparthotels right near by if that’s more your thing! Just up the road are two lovely hotels from the Riu brand called the Palace and the Arecas. The palace is 5* and the Arecas is 4 so there is some price variation there. There are also some really luxurious hotels in the area such as the Grand Hotel El Mirador which is rumoured to have had Michael Jackson stay in it in the past!

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The view from our apartment complex!

What to do?

Playa Del Duque beach is the gorgeous beach in the area and is a really great place to sunbathe, swim or even go crabbing as there are plenty or rocks to scramble over. There is also a little bay where lots of people pop on their snorkel to see what they can see under the waves! You can also hire jet skis or go paragliding from this beach so theres plenty to keep you busy. There are also tonnes of cafe’s and restaurants along here to grab a drink and a bite to eat to avoid the midday sun! If you are more of a thrill seeker then head to Siam Park which has been voted the best waterpark in the world! It has one infamous water slide that is so steep it is almost vertical and takes you through a tunnel where sharks swim above your head through a few mm of glass! If you fancy something tamer or are taking children with you then there is another water park called Aqua Land or you could venture a bit further and go to Loro Parque which is full of animals and birds for you to see. I went here quite a few years ago and absolutely loved it, I will definitely be going here again next time I go!

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Off out for a lovely meal! 

Where to eat?

Tom and I enjoyed so many lovely meals just walking distance from our apartment. If you are looking for a quick and cheap bite to eat in the day then head to Taberna Lorenzo they do lovely pizzas and some of the nicest omelettes i’ve ever tasted for something stupid like €5! This place defines cheap and cheerful! If you want a mid-priced meal then try Trattoria Portifino which does gorgeous pizza and pasta and is located just off the end of the beach so it’s really easy to find! The waiters are so friendly and the food was so tasty! If you want to celebrate; have a slightly larger budget or just want to indulge then head to either La Nonna or Rosso Sul Mare. These were amazing restaurants, both with stunning scenery to witness from your table! La Nonna is right by the beach and set on a terrace that allows you watch the sun set from your table. The food was pricier and had smaller portions than other places but it was absolutely delicious! Tom has roast pancetta and I had gorgonzola pasta and they were really high quality! My personal favourite restaurant is Rosso Sul Mare which translates to ‘Red Sea’. It is set in the nearby area of La Caleta and is easily reachable on foot by a 10 minute walk along the beach! It serves gorgeous food and delicious wine and you can enjoy all of this whilst looking out at the waves crashing against the cliffs and the sun setting. It’s beautiful and somewhere I have visited every time I’ve gone over the last 10 or so years.

Fancy a little excursion?

If you want to see another beautiful area then jump in a car and head to Los Gigantes! It is an absolutely beautiful town by the sea that is incredibly picturesque and is great for walks or even hikes as it is quite hilly! This is quite apt seeing as Los Gigantes translates to ‘The Giants’ in english, referring to the mountainous back drop for the resort! There is a lovely marina so make sure you get to visit that if you head that way!

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Lizards, and sadly cockroaches, are a very common occurrence in Tenerife, especially in the summer so don’t be concerned if you see them! Tom and I found this little guy on the wall of our apartment, he is now known as Ricky. 

I hope you like my little travel guide to help you out if you decide to head to Tenerife. I don’t know whether it’s because i’ve been going there for so long but it really does feel like a home from home for me and I just relax as soon as I step out of the plane. If you are heading to Tenerife and want any more ideas then just drop me an email. Where’s your foreign ‘home away from home’?

Much Love

xoxo

 

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The Travel Diaries: Brussels August 2016

So last week I headed off to Brussels for 3 days as part of the prize for my Undergraduate of the Year award! Brussels was somewhere that I had never visited before so I was looking forward to seeing what it was like. We also were travelling by Eurostar, again something that I had not done previously so I had no idea what to expect there either! I just wanted to say a quick thanks to everyone at ACCA (Association for Chartered & Certified Accountants) for organising this trip and making it as amazing as it was – especially Alicia (who I hope will be reading this!!).

It was an early start for me on the Tuesday morning as my train left Nottingham for London at 5:50 am. I wasn’t impressed!! However, I did get to see the sun rise, something that I don’t get to see very often so it made it more manageable! Once in London, I dashed through the station to catch my Eurostar to Brussels and thats where I met Alicia and Daniel. Alicia works for ACCA and coordinated the trip and Daniel is last years runner-up so he got to come along too. I was really really surprised as the Eurostar only took 2 hours to get from London to Brussels and did just feel like any other train but we were clearly going a lot faster!IMG_1650.JPG

Day one consisted of meeting members of staff from the ACCA office in Brussels and also hearing about the European parliament and how it effects the different businesses. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll know all about Brexit so the trip really enlightened me as to the consequences of Britains exit from the European Union. After our lunch meeting and chats we headed off to check into our hotel which was the Thon Hotel set in the European Quarter. It was a great hotel that was lovely and modern and had the best buffet breakfast i’ve ever seen! You could even make your own Belgian waffles, which I did every single morning!20160831_100940.jpg

That evening, we headed off to Place Luxembourg for dinner and drinks with two lovely members of the ACCA Brussels office, Cecile and Vikte. This square is set just down from the EU parliament building so is a popular networking place for the professionals living and working in the city. Although I’m not a beer drinker, I was told I couldn’t leave Belgium without trying a Belgian beer! I opted for a Liefmans Fruitesse which was a light fruit beer so wasn’t too overpowering and was a good starter beer for beer haters!! It was very similar to fruit ciders like Rekorderlig or Kopperberg so it was really tasty! We stayed there for hours, soaking up the atmosphere and the sun and enjoying the food and drink until tiredness got the better of us all!

Day two started with a breakfast meeting back in the ACCA office and was swiftly followed by a trip to the European Commission office to find out more about how policies were set. I didn’t realise it can take years to make even a small change and that even then it might not be accepted! It was really interesting finding out more about what goes on behind the scenes as most of us only see what is directly in the public eye.20160831_111610.jpg After that we headed off to the European Parliament building which was perhaps one of my favourite things we did. The building is absolutely huge and has thousands of people from all over Europe working inside. We got to sit in one of the rooms where the meetings take place and I couldn’t get over how big it was! 20160831_130928.jpgThe main thing that struck me was how many translation booths there were inside that room. Obviously everything has to be translated into the many languages of the countries from the EU (I believe there are 24?!) so there are plenty of clever men and women working hard to ensure that happens! We also met a couple of lovely ladies who work for Members of the European Parliament (MEP’s) and found out more about what they do day-to-day. 20160831_132437.jpgPolitics is not a career path that I am particularly interested in but hearing abut their jobs did paint it in a completely new light for me! They are so busy and permanently running from one place to the next that it sounded quite exhilarating! Sadly, Brexit has had a negative effect on some of these roles and sadly means that some MEP’s and their colleagues will no longer have a job.20160831_151118 As someone who was a strong supporter to stay in the EU it did make me quite sad that the majority of the country had voted against this fantastic union! IMG_1718.JPG

After our trip to the parliament we headed off to do some more touristy things! We paid a visit to the Magritte museum which was full of the amazing art from René Magritte who was a Belgian artist specialising in surrealism. Now I am not really a lover of art so I was not sure how I would find an art museum, but it was amazing! The surrealism element made the paintings so intriguing and there were clear patterns in the style of his paintings at various stages of his life. I set myself a bit of a challenge to try and come up with an interpretation of each painting but some of them were very ‘surreal’! After the museum we had a wander round the older streets of Brussels in search for the Manneken Pis (Weeing Man) statue. We eventually found it on one of the street corners and couldn’t believe how small it was! It was such a funny little statue but one of the main things you have to see when you go to the city! We spent the next half an hour wandering in and out of chocolate shops being handed samples from the staff. I could definitely have got used to that!! IMG_1674.JPG

Finally it was time for cocktails and Alicia had received a recommendation from Vikte that we should go to La Pharmacie Anglaise, which describes itself as a ‘cocktails and curiosity’ bar but specialises in gin – something that I am incredibly fond of!! The bar itself is incredible. It has all sorts of knick-knacks and jars full of crazy things lining them walls and even a staircase full of Hendricks Gin bottles!IMG_1662.JPG There’s also a fantastic balcony level that overlooks the bar too. We all had different cocktails with Alicia opting for a Tropical themed cocktail, Daniel a rose flavoured one and me a berry and sage concoction! They were some of the best cocktails i’ve ever tried and really set the scene for the rest of the evening! We headed off to dinner after that at the delicious Les Petits Oignons which was a delicious french restaurant! I had a amazing truffle pasta dish and we drank some of the best wine I have ever tasted! It was a lovely meal and we all headed back to the hotel very full! IMG_1666.JPG

For our final day, we had no set plans so we decided to try and see as much as we could on foot to make the most of our time in Brussels. We headed straight for the palace as this was something we all wanted to visit. It is actually free to enter so we spent a while wandering the grand hallways and marvelling at the tapestries! It’s definitely worth a visit if you have a spare hour in Brussels!20160901_115328.jpg We spent the next couple of hours wandering round the shops and taking in the atmosphere. We had a bite to eat and then decided that we wanted to find the other famous statue in Brussels, the Jeanneke Pis (Weeing Girl). There was clearly a bit of a theme going on with these statues! This was even funnier than the first one and was set in an even more obscure place – down a small side street opposite a restaurant!!IMG_1677.JPG Sadly, we were fast running out of time so we started to make our way back to the hotel to grab our bags. On the way we did manage to fit in one more sight which was the beautiful Notre Dame De La Chappelle which is a gorgeous church in the centre of Brussels. It was as beautiful inside as outside and made a great end to our trip!20160901_141235.jpg

All good things come to an end and it was time for us to head home on the Eurostar! I was so pleased I got to see such a beautiful city and I would love to see more of Belgium in the future. One thing that did really stand out for me was the fact that there were a lot more women than men doing these kind of jobs. It was incredible to see so many fantastic ladies in such powerful jobs and was something I found incredibly inspiring! Thank you again to ACCA for making the trip possible and to Alicia and Daniel who put up with me for three days! Bits of this post may be distributed by ACCA so don’t panic if you see it somewhere else! Have you been to Brussels before?

Much Love

xoxo

The Travel Diaries: Italy June 2016

So this month Tom and I were lucky enough to jet off for 8 days in Italy to mark the end of my exams! We love Italy having visited Venice last year together and I visited Rome a couple of years ago. The food, the people an the scenery guarantee a beautiful and memorable trip. This time around we decided to try and visit a few places in the same trip and settled for Pisa, Florence & Milan. Thankfully the weather was on our side and I thought I’d share with you what we got up to!

We started our holiday in Pisa having both always wanted to see the Leaning Tower! The weather was absolutely beautiful for the first few days and we spent our time strolling the streets and taking in the atmosphere. The Leaning Tower itself is pretty impressive and is a hell of a lot more wonky than you would think! It is about 15 feet out of plumb and leans at an angle of approximately 4 degrees so its seriously leaning! Of course Tom and I had to do the stereotypical ‘holding up the tower’ pose so I’ll share mine with you below!13422316_10209857668548508_2247247816101997224_o.jpg

On our second day we headed over to Florence for a little sightseeing tour. Tom is a huge fan of vintage cars, having renovated his own Classic Mini so when we saw a driving tour of Tuscany in a Vintage Fiat 500, we knew that was the one for us! I absolutely adore driving but I’d never driven either abroad or a vintage car so it was quite exciting yet nerve wracking to give it a go! We had a fantastic tour guide Jimmy who chatted to us whilst we drove and told us all about the scenery that we were driving through. I was first to drive and I loved it! It was so weird to drive on the ‘wrong’ side of the road and the double clutch took some getting used to! We stopped at some absolutely breath taking spots the provided gorgeous views over both Florence and the whole of Tuscany. It was beautiful! Tom, of course, loved it and was in his element driving down the narrow roads in an old car. I would definitely recommend this to anyone that loves driving or even if you just want to really see a lot of Tuscany in a short space of time. I think there was the option to have the guide drive the whole way if you weren’t too keen but that was one of our favourite parts! 13391448_10209857918034745_1976218114899642276_o13403110_10209857794871666_2583303341282123804_o

Our final day in Pisa was sadly very very rainy so we just took it easy and watched a film. It was still lovely though as we had both been incredibly busy leading up to the holiday and needed a break! The next day we headed back to the train station but this time to travel to Milan! We wanted to see a different side of Italy and Milan was definitely it. It is so chic and stylish and very different to anywhere else in Italy. We stayed at the LaGare Hotel near the central station and it was absolutely beautiful! It is reasonably new and no expense has been spared when creating it! Our favourite part was the incredible spa that took over the bottom floor and it was just the most relaxing way to spend an evening!13391521_10209857916834715_2301915322983212211_o.jpg

We spent our days in Milan wandering the streets, eating Gelato and exploring the beautiful shops. We took a long stroll round one of the parks in the city and were surprised to see turtles swimming in the ponds! Now that’s definitely something you don’t get to experience in the UK!! We of course took a wander down to the Duomo and took in all the beautiful historical sights. We actually walked all the way to the top of the Duomo and got fantastic views over Milan. 13415499_10209886409507014_8886484321943335573_o.jpgThe building itself is really very beautiful and a must see if you are in the area! We also walked through the main shopping centre marvelling at the expensive treats we could have picked up had we had the money! 13418602_10209886319624767_2312567515721407508_o

As ever, all good things have to come to an end and we had soon reached the end of our trip. Italy will always hold a large place in our hearts and we have plans to visit Lake Garda next year if possible as we have heard that that is stunning! That’s going to be it for the travel diaries for a while until I head to Belgium in August. There is potentially a trip to Amsterdam in the pipelines with my friend Emily again, however this is completely dependent on my funding situation!! I hope you have enjoyed this post! Have you been to any of these wonderful cities? What did you think of them?

Much Love

xoxo

P.s all photography credit goes to Tom who is a thousand times more talented with a camera than I will ever be! I’m grateful though as we get beautiful images that will last us a lifetime!