The Travel Bug

I'm crazy about travelling, both in the Uk & abroad, and love discovering new places off the beaten track. On this page I'll share a few of the places that I've been to & hope that you'll enjoy discovering these places too! 

Liverpool, U.K.

The city of Liverpool has so much to offer in terms of culture, restaurants & history. With three art galleries, the International Slavery Museum on Albert Dock & the Beatles Story, there is so much to see & do. You can hop on & off a tour bus to see the sights, or walk from one end of Hope Street to the other, taking in the two cathedral's with their striking designs. 

If you love to shop, head to Bold Street with its many independent stores. One of the best places to eat is The Art School, which focuses on local producers & for pre-dinner drinks try the sumptuous Philharmonic Dining Rooms. Finally, no trip to Liverpool would be complete without a ferry trip across the the Mersey, with great views of the Three Graces waterfront buildings, followed by a night at the infamous Cavern Club.  

Brussels, Belgium

If you're thinking of booking a trip for next year & want to try a different city, consider exploring Brussels. It's one of the best places for buying gifts & has a huge range of bars with excellent beers, so couples will be in their element. The mid-19th century Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert was Europe's first shopping centre & hosts a range of boutiques, interior shops & speciality stores. 

If you love antiques, head to Place du Grand Sablon where you'll find some amazing treasures & also some of the best chocolate makers in the city. If you prefer looking for bargains, Place du Jeu de Balle hosts an excellent flea market where all sorts of amazing items are to be found. A great central boutique hotel is Le Dixseptieme, close to the bustling Grand-Place. Travel is convenient too, with either Eurostar from London or flights with transfers. 

Otago Peninsula, New Zealand

Running along the southeast coast of South Island, the Otago Peninsula is known for both its Scottish and Maori heritage. The landscape is dramatic with cycling and hiking trails criss-crossing the countryside. It's also a haven for wildlife, home to colonies of sea lions, rare yellow-eyed penguins and albatross. We found the best spot for finding wildlife in their own habitat was a cove called 'Shag Point', nothing more than a short track that afforded views of seals basking on the rocks in glorious sunshine.

Having flown into Wellington & travelled the North Island by campervan, we took a flight to Christchurch & drove the coastal road down to Dunedin before working our way up the western side of South Island to the Franz Joseph Glacier. There is so much to see and do. We spent three weeks travelling around the country and enjoyed discovering Maori hospitality, taking a helicopter ride to the top of the glacier, sampling wine at independent vineyards and driving for miles without meeting another vehicle on the road. Don't forget your camera, the scenery and wildlife is spectacular. 

Llandudno, North Wales

With a decades-old reputation for being the go-to destination for pensioners, Llandudno is actually a great place for both couples & family weekend breaks. With boutique hotels & some fantastic restaurants just a few minutes walk from the 19th-century pier, there is plenty to see and do. There are shops, outdoor activities, a tramway for sightseeing & ancient tunnels leading to a cavern at Great Orme Mines. North Shore Beach is a great place to people watch, eat fresh ice-cream & try the excellent local fish & chips.

We stayed at the recently refurbished Lansdowne House Hotel, located on Abbey Road. It has a well-stocked bar, individually designed rooms, free on-site parking & serves a great breakfast. In the same street are a good pub, delicious Spanish tapas restaurant & a tasty steakhouse. In and around Llandudno are also Surf Snowdonia, Zip Wire & Fforest Rollercoaster for the more adventurous.  

Helsinki, Finland

With most flights taking less than three hours from UK airports, Helsinki is a great winter destination, especially if you fancy a bit of festive retail therapy. The Christmas market located in Senate Square has around 120 stalls selling beautifully crafted gifts, decorative ornaments & locally-grown produce, fish, meats & prepared foods. It's an easy city to get around & if you want something really special to take home a tram ride can take you to Arabia, an old ceramics factory and outlet for Iittala glass.

If you're feeling adventurous, try the Ravintola Kynsilaukka Garlic restaurant on Fredrikinkatu 22. It's one of the older restaurants in the city & has a really cosy feel. Dishes include lamb stew, chicken breast, bouillabaisse with crab & reindeer skewers. Drinks include a garlic martini & garlic beer, which is surprisingly tasty, and even the ice cream contains garlic! Well worth the experience with very friendly staff & delicious food. 

We were lucky on our trip & stayed with a friend, but the best hotel has to be the Hilton Helsinki Kalastajatorppa which overlooks the sea & is just a ten minute drive from the city centre. However, there are plenty of cheaper options & flights are available from all major UK airports, just remember to wrap up warm! 

The Pelangi Beach Hotel

Langkawi, Malaysia

Sitting in the tranquil turquoise waters of the Andaman Sea, the beautiful island of Langkawi, in Malaysia, is the perfect place to relax & unwind. A short connection from Kuala Lumpur, the destination is a haven for some amazing wildlife & fantastic white sandy beaches. 

Food is an eclectic mix of Asian & Indian cuisine, with some wonderful local delicacies to enjoy too. It's fairly easy to get around, as Malaysia is one of the Asian countries that allows you to self-drive, although taxis are fairly inexpensive should you prefer. On our travels around the island, my husband & I encountered monkeys sitting at the side of the road, eagles & hawks, and dozens of species of sea creatures. 

We stayed at the Pelangi Beach Hotel which has large guest rooms & several swimming pools. It is situated directly on the beach & provides a superb location for early morning or sunset walks. There are lots of restaurants within the resort & plenty of activities for children should you need to keep little ones occupied. I highly recommend visiting over the Christmas period, as the hotel chefs create a huge gingerbread house in the lobby. If you're as lucky as we were, you might get a visit from an elephant while you're sipping cocktails in the open air lounge! 

Chipping Campden, England

In the heart of the Cotswolds, this chocolate box village has plenty to see & do with boutique shops & cafes to stop for afternoon cream tea. The surrounding countryside is beautiful, offering cycle routes & walking paths. We found the churchyard full of interesting tombs too, each with their own story & place in history.

There are several places to stay, but we opted for the Eight Bells coaching inn, with it's cosy rooms, roaring open fires & delicious food. A hearty welcome made this the perfect stay. A double room costs from £85 per night with breakfast included. Keep an eye out for the pop-up artisan markets too, we came away with an upcycled cabinet for a bargain price & felt fully rejuvinated after our weekend in the countryside. 

There's plenty to see & do!

Lisbon, Portugal

If you love seafood, folk music & old-world charm, Lisbon is the perfect destination for a long weekend. Head to Alfama, where the cobbled streets are lined with charming pastel-coloured houses for great views over the river. Be warned, some of the areas in Lisbon make steep walking, but there's a regular tram service to if your legs aren't up to it. 

The districts of Baixa & Chiado are lined with shops selling handicrafts, gorgeous local soaps & amazing textiles. There are plenty of cafes & places to eat along the way. Be sure to try the garlic prawns & Portugal's famous custard tarts.

For culture, the 'Museum of Fado' in the Bairro Alto is the home of local music, where you can wander around with headphones on listening to some of the country's most famous guitarists & singers. Travel Interaction 9also known as Broadway Travel) do some great weekend breaks for under £200. 

 

White beaches & tranquil waters.

Rawai, Thailand 

Nestled on the southern tip of Thailand's coastline is the buzzing community of Rawai. With white sandy beaches, plenty of sunshine & dozens of accommodation options, it's the perfect place to relax & unwind. 

Along the waterfront you'll find lots of fabulous restaurants cooking up fresh seafood, steaks & traditional noodle dishes. Across the street you can have a heavenly spa treatment & at night the place comes to life with bars featuring great music. Rawai is also a great base from which to explore the sights such as the Big Buddha Statue, Elephant Trekking, Bird Garden, local markets & Thai Muai Boxing.

I'd recommend booking flights seperately (we paid just £500 pp from the UK with a brief stop in Doha) and then look for a villa rental. There are lots to be found & most can arrange car rental too, giving you the freedom to get out & about.  

 

Aberporth, Wales

Nestled in the curve of Cardigan Bay, Aberporth is a small fishing village with one of the most beautiful beaches in Wales. Bottlenose dolphins are often spotted close to the shore & further out to sea basking sharks swim the waters. 

The best places to stay in the area are the holiday cottages, which are well-equipped, stylish and cosy. Rural Retreats have some beautiful places in the area on lettings with very reasonable weekly rates. 

It's a fabulous place to relax and unwind, with coastal walks, a few great restaurants and if you speak to the local fishermen you can even arrange to have fresh lobster delivered to your door. 

For shopping and bars, Cardigan is a twenty minute drive away & has lots of supermarkets, delicatessen's and souvenir shops, as well as some excellent eateries. 

Tranquil seas & superb views.

Akbuk, Turkey

Hidden away on the coast of the Aegean Sea, Akbuk town is an absolute gem. Unlike it's neighbour, Altinkum, Akbuk is peaceful, non-commercial & slow-paced. 

The pretty harbour affords views over blue waters, warm enough to swim in most months & is home to an array of local restaurants serving delicious food. There are few hotels in the town, but plenty of rental options & car hire is relatively cheap. 

I've been coming here for ten years & never tire of the amazing views. Guaranteed to have you returning home relaxed & rejuvinated, Akbuk is the place for total relaxation.