London – one of the world’s most visited cities, a city of ideas and imagination as well as the capital of the United Kingdom and a 21st-century city with history stretching back to Roman times.
Architectural grandeur rises up all around you. For all lovers of any shapes and curves the architecture type ones 😉 it’s a must visit. London has something for everyone, from history and culture to fine food and good times. I don’t think there is really much to be said about it but to explore the best London has to offer, you have to keep your eyes open and occasionally look up…
One of the best things about Italy is getting lost and that’s exactly what we did in Rome and especially Venice.
From the ancient amphitheatre of the Colosseum to the Vatican City, Rome is networked with a plethora of small streets and alleys where the signs can be hard to find at times but it is made up by the great historical and visual experience you get along the way.
After taking the four hour scenic route by train across Italy we found ourselves in Venice. Also referred to by many as “City of Bridges” – it has apparently over 400 bridges, which connect 118 islands. There’s plenty to see in Venice either on foot or by taking a gondola through the numerous canals, but some of the best views are to be seen from the famous San Marco bell tower. Either way it’s a journey worth making…
We decided on a small road trip to Cornwall – specifically St Ives, with a stopover in St Austell for a visit to the Eden Project which was awesome by the way! Inside the artificial biodomes are a diversity of plants that are collected from all around the world. The project took 2½ years to construct and opened to the public on 17 March 2001.
From there it was just over an hours drive onto St Ives.
Having arrived there, we realised that if you are in need of caffeine & some carbs then you are in luck. St Ives is peppered with many great coffee shops, delis selling Cornish Pasties fresh from the oven plus great bars and pubs to suit all tastes.
After sunbathing in a glorious cove (we were lucky with the weather) and a couple too many glasses of wine we walked the long way back to our hotel, admiring the beaches on the way…
Brighton is a buzzing city there is no doubt, whether you want to stroll through the lanes for an eclectic purchase or grab a snack at one of the numerous beach bars or restaurants as you listen to live music and people-watch.
However – sometimes the best times to be had in Brighton are when the sun goes down, the sea breeze drops and the seagulls stop fighting over the last stolen chip…
Life can be fairly relaxed if you have a powder blue convertible Fiat 500, bright sunshine with blue sky and good company when exploring the beautiful island of Jersey. Our trip included a stop at St. Ouen’s Bay (where we had the most delicious food and view of the endless beach at El Tico restaurant) Rozel Bay, Devil’s Hole on the North coast and Corbiere to the far South. We were lucky to be staying in St. Aubin’s Harbour with its beautiful views and numerous pubs and restaurants.
Although the island seems bigger – Jersey is small, just 9 miles from end to end and 5 miles wide. We took a wrong turn from the North of the Island and found ourselves back in St. Helier before we knew it. I couldn’t blame my girlfriend’s map-reading as sign posts are few and far between in Jersey and it is easy to take a wrong turn and find yourself on a farm track chatting to a bemused local.
A short flight from the UK (just 100 miles) and only 14 miles from France, Jersey is a mixture of French and English influences so there really is no excuse for a visit…
The Shard, the iconic 87-storey skyscraper standing approximately 306 meters (1,004 ft) high is currently the tallest building in the European Union and the second-tallest free-standing structure in the United Kingdom. It first opened to the public on 1st February 2013, forming part of the London Bridge Quarter development.
Twilight at the Shard proved to be a magical experience as the sky changed from light blue grey and then orange with the twinkling lights of London – North, East, South and West against the famous landmarks, both ancient and contemporary – of St Paul’s Cathedral, The London Eye, The Houses of Parliament and The Gherkin.
Bruges, known for its romantic streets and beautiful medieval buildings and canals did not disappoint, particularly since we were fortunate to be visiting under unusually sunny circumstances – at least that is what one of the local bar proprietors told us. We were staying in the historic center of Bruges (a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2000) at Hotel Dukes’ Palace, a Boutique Hotel – a former residence of the Burgundian aristocracy, which equally didn’t disappoint!
Too many outstanding buildings to mention but Bruges’ most famous landmark is its 13th-century Belfort, also known as Belfry Tower (featured in the well-known movie, “In Bruges”) situated in the main square, housing a carillon comprising of 47 bells and the Church of Our Lady has brick spires that reach over 400 ft. making it one of the highest brick towers in the world.
There were many places to take a break from walking to eat chocolate waffles, any variety of chocolate truffles you could desire, delicious pain au chocolat’s and fries with mustard flavored mayonnaise that will tickle your taste buds and add inches to your waistline in no time. All this washed down by a cold Belgian beer. All in all, getting lost in Bruges makes a worthwhile adventure!
Dorset, the county made famous by the works of Thomas Hardy holds many pleasant childhood memories from Uploders village and the surrounding area of Bridport for my girlfriend.
Our time was spent sampling local cuisine after the warmest of welcomes at the Askerswell family run pub, The Spyway Inn, a supposedly haunted smugglers Inn, dating from 1745. This was followed by a trip to West Bay (situated on the Jurassic coast world heritage site) which was perfect for long walks above the golden sandstone cliffs.
The rest of our time was spent exploring the quirky coastal town of Lyme Regis, nick-named ‘the pearl of Dorset’, well known for the fossils found along the cliffs of the Jurassic coastline.
If it is peace and tranquility you are looking for and some beautiful countryside you will not be disappointed with the counties of Norfolk, which hosts some of Britain’s finest beaches and areas of outstanding natural beauty and Suffolk, noted for having been the home to two of England’s best regarded painters, John Constable and Thomas Gainsborough.
On our trip we were fortunate with the summer sun which made the experience of visiting Snape Maltings (famously created in 1948 by the resident and acclaimed composer Benjamin Britten) and the fashionable seaside town of Aldeburgh, a popular weekend destination, now much loved by visiting Londoners (with second homes making up roughly a third of its residential property).
By pure coincidence as it goes, I happened to be in the right place at the right time to be part of one of the toughest sports in the world – road cycling! The Slovakia and Czech National Road Cycling Championships 2013 is an annual four day event consisting of time trials and finishes with a 198km road race round beautifully picturesque towns and villages in Slovakia. The race was won by the one and only Peter Sagan a pro-cyclist, a member of the Liquigas Cannondale Team and a true champion in the making.