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City Break: Krakow

By September 27, 2019 Editor's Picks, INSPIRATION, Travel
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Krakow is below the radar for many people as a city break but that is soon to change. With cheap flights on airlines like EasyJet or Ryanair, this is the place to visit before it gets too popular. Here are our top  reasons to visit Krakow soon!

krakow

Architecture

Krakow is Poland’s 2nd largest city with a long history. It is known for its medieval architecture that is largely intact, particularly that of the Old Town and main medieval square Rynek Glowny. A walk here is to step back in time to the 12th century and explore one of the few examples of urban planning to survive the toil of time. Architectural gems through the baroque and renaissance periods also exist, so a walking tour of the city is highly recommended to truly get a feel for this city’s history.

Restaurantes da Kazmierz

A Slice of History

Krakow is truly a slice of history. During WW2, the Nazis occupied Krakow and made the city its base. Many tourists use the city as a stepping stone for a visit to Auschwitz, the site of infamous WW2 tragedy about an hour’s drive outside of Krakow. A tour there is a sobering affair but the guides are respectful and informative. The Jewish Quarter, Kazimierz was abandoned after WW2, but recent developments have seen the area move into a new trendy, cultural scene. A visit here is worthwhile while the older buildings and cobbled streets are still intact to give a sense of how the Jews lived their daily lives.

Also a visit to Nowa Huta will give you some insight into the height of Communist rule. Built by the Soviet Union, the buildings are a true example of proletarian life in that period.

Bigos_in_Kraków

The Food

One of the better kept secrets about Poland is its food. There is much more than sausages to be discovered. Try pierogies, delicious dumplings with fillings that will leave you eager for more. For something more warming, we recommend, Bigos, which is a stew made from cabbage and meat or barszcz,  a warm beet soup. If you are visiting in the warmer months, do try oscypek, a smoked sheep’s milk cheese that is very tasty.  There are lots of eateries for all budgets so our best advice is to be open minded and just try things! You might be surprised by what you discover- after all good things like the bagel originated from Poland!

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The Nightlight

If a tipple after dark is your thing, then Krakow is the place to be. With a large university community, Krakow is reputed to have the highest density of bars of any city, there is something for everyone. Many drinking establishments are to be underground, literally.  In Krakow in cellars that are full of atmosphere. If you prefer to be outdoors, there are also historic courtyards converted into bars and more modern venues pumping out cocktails to fulfill every hedonist’s dream. Try a glass of Soplica, Poland’s oldest vodka, or one of the flavoured varieties of the spirit that have become popular recently.

What are your travel plans for the coming months? Let us know where you go!

 

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Tips for Minimalist Packing

By July 12, 2019 Travel, Uncategorized
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So you’re off on a summer holiday and trying to decide whether a hand-carry suitcase will be sufficient or should you pay for extra luggage. We know its hard to figure out how to pack light. Here are our tips for a minimalist packing style to travel with no fuss ever again!

1. Versatility is key

Our number one tip for travelling is to choose clothing that can be mixed and matched easily. Neutral colours tend to be best for this category, for example a white linen tshirt like this one can be worn with just about everything. You can choose dresses that are casual enough to wear during the day  but can also easily be worn at night with heels and accessories. A sarong is another example of a versatile item that can double as a scarf/ a blanket and even an outfit if its large enough! By choosing clothing by their versatility, you can significantly reduce the number of items you take with you.

2. Planning is your friend

Prepare for your trip by taking some time to think about your holiday. How many days will you be going for? What kind of activities will you be doing? What is the weather like? By doing some planning ahead of the trip you can save lots of luggage space. If its forecast to be sunny for the entire period at your destination, you can probably leave the umbrella behind. Going away for 5 days? Plan outfits for each day, thinking about which styles can be worn with multiple outfits (remember you can always do laundry while you are away). Planning might seem like a lot of effort before a holiday, but it will save you so much energy and space in the long run!

3. Must haves vs Just in case..

With all your items but especially with toiletries, make-up and jewellery think about what you ‘must have’ vs ‘just in case’ scenarios. It is tempting to bring along every shade of lipstick you own and 10 pairs of earrings, just in case a situation arises but it brings a false sense of security. You cannot pack for any and every eventuality so the sooner you let go of this idea and focus on packing essentials that you know you will need, the sooner you can relax into holiday mode. Packing only the essential items also builds your confidence in learning to adapt and be creative with what you do have. Worse case scenario, if you left something behind and ended up really needing it, unless you are going to the North Pole you can always purchase it while you are on holiday.

 Bonus Tips

  • Find out ahead of time what items are already provided at your accommodation. There is no need to bring a hair dryer if one is already provided at your hotel!
  • Roll your clothing- it takes up much less space
  • Bring toiletries that can do double duty- such as 2 in 1 shampoo and conditioners. Everything else store in mini containers to save space

Packing like a minimalist is not easy if you are accustomed to travelling with everything you could ever need.  However eliminating what you don’t need, packing light and sticking to essential items  you love that will work for a number of situations is a liberating process. It will also mean you don’t do that walk of shame when you arrive at the hotel with more luggage than one woman should ever have!

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Escape to Cortina d’Ampezzo

By March 15, 2019 INSPIRATION, Travel
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Where in the world is Cortina?!

Cortina d’Ampezzo, or more simply Cortina, is a small town in the Veneto region of northern Italy. Situated in the centre of the Dolomites (part of the Italian Alps), this village has been named “The Queen of the Dolomites” for its natural beauty and wide range of mountain activities. Cortina is also easy to reach from other countries, located only 2 hours north of Venice.

We recently spent 4 days in this lovely town which was the perfect amount of time to visit this ski destination. Aside from skiing, Cortina has an interesting military history, having fought against the Austrians during the First World War, and this is evident in the large collection of bunkers, trenches and tunnels available to explore. The Great War Open Air museum is also definitely worth a visit.

However, the true draw to the town is Cortina’s ski scene which is not to be missed! While you can visit this cute town all year around, the best time to visit is in the winter. In fact, being part of the Dolomiti Super ski terrain makes Cortina part of the world’s largest skiing area. Opting for a single skipass will give you the opportunity to access more than 450 lifts and 1.220km of ski pistes, as Cortina is surrounded by mountains on almost all sides: Tofane to its West (part of the Parco Naturale delle Dolomiti), Cristallo and Faloria to the northeast and Cinque Torri (Five Towers) to the south. On our trip we had the chance to visit every ski station mentioned above!

On our first day we chose to take it easy and spend some time walking around the city centre, renting the ski equipment and having a delicious hot chocolate! The following day we decided to drive to Cinque Torri, as the weather was particularly nice and the landscape just breathtaking on a sunny day! It also deserves to be mentioned that the food we had was exquisite and really cheap! Here are some of the typical dishes you can find: 

  • Knodel
  • Casunziei
  • Barley Soup
  • Patate Ampezzane
  • Puccia
  • Spatzle
  • Strudel
  • Kaiserschmarrn (The Emperor’s Omelette)

The next days, we opted for Tofana, including Ra Valles (2.475m height) and Faloria for exhilarating slopes in crisp, beautiful weather. On the other hand, if the idea of launching yourself down a mountain does not appeal, you can still take the cable car and stop to eat with a breathtaking view or walk one of the Tofana’s snowshoe trails. At a height of  approximately 2.600m, the trails are perfect for beginners and will take around 1 hour to complete. And if you really want to make the most of the mountain experience, you could choose to sleep in one of the many chalets situated on the trail.

Cortina is an ideal place for families, groups of friends or couples to have their first ski trip in rich Italian style! Don’t forget to bundle up though, it’s pretty cold up there!

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Two extremes: Winter Destinations

By December 7, 2018 INSPIRATION, Travel
Holiday Blog

Winter has now arrived in the UK, with Christmas markets taking centre stage, shops busy with present buying and festive lights all around the city. It’s the most wonderful time of the year … when eyebrow raising festive jumpers become acceptable and mulled wine is flowing freely. It is that one time of year when you can take a long vacation and really relax. But as wonderful as home is right now, sometimes there is something exciting and fulfilling about being abroad for Christmas and discovering a new place and traditions and people. It can be just what is needed to breathe new life and energy to start a new year.  What if New Year wasn’t so much about a ‘new you’, as a new more travelled and experienced you?

Does skipping the cold winter blues and heading to one of the warmest destinations in the world sound appealing? Or are you more of a winter bunny? To help you plan your winter holidays, here are some suggestions for the hottest and coldest places on Earth to spend Christmas!


Warm destinations
 
Punta Cana – Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic has long been the Caribbean’s cheap and cheerful all-inclusive option but, in recent years, it has been quietly developing its luxury side too. Located on the east coast of the Dominican Republic, Punta Cana is famous for its beaches, upscale hotels and great golfing. With over 40 miles of  palm lined coast, that has earned it the nickname ‘Coconut Coast,’ Punta Cana is a tropical paradise, with stunning beach views, water adventures and family friendly conveniences. The region is warm and sunny throughout the year, although the mountainous areas of the island are significantly wetter and cooler.

Average temperature in December: 25-28 °C – 9 hours from the UK

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Montego Bay – Jamaica

Holidays to Montego Bay are a perfect introduction to Jamaica. Tropical white sands, pristine coral reefs, and vibrant Caribbean culture. If this is what you are looking for, don’t think twice! The weather this time of year is pretty much perfect, and there are plenty of water sports and other activities to keep you entertained during the day if you aren’t more interested in just relaxing.

Average temperature in December: 25-28 °C – 10 hours from the UK

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Boa Vista – Cape Verde

A series of volcanic islands 350 miles off the coast of Senegal, at first look Cape Verde seems a lonely prospect. But with ivory beaches, surfing activities and an intriguing lunar landscape, it has become a tourist favourite. Boa Vista island (translation: “good view”) still feels like something of a secret, characterized by infinite stretches of golden sand and charming, stone-hewn villas. Boa Vista is also the perfect warm destination without having to travel too far and is  considered one of the hottest and driest of all the islands due to the hot harmattan winds from the Sahara.

Average temperature in December: 25˚C – 6 hours from the UK

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Goa – India

Goa is an incredibly popular destination, with prices growing drastically year after year. That said, it’s still very cheap compared to other sunshine destinations and it offers a unique travelling experience. For more than four centuries, this western part of India was a Portuguese colony, and you’ll still notice a distinctly European character here today. Characterized by historical churches, delicious cuisine, and a 66-mile stretch of coastline running along the Arabian Sea, it is no wonder this state is known as the ‘Pearl of the Orient’!

Average temperature in December: 25-30 °C – 9 hours from the UK

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Cold destinations
 

If mountains and chalets are your passion and snow flurries warm your heart, pull on your warmest sweater, and get ready to plan the ultimate winter weather getaway.

Prague – Czech Republic

If you can bear the cold, this stylish capital is brimming with grand historical and cultural sights. Prague’s ancient cafés, contemporary art and Christmas stands give the city a chilling beauty, blending the East and West together perfectly.

Average temperature in December: 1-2 °C – 2 hours from the UK

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Fairbanks – Alaska

Fairbanks is definitely an extreme destination, with the potential for -20 degree temperatures and short hours of daylight. However, don’t let that stop you. The colder winter months are also the best time of year to view the spectacular Northern Lights and experience unique cultural events for Christmas such as dog mushing and Ice parks. It is also a place to come to taste the cuisine, with crab legs and all-you-can-eat salmon and cod fillets baked over an open fire only a few of the diverse food options you will find here. If you are looking for an immersion into the nature, this is the perfect destination for you.

Average temperature in December: -8 – -13 °C – 16 hours from the UK

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Alta Badia – Italy

Located in South Tyrol, Italy’s northern province, Alta Badia, with its dramatic natural landscape, culture, mouthwatering cuisine and the lovely Ladin people, it is the ideal destination for a skiing holiday. A mix of cultures can be found here, with German, Italian and Ladin mother tongue living side by side since time immemorial, to create a unique mix of alpine traditions.

Average temperature in December:-2-3 °C – 1.5 hours from the UK

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A journey to Marrakesh

By May 3, 2018 Travel
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This week, Camilla, our Commercial & E-Commerce Assistant, is our guest blogger, sharing with us her recent trip to Morocco:

 The juxtaposition between utter madness and totally serenity.

For many travellers, the ancient city of Marrakesh (often Marrakech) is the first stop on a journey through Morocco and an absolute “must see” destination. Surrounded by the often snow-capped High Atlas Mountains, this bustling metropolitan oasis has everything a traveller could want, from crowded markets (souks) to narrow streets, where history literally comes alive around every corner. A few minutes in the Red city (named so for the red colour of the earth used for its walls) are enough to make you realise you have entered a different world. In Marrakesh there are many ways of either getting lost or finding oneself: in the streets and curves of the medina quarter, the flavours of traditional food cooked in tagines, the beauty of temple doors, the freshness of the gardens and the surprises of the ancient Moorish culture.

A labyrinth of aromas and colours

The history is present in the Medina of Marrakesh, a UNESCO heritage site, and it is really easy to get lost in this labyrinth of old buildings, crowded markets and alleys, so make sure you bring a good map! The souks are definitely the main attraction here, where everything is for sale: clothes, shoes, spices, but get ready to negotiate! It is part of Moroccan tradition and shop owners would find it strange to sell something without discussing the price! The Tanneries are also worth a visit, but be prepared to cover your nose as the smell of the untreated hides is quite strong. Don’t be discouraged by reviews that the area is scary, just be aware of where you are heading to! Also, an interesting spot I would recommend is Mellah, or the old Jewish neighbourhood, characterized by its wood shops, colourful spices and much quieter owners.

Riads, terraces and culture

The breath taking landscape of Marrakesh can be easily seen from the many terraces that encircle the Medina, through the different hours of the day. In the morning, I would suggest to start your day with a typical Maroccan breakfast served on your Riad’s terrace, for a total free stress experience. But what is a Riad? Riad means “garden” but it is applied to town houses built round a central courtyard. Following the Islamic idea of privacy and inward reflection, a Riad usually only have a few rooms (ours, The Riad le J, had 4) with no windows facing the outside. Following a visit to the stunning Jardin Majorelle, stop for lunch at Café des epices for a stunning view over the crowded Place des Epices, it really worth the wait!. After an afternoon spent visiting the main attractions such as Bahia Palace, El Badi Palace and the oldest koranic school – Ben Youssef Madrasa, walk north and ask for a mint tea at Le grand balcon du café glacier, a relaxing café where you can admire the never ending life in the main square, Jemaa El Fna. To conclude, have a romantic dinner at Le Nomad restaurant, but ask to be seated on the top terrace!

Marrakesh has so much to offer, with days and nights made of pure magic and should definitely be included as one of the most hectic but fascinating people-watching places in the country.

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5 of the best easter breaks

By March 29, 2017 Travel
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The Easter long weekend will be, for many of us, the first break since Christmas so we fully intend to make the most of it!

We’ve handpicked some of the best destinations to escape to, from UK adventures to the windswept beaches on the west coast of France, there’s something for everyone.

Now all you have to do is decide which you fancy….

1. Isle of Man, UK

Isle of man

A haven for nature lovers, the beautiful Isle of Man is a bit of a hidden gem of a UK island. Seals can be spotted off the coast, and from time to time, basking sharks! Pitch up in one of the many glamping sites and hike and wild swim your long weekend away.

 


2. Vienna, Austria

Vienna

Vienna is packed with Gothic and Baroque architecture that is contrasted with the modern Zaha Hadid library by the Danube. Take a trip to the Vienna State Opera for a cultural evening of ballet or the opera. Explore the sculpted gardens of the Hofsburg Palace during the day and after, stop off at an infamous Vienna coffee house, such as Kleines Cafe and soak up the atmosphere.

 


3. Biarritz, France

Biarritz

Well known for it’s rolling waves and fantastic surfing, Biarritz is perfect for a quick getaway. With a combination of dramatic cliffs, fine beaches, fresh fish and a healthy outdoor lifestyle, Biarritz is just what you’re looking for a relaxing Easter break.


 

4. North Cornwall, UK

N Cornwall

It’s hard to pick a favourite part of of the gorgeous Cornish coastline, but the northern stretch is the one for us! Potter around the quaint St. Angus, stopping off for scones and clotted cream along the way- and don’t forget to leave room for a proper Cornish pastry at the St. Angus Bakery.


 

5. Seville, Spain

Seville

Head to Seville over the Easter break and catch the Semana Santa (Holy Week), Spain’s largest and most atmospheric religious festival. Sample some tapas and wander up to the Plaza de Espana and the Parque de Maria Luisa for some peace and quiet. Stay in the old town and explore the cobbled streets of the Santa Cruz quarter and the breathtaking Alcázar Palace.

Shop what to wear over the Easter break here!

 

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