Adventures, Travel

A Weekend in Inverness & the Isle of Skye

Fellow wanderlust’s will understand the itchy feet travellers get once they touch down on home soil. Add in offer emails from numerous travel companies and you quickly find yourself on another flight jetting off to discover another corner of the world.

I did not hesitate booking a cheap flight to Inverness in the Boxing Day sales, having always wanted to visit the tranquil areas of the Scottish Highlands.

Having visited the bustling cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow on numerous occasions, I was rather looking forward to exploring this smaller city located in Scotland’s north east coast.

With stress free links to the city, via a 30 minute bus journey from Inverness airport, I was quickly transported into the centre and checked into my comfortable room. Booking the Premier Inn on the river Ness meant that I was a stones throw from the amenities of the city, with lovely views of the castle.

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I did not waste any time with exploring and, to be quite honest, with the city being rather smaller than others in Scotland I quickly saw everything that was on my list.

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After wandering along the banks of the River Ness, visiting Inverness Castle and strolling around numerous shops, I was ready to retire early for my day trip to the Isle of Skye.

Booking at day trip to the Isle of Sky with Viator proved to be fantastic value for money. Visiting in early March I expected the excursion to be rather quiet. What I did not expect was to end up having a private tour of the Isle and the surroundings.

When discovering I was the solo traveller on a day trip in excess of seven hours I imagined being told that it would not go ahead. I was rather delighted to be informed it would not be cancelled and soon enough we were heading off on my own tour if the Isle of Skye.

Our first stop was the infamous Loch Ness, home of the legendary Loch Ness monster. Sadly there was no sighting of Nessie herself, but the views were to die for.

Back on the mini bus we whizzed along taking in the picturesque views, taking advantage of the lack of tourists in the off peak season.

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We stopped for a break in Invermoriston, taking in the Thomas Telford Bridge before continuing through Glen Moriston and the Five Sisters Mountain range.

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Our next stop was the Eilean Donan Castle, taking time to explore the ruins along the banks of the Lochs.

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Continuing on we headed to the capital of the Isle of Sky, Portree. Stopping for a hearty lunch with fantastic port views.

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The perks of being the solo passenger here on out continued. Unrestricted by other travellers meant we were able to venture further into the Isle of Skye, allowing more stops. The knowledge of my guide was second to none. Despite not originating from Scotland, he provided a wide education around the area and it’s history.

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We saw numerous stops from Portree to Culnacnoc, back to Carbost and Kyleakin, all providing scenic views for which the camera does not do justice.

Before we knew it, we were heading back to the city with plenty of facts relating to the local areas en route.

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It was a long day with so much to take in. Without a doubt, it was one of the best experiences I have had to date. The private tour allowed me to appreciate an uninterrupted and peaceful tour of the Island.

Despite spending several hours on this glorious Isle, there was so much left undiscovered. We barely touched the surface of what this Island had to offer. So despite the tour being fantastic, offering many highlights, I feel there is a return trip on the cards to explore further.

Adventures, Travel

City Break: Venice and Verona

After returning from the beautiful region of Tuscany last summer I quickly found myself missing the beauty of Italy. So I got set on planning my next adventure to the one country that captures my heart over and over.

The wondrous floating city of Venice was my destination.

After booking my trip I was rather sceptical after many friends and family advised the city was busy, smelly and often flooded.

I am never one to be put off by another person’s review or opinion. However, I made the decision to pick a date off season, to avoid the crazy tourist season and any extremities in weather. Early February proved to be spot on.

From the moment I landed at Marco Polo International Airport I was not disappointed. Whilst the weather in the UK was cold, wet and windy, I had arrived to blue skies, blazing sunshine and temperatures in double figures (though a jacket was still required now and then).

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Staying just outside the city in the Best Western Tritone, Mestre proved to be the perfect base to visit Venice and it’s surrounding areas.

Day One – Murano & Burano

No visit to the Venetian lagoon would be complete without a visit to these two remarkable islands. Booking a half day boat trip was a great way to experience what they had to offer.

Murano, renowned for a long tradition of glass-blowing, was the first port of call with a live demonstration at a glass blowing factory. The secrets of glass have been closely guarded for years. Even today, there is no official glass school – the skills can only by learned by apprenticeship to one of the glass masters.

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Wonder beyond the numerous glass shops and you can stroll along the tranquil Canal Grande with its 19th century iron bridge or the parish church of San Pietro Martire.

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A short sail away from Murano, is the explosion of colour that is Burano. According to tour guides, fishermen who live on the island painted their houses in bright colours so that they could recognise them from afar whilst out fishing.

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The cheerful island and its charming canals makes for a striking Instagram photo. Without a doubt, Burano has become one of the happiest places I have visited to date.

Day Two – Verona

When I knew I was visiting Venice I had to ensure a trip to Verona was included. Within easy proximity of our hotel base – the city best known as the home town of star crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet was a must!

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The medieval town has been declared a world heritage site by UNESCO due to its urban structure and architecture. On visiting, it is clear to see why.

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We spent the day gently strolling around, taking in the sights of Castle San Pietro, Ponte Pietra, the Roman Arena and Ponte di Castelvecchio, to name a view.

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We climbed the 83 metre tower of Torre dei Lamberti, for exceptional views, and spent time at Juliet’s house marvelling at the sea of love letters and taking in the visitors from the famous balcony.

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Day Three – Venice 

On our final day it was the perfect opportunity to take in the sights of the main attraction itself. Jumping on the Vaporetto we cruised down the Grand Canal, taking in the floating city, we took the lift to the bell tower of Campanile di San Marco to marvel at the sights from up high and we stopped for pictures on the Ponte dell’Academia.

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With its famous gondolas, waterways and picturesque views I struggled to understand how anyone could not fall in love with such a beautiful location.

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From San Marco Square with its impressive Basilica to the multitude of bridges – including Ponte di Rialto – there wasn’t a moment I didn’t enjoy. Come off the beaten track and you will find the perfect pizzerias, quiet alleyways and a general sense of peace.

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As I reflect back on my trip to the floating city and its neighbours, it is clear to see I was at an great advantage visiting out of season. Had it been at peak, when cruise ships docked in the height of summer, I don’t see how I would have been able to navigate the tiny alley ways and bridges without feeling frustrated.

Without a doubt, Venice has become one of my favourite locations. To see it all, to take it all in would take more than a few days. I was simply happy navigating the canals, enjoying the view and soaking in the culture, to put down the map and relax with gelato beside the water.

 

Travel

City Break: Barcelona

Barcelona. The cosmopolitan capital in the Catalonian region of Spain.

With it’s Mediterranean charm, glorious climate and lively beach culture it is hard to picture Barcelona as a city. With cities you usually imagine a mass populated area at a fast pace.

When I visited Barcelona three years ago, I found the city a far cry from this expectation. Instead what I experienced was a laid back culture, no one was in a rush. Days were filled with Sangria and Siestas, and I instantly fell in love with the culture of the city. Who could not fall in love with a city that requires you to fall back into an easy, carefree way of life.

As with most city breaks, there is never enough time to see everything you want to see. But in my true style I tried to cram in as much of the culture and atmosphere as humanly possible.

Today I reflect on my highlights:

Sagrada Familia the monumental church devoted to the Holy Family. Construction on this iconic building began in 1882 by plans that were drawn up by Fransisco de Paula del Villar. Gaudi was then commissioned to continue the project in 1883. To this day the construction is yet to be completed. This is heavily evident as the two sides of the building look miles apart and, when I visited cranes still framed the impressive sight.

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Many people who visit the city don’t take the time to venture inside. A big mistake. For the rather ugly looking building from the outside, comes alive on the inside. The stain glass windows, filling the church with colour and beauty. If you are able bodied, take the time to walk up the towers of the church. Views from the top were simply stunning.

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Parc Guell

To visit Barcelona and not take the time to visit Parc Guell would be a criminal. Opened as a public park in 1926, it was designed to the work of Antoni Gaudi and provides its visitors with a exquisite display of colour and tranquility. In 1984 UNESCO declared it a world heritage site under “Works of Antoni Gaudi”.

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Tibidabo, the mountain that overlooks the city of Barcelona. Not only does it offer fantastic views of the city below, but also a day of amusement for those who wish to enjoy it.

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As it is here you will find the charming theme park that all the family will enjoy, as well as Tibidabo church. A day to be enjoyed in the Spanish sun.

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Casa Batllo, the renowned building in the centre of the city is one of Gaudi’s master pieces. The detail within the building showcases the work of this genius architect. Patience is needed to visit this sight, the queues can be long and some may say expensive.

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However, the wait and money to enter is well worth it. The work of this man is extraordinary – one of the most memorable and stunning pieces of architecture I have had the pleasure of experiencing to date.

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As with most cities, there is always plenty to see and do. Barcelona does not disappoint. From watching a football match at Camp Nu (not high on my list) and taking in the display of the  Magic Fountain to strolling down Las Ramblas and visiting Montjuic Castle – there is enough to keep everyone occupied for several days.

And with Barcelona’s laid back culture, you can spend those days sipping Sangria and eating Tapas whilst soaking up the atmosphere and the sun.

Travel

City Break: 4 days in Boston

When I planned a short break to Boston eight months ago, I expected a city much like others in the USA – busy, loud and fast paced. What I actually experienced on arrival was so much different.

A smaller city to explore in comparison to the likes of New York, you can easily take four days at a leisurely pace and manage to fit in everything you want to see.

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I made no set plan in the lead up to my trip. It was probably the least organised I have been when planning a holiday. Usually I have lists of sights to be seen and daily itineraries. Maybe I sensed the more relaxed city pace, maybe I was just happy to be away enjoying the company of the other half or maybe it was a mixture of the two.

Either way, I have never come away from a break to the USA with my head filled with so much culture and history.

As I mentioned, I did not plan out our days as I usually would, other than a half day trip. My other half had things he wanted to see, being a big sports fan, and restaurants he wanted to eat at after watching numerous episodes of Man vs Food! So we took each day as it came – we tried to get sights further away from our hotel ticket off first so we had more time to enjoy the area around our hotel – The Boston Park Plaza.

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Day one was filled with a leisurely walk down to Fenway Park, which was obviously closed for the season, as this was one of the sights furthest from our hotel.

On our way back we strolled down Newbury Street, checking out what the shops had to offer. If you have been to Boston, you will know it is one of the most beautiful shopping streets you will encounter. Known as the “Rodeo Drive” of the East the street is simply enchanting offering a mix of designer and high street stores to coffee shops and restaurants.

By the time we had got back to the main hub of the city it was approaching the afternoon, so we took time to take in Boston Public Gardens and Boston Common. I had read reviews about spending a leisurely amount of time around this area, enjoying the sunshine, perhaps taking a Swan Boat onto the pond. At the beginning of February, although the sun was beaming, the opportunity to linger was not there. The pond was heavily frozen over and there were no Swan Boats in sight. That did not make a difference, as it was just as stunning to take in during the colder months as a imagine it would be in the Summer. Many adventurers were even walking across the frozen pond and making patterns in the ice – definitely not something I was prepared to risk even with my adventurous nature.

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My favourite part of the Common was the “Make Way for Ducklings Statue.” Inspired by the children’s picture book by Robert McCloskey the ducklings were clearly feeling the sub zero temperatures as they were donning some rather fetching wooly hats to keep their heads warm.

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After lingering on the Common a little too long it was time to defrost ourselves and we did so by heading over to the Harpoon Brewery.

Located on the Boston waterfront, the transformed warehouse space offers a fantastic tour, including tastings for $5. Here you can learn about the history of the brewery, the process and the opportunity to obviously taste the majority of their produce. Not a massive beer fan myself (I much prefer the rolling hills of a winery), I tentatively tasted a few of the offerings – preferring the ciders or fruit tasting beers they had on tap. The other half was in his element – I believe tasting every beer they had on offer during the tour.

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His tasting did not end after the tour either, stopping at the bar for a few more tasters (paid for of course) before having to drag him away for a light dinner and early bed (we were still on London time after all).

After a restful nights sleep it was my day to drag the other half to the sights that were on my agenda, mainly Harvard University.

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We took the T Train just a few stops to the prestigious Ivy league university to take in the beautiful architecture and history. Interestingly – we would find out the next day – the university itself is actually made up of 70% international students.

The university buildings, the surrounding architecture and the neighbourhoods in the vicinity were simply divine, I was quickly trying to work out which houses we could purchase as a holiday home – throw in the snow that was starting to fall and we found ourselves in one of the most picturesque spots in the USA.

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We decided (well me) to walk all the way back into the city centre rather than take the train, so we could get more feel of the area – and I wanted to loop round to the Bunker Hill Monument. However, the beautiful gentle falling snow we saw at the beginning of our walk in Cambridge quickly turned into a snow blizzard in the space of twenty minutes. When they say snow is forecasted in Boston – they mean the snow is coming!

So we took a pit stop in a sports bar, just in time for the other half to watch the football game back home.

Eventually the snow blizzard turned to heavy rain and we decided, that night, to not stray too far from the hotel, get another early night so we were refreshed and ready for the half day trip booked for the next day.

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Day three was our bus trip to Lexington and Concord, via Harvard.

From the get go the tour we booked with Viator was superb. The driver and guide was clearly passionate about Boston, its surrounding areas and all the history it had to offer. We were bombarded for the whole trip with interesting facts and timeline of the American revolution and the Civil Wars.

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We drove along the famous battle trail, following the same path Paul Revere took in 1775.

At Lexington Green the guide unfolded history, going into detail about the battle that took place here – where the opening shots of the American Revolution were fired.

We then continued along the path taken by British soldiers and the road Paul Revere took to warn Samuel Adams and John Hancock that “the British were coming.” Though this was not the phrase shouted, as legend leads us to believe.

The tour continued into Concord, stopping by Old North Bridge – the historic site in the Battle of Concord, the first day of battle in the Revolutionary war.

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Along the tour we also passed the house of the famous Louisa May Alcott – the author of Little Women (a sight I was particularly interested in seeing) and the poet Ralph Waldo Emerson.

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Soon enough our half day tour was coming to an end, so we were off down the pike back to the city centre.

Just in time for a spot of lunch at Cheers – “where everybody knows your name”.

Well they did not know my name, but I had the dish I had been craving for since arriving in the USA – Mac ‘N’ Cheese! I don’t know if it was freshly made or out of the box, but it was just what I needed after our morning tour.

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The day concluded with more wondering round the city, trying to spot the things we had not managed to see, taking roads we had not walked down and generally working off the Mac ‘N’ Cheese on my part.

We briefly passed the Boston Celtics, but was rather disappointed with not being able to see anything without a tour. We passed the Massachusetts State House in all its glory, we wondered around Quincy Market – picking up souvenirs to take home – and generally strolled through the city back to the hotel.

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Our last night in the city, we headed for Maggiano’s Little Italy for dinner. A stones thrown from our hotel, it had mixed reviews. But for us, we saw no fault. The service, the ambience and the food were simply excellent. It was just what we needed for such a jam packed day.

Day four, our final day. As with all final days you do feel at a loose end. Hotel check outs usually are around 12pm and flights back to the UK not until later that evening. So filling your time, but at the same time being conscious that you cannot venture too far, means you have to fill your time wisely.

So we simply spent the last remaining hours at the Samuel Adams brewery. This free tour must feature on your list. Like the tour with Harpoon Brewery, you will discover information about how the brew is made and the history of the company itself. But what stands out here is the way it is delivered. The insightful, friendly staff have bounds of energy (or perhaps beer) and are clearly passionate about what they do.

With the free tour they offer tastings, which in our group being so early in the day meant plentiful amounts of beer and root beer for those not so keen like me. In addition for me, I discovered that there are beers in the world (obviously Samuel Adams) that I actually enjoy. It’s just a shame that they are not distributed to general sale – only at the brewery itself.

The tour was a fantastic way to end what was a whirlwind, culture infused city break.

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Boston you have fast become one of my favourite places!

If you are thinking about visiting. Don’t think about it – just book it!

Travel

Eight Hours in Paris

As someone who loves to travel at any opportunity and a great lover of a bargain at the same time I was quick to book some cheap Eurostar tickets to Paris several years ago (almost exactly five years ago to be precise). With the return journey being less than £50 per person I would have been a fool not to, especially as Paris was on my travel bucket list.

So I quickly got to planning what I could fit into an eight hour trip to the French Capital, booking in a “hop-on-hop-off” to ensure that I ticked off as much as possible.

First port of call was the Eiffel Tower – the most recognisable landmark in the city. Exiting the Metro, the tower looming above, I headed straight to the line for tickets to see the view from the top. What a better way to start the day than having bubbles at the top, taking in the 360 degree views across the city.

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So after taking in the views and a few glasses of champagne I jumped on board the sightseeing bus to the next stop on my list – Notre Damme cathedral.

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The medieval Catholic cathedral is widely known to be one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture and one of the most iconic church buildings in the world. It simply did not disappoint. The exterior is simply impressive, the interior equally so with beautiful architecture and stained glass windows.

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If you have a little time to spare I would thoroughly recommend spending a few Euros to climb the spiral staircase to the roof top of the cathedral. Although it could be a tough ascent to the top – the views are extremely rewarding, with views across the River Seine with the Eiffel Tower standing as a proud backdrop.

Next stop on the whirlwind day trip was the Louvre – the world’s largest art museum and the central landmark within the city. Famous for housing many pieces that would please many art fanatics, including Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, here you could easily spend hours upon hours roaming the beautiful building taking on all the collections the museum has to offer.

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Personally, as someone who is not that big on the arts, I found the actual building of the Louvre and it’s history, more impressive than what it housed. For many years I wanted to see the Mona Lisa believing in my head that it would be this massive masterpiece. I was rather disappointed to see it in the flesh. You know you have found the piece as visitors gravitate towards it. In reality, I found myself feeling deflated. Though I am not denying it is a impressive painting, it was rather smaller than I had expected.

Though the time at the Louvre was well spent wandering numerous rooms, I do feel that the hours I spent here were rather wasted for such a short trip. It would have been better planned to visit several other sights that were on my list and save the vast collections of the Louvre for a longer trip.

After an early dinner and wandering up the Champs-élysées, night was starting to fall and my time in one of the most romantic cities in the world was coming to a fast end.

It was only fitting that the final sight I would fit into the itinerary would be the Arc de Triomphe. Another amazing monument, which honours those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars.

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Here, if you take the lift into the attic you can learn about its history in the small museum. If you take the 46 steps onto the roof you will be able to enjoy a panoramic view of the city.

By the time I reached the roof of this magnificent building, the city was dark but lit up spectacularly. The Eiffel Tower, the start of my Parisian adventure, was twinkling in the distance. It was rather fitting that my trip started and ended with the tower in sight.

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After lingering and taking in the views, it was time to head back to Gare du Nord station, ready for my return trip to London.

What a whirlwind day, attempting to fit in as many of the iconic landmarks as possible.

As with most European city day trips, there is never enough time to take it all in. I fully intend to return to the French capital in the future, perhaps extending my adventures to the outskirts of the city itself.

 

Adventures, Travel

City Break: J’adore Bordeaux!

Whilst my suitcase was barely unpacked from my trip to Budapest back in September I was already hunting down the next adventure. Then came along the Ryanair sale and before I had the chance to stop myself, a cheap flight to Bordeaux was booked – ooops!

I don’t often get to travel this time of year, due to previous work commitments, so the opportunity to spend the “Black Friday” weekend away from the hustle and bustle of crazy Christmas shoppers was something I was not going to pass up.

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Bordeaux provided the perfect opportunity to escape the madness!

Located in the Aquitaine region, in southwestern France, this UNESCO listed city has oodles of charm with its 18th – 19th century Gothic architecture and of course being the capital of wine it is the perfect location to experience a variety of wine tasting.

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Unsurprisingly, with my love of wine, my first port of call was Cité du Vin – a unique museum dedicated to the heritage of wine located on the banks of the Garonne. I decided to work up my thirst by taking a long walk round, crossing the Pont de Pierre bridge and taking in the river views from the west side of the city.

Within minutes of setting across the bridge it was clear to see that Bordeaux is a city full of active residents. I lost count of how many runners passed me en-route to Cité du Vin. There were so many, I actually thought that there must be some kind of race taking place. However, I quickly discovered that residents just have a love for running – and who would not want to run in such a picturesque city? The flat route along the Garonne offers such views, with plenty to keep your mind occupied.

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Crossing back over the river saw me walking over the Pont Jacques Chaban-Delmas bridge and offering the most perfect view of Cité du Vin as a result.

You will need to allow yourself around two hours to enjoy all the exhibits the museum has to offer. For twenty euros you can work your way around the attraction at your own pace, with a personal guide to assist you. Then take yourself up to the eight floor, as included in the cost of your ticket is a wine tasting with panoramic views of the city.

For any wine lover it is the perfect place to spend your first few hours in Bordeaux.

It is easy to cover some considerable distance during your time in the city. And I certainly did that after my visit to the museum. Heading back along the Garonne I took my time wondering the streets, taking in the 18th century architecture and all the beautiful sights.

You cannot miss the Place de la Bourse whilst walking along the river bank. The impressive landmark square, with the world’s largest reflecting pool of Miroir d’eau.

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This was an area that has to be visited in daylight and then again at night. It is simply magical.

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Wonder a little further into the main hub of the city and you will spend hours strolling along Rue de Catherine. The shopping hub of this city offers a mix of recognisable clothing retailers, boutique shops, cafes and chocolate shops. I spent many hours wondering, window shopping and purchasing chocolate and macarons to take home.

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In the vicinity you will also find the Grand Theatre, Cathedral Saint-Andre, Monument aux Girondins and Port Calihau – all equally impressive, especially lit up with Christmas trees and lights at this time of year.

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It you like a little nature I thoroughly recommend visiting Jardin Public! The gardens here are small, but ever so beautiful. With the changing of seasons, they provided such a stunning backdrop for a leisurely afternoon stroll.

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With thirteen miles covered I decided to call it a day – heading back to the hotel for a little rest and recuperation, along with plenty of wine of course.

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The second day’s plans saw me pick up a half day tour to Saint-Emilion – the charming medieval village located in the heart of the this wine region. The village offers world famous wineries, fine wine, beautiful architecture and fantastic monuments. Booking the day trip with Viator meant that as well as visiting Chateaux Champion for a wine tour and tastings, I also got a guided underground tour of the largest monolithic church in Europe. This picture perfect village is a sight to behold; the views, the history and the vibe completely stole my heart.

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Photos simply don’t do it justice. Visiting during the off peak season, during pruning season was somewhat beneficial – the streets were quiet meaning the free time we were given to explore the village was rather blissful. Our guide made a point in advising that peak season in the area proves to be rather stressful, with the streets bursting with tourists.

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Saint- Emilion quickly became a place dear to my heart. I only wish that I had more time to explore, to sample more wine in the numerous wineries and take time to taste the local produce. One village that will definitely require a re-visit at some point, perhaps in the peak season when the vines are blooming!

With the half day trip over, my time in Bordeaux was soon to come to an end. Spending the next morning retracing steps in the city I picked up some souvenirs to take home and generally took in as much of the culture I possibly could.

As my first solo break, Bordeaux was a cultural treat offering me the opportunity to relax and unwind, whilst continuing to be active.

Though smaller than other French cities, the charm and culture is plentiful. Anyone planning to visit will not be disappointed. Bordeaux is simply a city that needs to be added to your bucket list.

Travel

Game of Thrones Tour

With Game of Thrones due to return to our screens in less than a week, for the seventh series, it has got me reminiscing about travel adventures past.

In early 2016 I treated Ross to a Game of Thrones tour, which departed from Belfast, for his birthday. With him being an avid fan of the TV series and myself having read the books (but not watched the show), we were both keen to pack our bags for a short adventure to the Emerald Isle – obviously turning the Game of Thrones tour Game of Thrones tour into a cheeky city break to Belfast.

For anyone who is a big fan of the show or books, this tour is simply a must. For those who are not a fan, but would still love to see the beautiful sights along the Antrim coast then you will be equally enchanted by the views on offer here.

Starting in central Belfast you will journey along the coast (the longest part of the trip without a stop) with the tour guide pointing out landmarks of interest on the way.

Stopping first at a small town called Glencoy. Here you will be shown a filming spot from season six, where Ayra Stark climbs out of the water via the stone steps. A short stop to allow pictures and you will be on your way again.

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The next stop on the tour was the Cushenden caves. The filming location where Melisandre of Asshai gives birth to her shadow assassin. Here you are able to walk into the caves, take pictures and try to imagine what it would have been like with everything needed to complete filming the scene.

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After this stop, the tour allows time for lunch – which you can purchase if you wish. Personally, as a vegetarian I did not find the food options that great. So I would advise to keep your options open by bringing a packed lunch – which you are allowed to eat at the venue.

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Once lunch is consumed you will be on your way to the next area on this tour which will see you visit the Camp of Renly Baratheon of Storms end, followed by one of my high lights of the tour – the Carrick-A-Rede rope bridge. Crossing the bridge is optional, you are not forced to do it. However there is a charge for this that is not covered within the fee of the tour. I would thoroughly recommend paying this – unless of course you are scared of heights and rope bridges. There is not much to see on the other side of the bridge – but it is an experience to cross it, especially if your other half is a man child like mine and decides to bounce it whilst you are crossing (something I did not find it funny). If you don’t want to cross I would still recommend the walk up to the bridge – the views are simply stunning, though the walk when we went in the winter was slightly bracing (hold on to your hats and scarves).

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After a quick drive up the road the next location will see you visit Lordsport, the port town on the Islands of Pyke, in the Iron Islands, where Theon Greyjoy returns to his family and betray those who raise him.

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The next stop on the tour is not featured in the TV series, but you cannot take the trip along the Antrim coast without visiting the famous Giants Causeway. The UNESCO listed site is simply breathtaking. The tour allows you a good hour to explore the area – but to be honest you could easily spend the best part of a day here. We spent the time simply clambering over rocks, taking pictures and generally trying to ignore the fact that we could no longer feel our ears (yes, in April it was that cold and windy).

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Sad to leave the Giants Causeway but desperate to see the final location on our tour we made our way back to the bus and on wards to the photo stop on the “Kings Road.” The Dark Hedge, with its natural archway and intertwined trees is remarkable. As one of the most photographed locations in Northern Ireland this is where Ayra Stark dressed as a boy to escape the Kings Landing. An incredible final location for the full days tour, we took our photos and were soon back in the city centre of Belfast.

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This tour is exceptional, it was definitely worth the money I spent. Both myself and Ross had an amazing day, with memories to remember for a lifetime.

Plus, it gave us reason to visit Belfast. A rather small city in comparison to others we have visited, it still offered plenty to see and do.

And of course no visit to Belfast would be complete without a trip to Titanic Belfast and the Crumlin Road Goal, both filled with fascinating facts that would thrill anyone interested in the history of this thriving city.

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As with most city breaks, the time is short but very sweet and we were soon on our way home. Ross found a new love for the country and as such we came back in February 2017 to visit Dublin.

Next on the bucket list, most likely for 2018, is a trip to the Kings Landing. Continuing our Game of Thrones tours in the beautiful city of Dubrovnik, Croatia.