Desenzano del Garda Travel Guide

The most beautiful thing about Desenzano del Garda is that you don’t need to know anything at all about the area to still be awed by it

desenzano del garda travel guide small harbour with boats docked

The most beautiful thing about Desenzano del Garda is that you don’t need to know anything at all about the area to still be awed by it and have the best time. Without having any plans at all, Desenzano del Garda will be a truly wonderful place. The relaxed atmosphere, the way the mountains provide a gorgeous backdrop on the lake and the lazy feel around the old town, it was one of our absolute favourites on our road trip from Benidorm to Leicester.

desenzano del garda travel guide sunset over lago di garda

Desenzano is a relatively small town located on the southern shore of Lake Garda in Northern Italy. The town is in the Lombardy region and is easy to get to from Milan airports, Verona Airport, or like us, by car.

The area of Desenzano is fairly flat making it an ideal place to stay for those who prefer light walking and flatter grounds. Without having to battle with steep hills and constant inclines, the area of Desenzano is perfect for those with reduced mobility too. It’s a great base to see other areas of Lake Garda, like Sirmione, which is accessible by boat or car.

desenzano del garda travel guide lauren standing in front of boats at the small harbour

Desenzano del Garda has beautiful winding historic streets situated between the castle and the lake. The inland small peaceful harbour is an absolutely wonderful place to enjoy a latte or a pasta dish whilst watching the ducks float by and the small boats sway.

Quick Guide:

Time Zone: GMT + 1

Plug Socket: European

Currency: Euro

Language: Italian. English was widely spoken.

Climate: Summers are hot and sunny, but there are also quite frequent thunderstorms. Winters are quite cold and there is a moderate amount of rainy days, even though winter is drier than the other seasons. The best times to visit Lake Garda are spring and early summer due to its pleasing temperatures.

How long to stay: We only visited Lake Garda for one night and it definitely wasn’t enough. Although we were able to see everything we set out to see, we’d have loved to spend longer on Lake Garda and exploring the surrounding towns. We’d have also liked to have had a few more days just wandering around the lake. When we return to Lake Garda, we’ll be doing two nights minimum. If you’re looking to explore the surrounding towns then I’d say three nights is a good call.

Where to stay in Desenzano del Garda

beautiful sunset over desenzano del garda travel guide

Hotel Oliveto: We stayed at the Hotel Oliveto which is located on Via Tito Malaguti, 2 Desenzano DI Garda , Lago Di Garda, 25015, Italy. It was a comfortable four star hotel which was an excellent choice for location, comfort and pet friendliness. It was also a fantastic choice thanks to its free parking outside. The hotel balcony provided wonderful views over the lake, which looked absolutely stunning at sunset and the hotel location meant it was a pleasant walk into the old town. The hotel was comfortable and clean. We paid 137€ for the night which was the double room on the top floor with a jacuzzi in the bedroom. We also had breakfast included in our room rate.

hotel oliveto desenzano del garda travel guide

What to do and see in Desenzano del Garda

A trip to Sirmione: We absolutely loved wandering around the cobbled streets and stunning castle in Sirmione. There were some beautiful boutique shops and quaint restaurants which we’d have loved to have spent more time in.

desenzano del garda travel guide sirmione castle day trip

Take a boat trip: You could pair this off with a day trip to Sirmione, but if we had more time in Desenzano del Garda, we’d have definitely loved to have gone on a boat trip to somewhere else on the Lake.

Eat Pasta: Can you go to places in Italy without gorging on pasta and pizza? I don’t think so! There are lots of lovely bars around Desenzano del Garda where you can relax and enjoy Italian cuisine (the best cuisine in the world, am I right?). We ate at Bar Pizzeria Gelateria Cristallo, I had a lovely pasta with tomato based sauce and Alex had a lasagna which were both tasty and quick to be served.

desenzano del garda travel guide dinner in garda pasta and wine

Relax around the lake: Holidays need those moments are pure relaxation and around the lake you’re sure to find it. With the dramatic backdrop of the mountains and the soft sounds of the lake running over the pebbles, it’s a beautiful place to just sit and chill.

Water sports on the lake: With the exact contrast, if you’re not down for chilling and more of an adventurous sort, there are plenty of water sports that were on offer during the summer months.

Explore the old town: With plenty of boutique shops, the castle and interesting corners to discover, a walk around the old town is sure to be a lovely past-time.

We absolutely loved Desenzano del Garda, and I know for a fact that at some point we’ll be back. If you get the chance to visit, I recommend it.

diary of a spanglish girl signature

Like what you see? Follow me on social media for real-time updates:

This blog is entirely self-funded and relies heavily on donations. Thank you in advance.

Alicante Travel Guide

Alicante Travel Guide

alicante travel guide

Bienvenido to Alicante. The place where tapas is at your disposal, shopping is aplenty and beaches stretch for miles upon miles, providing a holiday dream on the east coast of Spain. Undoubtably, Alicante is one of the most influenced provinces influenced by tourism, due to the connections at Alicante airport and the pull of so many beautiful resorts and coastal towns along the coast, but don’t let that put you off for its stunning coastline, beautiful architecture and array of local foods, it’s definitely worth a visit. Alicante, much more than an airport.

Quick Guide:

Time Zone: GMT + 1

Plug Socket: European

Currency: Euro

Language: Spanish and Valencian. English very widely spoke

Climate: A comfortable and welcoming year-round temperature. Very hot in July, August and September. Low rainfall. October is the wettest month.

How long a stay: If you’re planning to head on holiday to Alicante, it’s very easy to spend a few days in the centre and take excursions to other locations on the Costa Blanca.

RELATED POST: Places around Benidorm that you must see

What to pack: With a pleasing climate all year round, it’s easy to pack lightly for Alicante. If you’re travelling in the summer months, you’ll definitely need to stock-up with swimwear, shorts and light clothing. If you’re heading out in the winter months, be sure to pack a few jumpers and have a jacket, just in case. In the sun, you can bask in 20 degrees temperatures during the winter months, but once the sun drops and the temperature dips you can feel lows of 5 at night. In Autumn, I’d suggest t-shirts, shorts and a light jacket in the evening. In Spring, skirts, dresses, shorts and t-shirts will be perfect. You may want to pack a light jacket, just in case.

RELATED POSTS: Spring Look Book 2019 with Primark, Fosse Park | AD
Autumn/Winter 2018 Looks at Fosse Park
What’s the Weather Like?

Getting to Alicante

For those that don’t know, Alicante is located on the Costa Blanca, Spain. It’s on the East coast of Mainland Spain and is surrounded by an array of terrain, ranging from mountains to beaches, fields and flatlands. The Costa Blanca has such a range to see and it’s definitely worth taking a drive around to see the vast changes.

Flights to Alicante are direct from every major UK, up to three times daily per airline, so you’re sure to pick up a bargain. Jet2, Ryanair, Easyjet and Iberia all fly regularly between the UK and Alicante. From the rest of Europe, there are flights almost daily from Oslo, Stockholm, Gothenburg, Amsterdam, Berlin, Lisbon and more.

How to take the Tram to Alicante from Benidorm

If you’re already on holiday in Benidorm, here is how you can get to Alicante.

Benidorm has good connections with Alicante. To use the tram, you’ll need to head to one of the four tram stations in Benidorm and get the L1 tram with Alicante on the front. If you’re staying in Poniente, you can either use Terra Mitica tram stop or Centro Comercial La Marina Finestrat tram station. If you’re staying in the old town or in Levante, you’ll want to use either Benidorm or Benidorm Intermodal.

*PLEASE NOTE: Benidorm Intermodal may require a change of tram*

To get to Alicante, you can get your ticket either on the train or at the ticket office if you’re at the Benidorm stop. If a conductor is on board, you can also purchase a ticket from them.

  1. You’ll need to select your “DESTINO”, which will be the Alicante stop you are getting off at.
  2. You’ll need to select your “ORIGEN” which is the tram stop you got on at.
  3. Select the number of tickets you are purchasing by using the arrows. 
  4. Insert either cash or card. If you are paying by cash, you cannot input too high of a note. For example, for less than 5€ they don’t give change for more than a 10€ note. Be prepared to have some spare change, or smaller notes, with you.
  5. Keep hold of your ticket as a conductor may get on at any point and you’ll need it to scan when you exit.
  6. Failing to show a valid ticket on board the Alicante tram holds a 100€ on the spot fine.

Which Alicante Tram stop is the best to get off at?

The best tram stop is Mercado Tram Stop, which is close to the castle and the shopping areas of the city. As you exit the tram station, walk downwards towards the marina and turn left when you arrive at the seafront. Walking along the road, the entrance to the life of the castle is a short walk of around 5 minutes.

What to see and do in Alicante

Visit the Santa Barbara Castle

santa barbara castle, alicante travel guide

The Santa Barbara Castle is a beautiful spot to see all across Alicante. I’d recommend getting the lift up as opposed to climbing up which is quite a hike. There are spectacular views of the harbour and the main city from up there and there is also a café to sit and relax.

RELATED POST: Visiting the Santa Barbara Castle in Alicante

Go Shopping in the centre

shopping at el corte ingles alicante

Alicante is known for having a much better shopping experience than many other places around the area. You’ll be able to shop in top designer names, as well as a tourist favourite, Primark.

There are plenty of shopping centres around Alicante. Don’t miss El Corte Inglés which is packed with designer labels, like my personal favourites: Levi’s; Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein!

Head to the cinema

The main reason for us visiting Alicante is almost always for the cinema at Plaza Mar. Kinepolis shows movies in V.O.S (English!) every day with the subtitles in Spanish. It’s a great way to see all the new movies coming out without having to see them dubbed into Spanish. Of course, we want the Spanish movies in Spanish, but I can’t stand to see their mouths move differently when it’s dubbed. It’s also a great way to pick up some Spanish too! The tickets are super economical too. We usually pay around 7€ for each adult!

RELATED POST: Aladdin (2019) Spoiler Free Review / Kinepolis Cine

The Nativity Museum

Who said Christmas is just for December? If you’re visiting with children, you ought to visit the nativity scene museum located on San Augustin Street. It’s a little peculiar watching Christmas clips and hearing the music in the height of summer, but it’s a cool experience!

The museum is packed with hundreds of different nativity scenes and figures related to all over the world. Entrance is free too, so even if you don’t particularly enjoy it, at least it didn’t cost you anything!

Mushroom Street

alicante mushroom street where is it

You have to visit the mushroom street in Alicante! With mushrooms dotted along the street, it’s such an awesome feature and the kids are sure to love it.

Calle de las Setas is on Calle San Francisco, 32, 36, 03001, Alicante

Beach days

The beach is a gorgeous white beach which has a unique backdrop of the Santa Barbara castle. It’s a wonderful place to bask in the sun and play in the waves. There are also lots of boat trips departing from the harbour and plenty of water sports.

Where to eat in Alicante

Gino's Finestrat Meal on the Terrace

We love a few places that are dotted around Alicante, 100 Montaditos is a good spot to get little sandwiches. On a Wednesday and a Sunday, all montaditos are 1€. For Italian food, we always trust Gino’s which is part of the VIPS group. For the morning coffee, you’ll be pleased to know that Starbucks is scattered around, but don’t forget to try the local coffee shops where the coffee is much cheaper and has that Spanish kick to it.

Other highly related restaurants:

Templo – Calle Periodista Pirula Arderius, 7, 03001 Alicante

La Taberna del Gourmet – Calle San Fernando, 10, 03002 Alicante

La Mary – Carrer Castaños, 5, 03001 Alicante

Thai Corner – Calle Labradores, 12, 03002 Alicante

Restaurante Lluvia (vegetarian) – Calle Poeta Quintana, 20, 03004 Alicante

El Portal – Calle Bilbao, 2, 03001 Alicante

Important Travel Numbers and Information

Hospital De Alicante

Calle Pintor Baeza, 0010 Alicante
Tel: 965 9 8 00

Pharmacies

There are lots of pharmacies located in Alicante. Look for farmacia.

Taxi Alicante

Tel: 965 252 511

Local Police – Policia Local

Avda. Julian Besteiro, 15 0008 Alicante

National Police – Policia Nacional

National Police Tel: 091

Guardia Civil

Civil Guards Tel: 062

Emergencies Tel: 112 Firefighters Tel: 085

IF YOU LIKED THIS POST YOU MAY LIKE: 

 

Hasta luego,

diary of a spanglish girl signature

 

Pinterest

Alicante travel guide things to do in alicante spain

 

 

Miami Travel Guide

What can I say about Miami that hasn’t already been covered? Miami is one of those places that if you’re into splashing the cash in a swanky bar or chilling out on the beach, then you’ve probably got it on your list of places to go. But, there’s so much more to Miami than bars and the beach. How do I know? Because we did it.

miami travel guide where to stay and what to do

What can I say about Miami that hasn’t already been covered? Miami is one of those places that if you’re into splashing the cash in a swanky bar or chilling out on the beach, then you’ve probably got it on your list of places to go. But, there’s so much more to Miami than bars and the beach. How do I know? Because we did it.

miami travel guide instagrammer in miami

Although I wanted to visit South Beach and Little Havana, we actually didn’t even make it there in our 24-hour visit to Miami. But, even with missing the biggest tourist spots in Miami, I don’t feel like we missed out at all, in fact, I feel like we saw the real Miami. The Miami not everybody gets to discover. Plus, it gives us a reason to return and check off more on my Miami Bucket List!


Quick Guide:

Time Zone: GMT – 4

Plug Socket: USA socket, 120 V and 60 Hz

Currency: American Dollars

Language: English (American) and Spanish is widely spoken.

Climate: December until May are usually warm, dry and peak season for travelling. June to September is very hot and humid. Hurricanes are likely between June to November.

How long a stay: 2 nights if travelling around the state of Florida. You could very easily spend a week on holiday in the city of Miami with day trips to other areas of Florida.

view  miami brickell hampton inn and suites

Where to stay: Avoiding the Miami Beach area, we stayed at the Hampton Inn and Suites in Brickell.  50 SW 12th St, Miami, FL 33130, USA. Located in a beautiful area with good, free public transport to Biscayne Bay, it gives you the chance to relax at a luxury hotel which boasts a perfect rooftop pool, quality bar and exceptional breakfast offerings.

view from floor 16 miami brickell hampton inn and suites hilton

If you get the chance to stay in a suite on the Elite Levels, we stayed on floor 16, then for sure do it! You’ll live like luxury whilst you’re staying. The rooms are spacious with amazing views of Miami. You really do feel VIP when you scan your room key and have the option to press “Elite Floor” in the elevator. Plus, it means there aren’t many people wandering around on your floor, so you sleep like a baby! Speaking of which, the beds are super comfy, the bathroom is spacious and stocked with all quality Neutrogena products. There are also snacks to eat your way through in the room.

Budget: Miami is one of the most desirable places to stay in the US making it not a budget location. However, we stayed in the Hampton Inn & Suites for just over $200 for the room.

How to get there: Flights are available from all major UK airports, we chose to fly into JFK in NYC and then fly down to Fort Lauderdale where we hired our car and then drove to Miami. This worked out as we were planning to visit NYC, Orlando, Miami and Clearwater. You can fly direct into Miami International Airport. Flight time from London to Miami is 9 hours 50 minutes. Fly with Norweigan Air or British Airways if you’re after a direct flight. Peak season, flights can be around £600 return per person.


 

24 hours in Miami

Evening:

rooftop pool 24 hours miami hilton brickell

After arriving fairly late into Miami, we checked into the swanky and modern Hampton Inn and Suites in Brickell. The hotel had a secure car park which carries an additional cost of $28 for the night, or $40 if you’re after the valet parking.

bar at hampton inn and suites brickell

We went down to the bar to have our complimentary drink and then to the rooftop pool, which is open 24 hours a day. Surrounded by Miami high-rise buildings, you feel like you’re in the midst of the action, but watching it from a distance. Feeling so in the centre, but so far removed, the clash of sky rise buildings combining with the quiet and tranquil is such a surreal moment.

The hotel offers a shop behind the reception, and due to our late arrival, we decided to grab a microwave pizza and a mountain dew to share in the room. The reception is able to microwave the food for you, but we had a microwave in the room. The prices were as you would expect in a hotel.

Morning:

rooftop pool miami brickell hampt

We headed down for breakfast around 9:00 which is one of the busiest times. Although it was hectic, there was still a stream of tables becoming available. Breakfast was hearty with ample choice. I had a coffee and American waffles with maple sauce and fruit. They were definitely the best waffles I had whilst in the states, beating NYC and Orlando by a mile.

We took a walk around the area of Brickell and towards the Biscayne Bay area. The area has a few bars, restaurants and cafe’s scattered around so it’s worth popping into a few.

Afternoon

view from public transport miami

IMG_1991 2.JPG

We took the free public transport to Biscayne Bay. The stop is conveniently located around  2 minutes walk to the left when you exit the hotel. Taking around 15 minutes to get to Biscayne Bay, it gets you into the heart of the action quickly.

view from boat at biscayne bay

The area is filled with bars, restaurants and excursions so get yourself settled in and book an excursion if you haven’t already.

celebrity boat tour miami

Spend the afternoon lazying on the water taking in the sights of Miami. We booked onto a celebrity houses sightseeing boat which was both interesting and enjoyable. You’ll be on an interactive boat seeing the houses of the stars, like Justin Bieber, Will Smith, Ricky Martin and even the mansion of the infamous Al Capone, which is currently on sale for a whopping $14.9 million.

If you’re not into boat rides, why not have a go on a stand-up paddle-board or a kayak on the bay? If you prefer your feet firmly on solid ground then you’ll be pleased to know Bayside Marketplace at Biscayne Bay also boats a fabulous shopping experience. You’ll find Victoria’s Secret, Hard Rock Cafe amongst others.

Evening:

getting coffee to go in miami

We started our journey over to Orlando, so it was time for us to leave Miami. The hotel offers coffee and tea throughout the day, so be sure to get one to go when you’re jetting off.

If you’re lucky enough to have some more time, then definitely head to South Beach and Little Havana and the Wynwood walls. There are plenty of eateries available around Miami, so whether you’re looking for tapas, American cuisine or something else, you’re sure to find it.


What else can I do in Miami?

When I return to Miami, because I know for certain we’ll be back, I’ve already got a plan of what we’re going to do. In case you’re after some Miami bucket list inspiration, here’s what we’ll get up to in Miami, Florida:

  • Check out the graffiti at Wynwood Walls.
  • Visit Miami beach – located outside of the municipality of Miami on an island.
  • Take in the sights at the Art Deco District.
  • Visit The Vizcaya Museum and Gardens
  • Eat dinner and soak up the Latin culture in Little Havana
  • Watch Miami Heat play an NBA game
  • Swim in the Venetial Pool.

 

We loved visiting Miami, Florida, even if it was just for a short time. It was one of my favourite places that we visited whilst in the USA this summer. I’d definitely recommend going for a couple of nights!

Hasta luego,

diary of a spanglish girl signature


 

miami travel guide pinterest

 

Visiting the Santa Barbara Castle in Alicante

Towering over the city centre, you can’t miss the impressive castle perched on the top of Mount Benacantil.

Towering over the city centre, you can’t miss the impressive castle perched on the top of Mount Benacantil. The golden fortress situated an impressive 166 metres above sea level is one of the main attractions in Alicante city centre. Even better still, it’s a very budget friendly day out.

Laying out near Alicante castle fashion model blogger

Practical Information:

Location: Santa Barbara Castle, 03002 Alicante. To travel by tram you take the L1 to Castillo. By car, it’s a 30 minute drive from Benidorm.

Price: If you’re taking the elevator, it’s 2,70€ each to go up or free for children in pushchairs. If you’re driving or going by foot, access is completely free.

Getting there: The elevator access is located near the port, if you follow the signs you’ll have no problems. You can also access Santa Barbara castle on foot, or by car which are both free access. If you’re walking it’s better to head from the side of the Castillo tram stop.

Opening hours: The castle is open from 10:00-22:00 everyday.

A Day Out in Alicante

We visited the castle a few years ago, back on a blustery December morning, though by the time the sun rose, we were sitting in t-shirts sheltered away from the wind in the café on site. I remember all too well wearing Uggs, thermals and a beige dress with tights and regretting the decision completely as we were sitting basking in the sun. But, we had used the castle as a stop off. We were meeting some friends and didn’t want to venture too far away from our meeting point at the port.

It wasn’t until I was scrolling on Instagram last week that I realised we had seemingly missed all the best spots of the castle altogether. Well, unless we exempt the fact we were at the café because the views there truly were impressive. But, in terms of real history and not just a good cup of cappuccino which are both rather good pulling points for me. I had noticed that there was a fortress jutting out of the castle that looked almost like a tower you see in princess castles in story books you read when you were young. If there’s anything remotely Disney like, I’m there.

It also meant that we could make a small detour and head to Starbucks, which although I love Spanish coffee, there’s something about Starbucks that is just so comforting. Maybe it’s the mass over inflation, maybe it’s the touch of home or maybe it’s the cream that the Spanish just can’t get right. Either way, if there’s a Starbucks, I’m there. I can have independent Spanish coffee shop coffee everyday. No shame in admitting that I do. A 3€ for a cappuccino and a tostada con tomate I’m fuelled for the day for less than a Costa that I used to grab at work everyday. Win.

Rio sat this one out, as a 9th century Muslim castle with a pit stop at Starbucks isn’t really his thing. Or more accurately, the 9th century Muslim castles aren’t really about dogs. Even Spain where dogs are accepted, I can’t see them being too keen on my little big perro running around. Looking back, Rio loved Monument park at Park Guell, so maybe castles and architecture are his thing. [edit: after googling, dogs are not allowed at Santa Barbara Castle. Good job we didn’t take him!]

The route from Benidorm is around 25 minutes, traffic depending, and it’s so easy to find the castle. In fact, once you reach Alicante, it’s unmissable. Perched over the port and towering over the city below, you can’t help but look up and admire it. You imagine that this is how artists must have felt when they wrote songs about castles perched upon hills.

Every time we visit Alicante, we park in the same car park, near to El Corte Inglés. It’s good access to the shops and city centre, with it being only a few minutes walk into the action, it’s ideal.

Down rolls the window and Alex’s head is leaning out of it as we pull into the car park. “What’s up?” I ask. My face clearly looking puzzled and probably sounding more stern than I intend to be. “The tyres flat”. Driving around in hot temperatures, flat tyres and tyre burn outs are not uncommon. But, the only thing I was thinking was, do we even have a spare tyre and how exactly are we going to change it? I don’t give Alex enough credit when it comes to general maintenance things, I’m never actually sure if he can do them. He usually can.

There we are in the middle of a city centre car park. Alex jumping on a crow bar of some sort to smash the plastic off and to be able to undo the nuts or bolts or whatever they are. Then there’s me, standing awkwardly, providing nothing much more than taking photos and reporting to everyone we know that Alex is lying on the floor in his fairly new Levi’s jeans changing a tyre.

Starbucks Alicante guide travel blogger

Nevertheless, he got it changed. Knees covered in oil, we headed off to Starbucks. I opted for my usual café mocha and Alex had his signature cool lime refresher with a croissant with ham and cheese to share. They still had a few Christmas ornaments left over, in March?! which I was pleased about. We picked up a “You are Here” Starbucks cup with a Spain design on it to hang on the Christmas tree. That’s when I started looking at Disney Starbucks Christmas ornaments. It’s going to be dangerous in Disney.

Spain Starbucks you are here mug Alicante

We walked quite briskly to the elevator from Starbucks so it took us about 10 minutes. Once you enter the tunnel, you reach the ticket dispenser. It’s a touch screen machine which swaps between lots of languages, English and Spanish being the first two options. A ticket costs 2,70€ per person.

Couple at Alicante castle

You follow the tunnel along where you reach the elevator and the person who is manning the elevator checks your admission. There’s no view from the elevator, it’s just a seemingly slow moving vessel where there is a rather awkward silence as you’re ascending. But, once it opens, you’re there. You’re at the castle.

At the fortress of Alicante castle blogger

We took a walk around but I was most interested in finding our way to the fortress. There are two and we discovered that the one at the bottom has the best views.

With the port to your left and the rest of the castle to your right with the minuscule veins of the Alicante streets below it’s an impressive 360 view. The city looks like it could be a car play mat from up here. You feel like you’re in the clouds.

Walking Santa Barbara castle Alicante blogger

Making use of the fact I had a bag to carry, I stuffed it full with crisps and sweets. We sat on a bench overlooking the castle munching on salt and vinegar chipsticks with the seagulls flying over head and in the weirdest way it felt like we were eating fish and chips on a beach front of Skegness or something, perhaps it was the murmur of English voices in the background and the English crisps designed to taste like chips. A strange correlation.

Before heading back, we took a stroll around the rest of the castle. At the top, they have the Spanish flag waving proudly yet gently in the March breeze. The breeze was soft yet all so chilling. In a few weeks, this breeze will feel like a hot fan blowing on us, wouldn’t it be nice if it was in reverse? Cool, gentle wind in the summer and a warm breeze in spring? I suppose we can’t have it all.

Playa del torres Villajoyosa Benidorm camping

On the way back, we stopped off at Playa del Torres, which is a small cove situated between La Cala and Villajoyosa. The shimmering Mediterranean had almost never been so turquoise as how it is here. The waves soft and small, it’s a isolated cove with a happening campsite on site. With static cabins on site, they look beautiful for a night’s stay surrounded by the woods and the quiet beach.

We make plans to head back tomorrow, by walking from Benidorm to Villajoyosa. All in all, it was a lovely day and a different pace and scenery. It’s always great to be able to head to different places and revisit places now we have a car, making it much easier and less of a drag relying on public transport.

Every weekend is a mini holiday.

Hasta luego,

diary of a spanglish girl signature

An Edinburgh Travel Guide

Edinburgh is the impressive capital of Scotland, a medieval city that combines the Georgian architecture with the medieval relics that hosts a cosmopolitan population with an open and warming atmosphere.

edinburgh 48 hour itinerary and travel guide

press trip with jurys inn, flybe and visit scotland.

Edinburgh is one of those cities that I’ve always thought about visiting. But, it was always one of those that got pushed to the side. It was a case of so close, yet so far. In January, after writing Edinburgh as one of my bucket list locations for 2019, I finally took the plunge and booked to travel to Edinburgh with Flybe from Birmingham.

Edinburgh – I’m sure doesn’t need an introduction – but it sure is one impressive capital. In Scotland, it is a medieval city that combines the Georgian architecture with the medieval relics that hosts a cosmopolitan population with an open and warming atmosphere. There is a sense of a youthful and fun vibe with a thriving nightlife, bustling restaurants, cultural walks, museums, galleries and theatres. It’s almost impossible to have nothing to do.

edinburgh royal mile castle

scottish castle church architecture

 

Walking along the cobblestone streets takes you back to the history that has once walked there. You can almost feel the atmosphere and how J.K Rowling obtained so much inspiration for Harry Potter, The beautiful walks, the stunning architecture and the afternoon tea that makes you feel like royalty. We crammed a lot into a weekend, Edinburgh truly makes you feel like royalty! Plus, who wouldn’t be content sipping tea whilst savouring some delicacies and nibbles in an old library?

looking at edinburgh castle and mountains

Edinburgh, for those that don’t know, is built upon seven hills and divided into the winding and seemingly neverending cobblestone streets of the medieval old town and the grid-like New Town.

walking through edinburgh castle

afternoon tea at the signet library

Edinburgh is a popular tourist destination for weekend getaways. With its ease of access and good connections to the rest of the UK and Europe, it’s a perfect place to pass a weekend to escape daily mundane life. The Scottish capital has something to please everyone and with this travel guide, you’ll be able to plan a visit for you too.

QUICK GUIDE

How many nights?: 2 days was plenty to see the Scottish capital. Landing early morning on Saturday with Flybe and leaving on Sunday evening gave us the entire two days. Staying in the centre of the city, like in Jurys Inn, ensures you’re able to see the city with maximum time cutting out commuting times.

Time Zone: GMT

Plug socket: UK

Currency: GBP

Language: English and Scottish Gaelic

Climate: Summer (May-August) is mild to warm and the peak travel time. In winter (December-February), days are short, cold and can be rainy or snowy. January is the coldest month to visit.

Getting to Edinburgh


 

flybe plane

There are so many ways to reach Edinburgh if you’re already in the UK. With options like driving and the train being more than feasible, it just wasn’t the right option for us. When the flight is only a pleasing 70 minutes and was cheaper than any train route from the Midlands, it was an absolute no-brainer.

When you only have a weekend to do it in, you’ll want to maximise your time in Edinburgh.  Flybe is a fantastic airline to choose with direct, quick and comfortable flights connecting the rest of the UK with the Scottish capital. Flybe is Europe’s largest regional airline with a staggering 190 routes serving across 15 countries.

Smooth and quick, the flight between the Midlands and Edinburgh was punctual and comfortable. Flybe has always been one of those airlines that I’ve confided in.

flybe safety edinburgh

We had an early flight from Birmingham on Saturday morning, so although the early get-up wasn’t too welcomed after a late-night landing from Alicante, I was excited to add another country, and city, to my travel memories. Being in the Midlands, we’re lucky to have access to two fantastic airports. It definitely provides more options in terms of routes and prices.

I travelled to Edinburgh with hand luggage sized suitcase, but as I had 23kg of luggage, I decided to check it in. It was much easier wandering around the airport without having to worry about where my luggage was or traipsing through security pulling out my liquids. It was a case of tag and go. Nice and easy, after all, I don’t want to do anything too strenuous, I hadn’t had my coffee yet!

birmingham airport facilities costa coffee latte and muffin

Once we were through customs, I grabbed my morning coffee from Costa Coffee and waited for the sign to appear.

The flight between the Midlands and Edinburgh reminded me of that between East Midlands and Dublin. Once you were up in the air and having a comforting drink, you’re already preparing for landing again. Time literally flies.

travel - looking out the plane window

If you’re somebody who is fearful of flying and you want to conker it, I’d suggest jetting off to Edinburgh for the weekend. It allows you to get the feel for flying but not having to be there for a lot of time. It’s a great one to ease you in.

browsing flybe menu to edinburgh

The in-flight menu is filled with various options to take away the pangs of hunger on the plane, but as it was only early and a very short flight, we opted for an orange juice and an oasis, both of which were surprisingly economically friendly!

Low cost and speedy travel journeys make flying my top choice for getting to Edinburgh. We travelled on the 8:40 flight from Birmingham on Saturday morning and returned on Sunday 19:30 to East Midlands. If you are in the Midlands, it’s a great way to maximise your time. It was also the cheapest option. You can pick up a weekend away for as little as £60 return. Maximise your time and save money. Why pay more?

Airport Transfers from Edinburgh Airport


 

edinburgh private car hire

Edinburgh Airport is around 9 miles to the city centre, which is around 30 minutes by car. To find a reliable and experienced staff, All the Fives Taxi is the best choice for airport transfers. I would definitely recommend booking with All the Fives, previously Edinburgh City Private Hire, to get quick and easy private taxis from Edinburgh Airport to the City.

With more than 40 years of experience, they have been the trusted private taxi from Edinburgh airport for many a year now, making them the best option.

We booked a return journey with ECPH and it was exceptional. Standing waiting for you in arrivals, your driver is ready whilst maintaining high standards of professionalism. Your name will be on the board ready to get going. The vehicles offer the highest standard of luxury and comfort and really kicks off your weekend away in style.

You want to get into the city as soon as you land, instead of hanging about wasting valuable time at the airport, you land and as soon as you’ve cleared customs, you’re on your way. The vehicles include 7 and 8 seaters and they have executive class cars, which boasts both luxury and convenience. Importantly, all drivers and vehicles are fully licensed by the City of Edinburgh Council. 

“What about the cost?!”, I hear you cry.

Surely comfort, luxury and convenience comes with a hefty price tag? Surprisingly, EDPH offers exclusive fares, which on average save customers around 15% compared to other competing private hire and taxi operators. Although offering low fares, they don’t comprise on service. Now, isn’t that something to smile about?

Accommodation


 

edinburgh exterior jurys inn

You’ll want to be located near to the famous Royal Mile, which with the Jurys Inn Edinburgh, you get just that! You’re right in the heart of the Edinburgh action. Situated on Jeffrey Street, just off the Royal Mile, it makes for a central and ideal location for a base point for exploring Edinburgh. The Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Park and Prince’s Street are all within a short and enjoyable walking distance from the Jurys Inn.

Arriving by taxi to the Jurys Inn gave us a feel for the surroundings and get our bearings. We were only a stone’s throw away from the castle and passing it for the first time was rather impressive. It looks spectacular from the outside.

When we arrived at the Jurys Inn, the staff at reception were warm and welcoming. With the Costa Coffee on site, who was I to turn another one down whilst checking in? We arrived at the hotel really early so it was a case of dropping the bags and heading off to see Edinburgh.

costa coffee jurys inn edinburgh

With 36 hotels operating under the Jurys Inn brand, it’s a hotel brand that I know and trust. You know exactly what you’re getting when you book to stay there. Renowned for the warm and friendly staff and the central locations, it’s a great choice when booking a weekend break in the UK.

tea in bed edinburgh jurys inn

After a long day of exploring the city, you want somewhere to rest your head to get a good night sleep. With Jurys Inn, you know you’re going to get exactly that. With walls that aren’t paper thin, like some competing brands, and a comfy DREAM bed specially designed by Jurys Inn, it’s the recipe for a good night sleep and exactly what you need to recharge your batteries ready for the next day exploring.

The breakfast was hearty and delicious. A plentiful breakfast is the most important part about kickstarting your day before heading out to the city. It’s the key meal that will keep you going and allow you to maximise your time. For breakfast, we had a hearty English breakfast. The coffee isn’t as good as the costa onsite though!

We had a delicious dinner menu at the Jurys Inn, which was perfect after spending our first day in Edinburgh. The last thing we wanted after travelling and visiting some of the sites was trailing around the city trying to find a table in a restaurant.

In the Jurys Inn, there was so much choice, from scrumptious starters to delicious desserts, and the mouthwatering main, the wide array of food is enough to please even the fussiest of eaters.

For dinner, we had a gorgeous 10oz steak with peppercorn sauce loaded with thick chips and grilled tomatoes topped off with a glass of pinot grigio white wine.

edinburgh jurys inn dinner

For those of us who love a coffee on the go, Jurys Inn has a relaxing and convenient Costa Coffee Bar on site that allows you to get the best quality coffee right inside your hotel. Perfect for relaxing before heading into the city, or grabbing a cappuccino to go!

There is an onsite bar too, which was ideally open until 2:00a.m. It’s a great little spot for having a glass of wine or a short before bed. We headed into the hotel late on Saturday evening for a hot chocolate before bed, it was nice to be able to rest our feet after a packed day of walking and know the room was just a lift ride away!

Jurys Inn Edinburgh Bar

For location, it was absolutely perfect for us. Edinburgh Airport is only 8 miles away, however, if you are arriving by bus or train, Waverley Station is a 2-minute walk away and Edinburgh Bus Station is a short 5-minutes walk away. You really are in the heart of the action and a stone’s throw from everything you want to visit. There is also a cut through from the hotel to the Royal Mile, so it really is a 3-minute walk until you’re in the action. Perfect location.

jurys inn infographic

 

What to See and Do in Edinburgh


 

Edinburgh Castle:

 

The main sight and iconic landmark in Edinburgh is the Edinburgh Castle. Perched dramatically on the top of the highest point of the city and in incredible condition despite its continued use throughout the past 1000 years, it’s an unmissable spot in the city of Edinburgh.

pointing to princes street from edinburgh castle girl wearing skirt jumper and tartan bow

view from edinburgh castle

The Castle stands tall upon Castle Rock, the result of a volcano that erupted many a year ago. With evidence of residents that date back to the Bronze Age, over 3000 years ago, it’s an incredible place to stand, knowing that you’re now a little piece of its astounding history.

looking at fireplace edinburgh castle

Edinburgh Castle, in its glory, was constructed in the early 12th century. However, flash forward to our time, it pulls in over one million visitors per year and is the most visited tourist attraction in Scotland.

walking to edinburgh castle bow in hair

I really enjoyed walking around the grounds of the castle and getting lots of instagrammable photos. I thought it was interesting to wander around and see it but I’m not much of a historical reader. We also had a whiskey taster at the castle, which felt very traditional!

Ticket Prices:
Adult (16-59) – £17.00
Child (5-15) – £10.20
Concessions (60+) – £13.60
Under 5 – Free

Afternoon Tea at The Colonnades

afternoon tea at the colonnades edinburgh signet library

If you’ve got an afternoon in Edinburgh then afternoon tea at The Colonnades is an alluring experience that will make your visit to Edinburgh feel like one worthy for royalty. The time-honoured tradition of a nibble or two with a spot of tea has been a staple of the British culture since first being introduced in the 1800s. A mid-afternoon tea is a dainty and memorable experience, which is why we made sure to do it as mother and daughter, whilst we were in Edinburgh.

afternoon tea at edinburgh signet library the colonnades

While there are a few hotspots in Edinburgh to enjoy an afternoon tea, The Colonnades at The Signet Library stood out for a few reasons. The Signet Library is renowned as being one of Edinburgh’s finest Georgian buildings. Ornate columns. Elaborate ceilings and extravagantly elegant decor, it’s the pinnacle of what an afternoon tea should be.

the afternoon tea at the signet library

For an authentic taste of British heritage, The Signet Library ticked all of the boxes. I wanted a memorable experience with a lavish feel. With beautifully set tables adorned with fine porcelain, towering tiers of delicacies. Indulging on an afternoon tea at The Signet Library is the place to be.

macarons at the signet library

batternburg cakes at the colonnades

The service at The Colonnades in The Signet Library was impeccable. Truly incomparable. The staff have thought of every little detail and spend their time perfecting it. No minor detail is forgotten.

The Colonnades is a memorable experience from the moment you walk through those impressive doors. The savoury delicacies and tasty cakes are all made from the finest, fresh seasonal ingredients, some of them were a little too rich for me, though! The extensive list of teas will please even the stubbornest of guests. I am a huge fan of the Signet Tea, which was so delicately perfect – without milk! If you want to turn up the experience to ultimate lavish, then there’s even champagne, cocktails and their own gin!

browsing books in the signet library

the afternoon tea at the colonnades review
£35 per person

Camera Obscura 

camera obscure lights edinburgh

Camera Obscura, the place where you start to question anything and everything you’ve seen before. Camera Obscura and World of Illusions is one of Edinburgh’s oldest visitor attractions bringing laughter and joy to tourists since 1835.

Camera Obscura was very nearly one of those places I didn’t schedule to visit. What a mistake that would have been!

camera obscura room

Filled with illusions, tricks, puzzles and experiences, it’s such a unique experience to Edinburgh and certainly one not to be missed. The attraction is filled with laughter, two exhibition spaces – Bewildered and The Puzzling Zone, a magical mirror maze, an Ames room and the Vortex Tunnel. You become a part of Camera Obscura. The memories you’ll make and the photos you’ll take will truly be unbelievable.

We especially loved the rooftop views, sitting on top of the city is truly a breathtaking view. The panoramas of Edinburgh make for great photographs. They also have telescopes and binoculars that are free to use which give amazing views of the city, on a clear day!

view of castle from camera obscure edinburgh

The Bewilderworld is a mirror maze that sends your head spinning, or it did mine! Stepping into a vortex tunnel and trying to maintain balance whilst it spins is more difficult than it sounds. This is coming from an ex-cheerleader! It’s a lot of fun and a real ‘barrel of laughs‘ as you scramble to stay upright!

dancing in camera obscura lights tunnel

Although closed when we arrived due to only being open in hours of the day, there is the Edinburgh Vision, it is supposed to be a mesmerising and incredibly interesting to see Edinburgh in 3D from the 1850s to the present day. Seeing how the city has adapted, changed and grew is absolutely remarkable and something that I haven’t seen another city do. It’s one of those quirks in the city that just adds a personal touch. I guess I’ll just have to return to see it!

Ticket Prices:
Adult – £16.00
Child (5-15) – £12.00
Concessions (60+ and Students) – £12.00
Under 5 – Free

The Real Mary Kings Close

the real mary king's close

Despite various conflicting reviews on the internet, I was urged by a few friends to visit Mary King’s Close and decipher for myself what I thought about it. The trip lasts around an hour, though all sense of time and outside world is taken away as phones and cameras are prohibited. We were escorted around by our guide dressed as Walter King. He described and explained to us the struggles of living in 17th century Edinburgh and how disastrous the plague was.

The tour has a variation of interactive aspects and it’s interesting to see the pictures come to life. Everything is planned to the last second and it was cool to see. We were also shown around a room for Annie, a little girl who was abandoned by her family. There was an enormous pile of teddy bears and a cash deposit which goes towards the local children’s charity. If you do want to make a donation whilst you’re there, remember to take it with you!

It was a mixture of a ghost tour and a historical tour, which was at times super interesting but combined with a few moments of not so interesting. I think I fell asleep during the ghost story next to the fireplace!

Finally, before we left we had a photograph. To buy the pictures were very economically friendly, we got a magnet and a full sized photo with two smaller photos for £10.

The tour wouldn’t be suitable for those that suffer from asthma, epilepsy, mobility difficulties as it’s all on hills and stairs or claustrophobia.

There are a quaint cafe and a small gift shop on site. Tours must be booked.

Ticket Prices:
Adult – £15.50
Child (5-15) – £9.50
Concessions (60+ and Students) – £13.50
Under 5 – NOT PERMITTED

The Royal Mile

walking the royal mile streets

The Royal Mile is a historical and cultural street that you just have to explore. With the castle and the palace on its doorstep, the classic cobbled stretch in the centre of Edinburgh’s Old Town is a delight for both exploring and capturing the true expression of Edinburgh.

Most of the major landmarks are situated on The Royal Mile so it’s highly unlikely that you’ll miss it! But, instead of using it as a footpath to lead you to the monuments, spend some time exploring the nuts and crannies of The Royal Mile. Bustling with interesting architecture and bursting with culture, there are plenty of quaint coffee shops, the bazaar and little shops that are worth looking in.

The Palace of Holyroodhouse

holyrood palace Edinburgh

Dating back to the 16th century, The Palace of Holyroodhouse has continued to be an official residence of the Kings and Queens. When somebody of great significance is in residence at the Holyrood Palace, the flag will be placed at full mast.

Constructed in the 1670s, it’s a beautiful spectacle in the heart of Edinburgh. It was going through some upgrade whilst we were there but it was still a must-see just to say we’ve seen it! If you have a particular interest in the monastery, its history and in particular Mary Queen of Scots then this is a must-see for you in Edinburgh.

The palace contains a lot of preserved Scottish history so it’s well worth checking out, even if it’s just the grounds! There is also a quaint coffee shop on site, for the coffee lovers amongst us, me.

Ticket Prices:
Adult (17+) – £15.00
Child (5-16) – £8.70
Concessions (Students with ID and 60+) – £13.50
Under 5 – Free

press-information_docs_image_490

 

A special mention to ASVA for providing us with an ASVA pass card to familiarise ourselves with the best visitors attractions in Edinburgh. Also a huge thank you to Jurys Inn for providing us with a costa coffee voucher and a complimentary dinner. A special thank you to Flybe for sponsoring my flights between the Midlands and Edinburgh. Also many thanks to The Colonnades for inviting us to review their afternoon tea. A further mention to Edinburgh Private City Hire for sponsoring the return journey to and from the airport.

Our Itinerary – 48 hours in Edinburgh

Day One

MORNING

We got off to an early start arriving into the city we headed straight for the hotel to check in and drop off our bags. The first port of call was Real Mary Kings Close. It’s a fantastic interactive tour that gives an insightful idea about the city whilst keeping the history alive. It is filled with ghost stories and has scary elements which is worth keeping in mind if you’re travelling with young children. We spent just over an hour on the tour.

We headed along the royal mile doing a little souvenir shopping in the Christmas shop and looking around the novelty stores.

AFTERNOON

After having a midday coffee to keep ourselves going – Edinburgh requires a lot of walking along cobbled streets! We headed into Princes Street to do a spot of shopping. There are plenty of shops and bars along the way, you could also stop off at the Edinburgh dungeons which is just before Waverley station too!

EVENING

We had dinner at the hotel, however, there are plenty of restaurants dotted along the Royal Mile. After dinner, we went to the Camera Obscura. We arrived at 7:30 and spent until closing there! Allow as much time as you can in there as it really is so interesting. There’s so much to see and do. I’d recommend heading there in the morning as you’re allocated a stamp so you can re-enter as much as you like! It’s worth seeing the views at night and day.

Day Two

MORNING

Getting up at 8:15 to allow for maximum time in the city, we headed down to breakfast which comprised of a full English breakfast watered down with a coffee, which wasn’t nearly as nice as the Costa Coffee bar on site!

We went for a brisk morning walk along The Royal Mile to take a look at Holyrood Palace. We booked to go to the castle at 11:30, which was perfect timing as not many people were around at this time. The earlier you can get there the better in terms of photos and views!

After spending just over 90 minutes in the castle we headed back towards The Royal Mile and Parliament Square.

AFTERNOON

Entering The Colonnades at The Signet Library at 13:00 was the perfect time to go. We stayed for just over three hours. It’s worth scheduling around two hours to allow yourself time to really enjoy the atmosphere and savour the flavours. It’s definitely seen as a social event and should be used as such! Plus, with the selection of nibbles and wide array of teas and coffees (the latte is exceptional!), you’ll want to stick around and try them all!

Feeling tired and rather full, we took a slow walk to retreat back to the hotel to wait for our transfer at 17:50 in time for our 19:30 flight.

If I was taking a trip back to Edinburgh, which I’d definitely consider – I’d think about heading into Holyrood Palace and the Edinburgh Dungeons. I’d also like to try to the nighttime ghost tour of Edinburgh!

There is so much to see and do in the Scottish capital, so if you’re putting off visiting – like I was – it’s time to get it booked. It’s a fairly cheap weekend away yet you feel like you’re a million miles away from England. Book the trip. You’ll love it.

Hasta luego,

diary of a spanglish girl signature

Pinterest:

edinburgh travel guide.png

Sponsored products mentioned: Flybe flight, Jurys Inn dinner and Costa Coffee bar, AVSA passes from Visit Scotland, return transfer with EPCH and an afternoon tea at The Colonnades, Signet Library

 

Spur of the moment trips and why we travel

Memories that last a lifetime. New experiences. New memories. Moments where you laugh so much that your sides ache.

king can rio travel dog la concha beach san sebastian travelling with a dog

If you’ve been following along on my social media for a while, Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, you’ll have seen we had a very busy week back in August. We decided to pack our bags, rent a car and take our dog on a little tour of Northern Spain, somewhere we’d been talking about going for years.

Now, in no means are we finished with exploring Spain. We still have a lot of places both up North and down South that we want to visit and some little quaint places in between, but we did manage to tick off a lot of places we wanted to go. We finally got to watch the lights dance across the fountains in Barcelona, we finally got to walk the famous promenade of San Sebastian and we finally got to see the legend that is the Pilar in Zaragoza. Alex also got to visit Madrid for the first time, and that wasn’t all!

Now Christmas has passed, it’s got me thinking about past travels and upcoming travels. Travels that I should write about, future travel that I should plan for. It’s unbelievable to think that when this gets published, I’ll probably be sitting in a little corner cafe in Edinburgh with my mum admiring the Edinburgh Castle. Somewhere else I’ve always wanted to go. Travel makes you richer in knowledge and emotional awareness.

If it looked like we’d been planning our Summer 2018 trip for ages, then that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, it was only Saturday that we decided to go for it.

Do you ever have those afternoons where you’re bored, so you just plan a holiday? Well, it was one of those.

We have always talked about taking our dog on a trip. We’ve always wanted to see if it’s possible to actually see places with a dog and Spain is probably the perfect place to try it out. On the whole, Spain is so dog-friendly but it took a lot of phone calls on Saturday afternoon.

king can rio travel dog sagrada familia barcelona

We decided renting a car would be the best way to do it. We’d have the flexibility to go where we wanted to go at the pace we wanted to do it at. It would also be so much more comfortable for our dog and us.

We rented our car from Enterprise, which I wish I could say was sponsored, but it really wasn’t! I mean, is it really paying if it goes on plastic? That’s a problem for future us to deal with, right?

Enterprise in Benidorm closes at 14:00 on Saturdays so at 13:30 I was running to a taxi to deliver Alex’s driving license! Who’d have thought driving licenses would be essential for hiring cars? Please pick up on this sarcasm.

It was then back to pick up essentials and pack what we’d be taking and actually book a route! So far, we were £250 down with no actual plan. Life is for living though!

You forget just how easy having a car makes things. Day to day, we don’t necessarily miss a car, but when you have one, you wonder how you ever coped without one.

What we packed for our road trip to the North of Spain

We decided on Barcelona. We’d stop off in La Seu and finish for a night at Zaragoza, whilst doing a few day stops on route. Though, we didn’t end up finishing in Zaragoza!

The North gets cold. Especially inland, so it meant packing a bit more sensibly. Well, Alex packed more sensibly, I thought that 17 degrees wouldn’t feel too cold, how wrong I was.

Clothes:

  • Hoodies
  • Sandals
  • Trainers
  • Two dresses
  • Three shorts
  • A t-shirt
  • Four tops
  • A bikini

Alex was really good at writing a list for what we would need for Rio, our dog. He was super organised at getting everything together, things that I don’t think I’d have thought of, or things we’d have forgotten about if we didn’t check them off. There’s so much to pack for a dog, it’s almost like having a baby on board!

Dog essentials for a road trip

  • Bed
  • Toys
  • Dentastix
  • Food
  • Bowls
  • Treats
  • Blanket
  • Lead
  • Collar
  • Seatbelt or pet carrier
  • Sheets to protect the seats
  • Pet passport
  • Proof of up to date vaccinations
  • Dog towel

We tried to pack light, having less to have to carry to hotel rooms every night, so light that we forgot the snacks that we’d bought for the journey!

Why did we do it?

king cavalier spaniel rio travel dog park guell dog friendly travelling with a dog barcelona spain

There’s something so exciting about going on a trip that you’ve not scheduled for. There were no months of countdowns and no overthinking. Given the time, we’d have most likely dropped out of the idea. We’d have talked about it and decided to save the money. But, we didn’t have time to do that. It had to be done now.

Benidorm goes very quiet in the winter and we spend a lot of time working in the winter. Summer was our time. We always go on a summer holiday and even though we had a few days in Mallorca and we had holiday time in Benidorm, it wasn’t a full trip. You can always make money, you can’t always make memories.

IMG_9887

Travel is one of those things you can buy that brings you things that money can’t buy.

Memories that last a lifetime. New experiences. New memories. Moments where you laugh so much that your sides ache. Things you’ll never forget. There are always new things to see and new people to meet. There is always somewhere new to visit.

truprint memories book why we travel couple orcheta spain

We love creating our photobook with Truprint and each year we love to have travel incorporated in some way or another. Each year has features from new trips and we didn’t have anywhere new to add to our Truprint book, so we certainly had to change that.

I was watching my one second everyday and every day was the same. Coffee and dog walks. Things that I love about my routine, I love everyday normalness, but I just wanted that bit of adventure to come to life in my video. Summer certainly brought it to life. It has certainly made my one second everyday video for 2018 a lot more interesting.

I knew that booking to go now and sorting the details later worked for us. We had worked out a budget and knew how long it would take for us to fix it. This worked for us. It would not work for everybody.

We booked our hotels through Booking.com and I’ll cover the places and the hotels in more details soon. We even booked a hotel for the next day and it only cost us 35€. If you want to book through booking.com you can use my affiliate link to get 10% off your next booking here: 10% Discount Accommodation Code

Have you ever done a last-minute trip? Where did you go?

Hasta luego,

 

Why You Should Visit Pamplona, Spain

Ernest Hemingway’s first obsession and a city he held so dear, it’s not hard to see why.

visit pamplona spain.png

Hear the city “Pamplona” and everyone thinks of bulls. The Bull Run, The Bull Fight. But there’s so much more to Pamplona than just that. Ernest Hemingway’s first obsession and a city he held so dear, it’s not hard to see why.

Even when the bulls aren’t thundering down the streets with the cheers and screams of the townspeople, Pamplona is still a fascinating and vibrant place to visit. Pamplona is certainly captivating.

Other than being home to the famous “bull run”, we didn’t know anything about Pamplona either. It was somewhere we headed to purely because it was a name we recognised and we were already going to pretty much drive through it, it made sense to stop and take a look.

Pamplona is in the North of Spain, it’s the capital of the Navarre autonomous area. Navarre truly is a beautiful region in Spain. Driving through the North, it changed so drastically. From green silhouettes of the Pyrannese to low river plains. The diversity was incredible. It was even more noticeable since we’d just came back from our trip to Sevilla and Granada, and driving through the Andalusia region, there are not a lot of changes!

Considering it was the height of summer, the morning was cold. The chill in the air punished me for wearing a strapless top and bright yellow skirt. I stood out. Passing me by are locals in coats and trousers, how was I to know? It was late August! It’s impossible to believe that once the sun made an appearance, it would soar up to 30 degrees.

IMG_7043

We arrived at 8:00a.m and left the car at the Plaza del Castillo. From there, we followed the route towards the beautiful ayuntamiento. The 17th century Town Hall.

Once we arrived in Pamplona, I almost knew I was going to love it. Which was bizarre because it was somewhere that we thought we wouldn’t like, that much.

We ended up spending a little bit more time in Pamplona than we originally planned, purely because it was so interesting. The coloured houses lined the winding cobbled streets that opened into a quaint, but bustling plaza. The streets were filled with people wandering around and meeting up for a morning coffee.

why you should visit pamplona

They have a great coffee shop over the road from the city hall in the plaza where there was an amazing deal on cookies and coffee. Who am I to turn down coffee? Who is Alex to turn down cookies? They had bar stools set outside and a hatch to pass your coffee through. The whole plaza felt Spanish. It probably sounds weird to say that, but not everywhere always feels Spanish!

why you should visit pamplona

Lined next to the Town Hall is a permanent gate structure, one that is part of the San Fermin celebrations. Walking around Pamplona, you really feel the atmosphere. You can feel like you’re there. You can imagine what it’s like. It feels like San Fermin never stops.

Most places, once a festival is over, it’s over. But, in Pamplona, San Fermin is a way of life. It’s instilled. There’s no forgetting about it until next year. It’s truly their pride.

why you should visit pamplona

Alex and I weren’t sure about Pamplona, Alex wasn’t even too keen about stopping in Pamplona, but I wanted to go out of curiosity. Once you’re there the city pulls you in. Pamplona surprised me, in the best possible way.

why you should visit pamplona

I wouldn’t want to be in Pamplona whilst the Bullrun is happening. I wouldn’t any part of it. But, I wouldn’t be against returning to Pamplona and spending more time wandering around the cobbled, winding and taking in the city. For such a small city, there are so many reasons to visit Pamplona, if you’re in the area.

Rich with History

cof

Pamplona has some beautiful historic sites, especially in the Old Town which is lined with medieval city walls. Pamplona is bursting with history, taken over by the Romans in around 75BC by Julius Caesar’s rival, Pompey, it was named accordingly.

San Fermin

why you should visit pamplona

Aside from the Bullrun, San Fermin is renowned to be an amazing festival. With street markets, dancing, traditional music and full-on feasting. The fiestas run from 6th July until 14th July.

Celebrations of San Fermin date back to the 12th century, when it was originally celebrated in October. The festivities officially begin at 12p.m on 6th July, marked by a “txupinazo”, which is basically a rocket fired from the City Hall balcony.

During the week, Pamplona is filled with red handkerchiefs and white t-shirts, which are on sale all of the time! Walk along the shops in Pamplona and everything is geared around San Fermin.

The Bullrun, “encierro”, is the most famous and talked about feature of San Fermin. Every morning during the festivities at 8 o’clock, the runners are chased by six bulls for around 800 metres from the City Hall to the bullring (Plaza de Toros).

San Fermin is a way of life when this is something they’ve always done. It’s celebrated, it’s their history.

Alex’s words to me when he pulled up “but.. you’re sure that Bullrun isn’t on?“. I did have to do a quick Google check first!

Food

Spain is such a foodie country on the whole, so the fact it has a wide range of bars and restaurants is barely revolutionary. Nonetheless, it’s a city that has combined influences from the Basque Country and the Peninsula. It has a variety of pintxos bars and traditional modern restaurants. Pamplona, surprisingly, also has a very vibrant nightlife. Spots that look like garage doors in the day open up to reveal nightclubs, music venues and wine bars.

Quaint Cafe’s

One of my favourite bits about Pamplona was the cute little coffee shops. Especially the one perched next to the City Hall that had amazing views, a spot perfect for people watching. Not to mention they had a scrumptious coffee and cookie deal. Scattered around Pamplona, like many parts of Spain, friends had met up to drink a morning cafe con leche, it’s a cultural routine that I have been more than happy to adapt to.

Friendly and Safe

why you should visit pamplona

There were some places that didn’t feel as welcoming and safe to go to but Pamplona wasn’t one of them. Whilst I definitely stood out as a tourist, it didn’t stop the locals saying good morning and the barista recommending me the best cookie. It’s not often I stand out. But that day, I did.

Pamplona is said to have one of the highest standards of living across the whole of Spain. With a wealth of recreation parks and outdoor space, quality industry, a high standard of education and health system – it’s a desired place to be in Spain. It also has one of the lowest rates of crime across Spain, making it a fantastic choice for a city break in the North of Spain. Friendly and tranquil, it was one of my favourite stop off points on our road trip.

Hasta luego,

laurensignature-final

Pinterest:

pamplona travel guide.png

 

 

How to Get to the Guadalest Lake

Who would believe that nestled in the mountains just a short drive away from Benidorm is the alluring village of Guadalest?

how to get to the guadalest lake

I posted a few photos on my Facebook page recently and it most certainly sparked some attention. Would you believe that it reached 30,000 people? That’s my biggest yet in terms of photos! A lot of people had the same question. How did you get there? How do you get down to the Guadalest lake that sits so beautifully at the bottom of the mountain? Well, it’s not easy. But, it’s possible.

Opening into a horizon of something completely different, a brand new perspective, a step into the fresh air. Who would believe that nestled in the mountains just a short drive away from Benidorm is the alluring village of Guadalest? But, the fun doesn’t stop at the village. The Embalse adorns Guadalest and boosts it to a whole new level of breathtaking beauty.

guadalest mountain and lake beautiful location near to benidorm mountains and lakes

When we saw it nestled at the bottom of the mountain and found out how easy it was for us to get there, we knew we had to go. The light was perfect. The colours were spectacular. The lake was beautiful. It isn’t Banff. It isn’t the Swiss Alps. But, instead, it’s the easily accessible village of Guadalest, holding its own instagrammable gems. Who said Benidorm wasn’t good for the travel gram? I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again. Benidorm holds some beautiful locations, you just have to go out and get them.

The crystal blue waters of the Guadalest reservoir alone is enough to pull tourists from near and far to the wonderful location, but instead of viewing from afar, is it time to take a closer look? The dazzling colour, caused by tiny particles of silt suspended in the water, creates a picture-perfect photo and a marvel for the eyes. It’s one of those places where you stand there taking it all in. It’s one of those where you wonder how nature can be so beautiful.

beautiful lake in benidorm instagrammable locations in guadalest

The Guadalest Dam was built across the Guadalest River back in the late 1950s. With 73 meters high and 270 meters long, it supplies water to many local towns and villages, including the city of Benidorm. It’s a spectacular place to spend an hour or so.

If you’re into hiking, Guadalest is a superb option. There is a fairly light walk around the lake, on minor roads and paths. If a 10km walk sounds like your kind of holiday haven, then you’re in luck. If like me, wearing knee-high, high-heeled boots, hiking isn’t quite the desired route, you can drive down the main road and park in the public parking and wander down as far as you fancy.

alex walking from guadalest to the guadalest lake with kanken backpack lake and mountain views

Stumbling across cobbled streets might not have been my finest hour, but as they say, the show must go on. I had planned my outfit for a selection of photos for an upcoming collaboration and I knew Guadalest would be the perfect location for those jaw-dropping backdrops. Perhaps I should’ve thought about a change of shoes for getting to the top of the castle though! Alex had a much more sensible attire for the journey and made use of my Kanken backpack. He definitely rocked the Minnie Mouse pin, right?

Gohar took so many photos of us together in Guadalest and at the Embalse which I’m really excited to share when I get my hands on them. They will be featured in a few upcoming blog posts. I’m so excited for some new photos of Alex and I. I can feel a new Facebook display picture coming along!

There is conflicting data online regarding whether or not you should swim in the Embalse of Guadalest. If I would advise not to. I personally wouldn’t take a dip. There is a very obvious sign at the gate of the Embalse which states “Peligro de Baño” which means Dangerous to Bathe. That alone makes me think it’s not safe to do so. However, many websites show people bathing in the Embalse. I would stay clear and admire from afar. The Reservoir is deep. There’s sign forbidding it for a reason. Use your brains.

mountain and lake views in benidorm guadalest

The reservoir is filled with large fish swimming and splashing around. Which, I’m not sure why but it really surprised us. I just didn’t expect it. It all seems so structured and preserved that I just didn’t expect fish, huge fish, to be splashing around. If you do want to fish at the reservoir, tough luck, you’ll need an official fishing license!

You can reach the Guadalest village by Llorente bus, bus tours or by car. To access the reservoir, it will take a 10-minute car drive exiting Guadalest and heading down, or a fairly lengthy hike.

If you’re looking for somewhere different to see Guadalest, and Benidorm, from a whole new perspective, then perhaps it’s time to take a trip to the Embalse. Escape the hustle and bustle and get out in the open air. Nature awaits.

P.S: The Instagram shots will be insane. Your mates won’t believe you’re in Benidorm!

Hasta luego,

diary of a spanglish girl signature

Pinterest:

instagrammable locations in benidorm guadalest lake

 

My 2019 Travel Bucket List

Are you already thinking about your 2019 holidays? I’m sharing with you my 2019 Travel Bucket List.

¿Pensando ya en las vacaciones de 2019?

my 2019 travel bucket list

This post was sponsored by Holiday Gems. 

Are you already thinking about your 2019 holidays? I know I definitely am. That’s why today I’m sharing with you my 2019 Travel Bucket List. It’s never too early to start planning for your next holiday.

Does anybody else book a holiday and then suddenly they’re already thinking about their next? I once read that you are some form of a “travelholic” if you book holidays whilst you’re on holiday. I’m certainly guilty of that one.

I’m already deciding where my must-see places of 2019 are.

I’ve ranked My Top 5 bucket list locations of 2019 and I’ll be very interested to see where you’re off to on holiday next. If you’re heading out to Spain in 2019, be sure to let me know!

1. Orlando, Florida

Minnie Mouse on the Float at DisneyWorld

At the very top of my 2019 Bucket List is definitely Orlando, Florida. I’m craving to head back to The Sunshine State and get that Mickey Mouse Magic back into my life. It’s been a long time since we last went to Florida and Alex has never been, which is why I’m making it my mission to head back to the states and soak up the magic in 2019.

2. Miami, Florida

I mean, have you seen Miami? The exotic cars, the high rise buildings, the stretches of white beaches. Having been to Florida a few times, the city of Miami is one that we’ve never been to. It’s only a short drive from Orlando, so I’d love to tick off Miami and spend a couple of nights in the gorgeous Metropolitan city.

3. New York, New York

 

aerial-architecture-blue-sky-466685.jpg
Photo by Lukas Kloeppel from Pexels

 

So good that they named it twice, right? If you’ve ever listened to me rambling on, you’ll know exactly how much I want to go to New York. I don’t think there’s a post gone by where I haven’t referred to my desire to head to The Big Apple. I’d love to go to New York during the Christmas period of 2019 or the summer when we have a lot of time off. It’s near the very top of my bucket list, so I’d love to be able to tick that off and see the ball drop on New Year’s Eve. I’d have to book to ice-skate at Rockefeller Center and see a Broadway show too. *checks bank account and sighs deeply.*

4. Prague, Czechia

Prague in Czechia is somewhere that I’ve wanted to visit for a long time. I think it would be fantastic to head out to Prague for the weekend in winter and soak up the Christmas atmosphere in 2019. They have a wide range of Christmassy activities, not to mention the christmas markets.  I’m hoping we can make it work to get there for a weekend this year!

5. Edinburgh, Scotland

looking at edinburgh castle and mountains

I’ve spoken about Edinburgh a lot in recent times and why it steadily creeps into my bucket list locations. I’m hoping that in 2019 we can sneak a weekend away to the Scottish, hilly capital and explore the best of the medieval Old Town and the Georgian New Town. We’d make sure to spend some time at the Edinburgh castle and see the spectacular views that it so famously boasts. Alex has often said how much he’d enjoy heading to Edinburgh for Hogmanay, however, I would be more than happy going for a short weekend break in Autumn.

Top 5 Ideas for your 2019 travel bucket list: 

6. Lanzarote, Spain

Lanzarote is actually somewhere that I’d completely forgotten about until I read a little more about Lanzarote on holidaygems.co.uk/lanzarote. We have covered so much of Spain, especially during recent weeks, but we have neglected the Canary Islands. I have been to Tenerife quite a few times, but Lanzarote is somewhere that I’ve never been to. Being so close to Africa, it has that perfect all-around summer. Once an active volcanic island, I can imagine that it makes for an idyllic beach holiday with some spectacular landscape. I think Lanzarote would be a perfect 2019 winter getaway. It seems like it would be a more achievable destination after seeing some of the deals on Holiday Gems.

7. London, England

I absolutely love visiting the capital of England. Filled with plenty of places to go, gorgeous sites to see and heaps of history. I love spending time by the Thames admiring the view and then shopping until I drop on Oxford Street!

8. Venice, Italy

diary of a spanglish girl in venice

The city of love and where we got engaged is absolutely perfect to spend a few days away. You can relax on a gondola in the morning, take a stroll with a gelato in the afternoon around San Marco Square and have copious amounts of pasta and wine by the evening, perfect!

9. Amsterdam, The Netherlands

view of amsterdam from hilton hotel winter

If you haven’t been to Amsterdam yet, make sure you do! With the super affordable flights across Europe, it makes visiting the Dutch capital very easy. It’s a beautifully relaxed city with an open mind and a friendly attitude. It would also be suitable for solo travellers.

10. Anaheim, California

If I could head back to Anaheim this year, I would. The beautiful state of California has so much to do and I would suggest spending a month seeing it all if you can. San Diego, San Francisco, and Los Angeles all have so much variety and so many things to do. I loved being in Anaheim in California, purely because Disney is magical. Not to mention, the food there is outstanding!

What’s on your 2019 bucket list?

Hasta luego,

laurensignature-final

This post was sponsored by Holiday Gems.

 

Pinterest Graphic:

My 2019 Travel Bucket List-2.png

Mandatory​ Equipment you NEED in your car when Driving in Spain

What is inside our glove box? Is it useful to our driving experience? Do we really need it in there and how long has it been collecting dust?

is your carReady to drive in Spain?.png

Mandatory equipment you need in your car when driving in Spain.

This post will help you prepare for a safer road trip through Spain, following the necessary requirements with a vital checklist of mandatory equipment that you need in your car and glove box when driving in Spain. That way you can check them off before you turn that ignition on and get going.

After reading a post written by Go Compare named, Inside the glove box which you can view here: https://www.gocompare.com/car-insurance/inside-the-glove-box/, it got me thinking. What is inside our glove box? Is it useful to our driving experience? Do we really need it in there and how long has it been collecting dust?

It also sparked the thought of how different our glove box is now that we use rental cars compared to my own personal rubbish bin that was used in Alex’s car. I also decided it would be perfect to tie in with what you’re going to need in your glove box and your car if you’re driving in Spain.

Back in England, we had a car and one of the weirdest things to get used to not having here is a car. Although day to day, we don’t necessarily need it, it would just make things a little easier from time-to-time. Carrying food shopping down the mountain isn’t always the simplest of tasks. I mean, it’s hard work watching Alex lump it down.

We are lucky that we have access to a car on occasions, that’s the time when bulk shopping happens. We’ve also used rental cars a few times, but, they get expensive.

IMG_8322.jpg

One thing that we don’t have anymore, is the hoarding of the glove compartment. I’m pretty sure it was the first bit of Alex’s space I ever invaded. It was so conveniently placed in front of me that I could just dump things in it. Hair bobbles? They’re going in. Tourist guide from Anne Hathaway’s House? Definitely belongs in the glove box. Parking stubs? Cinema stubs? iPod? They’re all going in.

So, this week, as we’ve just returned from our Road Trip, which you can watch below, I thought it would be a great idea to cover what you need when you’re driving in Spain and what you should consider keeping in your glove box, regardless of where you are in the world.

As you all know, I’m a big advocate for keeping safe whilst travelling, especially after going through a few travel mishaps myself. So, without further chit-chat. Let’s get down to business. Not before you’ve watched our Road Trip Vlog though! Spoiler: There are some pretty epic mountain views.

Mandatory Equipment when Driving in Spain

Ilan Glovebox Car.JPG
Source: GoCompare used with permission

There is so much conflicting information when trying to find out what you need when driving in Spain, but here is the list of what is currently mandatory and what is recommended. This post was uploaded on 8th September 2018, so if you are from the future, firstly, Hello! But also, please make sure this is still accurate!

– A Spare Wheel

It is compulsory to have a spare wheel in your car when driving in Spain, this goes for local cars and tourists.

– Tools to Fit the Spare Wheel

This should go without saying, I mean, how can you change the wheel if you haven’t got the tools? But, it’s still something people forget. Just because you have the wheel, that doesn’t mean you’re good to go. You must have the relevant tools in your car should you need to change the wheel.

– A Hi-Visibility Jacket

It’s compulsory to have at least one jacket. Though, it’s recommended you have enough for each passenger. A reflective Jacket is compulsory in case you have to exit the vehicle by the main road or a motorway in case of an accident or breakdown.

– Two Warning Triangles

There are some websites that will tell you that one warning triangle is enough. It isn’t. If you break down on a carriageway you will need to put a warning triangle at least 45 metres behind the broken-down vehicle on the same side of the road.

– Fire Extinguisher (if towing a trailer)

If you are towing a trailer it is absolutely necessary to have a fire extinguisher. It is recommended for other vehicles but not mandatory.

Recommended Equipment when Driving in Spain

Chris Glovebox Car
Source: GoCompare used with permission

– Medical Kit

It is recommended that you have a small but well stocked medical kit readily available in your car, it isn’t mandatory though.

– Flashlight

In the event of breaking down in darkness, it’s recommended to have a flashlight stored in the car. This is especially important if you’re considering doing long distance night journeys. Most smartphones have a flashlight application.

So, what should you have in your glove box? Is that hair bobble really a necessity or is it just taking up vital space? What about that ABBA CD? Of course, it has some absolute road trip bangers on it, but when was the last time you played it? Does it really need to be there?

Now we don’t have our own car, we are able to use the glove box in the way it’s intended. A space to keep important items. If your glove box has become a mini dumping ground for toll receipts and old CD’s, then it’s time to have a clear out and swap them for something a little more useful.

Here’s my list of a few things that are handy to put in your glove box if you haven’t already:

Weather Protection

IMG_8320.jpg

After travelling through the North of Spain, I can confirm they were lying when the rain in Spain falls mainly on plain because it absolutely does not. In the mountains, it pours. You might look at the local city and it says full sun 30 degrees. But, you’ve got to get there first.

Plus, is the weather ever predictable in England? You can get small compact umbrellas that are perfect for putting in a glovebox. I really wish we had one for Zaragoza!

It’s also a good idea to have a travel-sized sunscreen and sunglasses in your glove box too. You never know when the sun might just make an appearance, especially if it’s low.

Phone Charger

This is a big one. I always have and always will have a spare phone charger that stays in the car. If you’ve broken down and you’re about to call for help and your phone runs out of battery, it makes an already bad situation worse. They take up barely any space.

Notebook and Pencil

Funnily enough, this is one that I only started using since I became a blogger. But, they can be useful for so many things. Kids playing up in the back and bored of their games? Here, do some drawing. Had a bright idea in the passenger seat? Great, grab the notebook and write it down. Had an accident and need to write down their details? You’ve got the equipment.

Spare Change

When we drove down from the UK to Spain, this was one of the best things we kept in the glove box. We organised all of our scraps of change into separate bags. This was ideal for the tolls. All of the loose change we had collected over the years sat together organised and meant we could use coins that aren’t so welcomed in shops and dump them in the tolls. It’s also great for cafes in the mountains that don’t accept a card for those that don’t carry cash!

What does your glove box look like? A mess of unfinished thoughts or a clean, organised and useful storage spot perfect for road trips?

I’m pretty sure our Glove Box in England looked most like Brunel’s. In fact, if we changed the Ford to a Toyota, I’d have thought he’d have raided ours. Ibuprofen was always in there, plus a selection of perfumes and wipes.

Brunel Glove box1.jpg
Source: GoCompare used with permission

I mean… If you’ve still got the room, I’d suggest putting that ABBA CD back in! What’s a road trip without a little Mamma Mia?

If you’re looking for insurance, you can always check out Go Compare.  They haven’t sponsored this post, but they did give me some food for thought and permission to use some fantastic photos, so it’s only right that I give them a little thank you!

Hasta luego,

laurensignature-final

%d bloggers like this: