Travel

Exploring the beautiful city of Venice 

This year, I was lucky enough to take a stunning city break for a friend’s hen weekend, to the glorious city of Venice!! Venice is somewhere which has always seemed pretty mythical and magical to me.. a city on an island, which you can only get to by boat, with no cars, that you can’t get around other than by boat… it just completely astounded me, and was somewhere I could never imagine, but always wanted to visit. So for a long weekend in May, we made the two hour flight and landed in the beautiful Venice! So I thought this week, I will share with you my experiences, my recommendations and also, my top tips if you’re ever to make the journey (which I strongly recommend!!)

Accommodation

When we arrived, we got a 20 minute bus ride to the main centre, which is where all was revealed… hundreds of water taxis lined the canal/river, and it was here we hopped on, lugging our suitcases, to make the journey to where we were staying!! The glorious sun was beaming down on us upon arrival, so we were all in good spirits and excited to get to our apartment. After a slightly rocky ride on the water taxi, we made it to our stop, and were greeted by our friendly tour guide who walked us to our apartment. We stayed about a 15 minute walk outside of the main square in Venice, which was perfect –  by staying slightly out of the main square, it also saved us a fair amount of money – as you can imagine, the closer to the centre you stay, the more expensive it becomes. We managed to book a lovely little apartment through Air BnB, and it felt in a very local secluded area of Venice, and instantly I fell in love with the narrow cobbled streets and the colourful buildings.

VENICE IMAGE 1

Places to eat 

Now on our first day, as we had arrived in the evening, our first priority was, of course – food!! We managed to find a local restaurant, 300m away from our apartment – this was full of delicious local foods, and really friendly staff, and we ended up getting lots of sharing platters, a couple of bottles of wine (of course) and we were content!! There was a lot of fresh produce on offer which I absolutely loved, and lots of new things to try – Venice isn’t really somewhere to get your standard steak/burger and chips, it’s a real opportunity to try some new food.

As the weekend progressed, wherever we went, everything was sourced fresh and locally, which was a real bonus. One thing that we noticed about Venice, was that everywhere we went, you got complimentary bread with balsamic vinegar and olive oil… my own personal heaven!! We ventured further into Venice for our last evening, and settled in a lovely restaurant right by the water. I had a delicious seafood linguine; again, all of their food was sourced locally and made fresh to order. Bear in mind however, the further into the centre you go, the more you do pay for food; this was totally worth it however, as we had gorgeous food and stunning views. At one point, a gigantic cruise ship sailed silently past us – it looked like something out of a movie, so if you want gorgeous stunning views of the City to enjoy whilst eating your dinner then it’s definitely worth the extra euros!!

Venice - Food

Getting around 

As I mentioned at the start, the only way you can really get around Venice, is by boat!! It was so so strange that we didn’t hear one single car or motorbike/moped during our visit, and this added to the magic of Venice. The easiest way we actually found to get around, was by walking – we were extremely lucky with gorgeous weather, and to be perfectly honest, the only way to see the little nooks and crannies of Venice, was by walking and exploring. In terms of longer journeys however, there are the water taxis which take you all over th island, which are very reasonably priced.

Places to visit

There are so many places that I could list here, but that means this post would go on forever so I thought I would select my favourite places/activities, which I would highly recommend!

First of all, was the Marriott Hotel and Spa. This was our first proper trip of the weekend, so on the Saturday morning, we set off early around 9am. One of the best things about this spa, was the fact it resided on a secluded island – we had to get a private boat to get to this, which was about 25 minutes away, and it felt so exclusive it was amazing! As we arrived on the island, it felt like pure paradise – again, the sun was absolutely beaming down. As we entered the spa, we were again greeted by friendly staff, who gave us information about our stay. As we all eagerly headed outside for some sunbathing, we were stunned by some absolutely amazing views – as you can see, they were breathtaking, and we thoroughly enjoyed our afternoon of relaxing at the spa. This took us to 1pm, where we headed to the roof terrace for lunch.

Venice - spa trip

Second of all – was, of course, a Gondola ride!! On our final day, we headed down to the ‘gondola dock’ where there were numerous boats waiting to be used. They were stunning boats, and really brought to life the traditions of Venice, and again how magical this city was. We soon boarded the boat, and I was the lucky (or not!) individual who sat at the head of the boat, going backwards! Now I’m scared of water at the best of times, so you can imagine my terror as this notion. As we glided round the city, we truly got to see the sites of traditional Venice, and learn more about the history of the city. It was an incredible experience as we saw so many hidden areas of the city which we hadn’t previously seen. This is one activity I would 100% recommend doing, if you ever have the pleasure of going there.

Venice - Gondola

One final activity, isn’t really just one activity – it’s venturing out to see the city at night time. On the second night, we ventured into the main centre, which was bustling with so many people. All the buildings were lit up, as well as the boats and gondolas which just looked absolutely magical. There were live bands busking outside of restaurants – one in particular managed to gather an impressive crowd, so we stayed and watched them for a while – they soon noticed the bride-to-be, and were sure to get her up for a dance!!

Venice - Gondolas at night

Something else we noticed, and took full advantage of were the wine bars. On our first night,  we didn’t want to venture out too far so we ended up visiting a small wine bar which looked extremely lively. This ended up being a fantastic idea, as we managed to find a glass of wine on the menu for €3.50!! An absolute steal!!!

Venice - wine drinking

 

We had such an incredible time, and if you are ever thinking of taking a city break over a long weekend, I would 100% recommend this beautiful place.

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Lifestyle, Travel

When In Paris… 

Now if you’ve been following me on Instagram or Snapchat, you will have seen that I’ve been spending the last week exploring the wonders of Paris!! So I thought this week, I will share with you my experiences, my recommendations and also, my top tips if you’re ever to make the journey (which I strongly recommend!!)

Accommodation

We were lucky enough to stay in a lovely hotel right in the centre of Paris, where we were in the centre of all the buzz and able to walk to most places. Even on a budget, it is possible to find a reasonably priced hotel right in the centre of everything, so I would certainly recommend doing this if you can. From the moment we stepped into our hotel, we felt like we were on a movie set- now this, of course was the theme of our hotel- each floor had a theme of a famous movie director, and each hotel room had a theme of a particular movie, which was pretty incredible. Ours was rocky balboa, much to my boyfriends delight! When we enter the hotel, were greeted by two very friendly and welcoming receptionists, who were pleased to accommodate our every request, and give us their best recommendations- as newbies to the area, we knew the great tourist attractions that we wanted to attend, however we had no idea where to eat, what the best way to get to certain places were, and where the best views would be.

Places to eat

Now as you walk along the boulevards of Paris, there are endless places to stop and eat, drink and have a socialise- so many in fact, it’s hard to know which to choose from. One slightly awkward experience was going into what claimed to be a ‘Thai restaurant’, however nothing on the menu seemed to actually reflect any form of Thai food, so we made a swift exit once the waiter turned his back!! We soon realised the best thing to do would be to ask the locals. We became friendly with the reception team at our hotel who gave us their very best tips on where to eat, and where would not rip us off (after all this is a huge tourist attraction and businesses can really capitalise on this). Our hotel recommended a traditional French restaurant called Le Mesturet. We entered the restaurant and it was packed- always a good sign. Even though we hadn’t booked, the waiting staff sat us down in the waiting area with some complimentary snacks whilst we waited for a table, which took only ten minutes. Once we were sat down, we had the waiters full attention, and shortly realising we were English tourists (we stood out like a beacon), he talked us through the menu for our ease. Now as you can see from the photos, they aren’t shy with their portion sizes, and this was truly value for money, so I would definitely recommend getting some tips from the locals if you are unsure on where to go.

Getting around 

You have multiple choices for getting around, including walking, the metro and taxis. Personally, I love to sightsee, and I believe the only way to do that is by walking as much as you can, to see and soak up as much of the French culture as possible. On day two, I convinced my boyfriend how lovely it would be to walk (in the rain I must add!) from the Eiffel Tower to the Louvre, which took a good hour.. We saw some wonderful sights along the river, walked through some beautiful Parisian streets and the Louvre gardens which were idyllic and picturesque. The only downside was once we arrived… unfortunately they’d closed it for the day, so I had to do some extreme grovelling!!

The metro, again is another great way around- it’s quick and easy, and also very cheap if you’re on a budget. You do just have to be careful for pickpockets and beggars on this form of transport- at times I did feel quite uncomfortable, so I would always definitely choose walking over the metro, if I am able to. Taxi, again is another form of great transport. It is however, quite a luxury – the price can be extremely high, especially when the traffic is bad which in Paris, can be very similar to London. So my advice is to buy some good trainers (if anything it’s the perfect excuse to make a purchase!!) and walk as much as you can, so you truly get to experience the beautiful Paris.

Places to visit

Now there are too many beautiful places that we visited for me to name on here, but there are a couple that stood out for me. First of all, was the Notre Dame. It was completely free entry, and absolutely breathtaking inside. As you can see from the pictures, the whole place was completely majestic and there’s so much history there. I love even the smell of old buildings, you can feel the history coming alive inside.

Another place I absolutely loved was the louvre. I never really knew what to expect, as I hadn’t actually done much research on it- being quite naive, I knew the Mona Lisa was there but that’s about it!! And truly there was so much more to see- some incredible pieces from some incredible eras – my personal favourites being the African, Georgian Era and the Egyptian history. I’ve placed a few of my favourite pieces below for you to see here too. This place truly blew me away with the amount of art and history contained within it.

And last but never least, is the iconic Eiffel Tower. Now unfortunately for us, it started to rain just as we began our tour, but it didn’t spoil the true beauty and history that surrounded us. We had a friendly tour guide who introduced some history behind the Eiffel Tower, who then left us to our own devices whilst we were there to explore by ourselves. We bravely chose to take the lift to the very top floor (eek!) which was quite scary as I’m not the best person to be around when it comes to heights. But the views were truly breathtaking, to see the entirety of Paris at this level, literally watching the city continue its day.


So there you have it- my glorious experiences over a three day trip to the city of love. And what a wondrous place it was.

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