Prague is a captivating city.
Renowned for its alluring gothic architecture, heartwarming food, elaborate Christmas Markets and some of the cheapest beer in Europe, Prague is the perfect place to visit for a cheap city getaway.
Madeira is a small Portuguese island floating off of the coast of Portugal, Spain and Morocco. Renowned for its mountainous scenery, vibrant orange roofed houses, unique toboggan run and splendid Madeiran cake, wine and cuisine, this island has a lot to offer its visitors.
Although Madeira has been branded as a holiday destination for the ‘elder generation’, my trip with my family in early June confirmed that this unspoiled, quiet gem has a lot to offer any holidaymaker who enjoys a less touristy destination with phenomenal walking opportunities, quaint cobbled high streets and welcoming locals.
I love anything and everything with a bit of quirkiness to it.
Therefore, whilst searching for somewhere a little bit different to celebrate my birthday, I remembered hearing about a place, which takes you ‘down the rabbit hole’ and into an eccentric bar, where not drinking out of a teacup, tankard or jar sets you apart from the rest.
The Mad Hatter on Iffley Road, Oxford is the epitome of quirk.
On arrival, we were greeted by a mysterious front door coated in ‘grass’, a golden mirror and a black and white ‘path’ leading towards a miniature door. Unfortunately, there was no potion to shrink us down small enough to squeeze through the door, so instead, we pushed on the grass-covered intercom and awaited instruction on how to enter.
The intercom came alive and we were asked a riddle to gain access – ‘what is white, black and Asian?’ (write your answers in the comment box below if you know it). Luckily for me (I’m awful at riddles), I had a clever bunch of friends with me and before we knew it, we were lounging on a regal chaise lounge with a teacup of bubbles in hand.
Boasting a crimson red and gold dabbled colour scheme, huge, rustic chests, which were used as tables and a bar stocked to the brim with unique tipples and cocktail concoctions, The Mad Hatter cleverly captures the weird and wonderful illusion, which is so prominent in Alice and Wonderland yet, in bar form.
As there were more than ten of us, we had to choose a chapter from their ‘tea party packages’ prior to our arrival. The Mad Hatter himself, kindly emailed me over the menu, which included themed names such as, ‘Down the Rabbit Hole, ‘Advice from a Caterpillar’ and ‘Who Stole the Tarts’.
Most of these packages included a mixture of prosecco and/or champagne, giant cocktail teacups as well as, shots and ranged from £150 for ten guests to a whopping £500 for thirty guests (although split between everyone, this isn’t toooo extortionate and is perfect for a special occasion).
We ended our evening at The Mad Hatter in true style – shooting tequila at the bar whilst donning some fabulous sombreros.
The Mad Hatter is wacky, extravagant and like no other and I would highly recommend it to anyone who loves a dose of eccentricity before or on a night out.
After a fabulously flamboyant morning of watching the Gay Pride Parade march through Oxford Street, London in all its extravagant glory, we headed for, what I have come to coin, ‘linner’ (lunch/dinner).
I had been enticed by Bourne and Hollingsworth’s brunch, after reading about it’s cute decor and bottomless belinnis on The Londoner. After gawping at photos of its airy greenhouse-esque dining area, wacky mish mash of ornate chairs, an abundance of hanging baskets overflowing with exotic foliage and shabby chic garden furnishings, I was on their website booking my Mum, Sister and I a table…
Once we’d weaved our way through the maze, which is Farringdon (in reality, our navigational skills were just horrendous), we arrived at B & H Buildings, ravenous and raring to eat.
We were lead through to a light fresh room, dotted with lashings of tropical colour. The clinical white walls were broken up with vibrant green ivy, copious amounts of rustic hanging baskets, which were sprouting colourful vegetation and eccentric floral patterned, squishy armchairs.
Unfortunately, we weren’t sat in the greenhouse however, we did have a great, leafy view of it…
After ordering an obligatory round of their bottomless bellinis, we were ready to get down to business.
From French toast and drop scones to crispy potato hash and good ol’ full English breakfast, B&H offer up a fab selection of tempting brunch delights.
Fancying something rather sweet and stodgy, I went for a sinfully indulgent combo of french toast, streaky bacon and maple syrup (there is a very thick piece of French toast under there… I promise!!)
My Mum went for the more traditional eggs Florentine…
Whilst my sister opted for the not so traditional, crispy potato hash topped with braised beef, HP Hollandaise and crispy shallots…
Due to the restaurant being so popular, we were only able to get a table right at the end of service (at 3.45pm) so ensure you book well in advance to secure a table at a time, which best suits you.
Oxford is renowned for its ancient beauty. However, when the sun begins to shine, the flowers start to blossom and the tourists frolic to the riverside by the bucket-load, the city acquires an even more majestic glow than usual.
With a treasure trove of exciting sites and activities out there to be uncovered, what are you waiting for? Grab your sandals, a picnic and, of course, a bottle of Pimms and check out my must see sights in Oxford this summer:
The Botanic Gardens in Oxford display the most diverse range of plants in the world. Thus, this idyllic patch of vibrant flower beds, lily ponds, woodlands, orchards and glasshouses are a must-mooch whilst in Oxford.
Punting is iconic to Oxford. Therefore, jumping in one of these rustic, wooden boats this summer, is a no-brainer. Pack yourself a picnic, a bottle of prosecco and (if you can) a muscly man who is willing to do the punting, and you’re on to a winner of an afternoon…
As expected, the Oxford University grounds are simply stunning. Whether you are wandering around its impressive colleges and libraries or its picturesque gardens and parks, the University will transport you to, what feels like, a scene in Harry Potter.
Selling everything from flowers, leather and souvenirs to cookies, milkshakes and pies, Oxford’s Covered Market has plenty of shops and eateries to keep you occupied.
Make sure you check out Moo-Moo’s milkshake bar. Imagine your favourite chocolate bars, all blended into a milkshake… heaven.
Lychee and chilli sling. That is all…
Feel like a local for the day. Rent a bike and see how many of these must-see sites you can tick off.
You don’t have to go as far as London to watch a film under the stars… thanks to Cult Screens, you can now watch your favourite films at different, quirky outdoor locations across the city. From the Castle to the Pitt Rivers museum, pull up a beanbag, slump back with a cool, crisp beer and enjoy…
Last summer, after tantalizing my travelling taste buds during a week-long trip to the Croatian island of Hvar, I was left yearning for another slice of Croatia’s emerald waters, kaleidoscopic sunsets, awesome nightlife, rustic architecture and panoramic scenery.
With flights and accommodation costing from as little as £200 and scenery and sites to die for (need I say anymore…), here are my 5 top reasons why Croatia is the place to be this summer:
From the pristine, bleached stone buildings with vibrant terracotta roofs to the spell binding, turquoise waters, which are enveloped in rocky alcoves, plush pebble beaches, leafy mountain ranges and fabulous, vibrant lavender fields, Croatia’s scenery is bound to leave any traveller, a little breathless.
With the beaches being pebbled (wooopieee no sand), you can set up camp on one of the many radiant beach-fronts or, stretch out on your own secluded patch of rock. Just be sure to watch out for any luxury yachts, which may swoop past and cause a mini tidal wave.
We learnt the hard way… RIP flip flops.
Croatia is rapidly becoming an avid festival-goers haven.
With well-known festivals such as, Hideout, Outlook and Croatia Rocks (new for this summer), gracing the country’s exquisite coastlines, it is no surprise that tourists are flooding in the masses to get their piece of festival fun in the Croatian sun.
Croatia is seeped in an outstanding history and as a result, flaunts some incredible, must-see sights.
From its awe-inspiring National Parks, monasteries and museums to its majestic forts, palaces and cathedrals, Croatia is peppered in numerous fascinating landmarks, which should definitely not to be overlooked because of the country’s enticing nightlife…
Combining the pumping party atmosphere of Ibiza with the boozy backpacker vibe of Thailand, Croatia’s party islands have nailed affordable fun, in a beautiful and clean environment.
With everything from backpacker bars squished down rickety side streets to swanky, open-air clubs located on their own luxurious islands, Croatia conveniently accommodates people living the high life as well as, us not so lucky, budget travellers.
Check out The Student Travels guide to the best bars and clubs in Hvar, here.
You don’t have to go all the way to Thailand to enjoy a spot of island hopping.
Croatia is sprinkled with over one thousand picture-perfect islands. From the party islands of Hvar and Pag to the quaint historic regions of Brac and Vis, Croatia offers up a diverse range of equally stunning islands to suit any traveller/holidaymaker/sailor.
For me, 2014 has been a year of change. I have graduated from University, moved back home, found a job at a magazine, started this blog and, I’ve even been lucky enough to visit some incredible destinations and have a hell of a lot of fun along the way!!
It has been hard to choose my favourite countries/cities of the year however, I have managed to whittle them down.
So, without further ado and in no particular order, here are my top four travel destinations of 2014. Plus, the destination I have voted as my number one country/city of the year:
I started the year of 2014 indulging in a luxurious Indian banquet, drinking a lot of wine (it would have been rude not to take advantage of the free bar) and dancing the night away thinking I looked like the main star in a Bollywood movie- all in a 5* hotel in Agra… it doesn’t get much better than that, does it?
However, my great discovery of India this time around (this was my second chance to travel around this unbelievable country) was Kerala in the South of India.
On my last trip I travelled Rajasthan extensively however, the sandy beaches, endearing house boats and tranquil backwaters of Kerala remained a mystery. Therefore, I assigned the last week of my most recent trip to relaxing, becoming a beach bum and soaking up the calming side of this hectic country in Cochin.
Kerala is exotic, picturesque and a lot more peaceful than Rajasthan however, it also has a lot of things to see and do! Check out my post on things to get up to off the beaten track in Cochin, Kerala here.
A week was no where near long enough in this easygoing state (I think a month would even be pushing it) therefore, I will definitely be going back during gap year #2!!
Despite having to wave goodbye to my life as a student in Kent this July, Canterbury will always be my home away from home.
If you are a student in Kent or just happen to be in the area, make sure you take time to check out Canterbury’s cute, cobbled side streets, charming cafes and outstanding Cathedral.
I still rush back here at every chance I get. Find a few posts I have written about good ol’ Canters here, here, here, here and here (you can take the student out of Uni, but you can’t take the student out of the girl… does that even make sense??..)
After years of testing the water on the notorious party islands of Malia and Ayia Napa, my girlfriends and I decided that this year, we were ready… we were ready to experience the party capital of the world, IBIZAAAA!!
Beautiful beaches, huge performances, 24/7 partying and quality time with the gals… it was everything I had always imagined it to be.
Although we were on a standard 18-30s holiday, it surprised me at how classy and beautiful the different areas of the island were. I would love to go back and experience the luxurious side of this eccentric island… maybe when my budget isn’t so tight!
As you may already know from my last couple of posts, I discovered the picturesque municipality of Montreux, Switzerland a couple of weekends ago.
With its magnificent mountains, unique, wooden houses and mounds of cheese and fondue, Montreux was the perfect place to get a real taste of Switzerland.
I had a great day unearthing a side to Switzerland I had never seen before and can’t wait to adventure further into the Swiss countryside at a later date!
I went to Hvar in Croatia for an end of University blow out with my Uni gals… and boy did it deliver!!
Known for its crystal clear waters, pebbled beaches, marble-esque buildings, backpacker nightlife and luxurious yachts, we knew that Hvar was going to offer us both culture and crazy, drunken fun, all on one island.
When we first arrived I was taken aback by the immaculate beauty of the island as well as the steep prices. However, we soon found that excessive pre-drinking (not that I’m condoning binge drinking in any way…) and befriending their more… wealthy visitors, played in our budgets favour!
This island is stunning by day, soooo so much fun by night and has still not been ruined by us binge-drinking Brits. So get there while you can… it is my favourite destination of 2014.