Pisa

On our way back from Sestre Levante we decided to pop into Pisa City Centre to check out the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the surrounding area before heading to Galileo Airport back to Edinburgh.

You can really just see Pisa in an afternoon, I’m sure they’re may be lots more to see outside the main part, but we were quite happy seeing the tower and other monuments, and finding a lovely spot for lunch and coffee.

In the heart of the city there is the Square of Miracles, or as it is formally known, Campo dei Miracoli. It is also a World Heritage Site. There are three structures found in the square, the Baptistry, the Cathedral of Santa Maria, and the graveyard. However, the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa is actually the cathedrals bell tower. The square is surrounded by a gorgeous, and well maintained lush lawn, where you could find crowds of people relaxing and taking in the sights. There is also two museums that you can visit, the Cathedral Museum and the Museum of the Synopses, to learn a bit of history.

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Around the monuments there are mazes of stalls selling souvieners. If you want to pick up a cheap magnet or key chain, then here is the perfect place. Unfortunately the majority of the stalls sell all of the same items, so it’s difficult to get something unique.

I couldn’t resist having a go at the mandatory holding the tower up pose! I’ll be honest, this was actually quite difficult and resulting in Dino yelling at me where to put my hands for a good five minutes! I think it was worth it though, what do you think?

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Praia da Rocha

 

Praia da Rocha, AKA ‘The beach of rocks’, is a popular, yet peaceful, holiday resort just south of the town of Portimão, on the Algarve. I travelled here for a mini break in October with my family, for some last minute sun before the Winter set in.

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We stayed at the Hotel da Rocha. A 4 star hotel overlooking the beach front. I couldn’t recommend this hotel more; all of the staff were very friendly & helpful, the food was spot on with a brilliant selection of local cuisine (which includes a lot of fresh fish!) and the rooms were modern, spacious and very comfortable! Facilities included a good sized pool, good for a refreshing dip in the mornings and a fully equipped gym which I tested out a couple of times.

Praia da Rocha has one of the largest beaches on the Portimão coastline. The golden sand is marked with large rocks and boulders wth hidden caves and that is why it is known as ‘the beach of rocks’. Even in October I managed to take a brisk  dip in the Atlantic Ocean! But, if you don’t want too sandy, then you can take a stroll along the wooden boardwalk which stretches along the majority of the beach.

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My family loves keeping active on holidays so we didn’t just spend our days sun seeking on the beach! Praia da Rocha and the surrounding areas are perfect for shorts strolls, hikes among the dusty paths and slightly longer walks to stretch your legs. The larger town of Portimão is just over 3km away and is full of local shops, cafes, and lovely architecture.

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We decided to check out the neighbouring fishing village of Alvor one morning, so we followed the costal path along the beach, which eventually took us up along the cliffs which provided breathtaking views! When we got to Alvor we wondered along the river front lined with bars and seafood restaurants. We then wondered up the narrow cobbled lanes which led us into the old town and onto the 16th century Igreja Matriz church (fun fact: I love seeing churches while on holiday, I just enjoy the atmosphere and design of them!) which sits proudly above the village. In the evenings we would usually take short strolls along the boardwalk, or down the street to the Fort of Santa Catarina, a medieval fort which is lit up at night and gives stunning views to the coastline.

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Praia da Rocha is a gorgeous resort for little breaks and longer holidays. I enjoyed every minute of my time here and would visit again to explore in a heart beat!

Thanks for reading!

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Prague April 2016

As mentioned in a previous post, my family and I jetted off to Prague for 4 days at the beginning of April. I was so excited to get away, have a change of scenery, and immerse myself in a new culture.

We have a family friend who lives in Prague, and having your own personal tour guide who speaks the language was unbelievably handy!

Prague is such a big city, and there is so much to do and see, it’s impossible to cover everything in three days!

The Flight 

We flew with Easy Jet from Edinburgh early Monday morning and arrived in Prague at around noon that day. The flight was so quick (around 2 hours).

The Hotel

We stayed at The Three Crowns Hotel. It was recomended by our friend, and it didn’t disappoint. The staff were so friendly and welcoming. The rooms were modern and comfortable, with a gorgeous bathroom with the most amazing open waterfall shower. Location wise it was close to a tram stop which was a few stops away from the main part of the city centre.

Day 1 – Monday 

Since we only had a few days, time was quite limited, so we headed out to explore as soon as we dropped our bags off at the hotel. We jumped onto a tram/street car, and headed to Wenceslas Square where all the main shops are restaurants are. We nipped into a local restaurant for a bite to eat then we went on to Old Town Square to see the famous Astronomical Clock! This really is a must see, it’s so detailed and interesting to look at. We didn’t get a proper view as there were lots of crowds, but we went there again the day after and we managed to get up close. After dinner, we went for a walk over Charles Bridge, which was lined with buskers playing traditional music, street artists and little stalls selling knick knacks.

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Day 2 – Tuesday 

On Tuesday morning we had an early breakfast and then my Dad and I went for a little wander around the area of our hotel. We got a pretty good view of the Radio Tower and the national memorial at Vitkov. We were invited for lunch at our friends Grandmothers house in Prague 7.. Where we were treated to a warm welcome and a traditional home cooked Czech lunch of potato salad and pork schnitzel! It was delicious! 

After lunch we headed to the area of Prague Castle. It was a gorgeous sunny and clear day, so we thought it would be a good idea to head up Petrin Hill and climb the Observation Tower. It was built as a mini version of the Eiffel Tower in 1891. It offers breath taking panoramic views of Prague!

We then went down Petrin Hill and went on to Prague Castle. The walk up to the Castle was very grand, and before entering you were greeted with huge golden archway with two enormous stone statues at either side. This first lead us to a large stone courtyard with a fountain right in the middle. After the courtyard we walked through another arch way and there was the castle. It’s pretty hard to miss, it is the largest medieval castle in Europe!

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Day 3- Wednesday 

Wednesday was our last day and so we had a few things to squeeze in before we headed home. We headed back into the centre of town and went to see the oldest Synagogue in Europe. We didn’t go inside, but it was still a very interesting place to visit.

We then went for a little stroll around the Botanická Zahrada gardens.

After that we went for a spot of shopping at the Paladium Shopping Centre, followed by a mandatory coffee break! 

Prague has a plethora of museums to see. My sister and I were desperate to go and see the Museum of Alchemy, but unfortunately it was undergoing renovations at the time we were visiting (gives us another reason to go back! 😉 ) so instead we went to the Mucha Museum, the Chocolate Museum, and the Wax Museum– which I’ll admit wasn’t the best, but at least we tried it out!

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Day 4- Thursday 

We had a very early flight to catch so only had time for a quick breakfast before catching a taxi to the airport!

 

 

Have you guys been to Prague? Let me know what you thought of the city? I’ll definitely be going back! 

Thanks for reading! 

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Roman Holiday

Last July my boyfriend and I jetted away to Rome for 4 days! It was my first time visiting Italy, and it hopefully won’t be my last.

We booked through Expedia online, and got a brilliant deal. The hotel we stayed in was called Rome Life Hotel and I would definitely recommend it to anyone unsure about where to stay.

I’ll just go over the highlights of the holiday… 
We pre booked some guided tours so we could see all of the main sites. We did a tour of the Roman Forum & the Colosseum, we had the most amusing and lovely American tour guide from Boston who made the tour that little bit more unique! I’d definitely recommend going on at least one guided tour if you’re really into learning the history of some of the sites. We also booked tickets in advance for the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel, and then got a queu skip into the museum, the last thing you wanted to do was wait in mile long queues in 35 degree heat!!

I don’t know if it’s a good thing, but the monument that really made me in awe was the Altare della Patria, also known as the Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II. It is a monument built in honour of Victor Emmanuel, the first king of a unified Italy. It occupies a site between the Piazza Venezia and the Capitoline Hill. It was one of the first main building I saw as we were in the taxi coming in to the city from the airport, and you literally could not miss it! The reason I said that I don’t know if it’s a good thing that I liked the monument so much was because of the history behind it. It is the largest monument in Rome, and it is controversial as when it was being built the city destroyed a large area of Capitoline Hill along with a Medieval Neighbourhood. Some locals also regard it as being too ‘pompous and large’. I think the thing that stood out to me most was how glaringly white it is, and I found out that it was built from “corpse white marble”which was imported from Brescia, which makes it unusual and stand out from the brown buildings in Rome.

Another one of my favourite sites to visit was the Pantheon. We were lucky enough to stumble across it after having a wonder round the city after dinner in the evening. It was free entry which was good but we also gave a donation. This was another building that I was amazed by. I’ll need to go back here the next time I’m in Rome.

THE FOOD!! I think I may have OD’d on carbs while in on holiday, but it was so worth it. I think next time I’ll sample some more of the local cuisine and maybe try to be a bit healthier… But you’d be crazy to pass up some gelato in the heat that we had in July.

During the time we went the Trevi Fountain was undergoing restoration work and was covered up at the time, so we couldn’t really see it or get any photos. Instead we wondered round the shops in the area and I just had to take a nosey round Sephora and Kiko Cosmetics! (I think that’s where most of my money went..)

The people of Rome were absolutely lovely. We had some brilliant chats with some of the waiters and shop keepers. My boyfriend is
half Italian and so they had a little bit in common, haha!

Here are a few snaps of our holiday. Enjoy! Please feel free to pop any questions you may have in the comments! X

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