Oh so it’s nearly the end of February. Where the blinkin’ heck did that time go? One minute I was eating a tub of quality streets singing Slade and the next minute Spring is peeping round the corner, being all cheeky. So naturally, it’s that time of year where we all go ‘I’ve done two full months of work, I flippin’ well deserve a sexy city break’ right?
Yup, too right.
Although I’m busy planning that lil old thing called a wedding so don’t think I’ll be jetting off anytime soon. Apart from that trip to Geneva in two weeks. Got that planned, aint I. Hurrah.
Anyway, I thought I’d write a little something about my fave european city breaks. Get all nostalgic on ya. And give you some inspo for your next little trip.
2010 was a year of being chubby, wearing a full fringe and not realising that black eyeliner only made me look like a panda. It was also the year that Max & I jetted off to Rome for one of the best city breaks of all time.
It’s a city that wows at every corner. No exaggeration. It’s like oh wow look at that pretty building, and that one, and that one and oh my gosh it’s so overwhelming I need to sit down and have a 10 euro coca-cola. Because that’s another thing you need to know; Rome is hella expensive.
Very much worth it in every way though. To save on costs, we stayed just outside the city centre and traveled in by metro every morning. Do wear comfortable shoes for the miles of walking you will do. Do look off the back streets for great food finds at a cheaper price. Do eat pizza at every meal – it’s every bit as good as it should be.
Top memory – eating dinner in a square outside when a high fashion catwalk suddenly started only a few feet away. Think models, swish cars and panacotta. It was a bit insane.
Top picks of things to see & do
The Colosseum. Skip the queues and book in with a tour guide. Don’t be put off by the swarms of people, its 100% worth the look.
Visit the Pantheon. This square was one of my absolute favourites. Go inside the Pantheon and look up. You won’t be disappointed.
Eat Gelato at Giolitti. It’s the oldest place selling gelato in the city and it was by far the best. Even if it did melt at a top notch rate getting chocolate everywhere.
Explore Rome underground. So you might be reluctant to get yourself out the sun, but there’s just as much fascinating stuff to see underground as there is overground. We booked in with a guide who showed us some of the most beautiful and unqiue underground churches that had been built upon over the years. INSANE IN THE MEMBRANE.
(All the photos have come out a bit, well, weird. Mainly because this was a zillion years ago when we didnt have snazzy iphones or whizzy cameras. But y’know, enjoy it for what it is folks)
Last year Max & I booked a last minute trip to Budapest to see what all the hype was about. Like honestly, was it really as hipster and cool as all the magazines and IG accounts were making out?
Actually yes, yes it really was. Blinkin’ heck, the internet didn’t actually lie, this place is ACE.
So much to see and so much to do. And the best part? So very cheap. Less than £200 quid each for flights and a four star hotel. Do hire a bike to see the sprawling city. Do take your swim stuff, because hello weird ancient baths. Do drink all the beer.
Best memory – lazing along the river front in 30 degrees heat on bean bags, beer in one and and an ice cream in the other.
Things to see & do
Find Szimpla Kert of an evening. I describe it waaaay better in my full blog post roundup on Budapest here, but think a ruined pub full of graffiti, junk, DJs and very strong drink.
Take a morning bath. It has to be done. It’s all a bit weird and wonderful but take a morning to visit one of the public baths. It’s very quintessentially Budapest.
Take in it’s beaten up buildings and rustic charm. Buda Castle, Chain Bridge, Parliament, St Stephans Basilica, Margaret Island, House of Opera, Heroes Square, House of Terror. Visit them. They don’t disappoint.
I was a bit of a lucky jammy dodger with this trip. I went tagged along on a college trip for work to, y’know, take some photos, do a write up & tweet our adventure. Honestly don’t know how I wangled that one.
Iceland is like another world. The snow muffles all the sound and it’s landscape is so very different to the UK. So despite trailing around on a school trip schedule, I had the best time. Do take gloves. Do try different cuisine (although avoid shark and whale on the menu). Do stay in a spa hotel – not that I’m knocking the hostel I stayed in lols.
Best memory – kicking back in the Blue Lagoon with salt mud on my face taking in the views thinking ‘is this work? Like seriously what?’
Things to see & do
Go to the Blue Lagoon. I don’t give a pigs ear if people say it’s way touristy blah blah blah. It was the highlight of my trip; it was out of this world spa-ing.
Do the Golden Circle Tour. Natural waterfalls, geysirs (like exploding water volcanos) and giant splits in tectonic plates. This is where you can really take in the natural beauty and exceptional landscape that Iceland has to offer.
Visit the Hallgrimskirkja Church. Stunning. Unlike a church I’ve ever been in. Now I get why they believe in elves, look at their architecture – it’s magical.
(Read full round up here)
In 2012, I completed a three month placement in Barcelona as part of my degree. Sounds suave right? Actually it was the brokest I’ve ever been in my life and I lived in an apartment where no matter how much we scrubbed the floors, they still made our feet black with dirt. It was 12 weeks of drinking ‘Don Simon’ (99c sangria) & Cava and sleeping on a bed that was broken in the middle. I’m not selling it am I?
Being a tourist in Barcelona is completely different though. I returned a few years later for a hen party and rediscovered it’s tourist charm and natural Spanish beauty. It’s the place that has it all; city AND beach. And as a super quick getaway for sunshine, cocktails, shopping and tapas it really is a no brainer. Oh and despite my student woes, it really is a pretty cheap city destination.
Do stay in a hotel with a rooftop bar/pool/hot tub. Do eat tapas for lunch everyday. Do shop ’till you drop.
Best memory – speeding around the city on a bike tour dressed as ‘where’s wally’ taking in all my favourite sights.
Top things to see & do
Take in all the Guadi architecture. Honestly, don’t miss a visit to Sagrada Familia or Casa Batllo. It’s all completely breathtaking and it’s the true essence of what Barca is all about (not hen/stag weekends or the las ramblas strip).
Stroll around Born. It was the trendiest and hippest part of Barca when I was there – all cool boutiques, coffee shops & bars. Super nice way to spend an afternoon.
Chill on the beach and eat tapas at the harbor. There’s not many places you can go where you’re in the thick of the city one minute and then sunbathing by the sea the next. Take advantage of it people. And eat all that tapas and paella.
Have cocktails at the top of the W Hotel. You know where I’m talking about right? This place intrudes on the coastal front, you cannot miss it. It’s well worth a visit to the top and a cheeky cocktail, obvs.
Only where bae got down on one knee and popped the question. Of course it’s gonna be on my top list of European cities.
If you’re looking for a city break that doesn’t exhaust you – this is the one. I say city, but you can walk around it easily within the day. Which means plenty of time for beer drinking and slow pace sight seeing. Do drive there (why did no one tell me it was this close?). Do try all the beer. Do get engaged.
Best memory – ummmm becoming a Mrs Field-to-be – obvs?!
Things to see and do
Take a boat tour. You can see a lot of the city by boat and that’s fun right? It’s a great way to get your bearings.
Go on a beer tasting afternoon. For as little as 10 euros you can try alllll the best beers. FYI most of them are around the 9/10% mark so you’ll feel a little woozy. Maybe factor in a early evening power nap.
Eat waffles. You can’t visit Bruges and not eat waffles and all the Belgium chocolate. Our personal fave was Lizzies waffles. They were insanely huge but as light as a cloud.
(Read full round up here)
So what you waiting for? Go book something up. Go on, dare you.