One of the best things about going abroad is completely immersing yourself in the culture of another place. There are so many beautiful places and people to discover in the world, and every time I go somewhere new, I try to make sure I try to explore as much as possible to enrich my time there.

A really good way to learn more about a place you have travelled to is to go to a local festival, which could be cultural, food, music or anything in between where you can observe the local’s way of life and have a real experience.

Today I’ve rounded up some of the festivals I think sound really interesting that hopefully, I’ll get to visit one day.

La Tomatina, Spain

This festival is something I’ve seen on TV and adverts, but one that I wasn’t sure exactly what happened or what the point of it was. In short, participants throw tomatoes at each other, just for the fun of it and all the locals from all age groups join in.

The festival is held in August in the Valencian town of Buñol and lasts for around an hour, when fire trucks hose the tomato-splattered streets down. The tomatoes must be pressed down first in order not to cause damage to who it is thrown at. It started back in 1945 where some young boys raided a fruit and veg stand and has become a local tradition.

Bastille Day, France

Bastille Day is celebrated in France on the 14th July and is a national holiday for the country. The day symbolises the storming of the Bastille on 14th July 1789 which was a turning point for the French Revolution.

The day starts with a military parade on the Champs Elysees in Paris and is attended by French officials and foreign guests. This morning tradition dates back to 1878.

The whole country of France come together for this day to celebrate, but there are also worldwide ceremonies that take place from India through to Canada ranging from firework displays to two-day long celebrations.

Sarigerme Kite Festival, Turkey

There is something about seeing kites that reminds me of visiting my Grandparents when I was younger and flying our kite on the beach they lived close to. A traditional Turkish festival, Sarigerme, holds an annual kite festival on the beach that fills the sky with around 100 different kites of all sizes and all different kinds of different colours: The festival also holds a competition for the best handmade kite.

I’ve been to Turkey once before and the country fascinated me as somewhere unlike anywhere else I’ve ever been to and I’d love to go back and explore this vast country more.

Carnival, Gran Canaria

Gran Canaria may not be one of the places that you think would have a popular local festival, but the carnival of Las Palmas is one of the most popular Spanish festivals there are. The celebration is held in February every year and is full of life, music and colour.

The theme of the carnival is magic and fantastic creates and is celebrated in different parts of the island, ranging from north to south. Find out more about Gran Canaria holidays here.

Benicassim, Barcelona

One of the most fun weeks of my life was when I went to a Polish music festival the month after I finished university. Since then, I’ve always opted for a city break or a slightly longer holiday when it comes to my annual leave, but what could be better than seeing your favourite bands in the sunshine, on a beach?

Benicassim has always been a festival that I’ve heard great things about and its definitely high up on my list to visit in the next couple of years, especially as I loved Barcelona the last time I went: The lineup always seems to be really good too, which is just an added bonus to the overall experience.

I hope this post has inspired you to look into some traditional festivals the next time you go away.

This post was written in collaboration with Holiday Gems

For the bank holiday last week, Jordan and I were very kindly invited to review the newly opened Aparthotel, The Wittenberg, in Amsterdam. Amsterdam is a city I’ve been to once before with a few friends when we finished university, but it’s coming up to 5 years since that trip.

When I go away, I’ll usually opt for somewhere I’ve never been before to explore somewhere new, but as it had a been a while since my last trip to the beautiful capital, I was excited to go back and discover everything that Amsterdam had to offer.

We flew early Saturday afternoon and landed to 28-degree heat, which is always a bonus when you go abroad. After a short train ride to the centre, we walked to the apartment through the side streets and over the canals.

As we were walking, the buzz of the city reminded me of what a great place Amsterdam is to visit. Obviously, there are many other reasons that people tend to visit here, but to me, it is full of such glorious architecture, picturesque canals, and friendly locals which make it the perfect place for a weekend trip.

 

Location

The Wittenberg is located in the district of Plantage which is an area north-east of the centre. The building itself is actually quite close to where I stayed last time I was here, so it didn’t feel like an unfamiliar area, but there was also a lot more to explore.

When we arrived at Amsterdam Centraal train station, we opted to walk the 20 minutes to the hotel because the sun was shining and everyone was in brilliant spirits throughout the city. The walk was lovely over the canals and through the side streets and it felt nice to be back in a city that held such fun memories for me.

When we arrived in the Wittenberg area, it was amazing how much quieter it was that the few streets before, and felt a lot more residential. The Wittenberg was sandwiched between a road of flats and a canal, so the perfect peaceful location.

When we arrived, I noticed the windows at the front had green and white-striped awnings on which really stood out compared to the darker brick of the rest of the building: I was really blown away with how beautiful it was.

 

History

The history of The Wittenberg is so interesting and really adds to the overall experience. The building itself dates back to 1772 and was owned by the Lutheran church who built a hospital, 100 years later.

In the apartments, there are black and white photographs on the wall which show some of the history of the building, but also the city. The space has now been converted into 115 apartments, which range from 1-3 bedrooms.

 

Facilities

As I mentioned, The Wittenberg is only a 20-minute walk from the main train station, but once you get there you are greeted by the very calm and tranquil reception area and the lovely staff who are there all day and night: If you were arriving by car, there is also a car park and a bike store if you decide to hire one.

There is a gym on-site which is open 24/7 and air-conditioned if you fancy a workout during your stay (which I certainly did not…) There are also breakfast bits left in your fridge including cereal bars, yoghurt, tea, coffee and milk.

There is everything you need to cook up a full meal, including a hob, toaster and all your cutlery – perfect if you are spending a few days at the apartment. One of the things I thought was really sweet is that they have a garden outside where residents can grow herbs.

 

Rooms

The layout of the Wittenberg is split into three separate buildings with a courtyard and tables and chairs and in the middle. Some of the apartments look onto the courtyard, whereas the rest have a view of the canal or the neighbouring houses.

We were very lucky to be staying in a studio flat, which was in the furthest building, but also the quietest one. It had a double bed (which was extremely comfortable), kitchen, lounge area and a gorgeous bathroom: there was also a small cupboard area with an iron and safe. The best thing about it though was the view: We had the most incredible (almost) floor to ceiling windows which looked out onto the water and it was just dreamy.

The decor was done out so tastefully with a grey wall, orange furniture (for their local football team, Ajax) and quirky extras. All of the kitchen appliances looked new and the whole space felt so relaxing. The bathroom was a really good size with a huge shower, toiletries and white subway tiles.

We were very kindly shown around a couple of other apartments on our last morning by the lovely An. She showed us one of the two-bedroomed ones and the little house, which is actually a little house over three floors with three bedrooms. She mentioned that as they were finishing the building, that was her office for a few weeks, and I couldn’t imagine a better place to work. The space was so light and airy and would be perfect for a family to spend some time together.

I honestly couldn’t recommend The Wittenberg more. We were only there for two nights but I could have stayed for a lot longer because it was so nice. The staff were so incredibly accommodating and even left us a note under the door to make sure everything was going as well as it could – it’s the little things like that that really make a stay feel more special.

If you are in Amsterdam for work or even just a trip, I would highly suggest getting in touch with the lovely team to discuss your accommodation needs: It is the perfect base to explore such a wonderful city but far enough away to get some well-deserved rest.

 

Watch my latest YouTube video here with some footage of The Wittenberg:

xx

Our stay at The Wittenberg was complimentary in exchange for an honest review. All views are my own.

A few weeks ago, I was invited for an overnight stay at The Globe in Warwick. Warwick has been on my list to go to for quite a while now, so I was excited to take up the offer and explore another place in the UK – side note, I keep wanting to say city, but apparently, it’s not one!

The Globe is part of the Oakman Inns group and is a pub with accommodation. The building first opened in 1788 as ‘The Globe Inn Commercial and Posting House’ becoming a theatre in the early 1800’s, hosting pantomimes and plays for the locals. The history of the place is apparent through the artwork spanning the hotel walls and inside the pub itself which is always a lovely touch when you’re staying somewhere new. The hotel now has 16 boutique style bedrooms and has been undergoing a renovation for the past two years.

Jordan and I travelled down on a very sunny bank holiday Sunday and when we arrived, the beer garden was full of people enjoying the great British summer. We were shown to our room, which was done out in such a tasteful way, with a huge double bed, exposed brick (my fave) and a bathroom suite which has made me want to completely overhaul ours. They also had a Sky box which would be great if you were looking for a cosy night in.

We didn’t spend long in the hotel room because the weather was so lovely and we wanted to get outside as soon as possible. The Globe sits on the edge of the town and is the perfect place to explore the area. We walked into the market square which was at the top of the road and had loads of bars and restaurants where everyone was sat around in the sun.

We wandered through the streets, getting ourselves and ice cream on the way, and walked over to the castle. If Warwick is famous for one thing, it is definitely the castle which sits within the gardens on the bank of the river Avon and spans 690 acres. Because it was a bank holiday Sunday and the queues were pretty insane at this point, we decided to walk around the gardens instead and admire the castle from afar.

After stopping for a cider in a nearby beer garden, we wandered up to the Lord Leycester hospital, which we were very kindly invited to. The hospital dates from the 14th Century and is an incredibly impressive building, which housed ex-servicemen during the Elizabethan war period. Each room was stooped in history, and to this day there are still ex-military living within the grounds who meet daily to pray.

When we got back to the hotel, we had a couple of drinks in the beer garden before heading up to get changed for dinner. We had been invited for our meal by the lovely team at the hotel and I was really looking forward to it after seeing the people outside enjoying their food earlier in the day.

We started off with a couple of drinks (G&T for me, beer for Jordan) and had a read of the menu. The specials sounded incredible, and we ordered a camembert for a starter, which the waitress recommended. It came with two pieces of grilled artisan bread and chutney and was absolute heaven with each mouthful.

For the main, I went for the prawn linguine as I fancied a seafood dish. The portion was a really decent size for pasta (I usually find you get way too much or not enough) and was really enjoyable. Jordan had the portabello mushroom burger with grilled halloumi and told me that it was incredible (I’m not a fan of mushrooms so I’ll take his word for it).

For the dessert, I went a bit off-piste and ordered the apple and berry crumble, which I would never usually go for, but for some reason, I just fancied it. It came with a gorgeous Madagascan vanilla ice cream and was the perfect end to a very scrumptious meal. I also had a bit of Jordan’s too which was the banoffee sundae and was delicious – anything banoffee, I’ll usually love!

After 0ur meal, we finished our drinks outside where it was still lovely and warm and watched the locals enjoying the sunshine before heading up to the room to relax.

If you’re up for a trip to Warwick, I would definitely recommend checking out the Shakespeare’s England website which gives you information about the different places in Warwickshire. It’s a lovely little place for a few chilled-out days away and the architecture is gorgeous.

Have you ever been to Warwick? What did you think?

xx

Our stay at The Globe was complimentary in exchange for an honest review. All views are my own.

I’m sure you’ll know by now that travel is a bit part of my life, and even more so, this blog. This year I vowed to myself that I was going to spend more time in the UK, discovering places on my doorstep and further afield, and so far it’s going well.

With the train prices going up and up (and no longer falling into the ‘railcard’ age group, sob…) I tend to drive wherever we decide to go and it’s always nice to be in the comfort of your own car when travelling for a couple of hours.

I’ve rounded up some of the ways to make sure that your car is ready for your summer road trip.

Plan Plan Plan

I’m a stickler for organisation when it comes to road trips (and in my day to day life) so I always like to plan ahead. If we’re travelling on a Friday evening or Saturday, I try to check the traffic the same time the week before to see what it is going to be like when we’re planning to set off and adjust accordingly. I also try to look for an alternate route just in case the traffic starts to build when we’re already in the car.

Check For Damaged Parts

There’s nothing worse than chancing a damaged part of your car before you head out on a road trip, and if anything went wrong, it would completely ruin your time away, and probably put a dent in your purse. Checking your car over a week or so before you’re heading off is the best way of making sure everything is intact and gives you enough time if you need anything fixing.

Test The Tyre Pressure

Guess which idiot drove all the way to Nottingham with tyres that were the wrong pressure? You got it! Keeping your tyres at the right pressure is not only, yano… logical, but it also decreases the amount of petrol you use. If you head to a petrol station, they will usually have a machine that you can use to measure the pressure – just make sure you google your car’s requirements or check the handbook first.

Get A Service

As with anything car related, getting a professional to check over it every 6 months to a year is really important to make sure everything is running smoothly. Regular car servicing is mandatory & can be booked online here if you’re looking for a quick and easy service.

Check The Oil Levels

I’ll be honest that this isn’t something I ever did until I had a really annoying little icon on my dashboard that just wouldn’t go away until I took it to the garage, and guess what it was – the oil levels! Now, whenever we go away, I always tend to do a little check, just to make sure that everything is as it should be (but mainly because dashboard icons can really get on my nerves!)

I hope this post has helped you think about a few extra steps to take before you head out on the great open road and inspired you to get out and explore the gorgeous places we have on our doorstep.

This post was sponsored by Ossett Tyre House. 

It’s not difficult to find reasons to travel to Greece. Between historical sights, seaside cities, and countless breathtaking islands, it’s about as appealing a destination as there is in the world. Much of the country more or less epitomizes what we think of when we picture beautiful Mediterranean lands. For many, however, interest in Greece comes from childhood – before consideration of beaches, islands, or cities, and rooted in history and legend.

Perhaps more than any other culture or kingdom in the history of Western civilization, Greece is defined by its legends. While most of them are just that – legends – they are the tales, characters, and locations that shape our understanding of the ancient culture and in many ways keep it uniquely interesting. And the fascinating thing is that a lot of these myths and bits of history actually do lead to landmarks and destinations you can get to while travelling in Greece.

These, in particular, are four remarkable places to visit if you have an affinity for ancient Greece and its culture and legends.

Delos

Known as one of the most sacred places in ancient Greece, Delos is an island in the middle of the Aegean Sea. It’s said to have been the birthplace for Apollo and Artemis – two of the most prominent Greek gods. Later on, the island became a bustling trade centre, in part due to its mythological significance and also thanks to its favourable location.

One of the amazing things about Delos, particularly for visitors, is that it hasn’t been built up in modern times. That is to say, while the island remains a fairly popular spot for tourists, it’s free of commercialization or even much in the way of contemporary architecture or upkeep. That allows people who make it to the island to take in untouched remnants of buildings and culture that are believed to date back at least 5,000 years.

Olympus

Mount Olympus is perhaps the most thoroughly fictionalized place in Greece (which is saying something). Known as the ancient home of Zeus and the gods, the mythical mountain has been portrayed as a sort of Utopia above the clouds in numerous films. More recently, an “Age of the Gods” game series has been developed. Showcasing the beauty of Mount Olympus, the series uses animated, superhero-like interpretations of Greek gods to attract an audience. It’s just the latest in a line of interpretations that make Olympus seem like a fantasy realm of sorts.

That’s more or less what it is in mythology, but the important distinction is that Mount Olympus itself is not a myth. Located near Thessaly, it’s a very real mountain, towering over the sea at almost 3,000m. People hike the mountain from a town called Litochoro, and there are places to stop and rest for the night along the hike.

Kommos

One of the best-known ancient Greek tales is that of theMinotaurr. Legend has it that King Minos, who ruled Crete and was the son of Zeus, was cursed by the gods to have a son who was half-man and half-bull. This son – the “minotaur” – is among the most feared and intriguing monsters of the ancient world. Minos built a labyrinth for the minotaur to dwell in, with unfortunate visitors or prisoners driven to try to escape his wrath within the walls. It’s a legend that’s still familiar to day, and even seems to have inspired a recent game about characters stuck in a trap of elaborate design.

Unfortunately, there is no labyrinth to visit in real life – at least not definitely. But Kommos, on the southern coast of Crete, may in fact contain some of its walls. This is known to have been the home of King Minos, and with well-preserved ruins, you can still explore it, and possibly even get a little bit lost within.

Delphi

The Delphic Oracle is another famous character of Greek legend, and is likely rooted in some form of reality. Films like 300 among others have presented a stylized, fictionalized version of the oracle, but the truth is likely that there was simply a high priestess in the area who was trusted for certain kinds of advice.

Nowadays Delphi is a fantastic place to visit largely from a visual perspective. Located on the side of Mount Parnassus, the Delphic ruins are actually designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site, and standing among the ruins looking out on the surrounding land is something visitors won’t soon forget.

Have you ever been to Greece? Where would you recommend?