A weekend getaway to Bruges, Belgium

Sometimes, crossing the English Channel is an easier and quicker way to get out of London and explore a new place. Last month, rather than driving 5 hours to get to Snowdonia or the Lake District, Matt and I swapped the usual outdoor adventures for a city break. The chosen location was Bruges, which sits on the north-western part of Belgium.

  •  Ferry tickets for 2 people and 1 car: £78 from Dover to Dunkirk.
  • Time taken from London to Bruges: Approximately 5 hours in total.
  • Our trip duration: Thursday night to Sunday morning. Although this trip can easily be done from Friday morning to Sunday morning.

But… why visit Bruges?

Because of the proximity to London.
Because of the cute, unique looking buildings.
Because of the canal which surrounds the main town centre.
Because of endless choice of Belgian Beer!
Because of  the convenience of being able to walk everywhere.
Because of the Waffles and Chocolate (although I didn’t buy any because I used my calorie tokens on beers!

How to get there?


Recommendations

o  Brewery Tour at Bourgogne des Flandres

The brewery is at heart of Bruges, the tour costs 10 euros per person and it lasts for approximately 1 hour. This is a cool experience if you like beer and would like to see how beer in general is made, as well as learn about the history of the Bourgogne des Flandres beer. As a bonus, you get a free beer at the bar in the end!

o  Potato Bar

I found the food in Bruges a bit of a hit and miss, but Potato Bar was actually quite good compared to another place we went to the night before, Ribs N’ Beer. Potato bar was quite chilled, and the chips and toppings were yummy whereas Ribs N’ Beer was just average, and we felt very rushed by the staff! Also, the Potato Bar is the perfect place you if want to have a small-ish dinner so that you can save some space for beer!

Chips at Potato Bar, Bruges

o  Monsieur Ernest Hotel 

I actually loved this cozy hotel. It costs around £410 for 3 nights (although we realized we could have saved some money by staying for 2 nights only) for a room with canal view. The breakfast was good, location was perfect – everything within 10-20 minute walk, and the atmosphere was very relaxing. 

o  Le Trappiste Bar 

Really liked this little underground bar – the beer selection is very good but the only downside is that it’s hard to find a table as it’s quite popular. 

o  The Bottle Shop

Take home a few souvenirs (Belgian beer) from The Bottle Shop.

The Bottle Shop, Bruges

General Tips

  • Take this trip on a weekend: Friday to Sunday.

  • Go to Bruges around Autumn or Spring if you like cheap prices, not so cold temperatures and a nice nature setting i.e. leaves falling or flowers blooming.

  • Go to Bruges in Winter if you like Christmas markets, decorations and mulled wine.

A weekend getaway to Wells-next-the-sea, Holkham Beach and Thetford Forest

Looking to do something different with your weekend? Looking for a mini adventure?

Looking to do something different with your weekend? Looking for a mini adventure? Norfolk is one of the most unique and unspoilt parts of rural England and it is often one of the most underrated places to take a holiday in the UK. I first fell in love with this place when I was studying at the University of East Anglia in Norwich.

I lived in Norwich for 3 years, so I spent a lot of time exploring the area around it. There are many things you can do in Norfolk. For example you can explore Norwich city, you can hire a boat in the Norfolk Broads, you can take a walk in Thetford Forest and you can visit beaches like Cromer, Great Yarmouth or Holkham.

I am always looking for a quick weekend getaway within short distance from London, just to break up the routine a little. As I know that Norfolk isn’t far away at all from home, we recently booked a last minute hotel (take a peak at the Georgian Townhouse in Norwich) and set off on a Saturday morning straight to Wells-next-the-sea. We visited Wells and Holkham on that day, and spent the night in Norwich city so that we could go to one of our favourite restaurants in town, The HOUSE Thai Restaurant. We then started heading back on Sunday, but made a stop at Thetford Forest so that we could take a walk in the woods. Take a look below to see the places we visited.

Wells-next-the-sea

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Afternoon tea in Wells-next-the-sea

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Staithe St

Wells is a charming little harbour town in the northern part of Norfolk. We made a short visit before going to Holkham beach and took a walk around Staithe St, making a short stop at Raggedy Cat Tearoom for the best afternoon tea I have ever had. If you do visit Wells, make sure you stop at this little Tearoom and order a tea with a scone – I can assure you will not be disappointed!

Holkham Beach

Holkham Beach
Holkham Beach

Holkham Beach
Sand dunes in Holkham

Holkham beach is without a doubt one of the best sandy beaches in the UK. Unlike many other beaches, Holkham is a nature reserve, a pine forest and it is also dog-friendly! It is a great place to visit anytime of the year because you will always find a peaceful spot on the beach due to its long stretch of golden sands. We visited Holkham in February, on a rainy day, and we still had lots of fun – we will definitely be going back in the summer.

More information about directions & parking can be found here.

Thetford Forest

Thetford Forest
Taking a walk through the woods in Thetford

Approximately a 2 hour drive from London, Thetford Forest is a great break from the big smoke. We have visited this place a few times because we just love taking a walk in the woodlands to get a breath of fresh air and a change of scenery. It lifts our moods and refreshes our minds, getting us ready for the weekly routine. There are also lots of fun activities to do, including archery, paint-balling, horse-riding, mountain biking and many others. Take a look here to see more information.

Thetford Forest
A dog walk in the woods

Thank you for reading and I will see you for the next mini adventure post!

5 places you must visit for cheap short breaks in 2018

As we are coming close to the end of another year, it is time to start thinking of places we could go during the year to come. It is time to start thinking about how we can use our holidays wisely so that we could have as many adventures as possible. For this reason, I have put together a little list with some of the places I have visited recently which might not break the bank and may fit in perfectly with a weekend or a bank holiday.

Trani, Italy

Trani's cathedral

Trani is a hidden gem. Matt and I were there this year  for our friend’s wedding and thanks to them, we were introduced to this town. The town is a historic fishing port in the Puglia region and it is a lovely place to explore, eat and relax. Trani offers a sophisticated feel with its marina side bars and restaurants, limestone streets, medieval churches, and its enchanting cathedral. To get there, you will need to fly to Bari and then get a taxi or a train to Trani. The journey from the airport takes only 30 minutes.

Personally, I will definitely be visiting Trani again for a cheap and relaxing break, especially because of another hidden gem we found there. Quintessenza Ristorante is a Michelin Star restaurant where you can have a six-course meal with wine pairing for 70 euros per person. Compared to Michelin Star restaurants in London, 70 euros per person is very cheap and the food quality is the same or better. The brothers who own this restaurant are very passionate about the way they cook and you can really feel that when they are serving each course. The experience we had at this restaurant is absolutely worth a trip to Trani again.


Polignano a Mare, Italy

Polignano a Mare is another little treasure hidden on the coast, lying by the Adriatic Sea. During the few days we stayed in Trani, we took a day to visit this little town. This town offers everything you need for a perfect day out: a beach, caves, rocks (so that you can be a daredevil and jump a few times), white-washed winding streets and amazing fresh seafood.


Mallorca, Spain

Mallorca is one of the most popular destinations for holidays in Europe. Whether you are a party animal, a beach bum, or someone who just wants to relax and enjoy nice scenery and food, you will find that Mallorca caters to everyone’s needs. The island is also a great place for activities like rock climbing, sailing, kitesurfing and more. There are many beautiful places in Mallorca, like Cala Sant Vicenç, Cala Figuera, Cap Formentor and Playa de Formentor. However I want to share my favourite place with you:

Cala Tuent

Cala Tuent was my highlight because of its tranquil and scenic atmosphere. Surrounded by the Serra de Tramutana mountains, the way down to Cala Tuent through the winding narrow roads is breathtaking. The beach is approximately 100-meters long and it is made up of pebbles and gravel. The water is clear and clean, great for snorkelling. Cala Tuent is great for a relaxing day at the beach due to the fact that not many people go there. Tourist buses do not stop at this Cala and it is also not very family friendly. There are no facilities or snack bars at the beach either, however I would recommend eating at the Restaurante Es Vergeret so that you can have a meal with a view!


Dubrovnik, Croatia

Dubrovnik is known as the pearl of the Adriatic and also as King’s Landing, a fictional city in the famous Game of Thrones series. Being the huge fan that I am, Dubrovnik had to be on my list of places to visit. As a result of the show’s great success, Dubrovnik is now even more of a prominent tourist destination in Europe. Here are my highlights from Dubrovnik:

Dubrovnik City Walls

Views from the City Walls

Fort Lovrijenac

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View from Fort Lovrijenac ↓

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Day trip to Kravice Waterfalls and Mostar

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During our stay in Dubrovnik, we took a day to visit Kravice Waterfalls and Mostar in Bosnia.  There are many excursion companies in Dubrovnik which offer day trips to Bosnia and Hezergovina, Serbia and Montenegro for approximately £40 per person. Personally, I thought the day trip was very worth it since it gave us an opportunity to explore another country and know a bit more about its people and culture. 


Budapest, Hungary

Budapest surprised me so much as a city, I never thought I would like it as much as I did. Aside from its stunning baroque architecture, accommodation, food and drinks are very cheap. To find out more about my highlights, take a look at my post about Budapest: Tips for staying in Budapest for 3 days on the budget

Accommodation tip: Baroque Hostel ↓
→  Click here to get £15 off your booking


 

Happy new year everyone, and I hope your new year is filled with new adventures! 

Tips for staying in Budapest for 3 days on the budget

Budapest is a beautiful European city and a great getaway if you want a holiday on the budget. The idea of going there came about because my dad was visiting me in the UK for a few weeks and I thought we should go on a little adventure together. We decided on Budapest as one of the destinations when I saw a a pretty good deal of £45 per person for a return ticket on skyscanner

So here are my tips for having an enjoyable and relaxing getaway:

1. Go sightseeing and enjoy the walk around the city

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View from Gellert Hill

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Parliament Square

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Parliament

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Shoes on the Danube

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Matthias Church

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Fisherman’s Bastion

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View from Fisherman’s Bastion

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Parliament from Fisherman’s Bastion


2. Go to Food Markets and Szimpla Kert

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Karavan Food Market

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Szimpla Kert

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3. Don’t miss the Széchenyi Thermal Bath

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→ General cost of food, travel and accommodation in Budapest

Local shop Food market Tourist places General/Fixed Cost
Bus, Metro and Tram

72 hours ticket

3900HF per person
Local Beer 0,5L 270HF 590HF 800HF
Snacks, Coffee 150-300HF 400-500HF 500-600HF
Burgers, Pizzas, Salads 1000-2000HF 1500-2500HF
Thermal Baths ticket 5000HF
Taxi to/from Airport 7000HF
Hostel/Private Room in shared apt  27000HF

Total cost including flights, hostel, transfers and others: £392 / £196 per person
Exchange rate £1 = 310HF approximately