Browsing Tag

beaches

Belgium, Europe, Travel

24 (ish) Hours in Bruges

August 9, 2017

Before we went to Amsterdam the other week, we stayed in Bruges for 1 night so had a bit of time to explore the city and some of the surrounding area. This was very much a stopover on our way to our main destination so there is plenty more to see and see in Bruges but it was a good little introduction to this beautiful place.

This wasn’t my first trip to Belgium but I was quite young the first time and my overriding memory of my visit is getting horrifically seasick on the ferry over. So not the best memory to associate with Belgium. We did the ferry this time as well but I was armed with travel sickness tablets and felt absolutely fine. Phew! The weatherman had promised us a bit of sunshine so we decided to drive to a beach in Belgium on the way to Bruges.


The beach was in Niewpoort and we were all pleasantly surprised. With no idea what to expect, Niewport beach turned out to be a really pretty beach surrounded by sand dunes. Being able to feel the sand between my toes always makes me happy and this time was no different. One day I’d love to live close enough to the beach to be able to do this more often. Anyway, we found a sheltered area between the dunes and spread our towels out so we could have a sit down and look out to sea. Our friends who we were travelling with, Nath and Tash, are getting married later this month so there was plenty of wedding talk whilst we relaxed. The sun soon made its promised appearance and we decided to walk down to the shore. Nath decided to have a proper dip in the sea but the rest of us settled for rolling up our jeans and going in about ankle deep. The sea air soon made us thirsty and we walked a bit further along the beach and came across this cute little bar behind some sand dunes. We bagsied the swinging bed and made ourselves comfy with a pint. Stu and Tash went for a local 8% beer which actually turned out to be the weakest beer we’d try in Belgium. We love Belgium.


After our pint and swing session we got back in the car and drove to our accommodation in Bruges. We were staying within the city walls in the old town so were surrounded by picturesque bridges and buildings.


So, what is there to do in Bruges? I had done zero research but Tash was super organised and had lots of ideas of what we could see and do. When I think of Belgium I think of beer and chocolate but Bruges has a lot more to offer. We decided to head out and aim for some of the main sights and then just see how the day goes.


Our first stop was The Basilica of the Holy Blood which is a chapel which is home to a phial which apparently contains some of Jesus’ blood. Unfortunately it wasn’t on display when we were there but we’ve seen where it is kept which is practically the same thing right? The chapel itself was really impressive with huge stained glass windows and intricate displays. I love visiting religious buildings as you usually have to be silent and it’s nice to be able to take in your surroundings peacefully.


From the chapel we walked to the historic centre of Bruges which is surrounded by impressive buildings in the traditional architecture.  A lot of these buildings including the bell tower are in the film, In Bruges, which I haven’t seen but feel like I should now. We had a little mooch around a chocolate shop near here but didn’t buy anything. We must be one of the only people to visit Belgium and not try and chocolate. Next time!


However, what we lacked in chocolate, we definitely made up for in beer. The 8% beer on the beach was followed up by an 11% one called Garre Tripel served in a tiny pub called De Garre which is nestled down a tiny alley way off the main square. This beer is only available here and is well worth the visit. It may be strong but as a non-beer drinker, I can promise you that it’s nice. It came served with some cubes of local cheese and we ordered some chopped cured sausage as well. Perfection!


We wandered around the canals for the rest of the afternoon/evening, popping in to local pubs and sampling more Belgium beer. I never drink beer and surprised myself how much I enjoyed it. I quickly learnt that a strong blonde beer would be fine for me so I’ll have to keep an eye out for these in future. In one of these pubs we stopped for some food. The waitress recommended some simple Italian dishes which turned out to be huge portions covered in cheese. My mouth is watering just thinking of them again. Before long, we headed back to our accommodation feeling very content with our time in Bruges.

I think I now need to go and watch ‘In Bruges’ and get planning a longer trip to this great city.

Have you been to Bruges? What else would you recommend to see or do?

Europe, Travel, UK

From Western Australia to Weston Super Mare! 

April 23, 2015

The last time I went to a beach, it looked a little like this…

  
Last Sunday I went to the nearest beach to my hometown, Weston Super Mare. Usually calling it a beach can be a bit of a stretch because it can look like miles of mud before you hit the sea. However, it didn’t look too bad this time and it was good to see the traditional donkeys were still walking along the beach. 

  
We may not have had the heat that Australia has but the sun was shining so we got to have a walk along the sea front and experience Weston’s biggest attraction – The Grand Pier! 

  
The Grand Pier burnt down in 2008 and had to be completely rebuilt, opening again in 2010. I haven’t been on the Pier since it reopened so I was excited to see how it had changed. 

From memory, the exterior hadn’t changed too much. Most piers look very similar don’t they? The train that runs up and down the pier is still there, as well as all the benches to eat your fish and chips on! The inside of the building, where the arcade is, was a lot more modern than I remembered. It was a relief to see the penny slot machines amongst all the fancy games and rides (that makes me sound so old haha!). You have got to love the penny slots though. There’s nothing better than spending all your 2ps on trying to win a silly little prize that you don’t really want. We also went on the ghost train which was more funny than scary but I still jumped a couple of times! 

  
We also went out for lunch in Weston, eating at The Old Thatched Cottage – Weston’s oldest building. It was really busy in there, which is usually a good sign. As it was a Sunday, some of us had the Sunday Roast and others chose from the normal lunch menu. I had the oregano chicken on ciabatta bread which was delicious! The roast looked really impressive too, especially the cauliflower and broccoli baked in cheese. What really sets The Old Thatched Cottage above the rest though, is the service. The manager goes above and beyond to make me feel special and to make your visit an entertaining one. He kept the whole restaurant happy and laughing at his jokes. Definitely a reason to visit again!

You can view their website here. 

 All in all, I had a really good time at Weston. It’s always nice to spend quality time with family and to visit a childhood haunt! 

Australia, Travel

Perth & Beyond

January 2, 2015

The last few weeks of my Australia trip were spent in WA. We were based in Perth but hired a car so did a little bit of travelling to local beaches and towns. Perth itself is a really nice city. Without sounding too boring, it’s clean and tidy with big wide roads, park areas and a pretty harbour. It has the impressive skyline and the shops but is still small enough to feel more personal than Sydney. Although the guidebooks will say otherwise, I thought that you only need a few days to get a taste of Perth. I was glad we had use of a car so could visit Fremantle and the beautiful beaches surrounding the city.

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In my opinion, the beaches in West Australia are more spectacular than their counterparts on the East Coast. They seem to look more ‘natural’. By this I mean a lot of the beaches have sand dunes lining them rather than a wall or a line of shops. I much prefer beaches that don’t seem to have changed in hundreds of years, rather than the hustle and bustle that surrounds Bondi. We visited Cottesloe, Scarborough and Hillary’s boat harbour. It was school holidays and very hot so all three were always busy but it never bothered us. All have places to eat close by and you can swim in the sea but Hillarys is the best for swimming if you worry about those sharks they have over in Oz! Scarborough is best for surfing with lessons being taught daily. I think I appreciated Perth’s beaches more than others because it was my last few days in Australia. Lying in the sun everyday it was hard to remember why I wanted to go home to dreary England!

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If you fancy doing something a little different one evening, you should definitely check out Fremantle Prison. We took part in the torchlight prison tour and it was fantastic. As the name suggests, a guide takes you around the prison with only your torch for light. Expect plenty of stories and a few screams…

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Beware the hangman’s noose…

The tour is fairly light hearted and although you get some information on the history of the prison, the daytime tour is recommended if you are after a more informative trip. A great place to grab a drink and some food whilst you are in Fremantle is the ‘Little Creatures’ brewery. The nachos are fantastic!

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Perth is home to Kings Park which gives a fantastic view of the city skyline and harbour. It’s huge with a number of walking trails available as well as an impressive war memorial. Kings is actually bigger than Central Park in New York which gives you an idea of its size.

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Perth was the end of Stu and I’s travelling in 2014 as we came home with my sister to surprise our families on Christmas Eve. We had a brilliant time travelling around this huge country and over the next few weeks we will have to decide whether to return on our 2nd year visa or to say goodbye to Australia for now.

Australia, Travel

Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk

September 21, 2014

Once again, apologies for the lack of writing. I’ve been very busy doing my regional work but that is now all done and dusted and I can get back to travelling! I’ve got trips to write about that happened months ago but I’m going to try my hardest to get this blog up to date as quickly as possible.

Back in April this year, Stu and I were in Sydney for the first time and we spent a week with Stu’s parents. It was a fantastic week and we did so much in so little time. Even now I look back at that week thinking it was one of the best parts of our whole time away. The day after they went home was certainly the most home sick we have been.

One thing that sticks out in my mind about that week was a coastal walk we did from Bondi beach to Coogee bay. It’s a fairly easy walk that can last half a day if you take a picnic as we did.

From Sydney CBD you can catch a bus to Bondi to begin your trip there. Bondi is obviously world famous but I don’t actually know why it’s any more famous than other beaches in Australia. It’s not my favourite by far because it’s full of tourists. If you get the chance definitely visit some of the lesser populated beaches around the area, especially the ones along this route!

Along the coast there are a number of bays and picnic areas to rest at and break up the walk if you want to make a day of it. The views of the sea and surf are incredible. We saw plenty of surfers during our walk and I’m still itch ing to give the sport a go!

The end of the walk is Coogee which is a really pretty beach. You will definitely want to stop off for a well deserved beverage at one of the bars over the road. We went to the Coogee Bay Hotel which has great views of the seafront with big panoramic windows. I recommend the Dirty Granny cider, goes down well after all the sea air!

 

 

Asia, Thailand, Travel

Koh Tao, Thailand

March 31, 2014

Staying at Jizo’s Hostel.

We left the party island for the chilled beaches of Koh Tao. Neither of us had been here before but it came recommended by a number of fellow backpackers. We arrived after a short boat trip and quickly found accommodation. It was only a cheap dorm room but a bed was all we needed when we wanted to spend most of our time on the beach. And the beaches of Koh Tao did not disappoint!

This island has a much more chilled out vibe with lots of live music and a more relaxed nightlife. There was still the usual Thai fire shows but people tended to sit down to watch it instead of downing buckets and dancing around.

Although we decided against it, Koh Tao is a really cheap place to dive and to get any diving qualifications if that interests you. We were told that there are better places to dive, but if price is an issue then this would be the place to come.

We also had some amazing food here. I’m tempted to say it was the best of our whole trip. There’s loads of restaurants, cafés and bars to choose from, offering a variety of cuisines. We found it was best to stick to Thai food though. If you fancy seafood I would definitely recommend Barracuda. Good food, fantastic presentation and not too expensive! You can’t go wrong really.

We left Koh Tao with a heavy heart, we will miss island life but it was time for our Asian adventure to end and head Down Under…

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Asia, Thailand, Travel

Koh Phi Phi, Thailand

March 22, 2014

Staying at the Oasis Guesthouse.

I love this island so much. It’s paradise by day and you can party on the beach at night. The main beach is a beautiful bay with amazing scenery and this is what draws me to Phi Phi. Every island has a beach, but none are as beautiful as here.

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We stayed on this island for 6 nights. Our room was quite basic but it’s all we needed when we planned to spend most of our time at the beach. We wanted to use this time to work on our traveller tans after 3 weeks walking around various cities.

There’s lots of things to do here such as diving, snorkelling, various boat trips and a walk to the viewpoint. The viewpoint is definitely worth doing. It’s a long climb to the top but it’s definitely worth it. You have to pay 20baht to get in but that gives you access to a little remembrance garden for the 2004 tsunami as well. We timed our walk so we could watch the sunset from the top and the views did not disappoint!

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We also did a half day boat trip to Phi Phi Leh, the smaller sister island. This is where Maya Bay is, the beach used in the Leonardo DiCaprio film ‘The Beach’. It’s another beautiful island and we did some snorkelling and kayaking here as well. The trip cost 600 baht each and included tea, coffee, drinking water and a meal served at sunset. You can get the trip for cheaper but your meal won’t be cooked fresh so watch out for food poisoning!

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Next island on the agenda is Koh Phangan for the full moon party. Get your uv paint ready!