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Category Archives: airbnb

2016 – The Year of Travel

Rather than write a month-by-month account of this year like I did in 2015 and 2014, I decided to focus on one aspect of this year I have loved…travelling.

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Ian and I have been lucky enough to have several exciting holidays this year and all of them hold really special memories from dancing in a Russian nightclub at 1am to drinking mojitos on the streets of Havana to zip-lining through the Jamaican rainforest to sailing around Boston Harbour in the sunshine!

UK

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Not all of our trips have been abroad this year – I love exploring the UK just as much. We had several fun trips to London in 2016 (my favourite being for New Year’s Eve when we went to watch ‘Wicked’), took a mini-break in Wells, went camping in Tewkesbury and celebrated our 3rd wedding anniversary on the beach in Devon

Cuba

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Probably my favourite destination of the year, the days we spent in Havana were amazing. I have wanted to visit Cuba ever since I studied Caribbean Literature at university and it was such a fascinating trip. We wandered the streets drinking mojitos and daiquiris and admired the beautiful classic cars cruising along. I am desperate to return.

Jamaica

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We spent a day here and it was as cool and as chilled-out as I was hoping. We went through the rainforest on zip-wires before enjoying jerk chicken and Red Stripe beers on the beach.

Grand Cayman

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An interesting place to visit and a beautiful destination for a beach holiday. I didn’t see much more than the beaches but we certainly had a lovely, relaxing day here dipping our feet in the Caribbean Sea.

Mexico

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We had a great tour of the island of Cozumel where we squeezed in a chocolate factory, the beach, tequila tasting, an artisan market and fish tacos and margaritas! It has pushed mainland Mexico to the top of my to-visit list.

France

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I spent a long weekend in a beautiful house for my best friend Cat’s hen weekend earlier this year. Maybe not the best-planned trip, but we enjoyed an awful lot of cheese, champagne, macarons and a day in Aix-en-Provence.

Berlin

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Ian and I had a mini-break here and experienced our first (and disastrous!) AirBNB. Despite a rocky start with our accommodation, we had a fab time exploring the city, stopping off at several beer gardens.

Sweden

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A couple of days in Stockholm have started off an obsession with the Scandi countries, somewhere I hadn’t really visited before. We didn’t have long here but did get to visit the Vasa Museum, eat cinnamon buns, wander through the Old Town and see a beautiful sunset.

Estonia

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I finally made it to Tallinn and it was as beautiful as I had hoped. Quaint, cobbled side streets, castles and lovely, old buildings, I really liked it here.

Russia

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I never thought I would be visiting Russia but we spent a day exploring St. Petersburg and I was really taken with it. It is a spectacular city, with vast, iconic buildings steeped in Russian history. We managed to see most of it plus a good amount of people watching on the main street through the city, the highlight being the stunning Saviour of the Spilled Blood Cathedral.

Finland

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I absolutely loved Helsinki. We stumbled upon several small markets and wandered along the port. I fell in love with the interior shops and am determined to return and savour some of the local restaurants.

Boston

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Our final trip was a week in Boston. We love visiting the States and both really enjoyed Boston. It was a cool time of year to visit to experience Halloween and the run-up to the presidential elections and we managed to watch an ice-hockey and a baseball game as well as sampling a lot of lobster and local craft beers.

That was actually a really fun post to write as I love looking back through old photos and remembering when and where they were taken. I really do believe that travel broadens the mind and money spent on adventures and experiences is never wasted. Here’s hoping for many more escapades in 2017! xxx

Berlin

Hello – we’re home! Ian has gone back to work today but I am still on half term so am in bed with my laptop, tea and an M&S chocolate flapjack catching up on blogs. We got home at about 10pm last night (thanks for that lovely little 2 hour delay Easyjet!) so my plan today is to unpack, nurse my blistered feet (we did a lot of walking!) and then I am off to have an eyelash tint and lift.

Right…Berlin…where to start?! We booked this trip a few weeks ago after I decided that I wanted to squeeze in as many holidays and mini-breaks as possible this year. We found some bargain flights, booked an airbnb and after a quick airport Wagamama, were off to spend a few days exploring, eating and drinking beer!

I feel I need to get our airbnb disaster out of the way first…

This was our first time using an airbnb apartment and I found us a nice place in a district called Moabit and contacted our host to arrange a late check-in (we landed at 11pm). We got to the apartment at about 11:45 and there was no one to let us in. After several phone calls and messages, it seems there was a mix up with the company our host uses but we didn’t end up getting to bed until around 2am after a lot of faffing around – not a great start but that was the only downside of the holiday (and I have since had a refund from the host!)

We got up the next morning, a little bleary-eyed, but happy to see the sun shining (this felt even better when we saw how wet it was in the UK…#sorrynotsorry) We decided to have a wander around the area we were staying and find somewhere for breakfast. I was slightly apprehensive about Moabit after my friend who is from Berlin told me it was a bit of a dodgy area but I didn’t find this at all. There probably are some streets to avoid but from what we saw, Moabit seems a very cool area of Berlin. There were lots of food markets, leafy parks, vintage shops and great cafes and it appeared very family-friendly. We had smoked salmon open sandwiches and coffees at Arminius-Markthalle, a historic building that now houses a weekly food market, bars and restaurants including a US-style BBQ place, Greek and Vietnamese cuisine, a craft beer stall and a very highly rated fish and chip shop.

After that, we headed into the centre as I had booked us on a walking tour. Now I know that may sound super touristy to some but we did one in Prague a few years ago and it was a great way to find out about the city and its history from a ‘local’ as well as having any questions answered. We used this company and our guide was amazing. He was an ex-history teacher so as well as knowing his stuff, he facilitated the most interesting conversations and debates as we walked around and I came away feeling very enlightened and contemplative.

After walking for a few hours in the sunshine, we were in need of refuelling so went for lunch at Paulaners near where we were staying. Ian had a sausage platter and I was a bit shocked when my sausages arrived floating in a kind of herby water! We were pretty knackered after our late night and miles of walking so went back to our apartment to freshen up before sampling a few more delights in a nearby beer garden followed by the most enormous schnitzel for dinner.

The next day was another scorcher and we wandered along the river across town for breakfast at Ca.B.Slam (The California Breakfast Slam) – quite trendy but delicious. Ian had huevos rancheros and I had shakshuka (Israeli eggs with a tomato sauce, goats cheese, black olives and chunky toast) which set me up for the day!

After breakfast, we headed to the East Side Gallery to see the graffiti art on the Berlin wall…with a few cocktail ice lollies to cool down! I have to say that I wasn’t blown away by this but it was heavenly to sit by the water with a cold beer. We wandered around Kreuzberg for a bit (hipster central…lots of cold-brew coffee going on!) then went for lunch at Burgermeister after reading countless reviews about how good the burgers were. Housed under a railway bridge in an old toilet block (yeah, sounds gross) this tiny takeaway restaurant does indeed do some mighty fine burgers. I went for a cheeseburger and Ian had the chilli-cheeseburger with beers and chilli fries on the side. We ate these in a nearby park and oh-my-god were they incredible?! Probably the best thing I ate on our trip.

We tried to get a good balance of eating out, beer and culture so that afternoon, went to Topography of Terror, a part indoor and part outdoor museum focusing on the SS and the Third Reich. Fascinating and terrifying at the same time, this is one of those places I feel you have to visit whilst in Berlin.

That evening, it was warm and sunny (we were in t-shirts the whole time we were there!) so there was only one thing for it…a beer garden. We went to Praters which is huge and we worked our way through the beers sat outside under fairy lights with a few pretzels thrown in for good measure. This was a really perfect final evening in Berlin.

To end the night, we picked up some delicious chicken kebabs and had them in bed with crisps and beer watching Scandal on the iPad…my night was complete!

On our final day we had to leave for the airport at about 1pm and it was a bit grey and rainy so we decided to visit the Hamburger Bahnhof Museum of Contemporary Art. A former railway station, this had some large scale exhibits and the café also does the most amazing walnut brownies!

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So that was our three/ four days in Berlin. I loved our time there and feel we saw lots of different parts of the city and ate (and drank!) really well. We mostly made our way around using the U-Bahn and S-Bahn system (which are really straightforward to navigate…even when a bit tipsy!) although being underground a lot did mean we didn’t really get a good overview of the city and where everything was located. I have to say that I’m not an airbnb convert – it wasn’t just our dodgy start to the trip either, it just didn’t feel as much of a treat as a hotel is.

We flew there with Norwegian and back with Easyjet and think our flights were around £30 each way. It only took about an hour and a half too making it a perfect weekend break. My highlights and recommendations would definitely include the walking tour, a burger at Burgermeister and an evening spent at Praters beer garden…Prost!