Review- Fear At Avon Valley- Bristol’s Scariest Attraction this October

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Want to get super scared this Halloween? Then get yourself down to Fear at Avon Valley as this is the scare park for you.

I am one of the biggest scaedy cats there ever was.. Or so I thought!

We had the opportunity to visit Fear at Avon Valley last week for their opening night and I can tell you that I’ve not jumped out of my skin so much in a long time. There were frights galore!

Fear at Avon Valley just outside of Bristol is a Scare Park. Scare Park’s have been gaining momentum across the UK and based on the screams and sqeuals we heard all night it seems as scary as they are people love them!

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Celebrating their 5th birthday Fear at Avon Valley have got bigger, better and scarier than before. They have grown over the last 5 years and developed their mazes to further shock, scare and spook the living daylights out of its patrons. They have even travelled over to the U.S to get inspiration and ideas on how they can continue to up the anti and finds new ways to scare people.  With 4 mazes, a live-action shooting range, 2-minute escape room challenge, a very scary clown name Frank overseeing the area, fairground rides, fire show, yummy food trucks, bars with some spooky cocktails and creepy characters wandering around (note chasing you!) it’s a great night out this October.

The 4 mazes (Phobia, Anarchy:Live, X4 and House of Clowns) all feature their own storylines as you make your way through them. Phobia is what it says on the tin. It covers most people’s phobias from claustrophobia to bugs. Anarchy: Live is the oldest maze and is reinvented every year. This year it’s a zombie film set gone wrong. House of Clowns is exactly what you think with some hella creepy clowns hiding in a cute little of ladies house, ready to do the creepiest laughing you ever did hear! X4 is military based and there has been an outbreak and you’ve got to escape.

They are an assault on all your senses with strong smells, strobe and disorientating lighting, twists and turns, people jumping out on you, clever use of darkness and making the silence even creepier than a clown evil laughing in your ears.

They are cleverly planned out and designed even the start of Phobia has you (and your partner) standing in a coffin in the dark for a good 10/15 seconds before someone screams at you and drags you into the maze. This was the first maze we did and it 100% set us up for a night with us on edge.

Out of the four mazes, my favourite was  Anarchy: Live mainly as there were parts of this that I felt so lost in and literally like I wouldn’t find our way out. The fact that you also get chased out by an axe-wielding zombie was a nice touch.

We had a VIP ticket which meant we could jump the queues, had an unlimited entry into all attractions and a special bar area complete with popcorn and sweets. If anything the VIP is most worth it for being able to jump the queues and I would recommend on busier nights. This is worth its weight in gold. I can imagine queuing up hearing people squealing and screaming probably adds to the anticipation but it could also grow quite tiresome. It was £45 which is a jump up from the standard ticket at £17 but if you wanted to go into the mazes more than once and don’t like queuing then I would recommend it.

Would we do it again? Yes of course! It was a really fun night and whilst I’ll probably regret saying it – it was nice to been spooked leading up to Halloween. We were way braver than I thought.

There are only limited dates remaining with the final night of the event falling on Halloween so you want to get your tickets quick. To book and find out more click here.

 

Featured Image courtesy of Fear at Avon Valley. All other images our own.

Disclaimer:

Fear at Avon Valley kindly invited us to enjoy the VIP experience in exchange for an honest review and mentions on social media. We would of course only recommend places/attractions/products that we personally enjoyed. We had the best night and thoroughly recommend you go experience it for yourself. If you do then let us know what you think!

Iceland Tales- Why you need to go to Þingvellir National Park

If you are planning a trip to Iceland and need to know what to see and do then here is why you need to put Þingvellir (Thingvellir) firmly at the top of your list!

With the snow-capped hills, waterfalls, plains, rugged terrain from when time began and the largest natural lake it is a truly spectacular place. It probably sounds a little wanky but you can actually feel that it holds significant importance to Iceland and its people.

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#viewgoals

I don’t know how many more superlatives I can use when talking of Iceland but visiting Thingvellir and seeing the beauty and grandeur of the area really is something else!

Its name comes from the old Norse words Ping (assembly) and vollr (field). I’m almost embarrassed to say I didn’t know much about Thingvellir before went but i soon learnt it is more than just an important historical landmark it’s also where you can LITERALLY walk between a continental drift. Which coincidentally is also a GOT filming location. Two birds one stone.

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The National Park contains the site of the first parliament of Iceland dating back to 930. It was where the clans would meet, settle disputes and decide upon the laws that would drive the country forward. It became a national park in 1930 and this was largely to protect the ancient assembly site and to protect the natural land. There are several information boards up around the main assembly site explaining the history behind where you are standing.

If all that history wasn’t enough then there is the chance to see with your own eyes what a continental rift looks like. The Mid-Atlantic Ridge is where the Eurasian and North American plates meet and the land between them subsides.  On average each year they drift 2 cms a year apart.  You can see, walk or even scuba dive along it!

The best place to do this is in Silfra Lake where you can dive between the tectonic plates. We didn’t get a chance to do this but it’s on the list for next time.

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The clearest water

If camping and hiking are more your thing then you are in luck and camping – There are facilities for this and It would be an AMAZING place to see the Northern Lights. There are two campsites and from what we found out you don’t need to reserve but you do need to obtain a permit from the visitor centre and there is a cost per person. Children under 17 are free though. If you just want to hike then there is plenty of routes to take you around the park including the remains of the historic abandoned farms of Hrauntun and Skogarkot.

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Oxarafoss Waterfall

Obviously, there has to be a waterfall, it is Iceland after all, and you can find the beautiful Oxarafoss Waterfall for yet another postcard-perfect waterfall photo. The good thing is you don’t need to hike to far to see this one as it is fairly close to one of the car parks.

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Þingvallakirkja
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Þingvallakirkja

There is a very quaint 19th-century church close to the assembly site which you should walk around. This church was built in 1859 but Christianity was introduced to Iceland prior to 1000 which at the time split people’s religious beliefs from paganism and Christianity. At the time to stop chaos the Lawspeaker declared that Icelanders should take up Christianity but if there were pagan they should practise this in private. There has been a church at Thingvellir soon after the decision was made. The church is open 9-5 daily from May/June to early September. We didn’t get to go inside but you can have a good peek in the windows and it’s beautiful to look at both inside and out.

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Continental Drift. You may also have seen this in GoT

If you are a big fan of Game of Thrones you will be aware there are many filming locations dotted around Iceland. Thingvellir was also used as a filming location with 4 scenes featuring in the show. The Wildlings Camp, the path leading to Eyrie, Brian and the Hounds battle scenes, as well as Arya’s and Sandors journey, all were shot here.

Thingvellir is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is located on Golden Circle route of Iceland, just 40ks northeast of Reykjavík. You can easily self-drive through the park just keep an eye on the weather or most Golden Circle Tours will include a visit within their itinerary.

As with most natural wonders in Iceland, it is free to visit and explore just be aware of the parking fees and if you need the loo it will cost you so have some change to hand. You may also need to check the seasonal hours as with the reduced daylight in winter certain areas may be inaccessible.

A trip to Iceland really wouldn’t be complete without visiting this stunning atmospheric place, that just epitomizes Iceland and its history.

For more ideas on what to do in Iceland check out our post on the Lava Tunnel and 38 Photos of Iceland

You can also find us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, check us out and if you like what you see please do give us a follow.

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planning a trip to Iceland and need to know what to see and do then here is why you need to put Thingvellir National Park at the top of that list! Post by thewanderingdarlings

15 Reasons to Visit Paris (like you need them!)

Paris is one of the most popular destinations in Europe and is often included in most people’s bucket lists but what is it about that city that makes so many long to explore its beautiful streets. Is it the romance of the city? Or the history? Or the art? Or more importantly the food? Whatever it is this city has a draw to it like some kind of huge magnet. Maybe that is what the Eiffel Tower is made of??

When you think of Paris you think of style, sophistication and class. Just thinking of the city conjures up romantic images in your mind and not the just standard romance it’s the romantic ideals of the city. With its architecture, it’s quaint side streets, the stylish people sitting outside cafes drinking coffee, the hidden and not so hidden love stories that inspired the paintings inside the galleries and the photographs that locals and tourists still capture just transport you into a French dream-like experience.

Audrey Hepburn was so right, Paris is always a good idea.

If you are exploring simply for the weekend or for a longer period there is more than enough to experience and leave you wanting to come back for more. To help you either work out what to see and do or to just fuel even more wanderlust for this stunning city here are our top 15 reasons to visit.

You can see some awesome art  

A lot of the worlds best art and artefacts can be found in the museums and galleries of  Paris. Some of them even have a day where they are free to visit so do check out if you are travelling on a budget. There will be queues but it is worth the wait to see these artworks with your own eyes.  Obviously, the Louvre is a must visit but you should also visit the Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Petit Palais and the grass-covered exterior of Musee du Quai Branly.

You can marvel at the Eiffel Tower

There is nothing more magical than seeing the Eiffel tower lit up glittering at night. This is one landmark that should really have more than one view on your trip. Sunrise, during the day, sunset and then at night. Whatever the angle whatever the weather it’s a magnificent place to be.

A bird’s eye view is the best view

There are several vantage points where you need to get up high and witness the city from a bird’s eye view. Climb the stairs at the Sacre Cour for breathtaking (once you get your breath back from climbing) view of the city with the river and Eiffel tower or climb the Effile tour to see the view of the city streets. If ever there was a city to see from above it has to be Paris.

You can meander along the River Seine

Lazing by the river in the summer sun, or cruising along under the many bridges on a boat tour- Paris is yet another city that should be viewed from the water.

You can eat alfresco

The cafes take up just as much space on the pavement as they do inside. You’ll notice that the chairs are usually all lined up looking out to the street. It’s the perfect place to order a drink and people watch to your heart’s content.

You get all the history

With so many historic buildings and monuments, you’ll be spoilt for choice on what to see and do.  There is Notre Dame Cathedral that dates back to 1163, The Arc de Triomphe (just don’t try and drive around it! #confusing), the Sacre Coeur Basilica (one of my absolute favourite places in Paris) to the Ile de la Cite where Paris was born in 300B.C Paris has had many different rulers and all of these have their mark on the city which makes it a like a history book that you can step inside and explore.

You can appreciate true style

Fashion and Paris are synonymous with each other. The best shopping and the best style can be found on the streets of Paris. It’s not showy or gaudy it’s all just classic. Maybe keep the credit card locked in your hotel safe if you are out shopping.

You get a whole lotta bridges

Paris is no Venice when it comes to bridges but it does have a staggering 37 bridges spanning the river Seine. All are designed differently and all beautiful a couple of our favourites are Pont-Neuf, Pont Alexandre III and Pont de l’Alma

You can pack a picnic and get the grass between your toes

For all the amazing things to see inside the museums, galleries and historic buildings you’d be forgiven for not even thinking that there are parks to relax and unwind in. There are so many perfectly manicured gardens across the city to enjoy. You should check out Jardin des Tuileries, Jardin du Luxembourg and Le Jardin des Serres d’Auteuil.

It’s almost wrong not to be a tourist

The age-old debate of being a traveller or tourist. In Paris, it is almost wrong not to be a tourist. Who goes to Paris and doesn’t go to the Notre Dame, Eiffel Tower and Arc Triomphe? People who don’t really want to see Paris that’s who!

You can explore all the neighbourhoods

There are 20 arrondissements within Paris and sometimes just trying to work out where to say, go out and explore can be a little intimidating. Each has its own charms, vibe and areas to be a little wary of.  So your research and try to experience at least 3 of them on your travels. Montmartre in the 18th arrondissements is a firm favourite of ours as the 1st arrondissement due to the picturesque views and of the course, the Keira Knightley Chanel adverts were filmed there.

You can get those steps up on your Fitbit

An abundance of walking tours focusing on different aspects of the Parisian life or do what I do and walk until your lost and then just see what gems you can find along the way. It’s an easy city to walk around and whilst there is public transport it would almost be a sin to use it and miss some of the best street scenes in all of Europe.

You can fall in love

Maybe with a local but more likely, it will be with the city itself. Paris is always referred as one of the most romantic cities in the world and once you are they you will melt to its romantic charms.  The art, the history, the music all were fueled by love and lovers in the city. Even the simplest of things just sounds and feels more romantic in Paris. Drinking a coffee in a cafe on a Parisian street, walking the side streets in any weather, lazing in the park or sitting along the banks of the river enjoying a croque-monsieur.

You can eat all the food

French cruise is an art form and where better to indulge than in the capital. From rich meat dishes to simply a warm croissant n the morning from the boulangerie, there are so many dishes you need to devour. Macaroon’s, and crepes are also must for a sweet treat. As with most places try to find some smaller cafes and restaurants and not the usual touristy ones the food will be so much better.

You can escape the city for the day

From feeling like French royalty at Versailles to taking in the water lilies Monet style in Giverny to witness and reflecting at the poignant rows on rows of white crosses at Normandy. There are so many places close to the city to take in more of what France has to offer.

What’s your favourite thing about Paris? Have we left anything off? We’d love to hear your suggestions below in the comments.

Want to see more reasons to visit other great cities, if so be sure to check out our Copenhagen, Marrakech and Venice posts.

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Ballooning In Bristol- Why you need to visit Bristol

The Wandering Darlings- Bristol Balloon FiestaI’ve long loved a hot air balloon. Floating through the sky, slowly gliding and following the wind as it blows.  Pretty damn magical.

When I saw the film UP it showed that sense of adventure teamed with a few thousand balloons. I didn’t exactly run out and buy a few hundred canisters of helium and loosened the footings on my house but I did always have a romantic notion that you could get to travel to far off lands in a wicker basket and some hot air.

The Wandering Darlings- Bristol Balloon Fiesta
So with that in mind, one of the best thing about moving to the West Country was that in Bristol every year in August they hold the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta. 4 days of ballooning fun and the city becomes like a picture perfect postcard.  Bristol is synonymous with balloons just like it is with Banksy, Ribena, Aardman Animations and Isambard Brunel. Creativity and Engineering greats!

Bristol is located in the South West of England and is a beautiful and colourful city. It has its own culture which I’ve not like I’ve ever seen anywhere it else. Bristol loves everything and everyone and has a small town feel but in big city scope. It’s only an hour and a half away from London by train and once you get off at Temple Meads everything you could need is literally a walk away. The harbour, the history, the street art, the parks, the bars and the shopping it makes it an ideal destination for all.

I’ve heard recently that Bristol produces more hot air balloons than anywhere else in the world so it seems only fitting that it is also home to one of the largest hot air balloon events in Europe. I mean Cameron Balloons has been based in Bristol since 1971 and the main man behind Cameron’s Balloon, Don Cameroon developed the first hot air balloon and aptly called it the Bristol Belle.  Cameron Balloons are said to be the largest maker of hot balloons within the world and have been pushing boundaries ever since by focusing on creating new and creative ways to travel through the sky be it with funny shapes to more technical features of aerodynamics.

The Wandering Darlings- Bristol Balloon Fiesta
Cameron Balloons

The Bristol International Balloon Fiesta was first started in 1979 and is always located at the Ashton Court Estate. The timings have changed over the years and it is now always in August and runs over 4 days. As with anything in England you can never rely on the weather, however, August is generally a more favourable month with less rain and wind. The best part of the fiesta is that is a free event. Yes, you heard right FREE. Sure you have to pay for parking and for any food and drinks but you can attend completely for free. Trust me Bristol does love a free festival (you should come in July for the Harbour Festival- yep you guessed it also FREE)

The Wandering Darlings- Bristol Balloon Fiesta
Every day during the fiesta there is a mass ascent in the morning and again in the evening.  These mass ascents can include over 130 balloons all taking flight at the same time. Depending on the wind sometimes this can take the balloons right over the city centre. Night glows are on the Thursday and Saturday nights when the balloons are tethered and lit up dancing to the music also. There is also usually a firework display after the night glow on saturday.  There is also festival feel at Long Ashton with fairground rides, food stalls and a whole lotta balloons.

Over the years there has been all sorted of balloons. All the colours of the rainbow and also lots of creative shapes from a Sky Whale, a minion, a kiwi bird, the house from Up to a Bertie Bassett.

The Wandering Darlings- Bristol Balloon Fiesta
Balloons and the Clifton Suspension Bridge

This year was the first time,  in the 11 years that I got my butt out of bed at the crack of dawn (5 am!) to go and watch to the morning ascent. My gosh was it a good decision.

We opted to watch from the Observatory in Clifton. This way we had balloons, Bristol and the Clifton Suspension Bridge all in our eye line. A few 100 people had the same idea. Some in their PJs, some hadn’t made it home from their Saturday night yet, breakfast picnics, balloon inspired sweaters and mugs of tea. All there to just watch some balloons. And when I say a ‘some’ balloons I mean like at least 100 balloons.

The Wandering Darlings- Bristol Balloon Fiesta
Calming, simple fight but with such beauty

It was a beautiful way to spend a Sunday morning. We’ve previously watched the night ascent from another vantage point in the city. On Bedminster Downs, you have the perfect view of the festival and can see the balloons being inflated and ready to launch. There are lots of grassy areas where you can sit and have a picnic and in recent years food trucks have also been showing up there so you don’t even need to bring your own.

The Wandering Darlings- Bristol Balloon Fiesta
Obvs our favourite one was the Thatchers Balloon

No matter whether you watch the fiesta from the higher vantage points of the city to low on the ground at the fiesta it is well worth treating yourself to a trip to Bristol in August just to witness this truly spectacular display.

Bristol is a great city to visit and even outside of this festival. Surprisingly I’ve not blogged too much about my home away from home (which I will rectify) however in the meantime if you want to read some more reasons to visit Bristol check out the blogs and websites below.

https://apostcardhomeblog.wordpress.com/2017/07/21/9-bristol-festivals-you-need-to-attend/

https://wandereroftheworld.co.uk/25-ways-to-have-the-best-summer-in-bristol/

http://visitbristol.co.uk/

http://www.bristolballoonfiesta.co.uk/

The Wandering Darlings- Bristol Balloon FiestaThe Wandering Darlings- Bristol Balloon FiestaThe Wandering Darlings- Bristol Balloon FiestaThe Wandering Darlings- Bristol Balloon Fiesta

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The Wandering Darlings- Bristol Balloon Fiesta

What to see and do in Marrakech


Marrakech had long been on my list of places to visit so when I finally got to grace the intriguing city I was in awe.  My what a city it is. The smells, the rose coloured walls and buildings,  the culture, the winding never ending streets and the hecticness all just add to to the charm of this Moroccan gem of a city.

Marrakech is the 4th largest city in Morocco and a hugely popular travel destination. It’s a city of the unexpected. You will see new things in every step and if you know me you know one of my top travel tips is to get lost and I can assure you this is something you will do in Marrakech whether you’re like it not. Don’t even attempt looking at a map that won’t help you here. Not at all!

There is so much to see and do and this is a city that caters to everyone’s taste no matter what you are looking for in a holiday.  There is the Atlas Mountains dominating the views, the desserts to wander in, souks full of shopping delights, food so good you may only ever want to eat Moroccan for the rest of your life, sunrises that replenish the soul and street scenes that make you feel a million miles away from your daily life on your regular high streets.

So what do you need to do when you visit this magical city? Well let me tell you my top pics


Eat. Like all the food.

Moroccan food is AMAZING. You don’t even need to go to the most expensive places to get the good stuff. There are so many restaurants and cafes and I can assure you after sampling the tagines and couscous you will still remember the taste sensations years after. There is lots of street food on offer and as per any street food just be a bit cautious, you don’t want to miss your holiday because you are stuck in the loo.


Visit or take in the views of the Atlas Mountains

These breathtaking mountains dominate the views around Marrakech. Considering how close they are it’s also a popular day trip or several day trip option from Marrakech. Hiking, camping or even staying in luxury travel options it’s a must when you are in the city.


Drink mint tea

The best drink you can have in Marrakech. I didn’t even miss my old faithful English Breakfast. I liked it so much I even tried to find the mint tea back in the UK but nothing compared to the real experience.


Watch the sunrise over the city

This goes down as one of my all time favourite moments. Standing on top of our Riad with my gorgeous friends watching the sunrise over the city,  Atlas mountains in the distance and the call to prayer playing out to call in the morning. Well worth getting up for it. Still, makes me have goosebumps even now.

Visit Jardin Majorelle

If you didn’t think Marrakech was colourful enough already then you need to visit Jardin Majorelle.  A beautiful luscious tropical garden, bubbling water fountains, a vibrant blue villa and ties to Yves Saint Laurent what’s not to like.


Jemaa el Fna

This is the heart of the Marrakech and has to be a must visit on any itinerary. There is so much going on that you’ll need to keep your eyes open to take it all in. Snake charmers, monkey trainers, street food stalls, street performers and music playing through the square. It’s a truly intriguing experience and one you don’t want to miss.


Enjoy the rooftops views

So I’ve already mentioned the sunrise from the roof but there are many other roof top views to enjoy. Cocktails while watching the sunset, the views over the sprawling Medina, the snow capped Atlas mountains, women going about their daily business. Looking out and down with a bird’s eye view is a great way to take in the delights of the city.

Pack for the heat in the day but have layers for the evening

It’s hot there, especially in the day. Out of respect for the Moroccan culture and Islamic religion try to dress respectfully especially if you’re in public places. Save the skimpy clothing for sunbathing on the riad roof.  Also be aware when the sun goes down it can go off chilly so always have layers on hand.


Stay in a riad

Riads are like little-hidden paradise. So unassuming from the outside but as soon as you walk through the door and are greeted by the serenity you actually consider never leaving the tranquil oasis. A riad is a traditional and common style of accommodation in Marrakech and which usually has a courtyard, garden, pool (or all 3!) in the centre of the building surrounded by rooms. They often also have roof top which is good for sunbathing, eating breakfast in the sun or watching the sunrise (see point above). There is a lot of them to choose from in the Medina and some include spa facilities so do have a look around. The contrast of relaxing in the riad after a day of exploring in the Medina is one you would never really appreciate until you are there.

Visit a Hammam

I know getting scrubbed and washed by a person you don’t know probably isn’t  on most peoples to do list for a holiday unless you are maybe on one of those 18-30s singles holidays but I can assure you trying a Hammam on your trip to Marrakech certainly should be considered. It is such an interesting experience you come out feeling the cleanest and freshest you ever have been in your life. They also use to much argan oil that you make you want to purchase it by the bucket load before you leave the country.


Meander in the Medina

So many alleyways it’s like a labyrinth that you’ll ponder (more than one) if you’ll ever make it out the other side. Full of restaurants and cafes, animals, market stalls selling an array of trinkets and fresh produce. Walk till your feet are sore and your senses have exploded.


Haggle in the souks

Now haggling just feels a bit odd for us westerners. We see a price in a store and we pay that price. This is not the way in Marrakech. Especially if you are shopping in the souks. The price they give you initially will be extremely inflated so you need to get your negotiating skills on and do some haggling. Stay strong, know your price and know when to walk away.

For more ideas of what to see in Marrakech and wider Morocco – http://www.visitmorocco.com/en

Now go and enjoy your trip you lucky darlings!

17 Reasons to Visit Copenhagen

I first visited Copenhagen when I was 16 which was a loooong time ago and mainly my memories are of the vibrant Nyhavn, the Little Mermaid and feeling pretty ill after going on a few of the rides at the magical Tivoli Gardens. So when the opportunity arose ( I took my other half with some of our friends to go see Guns and Roses for a birthday treat. Yes obvs the best fiance!) to return to this city I jumped up the chance to rekindle my past memories and discover new places.

Copenhagen is the capital of Denmark and a must visit Nordic city. It can be a bit pricey but really aren’t most capital cities. It’s a beautiful old city that has a wonderful mix of old world buildings with new modern Danish architecture. Copenhagen is often considered in the top 10 for the happiest city and with their green living ambitions, quirky cafes and bars, colourful houses and beautiful surroundings it’s a must a visit destination. If you’ve not heard of the Danish concept of hygge then you would also understand why they are a happy city. The word Hugge has no English translation and is a word used to describe the feeling of being cosy and special and most important just being in the moment. This is how you should experience Copenhagen – take in the moments, put down your phone and marvel at the buildings, try to avoid getting knocked down by a bike and enjoy getting to experience this amazing city.

And if the above hasn’t sold you to get on the next plane to Copenhagen then here is my top 17 reason to visit Copenhagen.

It’s a green city
Bikes everywhere, green gardens, clean and clear harbour water, wind farms it is clear that Copenhagen is a green city. They are actually working to become carbon neutral by 2025. You can tell how serious they are with all the roads built to accommodate bikes and encourage its residents to get on two wheels instead of 4. I think it’s a fantastic goal for a capital city to strive for.

Canals and havns

As Copenhagen was originally a Viking fishing village there is lots of water around and there are canals throughout the city. It’s no Venice but it means that you should not only see the city on land but you should also get onto a boat tour to see it from the water. There is, of course, the picture perfect Nyhavn but there is also lots of pretty water areas in Christianshavn and even along Kobenhavns havn you can find Islands Brygge Harbour Bath. These baths are man-made swimming areas in the shape of a boat on the harbour allowing locals and tourists to cool down in the hotter months. They say that the water throughout the canals and harbours in Copenhagen is so clean you can drink it.

Coloured houses



Nyhavn is the picture perfect harbour in the middle of the city and instantly recognisable as Copenhagen. The vibrant colours stand out and it just wouldn’t look the same if they were normal buildings. Now the coloured houses of Copenhagen aren’t just limited to this area. They are across the city. Rich oranges, bright blues, ravishing reds, stark whites and dusty pinks can be found on most streets. Those on Instagram- it’s like you’re in Instagram heaven.

Fairytales
The best fairytales were written by Danish author Hans Christian Anderson and as he lived in Copenhagen there are signs of him all over the city. You can find three of his residences in Nyhavn, several statues of him (one opposite Tivoli and one in the Kongens Have) to one of the most famous statues in the world which is also one of his characters. There is a Hans Christan Anderson Fairytale house that again helps bring some of his lesser known fables to life.

Marble Church



Fredericks Church or more commonly known as the Marble Church is captivating building. It is free to enter and I would suggest going in as it is just as beautiful inside as it is on the outside. You do need to be quiet when entering as it is a place of worship. When we went in another traveller hit his toe on one of the benches which created such a racket. Knowing we needed to be quiet after hearing this huge noise we then erupted into a fit of giggles. Mature as always. I love visiting cathedral and churches when in foreign cities and could have sat there in silence (after the giggles subsided) for hours.

Flat flat flat
Pretty much all of Denmark is flat which is partly why they love their bikes so much. I’d ride my bike if I didn’t have hills to ride actually who am I kidding.. push up the hills. However, when visiting this city it’s also great as it makes it really easy to walk around.

Europes longest pedestrian street



The Stroget in a pedestrian street through the centre of Copenhagen. At 1.1km long it is said to be one of the longest in Europe. It had a mix of high-end and chain stores. You’ll find lively buskers, street performers and bars and restaurants. It’s a great place to stroll along and part take in some retail therapy.
Theme park in the middle of the city



I loved Tivoli! I mean a theme park in the middle of the city! Not many places can say they have that. Tivoli is said to have inspired Walt Disney to build Disney Land due to its magical feel. The gardens are beautifully manicured, the rides have a good mix of the scardy cat people (like myself) to the more adventurous thrill seekers. There is ponds, gardens, an aquarium, carnival style games and an air of magic that makes for a very fun day. There is also a statue of Hans Christian Anderson looking across the road like he’s taking inspiration for his fables.

Palaces



We learnt while we were in Copenhagen that Denmark has the longest reigning royal family. Also fun fact the current heir to the throne Crown Prince Frederick is married to an Aussie -Princess Mary. They met in Sydney many yeas ago and I remember it all in the news as it was like a modern day fairytale that an Aussie girl could become a princess. I’m still waiting for Price Harry to notice me. There are several palaces in Copenhagen that you should visit these include Rosenborg Slot, Amalienborg, Christianborg place. All show a different stage and part of Denmark royal heritage. You should also try and witness the changing of the guards at Amalienborg.The guards walk through the centre of Copenhagen leaving Rosenborg Slot at 11.30 and reading Amalienborg at 12 pm. We were lucky to catch them on their walk through and fun fact they even have to stop at the red lights.

Bikes



You will never see so many bikes in one place. The only place that I think might challenge Copenhagen to bike/person ratio would be Amsterdam. You need to be careful crossing the roads as although they are on only two wheels the bikes could defo knock you over. On all roads, there is always a separate lane for bike and you will often find them lined up against any surface. There are lots of bike hire places so that you can get involved in the cycling we, however, were a little scared.

Hotdogs
I’m not much a hot dog eater but get me to Copenhagen and I basically have to have one every day. There are lots of food trucks around the city so you can get one on the go. My only piece of advice would be they nee to make the buns a big bigger so the end doesn’t stick out. Maybe it’s a just the Danish architecture way.

The Little Mermaid



Yes she is tiny, yes it’s a bit of a walk out to see her, yes there is always lots of people there when you are trying to see her and yes she is often voted as the most underwhelming tourist attraction but in my eyes, it is still a must see. While you are out seeing her you should also walk around the Kastellet which is a star-shaped fortress.

Parks & Gardens

 

As mentioned above Copenhagen is a very ‘green’ city both in its ideals but also in colour. There is so much green space within the city. Park and Gardens or Have’s as they are called in Danish are scattered throughout the city. We were fortunate to stay just of Kongens Have which is a beautifully manicured park that also houses Rosenborg Slot. We also spent some time Faelledparken which is more of an athletic park with games of football, frisbee, boot camps all going on around us. After a long day of being tourists, there was nothing better than having a beer sat in the sun enjoying the park.

Street food market



This is a must if you like food or are looking for a cheaper lively night out. From The Copenhagen Street Food Marker is located on  Papiroen (Paper Island) and accessible over a pedestrian and cycle bridge at the top of Nyhavn. There is so much option for food and drink and has an outdoor seating area so you can take in the harbour views. We absolutely loved it. I posted more about this place here

Freetown Christiania
I have read a lot about Freetown Christiania but we didn’t go and explore this interesting place however it is somewhere that I would like to go on our next visit. It is a small Freetown within Copehenhaegn that started back in the 70’s when squatters took over an old military base. It is a community of creative people who wish to live their life differently to rest of Copenhagen. You can’t take photos in there due to the selling of illegal substances.

Architecture



Danish architecture will always get a big thumbs up from me considering the Sydney Opera House was designed by a Dane. You can see examples of the Danish architecture style all over the city. The Black Diamond, the Royal Danish Opera House, The Royal Danish PlayHouse, M/S Maritime Museum of Denmark and the colourful Superkilen park. There is also a Danish Architecture Museum to discover even more gems within the country.

Sweden
Bit weird to mention another country when trying to big one up however I couldn’t miss it off the list. Malmo in Sweden is super close to Copenhagen only 40 min away by train or car across the spectacular Oresund bridge. Sadly we didn’t get a chance to do this trip on our recent visit but will certainly do it on the next time we are there.

Have you been to Copenhagen? What was your favourite thing to do in the city? or have we missed anything off this list? Do let us know in the comments.

Why you need to visit Papirøen when in Copenhagen 

Copenhagen is expensive there is no denying that. But foods food and girls gotta eat. Almost every blog I read prior to coming to Copenhagen mentioned Papirøen so naturally, this was something firmly on the ‘to visit’ list. There had to be something behind the hype.

Papirøen (Paper Island) is a small island in the harbour and once was where the Procurement Association of the Danish Process used to keep their paper storage. So the name Paper Island is rather fitting! With these big halls empty over the years the concept of the Copenhagen Street Food came into fruition in 2014. And what an awesome idea it was. In the last few years, a bridge has been built linking Paper Island to both Christianshavn and Central Copenhagen.

It’s a beautiful spot in the harbour opposite The Royal Playhouse and Nyhavn and next to the Opera House. It’s in very good creative company. Within the old halls and smaller buildings, there is a creative space which has a current exhibition from Yoko Ono, offices, cafes and The Copenhagen Street Food. Whilst the Street Food opened in 2014 and they had to wait till 2016 for the bridge linking it to central Copenhagen to be completed. The bridge like most of Copenhagen has a cycle lane so make sure you are walking in the right place so you don’t get mowed down by the cyclists!

Part of Yoko Ono art piece

The main pull for Paper Island is the street food and trust me it’s well worth a visit. The place is huge! There is a substantial selection of food covering all cuisines from the four corners of the globe. You can get main meals, selections of sides, the naughtiest of sweet treats, great beers, cocktails and juices.

There is a nice outdoor section which would be bliss on a beautiful sunny day overlooking the harbour. The beaches and tables outside are all communal and there are shipping containers which double as eating areas and seating platforms. Some of the seating areas are also positioned around huge fire pits which on the day we visited were much needed! Even being a chilly day with the sky threatening to rain the outside areas were packed with tourists and locals alike. It is the place to be.


As soon as you walk into the big factory shed it’s like walking into a travel food heaven. There is more communal benches inside and even some ‘restaurant’ style set ups with tables that you actually book in advance. We opted for the communal benches and some poor chaps had us staring (sorry salivating) at their food while we were trying to decide if we go Chinese, Thai or Mexican. Playing on the industrial feel there were rooftop style areas built upon shipping containers, benches and tables made out of old oil drums and milk cartons, some handy work was made with pallets and they were fashioned into tables and benches. Danish Architecture at its finest.

All of the food stalls had such brilliant designs. My favourite was this pancake stall. The roof was made of old egg cartons! All of the designs worked well together to create fabulous space.


Some of what we eat and drank included below and spoiler alert it was all DELICIOUS


Chicken Penang
Chicken pad Thai
Pizza slices
Nachos
Burrito
Raspberry mojito, passion fruit mojito and strawberry mojito- maybe we had a few too many mojitos
Whisky sour
Apple cider and beers
Decadent chocolate mousse

And the things at the topped it for the boys was .. a delicious creme brûlée doughnut. They are still talking about how amazing it was!

The easiest way to reach is across the Inderhavnsbro bridge at the end of Nyhavn or if you are in Christianshavn then it’s only a short walk from the canals.

If you’re not hungry (and trust me you will be once you get there and the smells hit you) it’s still worth a visit to see what it’s all about and take in the views around the harbour. We didn’t find it overly pricey but it’s still Copenhagen so expect to pay more than you would in the UK.

More details including opening times and the specific food stalls can be found here


Why you should explore North Devon

My sister and brother in law were visiting the UK for a family wedding and whilst there were over they came down south to spend a few days with us.  As they have seen quite a lot of Somerset (where we live) we decided to take them even further south and headed to North Devon for a sisters and hubbies long weekend break.

Devon is in my top 3 favourite countries in the UK. It’s green rolling hills, wind turbines, breathtaking coastlines, big open spaces and quaint seaside villages all just make it dream destination within the UK.

I’ve always loved when  the journey to a place is just as fun as the destination and the drive to Woody Bay was no different. Our route was almost all on A roads which meant we got to drive through the villages, we could see the coastline changing with every mile we got closer and we also had to go through the Exmoor National Park.  We stopped off in one of the look out places to admire the Exmoor heather and ponies and of course take lots of pictures. Growing up whenever we drove to the coast (which was a casual 6-hour drive!) we always had a competition on whoever saw the ocean first meant they got the first ice cream. And whilst it was a rather chilly day we weren’t going to skimp out on the tradition and stood there in the spitty rain, with coats on eating our ice creams.


We were staying in Woody Bay which is just outside of Lynton and Lynmouth which are two twinned villages. Lynton is at the top of a cliff and joined with Lynmouth by a funicular railway. Basically a vertical train. It’s still got all of the charms of the 19th century when it was built to help connect the two towns. I loved the harbour in Lynmouth with all the boats sitting on the mud whilst the tide was out.   Both villages had lovely little pubs and a lot of chippies because fish and chips are obviously a must by the sea.

We had a theme for railways on this trip as we also went to the Lynton and Barnstaple Railway and travelled on a steam train on a short track through the rolling hills. This has been a restoration project for volunteers within in the area and whilst there is only a short section of the railway operational it amazing to see how it’s been lovingly restored. The stations, the train and the museum all take you back to yesteryear. We really enjoyed this and it felt great experiencing something people have put so many hours into bringing back to life.


There is a lot of great accommodation options and we stayed in the best Airbnb I have ever stayed in. I mean look at the view from the toilet!!

We were off the beat and track and the coast roads to get to our accommodation did cause a few white knuckles at times but the end result was worth it. We were so secluded that it was a little piece of paradise. There is low light pollution in this area so at night the stars were unbelievably bright. I don’t think I have seen the night sky so bright since being at my house  in Australia. Our host was super attentive and their flat was so well designed and styled. They had thought of everything right down to backpacks for hikes and even more importantly  wine on arrival.  The winner though for this place was the view. Especially at sunrise and sunset.

Down the road from the flat was a walk that took you right to the beach. Obviously pebbled we are in England remember. I don’t even know if I can find the adjectives to say how gorgeous it was. From waterfalls to huge boulders and sheer cliffs I could have spent all my days there.  My sister and her husband being the crazy ones that they are even got in the freezing, ‘September in England’ water and had a swim.

Other gems within this area that are worth exploring are Ilfracombe and Woolacombe. There was a  festival going on in Ilfracombe when we were there so it was a buzz with activity, people and bunting. The harbour area was really pretty and certainly worth exploring with lots of boutique shops and boats to look at. There is also rumoured to be the oldest operational lighthouse in the UK here on Lantern Hill. We could have spent even longer here and will be certainly going back to explore. I really want to do a boat trip to Lundy island which you can do from the harbour here.


We got  to Woolacombe late in the afternoon and did my favourite thing- we walked barefoot along the beach and even better this one was sand!. Way too chilly for a swim (even for my sister!) so we wandered up and down the beach watching the sunset.  This beach is one of the most beautiful beaches I have come across over here and can’t wait to get down there this summer. We finished off the perfect walk with wine and beers in a pub overlooking the beach. If it was a bit warmer it would have been just like we were in Australia.


North Devon is full of great places and I’ve only covered a small portion of what it has to offer in this post. I’ve put some links below where you can find more information and things to do whilst visiting.  It was the perfect long weekend break with my family and I can’t wait to go back and explore further.

More Information

Accommodation

https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/3913039

 

Local sites

http://www.visitlyntonandlynmouth.com/

http://www.northdevon.com

http://www.lynton-rail.co.uk/

Trust Me England isn’t always grey and miserable.

So England gets a bit of a bad rep at times. Grey, dreary, wet, cold and just a bit gloomy. These are mostly things I hear or even say myself when speaking to friends and family back in the motherland.  I mean it is true there is no denying that. Winter albeit cosy indoors is long and grey and god forbid if we have a wet summer- everyone’s  off to the continent for some much-needed vitamin D. Luckily I didn’t move to England for the weather.

But and that’s a very big but – spring in the U.K. is gorgeous.

Wells, Somerset

Where I live in the South West the first signs of spring are the daffodils that seem to pop up everywhere. Little rays of sunshine right there on the side of the road.

Tulips at Montacute House, Somerset

Tulips dominate the garden flower beds in houses, parks and stately home.  Reds, yellows, mixtures of two. Sure it doesn’t compare to the Netherlands but it’s still so beautiful.

Then come the bluebells. We have some in the garden but they are nothing compared to the forests of them that spring up in parts of the UK. I saw my first bluebell forest this weekend and it was magical. Mother Nature is one sassy lady for creating a carpet of bluebells. The bluey /purple colour is so vibrant and against the green tree leaves it’s just like you are in a fairy den.

My friends beautiful little girl playing in the bluebells
Wrington Blue Bells , Somerset

As the bluebells start to fade the fields here start to turn bright yellow. Like the sun rays dropped out over the crops. Rapeseed fields dominate the landscape. I can’t stop smiling when I see these patches of golden yellow. I drive past many on my daily commute and they always, without fail put me in a good mood.

Rapeseed Field Somerton, Somerset

The spring colours are one of many surprising things I’ve discovered living in the UK. To be honest it may be the same back in Aus but I’ve just never really stopped to appreciate it. Which I guess most people do when they are caught up in day to day life and the familiar surroundings.

So if you find yourself in the south-west of the UK this time of year look out for the colours, marvel in the beautiful landscapes, stop the car and walk amongst the flowers and above all else remember England’s not always grey and dreary.

Appreciating the spring glory was inspired by reading Suzanne’s post here take a look at her beautiful photographs and wonderful words.

Weekend Adventures- The Elizabethan Gem, Montacute House

I’m just going to put this out there- I love National Trust properties.  Yes, I am well aware this is probably going to ruin my street cred (ha as if I have street cred)  but I really do love nothing more on a weekend than going and exploring a stately home, manicured garden and some pretty quintessentially English landscapes. In Australia, we don’t have many of these historic buildings. We have a completely different history.  So maybe this is where my fascination with these properties comes from I’m just not used to them.  We read about mansions and castles in books but never got to actually see any or walk around them.

I love the history, the stories, the artwork, the secret gardens if all just makes you feel like stepping back in time (or often for me like I am a royal queen) and seeing how different life was in the past. I think the national trust has done a tremendous job restoring and maintaining these properties. To think they are still standing and still intact after 100s of years is amazing.

We’ve been to see quite a few places over the years and some of which has been blogged about previously (and many still to be blogged about) but over the Easter weekend this year we ventured to the Elizabethan Gem Montacute House.

Located just outside of Yeovil in Somerset this commanding house was built by Sir Edward Phelips in 1598. He was obviously a wealthy and powerful in those days and he was most commonly known for his role in the prosecution in the trial against Guy Fawkes. He was also on very good terms with King James who donated a portrait of himself which is still on display in the house to this very day.


The building is made from the local Ham Stone which gives the building a lovely honey tint. Walking up to the gate you get a lovely view of the house and can see why it’s been used in so many films and Tv programs. The gardens are well manicured and full of colour, especially with the brightly coloured tulips. My personal favourite was the wibbly wobbly hedge that looks like a big green cloud. My other half loved the orangery so much he is now planning to try and build one for us.

After strolling around the gardens we then headed into the house and found signs of the past in all rooms. We even saw a historic version of an ensuite. The most impressive inside the house was the Long Gallery. This is apparently the longest of its kind in the country and houses over 60 portraits. They are spectacular and yes you can feel all theirs eyes watching you. The portraits are on loan from the National Portrait Gallery and well worth seeing. Seeing all the faces, the fashion and different techniques just add more insight into the past. I liked seeing the lesser known portraits just as much as seeing ones of Queen Elizabeth the First and Henry VIII.

When we finished exploring through the house and gardens we then also went to out to explore the village that shares its name with the house. The ham stone is present throughout the village and it couldn’t have been more British if it tried. Two sweet pubs and a very creepy looking museum. It was a lovely little village.


To visit the property is £12.60 per adult from March to October. Outside of these times, you can only visit the garden and there is a discounted rate for those months.  We actually opted to sign up for a year membership to the NT on our visit. I’ve never felt so middle aged in my whole life. But you know what I don’t care I’m just going to keep looking through my book to see where we can have our next weekend adventure.

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/montacute-house

A few more photos to show you this beautiful place

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