A Brit Speaking French in Montreal

After our last disastrous holiday, I wanted something relatively safe, easy, and relaxing. We decided that a good old road trip would be just what the doctor ordered – we love road tripping in the US, and we loved Vancouver so we decided to explore more of Canada on the “near” coast and also fit in a return trip to Niagara Falls, which I loved last time.

inside-notre-dame

This was my first trip to Quebec – ie. french-speaking Canada. It was fascinating and the french influence was palpable in the architecture and food. Continue reading

My Top 5… Rural Idylls

Spending time in the countryside can be rejuvenating and an escape from the rat race. Here are my top 5 rural places to unwind and enjoy the natural beauty….

Number 1: Switzerland

Switzerland has rolling valleys of the greenest of grass, grazed by doe-eyed cows with bells round their necks, in front of snow-capped mountains. Continue reading

My Top 5… Cities

I am a sucker for a vibrant city, ideally one with culture, and some form of water – be it the sea, a lake, a river or canals. Here are my top 5….

Number 1: Barcelona

Barcelona has everything – the wide tree-lined boulevards, the tiny quaint Gothic streets to get lost in, the lovely sandy beaches, complete with volley-ball courts and surfers, the harbour with yachts and palm trees. Barcelona is famous for the architect Gaudi. His work is beautiful and versatile, ranging from the huge gothic cathedral the Sagrada Familia to the lovely Park Guell. Continue reading

Robbed in Morrocco

The holiday can be broken down into 2 chapters – before the mugging and after the mugging. As you will have read about in my previous blog, we had had a good day and were walking back to the hotel along a well-lit well-populated road just after 11pm.

minaret

We were on the edge of the pavement, just about to cross a road directly behind our hotel, when a motorbike came past with two men on it. The man on the back ripped my handbag off me. I was wearing it diagonally across my body. Continue reading

Pros, Cons, and Scams in Marrakesh, Morocco

I really wanted to like Morocco, and I thought I would. But it is difficult to write this in a balanced way as sadly my experience was tainted – I was robbed which really traumatised me. It is difficult to separate the two in my mind, but this blog is about my experience of Marrakesh before our holiday went wrong. Next week I’ll write about the robbery and aftermath.

main-square-day

Let me start by writing about the positives about Marrakesh

I was amazed at how we can get a medium-haul flight from the UK (it’s not much further than some parts of Europe) and reach such an exotic, different destination. Continue reading

Castles and Lakes in Trakai, Lithuania

Our trip to Vilnius wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Trakai to see the beautiful red castle on the lake. We arrived and hiked up the road into Trakai. We soon realised it was HOT so stopped at a small supermarket for sunscreen and chilled drinks, before decamping to a boardwalk at the edge of a large serene lake to lie down and enjoy the beautiful day.

trakai-castle-2

After our lengthy rest and watching some ducks fighting on the lake, we followed the shaded path around the lake to the castle. Continue reading

Summertime Cycling around Vilnius, Lithuania

We decided to take a cheap flight to Vilnius, Lithuania for my birthday. We had enjoyed a short break to Kaunas, Lithuania previously, so we definitely had unfinished business there! Namely, to eat more food and to explore in the sun (last time it was mid-winter!)

Sports pitches

The standout thing for us was definitely the bikes and leisure facilities! Vilnius has got it together when it comes to cycling and healthy lifestyles. There is a free (well, almost free: 2.90 Euros for 3 days) bike scheme similar to the “Boris Bikes” scheme in London. Continue reading

Enchanted Husky Sledding, Finland

After rolling our snowmobile, one of the most pressing questions I asked the doctor was “Can I still go on my husky ride?”.  I’m such a tourist.  Luckily the answer was yes!

Huskies

On the day, we arrived on foot to a winter wonderland – picture perfect woodland under a blanket of snow (just like the rest of Finland!). We paid up and had a talk on how to operate the sled. On the downhill you have to brake, and on the uphill stretches you have to run to help the dogs.  Continue reading

Trapped Under a Snowmobile, Finland

Snowmobiling is a practical method of travel for locals in Nordic Countries. We wanted to try it, and found out that the options were either (1) rent your own, or (2) go on a guided tour. The price difference wasn’t that big so we chose the latter for safety reasons – I would be nervous to drive a snowmobile over a frozen lake without a guide, as how do you really know it’s safe? Plus if anything happened, it would be good to have a guide with us. As it happened, this is one of the best decisions we have ever made!

Frozen trees

The morning dawned bright and sunny. We were breathalysed before we were allowed to hire a snowmobile. We also had a demonstration on how it worked, and a safety talk. We were told that if we rolled the machine over, Continue reading

Welcome to Finland!

“Why Finland?” is a question we have been asked a lot. “Do you have family there?” is the popular follow-up question. No we don’t – we just thought it would be different. We’ve been to the Alps before on several occasions. And it is beautiful. But why not try something new?! So to Finland we went! 🙂

Sunset, Ruka

Ruka (pronounced Roo-ka) is a small ski village ; the largest in Finland. Continue reading