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

Don’t Smile while Snorkelling : lessons learnt in Fuertaventura

We visited Fuertaventura for a complete break from the world… and that is what we got. It was like stepping from the cold English winter straight into summer; a bubble containing only swimming, sunshine, and good food.

Beach 1

This was actually my first ever package holiday! I found it difficult to relinquish control but it worked out OK and it was cheaper than booking the separate parts ourselves. We stayed in a resort type hotel, so we were joined by English, French, and German tourists, all chasing the sunshine! Continue reading

Cruising into Cherbourg

We glided into Cherbourg at 5.30am, my BF snoring away in bed, and me excitedly hovering on the balcony. We were on the biggest cruise ship in the world, but it was silent as it came into port. The maritime police and pilot boats which sailed alongside made far much more noise!

It was a beautiful fresh morning and the dock was lined with people who had come to see the ship in, which was lovely! I went back to bed after my rare bout of wakedness at 5am, but awoke again to a sunny morning. After a good breakfast we debarked the ship to see the sights and sounds of Cherbourg. Continue reading

Cruising on Harmony of the Seas! (Biggest cruise ship in the World)

I have never been on a cruise before, so what better way to start than with the biggest ship in the world, right? 🙂  The Harmony of the Seas is a brand new ship; the newest boat in the Royal Caribbean fleet. It is also the biggest ship in the world. So how does it check out?

Central Park

The ship itself was massive; it was lovely to stroll around Central Park, which has hundreds of trees and thousands of plants. We even saw small birds in the park while the ship was at sea (!). But if that’s too outdoorsy for you, why not try an indoor promenade with bars, restaurants and shops? It is very easy to forget you are on a ship altogether! Continue reading

“How much?!” : Reflections on Switzerland

To state the obvious, Switzerland is beautiful. Everything is chocolate box cute. The grass is so green; the mountains stunning and scenic. The cities are in equal part architecturally beautiful, and achingly hip (in Zurich’s case – who knew?!).View from train 2

But it comes at a price. Switzerland is Freakin Expensive!!! A meal for two in a middle of the road Mexican restaurant (I mean it was nice but not posh, not that it was in a central reservation 😉 ) in Zurich was 77 CHF (around £50). Continue reading

Hip Hop Happening Zurich

Zurich is in equal part classic architecture and trendy hip new Zurich. I bet that’s the only time a sentence has started and finished with “Zurich” 🙂 We spent a day exploring “Old Zurich” which has wide tree-lined boulevards and small cobbled alleyways crammed with restaurants.

Zurich 4

We overlooked the fact that Zurich is an international centre for banking, but this was not difficult to do. Far from the glassy business-centred place we expected, Zurich was warm and interesting. Continue reading