I've just spent two weeks escaping the deep dark winter in the UK for the early summer of Cape Town in South Africa - specifically in the harbour town of Kalk Bay, which sits on the Indian Ocean side of the Cape Peninsula where the sea is slightly warmer (allegedly) than the Atlantic side.
I've recently been lucky enough to spend my birthday week (28! I swear time is speeding up) in the beautiful city of Budapest ruining my diet. I've been to Budapest once before on a lads holiday (The inaugural LOT in fact) pre-Jon with the Wind and have been looking for an excuse to go back ever since to confirm by belief that it is in fact the best city in Europe
Following on from my "Two nights in Reykjavik" post I'm excited to be able to publish the article I have been dying to write, our road trip around the south of Iceland. Reykjavik is awesome and well worth dedicating a few days to but please - if you're going to Iceland for more than a weekend hire a car and see as much as you can. This post will be a little picture heavy as I discuss my favourite stop offs, but I'm sure you will enjoy it!
Weekend City Break in Copenhagen
So that time of year has been and gone again, when me and a group of mates venture to a new city in Europe, after experiencing Sofia in Bulgaria last year we decided on somewhere a little more popular, the Danish capital Copenhagen.
Copenhagen is by far the furthest north I've been, I've never even been to Scotland for gods sake! So it was certainly going to represent something different for me. As paying to go somewhere cold isn't my usual M.O I was (and still am) a little bit ignorant about all things Denmark. All I really knew was Peter Schmeichel, Hummel clothing, bacon and that its very expensive, this is why I didn't write my usual 'In Anticipation' post because I quite enjoyed visiting somewhere with no preconceptions.
Getting to Copenhagen was a delight, the plane only takes about an hour and 20 minutes and you can get a fairly good deal. The airport is tiny for a capital city and it only takes about 15 minutes in a taxi to the city centre. Getting to London is more stressful.
Again, after staying in a more budget accommodation in Sofia we opted for something a little more comfortable in Copenhagen, staying in the well known Urban House set in the heart of the trendy Vesterbro district. Which is conveniently just around the corner from Copenhagen Central Station. Urban House is an awesome hostel really, the rooms are very comfy, if not a little cold and the bar is lively and reasonable in price, and as the locals don't seem to start their night until quite late its ideal.
Due to the price of Copenhagen we opted for a 2 night stay when we would usually have 3, while it was a good decision for the wallet upon reflection 2 nights isn't really enough to get beneath the surface, especially as it is such a scenic city. As seems to be the case everywhere there are an abundance of Irish bars if you want a cheaper beer and/or watch the football, you will never be stuck for somewhere to grab a swift one. For a more trendy scene the Meatpacking district seems to be the place with an abundance of cocktail and jazz bars - although we didn't really get to sample here, it was still very much the evening meal period while we walked through.
For me the highlight was visiting the free town of Christiania which is virtually unpoliced and the inhabitants are left to their own devises, this place attracts a lot of tourists because of the cheaper alcohol and the openness of the weed trade - there is literally no subtlety at all. While the lack of lighting makes it seem a bit sketchy once the sun goes down it is definitely worth visiting even if you're not interested in any of the trade, its a truly novel place.
As we only had two nights in Copenhagen we did not really get the opportunity to sample the restaurants the city is famous for but we did get the opportunity to visit Frk. Barners Kaelder which served an all encompassing Danish brunch, containing raw herring and the roe (eggs) of a fish I can absolutely not remember - basically cheap caviar! Not everyone's cup of tea, but by the number of people in the packed restaurant eating it I think its the way to go for a weekend brunch in the centre of Copenhagen!
We all had a top time in Copenhagen and would recommend for all crowds, there are loads of good gigs on (Digitalism where on but alas the funds didnt stretch to it) and the nightlife goes through until the early hours of the morning so you'll never be bored. Although I would just recommend that you visit for around 4 days minimum!!
Cheers for reading,
p.s. cheers for the photos Dave!
6 Nights in Nice
I had already wrote a post on me and the guys visit to Nice during the first week of Euro 2016, but after I had spent a little bit of time reviewing the post to be published the following morning news started filtering through on social media about the vile act of terrorism on Bastille Day. Obviously I could not publish the article the day after the attacks because it would be the most distasteful thing I can think of, especially as the scene of the attack featured a fair amount in the post I had written. So please forgive the lateness of the post below.
A trip to a major football tournament is something I have always wanted to do and until now the timing has never been quite right, mostly due to lack of funds! But around June last year me and 3 mates decided that this was our time, the Euro tournament was relatively on our doorstep and we had a year to plan, and with the emergence of AirBnB it felt as if we had more control to keep the cost of the holiday reasonable so everything fell in to place.
We flew from Manchester fairly early, as to make the most of the day as Nice was only around 5 hours away with a layover in Brussels. In fact, I was adamant that we were going to get these particular flights with Brussels airlines, I waited over a month for the price to drop to a reasonable level!
After our early start, obligatory airport beers and a solid nap on both flights we arrived in the Cote d'azur, you are struck by the famous blue sea as you come in to land. As we drove in to town you could see how amazing the streets are, I’ve mentioned in previous posts how much I love old style Mediterranean streets a Nice is no different. Although one word of warning, we pulled an absolute rookie error and didn’t ask the taxi driver how much in advance from the airport and he promptly charged us a nice round €50, when an Uber would have been around €35.
Our flat was perfect, a studio within a gated alcove right next to the port, next door to some fantastic restaurants, including the relatively famous ‘Jan’, we had no worries about our belongings being secure, there is no way you’d be able to find it without Google Maps!
I would really recommend staying in this section of town, you are right near the amazing harbour, where Nice’s reputation for being a millionaire’s playground is really visible – some of the yachts have to be seen to be believed, the high street and city centre are about a 15-minute walk inland, and you’ll will probably feel like doing some shopping once you arrived as everyone is so elegantly dressed, you feel a bit of a slob! I’ve honestly never felt underdressed for breakfast before.
The famous promenade is a stunning 20-minute walk around the coast which takes you past the striking Monument aux Morts, built in to the cliff side. There are a lot of joggers running along the coast line and when you reach the top of the hill before descending on to the promenade you can see why, the view is breath taking, the same stretch of shore you can see as you arrive in a place is even more striking close up.
As a bit of a confession, which won’t come as much of a surprise we spent most of our time sampling the local bars and watching football rather than taking in all the city has to offer, but it is clear there is a lot of history there to explore.
Bars and Restaurants
First things first, the bar scene in Nice is very expensive compared to most places I would tend to visit. Compare the €6-€8 beer in Nice to the £1-£2 beer in Colombia or the 50p beer in Sofia and you’ll understand my constant wince. Praise the Lawd that Euro2016 was pre-Brexit.
The restaurants, as you can imagine have a very high standard, there is a disappointing number of Italian/Pizzerias in the Old Town, I don’t know if this is purely down to catering to tourists or just the Mediterranean influence of the area, but I was a little taken aback by it. But if you are prepared to walk around and go down a few side streets then the food is class. My two picks however would be Le Frog and Le Maquis.
Le Maquis is bang in the centre of the old town and is of a more Mediterranean feel, I opted for the set menu and it didn’t disappoint, with the gazpacho being very refreshing and flavorful and my lamb shank main being some of the best lamb I’ve had. While Le Maquis is by no means cheap it is one of the more reasonable priced ‘fancy’ restaurants in the area.
Le Frog on the other hand is a unashamedly French affair, we ate here on our last night in Nice and so completely indulged. We shared two servings of snails and frog’s legs, the latter being a first for me, both were glorious and would definitely order frog’s legs again! I had rack of lamb for my main. I’m not usually big on lamb but in Nice they seem to be specialists, and like Le Maquis it was delightful. Two of my friends had the monkfish which they prepared as if it was a meat dish, they really loved it but it just struck me as an interesting direction, definitely one of keep an eye out for!
Anyway, obviously this post is late, but due to the attacks in Nice I wanted to wait to publish this, more out of respect than anything. Please don’t let what happened put you of going to this amazing part of the world, or anywhere for that matter. That’s when they win.
Cheers for reading guys,
After experiencing the delights of Cartagena we packed up again and headed to the airport, this time the little known coral island of San Andres, much closer to Nicaragua than Colombia there is a much more distinctive Caribbean feel here. The natives to the island speak English as their first language, while there has been a large influx of Colombian nationals in the last 30 years San Andres stays true to its routes.
After sampling a few days in Santa Marta getting acclimatized with Colombia we packed up our stuff and made the short uphill journey to the village of Minca, which is quietly nestled in the Sierra Nevada mountain range.
We're only 12 days in to 2016 but it is already shaping up to be a very exciting year for me on the travel front. In the last week of January I will be boarding a plane to Colombia, specifically the Caribbean coast of the country and then in June I will be heading to Euro 2016 in France, which will mark my first visit to a football tournament so of course, I am very excited!
So yeah, I'm 'freshly' back from a 3 night jaunt to the city of Sofia in Bulgaria. I visited the city with a group of friends as part of a tradition known as "Lads on Tour" or #LOT15. So you can probably guess we see more of the night-life than anything else. So I thought I'd give you a review of Sofia by way of the bar scene with a couple of restaurants thrown in at the end!
With the high standard of the restaurants in Lagos this post will hopefully offer a little bit of context for anyone doing a bit of research. Because Lagos is the perfect example of why Trip Advisor can be a little bit misleading and makes it harder to gain any insight because of information overload, and as a man of carriage I believe it is imperative to have an idea of what food is on offer when researching a holiday.
Howdy, it's 5 days since I returned home from Lagos in Portugal and to help me relive it a little bit I thought I'd give you a quick review of one of the Algarve's beauty spots.
If you’ve been reading my blog you will have known that I’ve got a bit of a gammy shoulder – as I realise I haven’t shut up about it. To sum things up, I didn’t mind being out of action for a few months as long as I was cleared to do the things I enjoyed before my trip to Lagos in Portugal. Alas my recent visit the consultant has all-but confirmed that is a mere pipe dream (she actually winced when looking at my notes).
Towards the end of January me and my girlfriend were lucky enough to escape the Manchester weather and have a much needed break from the monotony of the British winter. As we booked the trip fairly short notice we decided not to plan anything and just wing it when we arrived - while I suggest you do the same I thought it might be nice to provide 4 pointers for visiting Negril.