Northern Ireland is different. To be honest, I had not expected much from this place and dare I say I did not plan this trip so meticulously perhaps this is why I was beyond surprised with what Belfast and surrounding areas had to offer. Here, I take you through some of my favourite points from our last holiday.

Belfast:

Belfast and Northern Ireland must see places

City Hall, Belfast

Many are quick to dismiss Belfast as a place with a wounded past nothing much to offer beyond its conflicted history. But hold those thoughts as Belfast would pleasantly surprise you. I had imagined Belfast to be grey and gloomy but only one trip to the city centre is enough to convince you of its grandeur, rich architecture and quirkiness.

The City Hall screams of underrated sophistication where as Cathedral Quarter located a few blocks away is filled with places where you can eat, drink and make merry. There is something decidedly edgy and trendy about this walk which overwhelms you pleasantly. Time really slows down when you are exploring the various interesting nooks and corners of this city and you would want more and more of it.

Belfast and Northern Ireland must see places

Beacon of Hope, Belfast

My favourite spot, however, was the brilliant water front. There is something calming about that spot where you can forget the hustle-bustle of the city, your own restless mind and see the river meandering through. Two sculptures which stood out for me here were the Beacon of Hope and the Big (Blue) Fish each reminding me of never letting go of hope and always remembering the bigger things in life. Other must-see places of Belfast are the Titanic Quarter, Peace Wall and St. George Market.

Game of Thrones:

I will be honest, I initially started thinking of Northern Ireland only for Game of Thrones. The rugged castles, gnarled woods and its raw beauty makes this place perfect for many Westerns locations. There are several tour guides operating here and based on your requirements and budget you can tailor make a trip for you.

Belfast and Northern Ireland must see places

The Arya Stark Bridge

If you are a fan then this tour is unmissable (can be done independently too). You can check out Stark’s home of Winterfell, the bridge where Arya runs to save herself from Waif, the ghoulish White Walkers and the caves of Cushenden, where Melisandre gives birth to the shadow baby.

Belfast and Northern Ireland must see places Game of Thrones

Dark Hedges, on the route Arya Stark, masquerading as a boy, took when when escaping King’s Landing.

Game of Thrones is almost like a mini-industry in and around Northern Ireland. Don’t be surprised if you run into extras or members of crew from this hit show. Both our GoT tour guide and Air BnB host were part of GoT cast and crew and needless to say gave us some interesting stories about the show and its main characters.

Coastal Drive to Giant Causeway and Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge:

National Geographic mentions this coastal drive as one of the most scenic drives in the world and one has to take this trip to believe that it is in fact true. The hundred mile stretch boasts of some jaw-droopingly spectacular scenery. It is centred around the nine glens (valleys) of Antrim and you turn any which way you will see magnificent valleys, sprinkling water bodies, lush greenery everywhere.

Belfast and Northern Ireland must see places

Giants Causeway

Giant Causeway, itself is so amazing, that no superlatives can do justice to its beauty. Apparently a result of a volcanic eruption 60 million years ago; the rock formations are surreal. They are near perfect hexagon shaped tubes stacked neatly resembling a giant puzzle. The Giant’s Causeway is also steeped in myth and legend. Some say it was carved from the coast by the mighty giant, Finn McCool, who left behind an ancient home full of folklore.

Belfast and Northern Ireland must see places

Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

On the opposite side of Giants Causeway, is the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge an ancient rope bridge. This is another stunning experience that Northern Ireland has to offer. Walk along an exhilarating coastal path awash with grassy slopes and rocky outcrops. You will see flower-rich meadows, the occasional grazing cattle, the magnificent views of Ratlin Island and Scottish Isles amidst the vast azure blue waters before actually arriving the entry of the rope bridge.

The bridge links the mainland to the tiny island of Carrickarede and it spans 20 metres (66 ft) and is 30 metres (98 ft) above the rocks below hill Mountains. If you are brave enough to see you will notice the sea below you dancing, thriving and teasing you whilst the swaying bridge would almost give you a feeling that you can descend down anytime.

Cave hill Mountains:

If you have been following my blog, you would know that I never ever miss a chance to go for a hike. Fortunately, my hubby shares my passion and despite our toddler we go for hikes whenever possible. There is something really therapeutic to be amidst wild, unpredictable and unassuming nature that inspires you infinitely.

Cave Hill overlooks Belfast and is nearby Belfast Zoo. Characterised by its famous Napoleon’s Nose; as the profile resembles the famous emperor; Cave Hill rises to almost 370 metres (1200 ft) above sea level. Most of its lower east side lies on the Belfast Castle estate, which has as its focal point the imposing 19th-century Scottish baronial castle.

Belfast and Northern Ireland Must See Places

The Caves which inspired Chronicles of Narnia

As you probably are aware, Northern Ireland has a rich literary history. Many authors like CS Lewis and Samuel Beckett came from this small country. Cave Hill has been an inspiration for several legendary literary work.  Cave Hill is thought to be the inspiration for Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels. Swift imagined that the Cave Hill resembled the shape of a sleeping giant safeguarding the city. The Caves inside the mountains (which we climbed with some difficulty) are said to be the inspiration behind Chronicles of Narnia.

Belfast and Northern Ireland Must See Places

On Top and that’s the whole city behind me

We navigated through some tricky slopes and encountered so many drops and caves to reach on top and once you are on top; the entire city comes so tantalisingly alive. Locals say on a clear day, you can see Scotland and Isle of Man from the peak.

Silent Valley and Ben Crom Reservoirs.

The Silent Valley Reservoir located in the Mourne Mountains near Kilkeel, County Down in Northern Ireland can easily be the best-kept secret of Northern Ireland and had I not bothered reading posters in the city airport, we would have easily missed this gem of a place.

Belfast and Northern Ireland Must See Places

Silent Valley

Easily about two hours away from Belfast (after the Bronte sister homeland), you know you are entering the reservoirs when you see majestic mountains cleverly sneaking from mist laden clouds. This place really feels like you are walking right inside a magnificent painting.

Secluded, peaceful and truly an oasis of calm, the reservoirs offer plenty of scenic trail walking routes and whichever route you choose you will see the incredible Mourne mountains dotted with beautiful towns and villas everywhere. 

If you are in Northern Ireland and want a place where you genuinely can clear your head and rejuvenate your body, mind and spirit then this is the place. The beauty of this place will make any challenge you are facing inconsequential and small.

Thank you for reading. Hope you enjoyed this travel post. Have a great weekend and do not forget to follow me. You can also follow me on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

If you like me are one of those who make full-use of the last few days of summer, then stay put, this post is especially for you. Surprisingly, UK has seen a rather glorious summer this year (given the usual meh standards) and though we are nearing September it still looks promising. If you are looking for ideas to spend with the family for the next few days (or are bookmarking ideas for next year) then here are few:

Mayfield Lavender Farm, Surrey:

There is something gloriously luxurious about the calming fragrance of Lavender wafting through the air and 25 acres of beautiful lavender blooms filling your senses. This summer, this has been one of my favourite activities. The Mayfield Lavender Farm is a must place if you would just like to spend a great day amidst beautiful Lavender flowers and go crazy taking photographs. This place is certainly buzzing with photographers (and posers alike). And whilst there is not much to do it definitely can be a great outdoor activity. The Lavender Farm is only open till September 14 so hurry. (Outfit details).

Shirt dress over jeans style

Berry Picking:

Bomber Jacket Fashion

This activity has been our favourite activity this year. Who knew that picking strawberries and other berries could be so therapeutic. I honestly do not know who enjoyed this activity the most: me or the toddler? There are several strawberry picking farms in UK, my pick is the West Green Fruits in Hampshire (Hartley Whitney): a beautiful 20 acre area where you can pick not just strawberries but raspberries, rhubarbs, black currants and a host of other veggies. Just be mindful as this is a seasonal activity, if you have not done it yet, you might have to wait for another year (but I promise it is worth the wait).

Littlehampton Beach, Sussex

IMG_20160605_214642

Beach is synonymous with summer and once again an activity that knows no limit. There are several beaches in and around Hampshire from West Wittering, Bognor Regis and South Sea Pebble Beach. Litthampton beach tucked away in Litthehampton is a sand and shingle beach boasting of a bustling marina and harbour and a brilliant contemporary architecture. Play with your little one(s) on the beach building sand castles, put your feet up in the marina area or enjoy a nice grub in the plethora of restaurants here. Littlehampton beach definitely has something for everyone and you will not regret driving down to here. (Outfit details)

For more Family Days Out ideas check out here.

Thanks for reading. Hope you enjoyed this post. Have a great week and do not forget to follow me for more such great posts on travel, parenting and fashion 🙂

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Tenerife is a striking and saucy archipelago of islands set adrift off the coast of Africa (Canary Islands) offering beautiful beaches, jaw-dropping mountains (including Spain’s highest) and perennial warmth. Hence, it is no wonder that the island attracts more than 1.6 million tourists each year and is known to have 365 days of tourism.

The story goes that Christopher Columbus, famously stopped over Canary Islands, en route to sailing off the known world in search of the New one. Tenerife offers a heady and varied mix of both white and black (volcanic sand) beaches, a promising night life, designer and street shopping, scrumpitous food, water theme parks and everything in between. Suffice to say, in Tenerife, you will be spoilt for choices.

Here are my top favourite experiences that I could manage during my birthday vacation.

  1. Costa Adeje: 

One of the newest resort area in Tenerife, Costa Adeje is a coastline full of plush hotels, modern attractions, interesting beaches and chic restaurants. Costa Adeje also boasts of some of the most expensive and classy all-inclusive resorts from Bahia Del Dudque, Melia Jardaines del Teide (where we stayed and highly recommand) to Sheraton.

 

 

Adeje is a food-lovers paradise. From Sushi to Sphagetti, from Curry to Canarian Cuisine, from yummylicious fish to fajitas; there are over 100 nations and there cuisines featured here. The beaches, too are much better, here whether you prefer sun-bathing to surfing, whether you water-skiing or windsurfing. Adeje’s coastline will not disappoint you.

Costa Adeje, Tenerife

Costa Adeje, Tenerife

 

Costa Adeje, Tenerife, Melia jardaines del Teide

Melia jardaines del Teide, Costa Adeje, Tenerife 

For families, too there are several water theme parks from Siam Park to Aqualand. The Mountain range on the other side of the coastline gives this an added edge.

2. Coastal Walk:

A City walk that will leave you wanting more. The Geranium Walk in South Tenerife is a great experience if you want to see all the beaches offered here, experience the local culture and eat some yummy grub all in one go. A stroll, along the promenade linking the main southern resorts might sound like an easy walk, but don’t be fooled. The route which runs from the once tiny village of La Caleta through Costa Adeje and Playa de las Américas to the very end of Los Cristianos runs for nearly 10 kilometres and covers about 12 beaches.

Playa del Duque beach, Tenerife

Playa del Duque beach, Tenerife

 

This walk will help you see all the distinct beaches and a marina. Plus you can enjoy umpteen number of street performances and if you are hungry or thirsty, just hop onto any of the amazing restaurants and have a pint or two. As it is recommanded, we started walking from our resort to La Caleta and went all the way to Los Cristianos, taking regualar breaks because we had a baby to carry as well! It took us over 2 hours to reach Los Cristianos and around one and half hours to reach our resort from Los Cristianos (because you guessed it we walked!) But this is an experience, I highy recommand especially if you are short on time. Just remember one thing: good footwear.

3. Hiking

Tenerife is a hikers and mountain climbers’ paradise. Whilst hiking up the highest mountain-Pico del Teide or Mount Teide–in North Tenerife is an unmissable experience, we could not make it due to extreme weather conditions (Tenerife is known for its micro climates as well). But we decided to hike up Barranco del Rey–although not the highest the volcanic terrain–makes this a tricky hike (not that we needed it as we had a toddler with us and that’s tricky enough!).

Barranco del infierno, Tenerife

En route to Barranco del infierno

The area is very important archaeologically, since there are hundreds of caves that were home to  aboriginal Guanches, as well as caves with engravings. The largest collection of Guanche mummies and utensils were found here and placed in the Museum of Nature and Man of Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

Barranco del infierno, Tenerife

Barranco del infierno, Tenerife

We chose one of the easiest paths, which to begin with starts with paved pathway, but as you brave up you see path becoming treachous, narrow sometimes and full of lava stones. The beauty of this hike is that you can see the whole of Tenerife in its lucious beauty as you go up. The azure blue waters the ocean too comes to life from top.

It took us arounf six hours to reach on top (with few breaks and three hours to come down) and the tricky part was as went up we realised the peak is somewhere else. Hiking in these mountains hence can leave the most discerning explorer wanting for more. And there is no denial in saying that when you reach up you feel invincible.

After the hike, thanks to our bone tired body and grumbling tummy, we headed towards Otello –a hidden gem which served amazing Canarian cuisine with a jaw dropping view of the mountain.

4. All inclusive resorts

As bizzare as it sounds but my last (not the least) favourite bit of Tenerife was the all-inclusive resorts. Exhausted parents that we are, we were definitely looking for staying options where we did not have to worry about anything. And Costa Adeje’s resorts do not disappoint.

Costa Adeje, Tenerife

View from the resort

As stated above, we stayed at Melia Jardaines del Teide, with it’s amazing pools, great food (the whole wheat croissant was my favourite!), pleathora of activities, night time entertainment and beach bus services, this resort is definitely value for money. The swaying palm trees, beautiful view of the ocean and little cosy corners in every nook and cranny of the resort the place is brilliant.

dress2 - 1

It is also worth remembering that Costa Adeje has some of the plushest, lavish and chic resorts as compared to other parts of Tenerife.

All in all Tenerife was more than my expectations. With equal dose of sun, warmth and revelry this is definitely a holiday destination I recommand. 🙂

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Hello lovelies, I have been missing in action and hope to remedy it this week. I joined a new full-time job couple of weeks ago in digital marketing (yipee to me). From learning the ropes to adjusting to life as a full-time working mum it has taken a while to think of blogging posts. But I have started structuring my days better and hope to fit in weekly blogging now. Enough said as the title suggests, this travel post is about Cambridge.

This year, hubby and I decided to explore UK and tick off some places from our travel bucket list. As some of you know, summer has finally ended here (sigh!!) and to mark the event we visited Cambridge. Famous for its University, Cambridge is a lovely town with an eclectic mix of old world charm with modern, contemporary beauty. From a choice of galleries to a buzzing theatre scene; from jaw-dropping architectural beauty of college buildings to scenic walks, Cambridge has a lot to offer to the curious traveler. Here are my top ten picks tried and tested by me and the family.

Punting: 

Punting in Cambridge

This sounds almost like a cliche but punting is a quintessentially Cambridge experience that you should not miss. Cambridge derives its name from the River Cam which runs through its heart.

Punting enables you to see the “backs” of the seven famous colleges from the comfort of a traditional Cambridge punt whilst your “driver” takes you through the enticing history of Cambridge, the colleges and its environs. I cannot recommend this activity enough and what’s more it can be done during a rainy day too (if not raining heavily).

Flitzwilliam museum:

Cambridge attractions

There are several museums in Cambridge but this definitely takes the prize. The intricate architecture on the front gate was enticing enough for me to step inside this museum and I was genuinely bowled over. It is a fascinating place with collections from all the world and various eras too plus it is free to enter.

From medieval armours and weapons collection to Egyptian collection, from Greek collection to the early works of Michelangelo made just before he was about to embark on his famous Sistine Chapel work, Flitzwilliam museum is a must if you love art, culture and history.

College tours: 

Cambridge attractions

Cambridge attractions

A visit to Cambridge is incomplete without touring some of the colleges. Visitors can enter the college grounds (to some extent) on weekends. My favourite was Christ College, Trinity and Kings College.

Bridge of sighs:

Bridge of Sighs Cambridge

This is covered bridge built on the grounds of St. John’s College. A namesake bridge it was named after the Bridge of Sighs in Venice. Built in 1831, ever since it has built, there have been fierce debates on which bridge is better. It is supposed to be Queen Victoria’s favourite spot in the city.

A common myth surrounding its name is that the students named it Bridge of Sighs as it was a favourite spot for pre-exam students to come here and let out a little sigh. It is also rumoured that this was former Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew’s favourite place as he was also the student of the college.

Market Square:

Market square Cambridge

Although there are more interesting local markets I’ve visited in other cities, I would still recommend Cambridge’s market square as it is a great place to imbibe local culture, shop local products and meet some brilliant local artists. Plus, who doesn’t love browsing through interesting artefacts peculiar to a city?

Holy Sepulchre or Round Church:

Round Church, Cambridge

You don’t have to be religious to appreciate this Church. There is a definite melancholy feeling to this Church. Built entirely of stone, this is one of the four original medieval round churches still use in England. The Church was built around 1130 and its shape was inspired by the rotunda in the church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem. Large Gothic style windows and glass paintings adorn it from the inside.

Kings College:

kings college cambridge

cambridge attractions

Kings college is synonymous to Cambridge.Founded in 1441 by Henry VI and the earliest of the royal foundations, King’s College is worth visiting for the huge expanse of lawn extending down to the river, the King’s Bridge with its brilliant views along the Backs and the various college grounds situated along the riverside.

Seriously if I was lucky (or academically/ financially strong) to be a student here, I would never study but spend my days admiring the jaw-dropping beauty of the place or exploring the various nooks and crannies. It is definitely a place I would need to visit again to explore properly. Distinguished alumni include writer Horace Walpole, poet Rupert Brooke and economist Lord Keynes.

Street Food:

I am a self-confessed lover of street food and I find it a tad disappointing that not all UK towns and cities have a good variety of street food however Cambridge doesn’t disappoint you. From variety of mouth-watering cheeses to local ale to yummy toasties to scrumptious and healthy buckwheat crepes, the street food scene will sill your hungry stomach and soul in one go.

Corpus Clock: 

Image by: Wikimedia Commons, Rror

Image by: Wikimedia Commons, Rror

The Corpus Clock is a large structural clock locatedat the junction of Bene’t Street and Trumpington Street, looking out over King’s Parade. Bollywood lovers would have seen it in the movie Paa. It was unveiled to public in 2008 by physicist Stephen Hawking.

The clock’s face is a rippling 24-carat gold-plated stainless steel disc, about 1.5 metres in diameter. The clock has no hands or numerals, but displays time by opening individual slits in the clock face backlit with blue LEDs; these slits are arranged in three concentric rings displaying hours, minutes, and seconds. A metallic, huge grasshopper is the dominating feature of the clock and actually works as a pendulum. This feature,the grasshopper escapement is an unusual, low-friction escapement for pendulum clocks invented by British clockmaker John Harrison around 1722. The grasshopper in Corpus Clock is a homage to Harrison.

Christ’s Pieces: 

Image by: Wikimedia Commons , Mincebert

Image by: Wikimedia Commons , Mincebert

Cambridge is renowned for its green spaces and you will be spoilt for choice to choose a place to enjoy a spot of sunshine. I really loved Christ’s Pieces a victorian park with pretty flower beds and ornamental trees. It was previously used for agricultural and pasture purposes. Poet John Milton, who frequented this park has a dedicated walk–Milton Walk here too.

Thank you for reading. Hope you liked this travel post. Have a great week ahead and don’t forget to follow me 🙂

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The truth about British Summer is that the whole year you wait for it with baited breath before losing all interest and lo and behold it happens when you least expect it. The whole of last week, we had sun playing a nasty game of hide and seek. I was convinced it would be a typical washed out weekend but suddenly I woke up to a gloriously shining sun last Saturday. I am definitely an opportunity seeker so without further ado, I coaxed the hubby, dressed the little one and hopped on to the car for a day out at Durdle Door, Dorset.

Druilde Door Reviews

Druilde Door and Lulworth Cove

Durdle Door has been on my travel bucket list ever since hubby visited it few years ago without me but something or the other kept me away till now. I’ve often experienced that when I build up a place too much in my little head it falls extremely short of my expectations in reality. Hence, I was beyond chuffed when we reached this Jurassic Coast after a nice little drive all the way from Hampshire. Durdle Door does not disappoint you no matter what your traveling style is.

Druilde Door and Lulworth Cove

Within a mile or so of the place, you will see the rugged terrain of the mountains juxtaposing beautifully with sparkling azure water of the sea and a horizon that feels like you can almost touch it. This is your cue to Durdle Door.

The actual “door” itself is a nice, long trek away from the car park. There are several tricky pathways giving you a nice view of Dorset while you head towards the beach. Be mindful of the path as it can be slippery and challenging at the same time. After a bit of a walk you reach a plateau with Durdle Door on one hand and the Man of War beach and Lulworth Cove on the other hand. To navigate either side you need to trek downwards a slightly steep slope.

Durdle door, dorset

Durdle Door , Dorset

But once you have done this trek, you will see one of the most gorgeous spots on this earth (I kid you not!). Durdle Door and the Lulworth Cove form part of the Jurassic Coastline. And true to its moniker, the iconic Durdle door even resembles a dinosaur.

Dorset Lulworth Cove

This natural door on the sea along with an expansive pebble beach is definitely one of the jaw-dropping beautiful spots I’ve seen while the beach on the other side with a great view of the sea is something which will stop your senses right away. I recommend you don’t rush but slowly savour the incredible beauty of the place and let it envelop you completely because after all isn’t that what travel is all about—to take you out of the mundane and tease all your senses in one go?

PS: These photos are completely unedited, I wanted to show the place in all its natural glory

Thank you for reading. Hope you liked this travel post. Have a great week ahead and don’t forget to follow me 🙂

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