Don’t Listen To What They Say. Go See.

Anonymous

I admit Palma was not high up on my list but sometimes you just have to take the plunge especially when it is February and you need a nice budget friendly place for the school holidays. Hence, I chose to go to Palma a few months ago. And boy, was I surprised? The promise of eternal sunshine aside, I met some of the friendliest people in Palma. Mix that with the sights, the tapas and the Sangria (aaah, Sangria!) you have a winner.

  1. Royal Palace of La Almudaina

My first pick is the Royal Palace of La Almudaina. Originally an Arabian Fort, this grand palace today hosts key events. Located right in the centre of the city, this imposing Alcazar was built in 1309. The insides are built in the medieval style and you will see decor from 15th to 20th centuries adorning its various nook and cranny. The outside is a vast expanse with an open theatre and an adjoining lake meandering by–a perfect spot to just sit, relax and do nothing.

2. Banos Arabes

This is a quirky little garden surrounding the remains of Arab baths from the time of Moorish rule. It is a nice spot to get in some tranquillity away from the hustle-bustle of the city. The bath or the hammam dates back to 10th century and what remains today is just the remains of it but the garden itself is so peaceful, and green that you would forget everything and just want to sit and soak in the sights.

3. Castell de Bellver

Castell de Bellver is a Gothic-style castle on a hill. It was built in the 14th century for King James II of Majorca and is one of the few circular castles in Europe. The best part? To reach this place, you have to go through a mini-forest full of pine trees and interesting flora. That trek itself is a fun experience to have before reaching the Castle and seeing the whole city from the top.

4. Old City

Palma’s old city deserves a mention here. It is an eclectic mix of shopping, history, gastronomy and life. Gothic Churches juxtaposes with scenic squares and century-old patios. Meandering through these streets is a must if you want a true sense of Palma and an explosion of daily-life and culture.

Palma's old city
Palma's Old City

5. Cuevas Del Drach and Torre Del Serral

If you want to explore something outside of the city then head towards Cuevas Del Drach, in the town of Porto Cristo. These ancient caves are about 1,200 metres long with a maximum depth of 25 m. below ground level, The caves contain a large underground lake, Lake Martel. The calcareous formations were formed between 11 and 5.3 million years ago, during the Miocene era. The colours and formations within the cave are truly astonishing and you can see formations resembling a cactus, a flag and even a snowcapped mountain. The tour lasts a little longer than an hour with a floodlit, floating violin concert on the lake—known to be Europe’s largest underground lake, about 170 metres long and between 4 and 12 metres deep.

If you want a bit more of nature then head towards Torre del Serral dels Falcons, a nice walking and picnic spot with beautiful views of the Mediterranean.

As you can see Palma has things for all kinds of travelers–young, old, family, couple, solo, adventurous or laid back. I am definitely glad that I was fortunate enough to experience this place.

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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.

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I cannot believe that I have been this MIA, I don’t think I have ever gone without posting at least 2 posts each week since starting this blog but finally nature is taking a toll on me and as my due date nears I feel my energy is zapping out like crazy. I feel a little ashamed to admit this: but I am no super mum-to- be as I thought I would be. Traveling, walking and exploring a new place is something which still cheers my exhausted senses and this Easter break, as long distance travel is now out of bounds, we decided to explore the beautiful Cliveden Gardens located in Maidenhead, Berkshire.

A thriving Tulip garden

A thriving Tulip garden

Near the Water Garden

Near the Water Garden

Set on the banks of River Thames, Cliveden House is an Italianate mansion which was once the home of Nancy Astor, an American born British politician and her husband. Today, the House has been turned into a luxury hotel. Yes, it is as luxurious as luxury comes but we were interested in the outside this time. The entire estate extends to 375 acres (1.52 km2) of which about 180 acres (0.73 km2) comprise the gardens whilst woodland and paddocks comprise the rest.

There are quite a few cluster of gardens like the Parterre, themed gardens and of course the woodlands. We started our journey from the Clock tower (pictured below) and after a nice walk reached the Water Garden–a pretty little landscaped garden.

Weekends breaks in UK

IMG_20140419_195840

 

The central feature of the water garden is a diminutive pagoda that was purchased in the 20th century. The Pagoda is flanked with beautiful foliage in a every colour you can imagine whilst few Bamboo trees and wisteria gives it a Chinese Garden look. This was definitely a popular spot of the estate and it was easy to see why (see my second picture below). The sparkling stream, the leafy trees, beautiful blooms and the intimate pagoda gives it a rather romantic vibe.

Cliveden Gardens, Berkshire

 

 

Cliveden Gardens, Berkshire

The Cliveden Gardens also gets its character from well-etched sculptures placed strategically in its various nooks and crannies. I have been quite fortunate to explore various gardens in UK from the Chelsea Physic Garden in Chelsea, London to Oxford Botanic Garden but this definitely has to be one of the most beautiful landscaped gardens I have visited so far.

Run by UK’s National Trust, this place is also quite child-friendly with several rides and attractions exclusively for the kiddos–perhaps this is the reason why it is so popular with families. We could not explore the Woodlands this time but the fresh, leafy garden punctuated by beautiful Spring blooms was just what the doctor ordered and I cannot wait to go back.

Hope you liked this post on Cliveden Gardens and would visit the place at least once. Please don’t hesitate to give your likes and comments and don’t forget to follow me. I always follow back 🙂

 

As I mentioned here, Cotswolds is a gentle haven for travelers, wanderers and those looking to connect with themselves. Every village will leave you a bit surprised, happy and relax your weary mind. I have already mentioned about the three popular villages of Bourton on Water, Lower Slaughter and Chipping Campden. Here, I continue with other lovely villages and various attractions we had the pleasure to explore couple of weeks ago.

Stow-on-the-Wold:

Cotswolds attractions

Cotswolds attractions

 

Located on top of an 800 ft hill, Stow-on-the-Wold is a small market town and civil parish. This village was once the business centre of Cotswolds as several exquisite fairs were held here which attracted the best of local business. The first annual fair was established in 1330 by King Edward III. It was held for seven days every August but by 1476 was replaced with two five-day fairs.

The aim of these annual fairs was to establish Stow as a place to trade, and to take control of the unpredictable passing trade. These fairs were located in the square, which is still the town centre. Today, this square is filled with a plethora of antique shops, specialty wool shops and indigenous fashion shops. Stow is definitely a paradise for treasure seeks. Unfortunately, by the time we reached here most of the shops were closed which meant that my purse did not get any chance to become light.

Another main attraction of Stow is the St. Edward’s Church (pictured above). I am one of those people who finds an ancient church (and even cemeteries) extremely romantic and this 11th century Church is certainly one of the most romantic Churches I have ever visited. It is intimate, cosy and a strong sense of character to it. Definitely not to be missed.

Blockley:

Cotswolds

 

The village of Blockley was once the centre of silk production with several silk mills burgeoning here since the 18th century. The legacy of its silky past continues with most street signs named as one mill or the other and its collection of golden hued buildings.

blockley church-7

Cotswolds

Aside from the rather enjoyable walk along the beautiful countryside; take a trip down to the charming Norman Church (SS Peter & Paul Church) located at the centre of the village. This Church dates back to 1180 and was featured in last year’s TV series Father Brown. It is again a rather inviting Church with an intimate garden and cemetery which will instantly transport to a bygone era.

Broadway:

broadwaypastures-7

broadway-7

 

Located in the English county of Worcestershire; Broadway is often referred to as, “Jewel of the Cotswold.” Known for its sheer beauty and magnificence, several writers and artists like Oscar Wilde, Claude Monet, English textile designer William Morris and English composer Edward Elgar had made Broadway their home to draw inspiration from its beauty and location.

Broadway is flanked with a mix of Tudor, Stuart and Georgian buildings which lends this place a brilliant charm. Today, it is also another thriving centre of arts and antiques and hence it makes perfect sense to browse through its craft and antique shops for unknown treasures.

When you are here don’t forget the Snowshill Manor, a perfect spot to enjoy the unblemished green marshy plains surrounding this village and losing yourself to the pristine beauty of nature.

Hope you enjoyed this post on Cotswolds. Thanks for reading. As always likes and comments are most welcome. And don’t forget to follow me 😉