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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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.

Cornwall is a jaw-dropping beautiful peninsula defined by its spectacular coastline tapering out into the Atlantic Ocean. With its picture postcard harbours, expansive sandy beaches, stunning cliffs and a rich cultural heritage, Cornwall has been a favourite holiday destination for generations. Here, I bring my favourite bits of Cornwall. Cornwall is HUGE and it is impossible to pack in everything in one short holiday. However, that only gives you an excuse to go back.

Polperro:

Cornwall attractions

Situated in the south of Looe is the picture perfect fishing village of Polperro. With narrow cobbled streets lined with pretty granite cottages and colourful homes, Polperro is a great little place if you fancy a nice little walk. Polperro was once notorious for smuggling and you can trace this history at the Polperro Heritage Museum of Smuggling and Fishing. Unwind yourself by the delightful harbour or have some tea in the cute tea rooms, Polperro’s charm will stay with you for a long, long time.

The Eden Project:

Cornwall attractions

Cornwall attractions

Cornwall attractions

Not your run-off-the-mill park, the Eden project which was opened in 2001 is the worlds’s largest greenhouse. Characterised by its two huge “biomes” they give you a taste of the flora and fauna of tropical and Mediterranean regions. The “biomes” are actually are a series of interconnected domes.

Perhaps not everyone’s cup of tea (and many find it overpriced), I still would argue for it because to replicate the hot tropical climate (with a Malaysian hut and African totem sculpture made from recycled timber) is definitely a mammoth task. While you are here don’t forget the scrumptious ice-creams from their coffee house. My favourite?Cacao with coconut flavour. As mentioned Eden is expensive with £25 per adult but you can save up to 20 % if you book in advance online.

Land’s End:

Cornwall attractions

Cornwall attractions

As the name suggests it is end of the land, intriguing enough for me. It gives you stunning coastal views of the Atlantic Ocean. The undulating landscape dotted with cliffs makes it a great spot for some easy trekking (easy for me). Don’t forget to enjoy a tasty meal at the Land’s End Restaurant after you have thoroughly explored this place.

Minack theatre:

Image from: Wikimedia Commons by Tim Lewy

Image from: Wikimedia Commons by Tim Lewy

Minack theatre is a truly out of this world place that will simply blow your senses. An open-air theatre, carved into a granite diff and set amidst glorious gardens; Minack theatre has to be seen to be believed. Overlooking the spectacular Porthcurno Bay, Minack theatre is exotic and magical. The summer theatre season runs from May to September presenting drama, musicals and opera in this dramatic setting.

Carnewas and Bedruthan Steps:

Cornwall attractions

cornwall attractions

This is a stretch of coastline located on the north Cornish coast between Padstow and Newquay. Another great spot for trekking, characterised by steep steps and dramatic views of this rocky beach. Bedruthan steps gets it’s name from the huge slate outcrops scattered along the beach and not the inordinate number of steps you need to go down to get to the beach. It is said that the outcrops were put there by Bedruthan, a giant, and used as stepping stones. The Carnewas cliffs has several nooks and crannies giving various different views of the Bedruthan Steps.

Beaches:

Cornwall attractions

Cornwall attractions

Being a coastal area, you will be spoilt for choice when it comes to beaches in Cornwall. There are just so many offering a variety of activities. This time around we explored the lovely Lusty Glaze at Newquay. This was right opposite to where we were staying (Kallacliff Hotel). A fantastic beach in the heart of the city, Lusty Glaze is an ideal place for couples (although we enjoyed it as a family too). A somewhat steep stairs take you down the beach (hence cumbersome if you have a buggy) but once you reach there you will treated to vast sandy beach with crystal blue waters. A quiet cove which faces towards west is ideal to catch sunset. During summer, there are numerous kid-friendly activities here. Fistral beach is another family friendly beach that should not be missed.

Surfing:

Cornwall attractions

There are many surfing friendly beaches in Cornwall. Fistral in Newquay is considered to be the most famous surfing beach in Britain. While we could not try surfing due to the weather, this is definitely on my bucket list. If you are a newbie and then head towards Towan Beach (Newquay). Between two grassy cliff tops and azure coloured waters, this beach is considered ideal if you are a beginner as the waves are slightly less challenging. Plus, this is one of the less crowded beaches of Newquay.

Food:

Image from Wikimedia Commons by Tristan Frene

Image from Wikimedia Commons by Tristan Frene

Cornwall has some of the best sea-food restaurants in Britain. It is also the home of the famous Cornish Pasty. If you are looking for a scrumptious sea-food option then don’t forget to check Rick Stein’s restaurants. The fresh fish dishes are to die for and while you will get British classics like Fish & Chips you can also taste Stein influenced far-off dishes like Pad Thai, prawn curry and fish chilli burgers. Yum.

If street food is more of your grub style, then don’t forget to tuck in a Cornish Pasty. Check out for some local options like Philps Pasties, Niles Bakery etc. You will find beef, chicken and vegetarian varieties but be warned they are humungous!

Hope you enjoyed this travel guide post. Thanks for reading and have a great week ahead. Do show me your love with your likes and comments and don’t forget to follow me. 🙂

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Stratford-upon-Avon, situated on the river Avon in the English county of Warwickshire, is decidedly an idyllic town. Best known to be the birthplace and hometown of William Shakespeare, Stratford-upon-Avon is a town where time meanders slowly, cut off from the cantankerous spirit of a bustling city. As you enter this town’s winding little streets you will notice that Shakespeare still continues to dominate the place. The five Bard-linked properties: Shakespeare’s birthplace ( image below), Nash’s house, Hall’s Croft, New Place and Anne Hathway (Shakespeare’s wife) Cottage remains the heart of this town and it continues to draw travelers from all over UK and world even now.

Shakespeare's House UK attractions

Our first stop was Henley Street, where stands the famous landmark—Shakespeare’s birth house. It is quite easy to spot the house. Among the plethora of new age shops, tiny, intimate cafes and teahouses stands a half timber house where Shakespeare was born and brought up along with his brothers and sisters. As you enter the house, you will first notice a hall of fame which includes names like Judi Dench, Star Trek’s Patrick Stewart and former Doctor Who David Tennant, all of whom have enjoyed acclaim in Shakespearean roles at Stratford in addition to their on-screen stardom.

In the Courtyard, between the reception centre and the House, you would see costumed actors performing snippets from some of the best-known plays. The managers who run the show today have made quite an effort to retain the authenticity of the house; you will notice how the parlour, the hall, Shakespeare’s dad’s workshop and bed chamber are furnished as they might have looked in 1574 (unfortunately, there is a no photography policy). An exhibition runs which tells us about the times gone by and explains how part of the house became a public house in 1601. My favourite bit of the house? A literary graffiti featuring autographs of literary gems like Ivanhoe’s writer Walter Scott’s signature. This, I thought truly made the house a literature haven.

stratford-upon-Avon UK attractions

UK attractions Stratford-Upon-Avon

From here, we headed towards the Holy trinity Church in-between stopping at the Stratford Upon Avon Canal, which was built between 1793 and 1816. A spot to enjoy some peace and quiet, the Canal does not offer much except wind-swept trees looking rather stupendous in twilight, clear water, panoramic view of the town and a peaceful silence to keep you for company.

The Church and the canal is separated by an intimate garden. A gurgling stream giving out a beautiful reflection of the Church, evening winter mist hanging around its vicinity and tall, almost kissing trees on both sides gives this place an almost eerie feeling but it somehow added to its uninhibited, natural charm.

UK attractions travel

Holy Trinity Church UK travel attractions

The Holy Trinity Church also popularly called Shakespeare’s Church is the place where Shakespeare is buried. The Church has an attractive approach; with its pathway lined by trees that represent the tribes of Israel and the 12 Apostles. Holy Trinity Church was one of the first churches in England where an admission fee was charged; even in 1906 visitors were asked to pay six pence each to enter.

Shakespeare, apparently died on his 52nd birthday of a fever which was said at the time to have been the result of a ‘merry meeting’ with fellow poets Ben Jonson and Michael Drayton. It is believed they all drank too much in that meeting.

Holy Trinity Church, UK attractions

As night was falling rapidly, we decided to call it a day and started our way back home but we walked past the old town briefly stopping before Hall’s Croft formerly the home of Shakespeare’s daughter Susannah and her husband Doctor John Hall. This White painted carved house lends the street a dignified character; it also feels that the place is slightly struck in a time warp with vintage style houses flanking its sides. Wondering how Shakespeare’s lineage ended? The death of childless Elizabeth (his granddaughter) in 1670 brought Shakespeare’s direct line of descent to an end.

UK travel attractions

Stratford-Upon-Avon is a town steeped in history, natural beauty, legacy and literature. It is also the town where theatre continues to mushroom. The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) runs four theatres here: the Courtyard theatre, the Royal Shakespeare theatre, the Swan theatre and the other place. Unfortunately, because of time constraint we couldn’t experience the theatre scene but that gives me a reason to go back.