Things can happen unexpectedly. Little miracles, if you will – and that’s what I spotted this week when entirely out of the blue, I received an email inviting me to a Royal garden party in London in May! The Queen’s Garden Party, no less. I squealed (fortunately not aloud), and ran over to my colleague’s office from where the email had come.
‘Are you kidding, can I go to a Royal garden party?’ I squealed (this time).
‘Can you go?’ She smiled, ‘Are you free on the 21st?’
‘I’ll be free for the Queen, yup, absolutely!!!’
The Queen’s Garden party – are you kidding? I’m not going to pretend I don’t care about this – I love the Royals. We’ve been in London for the excitement that was William and Kate’s wedding and Harry and Meghan’s. We even covered that 2018 event for radio in Australia. It was divine!
Royal Garden parties
Every year the Queen hosts three parties at Buckingham Palace and one in Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh. These events are designed to recognise and reward public service.
Another truth, I’m a fan of Royal dramas – everything from The White Princess to The Tudors, Victoria and The Crown – count me in!
I’d spotted that Queen Victoria initiated a ‘breakfast’ (although also held in the afternoon, akin to the contemporary Royal garden party) in an effort to get more in touch with her people. Up until then as I understand it, most Royals kept themselves at quite a distance from, well, the rest of us.
With the world rapidly changing in the Victorian era (mid to late 1800s), the demand for our royalty to be more in touch with everyday life increased. And so the mingling began.
Events with the public have changed shape over the years though, and Queen Elizabeth’s summer garden parties as we know them today at Buckingham Palace have run since just after the second World War.
What to expect at a Royal Garden Party
Lots of people (thousands – like a very elegant festival!).
And a Royal garden party serves up loads of food. Think 27,000 cups of tea, 20,000 sandwiches and 20,000 slices of cake. Included on the menu are many of the Queen’s favourite treats.
There’s royalty too. The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh accompanied by other members of the Royal family speak to a range of people throughout the afternoon.
The dress code is strict – women wear a day dress and hat or fascinator and men wear a lounge suit (or ‘morning dress’).
How to get on the invite list to a Royal or special event in London
While the Queen’s Garden Party is invite only and I was lucky to be randomly selected through work (I had no idea it was even possible to go to something like this!), I’ve discovered there are ways you can apply to try and get yourself on the guest list.
Do a quick Google for the authority that relates to you to see if there are any ties that give you the chance to apply in advance for an event like a Royal Garden Party with the Queen in summer at Buckingham Palace.
Be mindful of making the best of your opportunity though. I believe that you can only receive one invitation and/or only attend once. With demand being so high for such a special occasion, frequent chances to go along simply do not exist.
If you can’t make a Royal garden party though, you can tour Buckingham Palace. It’s usually open in the summer, and you can find out more by searching for it on Visit London’s website, among other sources.
We’ll report back in May on the event. Wish me luck … that I don’t trip over my feet or my words 😎
Travelling to beautiful destinations is an inspiring activity for everybody, but if you are a content producer chasing wanderlust, there are some places that stand out.
Here’s a list of the best travel vloggers and bloggers Euro destinations, courtesy guest contributor Rebecca Brown.
The best travel vloggers and bloggers’ destinations in Europe – 7 faves
There is something to say about every new, and even old place you visit, since sometimes you see things you’ve already seen in a different way.
However, some places are better than others.
Portugal has many hot spots, and its beautiful capital is definitely one of them.
Perfectly combining the new with the old, Lisbon welcomes all kinds of creative travel vloggers and bloggers.
Nostalgic and romantic writers can find inspiration while exploring the city’s beautifully arranged streets and admiring the mesmerising landscapes from the many viewpoints strategically located throughout the city.
Foodies have the chance to indulge in memorable culinary experiences without having to empty their pockets.
There are many affordable restaurants and cooking classes a passionate blogger can enjoy while in Lisbon. Cervejaria Ramiro is one of the locals’ favourite gathering places that recently became famous among travellers as well.
Bloggers who are passionate about travelling and history can’t miss seeing Berlin, one of Germany’s most interesting and intriguing cities.
The number of museums and historical monuments is fantastic, giving history enthusiasts the thrill they are looking for.
Art, great architecture, as well as shocking stories from WWII and other crucial moments of Europe’s past are also present everywhere in Berlin.
Do you want to share stories about sunny days, splendid beaches, cocktail recipes, and mouthwatering dishes, but you are also interested in cultural and historical places?
Then, visit Mallorca.
The island is paradise for travellers who dream about being caressed by the sun, enjoying water adventures, and having real island fun.
But culture and history aficionados are also welcome in Mallorca.
Palma, the capital city, as well as the great number of castles, fortresses, and historical monuments are always a delight for curious visitors. And the Palma Cathedral is definitely an inspiration for all bloggers and Instagram users who love sharing their travels through amazing photos.
Since we are talking about islands, Croatia is worth mentioning because it has many special pieces of land where passionate bloggers can spend memorable holidays and write great posts.
Hvar and the little, beautiful Pakleni Islands amaze the eyes of all visitors with spectacular landscapes and a multitude of secluded beaches surrounded by crystal-clear waters filled with thrilled snorkelers.
Whether you are interested in romantic walks, want to indulge in some of the world’s most interesting cuisine, or dream about following the steps of famous artists, Paris is the perfect destination.
The city was an inspiration for many great minds, and just wandering around its small alleys can give you enough beauty for your articles.
But if this is not enough, enjoy an artistic adventure at the Louvre Museum, climb the famous Eiffel tour, visit the imposing Notre Dame Cathedral or get in touch with your childhood at Disneyland.
Portugal is one of the best travel vloggers and bloggers’ countries, not only thanks to its fascinating capital, Lisbon, but also because it has so much natural beauty.
The Algarve is a region that should be at the top of your list if you love writing about your adventures.
Not only will you find some of the most beautiful beaches in the world here, but the Algarve promises to amaze you with breathtaking landscapes, small, picturesque villages, and authentic cities.
Tavira is a place you shouldn’t miss if you want to catch a glimpse of the village culture, and Lagos is a great city to observe daily Portuguese life.
If nature is your cup of tea, make sure you explore the Ria Formosa National Park, and if you are interested in spending some time by yourself and admiring the surrounding beauties, check out Ponta da Piedade and Cape St Vincent.
These are just seven of the beautiful European destinations a blogger should visit, but there are many more places waiting to be explored and added to your travel posts.
About the author
Guest contributor Rebecca is an expat and translator by day, and a traveller mostly at night. She is an expert on living with jet lag – and packing in tiny suitcases. You can read more of her exploits at RoughDraft.
A welcome cool breeze skimmed across the Vltava, as dozens of paddle-boat revellers and a few small ferries floated past me on excursions along the Prague waterfront. I’d arrived ahead of Cooper for our weekend in Prague for travel bloggers – or, with a creative content twist; you see, we’re on our way to another annual TBEX conference, and I couldn’t be more excited to be in the Czech Republic.
It was Friday afternoon about 6.30pm and after a scorching hot day fighting through crowds for a glimpse at the city’s famously pretty highlights, I’d stumbled into a stunning yet quite secluded spot by the water. The place was otherwise anonymous, crudely labelled ‘Riverside Bar’ on a blackboard out the back of the place.
The shabby-chic joint served cold drinks and was streaming chilled House tunes – right up my alley. Similar name as a luxe and expensive Brisbane counterpart (that admittedly I love), yet cheap, romantic, less sweaty and overlooking the city’s medieval structures including the Charles Bridge. With a flavoursome gin and tonic sparkling in my eyes and the sun beginning its descent across the Czech Republic, it occurred to me, this is the life. I could be an a$$ and hashtag it ‘blessed’, but…
For the first time in months, I’d say, I sat without thought, just observing in peace.
It’s been so so busy this year and I need this weekend in Prague. I don’t like to overuse the word ‘busy’ – we tout a saying in my team at work about how ‘busy’ has become an excuse, often meaning that actually, you believe your ‘stuff’ to be more important than someone else’s, when often we have no idea what others are up against, nor do we remember to be respectful of it.
That said, while I’ve tried hard to balance things, it’s been tough, and writing or blogging for myself and for this lifestyle and travel space is the last thing I have energy for. Yet, it’s in my heart. And away from the hustle and bustle of Prague’s overcrowded tourist centre (not to mention my ‘other’ routine life), yet with its best bits in my line of sight, I felt inspired again.
While I moan about the crowds (apparently Prague is the fifth most visited city in Europe), I must admit to having a moment on Friday afternoon. I was wandering the UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage listed Old Town Square, and as I gazed around me at the colourful, historical architecture and felt energy of so many who had come before, my breath caught and tears came to my eyes. It was rather overwhelming and took me by surprise. Probably nothing to do with being deliriously tired following a work social the night before and a 6am flight.
In all seriousness, it’s as beautiful as I remember it, and more than that, how lucky are we to have the chance to be in such places, so far from home?
Beyond the selfie sticks and those taking more photos of themselves than their surroundings, the depths of crowds attempting to enter popular areas, and hundreds of tourist groups dripping in deep-fried ice-cream-stuffed doughnut cones (yep it’s a thing, although not even Czech, as I understand it), there is palpable magic in this city of red rooftops and a thousand spires, wooded hills, romantic views and influence from generations gone by.
Founded in the latter part of the 9th Century, Prague became the seat of the kings of Bohemia. The city flourished during the 14th Century and for hundreds of years was a multi-ethnic city with an influential Czech, German and Jewish population.
From 1939 the country was occupied by the Nazis and while Prague’s structures remained relatively undamaged during the war, most Jews either fled the city or were killed in the Holocaust. The German population was then expelled in the aftermath of WWII.
Most of us remember the Prague that was under Communist rule for over 40 years, rarely visited by tourists until after the Velvet Revolution on 17 November 1989. Freedom meant a huge economic boom and an influx of delighted visitors from then on, which only increased after the Czech Republic joined the European Union in 2004.
As mentioned, we’re destined for TBEX Europe 2018, in a place I’d never thought to have visited, Ostrava. That said, as travel bloggers and explorers we are very excited to see somewhere new! Preparing and in Prague for the weekend, Cooper and I wanted our schedule to be part (re)discovery, part relaxing, part planning for networking and the conference (which I blogged about for the TBEX Events site recently).
We stayed about twenty minutes walk from the city centre, at Hotel Kinsky Gardens in a quiet Prague neighbourhood, yet with the convenience of supermarkets, shopping mall, pubs, a delicious tapas restaurant called Miro, and tram stop not five minutes’ walk away.
The river precinct I came to love (including the ‘Riverside Bar’, gorgeous new waterfront restaurant opening this week Kalina Kampa and Belle Vida Cafe) was just ten minutes walk from our accommodation, and is perfect for anyone who has done the central Prague tourist bit and is happy to indulge in the views away from the chaos.
On Saturday night I hosted my very first TBEX meet-up (this is my sixth TBEX conference so I’m excited to have taken this step).
We met up with four locals to Prague and five visitors from as far as America, Costa Rica and another conference attendee coming from England like us. We ran the plans through the conference Facebook group and Katie (an American expat living in Prague) chose a cool pub on a hill with a view for our group’s meet-up, and Prague local Veronika assisted with finding an impromptu dining option so we could all hang out and try local cuisine.
It was immensely fun to meet other travel bloggers and content creators in Prague this weekend and part of the reason we’re so pleased we continue to develop our little corner of the web here, for love and a hobby.
Prague is easy to do as a city break – you can walk around the old town, to the castle, up to view points, catch trams to gardens, boat-ride around the Vltava, enjoy a little jazz, join a free walking tour and get cultural in museums.
A weekend in Prague: practical tips
Be careful of taxis, they can be unregulated and rip you off. Go with a pre-booked service or use the trams and trains as they are very well run and cheap, but DO buy a ticket as if you get caught without one or if you have not validated it the fines are hefty.
Try the beer (it’s the home of Pilsner, after all), and as always, get out of the tourist areas of a cheaper experience when it comes to food and dining.
Take your money out of an ATM that’s associated with a bank and be careful of the exchange outlets that say ‘zero commission’ (usually they are hiking up hidden charges).
Importantly, be curious. In our case, this weekend in Prague was for us as travel bloggers: an unexpected low-key treat and reminder of how much I’ve gained from travel – the people met, surprising and inspired moments, lands wandered at early (or late) hours, and the fulfilment that pursuing creativity provides. We are lucky, but I too am grateful.
Onwards to Ostrava…
Got a question on where to stay, how to get around or things to do in Prague? Drop us a line in the comments – we love to chat and share
This past week we had the chance to attend the summer launch party for Skylight rooftop bar at Tobacco Dock in east London.
We didn’t know Skylight rooftop bar existed but wow, what a venue! We’ll definitely be back. Spread across three huge levels, Skylight includes undercover spaces (for when London weather isn’t playing nice), games, comfortable seating and unbeatable views over London.
Summer in London is here, and it means our rooftop bars are beginning to open their doors again, just in time for May’s first long weekend. After a long cold winter, we are ready to play.
Take a look around Skylight …. see you soon for summer in London.
Welcome to Travel Live learn, where we are passionate about living a life full of great adventures. We are Sarah + Cooper, and here we share our advice and stories about expat living in the UK; pet and house sitting around the world; wellness travel and creative living, no matter where on the planet you are. We have worked in media, communication and creative roles for 20 years, and have spent over 10 years living and working abroad. We hope you find value in our content. Please do connect by leaving a comment or find us on social media.