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From London to the beach at Whitstable

From London to the beach at Whitstable

If the sun comes out we want for nothing more than to head to the seaside, and the beach at Whitstable is absolutely accessible by train from London to Whitstable for a day trip or weekend.

Whitstable is a quaint seaside destination in Kent. The train London to Whitstable is just over an hour’s ride from St Pancras (at Kings Cross).

Escape to the beach at Whitstable

A Whitstable day trip on the train from London means you can enjoy quirky shopping, seafood aplenty, oysters, oysters, oysters… and best of all, there are dogs everywhere!

Kent is a beautiful and accessible destination from London.

We love it because it’s easy to get to the beach in around an hour; the scenery, energy and vibe of similar beach-side destinations like Broadstairs and Botany Bay means that just one day away from the big city energises you! Well worth the time.

For those seeking swimming opportunities, do your research – the beach at Whitstable is great for paddling and water sports, as well as people watching and lounging about.

It’s not the sandiest of beaches, from what we saw, but it has the best of any seaside experience.

Beat the crowds on your Kent beach day trip

Our major travel tip is be to go early, because if you strike a lovely day, by around midday this little town (and others like it) is packed.

Whitstable is famous for its an annual mid-year Oyster festival.

To give you some idea of how popular this is, the town’s is population is around 32,000 and during this festival attracts an additional 40,000!

Take a look around at our Whitstable beach and seaside escape.

Hopefully you’ll be inspired to book your train from London to Whitstable next time the sun is out.

 

Got questions about travel in and around London? Or your own travel tips? Let us know in the comments… 

 

Brisbane to Gold Coast, Australia – travel like a local

Brisbane to Gold Coast, Australia – travel like a local

Cooper and I are both proud Queenslanders and appreciate the value of exploring the south-east, Brisbane to Gold Coast. They are not the same, by the way, but two separate cities. Brisbane is the trendy capital city of Queensland. The Gold Coast is one of the largest and fastest growing cities in Australia. But they are near to each other – Brisbane to Gold Coast by car or train is only about an hour.

While I consider England is a bit like my spiritual home, being back in Aus recently made me remember what’s so special about it, and why you should definitely do the Brisbane to Gold Coast trip.

Brisbane to Gold Coast – a sunny adventure you want to have

I’m most disappointed when people around the world tell me one of two things about why they might not travel to Queensland, Brisbane to Gold Coast or other areas of my stunning home state:

  1. “I don’t think I’ll get to Australia, it’s a bit far and isn’t it just the same as other places, like America, Spain, England…?”
  2. “I went to Queensland a few years ago and found it to be run down, and too touristy.”

Pretty offensive!

But I get the myths, stereotypes and misconceptions.

Please, don’t ever write Australia and especially travel to Queensland off.

Brisbane to Gold Coast – the stunning Brisbane river

I was reminded of how contemporary and cool we are; super friendly people and a sunny vibe.

It’s worth your while. I’m inspired when I meet travellers like Geri Vladeva who dream about visiting Aus,for good reason (and she did so this year, read about her adventures)!

Let’s start again.

Brisbane to Gold Coast – Southbank

Brisbane to Gold Coast: city updates

After being away for four years I noticed some big changes, especially in Brisbane.

Anyone who has visited Queensland over the past 20 or 30 years tends to think Brisbane, Gold Coast and Cairns (some of the best places to go!) are a little dilapidated.

Now however, you’ll find sleek cities, lovely river walks, restaurants, bars, cool spaces to hang out and be active.

I was really impressed.

Head straight for the riverfront walk in Brisbane, or a stroll through Southbank.

And if you’ve not been to Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast in a while, well, it’s totally cleaned-up, and a chic spot to visit.

Pacific Fair down the road at Broadbeach has enjoyed a significant expansion and is a premier shopping destination.

Burleigh on the Gold Coast is still beautiful too, with its glorious beaches and sophisticated restaurants and cafes.

A cultural melting pot of charm

Australia has its own charm, and nowhere is this more obvious than in Queensland.

Multicultural influence is everywhere too, particularly Asian culture.

There’s no shortage of Asian grocery stores and fusion restaurants, including Harajuku Gyoza – a smart Japanese-inspired chain developed by an Aussie foodie fan.

Brisbane city centre boasts a number of food halls dedicated to serving delicious Japanese, Chinese, Indonesian and Korean food. So good!

I was also surprised to find an extraordinary ‘spiritual spa’, meditation, yoga, therapies and crystals space – Chameleon New Age Salon, set across two dazzling floors in the heart of Surfers Paradise.

It was just one of the many unique offerings I found in south-east Queensland and that had me feeling truly proud and impressed.

Brisbane to Gold Coast – Paradise Point on the Gold Coast

Getting around, Brisbane to Gold Coast

Brisbane and the Gold Coast are served by international airports that are now easier to access than ever before.

The Gold Coast has developed the ‘G’ (G: link) tram which means a city that was previously quite inconvenient to navigate if you did not have a car, is now simple to access.

You can take the train from the centre of Brisbane all the way to Helensvale then catch the tram to Surfers Paradise or Broadbeach. Alternatively you can easily transfer to Coolangatta airport (Gold Coast) on this line too.

Brisbane and the Gold Coast (also Cairns) receive countless flights from Asian destinations now, and Queensland is well and truly open for business.

If you buy a Go Card, you can use it on all public transport in Brisbane and across the Gold Coast. It operates like an Oyster card (London) or any other major city transport card. You can add top-up value to it, and by using a Go Card you will enjoy big discounts on your travels, so it’s worth picking one up from one of the many vendors in these cities.

Brisbane to Gold Coast – Brisbane city

Areas to visit, Brisbane to Gold Coast

I was very impressed by Brisbane – it’s a city that’s done a LOT of growing since I last lived here.

The river walk is absolutely beautiful. I’d start down in front of the Stamford Hotel and walk along past the gardens, or go left towards Hamilton. Early morning is the best time to explore and capture great pictures like the one above.

You can use a Go Card on the CityCat (ferry) too, and see the city via the Brisbane river – head one way towards the cruise terminals and Hamilton, or the other way towards my old stomping ground, the University of Queensland.

The Gold Coast – in my mind at least – consists of three major sections.

Coming in from Brisbane you hit the northern end, with its theme parks and serene suburbs like Sanctuary Cove (great for golf or boating enthusiasts) and Paradise Point.

Harbour Town outlet shopping is also in the area, and in recent years features cool additions like Coach, Kate Spade and Michael Kors stores.

Driving further into the city you might like to explore up-market Main Beach (not far from Sea World), the waterfront at Labrador and a stop in Surfers Paradise is a must.

Past Surfers you’ll come to Broadbeach which is a beautiful spot brimming with cool boutiques and eateries, the home to Draculas cabaret restaurant and theatre and an intense shopping experience, Pacific Fair.

Burleigh and beyond is for those who love serious beachfront landscapes – probably my favourite part of the coast, presenting the epitome of our Aussie beach lifestyle.

Brisbane to Gold Coast – along the waterfront coming into Surfers Paradise Gold Coast

 

Australia – it is as sunny and beautiful as they say; full of characters, experience and charm. My home state is far from back-water now.

You’ll find the best of contemporary experiences here, along with an enviable way of life from the rainforest to the surf.

Heading our way for a travel adventure? Let us know in the comments if you have any questions. And of course, if you’ve discovered your own slice of fun in Queensland, we’d love it if you left your recommendations in the comments to help other travellers.

 

 

 

A weekend in Amsterdam for couples

A weekend in Amsterdam for couples

How lucky we are in London to be so close to some of the world’s coolest cities, and be able to set up time away, like a weekend in Amsterdam, just across the water.

We’ve discovered some of the very best experiences in Amsterdam that you can take advantage of on a weekend city break – have a read for our itinerary.

A weekend in Amsterdam for couples

Amsterdam is a city with a reputation.

While we did discover the best place to get high (above the city, you cheeky things), on our recent winter weekend in Amsterdam for couples city-break, we fell a little more in love … with the city, too.

A weekend in Amsterdam - Over the Edge

 

Winter in Amsterdam can be a little harsh, as we experienced in the pitch black at 6pm on Saturday night.

We pushed slowly against the wind, hail slapping us hard in the face as we pressed one slow step at a time forward along the side of a bicycle highway towards our hotel.

There was a very real concern that someone wouldn’t see us among the construction and the weather and knock us down.

A weekend in Amsterdam - Bols cocktail experience

 

At the end of the shortcut we’d naively taken along the waterfront towards Aitana Amsterdam, I felt quite exhilarated about surviving. I couldn’t help but relate to the scene in Clueless where Cher, Dion and Murray are able to pull over safely after a brush with death-by-Californian-highway.

To be honest though, the weather was about the same as London in terms of chill factor, and if you’re rugged-up, winter in Amsterdam for a traveller is just fine!

The other bonus about this time of year is that you can secure lovely accommodation for a fraction of the price it is in summer, and the city isn’t as busy either (although I wouldn’t say it was quiet).

A weekend in Amsterdam - museums and stately homes

 

A weekend in Amsterdam for couples: best travel experiences (especially in the winter)

I’ll address the elephant in the room now – yes, you can buy weed here, it’s well-known for that.

But, Amsterdam is so much more than some of it’s seedier (sorry…) areas, although no judgement there!

 

Amsterdam is full of all sorts of fun – and it’s just so beautiful, interesting, chic, delicious, as you’ll see in our vlog below…

 

We featured a few tips in a previous blog on Amsterdam here.

A weekend in Amsterdam - Reypenaer cheese tasting in the city

 

Once you’re done with the tourist area, may we suggest wandering the neighbourhoods around the city’s popular shopping precinct near De Negen Straatjes (‘The Nine Little Streets’).

Tourist information centres can point you in the right direction.

There’s a neat blog on Amsterdam shopping areas here that might be helpful, but always ask a local for advice.

A weekend in Amsterdam - Bols sensory experience

 

Getting high (on life)

In the first instance, we can’t recommend highly enough the I Amsterdam City Card – we have used it twice on visits to the city and it’s excellent value for money, including transport and entry to most attractions, a free canal ride and discounts in many stores.

Discover more and buy yours here 

A weekend in Amsterdam - get around using the I Amsterdam city card

 

There’s SO much to do in Amsterdam that while a winter weekend (or spring, autumn, summer) is amazing, there’s never enough time, even though this is a little city.

Every time we go we discover more that we love, and more we want to do.

A weekend in Amsterdam - Over the Edge highest swing in Europe

 

Our top travel experiences: a weekend in Amsterdam

Yes, it’s quite cold in the wintertime, but we didn’t find it any worse than London.

Same clothing rules apply: layer, wear a waterproof and warm jacket, hat, scarf, gloves, warm socks and comfortable shoes for walking.

Our winter weekend in Amsterdam itinerary included indoor options though, because you do need a little respite from the cold. That said, all of this is awesome to do at any time of year.

 

We’ve featured it all in our special vlog, but in summary our top travel experiences for a weekend in Amsterdam for couples include:

  1. The delicious and fabulous one-hour cheese and wine tasting at Reypenaer Cheese
  2. Learn about Amsterdam’s interesting history through its national drink, Genever, and a cool sensory experience at the House of Bols (with free cocktail!)
  3. Step back in time to discover how the wealthy set lived (this was an incredibly rich city and important trading port just a few centuries ago) by exploring one of the mansions open to the public with the past on display. We enjoyed Museum Van Loon

  4. A canal cruise, included with your I Amsterdam City Card, or hop on board one of the many options available when you arrive in town – day, evening, dining – whatever takes your pleasure. But do definitely see Amsterdam from the water!
  5. Then see the city from the opposite perspective at A’DAM Lookout, which features restaurants, bars, a panoramic sky deck and Europe’s highest swing (and a disco elevator to the heavens, that’s fun!).

 

A weekend in Amsterdam - Reypenaer cheese tasting in Amsterdam is a must

 

Do you have questions or tips of your own? Do let us know in the comments.

Amsterdam is one of our very favourite cities so we’d love to have a conversation with you about it… you can find us on social media too.

 

Christmas in Mallorca, Spain

Christmas in Mallorca, Spain

The past few weeks in London had been cold – colder than I care for, but I had Christmas in Mallorca to look forward to! Work days at a top of 3 degrees, and when you top that off with a daily ride to work full of sniffly, coughing commuters, well, you can appreciate that we all need a little break come Christmastime.

I’d been very good [hello Santa] coming up to the festive period. One who enjoys the sparkly allure of a Christmas party, this year the late nights were kept in check, that is, until 22 December when a slew of happy events led me to being in a state not at all fit for a 4.30am rise.

We got through Stansted airport, fending off the rest of the Saturday morning school holiday rush. I thought I was doing well, despite the brain fog and living on the edge of severe grumpiness, only to get to security and realise my computer and liquids were inside my carry-on suitcase. I slid the laptop out through the side and attempted a very cunning manoeuvre to remove my plastic bag full of liquids, only for the entire suitcase to flip over on itself and for all the contents to scatter along the floor.

Oh yes, I was that person.

It would have been hilarious if only it wasn’t me. I’m sure for the hoards of holiday-goers trying to cope pre-caffeine it was hysterical. I didn’t look. I still can’t think too much about it.

Fortunately, just over two hours later, I was in Spain where I would happily take the sun and breezy 17 degrees by the marina – a pleasurable escape from the grey that has been my adopted home of the UK (I’m its biggest fan but even I need a little sunshine every now and then).

Thank the Universe for Christmas in Mallorca (sometimes spelled Majorca).

Then there was Spain

There really is something about Spain, for us at least.

We love the language and the accents and the culture. The sun and beaches are pretty nice too.

Last Christmas we defied tradition and visited Ibiza, a long-time dream destination of ours. It certainly did not disappoint and remains one of our favourite places. I’m looking forward to returning to that blissful, melodic island – probably in summer when everything is open!

We couldn’t get as far as home (Queensland), so wanted an Ibiza-esque Christmas experience in 2017. That is, sunshine, beautiful scenery and travel experiences, but with a little more actually happening over the festive break. After a long discussion where the list of possibilities became impossible (we just want to go everywhere!), one weekend in September we literally closed our eyes and put a virtual pin on Google Maps.

Mallorca (or Majorca) was the winner.

Is anything open at Christmas in Mallorca?

At Christmastime for most around the world, we all encounter the same thing which is a lack of activities, shopping and travel options on offer late December. Fair enough, this is a time for families and if you’re lucky enough to not be working, then so be it (you deserve it!).

As a visitor to a region though, we want to be able to take in a couple of new experiences, and my research indicated that while much of the island of Mallorca may not be open (some beach clubs operate seasonally across the summer months), the capital of Palma promised to be abuzz with plenty to do.

As it turns out, this is very true. Even London totally (totally!) shuts down on Christmas day, but in Mallorca the local buses were operating, as was City Sightseeing (hop on hop off bus tour) and many bars and restaurants opened their doors.

Winter in Mallorca – travel tips, transport and best-of

The weather in December averages a top of about 15 or 16 degrees. It’s warm in the sun but can be a little chilly if there’s a breeze, and the temperature does drop at night. It’s quite pleasant though.

The capital, Palma, is buzzing with plenty going on, so in the first instance wander the back streets, visit art galleries, take a look inside the old churches and try some tapas.

The Cathedral of Santa Maria of Palma (or La Seu) is unmissable, its Gothic structure standing tall over the city. Work on this cathedral began in the 13 Century, and famous architect Antoni Gaudí (who has left his stamp all over Barcelona) even spent time working on this structure between 1904 and 1914.

Another Gothic structure that’s well worth the trip to the top of a hill overlooking the city, is Bellver Castle. The only circular castle in all of Spain, this 14th Century structure is really interesting to explore, and with a huge bonus in that it boasts the best views across Mallorca.

Hire a bike and ride along the extensive promenade, explore the marinas and along the coast.

You could ride to, or take bus number 25 to nearby beach s’Arenal. Many beaches and beach clubs around the island are closed over winter but this is a nice area and some eateries and shops are open.

The bus system is quite easy to use, but you’ll need cash. A single fare is currently €1.50, and the driver can change up to a €10 note.

If you have spare time and in need of retail therapy, there’s plenty of stores and a mall in the city, and a large shopping destination called Porto Pi which you can take a bus or a cab to.

Another experience that was mentioned to us a few times was a steam train that runs between Palma and Soller on the other side of Mallorca.

The whole trip is about an hour and a half one way, and you can’t pre-book tickets. The line was closed for maintenance when we were there, but this seems like it would be a lovely thing to do. Do keep an eye on the timetable though, because return trip would need to be planned.

Christmas in Palma – dining ideas

To be honest, we didn’t have a bad meal here! I remember being concerned about what may not be open at Christmas in Mallorca but there’s no need to worry, you’ll have plenty to choose from even on 25 December.

Notable venues we found:

Lennox the Pub, for €2.50 glasses of wine and gorgeous bar ambience.

Cafeteria Tropic (opposite the marina and next to the Auditorium), for delicious tapas.

Hogan’s Live Music, Sports Bar & Restaurant for yummy burgers, pub menu and music.

Bodega can Rigo, in Palma town, a charismatic little restaurant and bar, excellent food and coffee and a popular bar since 1949. We literally stumbled across this place and loved it!

Chez Camille for a finer dining experience.

All of the above and much more was open on Christmas day. It’s quiet around 5pm so go for a wander and see what takes your fancy.

How to spend a day in Paris | photo story + vlog

How to spend a day in Paris | photo story + vlog

Ever wish you could just jump on a train and spend a day in Paris? Well, from London you can! We’d never taken a ride on the Eurostar before, and when we finally did we wished we’d done it sooner. We’ve discovered an easy way to spend a day in this romantic place, whether it’s cold, windy, wet or sunny.

How to spend a day in Paris

Easy, accessible … 24 hours in Paris is sure to enliven anyone’s spirit. We visited during the colder months, and the city is just as charming, if not more so than in summer. Like Amsterdam, it’s easy to get to Paris from London for a day trip, city break and 24 or 48 hour adventure.

Highlights for our day spent in Paris include a Sienne river cruise on Batobus Paris, Montparnasse Tower, wandering the Latin Quarter and visiting the very gorgeous Notre Dame Cathedral. Have a read of our travel guide and vlog, linked in the feature below.

Click ‘read more’ or the arrow in the top right hand corner to scroll the photo story.

Adobe Spark Page

If you have trouble launching in your browser or on mobile, view direct digital feature link here

 

Paris is a huge city with quite a bit of craziness going on. We like this helpful guide by NTripping on how to avoid havoc. We’d love your tips and questions too – drop us a line in the comments or on social media.

Sarah & Cooper x