So for years already I had wanted to visit the Wattenmeer (Wadden Sea) and watch the tide come in from a Strandkorb (beach basket..). Done. Check :)
For the ones of you who have no idea what I am talking about:
The Wadden Sea ranges between the coast of northwestern Europe and the low-lying Frisian Islands. In between there is a shallow body of water with tidal flats and wetlands. Differently said, visiting the same beach at different times of the day means that the hundred metres that you were able to walk towards the seae earlier in the day will have turned into hundred metres of ‘swimmable’ water later in the day.
In September I spent some time back at home in Germany and took my granny to the north of the country to the Wangerland. Growing up in Germany I never really considered other parts of Germany as potential holiday destinations or at least there were not high up my priority list. That’s also why there are still many beautiful places in my home country that I haven’t visited yet. One of these places was the Wangerland in Germany’s Friesland.
If you are after a weekend in the middle of nowhere but with super fresh air and lots of happy sheep and cow, off you go, you will love Wangerland :)
Just note that there is not really any considerable amount of public transport, so come by car and rent a bicycle to explore the area.
There are also beautiful islands that can be visited by ferry. Make sure to bring lots of time with you though as things just take a lot longer here. This especially is the case for ferries that go according to the tides and weather..
Last week I visited Stratford-Upon-Avon. The name sounds familiar, doesn’t it? You might have already heard about it, especially if you had classic English literature in school. The beautiful town of Stratford-Upon-Avon is Shakespeare’s birth town. And it’s not only full of Shakespeare’s history, it’s also a really lovely little medieval town – perfect to explore by foot.
Also, it’s super easy to get to Stratford-Upon-Avon from London (and from lots of other places in the UK really). Just take the National Express coach and in a bit more than two hours you will arrive. That’s what I did. I left in the morning around 9 from Victoria Coach Station and at noon I already had a late breakfast at a super cosy café. I would recommend to stay one night in Stratford-Upon-Avon if you really want to visit all the sights and also have some relaxing time in the town’s cafes and pubs. I just came for a day and, apart from the breakfast and a glass of wine in a café, I was busy sightseeing until I took the coach home again in the early evening. I still didn’t make it to Mary Arden’s Farm, the childhood home of Shakespeare’s mother.
Shakespeare’s Birth Place is the place where he was born and grew up with his parents and siblings. He also spent his first year of marriage in the house with his wife, Anne Hathaway. Visiting this beautiful house you will not only feel set back in time but also learn a lot about Shakespeare’s upbringing and family life. The rooms are all furbished and it’s really easy to imagine what life must have been like when Shakespeare was a little boy. There is also live-theatre in the garden :)
Shakespeare’s New Place was his family home from 1597 until he passed away in 1616. The house was demolished in 1759 – the story of why this happened will be explained when you visit New Place. The reason why it was demolished has nothing to do with Shakespeare, yet it is still a nice little historical story. Make sure you join the 15 mins speech about the place during which drawings of Shakespeare’s house are shown. New Place also has a lovely garden.
Hall’s Croft is the beautiful Jacobean home of Shakespeare’s daughter Susanna and her husband, the physician John Hall. Like Shakespeare’s Birth Place, Hall’s Croft is also furbished and walking through the quaint little rooms feels like you have travelled back in time and dinner is about to get served – at a dinner party 400 years ago :)
Anne Hathaway’s Cottage is the birth place of Shakespeare’s wife. It is a lovely 500 year old cottage which is said to still have the same floor in the kitchen that was established by Anne Hathaway’s grandfather.
When Anne Hathaway lived in the cottage, it is believed that it only had one floor and looked pretty much like in the drawing below. Over the years more floors were added and the cottage developed into a lovely and cosy home for the families that lived there over the last hundreds of years.
There was so much that I learnt about Shakespeare’s life that day. Before I was able to actually really process everything (you are bombarded with information at each sight you visit) I already found myself back in the bus to London. At least then I had a couple of hours to read all the material that I collected during the day. So, as mentioned before, ideally make Stratford-Upon-Avon a weekend getaway so you have more time to explore everything.
How to get there
I collaborated with National Express for this post, so I was able to try one of their coaches from London to Stratford-Upon-Avon. National Express is one of the largest operators of coach services in the UK. They offer high frequency services linking more than 900 destinations and coach services to all major UK airport 24 hours a day. I personally like to travel by bus as this always reminds me on the time I backpacked through Latin America. And, honestly, it was very relaxed and stress-free to take the National Express coach to Stratford-Upon-Avon. They have air-conditioning, leather seats, power sockets (!) and clean toilets. I fell asleep 10 mins into the journey and woke up as we were approaching Stratford-Upon-Avon :)
I hadn’t been to Paris for almost four years before my last trip. In 2014 I took my granny to Paris and before that I think it was in 2009 when I spent two weeks in pretty Paris plus every other weekend for a few months. That was when I had a boyfriend who moved from London to Paris. And before that… it must have been as part of a student trip when the Economics & Econometrics student association that I was part of (yes, I had a fair share of nerdy times) went to Paris to visit the OECD and, I believe, the IMF. This is so long ago I can’t even remember. Well and before that… it was with my parents who took me there a couple of times when I was a teenager :)
Long story short, this time it was a girls trip.
I took the Eurostar from London to Paris and arrived a few hours before the rest of the girls. So I decided to spend the day in Parc Monceau, drinking coffee, eating croissants and reading my book.
Let the Girls’ Weekend Begin..
We all stayed at my friend’s place who recently moved to Paris. Once everyone had arrived at night, we went for dinner in a tapas place (don’t remember the name) and then had cocktails at a hidden bar (you had to pass by a cooling room for meat to get to the bar). I have also forgotten that name. Sorry guys. It was probably one of the speakeasy bars.
We started quite early the next day mostly due to the fact that my friend’s cute little daughter decided to ask for entertainment around 9 am. So after playing with little Julia we got ready and left the house by noon. The first stop was shopping.
If you ever wanted to wait on the other side of the shopping street and read your emails while leaning against a building that could potentially be an embassy, don’t..
.. because you will be greeted by a lovely guy that carries around a super huge machine gun!
I first didn’t see the guy’s face but only saw the machine gun. So you can imagine what my initial thoughts were… but then, when he realised that I was just a tourist girl waiting for her friends to finish shopping, he was very nice and explained in broken English that this side of the street is not open to the public. Then I remembered that I did cross a little barrier to get there. Oops.
Shopping can be so exhausting! Duh. So headed over to Place de la Concorde and had cocktails at Hotel de Crillon. I instantly fell in love with the interior of the hotel. Even the bathroom was stunning.
I love to sleep in after a night out. This of course doesn’t work when you are woken up by little angel Julia around 8am. To be fair it the cutest way to wake up. She starts humming and singing and after a while adds a few ‘Maman?’ to the mix. So adorable.
Once we had given up on sleep we headed over to Monmartre and Sacre Coeur. Later that night it was time to go back to London again. Bye, bye pretty Paris.
‘Oh, you live in London. Does it really rain all the time?’
You can’t imagine how often I’m asked this or a similar version of this question. Especially from Germans. And I also grew up thinking that the only weather available in the UK is rain. Even my great granny once told me (when I was around 6 years old and met an 8 year old British boy on a family holiday):
‘Nadine, you don’t want to live in England, it always rains.’
So I guess that, at least in Germany, it’s common knowledge that it rains in the UK. All. The. Time.
But how bad is the weather in the UK, really? And more specifically, in London?
Well, for the last few weeks it has been hot. And I mean really hot. It has been so hot actually that I can’t sleep in the bedroom under the roof without setting the ventilator on full speed. This still means though that I can’t sleep as the sound is much too loud to have a peaceful night.
And even outside of the usual 2 weeks of summer that we get in London (ok, recently it has been getting better..), it does not really rain all the time. In fact, it rather drizzles. And yes, it drizzles relatively frequently. But a good thunderstorm with heavy rain.. no, this is something that doesn’t happen too often in London. Unfortunately (I LOVE thunderstorms).
I’m so happy that we finally have a garden. For the 10 years that I have been living in London, I mostly stayed in places without a garden. But since last summer I have had the pleasure to set up my little workspace in the patio – that is as long as it’s warm enough. A couple of months ago I enjoyed this year’s first day of summer in the garden. And it’s still nice and warm.
Thank you, London – 2018 has been great so far!
But sometimes you might have gone swimming on a Saturday, relaxed in the park on a Sunday and then a few days later .. BAM! .. back to cooler temperatures and the umbrella will become your new best friend again. In fact, or maybe this is just my biased opinion, a hot summer of more than 28 degrees is the exception. If you travel to London in summer you will have a high chance of encountering temperatures from 18 degrees to 25. So, the below photo is a more ‘typical’ photo of what I generally wore in London in summer.
Jeans, t-shirt… and don’t you forget your cardigan.
This way you are very well prepared for most of what London will show you weather-wise :) And no worries, the outfit below you can leave hidden in your wardrobe until October… just take the umbrella with you :)
I collaborated with Aquascutum for this post. Aquascutum is a British brand that was established in Mayfair more than 150 years ago when it was one of the first to create waterproof textiles. Nowadays, they still create stunning fashion that protects you from the rain. Check out Aquascutum’s fancy rainwear for men!
Ok ladies, the link for the men’s section was meant to prevent you from checking out Aquascutum’s outlet section… Do not click over there. Don’t. Fashion on sale will do funny things to your brain..
As you know, I’m such a beach bum. Ok, sometimes I like to hide in the shade (sunburns no good..) and I don’t mind at all when it’s rainy season and I’ll be swimming during hot tropical rain. A couple of days of my recent holiday in the Seychelles and also my two months in Vietnam saw some rainy swim sessions. As long as it’s still like 28 degrees (and there are sunny hours!), I don’t mind too much.
I still wouldn’t be able to decide between mountains and beaches, though if I really had to, like really, I would probably opt for beaches as I love water sports way too much. That said there are perfect beaches for surfing but not for scuba diving or snorkeling, and vice versa. But this post is about the most beautiful beaches around the world. Some might not even be suitable for either surfing nor scuba diving haha. So this list will be a mix of beaches on my bucket list and beaches which I have been to and instantly fell in in LOVE with!
Best of Beaches I have visited
Anse Source d’Argent, La Digue, Seychelles
Anse Source d’Argent is my top favourite beach of all. It’s in a national park (sort of) part of the island La Digue that you can get to by ferry from Mahe, the main island of the Seychelles. You can visit La Digue as a day trip or stay in a hotel directly. Once you arrive at La Digue, rent a bicycle and make your way around the island to some of the most beautiful beaches on the planet. Another amazing beach on the island is Grande Anse Beach, shown in the second instagram photo.
The Seychelles offer plenty of super pretty beaches and it doesn’t matter which island you choose for your stay. Each island has stunning beaches and if you want to discover more, just hop over to another island by ferry.
Cayo Santa Maria, Cuba
There are lots of beautiful beaches in Cuba – especially the Cayos are stunning and frequented by a smaller number of travellers than Veradero, for instance. We stayed in Cayo Santa Maria in a hotel with a private beach access. I have never seen beach so calm, clear and warm.. like bathwater :)
Playa del Norte, Isla Mujeres, Mexico
Isla Mujeres is such a cute little island that you can visit by ferry from Cancun. We spent a day there and had quite some Margaritas during sunset :)
Similan Islands, Phuket, Thailand
I went to Phuket a few years ago. You can rent a yacht or join a tour to visit the Similan Islands which are really stunning. Unfortunately a lots of people have discovered them now and it seems that everyone brings in some garbage to the island. I hope it hasn’t gotten worse within the last years. But anyway, the beaches are stunning.
BAI SAO BAY, Phu Quoc, Vietnam
I stayed around two months in Vietnam and visited quite a lot of beaches in that time. Mia Resort Hotel in Nha Trang has a private beach that is pretty, so do lots of other hotels in the country. Though Vietnam is not so famous for its beaches, there are quite a number of really pretty ones. My favourite was the Bai Sao beach in Phu Quoc, a little island around one hour by plane from Saigon. Make sure you arrive early or late so you can enjoy the beach without the other tourists.. The picture below was taken on the most left side of the beach. You can easily get there on your own by scooter, DO NOT join a tour. Well, unless you love to lie on the beach like sardines in a can..
Punta Mita, Mexico
Rather than sharing the beach, book yourself into an absolutely stunning hotel where you will share your own private paradise with at most around 12 people: Imanta Resorts in Punta Mita. And for surfing, just hop over to Sayulita, the cutest surfer / hippie village ever which is around 30 mins away by taxi. The nearest airport is Puerto Vallarta.
Mykonos Town Beach, Greece
Greece is super famous for its incredibly beautiful beaches and Mykonos is no exception. Stroll through the island’s cosy old town and then have a coffee in a cafe on the beach or take a little dip. For the party addicts, just head over to the other side of Mykonos and join one of the crazy beach parties.
Beaches high up my bucket list
And now the beaches on my travel bucket list. My favourite beach has clear blue water, white sand, and, most importantly, is a bit remote or hidden so that I don’t have to share it with lots of other people :) Check out my list below on google – summer dreaming :)
Bora Bora, French Polynesia
Grace Bay, Providenciales, Turks and Caicos
One Foot Island, Aitutaki, Cook Islands
Na Pali, Kauai, Hawaii
Nika Island, The Maldives
Eagle Beach, Aruba, Caribbean
Agonda Beach, Goa, India
I collaborated with VistaJet on this post. If you think that a luxury beach holiday is not enough, just book yourself the most luxurious way ever to get to your paradise of choice. VistaJet makes its fleet of over 71 business jets available to customers. The expression ‘travel in style’ gets a whole new level here!
As part of the Croatia and Slovenia road trip late last summer, we spend a day at Lake Bled. OMG, I don’t even know where to start to describe how beautiful this place is. In fact, I don’t even think that my non-mother-tongue vocabulary would do any justice (and I’m not a poet at all either). So instead of failing at describing it adequately, I took LOADS of photos of which this lot here is just a tiny little selection :) So, see for yourself!
Bottom line: Lake Bled is definitely a must-see if you travel through Slovenia or in Istria in Croatia.
Find the girls… or don’t
I travelled with 3 of my friends (we were a group of 4 ladies) but on the day that we visited Lake Bled, I decided to stay longer in bed and recover a bit more from my cold. Our apartment was just a 20 mins walk away from the lake, so it would be super easy to find them later.
So I thought. I thought WRONG.
It turns out that you always need around one hour to get from one pretty place on Lake Bled to another. Walking up to the castle takes around 20 to 30 minutes (especially if you have a cold..) and the boat ride to the island takes about the same… then there are lots of pretty places around the lake to which you – depending on your choice of transport – also need around 30 mins. Once you have arrived at any of these pretty sights you also want to spend some time there. As I thought the girls would visit the castle first, I went straight there. Yet they decided to start with the island instead.. This meant that we were always around one hour and a half ‘away’ from each other.
Well, it’s not that I did sightseeing on my own for the first time, so I still had a great time. Yet I was super happy to finally meet them again in the late afternoon when we had a quick and early dinner before we headed off to the airport to fly back to London.
Inside Lake Bled’s Castle
The View From Bled Castle
Lake Bled’s Island
… Taking a boat to Lake Bled’s island
So… I guess when I just hopped into the boat to the island, the girls just hopped into their boat to leave the island.. what a timing :) Nope, they couldn’t have waited for me as the boat rides are ‘timed’ and you have around 45 mins only on the island before your boat leaves again.
My road ride back was amazing though as suddenly a guy asked me to hold his phone facing him and his girlfriend. I took the phone with a big question mark above my head first – he just asked me to ‘hold’ not to take a picture.. But then he went down on his knees and I realised the phone is taking a video.. and it made ‘click’. He was proposing :) OMG, this was soooo cute. All the other guests on the boat started applauding and when we arrived there was a lot of hugging going on :) :)
… On the Island
Around Lake Bled
So I initially did NOT plan to take a walk around the lake. My only intention after visiting the castle and the island was to meet the girls to have dinner. As I didn’t find a taxi and it started raining, I decided to take the little sightseeing train that drives along the lake in a circle. It even stopped right in front of the restaurant.
But I didn’t get off. It was still raining so I took out my phone to check google maps whether I’m really in front of the restaurant or if I should stay in the train and get off at the next stop. When I realised that YEYYY, I’m right in front of it… the train started moving again. It had stopped each time before for around 5 mins but this stop was less than 30 sec! So I tried to shout at the driver but he couldn’t hear me. For a second I contemplated ‘jumping off’ the train but then, nah.. I didn’t do that. Reality is often much different from the movies.
I ended up at the OTHER end of the lake.. around 40 mins (!) walking distance from the restaurant. Awesome. I was already too late. So now I was even beyond being ‘too late’.
And again, no taxi. And no train going the other way. So I decided to RUN.
Have you ever jogged during the woods? In your jeans with your purse? It’s great…. not. At least I was wearing sneakers.
But it was sort of fun… Running up and down little hills within the wood and having no idea whether I’m actually taking the right route, reminded me on the game ‘Skyrim‘. At least I wasn’t wearing steel armor and had to fight dragons.. (yup, that’s my geeky side).
It turned out that I took the right short cut and arrived at the restaurant around 15 mins later. I was greeted with some Prosecco (girls – you are the best!).
Have you been to Slovenia and Lake Bled? Let me know in the comments.
Already the interior in the lobby of St Martins Lane Hotel looks quite cool and quirky. I mean, who has giant chess figures as decoration? I love chess so I immediately liked the place! Afternoon tea takes place in the Den which is located just off the lobby and is a perfect spot for cosy afternoon tea, playing a board game or even to just curl up with a book. We went for afternoon tea with some bubbles – of course :)
The food and the tea were amazing. I never manage to finish all the sweets when I go for afternoon tea. Same this time: we took half of the desserts home with us. It’s always great for a little treat the next day!
Can I get some sweets, please?
Love that door handle!
Doesn’t the interior of the hotel look super quirky? I loved it and of course we had to take some pictures!
What do you think about my top? I really like it as it’s super versatile from sporty to elegant. I especially like the back of it :) I collaborated with TOBI for this post and was super excited to find this one among their hundreds of cute tops! See for yourself here.
So summer sad ‘hi’ to London for about a long weekend before it started to cool down again. And with cooling down I’m referring to proper winter weather! Today it was 6 degrees, super windy and raining. My umbrella was almost blown away and I slipped and almost fell into a puddle. I bet it looked hilarious for everyone who was watching haha.. But during last week’s taste of summer I at least got to have one sunny day in the garden before I went to Paris for a long (and even hotter!) weekend. More on the Paris girls trip next time :)
Like my flower dress :) ?
Do you like my dress? I collaborated with TOBI for this post. They are based in the US but ship to the UK for free. And they currently also offer 50% off your first order. Click here for more floral summer dresses from TOBI. FYI, they also have an app if you prefer shopping on your phone :)