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.