48 Hour Layover Guide To Yokohama

Yokohama is Japan’s second largest city by population after Tokyo, and Yokohama is located just half an hour south from Tokyo situated on Tokyo Bay. Yokohama may not be as exciting and have the same electric vibe as its neighbour Tokyo, it definitely has more of a business and corporate feel to it. That being said there are things to go see, do and explore and some excellent places to eat and drink and of course you can sing your heart out after a few sakes in one of the many karaoke bars.

Yokohama is one of Japans prominent port cities and over the years has developed rapidly, and business is booming in the area. The city also contains one of the worlds largest Chinatowns with hundreds of restaurants and shops.

I wouldn’t really suggest going out of your way to visit Yokohama as there are much more interesting places to explore around Japan, however if your in Yokohama on business or a layover then here’s a mini guide on some cool stuff to see and do.

Sights & Activities

Cup Noodles Museum

Entrance Fee: 500 JPY

Cup Noodles Museum is a bit of a fun novelty museum, with lots of information, facts, displays, factories and exhibitions all about Cup Noodles. Cup Noodles are huge in Japan, and this museum just proves the popularity of this snack. There are plenty of noodles to try and fun interactive areas in the museum. If your looking for something a little on the quirky side then thus museum is a must!

Karaoke

No trip to Japan is complete without a trip to one of the many karaoke bars and booths, karaoke was invented in Japan and attracts people from all walks of life. I’m not normally a karaoke fan, however in Japan, it is so much fun, you definitely need a few drinks in you first though! When in Yokohama like many other Japanese cities there are karaoke bars dotted all around the city and you can easily stumble across one.

I would recommend heading to the downtown area called Sakuragi-Cho also called Noge where there are plenty of small bars to go bar hopping and then finish your night in a karaoke bar. Many of the bars have set packages such as all you can drink for two hours etc prices and packages vary depending on the bar. Many of the karaoke booths have a box of fancy dress items too, which you should definitely make full use of, dress up as silly as you possibly can and sing the night away dressed like an idiot!

Minato Mirai

Minato Mirai is a futuristic area set along Yokohamas waterfront and the name translates to Harbor of the Future, the area has many features such as a Ferris wheel which is lit up at night, a 1930s sailing ship docked up and also an amusement park called Cosmo World. The Landmark Tower is a real highlight and is a huge skyscraper filled with shops, restaurants, hotels, offices and an observation deck, and it was Japans tallest building until 2014. Have breakfast in the hotel in the Landmark Tower before heading into Tokyo as it provides excellent views over the waterfront. If you can try and visit Minato Mirai both during the day and also at night to see the waterfront lit up.

Minato Mirai Yokohama

Pokemon Centre

There is a Pokemon Centre in Yokohama and if like me you’re a bit of a geek at heart and were also a huge pokemon loon as a kid you need to go! It’s more of a shop with plenty of merchandise available and also a gaming room. The Pokemon Centre is a smaller version to the one in Tokyo, but a must visit and its located just by Yokohama Station.

Pokemon Centre Yokohama

Sankeien Garden & Tea House

Entrance Fee: 700 JPY / Teahouse 500 JPY

Sankeien Garden is a great outdoor space to visit if you want to escape the modern skyrises of Yokohama. Its a large spacious and traditional Japanese Garden which features a pond, small rivers, historic buildings, tea house, pagodas and nature trails. The garden was created back in 1904. You can spend hours exploring all the different buildings and areas of the garden.

After we spent a few hours wandering around we went to the tea house which is a must! Sankeien Garden Tea House is located in the lobby of the memorial hall of Sankeien Gardens where you can enjoy a cup of matcha tea and some traditional Japanese sweets. The lovely ladies that work there also can show you the technique for making matcha tea. This was a real highlight of visiting the gardens as the ladies were so friendly, only one of them spoke a bit of broken English but we had such a laugh with them and got to experience a taste of Japanese culture.

Sankeien Garden And Tea House YokohamaSankeien Garden And Tea House YokohamaSankeien Garden And Tea House YokohamaSankeien Garden And Tea House YokohamaSankeien Garden And Tea House Yokohama

Food & Drink

Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!

Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! the bar is one of my favourite bars in Yokohama and I have so many great memories of this bar or at least from what I can remember. Its one of the dinkiest bars ever, but has a friendly atmosphere and plenty of retro board games to play while your boozing, best of all – all drinks are 500 Yen! This 80s style bar is located in the Noge area which is the best area for nightlife and a decent bar crawl in the city, the bar is also open until the very early hours of the morning and has a great selection of cocktails.

Gyoza No Ohsho

Gyoza No Ohsho is a large chain and has restaurants all over the country, there are several dotted all over Yokohama. They make the most delicious gyozas which are their signature dish. They also have several Chinese dishes available too. The restaurants have a bit of a diner kind of feel to them, but if you want delicious, cheap and quick eats then head to any of the Gyoza Ohsho chains around Yokohama.

Gyoza No Ohsho Yokohama

Seryumon

Seryumon is like no other restaurant I have been to before, the restaurant is set out like an underground sewer with industrial pipes and brickwork. Every half an hour or so water runs through the middle of the restaurant, it’s definitely unique! As well as having a quirky interior it also serves delicious food, try their chilli chicken and gyozas! I visited the restaurant before I was vegetarian, so I can’t remember if there were many options for veggies, however it does have a slightly more western take on Japanese food so they might be able to adapt the menu to remove meat from a dish.

Seryumon Yokohama

Transport & Getting Around

Being Japans second largest city and being in close proximity to Tokyo means that Yokohamas transport links are very efficient, and there are plenty of options available to get about. The city has two major railway stations with lots of links to Tokyo and the surrounding areas. There are also subways and buses available, but if your planning on sticking to central Yokohama most places are easily accessible by foot. If you want to get between Tokyo and Yokohama take the Tokyu Toyoko Line and opt for the express or limited express trains as they cost the same as other trains but are much faster.

48 Hour Itinerary

  1. After arriving grab some lunch at Gyoza No Ohsho, then head to the Cup Noodle Factory. In the evening grab some dinner at Seryumon restaurant and have drinks in Noge and check out one of the many karaoke bars.
  2. Have a big breakfast at the Yokohama Royal Park hotel in the Landmark tower for incredible views over Minato Mirai. Then head to the Pokemon Centre, after that then onto Sankeien Garden to explore and check out the Tea House.

Top Tips

If your vegetarian or just prefer a plant based diet, then the biggest bit of advice would be to do some research before leaving your accommodation and decide where to eat beforehand.

Try downloading the Happy Cow app or googling vegetarian friendly restaurants as trying to seek out places that serve veggie food isn’t always obvious in Japan, so research before you go. If you can also take a small translation card or find it in a guide book and take the translation for vegetarian food, as there is a language barrier. So if you have this you can show waiters and waitresses so they can assist you.

I would really recommend when exploring the city to download the maps.me app this is a great app to have in any country but especially countries where there can be quite a big language barrier. I swear by having this map in an unfamiliar city. It’s like google maps but works offline, so is great if you don’t have WiFi.

I would recommend planning your day before heading out, and seeing what sights and attractions are near to one another. I normally search places on my maps.me app and save and pin it so I can see what is close by, and what is the best route to take so I’m not wasting time going out of the way and then having to go back on myself.

Important Information

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Oslo Travel Guide

Oslo is Norway’s capital city and located on the southern coast in the Oslo Fjord. The city has so much to offer its visitors with a huge arts scene, lots of museums, Viking landmarks, stunning nature and plenty of restaurants, cafes, bars and shops too.

My husband and I are a bit obsessed with anywhere in Scandinavia, and it’s our favourite area in Europe. We have been to other cities in Scandinavia, and I have been lucky enough to travel to Oslo before with my work and had a short layover there. My husband has always wanted to go to Oslo, so for his birthday I decided to book some flights and accommodation, and gave him a guidebook to unwrap. His birthday is in September and I booked our trip for January as We love visiting Scandinavia in the winter months, and thought January is always such a crappy month so what better way to cheer up January than jet away for city break!

We went to Oslo the last weekend of January and spent 2 nights in the city which is plenty of time. I would recommend no more than 2-3 days in the city centre as you can easily see everything, and what with Oslo being so crazy expensive unless you have an unlimited budget costs can just spiral. We spent about £400 in 2 days for 2 of us. This did include trains to and from the airport, food, drink, boat tour and sauna etc. You can get flights and accommodation quite reasonably priced but do expect you will spend quite a lot on spending money while there.

Even though Oslo is super expensive we both really enjoyed our trip and fell in love with the Fjord and the area Bygdøy in the city. We made the most of our trip and didn’t hold back on things we wanted to do because of the cost. Oslo makes an excellent city break as it has such a good mix of urban life as well as lots of nature to enjoy.

Sights & Activities

Aker Brygge

Aker Brygge is an upmarket district set along the waterfront, and provides al fresco dining in the many restaurants that line the boardwalk. Not only are there lots of restaurants, cafes and bars but also a good selection of shops. It’s a really lovely area to take a stroll and there is always something happening in this area. We had a little stroll along Aker Brygge and it had a really good vibe and buzz to it.

Akershus Fortress

Akershus Fortress is a castle and fortress which is located just back from the waterfront, and has stood overlooking Oslo since the early 1300s, and withstood many sieges over its times. The castle was however modernised in the late 1500s by King Christian IV who had it changed to a more renaissance style, and made it into the royal residence. It’s free to wander around the castle and there is a visitor information centre there too. Guided tours are available to visitors but only during the summer months.

We visited the castle after lunch at Vippa and had a walk around it and admired the views of Oslo Fjord which it looks over. To be honest it’s great to visit as it’s one of Oslo’s main historic landmarks but it’s not very big so can easily be explored within 30 minutes or so, but when in Oslo it should be on your city itinerary.

Bygdøy

Bygdøy is located west of the capital and is a peninsular which is mostly residential and home to several of Oslo’s most popular museums such as the Norwegian Maritime Museum, Kon-Tiki Museum, Viking Ship Musuem and The Fran Museum to name but a few. We aren’t really Musuem people we came to Bygdøy to explore this peaceful peninsulars beaches and beautiful landscape more than the museums.

We did pop into the Viking Ship Museum but just to view one of the ships which you can do from the gift shop, so if your not massively into museums and don’t really want to pay to enter then you can just nip into this one, obviously if you wanted to see more of the Musuem you would have to pay to enter.

Bygdøy has lots on offer for any visitors we loved all the beaches and small coves. The most popular beach is Huk which is a small beach popular with locals and residents during the summer months and there is a volleyball court too. Our trip to Oslo was in winter but we still enjoyed walking along the beaches and they were all pretty quiet with just a few locals walking their dogs. There are plenty of walking and cycling trails too, but I imagine these would be much nicer to do in the summer months.

As well as having beautiful beaches and museums this area of Oslo is mainly residential however we loved walking around and seeing locals going about their day, and also seeing the typical Norwegian style of housing. Bygdøy is easily reached by regular buses or during the summer months there is a 15 minute ferry ride which takes you there. We got dropped there on our Oslo Fjord tour, and got picked up again on the tour. So if your planning on booking a boat tour of the Fjord and would also like to spend some time in Bygdøy then I would suggest combining the two together. This was our favourite area in Oslo, so really recommend visiting this surburb of the city.

Damstredet & Telthusbakken

Damstredet and Telthusbakken are both small streets located in the city centre. Both streets have well preserved inhabited wooden houses which date back to the late 1700s and early 1800s. Damstredet is a small cobbled street and was just adorable and really olde worlde, this was my favourite out of the two streets. However Telthusbakken was also lovely and the traditional wooden houses were gorgeous. I would recommend visiting both streets as they aren’t too far apart from one another, and it’s great to see the traditional style homes being well persevered and lived in.

Greenboat Sauna

Greenboat Sauna was one of my favourite memories made in Oslo, I honestly cannot recommend this activity enough. What’s more Scandinavian than a sauna?! Greenboat Saunas are floating saunas on the waterfront of Aker Brygge, they can easily be found and are visible from the promenade. The saunas can be hired privately or open to the public during set hours. Check the website for times as they do vary. We knew we wanted to visit a sauna and had originally looked at some of Oslo’s other saunas such as Oslo Fjord Sauna and KOK Sauna but both didn’t really have public open times which suited us, as ideally we wanted to finish our day in the sauna, and not go in the morning.

We had a google and discovered greenboat saunas which were a little more expensive than that of Oslo Fjord Sauna however there are 2 saunas at the site which meant it didn’t feel overcrowded, and essential oils were available as well as drinking water and kayaks and paddlboards were available if you wanted to use them and no time limit on when you had to leave!

We paid NOK 200 each which is approximately £16, and we arrived at 3pm and left about 5pm so we thought it was pretty good value, we spent plenty of time in the sauna and plunging into the ice cold fjord. My husband Sean jumped from the sauna roof into the fjord or if your a wimp like me when it comes to the cold, you can climb in from one of the ladders outside or there are hatches in the cabins which you can climb down into the water.

All you need to take is towels and swimwear, the changing rooms are open and mixed so if you don’t like the idea of trying to change with a towel wrapped around you I would suggest wearing your swimsuit underneath your clothes prior to arriving, although we managed fine with just getting changed behind our towels. If you can I would recommend going before sunset as it was so relaxing sat in the sauna watching the sun go down, and as the saunas are cozy you end up chatting to other visitors and it just had a really great atmosphere! This is an absolute must when in Oslo, we had such a great time I can’t rave about it enough!

Grünerløkka

Grünerløkka is Oslo’s hipster area full with lots of street art, indie boutiques, design shops, markets, cafes, bars, clubs and restaurants. The area sits east side of the River Akerselva, and has lots of green spaces and parks to explore. If art is your thing this is the area to come to as it’s home to lots of independent art galleries, I love street art and loved wandering the streets and discovering unique art, sculptures and murals on the city walls. Markveien is a popular street in the area lined with many of Oslo’s vintage and second hand shops a long with other niche shops, when visiting Grünerløkka be sure to check out Markveien!

Karl Johans Gate

Karl Johans Gate is the Main Street in Oslo and is busy with lots of high street shops, restaurants and cafes. The street is really central and great if your a shopaholic like myself, although we only went to a few shops. One of my favourite shops is Monki and every time I visit a Scandinavian city I seek one out! There are aslo lots of gorgeous scandi home shops too if your an interiors lover!

Oslo Fjord

A boat tour around Oslo Fjord is a must do! I had read mixed reviews prior to our trip, but I always decide to try something for myself rather than go by the reviews, and I was so glad we did go. During the winter months there isn’t as much choice with boat tours and only one tour seemed to be running which was operated by Norway Yacht Charter Båtservice. They only have a few tours running through the week we decided to do the 10.30am Saturday cruise which was a 1.45 hour cruise of the Oslo Fjord, and then dropped us at Bygdøy, and then picked us back up a few hours later and returned us back to City Hall.

The tour we went on was on a traditional style boat, and it was a really relaxing tour with gorgeous views over the Fjord and small villages. It wasn’t too over crowded and the boat had a bar on where you could purchase food and drinks, and the crew also provided blankets for everyone which made it feel cozy on a cold winters day. The tour is quite pricey as it was almost £34 each but we had a really good time and like everything in Oslo nothing is cheap!

It’s an amazing trip and so nice to escape the city, I would recommend if going in the winter to wrap up warm and try and arrive to the ticket desk in plenty of time to ensure you get a ticket and don’t miss the boat, as there isn’t a huge choice of tours available in the winter months, and I would suggest opting for the tour that drops you in Bygdøy especially if you were considering going there anyways.

Oslo Harbour Promenade

Oslo Harbour Promenade stretches almost 6 miles along the city’s waterfront and has lots going on along the waters edge with street art, food, shops, sport activities, boat trips and views of the city as a backdrop. Oslo Opera House, Akershus Fortress and Vippa Street Food are some must visits too! There are large orange information towers which mark the walk along the Harbour Promenade to help you find your way.

Oslo Opera House

Oslo’s Opera House is Norway’s National opera and ballet theatre. The large white angled building offers visitors the chance to walk onto its slanted roof which provides panoramic views over the city. The modern building is one of Oslo’s top architectural attractions, and it’s a great spot for sunrise or sunset too, there are also good views of the ‘She Lies’ sculpture which floats in the water just by the Opera House which is made of glass and stainless steel.

Storting Building

The Storting Building is the Parliament building of Norway and has been there since 1866, tours are available book however it’s a nice building to walk around and a lovely square which it overlooks, which had an ice rink while we visited. There are also lots of beautiful buildings and trees that line the square.

Food & Drink

Heidis Bier Bar

Heidis Bier Bar was located across the road from our hotel and has a huge selection of beers which was great for my husband! I’m not a beer fan so ended up with an alco pop as they didn’t sell any rose wine. The bar is part of a chain and is great place for any beer lovers!

Kafe Fjord

Kafe Fjord is located in the Norwegian Maritime Museum in Bygdøy. There aren’t many options for places to eat in Bygdøy, and after walking around we wanted to get some lunch before getting back on the boat to city hall. So we went into Kafe Fjord as it was quick and easy, and somewhere warm to sit and wait for the boat to come back and has a view over the pier. We had a vegetarian quiche each and a hot drink, which was about £30 so it is expensive but everywhere is in Oslo. The food was nice but overpriced but there aren’t many options for cheap eats in Bygdøy so we didn’t have much choice and this was still the cheaper option compared to another restaurant we saw there.

Oslo Street Food

Oslo Street Food is a huge centrally located indoor street food hall with lots of choice of stalls and bars. It was popular with lots of locals that looked like they had come for after work dinner and drinks. We visited on our first night in Oslo which was a Friday and the place was heaving, we found a table in a quiet corner and opted for veggie gyros and grabbed some drinks from the bar. The food we had was delicious so really recommend coming here for either lunch or dinner.

Mathallen

Mathallen is another food hall with a variety of vendors selling food and drink along with speciality shops selling a variety of niche food. Mathallen had a bit more of an upmarket vibe to it, and many of the vendors had sectioned areas for seating. We came here on our final night and decided to eat at the Noodles stand as we both love Asian food, and this small eatery had a really nice seating area and was beautifully decorated (definitely aimed at girly girls). It had a restaurant feel to it rather than street food, as you ordered from your table with one of the staff. It was quite pricey but again food in Oslo is not cheap! We had a bao to share to start with and then had a stir fry each, all of which was delicious!

Stockfleths

Stockfleths is a famous coffee shop in Oslo and has been around since 1895, and now is a chain and had several placed all around the city. We visited the one in Karl Johans Gate for a chai latte and cinnamon pastry. The service was really good and the staff were really friendly. It’s great for a quick pit stop when exploring the city.

Vippa

Vippa is a sustainable street food court situated along the waterfront in a converted storage warehouse. The food hall has a selection of food stalls serving a variety of food which is all ethically and sustainably sourced, and Vippa focuses on composting and recycling to ensure it stays green. There is a also a huge focus on community projects and helping locals and people from all around the world to learn new skills. We arrived for lunch just as it opened so it was really nice and quiet! There is an outside undercover seating area too which is really nice as it has views over the fjord.

We decided to order a few dishes and tried some vegetarian dumplings and got some tacos and nachos all were so tasty! This was my favourite street food venue we visited in Oslo as it was really quirky and I loved how ethical and sustainable everything was!

Accommodation

Hotel Verdandi

Hotel Verdandi is a new modern centrally located hotel, and only a few minutes walk from the waterfront. Many of Oslo’s main attractions are also within walking distance. The hotel itself is clean, modern and really well decorated. We booked a small economy double which cost about £150 bed and breakfast for 2 nights which we thought was good value for Oslo.

The room was snug but stylish and comfortable with a bathroom which was small but had a good shower and was spotlessly clean. The breakfast was located across the road in the Foodie Restaurant, it was tasty and had a really good choice available with hot food, continental items, pastries and all the usual components you find at breakfast buffets. We enjoyed our stay and would definitely recommend it.

When booking accommodation in Oslo try and opt for a breakfast inclusive option as food is so pricey in the city it’s good to not have to go out and buy breakfast. If you want a modern hotel with a good location then Hotel Verdandi is a great choice!

Transport & Getting Around

Oslo is a really pedestrian friendly capital city and you can easily reach most places by foot. Public transport is really good in Oslo and efficient with buses, trains, trams and ferries. We used the Flytoget Airport Express train which runs every 15 minutes or so between Oslo airport to Oslo Central Station and only takes about 20 minutes, it cost about £17 per person each way. We didn’t even consider a taxi as this seemed like a quick and easy option which is was.

Top Tips

My top tips for any visit to Oslo is to download the Visit Oslo app. It really helped us plan our trip and find things to see and do, its free to download and great to have to hand when exploring the city for plenty of inspiration.

Oslo is probably the most expensive city in Europe we have ever visited and food and drink prices are extortionate! If your on a tight budget I would recommend booking accommodation that includes breakfast. We met a couple in the sauna that we got chatting to who said they made up a packed lunch from their hotel breakfast. I thought it was a good idea as you can easily make a sandwich up at breakfast as there is always bread, cheese, meat and sometimes salad etc, and take some fruit and there you have it – a free packed lunch. If you are going to do this then go prepared and take a Tupperware box of something to pack your lunch in.

There are also plenty of 7-elevens in Oslo if you wanted to get snacks and bits for lunch, however even the food in there was still pretty expensive we bought 2 bags of sweets and that cost about £6! So maybe just see what the difference is between grabbing food from supermarkets and shops to that of restaurants and some of the street food places. We opted to try all the street food places in Oslo as we thought it was a good in the middle choice as it was nice to eat out better than grabbing food from shops but then not quite as expensive as eating in restaurants.

Important Information

Brussels Travel Guide

Brussels is the capital city of Belgium and is the most richest and populated city in the country, and its centrally located. The city is home to the EU headquarters, and lots of other larger businesses. The capital isn’t just a hub for business but is steeped in history, culture and gastronomy. The city is a real melting pot of mixed cultures, it has its French speaking nationals known as Walloons and its Dutch speaking Flemish nationals, as well as having many other cultural influences from the many migrants that live and work in the city.

I had always fancied visiting Belgium and especially wanted to travel during the festive period. So decided to search for some flights for a quick weekend break, as I only had 2 days annual leave left I decided my husband I could do a night stop in Brussels and tie in visiting the Christmas markets. We got some pretty cheap flights from London, we paid about £50 each return, and booked 1 night in a hotel, so the trip itself is very inexpensive. However when your in the city it can be expensive for eating and drinking etc so bare that in mind when booking.

We flew out first thing on a Saturday morning and flew home Sunday night, and visited the first weekend of December. I’ll be honest I’m glad we visited Brussels but I wasn’t completed blown away by the city, and in comparison to other European cities I didn’t feel like this was the best city I’d ever visited. However don’t let me put you off as I’m great believer in visiting places for yourself to decide. I have travelled all around the world and found places that I absolutely love and when speaking about it with other people they said how they hated that particular place. So always go with an open mind, I just like to give my honest opinion on my blogs.

I think timing had a lot to do with our visit as we visited during one of the busiest times of year, so found the city extremely busy and you could barely move around the Christmas markets at night, and then when we revisited the markets during the day just found it all to be a bit tacky and unauthentic. Even though we thought the markets in all honesty were a bit naff there was still plenty of great places to visit in the city, and if your looking for a cheap getaway and somewhere not too far you can easily do this.

Sights & Activities

Agora Square

Agora Square is a small square which has the Charles Buls fountain (Belgian politician and mayor of Brussels back in the late 1800s) set in the centre of it. In the 1980s a few crafters and artists started a small artisan market in the square, and today still has several stalls dotted around it. The square is overlooked by the most beautiful traditional Belgian buildings too. When we visited there were some buskers and street performers, this little square has a really good buzz on a weekend and a great place to stroll around.

Brussels Christmas Markets

Brussels is famous for its Christmas Markets and during the month of December there are pop up markets sprawled out all over the city with a variety of stalls selling gifts, food and drinks aswell as having fair rides. The main and largest market is Winter Wonder which is located at Plaisirs d’Hiver. There are also several other smaller markets throughout the city located by and around De Brouckere, The Bourse, Eglise Sainte Catherine Church, Tour Noire and Marché aux Poissons.

I would recommend to visit during the week or during the day as the crowds that are drawn by the Christmas Markets are excessive. I have to admit the Brussels Christmas markets were not my cup of tea, I prefer smaller and less busy and commercial Christmas markets, which offer more crafts and home made goods. I did find the Brussels Christmas markets were very touristy, busy and a lot of the stuff being sold was mass produced, however this is just my opinion and my taste, and I have been to other Christmas markets in the Baltic’s and Scandinavia which I much preferred!

Comic Strip Art

Comic Strip Art is all around the city from streets, alleyways, gables and everywhere in between. You can purchase a brochure at the visit Brussels desks for only €2.50 which provides a map of a walking tour. We just decided to stumble across the various artworks while walking around the city, however if your really into comics and street art then I would recommend purchasing the brochure.

Some of the wall murals include some famous characters from comic books such as Tin Tin and Astérix aswell as many others. I think the street art had to be one of my favourite things about the capital, I loved strolling around the streets and coming across the various artwork.

Eglise Notre Dame Au Sablon & Parc Du Petit Sablon

Eglise Notre Dame Au Sablon is a huge gothic church and one of the most beautiful in the city, and is built in similar style to that of St Michael & St Gudula Cathedral. It has intricate and brightly coloured glass windows and just across the road is Parc Du Petit Sablon which is a small garden surrounded by statues of the country’s famous scholars from the 16th century, and has a fountain in the middle, it’s a nice quiet park which is good if you want to sit down and escape the busy streets.

Eglise Sainte Catherine Church

Eglise Sainte Catherine Church is a grand church and the original tower has stood there since the 14th century, and other elements of the church have been added and restored over the many years its been there. The square in front of the church and the area around it also plays host to many of Brussels Christmas markets during the festive period.

Egmont Park

Egmont Park is a lovely leafy little park that is quite hidden away, and has several statues – the most famous one being one of Peter Pan. There is also a former orangery which has been converted into a restaurant. This green space in the city is a great place to take a break from sightseeing it’s a really peaceful space.

Grand Place

Grand Place is in the heart of the city and is a UNESCO world heritage site as soon as you walk into the square you can see why. Its stunning and intricate detailed buildings are some of the most beautiful buildings I’ve ever seen in Europe. Originally it was constructed in the 15th century housing market halls, trade guild houses and the town hall. The Grand Place was almost completely destroyed by the french back in 1695, but was fully restored in less than 5 years, that’s why there is a variety of different architectural styles.

During the festive season the Grand Place has a huge Christmas tree and a light and sound show which runs every hour on the hour and every half an hour on Fridays and Saturdays. The light and sound show is truly dazzling and not to be missed!

Jeanneke Pis

Jeanneke Pis was created in 1987 and is found down a dead end alleyway, this small statue is of a small girl peeing. To join the theme of peeing statues in the city a dog peeing against a post was also created in 1998 called Zinneke Pis, which I only found out about the dog statue after our trip, so if you can and have time I would recommend trying to visit all 3 of the peeing statues.

Mannekin Pis

Mannekin Pis is a public mascot for the city of Brussels and is a fountain of a small boy peeing into it. Very little is known about the history of the fountain, and there are many myths and stories surrounding this tiny statue and how the small boy came about?! The statue was first mentioned back in archives back in 1452 and was known then as ‘Petit Julien’. The statue has also been stolen several times over the years and the current statue dates back to 1965 after the mannekin had been stolen again.

The small statue has over 800 outfits and costumes as its tradition to dress up the statue for special occasions and events. This small statue is a must see when in Brussels as it is the symbol of the city and you will see lots of souvenirs with this little guy on, visit early morning to try and beat the crowds of tourists surrounding the small statue.

Mont Des Arts

Mont Des Arts means ‘hill of the arts’ it’s a walk way and garden which provide great views over the city, and is home to many of the cities art galleries and museums. While we were there they had a art light installation called Submergence which was thousands of hanging lights which lit up to the rhythm of music, which was just at the top of of Mont Des Arts steps.

Place Royale

Place Royale is set in the royal quarter of Brussels and is a neoclassical square which was created back in 1775 through to 1782. It is surrounded by many of the cities most popular museums. If your into history and museums then this is the area to come!

Royal Gallery of St Hubert

Royal Gallery of St Hubert is the most beautiful Victorian shopping arcade located near to the Grand Place, it’s a great place to wander through. There is also a Neuhaus chocolate shop too if you wanted to stop for a quick sugar hit, as well as lots of other shops and cafes to explore. We visited the arcade both during the day and night and in the evening when it’s lit up is when it’s at it’s best.

Royal Palace & Brussels Park

Royal Palace and Brussels Park are some of the most famous landmarks in Brussels. The Royal Palace hasn’t been occupied by the Belgian royal family for over a decade, but today it is the headquarters for the Belgian constitutional monarchy. Brussels Park is next to the Royal Palace. You don’t need to spend lots of time visiting we walked over to the Palace had a look around the outside and then went and had wander around Brussels Park, I have to admit I wasn’t mesmerised by the Brussels top sights and attractions, but as this is such a famous building in Brussels we decided to pay it a visit.

St Michael & St Gudula Cathedral

St Michael & St Gudula Cathedral is one of the most famous buildings in Brussels and was originally built back in the 9th century, but was replaced by a Romanesque church is 1047. Throughout the centuries the church has had many remnants added to it, and underwent several renovations back in the 1980s and 1990s. The cathedral has the most detailed stained glass windows which date back to the mid 1500s! This is a really lovely cathedral to visit and really calm inside.

Thetre Royal De Toone

Thetre Royal De Toone is one of the major attractions in Brussels and is loved by both tourists and locals. This puppet theatre was opened in about 1830 by Toone Genty, when the Spanish occupation of the Netherlands was in place and all theaters were closed to prevent the actors from raising political pieces against the Spanish rulers. As a result, doll shows started to pop up as it was easier to tolerate the fierce dialogues when pronounced by lifeless dolls. More than 180 years later, this popular entertainment has grown into a Royal Puppet Theater.

There are only shows on certain days and times, however you can visit and have a look around which is free to enter, we had a little look around, although have to admit I’m not a massive fan as I find puppets spooky! I have a slight fear of creepy dolls and puppets so if you do to this place might not be for you either!

Food & Drink

Balls & Glory

Balls and Glory is situated in the heart of Brussels and creates a variety of giant meat balls and vegetarian balls which have a liquid filling, and served with Stoemp which is a traditional Belgian dish consisting of pureed mash potatoes and root vegetables.

We ordered the vegetarian dish, it was definetly a unique take on home comfort food. The sauce that it came with was kind of like a Thai sauce, it was a strange combination but was really tasty. If your on a tight budget then I wouldn’t recommend this place as it was quite expensive for what you actually got. We paid almost £40 for 1 drink each and a vegetable ball dish each.

We did enjoy our meal here and if your rushed for time the service here is really quick you order at the desk and they bring it to your table within a few minutes. It’s kind of like a hipster fast food restaurant. It’s a great place to come and visit if you want to sample traditional Belgian food with a twist!

Cheese Kot

Cheese Kot honestly was one of the best places we visited in Brussels for food, something so simple but tasted delicious. This small cheese shop with a few stalls to sit at offered raclette baguettes, which were a bargain at only €6 each, and made a fantastic brunch bite, it’s also a great place to visit for lunch too, or if your just a cheese fan.

The sandwiches are made fresh to order and you choose your cheese which is then melted straight from the cheese wheel and scraped into your baguette, and you can choose 2 additional fillings. I ordered the mushroom cheese and added fig jam and gherkins, and my husband ordered the garlic cheese with fig jam and friend onions. They were both so tasty that we kept craving them for the rest of the day!This place is a must visit when in Brussels for cheap, delicious and authentic Belgian food this is the place to go!

Gaufres Waffles

Gaufres Waffles is located in the beautiful Royal Gallery of St Hubert. It serves up traditional sweet and savoury Belgian waffles. We decided to stop in here and ordered the original waffle which is just dusted in icing sugar. To be honest I’m not a massive fan of Belgian waffles I find them a little dry and bland compared to American waffles. If you do have a sweet tooth maybe opt for one that’s covered in chocolate sauce and ice cream as the traditional ones are a bit tasteless.

Neuhaus

Neuhaus chocolatiers are famous all around Belgium and date back 1857 by Jean Neuhaus, a Swiss immigrant. The first shop was opened in the Royal Gallery of St Hubert. Neuhaus grandson was also the inventor of the praline, which you can purchase in store. There are lots of Neuhaus shops located all over the city and it’s great to pop in and purchase some traditional Belgian chocolates. They sell a variety of ready to go boxes and gifts, as well as ones from the counter.

The Judgy Vegan

The Judgy Vegan was a great find in the city and cooks up comfort food. We visited the cafe just before we headed to the airport for our dinner. The cafe has a cosy feel to it and the food was amazing I ordered the autumn tofu and vegetables which were delicious, and my husband ordered a hot dog. The tofu they used was incredible and had a really nice texture. If your looking for an affordable and filling meal this is a great place to visit!

Accommodation

Vintage Hotel

The Vintage Hotel is a retro chic boutique hotel situated in the neighbourhood of Saint-Gilles. We really enjoyed our stay at the Vintage Hotel the public spaces were really well decorated and had a really nice feel to them. The rooms are decorated in funky retro prints but are very basic, but as we were mostly out exploring what the city had to offer and only spending 1 night it didn’t really matter. There is also an air streamer located in the entrance courtyard of the hotel for anyone wishing to do a spot of glamping in the city.

We booked the hotel in advance and got a really good deal of £100 for the night which is cheap for Brussels especially around Christmas time, however rates always vary. The rooms were really clean and quiet and included WiFi. They also offer a reasonably priced breakfast at €10 per person for a continental breakfast buffet, we had a sleep in on our second day so missed it, and opted for brunch in the city, but the breakfast sounded reasonable for a Western European city where normally hotels charge double that for breakfast!

I would recommend the Vintage Hotel to anyone visiting Brussels especially if you want something a little quirky and unique rather than your box standard chain hotel, and the location is great in a quieter end of the city but with lots of cafes, restaurants and shops near by. The city centre can be reached by foot of by a nearby underground.

Transport & Getting Around

The best way to get around the Brussels is by foot it’s quite an easy city to walk around and by doing so you can take in the cities beautiful architecture and come across the many parks and green spaces. We did use the underground metro a few times which cost approx €2 each per trip, which we took from nearby our hotel into the city centre.

There is also a train which runs from Brussels Zaventem airport to Brussels Central Station every 10 minutes between 5am and midnight everyday of the week. The train takes 18 minutes and costs just over €12 per person, which is quite expensive for public transport but was still cheaper than a taxi transfer which we did take on the way back as we cut it quite fine on time, and it did cost us €50 for a 20 minute car journey so it just depends on your budget.

There are also frequent trains to other major cities all around Belgium such as Bruges and Antwerp, which can easily be reached in very little time.

Top Tips

My biggest tip to visiting Brussels over the festive period would be to try and visit during the week as it should be a bit quieter, if your visiting over a weekend like we did then go prepared and don’t be shocked by the crowds of people. Try and visit the Christmas markets during the day as they are much quieter compared to the swarms of people during the evening.

If you love mulled wine like we do then go prepared and take a reusable coffee cup with a lid for it to be put in, as it was so busy we found we almost spilt our drinks with people knocking into us, it was just too busy not to have a lid on as we almost ended up wearing the wine. The stall holders do provide reusable cups for a small deposit and when you return them you get your deposit back, but we used our own instead and meant you didn’t have the worry of having a spillage down yourself.

I would recommend that if you have 3 days in Brussels then try and get the train over to Bruges to spend a day, I really wish we had booked an extra day as I have now been recommended Bruges and told how much nicer it is compared to Brussels.

Important Information

48 Hour Layover Guide To Shanghai

Shanghai is one of the 4 major cities in China and China’s largest and richest city. Shanghai is also one of the worlds most populated cities. This huge city is located on the east coast of China and is a financial hub, the port is also the worlds busiest container port in the world. Shanghai has a diverse melting pot of various buildings from the skyscrapers in Pudong to a scattering of Art Deco colonial buildings, and traditional Chinese buildings. Shanghai is very different compared to other Chinese cities.

I have been fortunate enough to travel to Shanghai on many occasions with the airline I work for, and have tried exploring different parts of the city on each layover I have had there. Shanghai was not how I imagined it, and has had many foreign influences over the years.

There are many areas of the city to explore and see, and the city has a huge food scene both high end, and places to eat for the more budget conscious travellers. Shanghai is really where east meets west. Shanghai was not what I expected and it’s a really hard place to describe as it doesn’t feel very typically Chinese but you defiantly know your in China (not sure if that quite makes sense) but that’s kind of how I feel when I visit Shanghai, I really enjoy visiting this city but still not quite sure how to describe it or what to make of it.

Sights & Activities

French Concession

The French Concession was a former designated residential area for the French. It’s boulevards are lined with trees, and it has a suburbia feel to it. It feels like your in a completely different city compared to the rest of Shanghai’s metropolis. The French concession can be tracked back to 1849, where it gradually developed into the largest and most affluent areas in all of China. In the 1920s, it was the best and richest residential area in Shanghai. In 1943 the Chinese government took it over, and after nearly a 100 years ended its history as a French concession.

Today the French concession is one of the most sought after areas in the city and is home to lots of live music venues, boutiques, wine bars and European delis. The area also has a large arts and crafts scene there and the area is a great place to explore on foot getting lost down many of the leafy avenues and watching locals go about their day to day lives.

Maglev Train

Maglev Train is a magnetic levitation train which operates in Shanghai, this super high speed train is an attraction in itself. The train can reach speeds of up to 270mph. On one of my trips to shanghai a few of my colleagues and myself decided to take the Maglev Train from Shanghai’s airport to Pudong. I would recommend taking the Maglev either to or from the airport to experience this high tech train.

Nanjing Road

Nanjing Road is one of Shanghai’s main shopping streets and stretches almost 3 and half miles long, starting at The Bund and finishing at the junction by Jing’an Temple. The road is one of the worlds busiest shopping streets, you can buy everything from high end fashion to your cheap tacky souvenirs and everything in between! It’s great to visit in the evening as this is when all the neon signs are lit up.

Qibao

Qibao is a great place to visit to escape the modern city life of Shanghai, and get a chance to see a traditional ancient water town. Located in the Minhang district, and only about 11 miles out of downtown Shanghai it’s easy to reach by the metro system. As the only ancient town forming part of greater Shanghai, with a history of over 1000 years. The town was built in the Northern Song Dynasty from 960 to 1126 and grew into a prosperous business center during Ming and Qing Dynasties.

Today Qibao has lots to offer visitors from temples, museums and lots of shops and street food in the old town. Crickets are popular in the town and not just for eating but a traditional folk activity dating back centuries of cricket fighting, which is still popular today, and you can see plenty of places selling crickets. Which seems a bit cruel to me but it is part of traditional Chinese culture, there is even a museum dedicated to crickets in the town. I would recommend heading to Qibao in the morning to try and beat the crowds and you can easily spend half a day or so there.

The Bund

The Bund is Shanghai’s most iconic symbol and associated worldwide with Shanghai, London has Big Ben, Sydney the opera house, Paris the Eiffel Tower, and The Bund is Shanghai’s most famous landmark. The area is known for its impressive mile long waterfront views of Pudongs huge skyscrapers and the Oriental Pearl Building. On one side you have views of modern tall buildings, and on the other side is a reminder of Shanghai’s colonial past with lots of old historical buildings.

I would recommend trying to go to The Bund both during the day and in the evening to witness what it’s like day and night, however the evening is definitely my preference as I loved seeing all the buildings lit up. The promenade is a great place to take a stroll along and take in the views. The buildings are lit up at 7pm so go a little before then to see the nightly light show and to get a good viewing spot. Just make sure to check the weather before hand as sometimes fog and rain can ruin the views of the bund, check for the clearest evening while your there.

Tianzifang

Tianzifang is an artsy and hipster area in the city, which transformed itself from old traditional shikumen stone houses which formed lots of small alleyways and lanes in former back streets of the french concession to now housing cafes, bars, boutiques and design studios. Tianzifang is also known as the Soho of Shanghai, and it’s full of so much creativity even the old walls are used as canvases to display street art and sculptures.

It is an absolute must to visit this unique area of the city, it is one of my favourite spots in the city, and I loved wandering around the small alleys exploring all that they had to offer. It’s also a great spot to visit for food as there is so much choice so make sure to go hungry!

Yuyuan Bazaar & Old Shanghai

Old Shanghai is full of historical buildings, narrow bustling alleyways and inscense filled temples. It’s a real insight into how Shanghai would have been in days gone by. Yuyuan Bazaar which is also known as Yuyuan Market is outside of Yu Garden, and in the centre of the old town, the bazaar is full of ancient buildings which are now full of shops, stalls and restaurants. I’ve only ever visited during the day, but have heard that the evening is a great time to come to see all the buildings lit up.

Yuyuan Gardens

Yuyuan Gardens is one of Shanghai’s top attractions and dates way back to the Ming Dynasty, and is over 400 years old! The gardens are typical Chinese gardens with rockeries, carvings, carp ponds and pavilions. Yuyuan gardens are set in the Bazaar which is filled with lots of shops, restaurants and stalls. You need approximately 2 hours to explore the gardens, and I would recommend going early and avoid a weekend if possible, it’s only a few quid to enter the gardens and well worth it. The gardens are one of my favourite attractions in Shanghai, and while there make sure to stop off at Huxinting Tea House.

Xintiandi

Xintiandi is a chic pedestrianised shopping, eating and entertainment area in the heart of the city. It retains the antique walls, tiles and exterior of the Shikumen residences of old Shanghai while having a totally modern interior. It’s great to spend an afternoon here wandering and shopping around or you can come here in the evening to sample one of the many upscale restaurants and its nightlife scene.

Food & Drink

Huxinting Tea House

Huxinting Tea House is situated in the heart of the old town next to Yuyuan Gardens. This beautiful ornate tea house is a must when in the old town. It’s one of China’s most famous tea houses, and is steeped in history and is over 200 years old. It’s a great place to visit to escape the chaos of the old town. It has some excellent teas to sample, you do pay a little more here but it’s well worth it for the setting and location. I had jasmine tea, however if tea is not your thing then there is also other traditional Chinese cuisines and refreshments to try out.

Lost Heaven

Lost Heaven is a chic restaurant serving up Yunnan (region in Southwestern China) specialities, the food was very similar to that of many South East Asian cuisines it was a real mix. Many of the dishes incorporate coconut, fresh chillies, flowers etc, and the ambient atmosphere is buzzing. The dishes are really well presented and not only look great but taste great. There are several Lost Heaven restaurants now dotted around the city, but I visited the one on The Bund as after dinner it’s nice to go and see the bund lit up in the evening.

Nanxiang Steamed Bun Restaurant

Nanxiang Steamed Bun Restaurant serves up Shanghai’s most famous dumplings and soup dumplings, is it a bit of a tourist trap?! Yes! However the dumplings are delicious and the place is huge, expect queues and avoid on a weekend would be my best bit of advice. I would recommend coming here to sample the food as I really enjoyed it, and its famous in the city, it’s definitely worth a visit if your in the old town too. If you are in a hurry there is also a stand up bar outside where you can order dumplings to eat there if your rushed for time.

Shanghai Grandmother

Shanghai Grandmother is a popular restaurant with both locals and tourists as it’s really well priced and cooks up a great selection of traditional Chinese food. It’s also only a short distance from the Bund. I have visited the restaurant a few times before I went vegetarian, and had some of the most delicious pork dishes, however there is a good selection of vegetarian dishes available too. When visiting the bund make sure to stop at Shanghai Grandmothers either for lunch or dinner you won’t be disappointed!

Tianzifang Street Food

Tianzifang is one of my favourite places to visit in Shanghai and amongst its small labyrinth like alleyways are lots of choice of small boutique style cafes, restaurants and bars and lots of street food to choose from. Make sure to come hungry as there are snack stalls at every corner. The street food is an eccentric mix from traditional Chinese food, western food and everything in between. I had to have the foot long french fries! I also stumbled across a colourful dumpling stall and couldn’t resists getting a dumpling that looked like a cute penguin. In Tianzifang there really is something for everyone’s tastes.

Transport & Getting Around

Shanghai has an extensive public bus system which is really inexpensive however it’s hard to navigate with the language barrier. Shanghai also has a clean subway which has signs in English as well as Chinese, however it can be extremely busy.

I tend to use taxis to cover larger distances of the city, and try and walk to most places if it’s not too far. Make sure to downsload maps.me so you can easily find your way around the city without WiFi and roaming, and if you can’t speak the language. I also find it helps to plan your route and pin everything on the map, and that way you can easily work out walking distances etc.

Top Tips

When visiting China try and go as prepared as possible, yes there is a huge language barrier and not many of the locals speak English, so go armed with google translate, guide books, maps.me app etc. Also if you have any dietary requirements try and get one of the cabin crew on your flight over to write out a little card for you in Chinese with your dietary requirements or ask a hotel member of staff. Im vegetarian and luckily work alongside some great Shanghai based crew and got them to write me a card which states I’m vegetarian and don’t eat meat or fish on a piece of card for me, and now every time I go out to eat I just show the waiter/waitress the card to make sure I’m not getting any surprises when I order.

When staying at any accommodation try and get a business card or address so you can show taxi drivers. A lot of the big hotels actually have small little translate cards you can ask for which have their address on plus lots of other popular attractions that you can show taxi drivers. I always have maps.me downloaded as it’s a great app that works offline and when I’m walking around Shanghai or in taxi I always check it to make sure I’m heading in the right direction.

Important Information

24 Hour Layover Guide To Nicosia

Nicosia also known as Lefkosia is the largest city in Cyprus and is also the islands capital city. Nicosia is rich with culture and history and today is the worlds last and only divided capital city. The barbed wire and guardtowers of the Green Line cuts the city into two, with the northern side being the capital of Northern Cyprus and the southern half being the capital of the Republic of Cyprus.

The airline I work for fly to Larnaca and recently I was lucky enough to be rostered a trip there with a 24 hour layover. We stay in Nicosia so I decided I wanted to go and explore some of this city in the short time I had there and wanted to make the most of it.

As I only had a short time in the city, I spent the morning sunbathing at the hotel and then my colleagues and myself ventured out and got a taxi into the centre as we were only a few minutes drive away. We explored the main streets, had the most delicious late lunch and crossed over into the Turkish side of the city. I really liked the atmosphere of Nicosia the locals were all so friendly both on the Greek and Turkish side of this split city.

I really want to come back and visit Cyprus on holiday as I feel this island has so much to offer and I would love to visit the coast and some more of the historical monuments and natural sights.

Sights & Activities

Faneromeni Church

Faneromeni Church is located in the old part of Nicosia, and its one of the oldest churches on the island. It is thought to have been constructed in 1222 as part of a Cistercian monastery for women. The church had to be completely rebuilt in 1715 due to the damage it suffered during an earthquake.

The church is located on a small square which has lots of little cafes and restaurants near by. The inside of the church is very grand with lots of large chandeliers and ornate detailing. This is one of the main historical sites to see in the city centre and is an absolute must when wandering around the city streets.

Ledra Street & Onasagorou Street

Ledra Street and Onasagorou Street are the two main shopping streets in Nicosia and are the busier streets of the capital filled with many big name shops, restaurants and cafes. The streets are also filled with lots of local cats which the locals seem to look after pretty well. Both of these streets are pedestrianised and it is the most lively part of the old town. Most tourists tend to visit these streets as they are another of Nicosia’s top sights.

Ledra Street Check Point

The Ledra Street Checkpoint cuts one of the busiest streets into two with passport control kiosks. It’s a divide that has split the Turkish Cypriot community from the Greek Cypriot community for decades. From the checkpoint the border spreads outwards dividing Cyprus in two. The crossing was closed for many years only several points were opened up in 2003, but in 2008 Ledra Street opened up its checkpoint allowing people to walk across the border. Today it is a symbolic of how divided the island of Cyprus still is to this day.

Crossing the divide should be something that all visitors should witness to understand some more of how life is in the worlds only divided capital. When crossing the border make sure you take your passport as you need to show it when leaving one side of the divide and show when entering into the other side. We went late afternoon after our lunch and the border crossing was pretty quiet and it was also on a weekday, I have read that on a weekend the checkpoint can be busier and sometimes might have queues, so try to aim to cross first thing in the morning or late afternoon.

Turkish Nicosia

Once crossing over into the Turkish side of Nicosia you can straight away see the difference of culture to the Greek side. I really enjoyed exploring the narrow streets and small shops and market stalls.

There was lots of street art around this part of the capital too, and several mosques to see, one of the largest and most grand mosques of the capital is Selimiye Camii mosque with its gothic architecture it really stands out. Just across from the mosque is Bandabuliya which is an old covered market that has been running since the 1930s and is a major landmark in the area, it has undergone some renovation recently to ensure it can continue running and to retain its original features.

You could easily spend a full day wandering around the streets and sights of this side of Nicosia, we only spent a few hours and saw so much and was great to see many of the locals too.

Food & Drink

To Anamma

To Anamma is a small Greek restaurant located on the famous Ledra Street in Nicosia. There is outdoor seating at the front, but what really makes this little restaurant special is it’s pretty little courtyard outback which is decorated with lots of greenery and has a relaxed atmosphere. The staff are so warm and friendly and couldn’t do enough for us and even catered for me being vegetarian.

They have a meze option on the menu for €14.50 per person which includes Greek salad, breads, tzatziki, halloumi, grilled vegetables and grilled meats etc all finished off with a dessert. The food was honestly some of the best Greek food I’ve ever had, and it just didn’t seem to end just when we thought all the food had came out they just kept delivering more. They swapped my grilled meat for grilled vegtable skewered and cous cous which was really great of them to do.

If your in Nicosia then make sure to add To Anamma to your itinerary and make sure you go hungry as you will be given so much food if you opt for the meze option.

Top Tips

When planning your trip over to the Turkish side of Nicosia be sure to catch one of the Whirling Dervish Performances which run daily Monday to Saturday between April through to September, I unfortunately discovered that they had this traditional dance after I had visited and wish I could have caught one of the performances.

If your a crazy cat person like myself then go prepared and take some cat food along with you to feed the many street cats, we took some of our leftover food from the restaurant to feed them which they seemed very happy with.

Important Information

Osaka Travel Guide

I’m literally obsessed with Japan and first fell in love with this diverse country when I travelled to Tokyo with work several years ago. I was lucky enough to visit Tokyo on several occasions and have been desperate to explore some more of this incredible place.

Recently the airline I work for started a new route to Osaka and as soon as it launched I started requesting the trip straight away, and was lucky enough to get one on my roster the month we started the route there.

Osaka is Japan’s second largest metropolitan area after Tokyo, and is Japan’s former capital from years ago, today it is an economic powerhouse. Osaka is a great base to explore other areas of Japan such at the cultural hub of Kyoto and other areas of interest such as Nara, Kobe and Hiroshima.

On my first trip to Osaka I decided to take my husband along on the trip with me as I had quite a decent amount of time on my layover. Osaka seems to be a booming tourist hub at the moment, I never really have heard many people visiting Osaka and now I seem to see a huge travel trend emerging with lots of influencers and bloggers visiting this exciting city.

Sights & Activities

Dotonbori

Dotonbori is Osaka’s entertainment centre with its lively atmosphere and bright neon lights, it’s the main tourist hotspot in Osaka and full to the brim with restaurants, bars and shops. It sits on the Dotonbori Canal which is where it gets its name from. It is one of the most colourful areas in Osaka and shouldn’t be missed when visiting the Kansai region.

Osaka Castle

Osaka Castle is one of Japans most famous landmarks and was built back in 1583 and was created to unify Japan under Toyotomi rule and was the largest castle of its time. Over the centuries the castle has been destroyed in wars and rebuilt and restored over the years and today is modern on the inside, but on the outside still has much of its original charm even after restoration.

The castle houses a museum all about the castle and it’s history and has lots of Japanese antiques and artefacts. The castle grounds are free to roam around but there is a small fee to enter inside the castle which was JPY600 per person which is about £5 per adult. There are amazing views at the top of the castle, and it is well worth the small entrance fee. The castle is also surrounded by beautiful gardens and cherry blossom trees, we were lucky enough to catch the end of Sakura which normally takes place in early April.

Food & Beverage

Gyoza Oh

We stumbled across Gyoza Oh while wandering the crazy busy streets of Dotonbori. My husband and myself are both vegetarian and massively struggled finding Japanese vegetarian food, and we both love Gyozas but struggled finding non meat versions anywhere, when we found Gyoza Oh we were both buzzing to discover that they had vegetarian Gyozas as well as severing up several other vegetarian dishes.

This small casual restaurant is a must as it also has English menus available, so you actually have an insight into what your ordering which can be a struggle in Japan what with a language barrier. This place is a great find and the food is delicious and the service was warm and welcoming! When visiting not only order the Gyozas but try the edamame and burdock fries.

Ramen Kiou

Ramen Kiou is located not to far from Osaka Castle. We went there for lunch and this super casual tiny restaurant does not disappoint and cooks up delicious ramen, and even offers a vegetarian tomato and cheese ramen which was tasty but also very messy so I was offered a bib. This place seemed really popular with locals which is always a good sign, and is a great spot for a quick lunch.

Tachinomi Bars

Tachinomi Bars are small relaxed bars and are great places to pop into for a quick drink and to escape the madness of the busy streets. Tachinomi bars are all over Japan and translate to stand up bars and offer a whole range of sake tipples and drinks and some food or snacks. Some of the bars do have limited seating even though they are known as stand up bars. We visited one which I believe was called Tachinomi Bar Dragon.

Transport & Getting Around

Osaka covers a huge area and the best way to get around this huge city is by its excellent public transport, the trains and the underground systems are easy to use and the stations have English maps which helps with navigating your way around this huge city.

Top Tips

If your vegetarian or just prefer a plant based diet, then the biggest bit of advice would be to do some research before leaving your accommodation and decide where to eat beforehand. My husband and I really struggled finding vegetarian food and wasted lots of time traipsing around many restaurants asking if they had anything vegetarian.

Try downloading the Happy Cow app and there is also an Osaka Vegetarian Guide to help. If you can also take a small translation card or find it in a guide book take the translation for vegetarian food, as there is a language barrier. So if you have this you can show waiters and waitresses so they can assist you with choosing vegetarian options.

Important Information

Bratislava Travel Guide

Bratislava is the small capital city of Slovakia which sits on the Danube River, and borders Austria and Hungary. I am always open to finding new city breaks around Europe and giving anywhere new a try, mostly Bratislava is always associated with stag dos here in the UK and Western Europe, however there is much more to this city.

I found some really cheap flights through Wizz air for only £35 each return, so decided to give it a quick google before booking the flights, Bratislava looked really nice in the photos online so we decided to give it a chance.

When we arrived in Bratislava we were pleasantly surprised as we walked through Michaels Gate into the Old Town to find our accommodation, it’s old cobbled streets and dimly lit street lamps were so pretty and not how we imagined Bratislava to be.

Bratislava has a lot more to offer than just bars and clubs to stag dos, although it does have plenty of those if that’s what your after. Bratislava is so much more than a stag do destination, and has lots of historic buildings, cute cafes and lots of restaurants. There is plenty to do here on any weekend break, however as it’s only a small capital city I would recommend that if your coming on a sightseeing break that 1 to 2 days is more than adequate to see everything.

We spent 2 nights and 2 days in the city and found this more than enough time to see all the major attractions and sites, and still take a leisurely pace wandering around the city and stopping in its many cafes and bars along the way.

Sights & Activities

Bratislava Castle

Bratislava Castle is one of the top attractions in the capital, set above the city and on the Danube River on a rocky hill. The castle dates back to as early as 907 but over the years has faced many changes such as wars, borders and empire change overs and much more. There is a museum set in the castle and some well kept gardens to explore. The views at the top also provide excellent views of the city, Daube River and of course the famous UFO in Bratislava. When visiting the city the castle is a must on your itinerary.

Church of St Elizabeth (Blue Church)

The Church of St Elizabeth which is mostly known as the Blue Church for obvious reasons is that everything inside and outside of the church is painted blue. The church is situated in the eastern part of the old town and about a 10 minute walk from the city centre. The church is built at the beginning of the 20th century in true art nouveau style. When we visited unfortunately the inside was locked, so we only got to wander around the outside, and have to say I think it’s one of my favourite church’s I’ve ever visited, it definitely stands out.

Cumil (Man at Work)

Cumil which translates to ‘watcher’ in Slovakian and is actually one of the most photographed objects in Bratislava. Cumil along with a few other statues appeared in the old town in 1997 a few years after Slovakia gained its independence to help polish up the cities image. Cumil is popular with tourists and can’t be missed when visiting the old town.

Grassalkovich Palace

Grassalkovich Palace was built back in 1760 for the chairman of the royal Hungarian chamber and was used for many years for aristocrat society events. Today it’s the official residence for the president of Slovakia. It’s a beautiful and grand building and when we visited at around midday we were lucky enough to catch the changing of the guard ceremony, so if you can try and time your visit to catch the event.

Landererov Park

Landererov Park is a small park in the city centre there isn’t a huge amount to see there’s a small fountain and a few seating areas, which on a really hot day was a perfect place to go and sit and enjoy the sun.

Michaels Gate

Michaels Gate is the symbol of Bratislava and it’s old town and was built in the 14th century. It has seven floors which visitors can actually go right up to the top of the building for views over the city. Michaels Gate is also the gate way to Bratislava’s old town and it’s beautiful quaint streets.

Old Town

Bratislava’s Old Town is the historic hub of Slovakia’s capital city. The old town district is home to many of Bratislava’s historic monuments and beautiful gothic buildings and architecture. The old town was one of my favourite places in Bratislava it has so much to see and do, and has a really great atmosphere bursting at the seems with bars, restaurants and cafes.

Opera House & Hviezdoslavovo Square

The Bratislava Opera House is officially known as the Slovak National Theatre. It originally opened in 1886 as the cities national theatre, it’s located on Hviezdoslavovo Square which also has lots of choice for restaurants, cafes and galleries and has lots of outside seating under the tree lined plaza. The pedestrianised street and square also has several fountains and sculptures and street performers too, this area is a must visit when in the city, with lots of options to choose from for lunch or dinner and eating alfresco on warmer days. 

St Martins Cathedral

Bratislava’s gothic St Martins Cathedral is built on the site of a previous roman church which was there from 1221 until 1291 when Bratislava was given the privileges of a town, the church was then rebuilt to become part of the city walls, and its tower served as a defensive bastion The present church was made sacred in 1452. When visiting the old town make sure to visit this sacred church and have a look inside.

UFO

The UFO in Bratislava is an observation deck in the heart of the city just a few minutes walk from the old town. It also has a unique restaurant and bar at the top. We went up to the observation deck which costs only €8 per person, and you can get the most incredible views over the city and the Danube River. After going up to the observation deck we went to the bar where they have amazing cocktails and drinks available.

Food & Drink

Arthur

Arthur serves up a good selection of ice creams and sorbets which are made from natural ingredients and they also have serval vegan options available too. There are a few Arthur ice cream parlours dotted around the city. I tried the salter caramel ice cream which was delicious!

Drak & Finch

Drak & Finch is a small little cafe and bar in the old town and near to Bratislava castle, we popped in to cool down with a drink after visiting the castle. Try the Hugo cocktail which is really refreshing on a hot day.

Enjoy Bistro

Enjoy Bistro is a cosy casual cafe just down from Michaels Gate in the old town. It serves up delicious smoothies and drinks as well as lots of healthy food options. We stopped here for a drink and the smoothies were great. The decor inside is really cute with lots of homely touches.

Fach

Fach is probably one of the coolest places we visited for drinks and snacks and has a very Scandinavian feel to it, it’s decor is ultra modern and up market. It has lots on offer from the bakery as well as a small menu cooking up fresh dishes. Fach is pretty big and has a bar and restaurant as well as the cafe at the front. We sat outside and had some drinks and ordered their freshly made bread and butter and the cheese board, although I misread the menu and the cheeseboard does come with meat so we ate around the meat.

If you want to go there for dinner then reservations are a must! This place has a really sophisticated feel to it and would be great to visit for a special occasion dinner. Fach serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and lots of cold pressed juices and tasty homemade lemonades. The raspberry and rhubarb lemonade was my favourite.

Foodstock

I absolutely loved Foodstock this was definitely one of the best places for vegetarian food in Bratislava. I had the best vegetarian gyozas I’ve ever had before, and we also tried the sweet corn hummus which was to die for. This spot is great for lunch or snacks if your vegetarian or not you must try Foodstock!

KGB Pub

KGB Pub is a themed pub with lots of KGB memorabilia and located next to Slovak Pub. There’s seating outside which is great on a warm day or the pub itself is set in the basement downstairs.

Re:Fresh

Re:Fresh is a really popular restaurant, bar and nightclub in the capital. We visited serval times once in the afternoon for drinks and olives and we came back in the evening for dinner and cocktails. They have an excellent vegan menu which had a several Slovakian dishes as well as lots of western food, so we decided to order several of the Slovakian dishes to give them a try.

Slovak Pub

Slovak Pub is a must visit when in Bratislava it is one of the cities largest pubs and restaurants and is the place to try traditional Slovakian cuisines and dishes, and big selection of drinks at affordable prices.

It’s decorated in old fashioned Slovak decor. We went there late afternoon for a drink and some snacks. We decided to try the garlic soup which is served up in a bread loaf which was amazing! Also the homemade potato chips are a must try, and are cooked up fresh to order. I’m not normally a fan of red wine but decided to try the redcurrant wine which was so good.

UFO

When visiting UFO observation deck be sure to check out their bar and restaurant. We didn’t eat but decided to sample some of the cocktails, the mango passion cocktail was my favourite. We went there in the early evening for pre dinner cocktails and before it got busy.

Urban Bistro

The Urban Bistro in Bratislava’s old town just by Michaels Gate was one of my favourite places we ate at. We went to Urban Bistro for brunch and everything was amazing the food and drink was delicious, the decor is really cool and the atmosphere and staff are really friendly. My husband and I opted for the smashed avo on toast with poached eggs and I had a mimosa. I can’t recommend this place enough for a decent brunch in the heart of the city. We also came back here one afternoon and had some chai lattes.

Vegan Kiosk

The Vegan Kiosk is a great place to pick up some homemade vegan comfort street food. They create a range of hotdogs, burgers and wraps. It’s really cheap which is great if your on a budget and they make the food up really quick, there’s a few small tables put by the stall to perch at while you eat too.

Accommodation

Stay In City Apartments

While searching for accommodation in Bratislava, there seemed to be lots of apartments coming up on my searches, and many of them worked out really reasonably priced and in central locations, so we decided to book Stay In City Apartments which was just located down an alleyway next to Michaels Gate which was a perfect location to being really in the centre, and only having to walk out of the building to find plenty of bars and restaurants. We really couldn’t fault the location and the apartment itself was really well kitted out and had a lovely balcony too.

The only downsides to these apartments is that there is no luggage room! So on the last day the owner kindly let us leave our luggage in the flat until 3pm but after that we then had to wheel around our cabin bag which was a little annoying. Also if you plan on booking these apartments and are arriving after 10pm make sure to email them before to arrange check in, as we had some confusion when we arrived there was no one at the door and all the lights were out, we ended up wandering around trying to find out how to get our keys and eventually we called the owner who then said she was there waiting and had sent an email which I never received. When we got back to the apartments there was a note stuck on the door, which would have been helpful if she had stuck that on in the first place!

I would recommend these modern, comfortable and central apartments just try and make sure you speak to the owner first about check in and maybe travel light if your flight is late so your not having to carry too much around after check out.

Transport & Getting Around

Bratislava is really easy to get around and everywhere around the city is walkable. The only transport we used were taxis to and from the airport. I would recommend when booking your accommodation email them and see if they can organise your airport transfers, as our accommodation organised our transfers and they were only €15 from the airport to the old town. On the way back we assumed that all taxis were the same and jumped in one and it cost us double! So make sure to organise a transfer and price for both arriving and departing transfers so you don’t overpay!

Top Tips

The only bit of advice I have for Bratislava is that to visit for no more than 2 days as it’s such a small city you may run out of things to see and do, stay longer if your coming to the city to party or to venture out and explore further beyond the city.

Important Information

Luxembourg City Travel Guide

Luxembourg City is the capital city of the tiny European country of Luxembourg. Luxembourg is not normally a city break on most peoples radars, and to be honest it wasn’t really on ours either! However we decided we wanted to go on a small city break for our 7th wedding anniversary.

We didn’t have a big budget for this break and while searching for some inspiration and trawling through various flights and hotels, we decided on Luxembourg, I managed to get really cheap flights through the airline that I work for, and we had a hotel voucher that my stepsister had gotten us for Christmas to put towards the accommodation.

Luxembourg is however expensive when you are there. Eating and drinking out there is not cheap, however as there isn’t lots to see and do in Luxembourg you can literally spend 1 to 2 days there really, and that will be more than enough. We decided to book 3 days and 2 nights as we did plan on leaving the city and going to visit Vianden Castle on one of the days.

Our trip to Luxembourg didn’t go entirely to plan as on the second day I woke up feeling really unwell, and unfortunately I lost a day by spending it in the hotel room feeling sorry for myself, and the day after I still didn’t feel 100% so took a slow and steady day wandering around the city.

I have to admit Luxembourg wasn’t one of my favourite city breaks I’ve had in Europe and I have other cities that I much prefer, however if your like myself and your up for giving anywhere new a try and ticking off another country then it’s worth the trip. Also if you can get a good deal on flights and hotel then it’s definitely worth going to visit Luxembourg for a weekend getaway.

Sights & Activities

Cathedral Notre-Dame

Cathedral Notre-Dame is Luxembourg’s only cathedral, and is a Roman Catholic cathedral it was erected in 1613. The building has some gothic architecture and is pretty central to most other sites and attractions within the city. Inside the cathedral there are some gorgeous stained glass windows, and it is really peaceful to go in for a wander around.

Casemates Du Bock

Casemates Du Bock is part of UNESCO and is a series of tunnels and fortresses which were created in 1644 when the Spanish were dominating. These subterranean tunnels are full of Luxembourg history and provide impressive views over Luxembourg’s old town. Entrance is only €7 per adult and you can easily spend and hour or so exploring these tunnels and reading the information in the museum by the entrance.

Chemin De La Corniche

Chemin De La Corniche which is also referred to as Europe’s most beautiful balcony and was built by the Spanish and French back in the 17th century. Back in the 1800s there used to be steep staircases but they were removed when dismantling the fortress, and today the area now provides panoramic views over the Alzette Valley, The Grund and the Rham Plateau.

Grand Ducal Palace

Grand Ducal Palace is the home to the Grand Duke of Luxembourg. The palace is closed to the public but opens exclusively in some of the summer months. The palace is one of the prettiest buildings in Luxembourg, and you can see the Grand Ducal guards stood outside. Opposite the palace are some cute little cafes and shops too.

Saint Michael’s Church

Saint Michael’s Church is the oldest religious site in Luxembourg City, it was built in 987 to replace the castle chapel. It has ben destroyed several times over the centuries but has always been reconstructed and resurrected. The way it stands today has been like this since 1688 but has been restored over recent years. The church has gothic and baroque elements and architecture and beautiful stained glass windows.

The Grund

The Grund is a quarter in central Luxembourg situated in the city centre in the lower valley below the city, and sitting on the Alzette River. It’s one of the most picturesque areas of the city and you can get down to this area by a lift that goes down through the cliff. The old cobbled streets are full of charm and The Grund is also known to have Luxembourg’s best nightlife. The area is traffic free and a great area to explore by foot.

Food & Drink

Beet

Beet is located in the heart of Luxembourg and is a vegan and organic restaurant that serves up locally sourced food. When we visited it was really popular and seemed like a locals favourite for delicious food. We came here for lunch unfortunately I still wasn’t 100% so I stuck with fries, however my husband ordered one of the falafel dishes which I did pick at and it was some of the best falafel I have ever had!

Beim Renert

Beim Renert is a bistro and bar which has a good selection of beers, it also has plenty of seating outside, and inside has a cosy atmosphere. We stopped in here for a few drinks before heading out for dinner. It has a really nice feel to the place and attracts a lot of locals.

Flowers Kitchen

Flowers Kitchen is a small cafe which is decorated beautifully. It serves up healthy homemade vegan food and drinks. It’s a great place to stop for lunch or a snack there’s lots of light options such a soups, salads, quiches and pastries etc. This was one of my favourite places we ate at in Luxembourg. It’s a really popular cafe so if you can try and make a reservation in advance I would recommend it.

Metropolitan

Metropolitan is a modern Art Deco bar and restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner or if your not hungry it’s a great place to go for a drink, and serves up a good selection of cocktails. It’s set on the corner in a period building and has a terrace, and it has a friendly ambience to the place.

Nirvana Cafe

Nirvana Cafe might not look much from the outside or the inside for that matter, however don’t be put off as the food here is incredible and best of all it serves all vegan Indian food. It’s reasonably priced and big portions we went a bit overboard and over ordered. Its really filling hearty food! The momos were delicious and the mango lassi was also amazing. We visited for dinner, however they do offer a lunchtime buffet too. The service here was also warm and attentive and the best we had in Luxembourg.

Accommodation

Novotel Luxembourg Centre

Luxembourg is notoriously known as being really expensive and over priced. When looking for accommodation unless you have an unlimited budget then your options are quite slim. We opted for the Novotel in the city centre as it is a great location in the centre and was a little pricey but more affordable than other hotels in the city. The Novotel is clean and comfortable and as it’s a chain you know what to expect from a Novotel.

The hotel is situated down a quiet road and the rooms are good size. The hotel staff are also really friendly and helpful. If your on a budget and want a hotel that’s right in the city centre, then I would really recommend the Novotel!

Transport & Getting Around

Getting around Luxembourg is really easy as it’s not a huge capital city, and everywhere is within walking distance. The only public transport we used was bus 16 which runs every 10 minutes from the airport to the city centre and is a bargain at only €2 per person, this is the cheapest and easiest airport transfer in Luxembourg.

Top Tips

My best bit of advice for visiting Luxembourg is to try and get out of the city, I really wish I hadn’t lost a day being ill and would have loved to visit more of the countryside. If your planning a trip to Luxembourg I would suggest allowing for 2 to 3 days for the trip and not any more, as it’s a small city you can pretty much see all the main sites and attractions within a day. Any longer and you might get a bit bored. I’m really glad I visited Luxembourg but have to admit it wasn’t one of my favourite city breaks in Europe, and there are other cities in Europe which offer a lot more to do and have a bit more edge.

Important Information

48 Hour Layover Guide To Buenos Aires

South America is somewhere I would like to explore some more. I have been to Brazil and Chile a few times with work on layovers, and was over the moon when I saw a Buenos Aires on my roster. I have always heard lots of good stuff about this city and it’s rich mix of cultures.

This bright and colourful city has lots to see and do, and is famous for its street art scene and tango dancing. I managed to get around some of the main sites on a recent layover, but still have much more I would like to go and see on a future layover there.

Being in Buenos Aires really reminded me of being in Spain. It has lots of similarities to that of Spanish cities, with lots of colonial buildings, street art and church’s there is a lot going on in the city.

I really enjoyed my time in Buenos Aires although I think many people that travel to Argentina only stop in the capital for a few days before heading down to Patagonia, and other natural areas of beauty around Argentina. I would recommend maybe 2-3 days in Buenos Aires as you could easily see all the main attractions in this time, and I imagine outside of the city is a lot more spectacular.

Sights & Activities

Basilica De Nuestra Senora Del Pilar

Basilica De Nuestra Senora Del Pilar is located next to Cementerio De La Recoleta, and was built back in 1732, and is the second oldest church in Buenos Aires. The church was also part of the Franciscan convent. It’s a beautiful baroque church and worth a visit when visiting the Cementerio De La Recoleta.

Centro Cultural Recoleta

Centro Cultural Recoleta is a exhibition and events space located in Recoleta, and just a few steps away from the Cementerio De La Recoleta. It is one of the oldest buildings in the city and was part of the Franciscan convent. Today it hosts a whole range of different events such as art exhibitions, festivals, films, workshops and cultural presentations. While in Recoleta this is a must I loved the way the building was decorated, it was so bright and colourful and really stood out, however I believe the exterior gets regularly updated and repainted, so it could look very different to when you visit.

Cementerio De La Recoleta

Cementerio De La Recoleta is a huge labyrinth cemetery home to over 6400 statues, crypts and coffins to Argentina’s most famous and influential people over the years including Eva Perón (Evita). It used to be the orchard attached to the adjoining Basilica De Nuestra Senora Del Pilar. It became a public cemetery back in 1822, and is now a city of the dead which you can spend hours wandering around.

This major attraction in the capital will definitely appeal to anyone into darker tourism. It’s definitely one of the weirdest places I’ve visited. It feels a little bit eerie as in some of the tombs you can see the coffins, it felt a bit surreal walking around this maze like cemetery as there are just rows upon rows and narrow alleyways of the most ornate and beautiful graves. It’s free to enter however there are several tours in English, but these only run on certain days.

La Boca

La Boca is a working class barrio (neighbourhood), and has many European influences dating back to its early immigrant days, and is one of the oldest parts of the capital, and is located next to the city’s port.

La Boca is probably the most touristy place in Buenos Aires, but I can understand why so many tourists are drawn to La Boca. It was my favourite area in Buenos Aires, with all its bright coloured buildings, street performers and quirky shops, bars and restaurants. It is easy to spend an afternoon wandering around the rainbow coloured lively streets of La Boca.

This neighbourhood is one of the poorest in Buenos Aires and caution and care should always be taken when visiting, as the area has a high crime rate, however when I visited there were lots of police around on patrol. The best thing to do is stick to the main tourist streets and try not to carry too many valuables.

Obelisco De Buenos Aires

The Obelisco De Buenos Aires is a national monument and was created back in 1936, located in the Plaza De La República at one of the city’s most busiest intersections. It was built to commemorate the fourth centenary of the city’s first foundation. The streets it is located in between is Buenos Aires’s entertainment hub, and has so much going on from theatres, restaurants and lots of shops which open early and stay open late.

Tango

Tango dancing is the National dance of Argentina and originated from the border between Argentina and Uruguay in the late 1800s. It started in the deprived port areas of both Argentina and Uruguay, where natives mixed with slave and European immigrant populations. There is a huge array of options in Buenos Aires to view tango performances as well as taking lessons.

We sat in one of the bars along the main strip in La Boca and watched some dancers, it was really great to watch and for a small tip to the dancers it gives you a small glimpse at tango dancing. Milongas which are dance events happen most evenings all around the capital as well as professional shows. Next time I have a layover I would definitely like to go to a traditional Milonga.

Food & Beverage

El Gran Paraiso

El Gran Paraiso is a gorgeous little hidden gem tucked away in La Boca. This outside little courtyard is so pretty and beautifully decorated with lots of trees, fairy lights and parasols. It’s a really cute and quirky find in the neighbourhood. The restaurant serves up traditional Argentinian food with lots of grilled meats available on the menu.

Being vegetarian I decided to order a salad and a few sides from the menu. It was such a hot day though and all of us massively over ordered on food! The food however was delicious, and the service was warm and friendly and our waiter was very helpful and attentive. When in La Boca go and pay El Gran Paraiso a visit even if it’s just to have a cocktail and enjoy the sunshine in the courtyard.

Floreria Atlantico

Floreria Atlantico was one of my favourite finds in Buenos Aires. This bar is hidden beneath a florists, and serves up a good selection of drinks as well as bar food. The bar has a underwater theme decor, and serves up flower themed cocktails to compliment the florists upstairs.

The cocktails were delicious and this hidden bar is a must visit when in the city. It’s similar to a speakeasy bar and you wouldn’t guess there was a bar underneath the florists.

La Torre De Retiro

I went to La Torre De Retiro for breakfast, it’s a small cafe that serves up a huge selection of pastries which is great for breakfast snacks. I opted for a breakfast pastry and a cheese empanada both were delicious and just what I needed to start my day of sightseeing off.

Las Nazarenas

Las Nazarenas was close to our hotel, and one of my colleagues loved the place and suggested we go there for dinner. I have to admit I wasn’t massively blown away by this place but not sure if this restaurant was wasted on me being a vegetarian. It cooks up traditional Argentinian steaks and meats so I ordered a salad and a few sides to share with some of my other colleagues.

My salad was nice and the sides were also nice, but I don’t think I would go back there for a meal, there was a good choice of Argentinian wine and there was a traditional rustic atmosphere to the place. If you are meat eater and love your wine then this place is probably for you.

Transport & Getting Around

While I was in Buenos Aires we decided to take taxis as there is plenty of marked taxis (Taxi Ezeiza) everywhere and easy enough to flag down, just make sure you get the marked taxis. They are yellow cabs so you can’t miss them. They are all meter run but very cheap for nipping around the city. We were in the city while there was a protect on so it did take a while as traffic was building up so just bear in mind Argentinians love a protest and this happens quite regularly so can cause massive traffic jams.

Top Tips

Buenos Aires may seem like a beautiful picturesque city but it is one that you have to have you witts about you, and make sure you don’t end up in the wrong area. When is Buenos Aires make sure not to wear any expensive jewellery or anything to make you stand out, also make sure you try and not carry too many valuables on you, as pick pocketers and bag snatchers are rife in the city, and there are lots of scams and scandals I heard about, I heard one scam of one person distracting you while another robs you. So like anywhere you have to have a certain level of awareness of what’s going on around you, but in Buenos Aires just be extra careful even in the touristy areas.

Important Information

24 Hour Layover Guide To Kuwait City

Kuwait City is the capital of the tiny oil rich nation of Kuwait, which is located on the Arabian Gulf. Kuwait has an ancient past dating back to early human civilisations. Kuwait City however couldn’t be further away from its olde worlde past. Kuwait City is ultra modern with a skyline full of sleek and new skyscrapers.

Kuwait was somewhere I would have never imagined going to, but a few years back I used to go quite regularly with the airline that I work for, even getting stuck in Kuwait once for an extra day and night. I’m always grateful to get to travel to these types of places as they’re not your average holiday destination, however I used to really love seeing a Kuwait on my roster.

Kuwait to me was always a pretty chilled trip, and a good opportunity for a detox as alcohol is completely banned in Kuwait. I used to love having a layover in Kuwait and sunbathing by the pool and then spending the evening wandering around the oud scented Souq for delicious local cuisine. If you ever get chance to go to Kuwait with work or stopping off on a flight connection you won’t be disappointed.

Sights & Activities

Avenues Mall

If you love a bit of retail therapy like myself then a trip to Avenues Mall is a must. Kuwait has lots of large malls, but the Avenues Mall is one of the largest malls in the world with more than 1100 shops spread over 12 districts. The districts are inspired by various architectural themes. It has every shop you can pretty much think of, from high end to high street shops and a mix of brands from all over the world. This mall is a shopaholics dream, and a great place to spend a day, or to come to for a meal in one of the many restaurants.

Kuwait Towers

The Kuwait Towers are Kuwait City’s most well known landmark, there are 3 towers in total and were built back in 1979, their purpose was to provide water distribution.

The main tower is 187 meters high and has 2 spheres. The lower sphere holds water in its bottom half, and in its upper half there is a lounge, cafe and restaurant. The upper sphere which rises to 123 meters and completes a full turn every 30 minutes. The second tower is 147 meters high and serves as a water tower. The third tower has equipment to control the electricity flow and illuminates the larger towers. The towers hold 9000 cubic meters of water altogether.

You can spot these eye catching towers from all over the city, and these are considered one of Kuwait’s main tourist attractions.

Liberation Tower

The Liberation Tower is a 372 meter high telecommunications tower, which is the second tallest structure in the country. Construction of the tower started before the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990. When the invasion took place construction was put on hold, the structure received no damage and construction continued in 1991. When completed in 1993, the tower was renamed the Liberation Tower which symbolises Kuwait’s liberation from Iraq. You can see the Tower when near Souq Al-Mubarakiya.

Marina Mall

The Marina Mall is set along Kuwait’s coastline and is a modern shopping mall with more than 150 shops and an enclosed bridge over to the marina. There is also a pathway to additional retail developments such as Marina Waves, Marina Waterfront and Marina Walk.

The Marina is also home to the Marina Yacht Club with gorgeous views overlooking the Gulf. There are lots of restaurants and cafes around there, and it’s the perfect setting for a late afternoon shisha and to wind down the day and watch the sun slowly setting.

Souq Al-Mubarakiya

Souq Al-Mubarakiya is a one of the oldest souqs in Kuwait, and was the center of trade prior to the discovery of oil. The market is about 200 years old, it was damaged during the Iraqi invasion in 1990, however it was renovated and it got back its traditional charm.

The Souq is a great place to come in the evening to see what the stalls and shops are selling. There is a whole range of things to purchase from food, homewares, carpets, perfume and clothes and literally anything you can think of. Tucked beneath Kuwait City’s skyline this old Souq really transports you back in time and you will witness authentic Kuwait culture.

Food & Beverage

Souq Al-Mubarakiya

If you want delicious cheap food with traditional flavours, Souq Al-Mubarakiya is the best place to come for your meals. There is so much choice with plenty of cafes and restaurants with lots of authentic Arabic dishes available.

My favourite is a selection of mezes, salads, hummus and warm breads all washed down with my favourite drink in the Middle East – mint and lime juice (most refreshing drink ever). When I used to order chicken kebab I hardly ever ate any of it as always took pity of the local street cats, and ended up sharing most of my food with them. If you are a crazy cat person take some cat treats with you so you don’t have to share your dinner.

Transport & Getting Around

In Kuwait there is public transport available such as buses, however I believe most visitors tend to take taxis as they are pretty reasonable and offer flat city rate tours. I always make sure to get the hotel to book taxis as they will recommend a reputable taxi company.

Top Tips

My biggest bit of advice would be that when in Kuwait remember you are in a Muslim country, so respect traditions and customs and be modest with the way you dress. Alcohol is also illegal in Kuwait however you can buy non alcoholic beer in certain places if you have a craving or why not do as the locals do and have a shisha instead?!

Important Information