Tripsget is a blog for young adventurous professionals and expats. We both work full-time and enjoy exploring the world during our vacations. Our aim here is to inspire you to travel more and help you organise your vacations in such way, so you manage to see as much as possible within a limited amount of time.
* Marseille is one of the best weekend destinations in Europe. In this post, I’m describing our experience during a weekend in Marseille *
Weekend in Marseille Day 1: Marseille City Centre
Perks of flying to Marseille from London
The alarm clock went off at 2:45 am, leaving me puzzled for a moment. Why on planet Earth do I have an alarm clock set at 2 am? After a second, however, I realised, that it’s the day of the weekend trip to Marseille and in order to get to Stansted Airport (that is located just outside London) at 4:45 am to catch my early flight, I need to get out of my bed not later than 2:45. Yes, downsides of living in such a big city as London. On the one hand, London is a fabulously connected city with thousands of flights departing every day, cheap tickets (I got mine for 10£ return, what a catch for a weekend in Marseille!) and 6 airports, but on the other hand, getting to some of these airports is quite problematic. I have a love-hate relationship with Stansted: I love it for cheap flights that depart early in the morning leaving me with 2 full days during a weekend trip. But I hate it for being so far away and being inconveniently located. It takes me nearly 2+ hours to get there (and that, when transport works like a clock, which often isn’t the case).
Anyway, that day the trains weren’t working, so we took a National Express bus departing from Waterloo that brought us to Stansted in less than an hour (luckily, there is not much traffic at 3:30 am).
Return tickets for £10?
The airport was as always full: all the Ryanair flights are scheduled to depart in the morning, so sleepy people were queuing for check-in, bag drop and security lanes. Ryanair changed their bag policy again, so at the boarding, there was a fair amount of confusion. All that was solved very quickly and I found myself sitting in the aisle seat somewhere in the 4th row. Ryanair also doesn’t let you sit together with your travel companion unless you booked sits together for an extra price. Our tickets were pretty much the same price as the seats in the plane, so we decided to sit separately and leave the flights being ridiculously cheap: £20 for two (!) return tickets from London to Marseille. Can you even complain about anything with these prices? And these tickets were for a weekend (like prime time)!
Marseille greeted us with the warm and sunny weather, but then something went wrong: the sun hid, instead, it started raining. You know this nasty kind of rain which doesn’t let you enjoy walking around but is not enough for using an umbrella or hiding in some cafe while waiting for it to stop.
Our hotel in Marseille & seafood paradise
We checked in at our hotel in Vieux Port (Old Port), this time we stayed in Mercure (with its signature purple rooms) and went off to explore the city. The location was perfect, so we couldn’t wish for more. Check the availability of Mercure now.
First, we went to eat at Toinou – an amazing self-service restaurant with the freshest seafood ever and really affordable prices. A massive platter (in the photo) was just 15€.
Old Port in Marseille
Secondly, we went to see the Old Port. In the mornings, it’s usually very crowded, as a lot of fish is sold there. In the afternoon, however, all the stalls were closed: only the seagulls were flying around trying to find the leftovers of fish.
Our next stop was the main cathedral of Marseille that was around 20 minutes away from where we were. After a nice stroll, we finally reached the cathedral and went inside. It was really huge and impressive, but looked quite empty inside!
We spotted a Ferris wheel not so far away from us and decided to go on a ride to see the entire port of Marseille. I must admit, that the tickets were quite expensive for the experience (8€), but as we were the only customers, we got 3 rides instead of one
Oops, the weather just changed
Afterwards, we headed to the fort of Marseille and walked there for a while before returning to the Old Port and buying one of these tours, where you sit on a small train and listed to some excursion in 5 languages at the same time. That was probably one of the worst decisions ever, as the weather changed dramatically and we not only froze but also got wet on this train. The only good thing – we managed to see the Notre Dame de la Garde and the breathtaking panorama of Marseille! The city was stretching so far, that it looked like a multimillion megapolis!
The way back to the Old port was as miserable as the way up, so all I wanted to do was just to jump off the train during one of the traffic light stops, but unfortunately, that was prohibited. When we returned to the Old Port, I couldn’t feel my hands for at least an hour. In order to get warmer, we decided to visit the Galerie Lafayette (one of the most famous department stores in France if not the most famous one). There was a nice food floor there, so we were browsing interesting french delicatessen for about an hour, before getting back to our hotel.
Instead of going out for dinner (we were extremely tired), we just walked to a Carrefour and bought some nice French groceries. I actually love groceries in France and for me, it’s better than a dinner in a restaurant. I really like French cheeses, pate, terrine and baguettes, so if all these products are fresh, it’s just awesome.
Day 2 in Marseille – Calanque de Sugiton
When we woke up on our second day in Marseille, we realised that the storm has finished – it was really sunny outside (and very windy), so we decided to go outside the city, to the beautiful lagoons of Cote D’Azur. We took a bus to the Luminy park (just next to some University of Marseille) and then started hiking all the way to the Calanque de Sugiton.
I must say that in order to get there, you need to have internet access and constantly check on Google maps, where are you going. Don’t forget to bring comfortable shoes, as a huge chunk of the route is actually a hike (a medium level one). However, the Calanques of Marseille is totally worth it.
At around 4 pm, we returned to Marseille Old Port and went to have late lunch/early dinner at the only place that was open (French people have fixed times for lunch and dinner, outside of which you won’t be able to find restaurants serving food). Nonetheless, this place happened to be awesome and we really liked our meals and the service and would definitely recommend it to you.
Later on, we returned to the main railway station, where we took the bus back to the airport and got there in 30 minutes.
To summarise: Weekend in Marseille
I really liked Marseille. Even during the coldest month, January, it looked cheerful and vibrant. There are many things to do in the city and obviously, some of them you can only do in summer, spring and autumn, but not in winter. They include tours to Provence and neighbourhood places.
Hey guys, it’s the second post of my series of the Instagram guides to the cities around the world. This time I will show you the most instagrammable places in London, where I actually live. London is full of incredible photogenic places and I would probably need to create parts 2 and 3 of this Instagram guide to London, so you know more fabulous spots! And as always, don’t forget to follow me on Instagram – @lizatripsget– to see the most photogenic and instagrammable places from all around the world!
So let’s get started! The most instagrammable spots in London:
1. Peggy Porshen
Alright, this one is probably the most Instagrammable cafe in the entire London. It got popular just around a year ago and since then you need to stand in a massive queue in order to get inside this gorgeous cafe. While everybody says that the cakes aren’t any good, their presentation is really impressive. Alternatively, you can take a photo of the facade, that gets decorated for every season of the year and for big celebrations (such as Halloween).
In order to take a nice photo of London, head to Shard (pop up in the bar without the reservation) or reserve a table for a lunch/dinner or even the Afternoon tea!
5. Sky Garden
Sky Garden is an incredible garden / bar / restaurant located on the last floors of a skyscrapper. If you want to have a drink, you need to make a reservation. Sky Garden is definitely one of the most Instagrammable places in London!
6. Aida Shoreditch
For really instagrammable colourful matchas.
7. Farm girl
Farm girl is definitely one of the most Instagrammable breakfast spots in London. Check it out for colourful coffee, pink tables (located outside, on the terrace) and photogenic colourful croissants.
8. Petersham nurseries
No words needed – look at this fabulous garden cafe in Richmond.
9. Covent Garden
Covent Garden is one of the prettiest spots in London all-year-long. In front of Covent Garden, there is a swing, decorated with flowers. However, from the inside, the Covent Garden is also really pretty.
10. Eggbreak, Notting Hill
Eggbreak has been one of the first brunch places I visited in London and I really loved it. It’s photogenic, tasty and not overly expensive.
11. Soft Serve Society
For these charcoal ice creams!
Sketch London actually stole my heart. I even wrote a dedicated blog post about sketch London – the most instagrammable breakfast place in London.
13. Notting Hill
This neighbourhood is a paradise for bloggers: colourful houses with colourful doors are attracting bloggers and professional photographers on sunny days in London.
*Drums* It’s been 2 years since we’ve started blogging (well, from now on, I’ll say I, because… even though Pepe is my life companion and he’s taking the most wonderful photos of me, he’s not really BLOGGING at all and probably doesn’t have a clue about these blogging mistakes I’ll be talking about in this post). So well, it’s time that I tell you everything I’ve learned from 2 years of travel blogging.
Here’s the first part, which I wrote when Tripsget turned 1: read it here.
I’ve learned that networking is everything
If you want to be a successful blogger and be invited to press trips, sign contracts with brands and be contacted about sponsored posts, getting all this will be 10 times easier if you already know many people in the industry. From blogger friends to tourism boards contacts, you need to know many people to succeed in travel blogging. I’ve spent the whole first year of travel blogging trying to succeed on my own, but it would have been so much easier if I started networking and attending travel-related events from the day-1 of blogging!
I’ve learned that conferences can be fun
Alright, I’ve been to conferences and Expos before and they’ve been ridiculous and extremely tiring. Travel conferences are nothing like that! TBEX is like a giant week-long party, while Traverse is a greatest weekend-break travel bloggers can ever wish for! Few weeks after attending Traverse, I was invited on a press trip, signed a contract for two sponsored posts and got an incredible number of useful connections!
I’ve learned that blogging can be a chore
If you want to be successful and rank in Google (or get a lot of traffic from Social Media), you need to work a lot. From keyword research, to pin creation and Pinterest threads, you will spend A LOT of time doing extra work for your blog. At some point, I even burned out. I realise that I spend only 1-2 hours writing a post and another 3-4 hours optimising it, inserting affiliate links and promoting it on Pinterest. Blogging stopped being fun and I certainly stopped enjoying it at some point. So I realised that I just want to keep it as a great hobby rather than transform it into a part-time job. Since then, I stopped spending so much time optimising posts and participating in threads. Of course, the stats followed as well, but then you need to choose your priorities.
I’ve learned that you can’t put all your eggs in one basket
Bloggers need to diversify their risks. Everybody got really concerned with the recent algorithm changes of Instagram when the posts started getting 1/3 of the likes they used to get. I was also relying on Instagram too much and realised, that it’s better to have a wider portfolio of Social Networks rather than rely on Instagram only (well, it still accounts for 70% of my success, but now I’m way more conscious about it). Right now, I’m trying to work more on Youtube and, of course, the blog.
I’ve learned that in order to succeed faster, you need to invest
If you want to treat your blog as a business and start earning money from it, you need to be serious about blogging from the very beginning. In order to succeed faster, you can invest. If you have money for the initial investment, it’s great. Your life will be so much easier. You can buy a domain with a high authority (instead of building your DA for a couple of years), you can pay for guest posts and have them accepted very fast. Finally, you can pay for promotion of your posts on Social Media.
These 5 things were the ones I’ve learned from 2 years of travel blogging.
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In this post, I’ll tell you about a beautiful Russian city Sochi and 10 best things to do in Sochi in summer and in winter. I’m actually originally from Russia (St. Petersburg), but I’ve been living in London for a while now. Nonetheless, when it comes to Russia, I know so many things, since I’ve travelled a bit around my country, so I decided to share that knowledge with you.
Some of you might have heard of Sochi, because of Winter Olympics 2014, which actually took place in Adler (near Sochi) and in Krasnaya Polyana, where Rosa Khutor is located – a world-class ski resort, that was rebuilt and in some places built from scratch just for Winter Olympics. Also, you might have no idea that Sochi is actually a great summer destination and a popular holiday place for most of Russia and it’s quite warm even in winter too – some days could be as warm as 10-15 degrees Celsius.
So how could it have hosted Winter Olympics? Well, easily, since Krasnaya Polyana is located around 1 hour away by train and is actually high in the mountains, with the highest mountain being Rosa Peak – standing 2243 meters above the sea level.
Also, Sochi will be one of the destinations for the FIFA World Cup in 2018 in Russia, so in case you’re planning a trip to Russia and aren’t sure, which cities to visit, this post is for you (you can also read some really useful tips about how to survive FIFA 2018 in Russia).
Useful information about Sochi, Russia:
Sochi is actually quite far from Adler and New Adler. It takes around 1h – 1.5 hours to get there by public bus. Suburban trains are faster. There are plenty of hotels that are located literally in the middle of nowhere between Sochi and Adler. If you don’t speak Russian, don’t stay there, as it’s gonna be really hard to get out of there and explore the zone. New Adler is where the Olympic park is – in my opinion, it’s the best zone to stay.
Sochi is great and I liked it a lot. So here’s about the 10 best things to do in Sochi, Russia in summer and winter:
1. Visit the Olympic Park and watch the Singing Fountain in action
I love the Olympic Park! It’s really impressive and the visit of it is completely free. Also, in the evening you can watch the signing fountain (which is obviously not as impressive as Dubai), but to me, it was perfect because of the amazing music!
2. Go skiing / hiking in Krasnaya Polyana
In case you’re visiting in Summer, you should definitely go hiking in Krasnaya Polyana. Just take a suburban train from Sochi / Adler and head to Rosa Khutor. In order to get up to the top of Rosa Peak (the highest mountain), you need to pay around 1500 rub (less than 20 pounds).
3. Visit the dendrarium in Sochi
If you’re visiting in summer/ spring or autumn, it makes sense to visit the Sochi dendrarium (basically, a huge botanic garden). The entrance is very cheap (about $5), but the views you can see from there are really nice!
4. Head to the Sochi city centre & marina
Visiting Sochi and not going to the city centre? That’s crazy! So you should definitely head to the city centre and the Sochi marina for some nice photos and great choice of cafes & restaurants. Moreover, there is a beach just in the city centre, so bring your swimsuits in summer!
5. See a typical Soviet-style resort in the city centre of Adler
Many tourists, who come to Russia actually wonder, what was it like during the USSR times. Well, in some cities, nothing has changed since then. Sochi, however, did change a lot. The only thing that didn’t change in Sochi since the USSR times is plenty of sanatoriums or Soviet-style resorts. You can see many on your way from Adler to Sochi by bus or vice versa. Or you can stay in one – that would be proper exotic. Decent sanatoriums in Sochi coast are, for example, x and x.
6. Chill in one of the restaurants with the swimming pools in Adler
You might not have thought, that Adler is actually a trendy location with new shopping malls, nice restaurants and bars with chill-out zones, private beaches and even swimming pools.
7. Spend a couple of nights in an all-inclusive hotel in New Adler
If a typical Soviet-style sanatorium is not for you, then you can stay in a modern and very nice resort. Radisson Blu is one of the best in Adler. I personally loved Bridge Resort, but it’s so good that it is almost always sold out (check if you’re lucky and it isn’t sold out).
8. Hire a bike and have a ride around New Adler
A wonderful thing about New Adler in Summer is that you can hire a bike literally on the embankment and spend a couple of hours exploring new Adler.
9. Visit Sochi Park
Sochi Park is a nice amusement park that opened in 2014 (so it’s relatively new). It looked really great, but I didn’t really have a chance to visit it during my 11 days in Sochi, as half of the attractions weren’t open yet.
10. Head to Abkhazia for a day trip (check if you need a visa in Advance)
And the last but not least activity of the 10 best things to do in Sochi in summer and winter is to buy a day trip to Abkhazia. First you need to check, if you actually need to get a visa there, as it’s an independent state (though not recognised by the majority of countries in the world). Abkhazia is really really run down, but the nature is amazing there. The best way to visit the country is by buying a tour – that way you’ll be able to see everything and you won’t get lost.
How to get to Sochi?
The easiest way of getting to Sochi is through Moscow. You can buy a plane ticket online and the flight takes around 2 hours.
If you have plenty of time, you can actually experience Russia to the fullest and take a train to Sochi that takes around 1.5 days from Moscow. Sochi has an international airport, so you can actually get there from Armenia, Uzbekistan, Turkey, Kazakstan, Belarus, Israel and Iran. Hopefully, the list of international flights will be expanded for the FIFA Wolrd Cup 2018.
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Since I’ve moved to London in July, I worked in two companies. One was really terrible and was a total waste of time (don’t work for Malee Natural Science, if you see a position open there – and they are pretty much always open – FOR A REASON), but the second one was actually a great success. Landing a job in a company that was named the best company to work for in London for a couple of years (according to Glassdoor) was actually really good.
A bit about my background. I’m a typical millenial, who likes brunching in trendy places, eat avocado on toast and travel. Nonetheless, I managed to get 3 degrees (2 of which are cum-laude) and I speak 4 languages. And I have this blog, which I managed to grow all by myself (not without Pepe’s support though). I also have 2 years of work experience in Digital Marketing and great passion to work in that field.
Nonetheless, I did struggle. A lot. I had a 3.5 month break between jobs and if not blogging, I would have been in debt by now. But in the end, I did find a good job in a great company and with a really good salary.
So how to find a job in London as a foreigner?
1. You need to analyse you strong sides
Even if you think you don’t have any strong sides, you’re lying to yourself. As a foreigner (unless you’re from the USA or Canada), you probably know additional languages and that’s very useful in London. Some languages are more demanded than the other, it’s true. However, you can even get alerts to jobs with your language on Indeed or LinkedIn. The most useful languages in London are probably German, French and Spanish, but there’s also a demand for Chinese, Arabic and some Scandinavian languages.
2. You need to put a lot of effort in your CV
You can’t imagine how many bad CVs there are out there. I was actually on the other side a couple of times and had a chance to look at MANY CVs while trying to find a couple of interns for the company. There were blank CVs, unprofessional CVs, CVs with typos and many other bad CVs. Make sure to proofread it a couple of times and also indicate your English language skills, if they are good enough (if you aren’t a native speaker – that will help the employer or the recruiter to understand that you can actually WORK at the position you’re applying for).
3. You need to sound confident and proactive
If you haven’t worked in the UK before, you need to persuade the employers that you’re a trustworthy candidate and you’re more than capable of doing this job!
4. You need to really rock at the interview
If you were given a chance to come to an interview, that means that the employer found you interesting and you have a strong chance of getting this job. Sometimes in order to impress the employer you can prepare something extra, like a report, that you created for this interview (this is just an example, you can be creative with that).
5. Know what you’re worth
There are a LOOOT of people who try to overestimate their salary and name something like 50K when they can clearly get only 24K if they’re lucky. And there are also equally many people, who simply underestimate their salaries, thinking that if they set their bar too low, they will have more chances to get the job. Well, it’s not the auction, so it doesn’t work like that. A good service to check your potential salary is Adzuna – you can upload your CV for free and get your salary approximate.
6. Use also smaller job boards
There are job-specific boards for jobs, e.g. the Dots for creative jobs or Jobbio for Digital and IT jobs. In order to increase your chances, don’t forget to monitor these smaller boards and of course, don’t forget to apply to the companies directly!
7. Follow up where necessary
You can’t imagine, how many CVs do HR departments and recruiters get. Sometimes it’s just nice to remind a bit about yourself and you might actually be invited for an interview.
So these were the steps to finding a job in London as a foreigner. First of all, I wish you best of luck! Secondly, if you liked this post, I would appreciate a Social Share!
It is completely understandable that London tends to hog the spotlight when people look into visiting England. It’s a wonderful city, and for that matter the country isn’t particularly large – so, even if you do stay in London, you can always leave on day trips to see other interesting places. Even so, tourism recommendations beyond the capital are too often ignored, so we wanted to make a few of our own.
So, here are the 7 things to do in England (But not in London):
1. Visit The Eden Project
The Eden Project is a combination between a nature preserve and a gigantic botanical garden that has become one of the most incredible attractions in the UK. Indeed it’s been dubbed the eighth wonder of the world by some, and named the best leisure attraction in Britain several times. The best way to describe it is that it’s a set of biomes housing gardens and plants from all over the world, all laid out in a sprawling outdoor area in Cornwall. While the biomes themselves are the main attraction, the Eden Project also houses events like light shows and concerts for its many visitors.
2. Attend A Manchester Derby
The Manchester Derby is the name given to matches between Manchester United and Manchester City – two of the best football teams, not just in England but in all of club football. United plays at Old Trafford, an historic, high-energy stadium, while City plays at the Etihad – a more modernized but equally exciting venue. Naturally the two clubs are rivals, and that makes these matches incredibly fun to attend year in and year out.
3. See Stonehenge
Famous the world over, Stonehenge is the kind of thing you can’t fully appreciate until you actually see it in person – like the Grand Canyon, or the pyramids of Giza. Erected sometime before 2,000 BC, it is a ring of giant stone slabs arranged in a circle and left to stand ever since. There’s a great deal of mystery that surrounds Stonehenge, but merely to look upon it, wonder how anyone managed to bring it to be 4,000-plus years ago, and imagine what purpose it might have served is incredible.
4. Attend The Cheltenham Festival
Back to sports for a moment, there are actual numerous exceptional horse races to attend throughout the UK. But Cheltenham may be the most fun of the bunch. Here, you can expect four days of excitement. Spectators show off their race day fashion, celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, and generally revel in the festivity of the races. It’s also customary to read up on the races, check out who the experts are backing, and place a few bets, for those comfortable, so as to have a personal attachment to the races. It’s really as enjoyable a sporting experience as you’ll find in Europe.
5. Tour The Lake District
If Stonehenge represents England’s most incredible man-made attraction, the Lake District is its most stunning natural wonder. While it’s really more of a region than a single attraction, the Lake District must be seen and explored. It’s a gorgeous expanse of peaks, valleys, and glacial lakes, filled with hiking and cycling trails that can bring a dose of adventure to your England vacation.
6. Take A Castle Tour
England (and indeed the entirety of the British Isles) is dotted with ancient castles from various eras of history, and it’s a shame not to see some of them while you’re there. You can take organized castle tours, but the best way to go about it might be to research the best castles to see, rent a car, and design a route all on your own. It’s a way to have total control over the experience, and see only those places that most intrigue you – though narrowing down the selection can be tricky.
7. Enjoy Brighton Beach
The last one of the 7 things to do in England is Brighton. England has a few lovely beach towns, but Brighton Beach is both the most famous and possibly the best of them. It’s known in particular for its pier, which has enough activity on it that it could more or less be dubbed a theme park jutting out into the ocean. However, the beaches themselves are lovely during the warmer months, and the town is full of cozy hotels, charming streets, and nice places to eat. It’s a great town for a summer weekend.
Porto is a fabulous destination all year long and it’s very easy to reach from anywhere in Europe. A few weeks ago, we spent a weekend in Porto and would love to share with you our thoughts and itinerary as well as the most Instagrammable places of Porto.
Weekend in Porto: seafood, port and best Instagrammable places
While Portugal is definitely the all-year-round destination, a visit to Porto in December might be quite unpredictable. You could be lucky and have a very warm weather, but you could also catch a storm. Nonetheless, Porto is way warmer than London in any case, so if you’re based in the UK, you won’t regret this small trip to Portugal.
We only had 1.5 days in Porto (weekend in Porto): we arrived early in Saturday and were supposed to leave around 3 pm on Sunday, but our flight was cancelled, so we actually left around 8 pm. Even though 2 days in Porto aren’t that much, we actually managed to see quite a lot of the city.
How to get to Porto from the Airport
When you arrive to the Porto international airport, you can either take a bus or a metro (tram) that brings you to the city centre. The price is cheap compared to the major European cities: 2 return tickets will cost less than 8€. The journey takes about 30-40 minutes.
Where to leave bags in Porto: weekend in Porto
Since we only could check in to our apartment at 3 pm, we decided to find a locker and leave our bags. That wasn’t so complicated: there are serviced lockers at the main train station of Porto. The station is in the heart of Porto, which is really convenient. Actually, the station itself is very impressive – inside it’s decorated with fabulous Portuguese tiles and you’ll see plenty of tourists wandering inside and taking photos of the railway station.
Best restaurant in Porto – Tapabento
We were very hungry, so we headed to the best-rated restaurant of Porto – Tapabento. The restaurant is so popular, that there is usually a queue outside before the restaurant even opens at 12 pm. The most secure way to get to the restaurant is actually to call them in advance and make a reservation. In the beginning, I was a bit sceptical about the place, since the prices were high to Portuguese standards (a starter was around €11-14 and a main was around €22-30), but all the dishes were huge and could easily feed two people. So one starter and one main would be perfectly fine for two people. The food quality and taste were exquisite, so definitely make a space for this place in your itinerary.
Douro river and the best pastel de nata in Porto
Later on, we headed to the Douro river embankment. Such a pity, the sky was full of clouds and the colourful city of Porto seemed gloomy and sad. Nonetheless, even with that weather, the city was beautiful! We walked the promenade all the way to the bridge and bought the most delicious and fresh pastel de nata in Porto.
Pastel de nata is a traditional Portuguese pastry and it’s really delicious. You won’t have any problems finding it – they sell it in every single cafe and restaurant, however, the best I’ve tried in Porto was just in front of this bridge.
Where to try and buy port in Porto
We crossed the bridge to the other part of Porto and decided to stop for a glass of port in one of the tiny restaurants. The southern part of Porto (south of the river Douro) is the part, where all the wineries are located. In some of the wineries, you can have a tour, in the others, you can just buy a bottle of port. We were interested in visiting one of the wineries, however, we couldn’t buy a bottle of port, as we were travelling with hand luggage only. If you’re just like us, don’t worry – there is a huge variety of port in the Porto airport.
There is a very scenic route through most of the wineries – just take the road and climb the hill.
Where to stay in Porto – our apartment at Mouzinho street
We chose one of the best-rated places on Foursquare, but unfortunately, it wasn’t as good as Tapabento. The food was very average, but the highlight of the dinner was the cheesecake in a flower pot. Delicious!
Day 2: Bolsa palace disappointment
In the morning, we checked out, grabbed a pastel de nata and a coffee in a local cafeteria and headed to the Bolsa Palace, one of the most beautiful palaces of Porto. There we had a sad surprise – you could only visit the palace with the tour that goes every hour. However, most of the tours for the day were sold out, so we couldn’t actually visit the palace at all. In case you want to visit Bolsa palace, you should definitely book a tour in advance, especially during the high season!
Best view of Porto & the Harry Potter library/bookshop madness
Not being able to visit Bolsa palace, we climbed the street heading to Mirador, a panoramic lot, from where you can see the entire Porto.
Later on, we went to the Livraria Lello – the famous bookshop that is portrayed on all the photos from Porto. Not only it’s is a bookshop, where you pay to buy books, but you also have to pay 4€ to actually get inside. It got very popular when it was revealed that it inspired Joanne Rowling and was actually featured in Harry Potter. We aren’t crazy fans of Harry Potter, but we wanted to see the place, as this bookshop claims to be the most beautiful bookshop in the world. Well, it is undoubtedly very impressive and beautiful, but you need to stay in the queue for one hour and when you actually get inside, the place will be so full, that you wouldn’t be able to walk or take photos. We took some photos, but I actually cut out most of the people, but as you can see, that ruined the photo.
Two other instagrammable spots in Porto
After getting out of that madness, we went to the next spot on our list – the Church decorated with incredible tiled from the outside. The last spot on our list was the colourful wall in front of the restraint, which was really photogenic.
As we lost a lot of time queuing for the Livraria Lello, we couldn’t fit other remarkable places in our itinerary, as we had to go to the airport. At the airport, we actually found out, that out Ryanair flight to London was cancelled. But well, that’s a different story (which we will describe in one of the next posts, so you know what to do in case your flight is cancelled).
What to wear in Porto in November-January:
Sweater, a light waterproof jacket, leather jacket, trainers (you’ll have to climb a lot and the boots aren’t comfortable for that).
Liked this post about the weekend in Porto? Porto during the off-season is also fun. Share this post on social media if you found it useful! We write about weekend trips a lot: check some of our recent posts, such as a weekend in Aarhus and weekend in Toulouse, France.
As a travel blogger and Instagramer, I’m used to taking photos all the time, so looking great in the photos is really important to me. Also, obviously, looking great in the real life is important. Who doesn’t want to look good, feel good and be confident in their own body? Unfortunately, losing weight might be easy for some people, but could also be a huge challenge for the others. So how do you realise what to do to lose weight and what works for you and just FOR YOU? You’ll find it out in this post about the healthy weight DNA test from HomeDNA.
All people are different
All people are different. Different shapes, colours and different DNA. Apparently, some genes are considered “bad” for losing weight, hence, you need way more effort than somebody without these genes. It sounds pretty obvious, but might not be obvious for everybody. Otherwise why would be there so many complaints about the same diet that didn’t work for somebody, but perfectly worked for their friend?
Healthy weight analysis and report by HomeDNA
When I was approached by HomeDNA to participate in their DNA testing for Healthy Weight, I couldn’t be happier. Since I’ve moved back to the UK in February 2017, I managed to gain 5 kilos. And these terrible 5 kilos were very visible in all my photos. They also made me forget about my favourite jeans (unless I wanted them to explode on me during a dinner out in London). So well, I agreed right away and already in a couple of days I received my testing kit, which I very soon sent back and got my results in about 5 weeks.
When I saw that my report was 72 pages, I was stoked. Also, during that time I was in Malta (read my blog about Malta here), so I decided to postpone my healthy weight DNA test analysis and read it carefully when I return to London.
Checking the DNA healthy weight report
So when I actually checked the report, I found it very useful. As I already suspected, my weight loss ability was below average. So in order to lose weight, I would need to exercise 5 times a week for 300 hours (which is A LOT of exercise). In the report, responses to different nutrients were tested. That was described on at least 25 pages and it was a lot of information.
For instance, I was found to react well on foods like tuna, spinach and salmon. Also, for example, I was found to have a very low Vitamin A tendency (ability to convert beta-carotene into vitamin A).
The best thing about the healthy weight DNA test
My favourite part of the healthy weight DNA test was probably the personalised meal plan for 7 days and personalised plan of activities for effective weight loss. It’s extremely useful to have sometimes that was designed especially for you based on your genetics (rather than common advice about healthy eating). Even though many of the dishes sounded quite elaborated (compared to what I usually eat), they could be also simplified by not adding a couple of ingredients.
For example, a sample recommended nutrition day would look like that:
I haven’t actually lost any weight or started exercising intensely since receiving the results of the test, due to a leg injury, but as soon I’m back in track, I’ll be experimenting with my custom workout plan. In terms of food: it’s extremely hard to change your diet, especially if you work full-time and your work would be very demanding, but I’ll try to make my meals as close as possible to what I got from Home DNA as a recommendation. I’ll be back with an update in June, after 6 months, so stay tuned!
Disclaimer: I was sent the Healthy Weight DNA test, but as always, all the opinions are my own!
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If you’ve ever been to London, you probably know that it’s expensive. It’s not a secret that London salary/rent price ratio is totally screwed up and we all (inhabitants of London) always need to think about different elaborated ways to save money in London and at the same time have a good standard of life. So in this post, I wanted to share with you 5 lifehacks I use to save money in London (so I can travel basically every single month and sometimes even more often).
10 great ways to save money in London
1. Save on restaurants with Gourmet Society Card
Okay, we all like going out from time to time and going out in London is really expensive (it’s not a secret). So how do you actually keep going out and save money as a couple or alone? The answer is… with a special food card. There are quite a few cards on the market right now, but I’ve only used two of them: Tastecard and Gourmet Society Card. I actually got my Gourmet Society Card for free when I opened an account in Lloyds, so it was a win-win situation.Gourmet Society card helps you reduce your food/total bill costs by up to 50% and it’s pretty awesome. As a couple, you can save double the money, as it works for up to 10 (in some weird cases) people.
The downside: well, there are some amazing restaurants participating in the programme, however, as you can expect, you fav restaurants might not be there (because they don’t need to provide discounts to get more clients). Always check a rating of the restaurant on Google or Yelp before booking it.
2. Always use your Nectar Card, Club Card and other points cards
Why would you bother to carry around all the points card to shop for… groceries? Well, the answer is… Just by showing your points card at your local grocery store can land you free restaurant meals every 3-5 months or so. Yep, you got me right – FREE restaurant meals. During this year, we already had 3 absolutely free restaurants visits with our Tesco Clubcard. And we don’t even always shop in Tesco and spend that much on groceries.
3. Open a bank account that gives you benefits
If you’re thinking of changing a bank, you might research the benefits in advance. Some banks even give you free cash or vouchers worth up to £150, if you switch to them. Some others, give you pretty amazing benefits, like a free magazine subscription, cinema tickets or a Gourmet Society Card (p.1 above). I got my GSC from Lloyds.
4. Save on bank commissions
If you’re travelling quite often, you might consider opening an account with one of the online banks like Monzo, Monese or Revolut. I’m with Revolut and while it has 1000000 downsides and is definitely not reliable to use as your primary bank card in the UK, it’s pretty awesome for going abroad, as you can pay for your purchases without commission as well as extract money in ATMs all around the world without extra fees. For that you need to pay a standard monthly fee, but it pays off, if you’re travelling a lot. The fees, for your knowing, might be really high. For example, with Lloyds, I need to pay from £.0.5 to £1.5 commission every single time I pay by card (plus the exchange rate isn’t brilliant), so if I travel once a month for a weekend and pay, let’s say, 15 times with my card (groceries, restaurants, souvenirs, coffee and so on), I’ll spend like £10-15 on commission + additional X pounds on a bad exchange rate.
5. Switch to a new broadband operator
It’s always cool to monitor some great deals. For example, I switched from Three to Vodafone and got a free Spotify premium for a year (or Sky Sports subscription for a year as an alternative).
6. Get a cinema card
If you like watching movies in the cinema, you might consider getting a cinema card. Currently, Odeon and Cineworld have those. You pay around £20 pounds a month (£18 excluding central London) and can go to movies as often as you’d like. Knowing that an average ticket price is from £13 to £19 in London, going to the cinema twice a month with that card will already save you a lot of money.
7. Buy discounted theatre tickets
If you really like theatre, but can’t afford to buy tickets at regular prices, you can go to TKTS on Leicester Square and buy tickets with up to 50% for the same day performances. That’s how we got our tickets to Venus in Fur for £33 (for the 4th row in stalls) and to American in Paris for £18 (also in stalls).
8. Check if your jobs provides you with benefits
Some jobs provide you with really great benefits and discounts for various shops. For example, if you work in Expedia, you get up to 30% off in Bodyshop and 9% off in Gap and many more discounts. Why not use them?
9. Buy clothes in TK Maxx
Shopping is expensive. But not that expensive if you don’t care about the latest collections and shop in TK Maxx instead. I love TK Maxx for its shoe assortment: I bought really good Geox and Kurt Geiger shoes for as low as £30 each pair and it was a pretty awesome deal! The only problem is that TK Maxx is like a treasure hunt – you need to spend there a lot of time in order to find a really great deal. Also, it makes sense, to stay away from the most touristy areas like Covent Garden, as TK Maxxes there look like a desert with only weird clothes and shoes left.
10. Buy a railcard or a Commuter’s club monthly travel card
And the last but not least way to save money in London is to buy a railcard or a Commuter’s club monthly travel card. It’s cheaper to buy the Oyster travel card for a year, but not all of us have that money at your disposal. Commuter’s Club solves that issue and gives you the yearly Oyster card, but you pay for it in monthly instalments. And you also get a railcard, where you can save up to 30% on rail prices. If you don’t need a yearly oyster card, you can just buy a railcard. For example, we often travel as a couple with Pepe and we have the Two Together railcard, that already saved us a lot of money. Just so you know, it works for all rail tickets – including trains to Stansted, Gatwick and other airports. The card costs £30 for a year, but summing up all the discounts we got, we probably saved around £200-300 already!
Okay, so that was it about the tips to save money in London. If you know any other money-saving tips, please, leave them in the comments!
Malta might look small, but you actually need a car to explore it properly. Malta consists of 3 main islands: Malta, Gozo and Comino. Malta is the biggest one, with the capital Valetta, however, Gozo is a gorgeous inhabited island and Comino is a very interesting place as well. In this post, I’ll be sharing with you my 5-day itinerary for Malta in winter or spring, when it’s actually not possible to swim. We actually celebrated Christmas in Malta and it was great. Let’s get started!
As always, there will be a video of all what happened to us in Malta and the review of getting around Malta by car, so don’t forget to check it out – it’s already there, at the end of the post.
We had 5 full days in Malta in winter (6 counting the first day, but as we arrived very late, I didn’t count it all). We hired a car through rentalcars.com (as we always do) and got a small Kia Picanto, which was the most economical car in terms of fuel that I’ve seen in my life. After driving almost nonstop for 5 days, we arrived back to the airport with 40% if the tank. And no, we haven’t loaded with fuel. Not even once! Can you actually believe that? So after we loaded the gas just before returning the car, we paid around 30 euros (that for 5 days of non-stop driving in Malta. Crazy!).
So in total, renting a car for 6 days with full insurance & fuel from rentalcars.com (with Thrifty) in Malta in December was just 100 euros!
We stayed in the hotel Corinthia St. George’s Bay – a great 5* hotel with fabulous breakfasts. The location of the hotel was perfect and it had a large parking. It also had a swimming pool and a spa, which was perfect, as we wanted to swim!
Our balcony in Corinthia St. George’s Bay
Day 1 in Malta: Mdina & Marsaxlokk
On the first day, we headed to the silent city of Mdina. Mdina was the first capital of Malta and looks like a smaller version of Dubrovnik. The famous series Game of Thrones was filmed there as well (any GOT fans here?) and we were wandering around the streets looking for familiar locations.
In Mdina, you can visit the main cathedral (admission price is around 6€) but it also includes the cathedral museum (which isn’t a big deal). We visited both, and the museum wasn’t impressive at all, unfortunately. So, if you don’t have that much time, you can definitely skip it (and you won’t regret it).
The best thing about Mdina is its tiny streets and beautiful houses and colourful doors. I couldn’t stop taking photos of these doors. The entire city is very photogenic and pretty and is a must-visit spot in Malta.
Posing in Mdina
After visiting Mdina, we headed to the fishing village Marsaxlokk. Our main intention was to find a great seafood restaurant, but as it was quite cold outside, we had to stay inside, and all the restaurants there had literally the ugliest spaces inside and really really bad service, so we ended up in Costa Coffee. We also selected a well-rated place for dinner near St. George’s bay. Even though we failed to find a lunch spot in Marsaxlokk, I still liked the village: the promenade was nice and the views with small colourful boats were lovely!
Marsaxlokk (can’t really pronounce it)
At the end of the day, we headed back to our hotel and spent the evening in the spa. In the evening, we headed to the centre of St. George’s Bay – to the family-run restaurant called Maltese Mama, which I highly recommend to you! We took a fish and seafood platter for 3 and it was really great!
Day 2 in Malta during off-season: Gozo
On the day 2, we went to Gozo.
Gozo is the second biggest island of Malta and you can get there by ferry. The ferry goes every hour (during the busy times it goes more often) and you can go there by car as well. The return ticket was around 25€. Keep in mind, that Gozo ferries are often very busy, especially on the weekends, so we, for example, could only take the third ferry, so it makes sense to arrive early.
For Gozo, we actually had a ready itinerary prepared for us by a local – big thanks to Walter from Corinthia hotel). I will actually write about that in a separate post, so if you’re interested in a full-day Gozo itinerary, read this (link is coming) post.
So we just followed the itinerary and visited some really amazing spots. We started at Ramla Bay and finished in Victoria looking at the beautiful sunset in the citadel and a traditional Maltese wedding that happened to be there on that day.
Ramla Bay in Gozo
Day 3 in Malta in winter. Valetta and Dingli Cliffs. Christmas in Malta
On the third day, we headed to Valetta, the capital of Malta. It was already the 24th of December, so all the main landmarks were closed, so we just walked around the city and took the horse cab for around the city tour. Valetta was incredibly full – even though the main landmarks were closed, all the shops were open. Since there aren’t that many tourists in Malta in winter, the shops were actually full of locals doing last-minute Christmas shopping in Valetta.
In total, we spent around 4-5 hours in Valetta. We would have needed a lot more than that if the shops were actually open.
Later in the day, we went to Dingli cliffs to watch the sunset. I wouldn’t say it’s the most beautiful spot to take photos, but the tourist buses usually stop there, so we decided to drive there too. It would make a bit more sense to visit Dingli Cliffs after Mdina and Marsaxlokk after Valetta due to the locations of the places.
Sunset at Dingli Cliffs in Malta
We arrived at the hotel early, since we had the Christmas dinner booked in our hotel Corinthia St. George’s Bay – it was a buffet with live music for 45 euros per person excluding drinks. I wasn’t too amazed by the food, but the seafood was really good.
Day 4. Popeye Village and Malta Aquarium. Silema
On the day 4, we went to Popeye Village – a film set built specifically for the movie Popeye. The village is really lovely and colourful and it works as a small amusement park. It’s totally worth to go inside there in summer, as you can swim in a small lagoon and even jump from a trampoline, but in December, it was too cold for swimming, so we decided to look at Popeye Village from above (take a turn left and walk for 100 metres for the best view of the village).
Stunning Popeye Village, Malta
Later on, we wanted to take a ferry to Comino island, but the ferries didn’t work on the Christmas Day, so instead, we went to the Malta Aquarium. Afterwards, we went to Selima for the best views of Valetta and the sunset.
In the evening, we went out to check out the nightlife of St. George’s Bay and ended up in Hard Rock Cafe which looked a bit sad and reminded me of a Wetherspoon pub in the outskirts of London rather than a Hard Rock Cafe, but the cocktails were as good as they always are.
Actually, the nightlife of St. George’s Bay is crazy! It was actually loud and crazy in December, can’t imagine how it is in summer. Smallish Maltese bars offer bundles of shots for a ridiculous amount of money such as 72 shots for 23€ and you can see these bars by crowds of 30-40 people outside.
Day 5 – Comino Island – Blue Lagoon & Crystal Lagoon Malta
On the day 5, we finally managed to go to Comino island. The ferried to Comino island depart from Cirkewwa ferry terminal (there is a small stand called Comino ferries), and cost 15€ per person for a return trip. They usually depart every hour and take 20-25 minutes to reach Comino. Comino is a really small island, however, I liked it most out of all the island. The reason for that: the Crystal lagoon. While the blue lagoon is a bit crowded and small, crystal lagoon is a bit further up the island (you have to bring comfortable shoes), but the views from there are breathtaking!
Such a pity that it was very windy and we couldn’t launch a drone there, the shots would have been spectacular.
Blue Lagoon, Malta
By 4 pm we got back to Malta and headed to the airport.
To summarise, the trip was really interesting and we managed to see a lot! Visiting Malta in winter (or off-season) was a great idea, because the weather was generally warm (at least, warmer than in London), it was sunny and not that crowded, so we managed to capture some spots without that many people. It would be really interesting to come back to Malta during the high season to see how different it gets!
Hotels in Malta could get very expensive, check today’s deals to find the best price!