Travels

Poland – SZCZECIN

Szczecin

Poland

Una

By Una

poland-szczecin

Our trip to Szczecin in Poland, was as usual, a last minute decision.  Our last holiday had been to Varna in Bulgaria and we had returned over 4 weeks ago, so we kind of felt under pressure to book somewhere soon! September is a good month to travel, as the price of flights fall considerably and the weather is mostly still reasonable in most European destinations.

After our visits to Budapest (Hungary) and Varna (Bulgaria) we really wanted to try another country in Eastern Europe, so finding the cheap flights to Szczecin was amazing. Only £28 pounds each for a return flight from our local airport of Luton to Szczecin which is in the north of Poland. Flights all booked (uh oh, Wizzair again – someone won’t be happy!) and then a search on AirBnB and we found a beautiful apartment in the City for only £22 a night – then the fun began.  Judith decided to have a quick look to see how we get to the City Centre and realised that the airport is actually 40km outside and a taxi would be the equivalent of £25 each way: that’s more than our flights!! A quick message to the AirBnB host and a friend Judith has in Poland and we found out there was a direct bus for only £3!! What a bargain! So only £96 in total for 2 people, 2 nights and transport!!

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We are notorious for getting lost, even in places where everyone tells us it’s impossible to do so. Fortunately, the town of Szczecin is made for people like us: there is a yellow line literally painted on the ground to follow around the contours of its old town, and although we actually didn’t spot the yellow line until the day after, it seemed that we followed the route pretty well.  The weather was mild and we got up early to explore. The yellow line was basically a straight line and led us to the Jan Kasprowicz Park.

Poland is awesome. Seriously. cafés accept credit cards for small purchases, Topshop exists in Polish malls, beer is cheap, the food is deliciously unhealthy and the old town squares are full of colourful row houses. So even when it’s grey, cold and/or wet outside, the architecture is enough to keep you cheery.  Anything can be pretty. It’s easy to find beauty in just about anything these days. Don’t be afraid to get lost. With little to no objective for the day, we explored aimlessly. Szczecin is a small enough city that getting around by foot was easy enough.

We weren’t sure what to do in the evening as we were both quite tired, so Judith messaged the Host and he suggested Cafe 22 just a short walk away.  It was on the 22nd floor of the tallest building in Szczecin.  Upstairs was a cafe which had panoramic views of the city and you could walk all the way round – we were half expecting it to revolve!! The cafe was open until 11pm and although there were only a few dishes (salad or burger) for a main dish, there was a vast dessert list alongwith a good choice of cocktails and beers. Our bill came to the equivalent of £22 but that included 2 beers, one cocktail, one coke, one burger and a salad – pretty reasonable we thought!

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Toulouse France

Toulouse

Una

By Una

Toulouse France

A trip to Toulouse in France For £20 each we were on a win-win holiday! In fact it cost us more in petrol to get to the airport and stay there the night before than it did for the whole holiday.  

Well if you like staying next to a strip club in a seedy part of town then our hotel is for you! We always wonder why such great reviews are written about a hotel and then when you get there the reality is very different.  The Occitania Centre Toulouse Matabiau was a disappointment to say the least; see our review on www.booking.com 

 

However, it’s not all bad and a strip joint and hotel for   hookers shouldn’t put you off from visiting Toulouse. What has beautiful red-brick architecture, a hip-vibe and is the 4th largest city in France after Paris, Marseille and Lyon?  Toulouse itself is known as a center of aviation and spaceflight in the past 20 years – also the home of the famous Airbus.

One thing that Alan and I did a lot of in Toulouse was walking.  

There are so many sights to see, the architecture is amazing

and we were also very lucky to stumble upon many nice

restaurants and cafes.  One day in particular we got slightly

lost and thanks to the ‘activity tracker’ on Alans phone, he had

a record of our tour!

 

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Toulouse France

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Budapest

Budapest

Hungary

Una

By Una

Our decision to go to Budapest was yet again a totally random one. Judith would be travelling from Dubai and Alan was coming from the UK, so a location about half way between the two seemed a good idea. Except Alan’s journey was only 2 hours and Judiths was 6!! Anyway it was well worth the uncomfortable seats on Wizzair with the zero leg room, no entertainment and 3 euros for a coffee.

Our flights were both due to land Budapest at around midnight

however once Judith got off the plane she received a text from the accommodation owner to say that Alans flight was an hour late.  The airport was tiny, there was nowhere open for a drink or snack, and every bench was covered by a sleeping passenger.

At Budapest Airport there is a really good taxi system in place. You go to the booth and show the guy where you want to go and he prints out a ticket and tells you the registration plate of your car. The ticket also says how much the fare will  be, either in Euros or Hungarian Forints.  Once Alan had landed, we sorted the taxi and were on our way.

Budapest
Budapest

This blog aims to tell you where we went, what we did, what we ate, how we spent our time but in one word we can sum it up…AMAZING!! We arrived at our accommodation, the Beer House Apartment

and the owner Gabor was waiting for us. He gave us a quick tour of the flat and a quick walk around the neighbourhood, despite it being 3am, and then we were off to bed!!

The next day we decided to just do a lot of walking to get our bearings and of course find a supermarket so we could stock up!  Here are some pictures of our first day!

Many travellers won’t commit to Budapest due to old fears. Its part of Eastern Europe so people tend to have misconceptions of what to expect. English is very commonly spoken, and we assure you there is no communism here. It’s a must visit for tourists looking for something a little off the beaten path.

During our week in Budapest we walked 80,000 steps which equates to 20 miles! We didn’t use any public transport as we were based very central and didn’t see the need to try out the metro, trams or buses.  As you will see here, Budapest has an eye!! The cost was approx. £14 for both of us which was for about 5 spins of the wheel! Although it was a bit of a novelty, we felt that it was poorly 

placed and would probably be best down near the river or by Parliament.

Parliament was built on the ‘Pest’ side to give the city some balance.

budapest

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marseille

Marseille

France

Una

By Una

Escale Oceania Marseille Vieux Port was a 3-star hotel placed literally alongside the marina. An amazing location, with an awesome view of the ‘Marseille Eye’ from our bedroom window.  Although it was only the weekend of the 10/11 March, the temperature reached 24 degrees and we found ourselves, yet again, in shorts and t-shirt.  What’s not to love about impromptu weekends away?!

Alan and I had originally met in a Photography class and although it had always been classroom based, we now found ourselves with the perfect opportunity to basically snap everything outside that moved or didn’t move.  Neither of had brought a fancy camera with us and all we had was our iPhones and Alan’s new toy….the Go Pro!!!  We hadn’t really done much research about Marseille before we came away and decided to just wander about and enjoy the warmth and ambiance rather that have any strict itinerary.  We could see from the Port, the church on top of the hill and one of us had a good idea to go and check it out. So with Go-Pro in hand, carrier bag full of water and a random baguette, we made the equivalent of walking up 29 flights of stairs!  Thanks to the iPhone ‘health monitoring’ app for that information, but also to Alan’s other new toy….his Tom Tom watch for informing us that this was in fact 16,196 steps.  The church was, in fact, the Marseille version of the Notre-Dame de la Garde.  Honest to God, I have no idea how in the year 1214 they managed to build something so magnificent but “kudos” to all those who had to climb every one of those steps.

Thankfully, what goes up, has to come down and eventually we did and retired for a short nap to recuperate.  Later on that evening we found an amazing restaurant called Collins. This is the surname of Alans best friend, so he thought it appropriate to eat there.  Fifteen euros for Mussels and frites and they were delicious!

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France – Nimes

Nimes

France

Una

By Una

Nimes is one of the most overlooked destinations when we think of holidays in France, although it has been a very important geographical spot during centuries of history. We visited Nimes on a bit of a whim, purely because it was cheap. Check out how we find our cheap flights here. A once-in-a-lifetime experience awaits for you to discover. 

Nimes is the capital of the Gard department and has existed since the 2nd century B.C. In Roman times, Nimes was called Nemausus and was a Roman colony, which was a privilege given to only to some cities. This is the main reason for which there are that many Roman monuments in Nimes. But after the Roman Empire disappeared, Nimes began to lose population and importance to other near cities. Nowadays, it is the perfect place to enjoy history and the sunshine alike. 

nimes

You simply cannot visit Nimes without seeing the Roman Amphitheatre or Les Arenes. This is the most important monument in Nimes and probably the best preserved Roman theatre, or coliseum, in the world. This is because when the Roman Empire disappeared, Les Arenes was used as a fortress, in which a whole neighbourhood was established. Nowadays, the theatre is used as a bullfighting ring, and for those who are interested in bullfighting, there is a Bullfighting Museum just next to Les Arenes. 

nimes

The other important Roman must-visit in Nimes is the Maison Carrée (which translates to “Square House”). The Maison Carée used to be a Roman temple, but throughout the centuries it has served many purposes. This building has been used as town hall, church, consular house, or archive. 

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Dubai

Dubai

Dubai

UAE United Arab Emirates

Dubai is one of seven emirates that make up the UAE, United Arab Emirates, a country that only came into existence forty one years ago.

 

dudai
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The discovery of vast oil reserves soon after rapidly created a millionaires’ paradise. Twenty five years ago Dubai was a small desert town famed for pearl diving, but with the help of oil revenue the city many love to loathe erupted from the desert. Gleaming skyscrapers, obscene luxury and extravagant mod cons, Dubai presents itself as one of the financial and tourism capitals of the world, and with over 80% of the population expatriates (the majority from India, Pakistan and the Philippines), the city certainly has a global feel… but there a dark side if you choose to look.

Dubai

According to www.tripadvisor.co.uk there are over 600 hotels in Dubai – this may not sound like many for such a major tourist hub, however this equates to over 100,000 rooms.  The Atlantis itself has over 1500 rooms! Not our idea of fun, but we were lucky as we had a 12 day trip to Dubai with no hotel costs as Judiths daughter and son in law had just moved to a Villa in the desert.  The cost of a hotel in Dubai varies greatly, from a basic right up to the worlds only 6 star hotel the Burj Al Arab where rooms can be £6000 a night!

The downside of staying in the desert was that the only transport is by taxi – we used Uber but at £15-£20 a time, each way, it severely limited our days out.  Here are the places we visited:

Dubai Marina Dhow Cruise

Dubai
Dubai
Dubai

We booked and paid for this through Trip Advisor which meant we had a record of the booking and didn’t have to worry about printing off a ticket as it as on our phone. Another good place to look for deals is www.groupon.ae.

It was an extremely hot evening and very busy on the boat, but we got a top deck seat and the views were absolutely amazing. We paid for a really nice photo of the two of us which was around £5 but worth it!! The entertainment is a man dressed up in lights who spins so make sure you don’t have epilepsy as it might be a trigger!!  However it is a great way to see the Marina, all the amazing yachts and you go out to sea just for a bit so you have the view of the skyline as you come back into the Marina.

Burj Khalifa

Again this was a trip booked through www.groupon.ae – you don’t necessarily get a great discount but you get a good seat in the restaurant aptly called Atmosphere – the best time to go is just before sunset so you get to see all the lights of the City come on and you can see over to the Burj Al Arab and onto the Marina.  There is a minimum spend of 200 UAE dhs (£45) but that is easy to do and in fact we spent less, but they didn’t say anything!!

The three main malls in Dubai that we visited was The Mall of the Emirates, The Dubai Mall and the IBN Butatta Mall.

Dubai
[view from the top]

Al Qudra

Dubai

Al Qudra

The Al Qudra lake, located in the middle of the Seih Al Salam desert and Bab Al Shams, was created and managed by the civic body as part of a project to green and enrich that part of the desert of Dubai

Access is via a sandy, stony road with no clear signage so it is best to have a good look at a map or read some reviews before you go.  The temperature here in May was over 50 centigrade and you could actually hear your skin crackle with the heat!

 

 

JBR Beach

Dubai

In May the average daily temperature was between 42-46 degrees centigrade (although in the desert it pushed 52!) We aren’t sure what the temperature of the sea was but it was rather like a warm bath.  The sand is really hot and is impossible to walk on so remember your flip flops! To rent a sunbed and umbrella it is around £20 so the best thing to do is take your towel. Along the area known as JBR (Jumeriah Beach Resort) there are many cafes and shops so you will never be short of things to do!!