A Staycation Guide to North Norfolk

I can technically tick Norfolk off my UK travel list now, but at the same time, four days cannot exhaust the places that Norfolk has to offer – I mean come on, I haven’t ventured to the Norfolk Broads yet. It’s next on the list.

But following my ‘staycation’, I can now give you a fairly comprehensive guide to North Norfolk (including some social distancing, ‘new normal’ observations).

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Planning a UK Staycation? Here’s How To Do It

Flights might be back up and running, but a summer staycation has never been so popular for 2020. At the end of June, there was apparently one holiday booked every 11 seconds in the UK. It seems to be the ‘new normal’, but that’s really not a bad thing – there’s some incredible offerings on our doorstep. It’s the perfect opportunity to ‘break the routine’ and stay elsewhere or rediscover your local area – a staycation which would involve very low mileage. Here’s how you can do it.

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48 Hours in Hereford

One of my favourite things about the UK, is that there are still so many places that I haven’t explored. Hereford is only an hours train ride from Birmingham, making it so easy to get there, but as the weekends have the tendency to fly by, I did my research to see as much of city as possible (especially as the weather was predicting floods but we’ll get onto that!). Here’s my list to make the most of Hereford in 48 hours.

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The Best Food & Drink Spots in Birmingham

I’ve spent many of my student days in the city of Birmingham, the city that has become my second home, & I’ve learnt over time that Brum has plenty to offer, especially food & drink wise!

Food

No.1: Digbeth Dining Club – it’s pretty well known now, but Digbeth Dining caters for all with street vendors offering a huge range of different types of food. Last time I visited, I had the Halloumi Pitta (from the Greek stand) and Ferreor Rocher Waffle & it was incredible. Friday & Saturdays are typically really busy, so I would recommend going earlier in the day to get a table if you plan on staying throughout the evening. With live music/DJs in the different venues, it’s definitely a great night!

No.2: Pitcher & Piano – yes this is a chain, but being located right on Birmingham’s canal network, makes this one a winner in my book. The menu is always reasonably priced, catering for veggie & vegan (would definitely recommend the halloumi burger or mixed bean quesadillas). If you sign up to the newsletter, it’s very regular to get drinks offers!

No.3 Cherry Reds – this is an independent bar only a stones throw from Birmingham New Street and I’ve only visited for breakfast before, but it’s one that I keep telling myself I need to go back to! There is plenty to choose from, with lots of veggie & vegan options, so whatever time of the day you can’t go wrong!

No.4 Leverton & Halls – if you’re looking for somewhere a bit outside the city centre, Leverton & Halls is located in Bourneville. Veggie breakfast is great here too (are we sensing a theme yet?), and it’s a really cute deli and locally sourced ingredients are in the heart of this place!

Drink

Coffee deserves it’s own category really, because there is so many to choose from. I’ve narrowed it down to two of my favourites, which are Yorks Bakery, again just a stones throw away from Birmingham New Street and 200 Degrees, located near Birmingham Cathedral. Both have their own independent twist, but seem to be good for getting some work done! The interiors are really nice and have very relaxed atmospheres, which is perfect for getting your coffee fix!

Pubs wise, it is The British Oak in Stirchley for me. Further out of the City Centre, but it’s only a 10ish minute train ride to Bourneville station. The British Oak is a pretty iconic pub as a Grade II listed building, teamed with the great atmosphere, it’s great place for a catch up. Most Friday nights there is live music outside in the terraced area which never fails to disappoint, especially when you’ve got the outdoor heaters (or dancing) to keep you warm. The ‘Tiki’ bar is open some nights, so there is an extensive range of cocktails too!

And there you have it, a few food & drinks spots to check out in Birmingham if you haven’t already! I’m always open to recommendations though so let me know if there’s any places I should check out too!

A City Guide to Bath

To make the most of the Christmas break from work, I headed to Bath the day after Boxing Day with my family, for time to explore and relax in the gorgeous city. As one of England’s most historical cities, there was more than enough to explore so I’ve complied a quick city guide in-case you need some inspiration of wheres best to head to!

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How to Interail Europe: Ljubljana & Lake Bled

I’m sure we’ve all heard of Lake Bled, the popular lake tourist destination with crystal clear water – it’s definitely ‘instagrammable’. We stayed in a small hotel in the capital of Slovenia, Ljubljana, but the focus of our visit to Slovenia was for Lake Bled. I’m seriously regretting not spending longer in Slovenia – I want to see it ALL.

I can confirm that Lake Bled is as GORGEOUS as it looks on instagram. There were plenty of visitors there and I’ve read that some people find it too touristy now, but it didn’t dampen my day at all. We caught an early train from Ljubljana to Lake Bled (around 40 minutes) and train journey’s in Slovenia definitely did not disappoint with the views! Once you arrive in gorgeous Bled, there’s a short bus you can catch from the train station to the lake or an hours walk.

To begin the day, we followed the path around the perimeter of the lake first and I think that this is the best way to see every aspect of the lake. It probably takes around an hour to complete the walking loop, but it’s all signposted so easy to follow.

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Swimming – The lake is pretty much your oyster if you are a confident swimmer. We found a pontoon to sunbathe on, which was also great for jumping off into the lake! The water is so clear and beautiful to swim in, but with opportunities to do paddle-boarding, rowing, water-sports, the list is endless with things to do. If you prefer to swim with a lifeguard around, there are ‘swimming pools’ sectioned off along with an area with sun beds, music etc, but you pay to go into that area (A quick payment heads-up, it is also €1 to use the toilets around Lake Bled so have the coins handy).

Food and Drink – Take a picnic to have by the lake and you won’t regret it. But during our walk around the lake, there was a cafe signposted as the best views in Bled. You can’t go wrong with good views and a good coffee and the Bled Cream cake which was definitely bigger than we expected!

We headed back to Ljubjana in the evening to have some food and drinks in the restaurants on the riverside near Dragon Bridge. Slovenia feels like a hidden gem, whilst at the same time it well-worth the hype and I can’t wait to explore more.

How to Interail Europe: Budapest

Budapest was one of the first places on our interail list, a city that has always intrigued me. The old mixes in with the new, throughout the city centre and there are plenty of experiences not to be missed when visiting the city.

The City’s Highlights

Danube River – As we stayed on the ‘Pest’ side of the city, strolling along the Danube river was a perfect way to get our bearings with the city. There are incredible views of Buda Castle and Széchenyi Chain Bridge from this side of the river and you’ll be able to see the ‘Shoes on the Danube Bank’ monument, which is incredibly moving as a fitting tribute to those who lost their lives during the shooting in 1944.

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How to Interail Europe: Vienna

Vienna. It’s a breathtaking city, rich in history, music, palaces and museums!

Where to Stay Do Step Inn Central Hostel was probably one of the best hostels during out trip, aligning well with our budget and it was really close to the train station to avoid carrying our rucksacks for too long. There’s a great kitchen to use and supermarkets are close by – we took the opportunity to cook in both nights and save money! It is about a 20 minute walk into the centre of Vienna.

The City’s Highlights

St Stephen’s Cathedral – This is honestly the most beautiful cathedral I have seen. It is known for its intricately tiled roof, standing out in the centre of the city, but as we entered inside the cathedral, it was definitely a ‘wow’ moment. The architecture was stunning, the organ sounded beautiful, creating an incredible atmosphere within the Cathedral.

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Hofburg Palace – This is one of the biggest palace complexes in the world and is now home to the Spanish Riding School (which you can see a glimpse of!) and numerous museums. Across the road from the Hofburg Palace, there is also MuseumsQuartier so you will not be short of museums to visit in this area of the city! I’ve heard that you can purchase tickets to see a concert inside Hofburg Palace but it wasn’t something that we did!

Schönbrunn Palace – This palace is considered Austria’s most significant cultural monument and it was another ‘wow’ moment – no pictures will do this palace justice. The grounds are EXTENSIVE and by walking around, you can admire the palace from pretty much every angle. As you walk down the Great Parterre, you’ll find the Neptune Fountain – symbolising how monarchs controlled the destiny of their nations. The gardens continue up to the ‘Gloriette’, where the views of the palace and the city are actually incredible.

Sigmund Freud Museum – There are so many museums based in Vienna, you have to pick one really. The Sigmund Freud Museum is based in his original apartment, which was really interesting to read into parts of his work and observe them as such. The amount of information is slightly overwhelming, it felt like I was reading a huge essay throughout the visit.

Cafe Central – This is a popular destination, but it lives up to the hype. Most likely you will have to wait for a table inside, but they are really efficient at doing so. The interior decor is stunning, a very authentic and classic feel and you might not believe me, but the coffee is worth the price!

Belvedere Palace Gardens – This was a pit stop after checking out of the hostel, before the next train (onto Budapest!). Spending a few hours sunbathing and admiring at a palace was a great way to relax. Inside the palace, there are numerous exhibitions which might be worth checking out!

There is PLENTY to see and do in Vienna and we managed to pack quite a bit into two days so hopefully this gives a good idea of how you can see lots of Vienna in a short space of time!