travelling love story selfies

A Travelling Love Story – In 59 Selfies

travelling love story selfies

Selfies are all the rage these days. There have been epic selfies, 360° 3 year selfies and Oscar selfies that broke the internet.

But I like to think we were ahead of the game because Claire and I have been taking selfies on our travels since way before the craze took off and became the phenomenon it is today. Dare I say we came up with it? Of course not, that would be ridiculous. But maybe…

Anyway, whether we started the craze or not, our selfies give a pretty good track record of our travels over the years, from when we were just boyfriend and girlfriend figuring each other out to being married and expecting our first nipper. Here are some of the best (you can scroll through bigger versions by clicking on the images) from over the years…

A romantic stroll by the Ile de Notre Dame in Paris…

paris - france

Christ the Redeemer Statue in Rio, Brazil…

christ the redeemer statue - rio, brazil

Iguazu Falls in Brazil…

iguazu falls - brazil

At the Boca Juniors vs River Plate fiery football match in La Bombonera in Buenos Aires…

bombonera - buenos aires

Horse Riding in Mendoza, Argentina…

mendoza - argentina

The amazing Perito Moreno Glacier in Patagonia, Argentina…

perito moreno glacier - patagonia

Sunrise over the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia…

salar de uyuni - bolivia

Halfway through our bike ride along the World’s Most Dangerous Road in Bolivia…

worlds most dangerous road - bolivia

Floating our way across Lake Titicaca near Copacabana in Bolivia…

lake titicaca - bolivia/peru

The Marvellous Machu Picchu in Peru…


machu picchu - peru

Looking over the dunes of Huacachina at sunset in Peru…

huacachina - peru

An incredible lake in the mountains just outside of Huaraz…

huaraz - peru

Looking over the cityscape of Quito in Ecuador…

quito - ecuador

Straight out of a mud bath in a volcano in Cartagena, Colombia…


cartagena - colombia

Midway through our 3 day sail from Colombia to Panama we stopped off at the San Blas Islands. Paradise…

san blas islands - panama

The behemoth that is the Panama Canal…

panama canal

Reuniting with old friends on Roatan in Honduras where I taught English on my gap year…

punta gorda, roatan - honduras

Huntington Beach – Surf City in California! And a bad hair day…

huntington beach - california

Looking out over Santa Barbara, California…

santa barbara - california

Exploring the streets of San Francisco…

san francisco - california

Camel rides across the Sahara desert in Erg Chebbi, Morocco…

sahara desert - morocco

A trip back in time at the ruins of Ephesus in Turkey…

ephesus - turkey

The Turkish Grand Prix in Istanbul. Claire said she’d go if I bought her a cap…

turkish grand prix

In the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey…

blue mosque istanbul turkey

Post crash landing after our hot air balloon ride over Cappadocia in Turkey. I was planning to propose before this happened…

cappadocia balloon ride - turkey

…so I had to wait until sunset that night….

cappadoccia - engagement

Beautiful blue skies in sunny Chicago…


Our private flight on the way to safari in South Africa on our honeymoon…

private honeymoon flight - johannesburg

On a game drive looking out for the Big Five. We saw everything but the elusive leopard!

madikwe game reserve, south africa

A rainbow at the top of Le Morne in Mauritius…

mauritius - le morne

Honeymoon paradise in Mauritius…

mauritius - beach

A trip to Riga, Latvia with matching hat and ‘tache…

riga - latvia

A stroll over the Yorkshire Moors in the UK…

bolton abbey - yorkshire dales

Relaxing hammock time in Soller, Mallorca…

soller - mallorca

A stop off in Arcos de La Frontera during a road trip through Andalucia, Spain…

arcos de la frontera

Sevilla. Our home for nearly a year and one of our favourite cities in the world…

sevilla cathedral

Plaza de Espana in Sevilla on a morning run before the tour bus crowds arrive…

plaza de espana - sevilla

On the beach in Barcelona during spring time…

barcelona - spain

Tapas in Valencia…


A weekend break in Madrid…

madrid - spain

On the waterfront in the colonial town of Galle, Sri Lanka…

galle sri lanka

Hiking through Sri Lanka’s hill country in Ella…

ella sri lanka

Marathon training in Sevilla. For one of us anyway…


The view over Nice promenade, our home for 3 months…

nice - france

The final of the Monaco Masters tennis…

monaco masters tennis

Historic Antibes on the French Riviera…

antibes - france

Mixing with celebrities at the Cannes Film Festival. Seeing if we can take a better selfie than Kimmy K…

cannes - france

Walking the pitlane in the run up to the Monaco Grand Prix…

monaco gp pit walk

Grabbing Kimi Raikkonen for a snap at the Grand Prix. He didn’t stop to chat…

kimi raikkonen selfie

Down at the beach in Lagos, Portugal…

lagos - portugal

Ice cream break as we check out all the boats in the harbour in St Tropez…

st tropez - france

Watching the Tour de France in London…

tour de france - london

Mojitos in Havana, Cuba….

havana - cuba

Caribbean beach time just outside of Trinidad…

ancon beach - cuba

Trinidad, Cuba. One of the prettiest towns I’ve ever visited…

trinidad - cuba

The Schwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, Burma…

schwedagon pagoda - yangon - burma

Sunrise over Bagan in Burma, with hot air balloons flying in the backdrop…

bagan - burma

A boat trip over Inle Lake in Burma, with bikes in tow…

inle lake - burma

 And finally a 360 video from when we were in beautiful Bagan in Burma!

Have you travelled far and wide with your other half? Are you a selfie addict? Let us know in the comments!

Ponte Vecchio

A Backpacking Trip around Florence

Florence is not an easy place for a backpacking trip. Capital of Tuscany, ancient capital of Italy and one of the 3 most famous art cities of the country, together with Rome and Venice, it is what you would easily consider a big “tourist trap”.

But I’m Italian, I’ve been to Florence several times and I’m a travel addict. So I’m happy to share with you some tricks, as I do on my blog and on Gadders, the travel platform I created to help foreign tourists who wish to come to visit Italy.


Hotels are quite expensive in Florence and hostels are very few, but the good news is those few are good quality and at a good price! The city itself is actually small and you can walk around everywhere. Therefore, you just must need to make sure that your accommodation is not in the outskirts and you’re done. You won’t need information about public transports (big issue avoided!)

Must see

I recommend you not to plan a 3 day trip through the whole Tuscany just because in 1 hour you could reach amazing destinations like Siena and Pisa. You wouldn’t really like to leave Florence after one day of marathon sightseeing with the sensation of having missed some of the best bits. To enjoy the city 3 days are necessary and even more for art and museum lovers.

My favourite attractions are:

1.Ponte Vecchio, literally “old bridge”, the most famous upon the Arno river, with its characteristic shops along the 2 sides (but don’t go in if you don’t want to suffer a heart attack for prices!) and the central balcony where to take the classic postcard-alike picture of Florence.

Ponte Vecchio

2.The impressive Cathedral of S. Maria del Fiore, gorgeous inside and outside. But in my opinion above all from the upside. I’m passionate about breath-taking views and a very beautiful one is from the cathedral’s Dome, with artwork of Brunelleschi. Also amazing is Giotto’s Campanile (a little lower but also less hard climbing).

Cathedral of S. Maria del Fiore

3.The L shaped Piazza della Signoria, a real open-air museum, decorated by many sculptural artworks, of which the most famous is the David of Michelangelo. You may ask yourself why such a masterpiece is left in the middle of the square instead of being overprotected in a museum? The answer is that it’s only a copy of the original work. All the statues have a meaning and it is worth taking a guidebook along with you so that you can read more and discover the stories and history.

Piazza della Signoria

4.Boboli garden. This one is not a symbol of the city like the first 3, which are suggested in every travel guide, but it is a really lovely park. It was projected in the past as garden of the Pitti Palace, but today, while the building is a huge museum packed with paintings (i’d say a boring place where, if you only want to walk through all the rooms without stopping, it would take an hour! Art lovers don’t curse me) the park is a relaxing and fresh area where to walk in hot summer days, while admiring the various ancient and contemporary sculptures that enrich its architecture.

What to eat and what to do

The typical dish here is the Florentine steak, a bloody 8cm high and 1kg heavy steak, usually to be shared at least between 2 persons. To find a restaurant I went to Piazza della Signoria, took the narrowest alley, walked about 10 minutes and stopped in a place before getting again to a touristy point. It worked: the meat was very good and not expensive! I tried the experiment again and it was proved. As result I can say that doesn’t matter which restaurant you are in because the quality is generally good, you just need to pay attention with prices!

To end, I think a bit of local-style life must be done. In Florence there are many bars and pubs to chill out at night; the most peculiar thing I tried is a honey-beer in a pub close to train station! But what surprised me the most was the cultural atmosphere you can breathe in the cafès, once meeting points of artists and writers. Like the Giubbe Rosse in Piazza della Repubblica or the hidden Caffetteria delle Oblate where you can enjoy an amazing view of the Cathedral’s Dome.

About the Author

This post was written by Francesco Visconti who has his a travel blog about Italy, gadders blog.

tomatina valencia

The Best Festivals In and Around Valencia

Situated along the eastern edge of Spain, Valencia is notable for its colourful and exuberant festivities. In a country that does lively celebration like no other, this is no mean feat. More than 5 million overseas visitors choose the Valencia region as their holiday destination every year and many more choose to spend longer there learning the language. What’s certain is that few go home without lasting memories of the region’s vibrant culture.

Las Fallas

Between 12 and 19 March, the city of Valencia plays host to Europe’s most spectacular party. Las  Fallas is a 5-day extravaganza involving the creation of huge papier-mâché and wood sculptures, and a quantity of fireworks that puts Guy Fawkes night to shame.

Visitors to the festival have 4 days to enjoy the colourful sculptures (known as fallas), which are created by local artisans and can reach heights of up to 15m. At midnight on day 5, each falla is set alight to the explosive accompaniment of fireworks.

La Tomatina

At 9am on the last Wednesday in August, Spain’s messiest festival begins. It begins as a seemingly  benign affair, with pastries and rolls served in Buñol town square, approximately 38km to the west of the city of Valencia. At 11am, a large pole with a ham attached to the end is raised into the air, which the assembled masses attempt to pull down.

When they manage it, a rocket is fired into the air, giving the signal to nearby trucks to tip over 100 tonnes of ripe tomatoes on to the crowd. The following hour involves a large-scale tomato battle, with people merrily hurling tomatoes at one another and writhing around in the ketchupy pulp.

The annual La Tomatina festival began in 1945 and has been attracting large crowds ever since. On the day of the tomato-hurling, the local population increases from around 9,000 to over 40,000.

Goggles and old clothes are a must – though the local fire brigade obligingly hoses down revellers at the festival’s end.

Semana Santa

During Spain’s Holy Week, a number of processions take place throughout Valencia. One of the most surreal is carried out by the dour penitents of the Santisimo Cristo del Salvador and el Amparo brotherhood, who surprise sunbathers on Playa de la Malvarrosa accompanied by a full brass band.

Other events worth catching include the Gathering of the Palms, the Procession of Placing in the Tomb, and the Resurrection Cavalcade.

Cabalgata de los Reyes Magos

The Parade of the 3 Kings is a big day for children; it involves the arrival of 3 gift-bearing kings, who spread over 10,000kg of sweets among their adoring admirers. The early evening parade on 6

January involves Melchior, Caspar and Balthasar plus their entourage of 33 spectacular floats and 1,000 costumed helpers.

Virgen de los Desamparados

The commemoration of Valencia’s second patron saint begins on the evening before the 2nd in May. Festivities kick off with a concert in the Plaza de la Virgen, featuring extravagant fireworks, traditional folk music and dancing. The morning after, at the eye-wateringly early time of 5am, the faithful attend an open-air mass known as La Misa Descuberta.

Later, a large sculpture of the saint is carried across the Plaza de la Virgen to the city’s cathedral.

Later in the day, the sculpture makes another appearance after a 5-minute-long fireworks display, when it is carried through the city to the old town, where the virgin is greeted by the assembled masses and showered with flower petals.

Noche de San Juan

The Night of St Juan, also known as the Night of the Witches, celebrates both the saint and the arrival of summer on 23 June. The inhabitants of Valencia congregate on the city’s beaches, where they light bonfires, listen to music, drink, dance and let off fireworks.

Many children and teenagers traditionally wash their feet before jumping over the bonfires, which is thought to make wishes come true, though nowadays it is more a display of machismo than anything else.

Fiesta de San Vicente Ferrer

The Feast Day of St Vicente Ferrer occurs on the first Sunday after Easter and celebrates the life of Vincent Ferrer, a Valencian Dominican friar who gained acclaim as a logician and as a missionary.

The festivities date back to 1561 and involve local families making their way to a chapel, where children are encouraged to drink from St Vicente’s well. Altars and stages are erected throughout the city’s 13 neighbourhoods, and children and adults alike dress up to re-enact St Vicente’s miracles.

This post was brought to you by, who arrange study abroad language courses in countries around Europe and the rest of the world. For more information visit the ESL Languages  website.

Find more great places to visit in Spain on our Europe page and Facebook page!


This is a sponsored post.

Greek Island Hopping

Beautiful Backpacking Around the Greek Islands – Greece

Backpacking around the Greek islands has been popular for decades and it is easy to see why. With a perfect mix of culture, beaches and great food, it charms visitors year after year. Hot days are a guarantee as are warm evenings to enjoy drinks watching the sunset before sampling some traditional food. Transport between the islands is easy to organise and you can see a variety of islands even if you only have limited time. You can rent scooters on most of the islands for around 10 euros a day which will enable you to explore and find remote villages and beaches that you may not find just by foot or public transport. Whether you’re a backpacker or you’re just looking for somewhere to enjoy your annual holidays, Greek Island hopping is hard to beat!

Greek Island Hopping

Whilst accommodation is not quite how it used to be with little old ladies lining up at the ferry terminals offering you rooms in their houses, you can still find some great traditional budget accommodation on the islands. If you look around and do some haggling you will find decent apartments for about 20 euros a night. You can also camp on most of the islands but if you are travelling in the peak summer months be sure to get a pitch in the shade or your tent may turn in to a furnace!

The food in Greece is great and there are a range of restaurants to suit all budgets. Some foods to definitely try are Kleftiko, Dolmades baklava and of course greek salad! If you are on a tight budget, you will be able to buy local food in supermarkets to get by. Sometimes the best dinners can be a selection of cold meats and cheeses with some freshly baked bread and a bottle of local wine!

There are so many places to visit it can sometimes be difficult picking where to go.  Different islands will offer a different experience depending on what you are looking for. Below we have picked some of our favourite places to help you plan your route.


Santorini is great for many reasons but perhaps the best is the sunset views from the village of Ola. There are also eight wineries on Santorini where you can go to free tastings to sample the local wines.

Santorini Greece


Tilos is more mountainous than other islands and will suit those who are looking for somewhere to walk and see some beautiful flora and fauna. It is a small island and is situated between Kos and Rhodes.


Gavdos has somehow managed to remain remarkably untouched and is an incredibly relaxed and peaceful island. It’s main beaches Agios, Ionnis and Potamos are incredible and arguably the best in Greece.


This island is worth visiting alone for the beautiful Navagio Beach (sometimes referred to as shipwreck beach and smugglers cove). The beach is breathtaking and can only be reached by boat.

Shipwreck Beach zakynthos


Mykanos has a faster pace of life than other islands and definitely earns its reputation as a party island. However, despite all this there are still many picturesque quaint little fishing villages to explore and it caters for the backpacker just as much as it caters for the package holiday makers.


To discover more great places to go backpacking in Europe visit our dedicated page, or check out the TBD Facebook page


Breathtaking Buildings, Beautiful Beaches & Bloated Bellies: Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona is a vibrant, youthful city that combines the pleasures of a city break with the relaxation and beauty of a beach holiday. The city-by-the-sea vibe put out by Barcelona lends the city a chilled-out, almost hippie-ish feel in places. Young people lugging heavy backpacks flock to Barcelona in the summer: for June’s Sonar festival, St Joan’s Night celebrations, Benicassim festival in July, and also simply to enjoy the great atmosphere, people and sights of the magnificent city of Barcelona itself.

barcelona postcard

As a popular backpacking destination, Barcelona offers plenty of reasonably priced hostels and hotels. Of course, you will want to be sure to book into a centrally located hostel. However, bear in mind that some central hostels are more reasonably priced than others. Unfortunately, there are the odd few that prey on clueless backpackers to earn a few extra Euros. Make sure you know the going rate before you arrive, and be sure to search out a short list of ones you’d like to stay in. However, booking ahead of time may not be the best option, as you should allow yourself the freedom to change your plans, and there’s nothing worse than being locked into some agreement when more exciting suggestions come up.


Whilst refraining from booking a hostel is wise, there are certain things you should make sure you do book ahead of time. For example, pre-booking airport transfers from Barcelona airport will give you a valuable opportunity to regroup and relax on the way to your accommodation. It will save money, stress and time, especially if you then have to go on a bit of a trek to find a hostel. Get your driver (if taking private airport transfers) to drop you as close to Las Ramblas as possible, as there are plenty of good hostels close to this central location.

Las Ramblas is the busiest, most tourist-centric location in the city. The central strip hosts a daily market, with flowers, birds and souvenir stalls dominating. There is also an incredible food market halfway up, with a staggering, mouth-watering fruit display that is hard to resist. There are many smaller streets snaking off from Las Ramblas, and plenty of great little restaurants, bars, cafes and shops are in bountiful supply if you take the time to explore. These smaller bars and cafes, especially ones near hostels, are great places to meet other fellow travellers. Don’t limit yourself to the main tourist areas though. Make use of Barcelona’s clean, safe Metro system to travel all over the city and to explore. Head to Barceloneta beach for sunbathing, and some excellent seafood restaurants along the promenade, as well as for bars and for the promise of a dynamic life after dusk.

You will certainly want to check out Barcelona’s famous Gaudi architecture, including the Sagrada Familia (no Barcelona break is complete without a visit), Picasso and Dali museums and galleries, and have a look at the jaw-dropping yachts in the marina. Everywhere you turn in Barcelona, you are spoiled for choice, and you are guaranteed to wish you’d booked just a few more days.

Five things not to miss in Barcelona:

  • Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia – the high point of culture in Barcelona, and an astounding piece of beautiful, imaginative architecture. I dare you not to be awed!
  • The Beaches – Barcelona’s beaches are clean, beautiful, fun and lined with some great bars and eateries. They are also a top place to be after dark to hang out with fellow travellers and enjoy a couple of cans of Estrella by a makeshift campfire with a guitar.
  • La Boqueria Market – the indoor food market just off Las Ramblas is absolutely choc-a-block with gastronomic treats, and a real delight for the senses. You may find yourself coming away with enough food to feed the five thousand! Enjoy the bars and restaurants inside, and be sure to get your lips around as many delicious free samples as you can.
  • Museu D’Art Contemporani De Barcelona (MACBA) and Centre of Contemporary Culture (CCCB). Situated in El Ravel district, the MACBA features modern art from the mid-twentieth century onwards, focusing on post-1945 Catalan and Spanish art. The CCCB is one of the most visited museums in Barcelona, hosting a range of temporary exhibitions, concerts, events and a cinema. A bit like the South Bank Centre in London, with less faceless modernist concrete.
  • The Picasso Museum – featuring one of the world’s most extensive collections of the work of Pablo Picasso, the Picasso Museum contains more than 3,500 works. The museum also hosts special exhibitions, as well as seminars and lectures on Picasso and on museological issues by art experts from around the world.

barcelona images

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azure window malta

Sun Soaked, Culture Filled and Adventure Everywhere: Magical Malta

An often overlooked stop-off in Europe, Malta offers the inquisitive traveller a taste of culture, history and adventure crammed into an easily exploreable island in the sun. Whether you’re a sun-worshipper, adventure seeker, culture-vulture or all of the above, Malta is the ideal destination to indulge in your travel passions. A former British colony, it is steeped in history – you can explore a great number of pre-historic temples, passageways and tombs giving you an insight into life on Malta over 4500 years ago. Why not trace the story of the Knights of St. John, with their legacy visible not only on the famous Maltese Cross but also prominent in the places they inhabited – Three Cities, Fort St. Angelo and Valletta?

malta colourful boats

If exploring discovering Malta’s history first hand isn’t for you then the pleasant climate offers you the chance to enjoy year-round outdoor activities in beautiful surroundings. Why not enjoy a spot of golf at the 18-hole golf course in the Marsa Sports Club about 4km south of the capital, Valletta? Or simply relax by the pool, offered by many hotels on the island. If you’re looking for something a little more high-adrenaline then the countless water sport centres are waiting to take you scuba diving, windsurfing, water skiing or sailing.

valletta streetA holiday on Malta would not be complete without exploring the island’s lively bars and clubs. Malta’s nightlife offers visitors the chance to let their hair down after a day’s sightseeing, adventure seeking or lazing in the sun with clubbers heading to the lively Paceville near St. Julian’s for the action. Travellers wishing to experience a spot of culture in the evenings can visit the 18th Century Manoel Theatre enjoy an organ recital in one of the several baroque churches or visit the International Jazz Festival in July.

Malta’s history as a former British colony means that the island boasts a rare commodity in the northern hemisphere – somewhere English-speaking AND warm! This makes Malta an ideal location for an English language course and Maltalingua’s recently refurbished language school mean that learning English, whatever your specific goals, can be combined with a cultural and relaxing stay on Malta. Maltalingua offers extremely competitive pricing for its English courses, coupled with a team of qualified English teachers as well as the comfort of air-conditioned classrooms and the convenience of a location a short walk from the lively St. Julian’s. Oh yes, and a private roof terrace and swimming pool if you feel the need to top up your tan in between classes!

With the opportunity to learn a new language, explore thousands of years of history and experience culture and nightlife you’ll never forget, Malta is waiting for you…

5 Things Not to Miss in Malta:

  • A walk around Malta’s ‘Silent City’ – Mdina
  • Scuba diving in one of the world’s best places
  • Relaxing in a farmhouse in Gozo
  • Winding through the cobbled alleys of Valletta
  • A trip to the Azure Window, stunning rock formations in the sea

azure window malta

For more information on Maltalingua check

For more fab destinations in Europe to go on your next holiday after Malta see our Europe destinations page…

Murano Island, Venice

Exploring the Magical Islands of Venice, Italy

Many people are drawn to Venice to sail the gondola along the meandering canals, or to discover the renown cultural landmarks, such as Saint Mark’s Basilica and Galleria dell’Accademia. However, if you are a more intrepid tourist, you may wish to explore a little further, and visit some of the fascinating lagoon islands. Here’s a sample of the top islands to see, if your curiosity about Venice extends beyond the city.

Torcello Island

The island of Torcello is among Venice Lagoon’s most popular islands, so after you have arranged your boat transfer from Venice airport to your hotel, this might be a good island to begin with. The island’s main attraction is Santa Maria Dell’Assunta Cathedral, which was built in 639AD. Inside this cathedral, you will discover some striking mosaics from Byzantine times, which date back to the eleventh and thirteenth centuries. These mosaics alone are worth making the journey for. The cathedral is just a ten minute stroll away, once you have arrived at the island by boat. After visiting the cathedral, you can walk along some of the paths, or explore other attractions like Torcello Museum and the Santa Fosca Church.

Torcello, Italy

Murano Island

After catching your boat transfer from Venice airport, and preparing yourself for some sightseeing, you may wish to head to the island of Murano. This island is also very popular due, in no small part, to the main tourist attraction here – observing glass-blowing in action.

Glass-blowing has been done on Murano for hundreds of years, so it is a long held tradition here. Actually, every glass maker in Venice lived on Murano at some point, to guard their trade secrets. You can observe a live demonstration, and there are several glass factories available for you to tour. In addition to the glass-making demonstrations, you can visit the pleasant restaurants, or enjoy some nice walks on this tranquil island.

Murano Island, Venice

Lido Island

Lido is probably the most well-known out of all of the islands, as it hosts the Venice Film Festival every year in September or August. You will pass this island on your boat taxi, while you are travelling to your hotel from Venice airport.

The Venice festival is among the world’s most prestigious showbiz events, and every year top directors and film stars from across the planet come here for the film premières, and for the opportunity to win the big award – the Leone d’Oro. Nicknamed “The Golden Island” because of its’ lengthy sandy beaches, Lido is also the location of the Grand Hotel des Bains – which was the setting for the Thomas Mann novel, “Death in Venice”.

If you just restrict yourself to the city while you are sightseeing in Venice, you will be missing out on a whole range of other great attractions. Once you have taken your boat taxi from Venice airport and arrived at your hotel, try to catch another boat out to at least 1 of the islands above, to discover more of this picturesque area.

Adriatic sea of Lido

Five Things not to Miss in Venice…

  1. Canal Grande – A boat ride along this central waterway will give you a first class view of colourful Venetian buildings and stately homes, along with some of the most recognisable landmarks in the city.
  2. Piazza San Marco – Lined with fantastic (albeit pricey) restaurants and cafés, this square is an ideal location to relax with a coffee, and take in the beautiful scenery of traditional Venetian architecture and the lagoon beyond.
  3. Ca’Rezzonico – Restored during 2001, this fascinating building houses possibly the finest museum in the city, which gives visitors a revealing insight into daily life in grand Venetian homes, towards the end of the Venetian Republic era.
  4. Doge’s Palace – This amazingly lavish Gothic-Renaissance building used to be the official home of Venetian dukes, or “doges”, who ran the city for more than 1000 years.
  5. Peggy Guggenheim Museum – The stunning collection of  sculpture and painting in this renown Venetian museum, is generally regarded as the most extensive and significant modern art collection on the planet. The museum is a splendid eighteenth century palazzo situated directly on the Grand Canal’s banks, and it has a remarkably quiet sculpture garden inside.

Discover more fantastic destinations in Europe on the TBD Europe page, or from around the web on the TBD Facebook page

About the Author

This is a guest post from Steve Laws, a travel enthusiast and the owner of This website provides top travel information and insight, aimed at inspiring holiday-makers to explore different parts of the world.

For more information, visit the website and check out the Cost Effective Travel Facebook Page


Image Credits

The following photos in this post have been licensed under Creative Commons Share Alike 2.0: – Some rights reserved by Alex E. Proimos – Some rights reserved by grisha_21 – Some rights reserved by Argenberg

the lighthouse glasgow

The Home of Edgy Regeneration is a Wee Beauty! – Glasgow, Scotland

Being the largest and most populated city in Scotland, Glasgow has much to offer tourists coming from all over the world and can be a great escape in the UK for backpackers wanting to do things on a budget. Glasgow is certainly budget friendly and not as hard on the purse as other large UK cities like London and Edinburgh, so if you want a taste of UK city life without breaking the bank, then this is the place for you.

From the price of food and drink to the cost of accommodation, Glasgow offers loads of options to suit those on a shoestring. For accommodation, there are plenty of hostels available if you want to just turn up in the city and find your favourite, or you could use a website like where you can check hotel reviews and see if anything stands out to book in advance.

Once you’ve  sorted out all the boring things, Glasgow has loads to see and explore. Below are 5 hotspots that you shouldn’t miss when traveling to this vibrant city:

Buchanan Street:

Most likely arriving in the centre by train or bus at either Queen Street Station or Central Station, the visit will naturally start in Buchanan Street, which is a central shopping street lined with cultural buildings and many opportunities to dine. Arriving in the north end of the street, one has the chance of visiting the Gallery of Modern Art located closely at the Royal Exchange Square. Further up the street end sits the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall which is the performance base of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.

buchanan street glasgow

Glasgow City Chambers:

The Glasgow City Chambers located at George Square are a pleasure to the eye. Entering the hall, everyone will be mesmerized by the Italian marble interiors which have more than once served as film settings in the past. Moving up the majestic stairwell, one will be eyed by chief figures of bygone days sitting on the wall in portraits. Participating in a guided tour through the building, everyone has the chance to sit on a chair which was once occupied by Queen Victoria!

The Lighthouse:

As the Scottish Centre for Design and Architecture, the Lighthouse underlines the fact that Glasgow is Scotland’s centre of modern art. It offers exhibitions, installations and allows every visitor to overview the whole city of Glasgow from its Mackintosh Tower, which is named after its father-architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh. After moving up the spiral stairs, one sees a silhouette of chimney pots resisting the storm pelting through industrial and historical rooftops.

the lighthouse glasgow

Glasgow Green/People’s Palace:

It would be advisable to check the weather in Glasgow in advance because if it is sunny it is enjoyable to visit the city’s east end for recreation and to have a shortcake. As the oldest park in Glasgow, it holds a number of sculptures and monuments, such as Nelsons Monument, reminiscent of Scotland’s history. The People’s Palace and Winter Gardens is the highlight of the park. It is the residence of the museum of social history which gives an impression of Scottish people’s lives from the middle of the eighteenth century until today

Glasgow Cathedral:

It is a nice idea to close the day with a visit to the Glasgow Cathedral, which dates back to medieval times. Beside the impressive architecture, there may be the chance to listen to the church choir and a concert. Those who like it creepy might even consider visiting the “Glasgow Necropolis” – the main cemetery.

glasgow cathedral

Glasgow is a proper place to get a taste of British culture, so why not travel further south, to the north of England, to enjoy even more? Or check out other destinations in the UK and Europe here on Top Backpacking Destinations.


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UK Backpacking

Backpacking in the UK: Visiting The National Forest

The National Forest is one of the UK’s proudest achievements; eight million trees planted by local councils, landowners, schoolchildren, charities and individuals, including one by the Duke of Cambridge. It’s a national treasure – but few realise its potential as an affordable holiday destination, especially for those seeking a budget holiday in the UK. The forest has a number of hotels, while the YHA has an inexpensive family-friendly hostel with private rooms right next to the central Conkers visitor centre. There are all sorts of things to discover in the area, and if you’re lucky, you may even get to plant a tree in the forest!


The National Forest promises days of discovering the UK’s amazing and varied wildlife, without having to spend a single penny. Footpaths and cycle paths wind across the whole area, providing plenty of opportunity to see as much or as little as you like – you could even try travelling through the hills and fields on horseback! There are several beautiful reservoirs with picnic areas and playgrounds, accessible from most of the woodland walks. Fishing is another popular way to discover the nature of the National Forest, and a great opportunity to learn a new activity!

National Forest

Surrounding Attractions

There are so many attractions in the National Forest area that it can be difficult to know where to start. Take a walk through historic castles and gardens, or head to one of the zoos and nature reserves in the area to learn more about the UK’s native flora and fauna. Surrounding National Trust attractions are a great way to see the area’s heritage and you can spend days on end just exploring the beautiful surroundings.

UK Backpacking

 Food & Drink

There are regular farmers’ markets and a large number of farm shops in the area, ideal for hungry backpackers looking to try some local produce, and much cheaper than stopping in pubs and restaurants for food. You’ll also spot a number of food fairs cropping up throughout the year, so check in advance to see what’s on. If you do want a special meal out, there are plenty of affordable places to eat, many of them serving tasty home-grown food.

5 Things Not to Miss:

–          Ashby de la Zouch Castle – A 15th century manor house, featuring extensive remains including the chapel, buttery, tower and even a secret kitchen tunnel.

–          Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre & Country Park – Learn everything you ever wanted to know about Medieval battlefields, with amazing displays and archaeology tours detailing the rise and fall of the Tudor Empire. Visit in August to see the impressive re-enactments!

–          Marston’s Brewery – A must for beer lovers, this traditional Victorian brewhouse includes a tour of the brewery itself and a tasting session with the brewing team.

–          Woodland Ways Bushcraft and Survival – Essential training for even the most seasoned camper, the survival sessions give you the skills to build a shelter and light a fire as well as plant and animal identification, all in the heart of the forest.

–          Bluebell Arboretum and Nursery – A stunning woodland walk with rare plants on display and a fantastic collection of specialist trees and shrubberies – ideal for the botanical enthusiast!

The National Forest

Check out more travel destinations in Europe here on TBD or on the Facebook page


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tower bridge

The Perfect Start to a Backpacking Break: London, England

big benWhen deciding to go on a long-term backpacking trip, it is imperative to choose a good starting point. If you decide to start in London you will have a few benefits during your travels. Firstly, after having traveled to London, you will never be shocked about anything being very expensive since you’ve visited one of the most expensive cities already. Second, you will start in one of the most iconic cities in the world which is packed with fantastic sights and amazing things to do. Third, you can still afford to have a few treats before you get into full budget mode! When in London it might be a good idea to still indulge yourself before always having to be aware what you buy or do during your backpacking. With all the massage vouchers available for London you might even decide to get a wellness treatment so you will be prepared and all relaxed for your onward travels.

While you are in London you have to expect everything to be inordinately expensive, so it might be a good idea to relieve yourself of some of the needed expenses. Vouchers are a good alternative and will help you save a lot of money on numerous sightseeing activities, for example, with London aquarium vouchers. While browsing through all the vouchers you might even come up with great activities for your stay in London.

Another idea to cut off some of the expenses is to save on accommodations. A great way for backpackers in general is to “couchsurf”. While couchsurfing, you stay on another person’s couch for the time of your stay in the city, for free. Just help them out with food or drinks and they will be happy to be your host.

5 Things Not to Miss in London…

There are so many gorgeous places in London that many decide to write a whole book about them. Here are five tips on what you should definitely see and do while in London.

1. The Changing of the Guard

A trip to London wouldn’t be completely satisfying without watching this spectacle. In the summer you can see this every day at 11.30 am at Buckingham Palace. So this is a great way of combining the guard change, which you can also see at St. James Palace, and having a look at the famous Buckingham Palace.

2. The Portobello Road Market

This market is actually many markets rolled into one, so take your time to see everything and check out the offers there. This market in Notting Hill is also a place to see and be seen – keep that in mind while wandering along.

 3. Hopping onto an open bus tour

This is the first thing a London traveller should do to get a slight overview over the main sights and the city in general.

4. The London Eye

Built in 2000, this huge observation wheel is the newest landmark in London. If you want to take a peek of the city from the air, the London eye is the place to be.

london eye

5. Shopping at Harrods

You might not be be able to buy something from the world famous luxury department store, but it’s worth going just to walk around, it’s like a small town! This is just one of the ways you can indulge yourself in London but it is a traditional and interesting one. What a shame that there are no vouchers available for Harrods!

tower bridge

Check out more great destinations in the UK here or on the TBD Facebook page


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