Playing around in Playa Del Carmen.

I was so excited to be heading over to Mexico, home of my favourite food, my favourite drinks and my favourite thing, adventure! It was my partners friend’s birthday, so we decided to go all out and book an all inclusive, adults only hotel in the heart of Playa. This resort is located on the Yucatan peninsula, right on the Caribbean shores.

We flew into Cancun after bottomless mimosa and drag brunch the day before in LA. We had booked transport through Booking.com which was quick and easy, Cancun is a busy airport though so be prepared to wait as they find somewhere to park. Luckily they sell Margaritas as soon as you leave the airport, so we got two huge frozen ones to share for the hour long journey.

We stayed at The Reef 28, a relatively new hotel found right in the centre of Playa, with a rooftop pool, 3 restaurants and a snack bar it was perfect for what we wanted. We spent many an evening playing pool, giant jenga and card games on the rooftop. It was also just 5 minutes walk to the beach, and Quinta Avenida or 5th Ave the next street over.

Here are a few fun things to do in and around Playa Del Carmen….

5th Avenue

This sprawling mecca of all things Mexico goes for at least 2km and is filled with restaurants, bars and shops. It’s a vibrant place and no visit to Playa is complete without a wander along here.

There is literally something for everyone, Senor Frogs for the Spring Breakers, up to classier restaurants like Catch and everything in between. Prices can vary from bar to bar so make sure you check a few out before deciding where your first margarita or tequila will be! I love street art and there were so many cool pieces dotted about as we wandered up.

You can check out the Frida Kahlo museum full of information about the famous Mexican painter, 3D museum of wonders or just tequila taste and souvenir shop! If you want something a bit more chill head to 10th ave, the next street over for restaurants and bars without the big crowds or for a big party 1st Ave is the place to be with 3 big bars/clubs on one corner.

For a little bit of culture/relaxation Parque Los Fundadores is a lovely little green space found on one end of the avenue. There’s an impressive bronze archway here, an adorable white church and traditional Mayan performances. Grab some fresh fruit from one the vendors, sit back and enjoy the shows!

Playacar

The beach at Playa is beautiful, white sand and clear waters, but it’s not the biggest due to development going almost right to the water and lots of areas filled with boats. Instead take a 30 minute walk or catch a bus to Playacar.

This gated and upmarket community has the best beach we visited. The water was warm and so blue, with palm trees lining the powdery white sand. Luckily The Reef has a sister hotel here we could use which was amazing, cocktails , ice cream and a huge lunch buffet to enjoy!

Make sure you stop off and explore some mini ruins on the walk there or back, just as you enter Playacar from the beach at Playa Del Carmen you can spot them, including a crazy palm tree that is growing sideways then vertically! It’s a nice little addition to a fun walk, and Iguanas are sunbathing on the ancient rocks.

Cozumel

This tropical island is found just 30 minuets by ferry from Playa. Get your tickets down near Parque Los Fundadores and head over for a great little day trip.

The ferries leave every hour on the hour which is simple to remember. There’s a wonderful square here where you can get some food and drinks, but if you head down the coast towards the South of the island you can find amazing snorkelling opportunites!

Unfortunately we arrived there on the same day as 5 huge cruise ships did, so taxi prices were super inflated so we didn’t make it as far as Playa El Cielo where there’s meant to be incredible snorkelling just off the beach with a natural reef.

Instead we walked along the road to find a beach club we could eat and swim from. It ended up being a great afternoon as we found El Cid La Ceiba beach! We had a great lunch here, beautiful quesadillas and then got to lounge on the jetty, with hammocks in the water, and hundreds of fish to marvel at while we snorkelled. Locals were chilling out here too which I always think is a good impression of somewhere.

The bar even has it’s own mascot, Cid the Pig! After swimming and relaxing here we walked back, spotting Pelicans diving into the water and Iguanas sun baking. A lot of locals were swimming in the rock pools along the street here too. Then we watched the sunset from the boat as flying fish scattered ahead of us.

Gay Playa Del Carmen

As our group consisted of 3 gay men, I had to have a little section on the gay scene here. While not huge, there’s definitely a lot going on. The main bar/club is Bar69 found just off 5th Ave down a side street. This place was pretty quiet in the week but on the weekend it was full!

They had drag queen performances and Gogo dancers, just make sure you have Pesos for the cover charge and drinks. We felt really safe in Playa and didn’t get any hassle when holding hands or arms around each other while walking along 5th Ave. There’s a good row of cash machines on 10th Ave. Don’t trust the ATMs on 5th they charge loads and most only give out USD.

There were also a couple of bars on Calle 6 which were gay friendly, and Billy Gin which an instagram friend 2minionsontour recommended. This was a great little place for a few drinks before heading to bar69. It was great to meet someone who actually had been living there so we got loads of great advice from Jeroen.

Day Trips!

There are soooo many activities and trips you can take from Playa. All the different cenotes (sinkholes you can swim in) Mayan ruins like Coba and Chichen Itza (Which we did) plus activity parks, diving and boat trips. Check out Flamingogaytours and meridagaytours for gay friendly tours all around the Yucatan peninsula!

We had such a great time in Playa, and we would love to visit again one day and see some more of the scenery and snorkelling opportunities. The all inclusive was perfect for what we wanted, but some of our best meals were when we headed out and did some exploring. My favourite street was Calle 38, it was so different to everywhere else, lined with trees and the coolest looking restaurants.

We ate at Amate 38 and it was so good! Lots of veggie options and we got to try some excellent Mezcal surrounded by nature. Check out my link to the Chichen Itza tour and doing a Tulum tour ourselves coming soon HERE.

Oslo the Tiger City!

Oslo! Capital City of Norway, where the nobel peace prize is awarded, it’s also known as the Tiger City! It was founded in 1000AD and has been the capital since 1814.

Even though it’s in the South of Norway, it shares the same latitude as Alaska, and it used ti be called Christiana after Christian IV of Denmark. Edvard Munchs famous painting ‘The Scream’ is found here and is based on a view you can find in Oslo.

My trip to Oslo was mainly because I wanted to head up to the Arctic Circle and see the Northern Lights but was interested to see what the City had for me and I wasn’t disappointed.



I flew in with Ryanair, but it was only after I had booked my flights that I realised how far Oslo Torp is from the city. Luckily you can take a straight through train that takes about 1 hour 45 minutes.

I started my adventure at the Operahuset, a modern building completed in 2007 that’s built right onto the water. You can climb up the steps to the top of the building and check out the views.


Head over to the Revierkaia for a cool, hipster vibe area to grab a beer, sit back and relax. Spot the tiny little floating sauna as you walk there.


Wandering the streets of Oslo, I came across so many fun statues everywhere it was the perfect photoshoot opportunity. This led to the ultimate statue park Vigeland! On the way I checked out the unassuming Royal Palace where the King and Queen still stay, it’s a modest building and not what I was expecting.

Anyway, Vigeland can be found in Frogner park and has over 200 sculptures all by Gustav Vigeland with The Angry Boy, The Monolith and The Wheel Of Life being some of the more famous ones. It’s also completely free. You approach along a bridge lined with the sculptures then follow them up to The Monolith.

I was staying in the Aker Brygge area, and headed back there for dinner and a drink, Oslo is an expensive city and to budget I definitely reduced the amount I would usually drink on holiday! It’s a nice area with lots of restaurants/bars and a cute walk out along the fjord with some cool sculptures here too.

The next day I leisurely got up and had breakfast at the hotel, if you can find somewhere with breakfast included in expensive countries it’s always a winner.

I was off to explore Oslo’s castle just across the water from my hotel, dating from 1299 Akershus fortress has served as a prison, an army base and currently serves the prime minister’s offices. There’s lots to see and do here, I enjoyed walking around the grounds, stopping off to marvel at the architecture and history.



There were even some old fashioned UN vehicles in the grounds. I spent a couple.of hours just walking along the coast back past the opera house and along to Sorenga. They had a great outdoor pool here to try and a few nice bars and restaurants.


After that it was time for a Viking lesson at the Viking ship museum. I took the ferry from Aker Brygge City hall pier 3 to the Bygdoy peninsula. It cost 75NOK return. You can also get a bus from the central station.


The Viking ship museum is 120NOK to enter and houses the best preserved Viking ship in the world!


While I was there I also visited the maritime museum, which had really interesting displays and interactive features It had loads of information on arctic exploration which was cool.



It was time to head back home after an amazing experience in Norway. Yes it’s expensive but there are a lot of free activities too. I picked up my stuff and headed for the train station, ready to face the hour and 45 minute train journey to the airport.

Doin’ Dallas. The Top Sights.

Dallas is the 9th largest City in the United States, located in the vast state of Texas. It’s also the birthplace of the frozen margarita machine, the microchip and 7/11 stores! It grew as a trade center from it’s history of Ranching, farming and oil production. It’s now an important business, financial and tech center.

I was lucky enough to be in a situation where I could fly over and check out some of the best things to do in and around Dallas and I was super excited. I was staying in the gay district called Oak Lawn. Home to a street of LGBTQ+ friendly bars and businesses it was a good starting off point! Here are the top sights in Dallas.

Perot Museum of Nature and Science

This place is jaw dropping from the outisde, an architecturally impressive masterpiece plus it’s an eco building which is awesome. As soon as I was greeted by a Diplodocus skeleton I knew would enjoy it.

It’s definitely a great place to spend with families but I noticed people of all ages enjoying the exhibitons. These range from history to science, culture to technology and space.

6th Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza

This was a surreal place to visit, a massive moment in American politics. It’s the place that Lee Harvey Oswald used as a vantage point to shoot the 35th American President – John F Kennedy. It was fascinating learning about the lead up to the murder. There’s a no photo policy inside the museum so be aware.

However it was the aftermath, what happened, conspiracy theories and the outpouring of good will from around the world in dedication to a man who really seemed like he wanted to change people’s lives for the better. You can look out of the same window and there’s an X on the road below to mark where it happened. Walk along the road a little to a wooden fence with tributes from people carved into it.

Dallas CBD

I found the center of Dallas pretty non existant and mostly business buildings, but there are a few pretty cool points of interest if you have the time. Nearby the 6th Floor Museum is an interesting memorial to JFK with a whole plaza dedicated to him.

Near this is the John Neely Bryan Cabin, a replica of the founder of Dallas’ home. You can also see the Old Red Courthouse here, I didn’t go inside but it’s a beautiful old building with some interesting exhibits inside.

One of the coolest things I saw in central Dallas was Pioneer Plaza! This had a great sculpture of cowboys herding cattle, which as a big fan of cowboys when I was younger was pretty amazing!

Also look out for the big red pegasus, which started out on the top of the City’s first skyscraper, it’s said to look over Dallas and is a bit of a cultural icon nowadays. Head to Reunion Tower for for panoramic 360 degree views of Dallas, with the Central business district impressive from here at 470 feet in the air!

Fort Worth Stockyards

Actually a nearby City, Fort Worth was an important trading post for cowboys, and is located around 35 miles from Dallas. It’s now home to a historic district called the Stockyards which is a fully realised glimpe of the American wild west!

Full of restored shops, bars and hotels it’s like stepping back in time. Wander along and buy yourself a pair of cowboy boots, or a hat and watch the cattle drive. There’s a mini train to take you around some parts of it and live cowboy acts if you’re lucky.

It was pretty cool, and obviously we had to stop off for a beer in an old timey saloon! Lookout for the Texas trail of fame, a nod to the walk of fame in LA only with famous cowboys and pioneers!

Dallas Parks and Gardens

If you want a break from the City there are a few beautiful green spaces in and around the City. The Arboretum and Botanical Gardens are 66 acres of serenity where you can experience Shinrin-Yoku or forest bathing.

It’s located on the shore of White Rock Lake, has stunning sculpted gardens and a cafe that serves food that utilises things grown there.

A really fun walk I did here was the Katy Trail, this recreational area runs 240 miles across America. In Dallas you can walk 3.5 miles of greenland in the heart of the City. Check out turtle creek along the way to spot snapper turtles.

I love it when a City really uses it’s space to create fun walking/running areas. Klyde Warren Park is the ultimate goal of a green City. Built over a freeway it’s 5.2 acres of parks with food trucks lining the street on the side of it. You can get lovely ice cream and street food snacks from here while you enjoy the fountains and shade in the heat of the day.

Deep Ellum

Known for it’s completely hipster vibe, this area has been totally regenerated and filled with street art, local brewpubs selling pale ales and IPAs, and quirky stores selling oddities.

It’s a great place to get lost in while checking out the murals, stopping off for a beer or coffee and enjoying some live music at one of the many venues around here.

I stopped off at braindead which had an amazing craft ale menu. It’s also super artsy in general around here with cool sculptures and small independent art galleries.

While here make sure you try some Tex Mex cuisine a staple of Dallas life, sip a frozen margartia while you do it.

Gay District – Oak Lawn

Head here for a night of pure southern charm, start off at JRs for a balcony view of the street and ice cold beers.They host drag shows and have great drinks offers.

For a real taste of gay culture in Texas head to the Round Up Saloon here you can either watch or get involved in some line dancing, I was told about it but until you see it you’ll never understand. The central dance floor is sunken a few feet and it was filled with people in cowboy hats and boots dancing in complete sync.

I didn’t have the guts to join in but I definitely enjoyed watching! I then headed over to Station 4. This place had GoGo boys dancing on poles and they also host awesome drag shows, Asia O’Hara from S10 Dragrace fame comes from Dallas! If you’re after something a little more interesting Eagle bar Dallas is a short taxi ride down the road, where you can enjoy a men only space with lots of fetish nights.

NASA Houston

Houston is a 4 hour drive from Dallas, home of Beyonce but more interestingly for me the home of NASA. I wasn’t sure if it was worth spending a night away from Dallas to do it but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

We drove through a huge storm which was pretty insane, but we did get to stop at iHop for a pancake breakfast! We got there in the afternoon and decided to head to Galveston on the coast.

It was fun to stand in the Atlantic ocean as Pelicans flew overhead. It’s a cute old school seaside resort and I enjoyed looking at some of the old buildings.

After some tasty Mexican we hit the hay and headed over to NASA early in the morning.

This is the birthplace of space exploration, and it was an absolutely incredible experience! From learning about the history of the space race, looking at all the flight suits and history, even getting to see the command centre where the immortal ‘Houston we have a problem’ happened, and the speaker where those and other amazing words came from.

You get to look around the science buildings and find out what NASA are working towards, and explore a real space shuttle. There were so many things to see and do we spent a good 5 or 6 hours, maybe more here!

Dallas might not be on a lot of people’s must see lists, but it’s a great City, a big LGBTQ+ friendly area and the locals are some of the friendliest I’ve ever encountered.

I’d love to head back to Texas and check out Austin and maybe Houston properly, Dallas was a great introduction to Texan life and really opened my eyes to a place that I wasn’t sure would welcome me with open arms. I didn’t make it there but I’ve heard the art galleries in Dallas are meant to be incredible too, so there’s definitely enough to keep you occupied for a few days at least here.

A short visit to Canberra. Australia’s Capital.

When you think of Australia, you think of Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane. So it surprises a lot of people to find out the capital is actually little Canberra.

Located between Victoria and New South Wales, it’s a relatively new City with building commencing in 1913. It was built due to a disagreement over which existing City should become the Capital of a united Australia.

We were visiting as a little stop off point between Melbourne and Sydney. It’s a 9 hour drive between these two, and Canberra sits around 6 hours from Melbourne.

We arrived late in the evening after an eventful drive, stopping off to see a giant Ned Kelly, a submarine and a dog on a tucker box. It was a pleasant drive until we hit the smoke from the NSW fires.

We stayed at the QT Canberra, which is a lovely hotel set within walking distance of the parliament and museum area.

We woke up early and crossed lake Burley Griffin, a huge man made lake set right in the centre of the City. You can hike around the whole thing which would be fun. Unfortunately the huge fountain located in the lake wasn’t on when we walked over.

We stopped along the opposite bank and followed the Australian of the year walkway before passing the national library.

Next up was the old parliament, a classic looking white building which was superseded by the new parliament built up on Capitol hill.

So off we trekked up the hill, and the new building is definitely well thought out architecturally. The best part is that you can wander around inside with no tour guide or security following you.

So we visited the senate room and the house of representatives. Although parliament wasn’t on session, it was still interesting to learn more about Australian politics.

The great hall was beautiful, with a great tapestry on the wall, but the best part was heading to the roof and seeing the 266ft flagpole. The views from here were also amazing, albeit ruined by the bushfire smoke a little, but hey, that’s the least of Australia’s problems with the fires.

We headed back to the hotel and checked out. Then drove over to the ANZAC parade. This was really interesting with memorials lining the parade to every war Australia has fought in.

There was also a memorial for army nurses which I loved, but the most interesting were the Boer and Vietnamese war memorials. Lots of history and information.

I really love the quote from AtatΓΌrk after the battle of Gallipoli.

We didn’t have time to go inside the actual war museum, instead we drove up to Mount Ainslie lookout. If you had time the hike up there would be brilliant, with a chance to see kangaroos and other interesting Australian animals.

The view was still hazy, but it was still really interesting, with a straight look down ANZAC parade to the lake, and the fountain was now on!

That was the end of our little Canberra journey, it felt like there was still a lot of hiking opportunities we missed because of time constraints, and I’ve heard the art galleries and museums are top class here.

So there’s plenty to see and do to fill at least a couple of days. Lastly, we were on a budget so we didn’t try out any of the restaurants, but Canberra is meant to be a foodies dream!

It was on to Sydney for us, this time we got to see a giant Merino sheep and stopped at the town of Yass! To get a picture with the sign and live our Queer Eye fantasy.

Gozo, Island of Wonders Pt.2

Today we were going into full on exploration mode. After another wonderful breakfast we took the bus over to Victoria also known as Rabat, the capital of Gozo.

The main sight here is the Citadel, it dominates the skyline in Victoria, and it’s just a short walk up from the bus station.

The first fortifications were built here in 1500BC and it’s believed to be the Acropolis of a Roman City called Gaulos. The buildings you see now are from the 15th century.

It once would have served as a defense against pirates, and until 1637 the Gozitan settlers had to stay within the walls at night by law.

A 5 Euro ticket gets you access to the main citadel, a few museums and a prison. It starts with an amazing digital show charting the history of the place.

From there you’re free to wander at your own leisure, the size of the place is amazing and we started by following along the huge outer walls.

From here we climbed up into the depths of the Citadel, and found ourselves in front of the magnificent Cathedral of Gozo. Unfortunately you have to pay to go inside so we just enjoyed the lovely square and baroque architecture.

We checked out some of the museums, they’re only small but the nature museum was pretty interesting, and the prison was cool.

One of the best parts was wandering the little side streets, there were a few nice shops around and the views from the Citadel walkway were unreal. You could see the Gozitan countryside for miles around, and it was such a beautiful day.

Once we had exhausted the sights inside the Citadel, it was time to explore the main town. It’s full of charming alleyways, hidden squares and lots of nice little restaurants and bars.

We tried the local pastizzi, a pastry stuffed with ricotta cheese which was delicious. After this little snack we stopped for lunch on St George’s square.

We shared a traditional platter, filled with everything I love about Mediterranean food. Washed down with a couple of cold beers.

You can also try Capitan Spriss for something more modern and for some good wine and cake.

We headed back towards the bus station through the narrow streets, stoping to admire flowers cascading down the walls and old wooden doorways.

We were heading over to Dwejra bay, but we had 45 minutes to spare so we walked around the Villa Rundle gardens. These were really pretty, and I loved the little art sculptures like the bees and the rainbow.

We noticed a gelato place opposite the bus station and it’s some of the best ice cream either of us had ever had. It was called Vanilla+ and it was soooo creamy and delicious.

We were soon on our way to Dwejra. Once famous for the Azure Window, a natural arch formation that collapsed in 2017.

Despite this I had heard it was a beautiful spot, with a sea tunnel and some amazing rock formations. Sadly the boats that take you through the tunnel weren’t running that day, but we had great fun exploring the crazy landscape.

The cliffs and rock pools are fun to wander around, and in Summer you can get a better chance to swim apparently. The Azure Window restaurant is also a good place to grab lunch or even just a beer.

The bus journey there is also amazing, you can spot Ta’pinu, the oldest church on the island, legend says that after it was ordered to be demolished, the first hammer blow to it broke the workers arm, so they left it standing!

We also passed golden fields of corn, and even the ruins of an aqueduct! If we’d had more time or a car we definitely would have stopped to explore these places.

After a long day we decided to cook for ourselves to save some money, so we stopped at the Arkadia foodstore. There was so much amazing stuff here, we had to hold back from buying too much!

Finally we arrived home, after eating a lovely little meal we took our wine down to the terrace lookout and watched the sun set on another amazing day in Gozo.

Comino Island and the Blue Lagoon.

Today we were shifting away from Gozo life, and heading out to Comino Island, located between Gozo and Malta, it has a population of 3! It’s named after Cumin seeds but it was formerly known as Ephaestia.

We took the bus down to Mgarr early and got a coupe of prices from the guys at the harbour. It cost us about 10 euro each round trip.

So after waiting for a few more people to sign up off we sped to Comino! It’s famous for the blue lagoon, a shallow stretch of water between Comino and a smaller island called Cominotto.

It only takes about 15-20 minutes, and it was exciting as we got our first views of the lagoon heading into the bay.

There’s a small jetty to disembark and a few food and drink stalks dotted around here. There’s actually not much beach and the little there was already filled with people. This is May, so I can’t imagine what it would be like in the height of Summer.

We walked along the cliffs, this is where most people set up for the day so we found a spot and immediately went for the water. It’s so blue, so clear, we couldn’t believe how beautiful it was.

So we swam over to little Cominotto and had a little explore around the rocks there, just watch out as there were a few jellyfish around.

There were some lovely little snorkelling spots around here and we sat enjoying the sunshine and the gorgeous setting.

Back on Comino, we lounged on the rocks for a while and took another dip. Then decided to go explore more of the island.

We headed South, past the beautiful crystal lagoon, with some private boats dotted about the bays. There were even a few people cliff jumping!

Our wandering took us to St Mary’s Tower, an ancient watchtower with panoramic views of the island from the rooftop. It’s 5E to go in and have a look.

We wandered back as we had been given set times to return and we didn’t want to get back too late. So after enjoying the blue lagoon a bit longer we got a beer at the jetty and sat waiting for our boat.

It’s a bit of carnage at this point with lots of boats and different queues, just relax and you’ll be fine. So off we went, back to Mgarr ready to head over to the Gozo capital Victoria.

I had read about a few nice sounding restaurants on culture trip, but after checking 3 of then out, I realised the article was pretty old, 2 of them were closed down! We did get some lovely late evening views though.

Not to be deterred we took the bus back to In-Nadur and found an amazing place just off the main square called The Fat Rabbit.

The wine was amazing, we got a huge free starter of rice salad, bean salad, cheese and bread!

Then we had pasta to start, which were huge followed by pizza which we couldn’t manage most of. Obviously we finished the night with a brownie to share. The service was really friendly too, and the stroll back to the hotel was lovely on a warm night.

Gozo, Island of Wonders. Pt 1

I was so excited to visit Gozo, it’s the second largest island in Malta and is known for it’s more rural lifestyle and scenic hills. We flew in to Malta airport, and easily found the bus that would take us all the way to the ferry on the North coast.

It took us around 2 hours to get there, the scenery was amazing, and the route travels all along the super pretty coast.Once at the ferry terminal it was an easy 30 minutes to cross over to Gozo and it only cost 5E, we celebrated with a can of Cisk, the local Maltese beer.

Leaving the ferry terminal on the other side at Mgarr, we were swarmed by taxi drivers, and the taxis here cost a lot, I think we were quoted about 25euro for a 10 minute journey.

After a quick google I figured out the bus route, and next thing we knew we were in Nadur, our home for the next 5 days. I had found a cute little room with a kitchenette in an old farmhouse called In-Nuffara guest house.

It was nice with a lovely breakfast included every morning but the rooms wasn’t serviced well and it got very damp in the day time. The room wasn’t ready when we arrived so we left our bags and went to explore the local town.

It was ssssooooo pretty! The limestone really gives the buildings a beautiful honey hue, walking up we found the main square, with an amazing church dominating the area. This seemed the liveliest place in a very quiet town, Gozo is very laid back, quiet and peaceful.

After wandering around most of the town, we stopped at the square and got a very cheap beer, I think it was just over a euro! I was very happy with this pricing. It was lovely enjoying the sunshine sat out on the square, we hadn’t eaten much through the day and the lady we were staying with had recommended a bakery called Mekren.

We stopped at a supermarket and picked up the essentials such as wine, cheese and beer and grabbed a pizza from the bakery. The best thing about the apartment was the view from just across the road. There’s a gorgeous terrace overlooking half of Gozo, so we sat with our legs dangling over the wall eating our pizza.

It was still a lovely warm evening so we walked over to Ta’Kenuna Tower, originally built by the British in 1848 as a telegram tower, it is now used as a lighthouse. The views here were stunning, I love the Maltese countryside, all hilltop towns and fields.

We spent the rest of the evening drinking tasty red wine on the terrace watching the sunset, before retiring to our room to snack on cheese and bread. Malta is famous for it’s sheep cheese, particularly ones studded with peppercorns.

The next day we got up early, breakfast was continental with lovely fresh bread delivered to our door, homemade jam and cheese. We were going to rent bikes, the owner had said she’d sort some for us but in the end we were happy she didn’t. It’s a really hilly island and in the heat we think it would get a little annoying after a while.

So off we went to walk around the island, we walked down to Ramla bay a beach that’s covered in red sand, but we were in adventure mode, not beach mode so we climbed up the cliffs on the left hand side to explore an abandoned mansion. There are caves on the right hand side of the beach to explore too.

There’s meant to be some caves up past the mansion too, but they were closed when we walked past, there was a cool natural platform to look out over the bay from though. From here it took us around 45 minutes to walk down into Xaghra, the next town. There are buses that are usually every hour to take you between each town, but we enjoy the walking.

Xaghra is home to Ggantija, one of the world’s oldest monuments, much older than the pyramids! They were built during the Neolithic period and are over 5500 years old. It was pretty amazing that they’re still standing and the buildings themselves were really impressive, it’s a UNESCO world heritage site and there’s a small museum where you can learn a little more.

There’s an old windmill nearby which, although not a must see place was fun to look around and cheap to go in. You can climb up to the top and enjoy the views, and each room has a little info about what life in the 1700s was like in Gozo. We stopped at the square for a slice of cake and a beer while we planned our next move.

Craig wanted to check out St John Baptist Church across the valley in Xewkija, unfortunately we had just missed the bus, so we decided to walk over again, it took just under an hour and we passed some lovely golden corn fields, an interesting cemetery before we got to the church.

It’s one of the largest buildings on the island and it dominates the skyline, the inside was really beautiful with marble floors and gorgeous paintings. You can go right up to the rooftop and even climb the steps up to the bell tower. I got to the top and marvelled at how far I could see, and even the view of the church was wonderful.

After so much walking we were finally ready for beach time, so we jumped on a bus from Xewkija which took us all the way to Ramla bay! We got some tasty orange juice and found a spot on the beach. I had been carrying a little picnic around in a cooler, we demolished the cheese and bread we’d brought.

After a couple of beers and a dip in the beautifully clear but cold waters (it warms up later in the Summer, we visited in May) it was time to leave before the sun set, I got an amazing ice cream from one of the little shops that line the path from the beach. The queue for the bus was quite big but we were one of the first stops, I just imagine in Summer it could be pretty crazy.

Our night was spent in a little bar watching the football, with cheap tasty pizza and even cheaper tasty beer! The people working there were so friendly, making sure the right football was on and moving people if they stood in our way!

We couldn’t wait to explore more of Gozo, and even after two days we were already enamoured with the whole place.

A Trip to Toledo.

Toledo is a City in Spain about a 45minute train journey South of the countries capital, Madrid. One of it’s earliest mentions is from 193BC by a Roman general, so it’s pretty old! It’s also a UNESCO world heritage site and has cultural influences from Christians, Jews, and Muslims as well as Roman and Visigoth.

Although Madrid is a cool City, we wanted a bit of medieval history and I thought Toledo looked like a great place to take a day trip to. So after having Breakfast at Plenti, a cute little place not far from our hotel.

We walked over to the train station and got our tickets. It was a little pricey as we were taking the tourist train. I’ve since heard you can get the tickets for much cheaper, especially if you plan ahead. Make sure you check out the lovely tropical garden in the oldest part of the station.

The train journey was pleasant as we passed through the dry Spanish countryside, and as soon as we arrived I knew we were going to love it in Toledo! The station opened in 1920 and was designed to imitate the architecture of the City, it was gorgeous and the tiling inside was so pretty.

The walk up to the walled City isn’t too taxing, and the first sight you get is magnificent, Toledo has a river running alongside it, so you see the bridge over to this walled Citadel and a huge palace sat at the top.

After taking a few pictures we ran up to the bridge and crossed, passing underneath a gatehouse. It’s a little bit of a steep walk up but you can stop and take a look back from a huge terrace halfway up.

We carried on and after passing a statue of a very dapper looking gent, we found ourselves on Zocodover plaza, we picked one of the many streets ahead of us and started our exploration.

The shops are filled with medieval antiques, classic spanish food and wine and a lot of souvenirs. Our favourite street was Calle Comercio because of the view down to the cathedral.

Along the way we even found a shop that had roman ruins in it’s basement that you could look at for free beneath a glass floor! The walled area of Toledo isn’t too big so it’s easy to wander without fear of getting lost, which is exactly what we did.

We soon found ourselves at the Monastery of Santo Domingo Real, built and run by Nuns since 1364. It’s a beautiful building with the interior to match.

Our only problem so far was that every church or monastery wanted to charge a pretty large fee to enter, we wanted to climb up the belltower of one church but it was over 10E, I don’t mind donations but charging to enter a church is a bit much.

After reaching the Puerta del Sol or ‘South Gate’ we turned back to stay inside the City walls, following a street along to more panoramic views of the countryside and the river.

Turning into the City we decided to head towards the huge tower that is Toledo Cathedral. Work on the cathedral began in 1226 and it wasn’t completed until 1493! It’s a huge building and very grand with it’s gothic architecture.

It’s so big you almost can’t get it all in to one picture it’s said to be this size to cover the sacred space that the old mosque held before it. It was nice to sit and gawk at it in the square at the front, with it’s majestic stained glass windows and 146ft height! It was early afternoon at this point and we were hungry.

So we found a cute little restaurant off the main streets in a small plaza. We shared a beautiful vegetable paella, olives and a a couple of glasses of Spanish Rioja, the sun was shining and it was a perfect lunch. Obviously we had to finish it off with some churros, the famous spanish elongated donuts with choc sauce.

Once we were finished it was time to check out the Alcazar of Toledo, built up on the highest part of Toledo you can see it from miles around. There was originally a Roman fortification built here in the 3rd century but much of the Alcazar was destroyed in the Spanish Civil war and had to be rebuilt between 1939 and 1957.

The Alcazar is impressive, but we loved the little park just beneath it, where you can stand on the turrets and look out across the valley to the military academy on the opposite hill.

Honestly the views are incredible and it was sad to say goodbye to them, but we didn’t want to get back into Madrid too late as we were checking out one of the art galleries it’s famous for.

On our way back down we noticed a cute little marzipan shop and decided to have a look inside. The lady that worked there was wonderful and let us try a few things, they were so delicious we had to buy some sweets and marzipan ice cream, yum! Once we reached the other side of the river we realised we still had 40 minutes or so till our train, so we took a little stroll along the river bank.

It was nice to get another angle of the City, and there was a cool abandoned building on bank which looked like an old mill house. We slowly wandered back under the bridge and down to the station, on our way we found a fun Toledo sign to take a pic of.

I’m sure there are a few things we missed out on seeing in Toledo, but half the fun is exploring without using a guide or map and seeing what you discover.

It’s so old, Craig loved it as there aren’t any buildings like those in Australia. The train back was nice and relaxing after a full day of walking and we both ended up having a little power nap before arriving back in Madrid.

The Silent City of Mdina, Malta

After exploring much of Valletta, we decided to take a trip over to Mdina, a historic fortified City in Malta. Mdina was founded in the 8th century by the Phoenicians, and served as the capital of Malta until 1530. There are only 300 inhabitants inside the city walls, it’s seen Roman, Byzantine and Arab rulers come and go and still stands today.

I had read that the bus system on Malta was really good, so we decided to travel that way.It would take us two buses to get there and after possibly the worst buffet breakfast I’ve ever seen, we were off! We were staying in Sliema just over the water from Valletta and luckily could take a bus from right outside our hotel!

The first bus took us to Tad-Daqqaq, only when we tried to catch the next bus, it was full and drove right past us! Not to be deterred we tried another bus stop and had the same problem and again and again. Luckily we spotted this amazing looking church at the end of the street we were waiting on and decided to go check it out. Lucky we did as it started to pour down with rain!

We just made it and found out the church was the Mosta Rotunda, a beautiful 17th century church set in a lovely square with cute shops and restaurants around it. Upon entering we found out an amazing story of a WW2 bomb that came through the roof of the church but didn’t explode! You can see a replica of the bomb in a small museum at the back of the building.

The inside was really pretty too, and there’s a small air raid shelter you can check out just in front of the main entranceway. After looking around the rain had stopped and the sun started to come out, after waiting for another two buses that were both full we decided to walk to Mdina as it was only an hour away.

The countryside was beautiful to walk through and the roads weren’t very busy so it felt pretty safe, and then Mdina came into view and it was breath taking. Sat up on a plateau, the walls are made of a lovely honey colour brick. It was a bit of a slog up the steep hill to Mdina, but it’s even more spectacular up close.

We entered through Mdina gate and were immediately on architecture and travel heaven. There are cute churches, alleyways and squares to discover, along with amazing old doorways and steps.

The views from the terrace by Fontanella tea rooms are gorgeous. We were going to stop and have a drink there but it was pretty busy. So we carried on wandering and found this amazing place called Coogis.

We were sat in the courtyard, looking around thinking how pretty it was when the waiter came over and asked if we’d rather sit on the rooftop. Of course we jumped at the chance, it was super pretty up there and we enjoyed a nice Cisk, the tasty local lager while we marvelled at the countryside spread out before us. We had some salad and pizza which was really good.

Nice and satisfied we headed outside of the walls and into Rabat, the surrounding town. I had read about some cute churches and the possibility of ancient Roman catacombs and in the parish church of St Pauls we found both! The actual church is a beautiful building and the little old lady working there who showed us to the catacombs was so lovely.

We got to go down there by ourselves and even though it was spooky it was so cool, I think there are larger ones nearby but we were happy with our cute little one. So it was time to leave, it had been so much fun and luckily this time the bus would take us all the way to Valletta. In Valletta we stopped off at one of the many bars that you can find on the stairways and had a drink. Then it was time to say goodbye!

We got the taxi-boat across to Sliema and grabbed a couple of huge slices of pizza, following it up with our daily dose of gelato. We finished the day sat on our little balcony at the bayview hotel, drinking Cisk and reflecting on Malta being the perfect holiday destination.

Bergen and the mountain trolls.

I arrived in Bergen after an amazing few days in Tromso. Which you can also read about if you scroll down here.

Bergen is located in the Southwest of Norway, surrounded by fjords and mountains. It’s the second largest City in Norway behind Oslo, and averages 231 days of rain a year!

I was excited to visit for the hiking, cute wooden houses of Bryggen, and to see some of Norway’s famous fjords.

I took the flybussen into the City, it took 30 mins and cost about Β£10. I stayed at the Bergen Budget Hostel which was basic but the cheapest option!

I immediately set off to explore the City, passing some fun troll street art. Norway is famous for trolls, watch Troll Hunter to learn more.

I was heading towards Bryggen, the old centre of Hanseatic leagues empire. It’s full of colourful wooden houses that line the waterfront.

Built in 1702 after a fire had destroyed most of the City, it’s now a UNESCO world heritage site. Make sure you explore the little alleyways between and behind the houses, where you can find shops and restaurants.

If you continue along the waterfront past Bryggen you come to Bergenhus Fortress, some of the buildings here were built in the 1240s and it’s one of the oldest stone castles left in Norway.

I turned back here and followed the waterfront round in the opposite direction, keep an eye out for some of the amazing street art pieces that are dotted about the City. For fish lovers there’s a fishmarket on Strandkaien, and the main shopping streets are just up from here.

The streets around Sydneskleiven are really beautiful, and there are some great views from the end of Oysteins Gate and St John’s Church is right by here too. I took a little detour through the university area and walked around the lovely Lille Lungegardsvannet lake.

This only took the morning as I had arrived into Bergen early, so I decided to go hiking! You can take a cable car up to the top of Floyen mountain near Bryggen and once up there you can walk to your hearts content. The views up here of Bergen and out to sea were incredible.

I headed to Granbakken, a little mountain lake first, along lovely little wooden walkways through green forest. It doesn’t take long to get away from the crowds around the cable car spot.

The lake was frozen over which was cool, and there were some awesome places to stop, one where I dangled my legs above the forest below!

From here I decided to walk through the forest to Skredderdalen, and followed the river up to lake Nedrediket. This took me along ridges, with more views of Bergen, and following the raging river up towards the lake was amazing.

I was loving the walk and continued on to a bigger lake called Storevatnet, you couldn’t even see the other side of this one due to some fog.

I noticed some steps going up alongside the lake and thought the views from the top would be amazing. Unfortunately when I got to the top this fog rolled in and I could barely see in front of me.

This led to a rather dicey hike across the tops of the mountain in thick fog, snow and ice. Honestly there was a point where I got a little bit worried, luckily google maps worked the entire time, so I could easily follow the path along to Rundemanen, a little heritage museum that had a proper road heading back down towards the cable car.

Apart from a section of road that was closed due to an avalanche the rest of the walk down was pretty nice, the fog had subsided. It took me around 5 hours in total to hike around the mountains, and I was definitely ready to eat something.

So I stopped off at a pizza place in the City, I was so tired that I went back to the hostel and pretty much passed out.

I wish I had gone around the City at night to see it from a different perspective, but there will always be next time!