Street Art in Downtown St Petersburg Florida | Free things to do in downtown St Petersburg, Fl

If you’re looking for free things to do in St Petersburg Florida, then consider a self guided mural tour of downtown St Petersburg, Fl & the 600 Block. There’s a lot of famous street art in the area and local artists have managed to much of downtown St Petersburg, Fl into a kind of open air gallery complete with beautiful multicoloured pieces of art adorning the walls and even bins & security cameras. The 600 Block, which must be the coolest block in the area, should be top of your list.

Start at the back of the Craft Art Centre on the corner of 5th St North opposite Cottage Café. The initial idea here was to decorate the fire escape, but the project actually turned into a much large project involving humour and expressive colour. Commissioned by the craft centre and funded by a local bank the design shaped like a man next to a jellyfish with a brain. Much of the street art in downtown St Pete, Fl. takes a look at society and the artists have created pieces that may give different messages to each viewer.On the other side of the same car park is the Sunken Gardens Mural. This piece includes a memorial to St Pete Grand Prix driver who tragically died, Dan Wheldon. Whilst the whole mural is not dedicated to him, he will be forever remembered in this piece. Also seen in this design the famous Don Cesar Hotel.

A lot of the street art in the 600 Block of St Pete is actually adorning whole buildings and commissioned by the building owners themselves. St Pete brewing company is a great example of this. It’s spray painted to look like a banyan tree and includes a design showing a plane flown by Tony Janis, this is to commemorate the first commercial plane flight which was from St Pete to Tampa.

On the corner of 1st Ave North and 6th St North is an electrical box. Decorated You may notice the P logo at the bottom of the design, this is a link to an app called Pixelstix. Pixelstix is working alongside Shine Mural Festival and you can actually use the app to find the best street art in downtown St Petersburg Fl. and actually make your self guided mural tour even easier to follow.  


One of the most famous areas of downtown St Petersburg, Fl & the 600 Block for street art/murals is between Central Ave North and 1st Ave North. This whole street was meant to be regenerated but after the financial crash this unfortunately never happened. Instead however local artists took to the streets and painted each building and even wheelie bins and garages with some of the best murals in St Pete. USATop pieces include Frieda Kahlo, a giant shark with a cage you can appear to stand in and some beautiful Russian dolls. 

 

Other downtown St Petersburg Fl favourites include a piece on the side of the Morean Arts Centre. This mural is both welcoming and foreboding in equal measures and represents the war in Eastern Europe as remembered by the artist. It’s generally considered one of the top pieces in St Pete and is the work of AKuT / Damir Tabakovic.Old school graffiti styles can also be seen around downtown St Petersburg Fl. On 714 1st Avenue North two artists, one local and one from Bulgaria designed some colourful pieces that fortunately are usually in shade so have lasted well. These designs include the 3rd eye triangle which is often seen on pieces around the town. There have been a few debates as to what this represents. Is it their imaginations?On the South side of Central 600 Block is a huge black and white mural designed by St Pete favourite, artist Bask — aka, Ales Hostomsky. His work attracted the attention of Robert Downey, Jr. who ended up calling to request his work for Iron Man 3! The story goes that when Bask originally got the call asking for his work to be in the movie he actually hung up the first time as he thought it was a prank!What to pack for your downtown St Petersburg day out.

  • Comfy shoes – You’ll be doing plenty of walking around downtown St Petersburg so make sure to wear some comfortable shoes or sandals.
  • Sunglasses & sunscreen – It’s often hot, hot, hot in downtown St Petersburg and there isn’t that much shade so be sure to pack your sunglasses and sun protection so you don’t end up getting sunburnt. 
  • Camera – With so many incredible pieces of art around the streets of downtown St Petersburg you’re bound to need your camera to snap some of the famous murals
  • Water – Obviously there are plenty of lovely cafes & bars around downtown St Petersburg but it’s a good idea to bring a refillable water bottle as it’s quite easy to get dehydrated when you’re walking around in the hot Florida sun. 

I hope you’ve enjoyed this guide to the street art in downtown St Petersburg, Florida. It’s a vibrant, arty place with a lot going on, but if you want to save some money and find free things to do in downtown St Petersburg, Fl then a walking tour is highly recommended. 

Food in Uzbekistan | What is Uzbek cuisine like?

Food in Uzbekistan is not really famed internationally so you’d be forgiven for being unsure as to what Uzbek cuisine is like. I’ll admit that wasn’t expecting much from food in Uzbekistan, however, in general it was quite tasty. Uzbek cuisine is very meat heavy, and also carb loaded in the form of delicious Uzbekistan bread, probably to help in the extreme winter. It’s not a country for fussy eaters, but if you’re open to try new things you may be pleasantly surprised.

There are lots of local specialities to try and below are some of my top recommendations of Uzbek cuisine that you have to try!

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Trying horse milk in Uzbekistan 

A speciality of Uzbek cuisine, horse milk was something I didn’t even realise people drank until I was offered it at a market.

The market seller had a litre coke bottle full of it kept at outside temperature. It was a very cold day but somehow the milk managed to taste that horrible ‘not quite cold but not quite warm level’ .The price was 5000 a cup, around 75c.
FFood in uzbekistan, what food to try in uzbekistan, cuisine in uzbekistan,

Well horse milk smells very yeasty, and even less like cows milk than any none dairy equivalents I’ve seen before. Taste wise, I’m not a fan AT ALL and neither was anyone not a local in our group. It tasted like sour beer, and to be honest, rather like it shouldn’t be consumed. Our guide said that many people feel drunk if they have more than a small amount especially on an empty stomach. It seemed amongst the locals in our group that liking it was something of a national pride thing, and I’m certainly glad I tried it for the story, but it’s not something I’m in a rush to try again.

Eating Horse meat in Uzbekistan

Horses are farmed for meat in Uzbekistan and the meat is found everywhere fairly cheaply. Horse meat in Uzbekistan is seen as a delicacy. It’s served in many forms, one of which is a noodle based broth which originated in Kazakhstan. The second version I saw at virtually every market we passed and is served as a plate piled high with shredded fried dough strips with tiny pieces of meat mixed in, topped by some horse meat sausage. The second dish was actually fairly tasty although quite heavy, the meat tasted rich like venison.

Food in uzbekistan, what food to try in uzbekistan, cuisine in uzbekistan,

It’s unusual for us in Europe to eat horse meat and it did take a little while for me to get my head around it. Equally I’m not 100% sure of the ethics of eating horse meat but for those amongst us who are big foodies it’s worth a try especially if you’re keen to try a famous food in Uzbekistan.

Pon | Bread in Uzbekistan

No meal in Uzbekistan seems to be complete without at least a plate full of Uzbekistan bread. Cooked in a tandoor oven, the traditional Uzbekistan bread is round & soft, often topped with sesame seeds and a lovely accompaniment to your meal. If you’re ordering meat as well at an outside grill, request your bread is reheated by sitting with the meat which also soaks up the juices and tastes delicious.

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Pilaf | Famous dish in Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan’s national dish is actually a Pilau. Similar to what you may have tried in India or in an Indian restaurant; the rice is cooked with onions & carrots and usually meat such as beef or lamb. Expect it to be fairly oily but pretty tasty. The rice dish varies from province to province, with different types of rice, different vegetables & cuts of meat. 

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Dumplings, kebabs & dried fruit

Dumplings are abundant in Uzbek cuisine; usually filled with beef and onions. They are cheap & easy to grab as a snack from the side of the road. Most markets sell kebabs of various types, often keema or chicken but also beef liver is quite popular. Another easy and cheap buy are the dried fruit and vegetables, available in every variation possible including melon, chickpeas and grapes. Street food in Uzbekistan isn’t as easy to get your head around as in some places like Thailand, but dried fruit and kebabs are plentiful and recognisable if you’re a slightly more fussy eater.

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Hope you’ve enjoyed this guide to Uzbek cuisine. Make sure to try some specialities in Uzbek cuisine & if you’ve tried it then let us what you think the taste of Horse Milk is like!

Visiting Khewra Salt mines | Himalayan Salt Mine in Pakistan

Located between Lahore & Islamabad are the Khewra Salt Mines. The largest in Pakistan and second largest in the world, the mines are now a popular tourist attraction. The discovery of rock salt dates back to the days of Alexander the Great, with initial mining properly starting in 1500 AD with salt production crossing 50,000 tonnes at the turn of the last century.

khewra salt mine pink Himalayan salt

Location and how to get to Khewra Salt Mines.

The mine itself is located in the salt range which is an outer range of the Himalayas. It is situated in Pind Dadan Khan Tehsil of Jhelum District. Located about 180 km from Islamabad and 250km from Lahore, it is about 30 kilometres (20 miles) off the Lilla interchange while going towards Pind Dadan Khan on the Lilla road.

There is currently no public transport going to the mines so the only way to get there is either by hiring a private car or by going through an agency or travel portal. Travel Portal Find My Adventure can arrange transportation and guides.

What to expect in Khewra Salt Mines

To get inside the mines you can either take the free train which leaves at random intervals when it’s full, or it’s possible to walk which takes around 15 mins.

Once inside you can walk a circular route starting on the right hand side tunnel. You’ll be able to see the bricks made from the pink, red & white Himalayan rock salt. There are 17 levels of the mine which the tourist area on the 5th level. The mix of salts can appear at any level however.

khewra salt mine pink Himalayan salt

khewra salt mine pink Himalayan salt

khewra salt mine pink Himalayan salt

One of the first sights you’ll arrive at is the mosque made entirely out of salt. Built in the 1950s it is fully functional as a prayer area for the miners but is also undeniably beautiful to look at! There is a replica of the Minar e Pakistan, the famous monument of Lahore, a spectacular red and orange glowing structure.

 

minar e pakistan made from salt

The air in the salt mine is said to be good for health and there’s a salt clinic/hospital inside. Visitors with asthma and other respiratory illnesses can visit the Khrewra Salt Mines and actually spend up to 10 days there which is said to improve breathing ability.

There’s a small shop inside the mine selling salt lamps to improve the air in rooms back home, salt letter shapes and a variety of seemingly random non salt related objects.

It’s worth noting that there are no toilets/restrooms inside Khewra Salt Mines. The only available facilities are outside the mine.

khewra salt mine pink Himalayan salt

khewra salt mine pink Himalayan salt, inside khewra salt mine

khewra salt mine pink Himalayan salt, inside khewra salt mine

Khewra Salt Mines  Opening hours – Daily 9am to 6pm

Cost of entry to Khewra Salt Mines
Foreingers 2900 rupees
Locals 220 rupees

The Khewra Salt mines make an excellent day trip from Islamabad or day trip from Lahore and the scenery on the way is beautiful too. It’s definitely a top thing to do in Pakistan.

What to wear in Pakistan as a tourist | Pakistan clothing guide

Finding a balance between being comfortable in the clothing you’re wearing for travel and being conscious of local customs and traditions is important. Pakistan is a country of diversity in terms of terrain and temperature, with a great variation between the cities and the more rural areas, as well the mountains and the plains.

I’ve put together a guide for people wondering as to how to dress in Pakistan and particularly who want to know how do women dress in Pakistan, with some tips on what to wear to be respectful as well as comfortable.

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How women should dress in Pakistan | What do women wear in Pakistan?

The title is perhaps slightly misleading as there isn’t necessarily a ‘should’ in terms of what to wear in Pakistan. I asked many of my local friends what do women wear in Pakistan, and the response was usually that I could wear what I wanted, and that jeans and a t shirt would be fine. Whilst I’m sure this was true, and in cities such as Karachi where it’s more liberal would probably be fine, the reality is that outside of malls and higher end restaurants then most women did seem to dress for more traditionally or at least more conservatively.

Once I was out of the major cities and particularly in the North then most women covered their heads, and whilst this wasn’t a requirement at all except inside mosques, most tourists would perhaps feel more comfortable dressing a little more conservatively. I actually had many people come up to me and say they appreciated that I was wearing a kurta and they were happy that I was being respectful in this way. I’d like to point out again that nobody asked me to wear a kurta, it was my choice; just a choice that seemed to be appreciated.

The traditional Pakistani clothing for women is made up of the Shalwar Kameez, a sort of long sleeved shirt worn with a shawl for modesty alongside loose trousers tapered at the ankles.  Often these items are colourful and sometimes even adorned with designs and jewels. The Shalwar Kameez serves two purposes; one it’s modest as it covers the shoulders, chest and usually arms and secondly the lightweight material is helpful for hot weather. It’s actually a delight to wear as European fashions aren’t usually so colourful.

Ideas as to what to wear in Pakistan for women

Asos has a great selection of modest clothing that look stylish. I chose a few maxi dresses with long sleeves and tapered at the waist to maintain some shape. Equally oversized shirts work well and the looseness means you’ll have a little bit more air.

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what to wear in pakistan as a tourist, dressing in pakistan, how to dress in pakistan, clothing in pakistan

Mix and match your own clothing with local items
Wearing a kurta with jeans is easy and comfortable. The kurta will of course go down below your hips to be a little more conservative but you’ve still got the comfort of jeans (and pockets) which you’re probably used to. 

Why not buy some local outfits during your travels in Pakistan? 
Some of the regional clothing from Pakistan is beautiful. I bought a few items during my travels that not only proved practical (and will be for future trips) but also colourful and enjoyable to wear. Furthermore, local people often seemed thrilled that I was wearing items of clothing from their country and region which is often met with happy gestures and smiles.

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What to wear in religious sites or mosques in Pakistan.

Outside many mosques there will be a sign that says that women must adhere to proper Islamic dress to enter. This means that your arms legs and shoulders must be covered and also your head. It’s always wise to carry a scarf with you but often they can be provided if you have forgotten to bring one.

To cover your head you can simply use the scarf to drape over your hair or so it doesn’t keep needing adjusting then consider tying it up in a top knot.

What to wear as a male tourist in Pakistan

There’s more flexibility for what to wear in Pakistan for men. In the cities then jeans and t-shirt are perfectly normal and acceptable, it’s worth noting though that during the particularly hot summers then heavy jeans might be a bit too hot. Shorts, whilst not offensive are not that commonly worn except in the more modern areas of Karachi etc.

Outside of the major cities then almost all men wear the matching traditional wear, this is made up a long shirt with a grandad style collar and a loose trouser. It’s lightweight and fairly smart to be honest. Even in the rural areas then most men seem to have their traditional wear in immaculate condition and usually pressed. Once again you’re definitely not expected to dress in a traditional fashion and it may not be practical for you but many people actually find that the cool materials are helpful in the Summer. Otherwise, wearing jeans and a t shirt even in the rural areas won’t really attract any more attention than you’d expect as a tourist anyway.

Does it get cold in Pakistan?
Pakistan does have seasonal weather and during my trip in September I could feel the temperature dropping day by day. As you travel further north it will certainly become cooler, particularly at night time, so it’s wise to travel with a scarf and light jacket. In terms of what to wear in Pakistan in winter however it’s a different story in the mountains, and be sure to check temperatures before you travel to decide what level of warm clothing to take. Waterproof boots for snow, gloves, hats and thermals are all necessities in the far North and Balochistan.

example of what to wear in pakistan women

I hope that this helped you decide what to wear in Pakistan, enjoy your trip!

First time to Pakistan tips | Pakistan Travel Guide

So you’ve decided to visit Pakistan! Voted as one of Forbes places to visit in 2019, Pakistan is truly one of the up and coming destinations for the more discerning traveller, particularly those keen to get a little off grid.

I’ve put together a Pakistan travel guide to questions I’ve been asked about first time travel to Pakistan, as well as some general tips for travel to Pakistan.


Is Pakistan safe?

In a word, yes, but let’s look a little deeper.

Pakistan has been in the media a lot over the past few years which has unfortunately given it somewhat a bad reputation in the eyes of many. When the Taliban insurgence in the mid 2000s took place a lot of the border areas with Afghanistan and some of the more Northern Areas became off limits and potentially dangerous to visit. Of course we are now 10 years past this and actually Swat and the North of Pakistan are becoming some of the highlights of the country for many people. Many countries find their previous reputation hard to shake and indeed the British government still has Swat on it’s ‘Do not travel’ list. For me however it was a highlight of my visit.

In any country it’s wise to travel with caution, but in Pakistan I actually experienced less general day to day trouble than in many places. Street harassment by shop keepers and other members of the public was very low and actually the people that did want to come and chat to me were pretty respectful and polite. Not once did I feel concerned for my safety in Pakistan.

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What are the people like in Pakistan? / Are people friendly in Pakistan?

Pakistan is known for its hospitality; on a superficial level I was warmly welcomed on social media, with many people offering help if I needed it. In reality these kind of offers were actually acted upon and wherever I went then locals seemed to go out of their way to offer me drinks and food. Equally whenever there was a queue then locals would insist that I went to the front so I didn’t have to wait, of course this almost made me feel rude but the people were so insistent and kind. Pakistani hospitality has rightfully gained a reputation for being excellent and I was made to feel so welcome during my time there.


What to wear in Pakistan

What to wear in Pakistan as a women – Most of my Pakistani friends said that I could wear jeans and a t-shirt, and whilst ‘could’ is probably true, then in reality outside of the major cities (particularly Karachi) then women dress more conservatively including looser pants, kurtas or Shalwar Kameez. In mosques or religious sites then it’s necessary to cover your head and observe ‘proper Islamic dress’, which generally means long sleeves and full length skirt or trousers. See my full article on what to wear in Pakistan as a woman here. 

What to wear in Pakistan as a man – In the cities many men wear jeans and t-shirts, but once you get into the countryside then generally men wear traditional clothing. Male tourists can get away with wearing jeans wherever they visit but shorts (whilst allowed) are not particularly common. See my full article on what to wear in Pakistan as a man here.

what to wear in pakistan as a tourist, dressing in pakistan, how to dress in pakistan, clothing in pakistan


Getting a visa for Pakistan
It’s easier than previously to apply for a Pakistani visa, however my advice would be to apply well in advance as particularly during busy periods then it may take a lot longer than stated online to receive your visa.

  • How to get a Pakistan visa as a British citizen – It’s possible to get an e-visa for Pakistan as British citizen, however don’t underestimate how long this will take. Online it states that it will take 7-10 working days, however it actually took 5 weeks for my visa to come through and I had to go into the high commission twice to speed this along! The staff were really nice but clearly a little snowed under with work. You’ll need details of any sponsor if you have one, approximate travel dates, and potentially even bank statements. Apply here. 
  • 30 countries can now apply for visa on arrival for Pakistan (which can take 48 hours to apply for.) This includes citizens of Germany, Switzerland, Austria and New Zealand. Full list of countries can be found here.

How to get around in Pakistan? / Do you need to go with a tour group in Pakistan?

I may be a little biased as I never travel with tour groups but I did make use of Pakistan’s only online travel portal Find My Adventure They offer fully customisable itineraries including cars, guides and accommodation. This was particularly helpful for the places that I wanted to visit that didn’t have any public transport going to them, they can also offer Pakistan travel advice and tips.

Intercity buses in Pakistan go from the terminals in each city and are pretty cheap. For the smaller journeys then minibuses leave at unspecified intervals, usually for less than 50 rupees if you can avoid the foreigner tax! The minibuses often line up quite well with each other so you’ll be able to get off one when it finishes it’s route and probably not have to wait too long for the next to arrive.

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What is food like in Pakistan? / Pakistani cuisine
There are some similarities between Indian food & Pakistani food, but I also noticed a very distinct cuisine and style of cooking in Pakistan. I mentioned on Twitter that I felt Pakistani cuisine was quite meat heavy and received quite a lot of messages from people saying that they agreed. Note, that I’m not implying that all meals involved meat, just that if you are a vegan for example, you may find the cuisine in Pakistan a little more challenging than in a few other countries. Having said this, as I found the people to be so hospitable then they would go out of their way if you did have any special dietary requirements. A couple of times I was caught out ordering Dal in Pakistan when trying to find something without meat, despite asking if it was meat free it did end up coming with chicken in!

Pakistani food is rich and flavoursome, with a range of breads rather addictive for us carb lovers. The food is often quite oily, but with the benefit of being rather filling. Street food in Pakistan is also delicious and many simple snacks like grilled corn tossed in salt can be found cheaply and easily.

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I hope you enjoyed this guide for first time travel to Pakistan and that you found some helpful tips for travel to Pakistan.

If you’ve been to Pakistan yourself or you’re from there and have your own tips for travel to Pakistan please leave a comment below.

Tipu Sultan Summer Palace | Visitor’s Guide

Located less than 100km from Bangalore is the summer palace of Tipu Sultan. Built in 1784 in Indo Islamic style out of mainly teak.

It stands on a raised platform and is rectangular in shape with pillars supporting the roof. What is unique and most impressive about the palace itself though is that every inch of the building is decorated in incredibly intricate detail with paintings depicting victories in battle and other stories.

The Tipu Sultan Museum makes up part of the heritage town of Srirangapatna  and is one of the top places to visit in Karnataka due to its history, beauty and collection of historic artefacts and art.

Who was Tipu Sultan?

Tipu Sultan was the ruler of the Srirangapatna area from 1783. He was a well educated man who could speak four languages; Arabic, Kannada, Persian & Urdu. Tipu died fighting in the Fourth Mysore War on 4th May 1799.

How to get to Tipu Sultan Summer Palace from Bangalore.how to get to Tipu Sultan summer palace from Bangalore Mysore

Tipu Sultan Museum | Opening Times & Costs

Museum is open from 9am to 5pm on all days.

Entry Fee – 5 Rupees for Indians and 100 Rupees for Foreigners.


What to expect?

With it’s vast gardens leading up to the palace, the Daria Daulat Bagh houses the Tipu Sultan Museum. The most impressive thing about the building is every inch of it is covered in incredibly ornate pictures and paintings. All of the pillars, walls and canopies are covered with the outer walls depicting battle scenes and portrait images, with the interior walls decorated with foliage and floral patterns. Even the wooden ceilings are pasted with floral designs. On the Western Wall the paintings depict the victory of Haider & Tipu over the English contingent in the battle at Pollinur.

It’s a unique place full of royal colours; navy and dark greens with deep reds, as well as impressive designs including grand balconies and gold patterned pillars leading up to magnificent decorated ceilings.

Tipu Sultan summer house interior decoration, visiting Tipu Sultan summer houseTipu Sultan summer house interior decoration, visiting Tipu Sultan summer houseTipu Sultan summer house interior decoration, visiting Tipu Sultan summer houseTipu Sultan summer house interior decoration, visiting Tipu Sultan summer house

Inside the museum itself which is mostly confined to the ground floor are many artefacts relating to Tipu Sultan; consisting of oil paintings, sketches, costumes and military items. Whilst photography is generally not allowed inside the museum, it is possible to use you phone to get information about many points from the app/downloadables numbered around the building,.

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The museum is a must for history lovers and the wide ranging displays include medals belonging to Tipu Sultan and coins of various denominations as well as clothes and weaponry all impeccably well preserved.


For more information visit –

https://www.bangaloretourism.org/bangalore-Tipu-Sultans-Palace.php

 

 

Top things to do in San Salvador

The capital of El Salvador has somewhat a bad reputation over the past couple of decades. Despite Central America being very much on the backpacker trail, often El Salvador is often skipped and those that do visit the country regularly go straight to the surf spots and miss the capital completely.
For the adventurous traveller who wants something a little different then San Salvador can be a lively and fun place to visit. Here are 10 suggestions as to what to do in San Salvador.

1. Try the beers at the La Cadejo microbrewery.
In upmarket Zona Rosa this bar/restaurant and brewery makes it’s own beers (with 51 varieties) and also supplies nationwide.
It’s possible to have a tour of the brewery, and the location is a popular spot on an evening to watch sports and eat decent pizzas and a range of other filling dishes.

The real draw here however is the great selection of unusual brews. There’s a pumpkin spice, a strong ginger ale at over 5% and a strawberry, as well as IPA, APA and a few stouts.

cadejo microbrewery san salvador

 

2. Devour the local speciality, the pupusa.
These corn dough patties are served hot and often cheese filled and are cheap and filling way to eat. Many meals come automatically with these on the side but they also serve as a fantastic snack at any time of day and feel like a treat.

3. Rock out at Republik Bar.
San Salvador’s top rock venue and Irish bar Republik draws a cool fun loving crowd and after 9pm is full on most evenings, particularly a weekend. It’s an atmospheric place with a stage for the bands and a VIP area/whiskey bar upstairs with great views over the crowd and band.
They do a good range of food as well as good value cocktails. Check on their social media to see what’s on and for the top notch cover bands.
3. Visit the Cathedral
The Metropolitan Cathedral of the Holy Savior is the main Roman Catholic Church in El Salvador and dominates the skyline of the city. It’s an important place for the people of San Salvador as it was visited twice by 

Pope John Paul II, and because it is also the resting place of Archbishop Óscar Romero who was assassinated in 1980.

 

4. Take a walk around Mercado Central
Mercado Central stretches a number of streets and is a fun way to get to know the city. Walk through the busy streets with vendors shouting out prices and offers for all things imaginable. Navigate the tight streets between stalls and chat with the smiling locals whilst dodging the fruit carts.
5. Grab a bite to eat at the food area of Mercado Excuartel
A fairly difficult to navigate market with seemingly endless stalls selling On the lower level of the market are around 20 mini restaurants, almost all run by women offering home cooking style food cooked up fresh and piping hot for under 2/3 dollars. On top of the usual pupusas expect spicy chicken and chicken soups as well as empanadas with rice & salad options. 1a Calle Oriente, San Salvador, El Salvador.
6. Buy some fresh fruit from the street vendors. There are fruit sellers everywhere and for under a dollar you can quench your thirst with a fresh coconut juice plus all the flesh or a stack of sweet pineapple.
7. Check out the architecture at Teatro Nacionale. Opened in 1903, it’s  the oldest theater in Central America. It’s free to enter but with fairly varied entry times. It has a great French classical style and is worth a wander round, even to see the facade of the building if you’re short on time. If you have a little longer and fancy something different then catch a show in the evening.
Teatro-Nacional-de-San-Salvador_fachada
8. Check out the pinatas on Calle San Antonio Abad
Somewhere between scary and fun this colourful street has endless pināta stalls on both sides with all shapes and sizes on offer. Expect unicorns, cars, emojis and giant beer bottles that you’ll have to duck and dive to get around.

pinatas in El Salvador

9. Try to navigate the city on local buses. Head to trendy Zona Rosa on the old American school buses in a variety of colours. Stand on the side of the road and listen for the bus callers shouting the destinations before you hop on and speed through the city.

For more ideas as to where to visit and how to plan a trip to San Salvador watch my full guide to San Salvador on YouTube.

An Isle of Wight Short Break | A Travel Guide

The Isle of Wight lies just off the South coast of England and is a picturesque and fun getaway for many tastes. It has miles of beautiful coastline for those wishing to get out and explore and it’s home to the Ventnor Fringe festival every Summer if you’re interested in the arts. With it’s many top restaurants serving delicious local seafood and glorious beaches to capture that quintessential British Summer holiday with an ice cream, look no further than an Isle of Wight short break for your holiday destination close to London.


How to get to the Isle of Wight
Ferries go from Southampton and Portsmouth and there are direct trains to both from London, ideal for Isle of Wight short breaks.

From Southampton you can take the Red Funnel ferries that take both foot passengers and cars and takes only 45 minutes. From Portsmouth, Wight Link has a FastCat foot passenger service which takes just 22 minutes


Where to Eat on the Isle of Wight

If you’re looking at booking Isle of Wight short breaks then you’ll have so many options for food as there are endless places to choose from for all budgets.

Woods Kitchen
Previously known as ‘The Essex’ Woods Kitchen was recommended to me by a number of people I chatted to on my first day on the IOW. It’s an atmospheric spot with the main restaurant housed inside a pretty thatched building with a large raised terrace at the rear with a very trendy feel and clearly a popular spot for an afternoon drink in the sun.

The menu is extensive and there are daily specials menus including lots of vegan options. There’s even an afternoon tea menu including themed afternoon tea, prosecco afternoon tea and a savoury tea.

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Opening times -Monday & Tuesday – Closed. Wednesday to Saturday 10:30am till 11pm Last food orders 9pmSunday 10:30am till 4pm

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Afternoon Tea at The Royal Hotel – Belgrave Rd, Ventnor PO38 1JJ

The Royal Hotel is one of the grandest hotels on the island located in charming Ventnor. It’s known for it’s food in all respects and is able to boast the 98% of hotel guests choose to dine in it’s main restaurant, but it also host to some delightful afternoon teas.

Served in your choice of the Colonial-style conservatory, the south-facing garden or Geranium Terrace you can pick from a selection of Afternoon Teas including a champagne tea. First up is a range of finger sandwiches alongside your choice of fragrant teas or alternate hot drinks, followed by the main event, a tiered cake stand with fresh scones and rich sweet treats such as lemon tart and carrot cake.

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Served from 3pm to 5pm from £23/person | Click here to book

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Tramezzini – 14 High Street, Ventnor

For a tasty brunch including some homemade black pudding served with on the vine cherry tomatoes, poached eggs and thick sausages, head to Tramezzini. It’s a friendly spot popular with the locals and has a selection of salads and fish dishes for those wanting something a bit healthier.

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PO41 – St James Court, Quay St, Yarmouth PO41 0PB

The town of Yarmouth is named after the small Western Yar river and makes a nice place to have a wander around and pop into the local boutiques. PO41 is one of the most popular cafes in the town due to it’s famously delicious cakes and big range of coffees. It’s located in the old post office and it’s a friendly spot which will draw you in with all the tasty treats in the window.

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With all these places to choose from your only problem will be wishing you had more time on your Isle of Wight short break.


What to do on the Isle of Wight

As the island itself is fairly small it is easy to navigate and you can get around by car or even a bicycle is good fun if you’re planning an Isle of Wight short break.

Visit Appuldurcumbe House

Appuldurcumbe House is the shell of the formally grand Baroque mansion built in the 18th century. During both world wars troops were billeted in the house and in February 1943, a  German plane dropped its final mine very close to the house. The house was never repaired and despite it looking in fine condition from a distance it’s actually just a shell of a building now and is completely without a roof.

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It’s free to visit and the property is managed by English Heritage. The house is open 10am-4pm, Sunday to Friday, from April until October and has car parking on site.

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Explore pretty Godshill

Godshill is a charming village with thatched roof houses, with it’s main street lined with tea shops and quirky pubs. The very first Isle of Wight festival took place near the village in 1968. One of the most popular spots is the model village (Open 10-5pm in Summer), but it’s also home to a local cider shop; Godshill Cider and a fun sweet shop called Candy Cottage.

Godshill will delight those interested in traditionally British things as it’s incredibly picturesque and it’s easy to reach as there are plenty of direct buses to Shanklin, Newport, Ventnor and Sandown.

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Hire a bike and explore the island
The Isle of Wight is a popular destination for cycle enthusiasts and there are numerous cycling trails all over the island. Outside of the towns there is little in the way of traffic making it an enjoyable and safe place to cycle even for those with relatively little experience.

Routefifty7 is a bike hire company based in Shanklin with prices starting at only £13. They offer e-bikes, mountain bikes and even tandems and have free delivery and collection for hires over £47.

I hired an electric bike and decided to follow the Red Squirrel Trail which is listed as one of “150 Great Days Out’’ by Sustrans,. At full length it is 32.23 miles but one can leave and join with ease, stopping at a variety of sights along the way. I started in Ventnor and followed it up to Godshill circling back towards Sandown and it’s a pleasant and fairly easy cycle route named after the endangered Red Squirrel that is found in some numbers on the Isle of Wight.

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For bike hire on the Isle of Wight  please ring 07491 00 00 57 or email info@routefifty7.com
Open everyday 9am – 6pm

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Take a RIB ride to the Needles
The Needles are one of the most famous landmarks on the Isle of Wight. These stone columns reaching up to 30m high out of the sea are a well known sight, and it’s possible to hire a boat with captain to take you around this great landmark. This has to be top on many people’s list when planning their Isle of Wight short break.

The Royal Hotel has a private RIB (rigid-hulled inflatable boat) which can take customers on private day trips or shorter journeys from Yarmouth.  It’s a high speed exhilarating ride, but a very comfortable one too as the Royal RIB is somewhat a luxury RIB and you’ll stay dry but get as close to the Needles as possible.  To book, call 0198385218620190726_1048068536164555151957023.jpgDSC_5393DSC_5372

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Visit Ventnor Beach

Ventnor Beach is  the southernmost  beach on the Isle of Wight and is always a popular destination on the island when planning an Isle of Wight short break. Complete with it’s stylish vintage beach huts used by families on hot days it’s a red shingle and golden sand beach.

With nearby ice cream shops, a lobster restaurant and a pretty promenade it’s a lovely place to come and rent a deckchair to relax, even if you’re not planning on going in the sea.

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For more information please visit;

https://www.visitisleofwight.co.uk

Enjoy you Isle of Wight short break!

Thames Rockets | What you need to know?

To be rated as Trip Advisor’s number one outdoor activity in London is something of an accolade. London has a never ending and ever changing number of things to do so reaching the top spot is surely a difficult feat.

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Thames Rocket gives customers the chance to zoom down the Thames River taking in the sights whilst enjoying the thrill of 30 knots onboard the red RIB. RIB stands for Rigid-hulled inflatable boat which should give you some indication of what the boats are like. You’ll be riding in a heavy duty inflatable similar to what the SAS Elite UK forces use and don’t underestimate how fast these boats can go!

The Thames Rockets tick a lot of boxes as a London activity; it has a centrally located launch point so you won’t have to travel far to get to on board, it’s suitable for all ages, it takes in a lot of the key sights along the Thames, and it’s also a hit with thrill seekers!

My parents were visiting London and I decided to take them on the Thames Rockets to get a different perspective of the city. Judging by the joyful whooping, the whole boat greatly enjoyed the ride and interestingly perhaps for different reasons. A few visitors from the USA were on the boat with us, and for them the opportunity to see so many of London’s top sights for the first time was a dream come true, the guide was informative throughout as well as rather funny and it helped our overseas visitors understand a little bit more about what we were going past. Equally for my parents it wasn’t the first time in London but definitely gave them a completely unique view of many of the familiar sights on the Thames including seeing Canary Wharf, St Catherine’s Dock and even the police boats!

It’s easy to see why it’s so highly rated and will continue to be a top activity in the capital and so I’ve put together a list of some ‘need to know’ Q&A before you jump on board.

How to book tickets
Whilst it’s essential to book in advance it’s always worth seeing if there are last minute tickets available as the Thames Rocket operates around 10 times a day. You can book online here or via the phone operator by calling the booking hotline on 020 7928 8933.

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Who can/can’t ride?
The experience is suitable for all ages but unfortunately not for lades at any stage of pregnancy. Equally it’s not recommended for anyone with past or current back, neck or heart condition.

Will I get wet?
The quick answer is ‘not really.’ Before we boarded we were all offered waterproof jackets which most people declined as it was lovely weather. On the way out of London I didn’t even feel a drop of water on me, but as we headed back towards the pier then the wind did catch the water resulted in a little spray. Whilst you’re definitely not going to get actually wet, for anyone particularly precious about their hair it’s maybe advisable to at least tie it back.

Is it scary?
I would use the word thrilling rather than scary. Sure enough the RIB can get up to some great speeds but it’s incredibly enjoyable in the same way a roller coaster is. There’s always somewhere to hold onto and there were people of all ages on board my trip proving that it was enjoyed cross generationally.

What safety precautions are taken?
Lifejackets are provided and must be worn at all times. It’s a self inflating one and is very lightweight so you wouldn’t really notice you’ve got it on. Equally there are children’s lifejackets and facilities for toddlers too. Thames Rocket is fully insured and also has ‘full Public Liability Insurance to four times the legal requirement level is in place as standard.’

Where does it go from?
The rides take place from two locations. I went from London Eye Pier which is just to the left of the London Eye when facing the river, but they also have a departure point for certain trips from the Tower of London .

thames rockets london

What will I see?

Many of London’s most iconic landmarks are along the Thames and it’s definitely a great way to see many of them from a completely different perspective. Even the launching point for the boat is right next to the London Eye and opposite the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben.

Some of the top sights along the route are;

  • The Tower of London- Home of the  crown jewels, where Anne Boleyn was beheaded and the home to various exotic animals over the years incoming a polar bear!
  • HMS Belfast  – WWII ship and the first ship to fire shots on D Day. Decommissioned in the 70s, it’s now a museum.
  • The Shard – The tallest building in western Europe.
  • Shakespeare’s Globe – Replica building and one of the most popular theatres in London.
  • Blackfriars Bridge – Attractive bridge featuring decoration only seen from the water such as columns decorated on one side with seabirds and on the other with fresh water birds as it’s the divide between fresh water and salt water in the river
  • Tower Bridge – The most famous bridge in London and one of the most famous sights with it’s beautiful twin towers.

 

tower bridge by boat

tower bridge by boat

Canary Wharf by boat

shard through tower bridge by boat

What are the guides like?
Our guide was very friendly from start to finish, not only was he making every laugh and creating a great atmosphere but he was also very knowledgable about the sights along the river.

As we went past a variety of spots he would give us a brief guide to each of the locations and made personal recommendations. For the Americans on board who hadn’t visited London before he was a good source of knowledge and even for us Brits then he had some lesser known facts that I actually had to Google when I got home as I didn’t know how I hadn’t learnt them previously. (I’ll let you find out for yourself what they were.) thames rocket guide

thames rocket

 


For more information visit –

https://www.thamesrockets.com
https://daysoutnow.co.uk.

 

The Ventnor Fringe | A visitor’s guide

Now in it’s tenth year, the week long Ventnor Fringe takes place in July in Ventnor, a town in the south of the Isle of Wight. It’s a celebration of culture, and hosts some rising stars of comedy, arts, music, theatre and performance at a number of venues around the town.

The headquarters of the fringe are at the Ventnor Exchange which is somewhat a creative hub in itself. Featuring inspiration for the events and a small record store it’s also a top spot for craft beer.

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Ventnor Fringe has become one of the UK’s most popular fringe festivals and is inclusive in that as well as the ticketed events there are also many free acts to see as well as a number operating on ‘donation requested’ entry.

There are over 100 shows in quite diverse venues including the harbour, a laundrette, a horse box pop up, Ventnor Park and even a bus! It has a much more laid back feel that Edinburgh Fringe and attracts a mix of locals and visitors which gives it a friendly and fun atmosphere.

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What you need to know

Tickets

Tickets are available for purchase;

  1. Online –  at http://www.vfringe.co.uk
  2. In person at Ventnor Exchange – 11 Church Street, PO38 1SW Open 9am – Midnight
  3. On the door – Tickets will be available on the door for many events but do check before going as some shows may be sold out. Cash only.
  4. By phone – 01983 716767

Venues

Almost every conceivable place and many you wouldn’t expect have been turned into venues for the fringe. Some are permanent spots with others just being pop ups for the week.

The comedy & cabaret tent as well as the Magpie are both housed in the Parkside area. Complete with giant connect four, table tennis and table football, it’s a fun and pretty area with a bar serving cider, wine, beer and a few spirits. The park itself is full of colourful flowers and for the fringe the area is decorated with colourful flags and bunting making it a very pleasant area to relax before & after a show. There are a couple of food vendors serving cream tea and crab sandwiches. Toilets are in the form of portaloos.

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Another lovely venue is the Ventnor Arts Club. It was an old Art Deco bank which has been converted into a cinema and events venue with a cool bar and luxurious arm chairs to watch the performances.

Just oppose the Ventnor Exchange is the pretty St Catherine’s Church is a delightful venue for smaller more intimate shows.

Other venues include; Pier St Playhouse, Hygeia House and the ‘Book Bus’ outside St Catherine’s Church.

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What kind of acts will you able to see at the Ventnor Fringe?

One of the best things about the Ventnor Fringe is the sheer variety of performances. The best bet is to get hold of one of the Fringe Guides from either the Ventnor Exchange or one of the many cafes in town offering them and have a flick through the ‘what’s on’ section.

There’s some great comedy acts on in Ventnor Park. Taking place shortly before Edinburgh Fringe means that some of the top up and coming comedians want to test out their performances so many of the UKs top new talent often appear.

The Book Bus is famous for it’s spoken word, whilst Harbourside holds many musical performances of a variety of genres including DJs and live bands.

There’s also plenty of plays and immersive theatre as well as street performances for free!

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Where to Stay

Budget – East Dene Stop & Stay is a no frills accommodation offering self catering from only £26 per person per night. It’s located in Bonchurch Ventnor and is suitable for groups as well as singles.

Luxury – The Royal Hotel is less than a 5 minute walk to Ventnor Park where many of the shows take place and only a few minutes more into the centre of Ventnor. It’s a charming hotel with an outdoor pool, splendid afternoon tea and classically decorated rooms.

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Camping – Whilst there aren’t any campsites central to Ventnor there are a number a short ride away which make for very pleasant and affordable stays. Click here for a selection.


 

For more information visit;

https://vfringe.co.uk

 

 

The Royal Hotel Ventnor | Isle of Wight

Located in trendy Ventnor, The Royal Hotel is a 4* award winning hotel that has continued to preserve it’s title as the Isle of Wight’s top hotel due to it’s ability to preserve the features of a classic hotel synonymous with British hospitality yet add modern touches like a beautiful swimming pool.

It’s a Victorian style design with a delightful lawn and garden area. I was lucky enough to have glorious weather when I visited and the gardens were popular every day with guests enjoying the flowered gardens and views down to the coast while relaxing with a drink or ordering the popular afternoon tea.

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Dining at The Royal Hotel, Ventnor

The Royal is able to boast that 98% of its staying guests dine at the restaurant and it’s easy to see why. The hotel has achieved 2 AA Rosettes for its food for over 20 consecutive years and has appeared in every Michelin Good Food Guide since the guide was created meaning it is one of the top restaurants on the Isle of Wight.

The main dining room itself is grand and some guests chose to dress up to dine, but I was in slightly more casual attire and still didn’t feel out of place. The staff were happy to recommend dishes and I chose the garlic butter lobster and a generously sized sticky toffee pudding for my dessert.

If you’re looking for an Afternoon tea on the Isle of Wight then the Afternoon Tea at the Royal Hotel is clearly very popular for both residents and visiting guests. Served between 2pm and 5pm you have the choice of tucking into your selection of sandwiches and cakes either in the conservatory or the gardens themselves, surrounded by colourful flowers and a picturesque lawn. There is a choice of afternoon tea including the champagne tea, and the sweet treats themselves were varied and filling. Favourites included a rich lemon tart and the fruit scones, but there was almost too much (which is a rarity with an afternoon tea) and the staff suggested I boxed some up for later on.

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The rooms
There are a number of different levels of rooms at The Royal Hotel. My room was a garden view and as well as the lawns below I could actually see all the way out to the coast which was a lovely surprise. The rooms are classically decorated yet not cluttered and as my window opened all the way up I actually loved sitting on the windowsill and enjoying the sea breeze.

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Each morning the receptionists delivered a copy of the Guardian at my request and I also enjoyed the other small touches such as the postcard picturing the hotel which I found on my dressing table, ready stamped and ideal to send back home.


Facilities 
Having a dip in the swimming pool at The Royal Hotel was actually the first time I’ve been in an outdoor pool at a hotel on the British Isles. It’s at the bottom of the lovely gardens and has comfortable day beds to relax with a G&T when you’re in a need of a rest from exploring the island.

During my stay there were a few artists performing in the lobby area and a number of guests had a coffee or afternoon drink in the comfort of the light & airy space whilst watching the singers and pianist.

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The Royal RIB

The hotel has it’s own RIB or Rigid Hulled inflatable boat and for guests staying 5 days or more they offer a free day out on board. I booked a shorter trip from Yarmouth as my dad had been very specific that I couldn’t come to the Isle of Wight without going to see The Needles. Probably the most famous landmark on the IOW The Needles are three chalk white stacks grandly protruding out of the water up to 30m high. They lead up to the Needles lighthouse and the whole area is a beautiful coastal region including multi coloured sand cliffs.

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It was my first time on a RIB and I was surprised as to how comfortable it was. Able to take up to 8 people at once there were a few places to sit including the red sofa-like back area complete with handles to hold when the RIB went up to high speeds, and indeed it can go fast with it’s 300 horsepower engine! We sped out to The Needles themselves and having never been on a RIB before I was pleased to see that we actually stayed completely dry.

To book a ride on the RIB enquire at reception or call 01983852186.


It is easy to see why The Royal Hotel is not only one of the top hotels on the Isle of Wight but also home to one of the Isle of Wight’s best restaurants.

To book a stay at The Royal Hotel | Click Here

A day in Guernsey | Guernsey Port Guide

When I initially looked at the destinations I would be visiting on my cruise with Princess Cruises from Southampton then Guernsey wasn’t the one I was most excited about. I had naively expected it to not be that different to what I’d seen before in the UK, but I will happily be the first one to hold up my hand and admit that I loved Guernsey and it was actually one of my favourite days of the cruise. Guernsey is just off the coast of Normandy, France but a British Crown Dependency which technically means it’s a self governing place for which the United Kingdom is responsible. In reality it means it feels like a delightful mix of traditional British charm mixed with French influences and of course it’s unique personality.


How to get around

Guernsey has a fairly good bus system and it’s pretty cheap to ride, with most tickets around £1. However they aren’t always that frequent so do be sure to check the timetables especially if you have a ship to get back on at a certain time.

There are a number of taxi services on Guernsey, all of which need to be booked in advance.

If you’re happy to get some exercise then Guernsey is actually a very pleasant place to walk around, and the lack of busy roads means it’s fairly safe even if there isn’t a footpath.


What to do

Visit some of the beaches & bays

I’d heard about Guernsey’s beaches before visiting and I’d been told ‘the water looks like the Med’, however I’d passed this off as nonsense until I actually visited myself. Now I’m the person saying it to others who haven’t been, because it’s true! The water in some of the beautiful bays around the island is turquoise and streaked with other blues making it look like water you’d expect to see by the Greek Isles.

Guernsey’s beaches are vast and clean, particular favourites include Vazon Bay, a haven for those who enjoy extreme sports. Favoured by surfers, kitesurfers and bodyboarders it’s home to Guernsey Surf School which runs classes for all ages and abilities.

Pembroke Bay & Chouet Bay are north of St Peter Port and easily accessible by bus. Virtually deserted when we visited they are a peaceful and beautiful place to visit, with only the neighbouring golf course and odd ice cream stand in sight.

Check out the Loophole Towers

The loophole towers were originally 15 towers built along coast to deter possible French attacks; 12 towers still remain. The towers had three floors and were all built in the same style at 9m tall.

Explore St Peter Port
Charming Saint Peter Port is the capital of Guernsey and the main port. It’s a picturesque town with narrow cobbled streets decorated with flags & bunting making it a colourful and pretty place.

As well as many British high street stores you might recognise it’s also home to many individual boutiques and shops. The port itself is lovely to sit by and there are some delightful cafes nearby including Cafe Emilia as well as traditional fish & chip shops such as The Chip Inn.

Visit the Little Chapel
The Little Chapel is one of Guernsey’s top attractions and for good reason. It’s a 9 foot long and 4.5 foot wide chapel decorated with broken china, shells and bottles resulting in a colourful and unusual design that glistens in the sunshine. Built by Brother Déodat it was designed as a miniature version of the famous grotto and basilica in Lourdes.

The chapel is free to visit and relies on donations from the public, it’s served by bus route 71.

May – Sept daily 9am – 6pm
Oct – Apr daily 9am – last light

Visit the lovely Candie Gardens
Candie Gardens is an award winning restored Victorian flower garden. Lovingly maintained these gardens are a tranquil place commanding great views out to the port.

They are home to the oldest known heated glass-houses in the British isles, as well as cafe serving afternoon tea, a museum and art gallery. The Guernsey Museum & Art Gallery and is open daily 10.00-17.00hrs (closes at 16.00hrs 1st November to 29 March). Closes 25th – 26th December and 1st – 31st January. The Library is open from 09:30-17:00 Monday to Saturday, excluding Public Holidays.


For more ideas here is my Guernsey vlog from my visit.


To book a cruise with Princess Cruises that stops at Guernsey click here. This article was written in partnership with Princess Cruises.