Due to my exams, I won’t be going away for a while. I’m currently living on my memories of our great holidays last year and I felt inspired to make a listicle if any of you are looking for some travel inspiration…
These are my top 5 cities from the European countries that we visited last year:
Madrid is really laid back and a great place to practice speaking Spanish as people generally prefer that. When I returned home I was much more confident with my Spanish.
My favourite part of Madrid was the gorgeous park – the Parque del Buen Retiro. It is huge and we saw some green woodpeckers which was a nice spot! There are many boulevards to walk down and its a great place to people watch as it is full of couples, kids and dogs!
Another great thing about Madrid is that is really close to loads of great UNESCO sites.
We visited 3 sites that were about an hour away on public transport and well worth the trip.
We went to Manzanares el Real and visited their beautiful Castillo. There was also a church with storks nesting on it! You can get the bus from Plaza del Castillo bus station and you’ll be there in 45 minutes…
Segovia is another great day trip, it is definitely the most touristy of all the day trips. It isn’t hard to see why it is full of tourists as it has an amazing castle and a Roman aqueduct. There are also lovely streets to get lost in full of amazing architecture including churches and souvenir shops. You can get to Segovia by the train and then a short bus trip to the centre.
Last but not least is San Lorenzo de el Escorial. San Lorenzo is famous for its huge UNESCO monastery. Normally this is the main attraction of the town. As I was there over New Year the town was full of figurines depicting biblical scenes to celebrate Christmas.
There were the usual nativity animals but there were also flamingos, parrots and a gorilla! The figures were great and the whole town was out to look at them. A great photo opportunity and chance to see some bizarre and impressive homemade sculptures. You can get there on the bus from Moncloa station in Madrid.
2. Kotor, Montenegro
Kotor is very relaxing and very beautiful. The sea inlet is incredible and you can get a great view from the castle.
If you stay in one of the residences near the lake then you can get out of bed and jump straight in the lake!
There’s also a cute little church in the old town where the vicar feeds the stray cats. I found an abandoned kitten there, so they are very lucky to have her!
If you we take her some cat food (there’s a supermarket just outside the old town) she’ll be very grateful!
3. Novi Sad, Serbia
Novi Sad is the home of Exit festival and we saw the 4 letters walk past us while we were there. The festival is in the old castle across the water and the old house nearby are the home of many nesting swifts!
Novi Sad has a charming centre with lots of pavement cafes to enjoy the sunshine. Whilst we were there the locals rolled some logs through the streets.
It was a toss up between choosing Belgrade or Novi Sad for me as both are interesting and cool cities. I chose Novi Sad for its laid back vibe. They are only an hour and a half away from each other by bus so why not visit both?
4. Pristina, Kosovo
The 2nd newest country in the world! Hence the NEWBORN sign that they are so proud of and redecorate periodically.
Pristina is a cool city and has a late night cafe culture, with loads of hip cafes and restaurants to explore.
The political situation with neighbouring Serbia is complicated as they do not recognise Kosovo as a country. We entered on bus from Belgrade and had no problems.
5. Istanbul, Turkey
I love Istanbul! There are loads of beautiful cultural places to visit, mint tea, cool districts to eat in and loads of cats! Everything I ever wish for in a trip…
We visited the usual haunts of Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, Topkapi palace and the Basilica Cistern.
I particularly loved the Blue Mosque and the Basilica Cistern.
I loved that the Basilica Cistern was so dark and mysterious as well as being full of fish! There were still loads of tourists but you get used to that in Istanbul!
We also went to the cagaloglu hamami Turkish baths which I highly recommend. The baths are located near the Grand Bazaar and they don’t look much from the outside but they are lovely on the inside! You also get a scrub down and hair wash from one of the staff as part of your treatment.
Just writing about these experiences fills me with excitement! If you visit any of these places and like them then let me know what you got up to!