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A Travel guide to Hamburg, Germany’s Second City

Last August I had the pleasure of flying to Germany for the first time when I was invited on a fantastic summer time press trip! I had met the wonderful Jessi Schmidt, the face of the Hamburg Tourism Team, at Traverse 2017 in London and we had a really great meeting where we talked all things travel, she introduced me to her city and I introduced her to my blog. We really hit it off after partying together at the Traverse closing event, but even so I was still pleasantly surprised when I was contacted by Jessi a few months later asking if I wanted to Come to Hamburg with her to explore her home city! It didn’t take too much to convince me and, naturally, I said yes! Despite never really knowing much about Hamburg or having it particularly high up on my bucket list, I have always wanted to visit Germany and so jumped at the chance to attend my third press trip of the year. Jessi had put together a fantastic itinerary for myself and 4 other bloggers over a weekend in August, and here’s what we got up to during our time there, and my top recommendations for Germany’s second city…

 

 

Visit the infamous Reeperbahn

 

 

Perhaps one of Hamburg’s best known areas, the Reeperbahn is a mile long street which is full of life and a must see during your visit. Despite it’s seedy reputation for sex, drugs and for being home to one of the biggest red light districts in Europe, the Reeperbahn looks totally ‘normal’ during the day time and is quite a striking area, but after dark it transforms into a neon jungle and comes alive at night. Located in the St Pauli district, and brimming with bars, cafes, shops and restaurants, the Reeperbahn is just a short metro ride from the city centre and attracts thousands of tourists year after year. We walked along the road after taking a street art tour and then went on to visit other areas in St Pauli. My favourite building on the Reeperbahn was this cleverly designed office block which really reminded me of the famous Dancing House in Prague! Can you see the similarities too?

 

 

 

Explore the historic shipyards

 

 

The first thing we saw on our first day in Hamburg was the impressive shipyards, which are probably the most famous area of the entire city, and the most historic too. Founded in 1189, the Port of Hamburg is the second busiest port in Europe, and nicknamed Germany’s Gateway to the World. It’s harbour occupies a large chunk of land and is sat on the River Elbe, just over 100km from the North Sea. As central Europe’s main port, the shipyards have played a major part in Germany’s maritime history and it’s strategic location has been a huge factor to its success. We actually walked up a mini hill opposite the port where we could get a good spot overlooking the harbour front, ready to watch the sunset over the shimmering waters below. Our tour guide gave us an insight into some of Hamburg’s maritime history, and the role the port had played over the centuries, and I found it really interesting and loved learning a little more about a city which is largely unknown to me.

 

 

Go stand up paddle boarding

 

 

So I know this isn’t your average city break activity, but when I’m on press trips I like to take part in all aspects of the itinerary and really like to challenge myself. I had never been stand up paddle boarding before and thought that was only done in the sea, so I was a little apprehensive about doing it on a cold river which looked just as uninviting as the Thames in London! It was a relatively warm day though and the sun was starting to break through the clouds, so after arriving at the super cool Supper Club Hamburg, I decided to get my bikini on, grab my oar and get out on the water! After a brief safety lesson the rest of the group and I had made our way out on our boards and onto the Outer Alster Lake, one of the tributaries of the Elbe River. We spent a couple of hours meandering around the lake, going under bridges and passing numerous Hamburg landmarks along the way. I found SUP’ing quite difficult at first, mainly because I was scared of falling in the dirty waters, but once I’d found my balance I soon started to relax and really enjoyed the experience – what a quirky, alternative way to discover a new city!

 

 

Attend a festival

 

 

Summer is always a great time for a city break, but August turned out to be a brilliant time to visit Hamburg as there were a number of different festivals on during the weekend we were there. On our first night we headed to the local fun fair, with tonnes of rides, an enormous ferris wheel, plenty of stalls and bars and home to the biggest portable rollercoaster in Europe! This place actually reminded me a lot of Winter Wonderland in London, just minus the Christmas theme, and the night ended with fireworks which was a great way to finish our first day. Our second night was spent at the famous Vogelball, an annual live music festival with funky stalls, pop up street food and quirky entertainment. Although the music wasn’t really my kinda thing, I embraced it and really enjoyed my time there, plus getting our hair and make up done beforehand was a real treat! Our last day ended with the ice cream festival, and we definitely saved the best til last! I bloody love ice cream and was running around like a big kid trying out as many different flavours as I possibly could, whilst learning all about how different ice cream is made, of course. There are many different festivals on in Hamburg throughout the summer, and I was lucky enough to experience three of them in my two nights there which really added to my trip.

 

 

Wander down by the water front

 

 

This area of Hamburg came as a total surprise to me and I had no idea it existed until our last day! After our itinerary had ended we had a few spare hours before our flight back to London and so a couple of the other bloggers and I took it upon ourselves to do one last bit of exploring before we headed home. We weren’t sure what we were looking for but knew that we wanted to find some good food and do a little sightseeing, so we were in luck when we found the water front with its array of gorgeous restaurants and pretty central square! We wandered over to the water front and sat down for lunch at one of the busy restaurants, admiring the enormous fountain which shot up into the sky, reminding me of the Jet D’Eau in Geneva. After lunch and a little exploring, we stumbled upon the gorgeous St Michael’s Church and the impressive Rathaus Building (City Hall) – I’ve included a photo of this at the bottom of the post as this place really caught my attention, and was one of my favourite things about this area.

 

 

Where to stay

 

 

We actually stayed a little out of the city, in the brand new Prizeotel Hotel which had not long opened. I really loved the style of the hotel, with it’s cutting edge design and futuristic/space theme, and the rooms were compact, cosy and perfect for what we needed. I did think it was quite far out of town though, as we had to get in taxis to get into the centre and couldn’t really walk to any local shops or bars, although there was a metro station about 10 minutes away which was well connected to the rest of the city. I think if I were to visit again I would definitely stay somewhere more central, perhaps towards the old town area where the Rathaus Building and water front was, as this was my favourite area of Hamburg.

 

 

Where to eat/drink

 

 

There are hundreds of places to eat and drink in Hamburg, namely the Reeperbahn and St Pauli districts if you’re looking for somewhere lively. On our first night we ate at a trendy Mexican restaurant in St Pauli but there were loads of places to choose from in the area. We had a little showaround of a few restaurants as part of our street art tour earlier on in the day and got a good feel for the place. Dinner for our second night was at the Vogelball festival and we just grabbed some street food, so I didn’t really try any typical German food during my time in Hamburg but I hope to do this on my return visit one day. The Fishmarket down at the harbour front is a must-see if you’re wanting to taste some of the freshest fish in the city, although this wasn’t really for me as I don’t eat fish, I heard great things about it – especially the live music which kicks off early in the morning!

 

Have you ever been to Hamburg before? What did you think of it? It’s quite a large city and not easy to get around on foot, so we used our Hamburg Cards to make use of the excellent public transport links, including the metro, buses and yellow taxis. I am hoping to return to Germany at some point this year as I have my eye on a Christmas Market break to Berlin in December, but I definitely need to see how my travel plans go for the rest of this year first! Big thanks again to Jessi and the Visit Hamburg Team for putting on a fantastic weekend and for looking after me during my time in the city.

NB. My flights, hotel, transport and activities were all sponsored by the Visit Hamburg Team as part of the Come to Hamburg initiative which invites bloggers, journalists and press members to experience Hamburg for the first time, but all thoughts and opinions are of course my own.

 

 

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Why Nendaz, Switzerland Should Be on Your Bucket List – AllTheRooms.com Guest Post!

 

Last year I took the trip of a lifetime and spent a summer in the beautiful ski resort of Nendaz, nestled in the heart of the Swiss Alps. 4 other bloggers and I were invited by Travelopo and the Nendaz Tourism Board to stay in a fantastic ski chalet and admire everything that the resort had to other. We had a fantastic itinerary, a wonderful home for the week and plenty of things to keep us occupied on what was my first ever visit to Switzerland. I had never though to visit a ski resort in summer before, but I was completely blown away and had an amazing time. I’ve been thinking a lot about my trip lately and reminiscing over on Instagram, so when I was approached by travel startup at AllTheRooms about hosting a Nendaz guest blog on my site I jumped at another chance to showcase this incredible resort to all of you guys, my fantastic readers. Here’s why the team at AllTheRooms think Nendaz should be your pick for a Swiss mountain getaway…

 

Perched high in the Swiss Alps, Nendaz looks like the kind of place where James Bond would slip out of some chic chateau and race down the slopes with masked bad guys at his heels. Mr. Bond may not have the time to fully appreciate the panoramic views of the dramatic peaks and deep valleys, nor the long list of outdoor activities for those looking for adventure, but luckily, you do. For those of you who have dreamed of an escape deep into the Swiss Alps with nothing but powder, wonderful views and incredible hikes to fill your days, Nendaz deserves a place on your bucket list.

 

  1. The skiing, of course!

 

Image courtesy of AllTheRooms

 

Located at the heart of the famed Four Vallees, Nendaz gives you access to 92 lifts and over 250 miles of runs in the immediate area. We recommend you check out Mont-Fort, Verbier, La Tzoumaz and Bruson. If you want to venture to another area, bring your skis over to the Sector Printse, where you’ll find 50 lifts and more than 130 miles of runs. It’s hard to go wrong when choosing between the two as both offer incredible slopes and scenery. Four Vallees is significantly larger and better known, so Sector Printse may feel a little more off the beaten track. However, you can’t really go wrong with either. Both deliver an exhilarating rush.

 

  1. Walking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing

 

Image courtesy of AllTheRooms

 

Not everyone is up for the fast-paced exploring method that is downhill skiing. Some of us like to take in the scenery at a slower, steadier speed. Maybe that’s Mom and Dad, or maybe it’s a member of the group looking for a little change in routine after hitting the slopes hard for days in a row. Nendaz has over 60 miles of marked winter walking trails that beg to be explored. We highly recommend this route for photographers eager to capture the scenery. There are also numerous cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trails for people looking to cover some rougher terrain. Whichever route you choose, you’ll end up with a spectacular view.

 

  1. The weather

 

Image courtesy of AllTheRooms

 

We’ve emphasized the scenery, but one of the best parts of Nendaz is the weather. Famous for its consistently sunny weather, while in Nendaz you can expect clear days and plenty of sunshine, casting light over the incredible landscape.

 

  1. Helicopter drop-offs

 

Image courtesy of AllTheRooms

 

In another James Bond fashion, you can reserve a helicopter to pick you up in Nandez and whisk you off over the mountains to the famous Zermatt resort. Once on the ground, your guide will lead you through some of the resort’s best skiing and take you to a fine-dining restaurant for a little break from the slopes. At the end of the day, the helicopter will pick you up and bring you right back home. While the scenery is breathtaking from the slopes and the valleys, the view from above is even more stunning. A helicopter may seem a touch over the top, but we believe a Nandez vacation is one worth maximizing. Just imagine the photos and videos.

 

  1. Summer hikes

 

Image courtesy of AllTheRooms

 

Skiing is certainly the main attraction, but we have to say, Nendaz in the summer is equally impressive. Trade you ski boots for hiking boots, catch a chairlift (they run in the summer) and glide your way up the mountain to a wide range of hiking options. Simply choose a trail and enjoy the views. The temperatures hover in the mid-sixties during the summer months so the temperate climate and consistent sunshine make the perfect combination for outdoor exercise. For a cooldown, finish up the day poolside with views of the peaks.

 

  1. Nightlife bars and restaurants

 

 

Nendaz is small and doesn’t feel overwhelmingly touristy, and it also doesn’t leave you empty-handed at night time. Check out La Lanterne et le Vieux-Chalet for gourmet French cooking and a seat next to the fireplace. In the summer you can sit outside and take in the peaks while you eat. Head to Cactus Saloon for a few drinks and some live music or a DJ. Alternatively, if you feel like staying in, swing by Cafe a lait for a bottle of wine.

 

  1. Alphorns

 

Image courtesy of AllTheRooms

 

This is a page right out of National Lampoon’s European Vacation. Gather the whole group and sign up for an Alphorn lesson. Giving the instrument all the air you’ve got while looking out over the Alps is quite an experience. If you can’t quite master the horn, experts will show you how at the Alphorn International Festival held every year in late July.

 

  1. Mountain biking

 

Image courtesy of AllTheRooms

 

Like many of the world’s best ski areas, Nendaz doubles as excellent mountain biking terrain when temperatures increase. Replace white with green—get a Camelbak and spend the day on the slopes.

 

These are just a few reasons why Nendaz should definitely be on your bucket list. Have you ever been to a ski resort before? Have you done summer in the Alps or would you only go during winter? Let me know as I would love to hear from you! Thanks must go to the brilliant team at AllTheRooms for putting this guest post together for me, and for catapulting Nendaz right back to the top of my travel highlights from my amazing summer of travel last year!

Love Jess x

 

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Woovim, Nendaz: A luxury chalet review in the heart of the Swiss Alps

 

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know pretty much ALL I posted on Insta stories for pretty much every single day of my recent press trip to Nendaz, Switzerland was about my amazing chalet that I had the pleasure of staying in. I’m lucky enough to have stayed in some incredible places during my travels, from a circus themed hotel in Vienna to a luxurious private suite in London, and although I’ve had some truly wonderful accommodation experiences, my chalet in Nendaz topped them all. My stay was arranged by the fabulous team at Travelopo, and they were brilliant to work with throughout the whole process. I had the most amazing stay in Nendaz with four other travel bloggers, so here’s why this place was soooo beautiful, and why I think you too should stay at Woovim on your visit to the stunning Swiss Alps…

 

The views were INSANE

Just LOOK at those views!

 

OK, so these views need no introduction… Just LOOK at them!! They literally took my breath away every time I woke up in the morning, every time I went to bed at night and pretty much every hour of the day in between. It amazed me how much the landscape changed throughout the day, especially when it was bright sunshine and blue skies one minute, and then snowy and wintry the next! The rolling clouds that covered the mountains remained there pretty much the whole week though, and it really did feel as though we had floating in the sky most of the time… Not that I was complaining when the scenery was looking this good!

 

The rooms were super spacious

My massive room with TWO double beds!

 

I don’t think I’ve ever stayed in a chalet as spacious as this one, and boy did I make the most of it! Our chalet slept up to 14 people, so with just five of us little bloggers there was plenty of room and more for us and all of our luggage. I was lucky enough to have TWO double beds in my room, and I was star-fishing til my heart was content all week long. The girls all had rooms which were equally as spacious, and each had stunning views of the mountains and valley surrounding us. We all had our own bathrooms, most of which were en-suite, but there was at least one on every floor.

The chalet was split on three levels; the ground floor comprised of two large bedrooms (mine and one other) plus a big bathroom, small toilet room, shower and laundry room. Oh and there was a freaking SAUNA as well! I’m being serious, it was amazing! On the first floor there was a large cloakroom with a door to the adjoined garage, another bedroom and shower room, and a modern fitted kitchen with every appliance you would need in your home from home. On this floor there was also the focal point of the entire property, the wonderful open plan living room with stunning chandelier, over-sized TV and an authentic fireplace in front of panoramic windows with mountain views and sliding doors leading out to the enormous rear balcony.

 

Dinner with a view, anyone?

 

The top floor comprised of two more large bedrooms, both with en-suite, and a further shower room in the middle of them because, ya know, a girl can never have too many showers! There was also panoramic windows with views of the surrounding mountains, and I should also add that every bedroom in the property came complete with individual flat screen TVs, not that we used them during our stay!

Outside there was ample parking for at least 2-3 cars, with a small walkway to the rear balcony allowing you to access the property from both the front and back. The balcony was the place we spent most of our time, and many a photo shoot was taken there when we wore different outfits and wanted to capture the changing landscape too! The balcony was kitted out with a couple of sun loungers for catching some rays, and also had a huge dinner table that could comfortably fit up to 12-14 people which was perfect for some alfresco dining. There was honestly sooo much room we didn’t know what to do with ourselves and we actually spent more time in the chalet than we thought we would simply because we just loved it so much and didn’t want to leave!

 

The location was perfect

Our cabin in the woods; what dreams are made of!

 

Located down a steep hill in the heart of the Swiss Alps and flanked by a whole residential street full of similar chalets, our holiday home for the week couldn’t have been better situated for us to enjoy everything that Nendaz had to offer. The chalet was a 5 minute walk from the nearest bus stop, a 10-15 minute walk from Haute-Nendaz station and tourism office, and around an 8 minute walk from the InterHome office, where we picked up our keys for the property. Although the chalet was booked through Travelopo, InterHome became the point of contact during our stay for check in and check out, and were on hand to answer any urgent queries that we might have had.

 

The centre of Nendaz town

 

 

Just a 5 minute walk away you’ll find the local outdoor pool, definitely one of the must sees in the resort, and it was a 10 minute walk to the nearby Hotel 4 Vallees Spa Complex too. The two in resort supermarkets, Co-Op and Migros, were both a 10 minute walk away. It’s worth noting that hiring a car would be a really great way to explore further afield and trips to nearby Sion or Basse-Nendaz would definitely be worth a visit! Obviously we didn’t have a car so were confined to the resort, but with so much to see and do, and a jam packed itinerary provided by Nendaz Tourisme, this really wasn’t a problem for us! If we were visiting in winter I think we would have found it difficult to wade through snow and ice and make our way up and down the steep hill every morning and night, but I think you’d either have to get used to it or use your hire car to get up the driveway nice and easily. The chalet was just a few hundred meters from the start of the Sculpture Walk, one of the circular hour long bisse walks provided by the local tourism office and a great way to explore the town.

 

There was everything you could ever want and more

Umm so this sauna was opposite my room…

 

I know I’ve mentioned the sauna before, but it was honestly AMAZING and was one of the best things about our entire home! The sauna was literally opposite my bedroom and next to my shower room, so it felt super private and we definitely made the most of it during our time in the chalet. I loved the fact that we could use it whenever we wanted, especially after a long day of mountain hiking, and the views out the window too were totally stunning. Our chalet was kitted out to be super luxurious, and would be a haven for groups, couples and families alike. The modern kitchen with it’s excellent appliances enabled us to eat in most nights during our stay, saving us a lot of money as Switzerland is notoriously expensive for dining out! The open plan living room was our little hub and the place we all gathered together every morning for breakfast and every evening for dinner, and those views every time we looked out the panoramic windows never failed to leave us speechless, quite a feat considering we’re 5 female bloggers who NEVER STOP TALKING!!!

 

The verdict

Absolute house GOALS

 

So I’m pretty sure you can tell that I absolutely ADORED my stay in our dreamy chalet in beautiful Nendaz and it truly was the best place I have ever had the pleasure of calling home for the week. I get so attached to places I stay in on my travels, especially if I’m staying in one place for a whole week, and I genuinely felt so sad when the time had come for me to say goodbye! I would recommend this gorgeous chalet for anyone looking for somewhere to stay in the bustling resort of Nendaz, whether it’s in winter or in summer, and it would give any lucky guests the holiday of a lifetime.

Have I got you feeling envious yet?! I’m hoping these pics give you some serious wanderlust and will inspire you to think about staying in a chalet on your next trip to Switzerland, or any other holiday destination of your choice as Travelopo have a HUGE range of over 100,000 gorgeous villas and chalets in numerous destinations across Europe. Fancy catching some rays in sunny Majorca? What about sampling Italy’s finest pizza and pasta over in Lake Como? The possibilities are endless with Travelopo, and you’ll have the trip of a lifetime whilst staying in one of their beautiful properties. A big thanks to the Travelopo team for looking after me and my fellow bloggers on our recent press trip to Nendaz!

Love Jess x

NB. My stay in this chalet came courtesy of Travelopo, but all thoughts, opinions and photos are of course my own.

 

How to survive your first group press trip

 

Ready for the opening party of #MustSeeMenorca with @traverseevents @spain @turismomenorca @portbluehotels ☀️⛴

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on

 

Press trips. The holy grail of the blogging world, and they’re so sought after that bloggers literally compete with each other in a bid to get picked by brands and companies. I’ve never had the opportunity to attend one before, but if you’ve followed my blog lately you’ll know that I was recently invited on my first EVER group press trip, and what a trip it was! Along with 59 other bloggers, Instagrammers and Youtubers, I was invited to explore the beautiful Spanish island of Menorca as part of  the #MustSeeMenorca campaign with Jet2, Traverse, Turismo Menorca and Spain. As this was my first ever group press trip I was totally unaware of what to expect, and was a little nervous to begin with, but once I embraced everything and felt more confident, I found myself having one of the best week’s of travel I’ve ever had! If you’re about to jet off on your first group press trip and aren’t sure what to expect, these top tips might help you get through it…

 

Understand the brief before you go

 

 

This is single-handedly the most important thing you should do before accepting an invitation to attend a press trip. Check the brief that the company have sent you, go through it with a fine toothed comb and make sure you can deliver what they have asked of you before you go on the trip, and before you start to create content. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, or to tell them that you can’t deliver on a certain aspect of the brief, as they may be able to work around you so that you can come up with a compromise together. If a company have asked for daily Instagram posts whilst you’re away but all you’ve done is one tweet every other day, it’ll just reflect badly on you and look as if you haven’t checked the brief at all. Also, check that you know the right brand accounts to tag if you’re posting on social, and know what relevant links you need to include in your content. It’s something so simple, but it’ll really help to make sure you don’t miss anything and that you stick to creating the content that both you and the brand want and need.

 

Interact with fellow attendees online 

 

 

This is something I swear by, and I do it every time I’m going on a group trip or event, not just a press trip or a work related activity. I think there’s something about making friends with people online that helps you to feel less nervous about meeting them face to face, as it takes away that feeling of being total strangers and meeting for the first time. I always search the hashtag of the event/trip before attending so that I can see who else is, and say hi that way.

 

 

Before attending Traverse16 for the first time I searched the hashtag on Twitter, found a lovely girl called Lucy who was also going for the first time, chatted online with her for a bit and she then invited me to stay at hers so we could attend the conference together. Fast forward a year and Lucy and I have attended many other blogger events at the same time, become firm friends and have even taken a little holiday together! That’s the power of social media, it brings people together who have similar interests and opens up new opportunities – and sometimes it’s definitely who you know, not what you know, that can make all the difference.

 

Don’t be afraid to be a little nervous

 

Cave parties in #menorca are my favourite🍾 #MustSeeMenorca #igersmenorca

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on

 

Press trips are naturally very daunting, and often a little scary. Most of the time you’ll be going on trips with bloggers who have been doing this for YEARS and are total pro’s at the whole networking thing. At the other end of the scale though, there are always people like me who will be on their first ever press trip and that’s totally OK – we’ve all gotta start somewhere! Don’t be afraid to show that you’re a little nervous, it makes you human, and your fellow bloggers will admire you for being so honest.

 

 

Before the #MustSeeMenorca trip I posted in the Facebook group just to introduce myself and said that I was feeling nervous as my blog is so small compared to some of the other big bloggers that were attending, but I received lovely comments and messages from other attendees saying that there was no need for me to nervous, or that they were feeling the same too, and that they were really looking forward to meeting me. Little things like that make the world of difference and my nerves soon turned into excitement as my confidence was increased in no time!

 

Document everything as you go along

 

 

Make notes, take photos, record videos. Do everything you can to capture as much content as possible whilst you’re on the move. Even if you’re not required to post anything whilst you’re away, keep things for yourself so that you have a database of notes and images to work from when the time comes for your content to be created. If the deadline is a week or two after the trip has ended, chances are you’ll have forgotten some of the most important aspects that you wanted to write about, so by keeping that database you can keep your memory fresh, and your content will be as accurate as possible. Don’t forget to keep your phone location switched to ON so that you can record destinations as you go along without even realizing it – super handy when you come to post a photo on Instagram two weeks later and can’t remember the name of the location!

 

 

Be honest and open with your group at all times

 

 

Luckily, I’m a terrible liar and am pretty transparent. I’m always open and honest with people, and I know they find it easy to tell when I’m upset, or when I’m not well. On one of the days of the #MustSeeMenorca trip I felt really poorly, had a banging headache and could barely open my eyes. One of the girls quickly noticed I wasn’t quite right and nodded to one of our group leaders for help. I was taken out of the sun and offered a bit of respite for half an hour where I had something to eat and had a sugary drink to make myself feel better. Within half an hour I was fine and was able to re-join the group, but it made the world of difference knowing that I could take that time out without feeling bad about letting anyone down, and could focus on getting myself better for the rest of the day.

Coincidentally, I think some people from our group thought that I might just have been drunk/hungover on that day as we had just left the gin distillery, which probably didn’t help! When I re-joined the group for dinner a couple of people had asked why I had been poorly, and I mentioned that I suffer with headaches on a daily basis, although some days are worse than others. It was at this point that I decided to open up to a small number of my new friends in the group and I started talking to them about my medical condition, and how it affects me in day to day life, as well as when I’m travelling. After a few minutes they were really supportive and I think they really respected that I had opened up to them. It made them understand why I had taken time out of the trip that day, not that I needed to have a reason to justify myself, but I’m a very honest person and I think they appreciated that too, just like I would have done if someone else had been in my position that day! If you’re feeling down, you’re feeling poorly or you’re just feeling not quite right – TELL someone, and don’t suffer in silence. You are not alone.

 

 

Special thanks to the lovely Nicola, Pete, Pedro, Nienke, Steve, Eileen and Georgie who listened to me rambling on that lunch time 😉 It really meant the world to know I could open up to you about something so personal to me. <3

 

Most importantly… just be yourself

 

 

This goes without saying. You do you. Just be yourself. Don’t try to act like someone else to fit in with the crowd – this isn’t high school! Get to know as many people on the trip as possible, say YES to as many activities as you can, embrace new experiences, make new friends and push yourself out of your comfort zone. If you can do all of these things whilst staying true to yourself then you’re on to a winner and will get the best possible experience from your first group press trip.

 

 

These steps really helped me to have the best time away during my first group press trip, although I know people work in different ways and no two press trips are ever the same. I feel very fortunate that #MustSeeMenorca actually felt more like a holiday than a press trip, and it allowed me to make new friends, grow in confidence and enjoy exploring the island. It didn’t feel like work one bit, but I know many trips have strict itineraries, deadlines and a set amount of required content, so by following the steps above you can prepare yourself to get as much out of the trip as you possibly can.

 

 

I hope these tips have been helpful! Have you ever been on a group press trip before, or are you planning on attending one in the near future? Let me know your thoughts as I’d love to hear from you! My next group press trip will be to the gorgeous Swiss resort of Nendaz in July and I’ll be working with the Travelopo team and 4 other fabulous bloggers to bring you some exciting content – watch this space!

Love Jess x

NB. All photos are my own, unless the embedded Twitter posts say otherwise. Thanks also to Spain for the featured image! A big thank you again to the wonderful teams at Spain, Turismo Menorca, Jet2 and Traverse for hosting my first group press trip, and for making it so special!

 

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Highlights from #MustSeeMenorca: My Favourite Spanish Island

So #Menorca's harbours look pretty special in the sunshine ⛴⛴ #mustseemenorca #spain #visitspain #igersmenorca

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on

 

Two weeks ago I was lucky enough to be selected to go on my first ever group press trip and I had the most amazing time! Along with the brilliant teams at Jet2, Traverse Events, Turismo Menorca and Spain I headed off with 59 other bloggers, Youtubers and Instagrammers to explore the beautiful island of Menorca. Although this place is the smallest of the Balearic islands (excluding Formentera), it’s right up there with its sisters Majorca and Ibiza and is brimming with gorgeous white sand beaches, crystal clear turquoise waters and so many things to see and do. This was my fourth visit to the island but my first as an adult and it made me appreciate it’s beauty, culture and charm so much more! Here are my highlights from my trip and why I think you #MustSeeMenorca too…

Watching the sunset from Illa Lazareto

 

 

On our first night in Menorca we took a short boat ride from the pretty port of Es Castell over to Illa Lazaretto, an old quarantined island which has remained largely untouched since it was used to house terminally ill patients of various diseases. We wandered around the former grounds of the hospital wings, the communal gardens and the old chapel and the whole island felt very eerie, almost haunted, and I could just sense the history that was there. We had the privilege of watching the most glorious sunset over the harbour and across Es Castell, but it was a sight in itself to see 60 bloggers snapping away furiously with their Go-Pro’s, iPhone’s and DSLR cameras all trying to get the perfect Instagram shot!

 

Partying in Cova D’en Xoroi

 

 

This was probably my favourite part of the entire trip; partying in a bar in a cave on the sea – could it get any better than that?! Our closing party took us to the amazing Cova D’en Xoroi, a place I went to when I was 7 years old but could barely remember, so I was super excited to be attending again, and this time I could have a drink or three 😉 We had a wonderful time dancing to music, drinking cava, and watching the most glorious sunset over the Mediterranean sea. This place is an absolute MUST when visiting Menorca and it’s not hard to see why!

 

Exploring the white washed village of Binibeca

 

 

Another part of Menorca I had visited when I was a little girl, but didn’t realise until I got home and showed my mum this photo! Binibeca was a real hidden gem, and probably the most beautiful village I have ever had the pleasure of visiting. With its black lampposts, tall trees and white washed buildings, Binibeca makes the most picture perfect shots. You’ll also find a couple of small shops, restaurants and a doctors surgery on site whilst it’s location at the edge of the sea offers the most stunning views of the turquoise waters below.

 

Walking around the old capital, Ciutadella

 

 

The capital of the island  until 1722, the gothic city of Ciutadella is definitely worth a visit during your time in Menorca. The city is home to cobbled streets, local markets, a pretty harbour and the most stunning cathedral. Ciutadella is considered the most religious capital of the island, compared to Mahon, the new capital, and is visited by large numbers of tourists year after year. Why not taste some of the Spanish delicacies at one of the many food markets before wandering around the harbour or people watching along the side streets? There’s so much to see in Ciutadella – we spent our last day there and it was the perfect ending to a wonderful week!

 

And exploring the new capital, Mahon

 

 

Known for it’s striking architecture, it’s bustling streets and it’s busy port, Mahon is the proud capital of Menorca and boasts that it’s the birthplace of Mayonnaise, or ‘Ma-hon-aise’ as it’s supposedly pronounced! Mahon also has the one of the largest natural harbours in the world, stretching 900m wide with gorgeous clear waters. Getting around on foot is definitely the best way to see the city, and exploring the little side streets, with their wonderful array of restaurants, bars, cafes and shops, makes for the most delightful afternoon. My favourite part was walking along the harbour and taking a boat trip from the port, but don’t miss the stunning Church of Santa Maria too, with history dating back to the 1200s!

 

Kayaking in Cala Galdana

 

 

I was super nervous about kayaking for the first time… water sports are not my strong point despite having jet-skied, boat-tripped and para-sailed in the past! Let me tell you now though that kayaking was one of the hardest physical things I have ever done, but definitely one of the most rewarding. Luckily, I partnered up with the lovely Paco from the Spanish Tourist Board and he was amazing, doing most of the work whilst my poor arms couldn’t cope with the tremendous amount of rowing that was required. Sorry Paco – I’m useless and have no upper body strength! Our time on the water saw us speeding across the open sea, entering dark caves, cruising into little coves and we even stopped for a swim and a snorkel whilst enjoying crisps and drinks on the rocks. Kayaking definitely isn’t for the faint-hearted, but it was hands down one of the best things I’ve ever done and I’m so glad I got to do it with all of my wonderful Menorca buddies!

 

Visiting the highest point of the island, El Toro

 

 

El Toro is an absolute must see when visiting Menorca, and for very good reason. Drive (or hike, if you’re feeling brave enough) up to the top of the highest point of the island for the most spectacular panoramic views below. You’ll get to see the rest of the island from every angle, and you’ll also get to visit the Sanctuary of the Virgin of El Toro, a stunning 15th century baroque-style church. To the front of the site you’ll see the iconic statue of Jesus of the Sacred Heart with his arms stretched wide, said to be blessing the Menorcans who died in the Spanish Moroccan wars of the 20th century. This place felt truly special, and the views were completely stunning.

 

Tapas eating in every kind of Menorcan restaurant

 

 

We all know that food is a big part of any trip abroad, but even more so when you’re visiting Spain; the home of Tapas, Paella, Gazpacho and many more iconic dishes. As you’d expect, meal times were one of the focus points of our press trip and I think we were all desperate to enjoy a true taste of Spain during our time in Menorca. My favourite restaurant was La Minerva in Mahon, a floating restaurant in the middle of the harbour that served up the most amazing Tapas, seafood and more. I’m not the most adventurous person when it comes to food, I try as many new things as I can, but I’m happy just to stick to plain foods as 9 times out of 10 I get sick when I start eating things that are rich, or that my stomach isn’t used to! Luckily I pushed myself a little on this trip and managed to try new things that I never would have picked if I was travelling alone – cuttlefish and squid being two of my new feats, although Tapas will always remain a firm favourite of mine!

 

Other important parts of our trip

During our time in Menorca we stayed in the stunning Hotel San Luis PortBlue in the peaceful resort of S’Algar, just a few minutes walk from the waterfront where you’ll find a small selection of restaurants and shops. The resort itself was super quiet and I normally prefer staying somewhere more lively with more places to go and more things to see and do, but as we had jam packed itineraries for the entire week, it made a nice change to have a sleepy resort to be based from! We each had spacious and modern double rooms with en-suites, desks, LCD TVs and the most amazing sea views across S’Algar… I’m definitely missing waking up to those every morning!

 

 

Obviously, the main reason we were all visiting Menorca in the first place was to attend the two day conference held at the luxurious Barcelo Hamilton Hotel in Mahon. Our hosts put on a fantastic event with inspiring talks from speakers, enjoyable group challenges and plenty of time for everyone to get to know each other a little better. We were also treated to a fantastic display of foodie treats throughout the two days and admired the gorgeous sea views from our central location. My favourite part was our mini closing party on site, where we spent time drinking cava from the rooftop terrace complete with bar, hot tubs and the most amazing views across the harbour below!

 

Rooftop views and cava to end day 2 of the #mustseemenorca conference at the beautiful @barcelohamilton 🍾🍾 #menorca #Spain

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on

 

So there we are, the highlights from my #MustSeeMenorca trip – an unforgettable week with so many memories, and there were so many more I could have picked! I posted tonnes of photos on my Instagram  whilst I was away and received so many comments from lots of you saying that you wanted to hop on a plane and join me out in Menorca! I hope you all get to visit one day, and I just want to say a huge thank you again to the fantastic teams at Jet2, Traverse, Turismo Menorca and Spain for hosting our trip and making it so wonderful – our week in the sun definitely felt like a holiday and not a press trip! Have you ever been to Menorca? What were your favourite parts? I’d love to hear your Spanish stories!

Love Jess x