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A Travel Guide to Cornwall: The Capital of the South West

 

Located on the southwestern tip of England, and famed for its sandy beaches, rocky cliffs and glorious bays, the rugged county of Cornwall offers the perfect stay-cation to thousands of holiday makers year after year. The Cornish Riveria is home to popular seaside resorts, beautiful harbour towns and awesome surfing regions too, offering a fun filled family holiday or weekend break. Whether you’re going surfing in Sennen Cove or fishing in Falmouth, you’re sure to have an amazing holiday with so many things to see and do. I’ve been going to Cornwall almost every year since I was a six month old baby and, to this day, I never tire of its beautiful scenery and it’s long sandy beaches. I love Cornwall so much that I thought I’d put together a round up of my top things to do in one of the UK’s most loved go-to getaways at any time of year, and with a little help from the guys over at Clickstay, you can find your dream Cornish holiday home too…

 

Stand on the edge of England at Lands End

 

My whole world in one picture, at our favourite place

 

I don’t know what it is about this place, I can’t help but feel emotional each and every time I visit. I’ve been going to Lands End, the most westerly point of England, for years now; I’ve been as a baby, as a child, as a teenager and as an adult, and each time I go I get the same feeling. I get goosebumps on my arms,  shivers down my spine, and tears running down my cheeks. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve stood near one of the cliff edges, standing alone and just gazing out into the sea, lost in my own thoughts. As the name suggests, standing in those places and looking out to sea literally does make it feel as if you’re standing on the edge of the world, at the place where the land ends, and it’s pretty damn special if you ask me! As well as offering stunning views across to the Atlantic Sea, you’ll also find a whole host of fun things to do for all the family, including exploring one of their interactive exhibitions, playing in the park, visiting the wildlife centre and stopping off at the  shop and large restaurant.

Go surfing in Newquay

 

Image courtesy of Visit Cornwall – I only have hard copy photographs from my time in Newquay a few years ago but  they’re all in the loft!

 

Newquay is perhaps one of the best loved surfing spots in the whole of the UK and for very good reason. With its large sandy beach, crystal clear waters and awesome tidal waves, Newquay provides the perfect surfers paradise and attracts thousands of tourists year after year. Some of the UK’s surfing competitions are held there and their surfers rank amongst some of the highest in the world. There’s more to Newquay than surfing though, with its busy high street and pretty promenade which is popular with locals and tourists alike. This seaside resort is located on the North Atlantic coast of Cornwall and offers one of the best beaches in the entire county. As well as surfing, Newquay is also famed for its vibrant nightlife and is often a hit with men and women on stag and hen do’s looking for a memorable weekend away down on the Cornish coast. The last time I went to Newquay I headed straight to the Sealife Centre to discover some of our beautiful marine life and spent an afternoon in the sunshine devouring homemade ice cream – bliss!

 

Go mermaid spotting in Zennor

 

Image courtesy of Encounter Walking Holidays (I don’t have any pics from my time in Zennor when I was a little girl!)

 

I love a good fairytale, and Cornwall has myths and legends at every corner, which is one of the main reasons I find it so magical! The Zennor Mermaid is something that has fascinated me since I was a little girl, and it still continues to do so even now… Legend has it that Mathey Trewella, son of the local churchwarden, became transfixed with a female parishioner who attended services and sang every hymn sweeter than all the rest. With her enchanting beauty and haunting voice, Mathey followed her home and was never seen at Zennor Church again. Years passed and, one Sunday, a ship allegedly cast anchor in a nearby cove prompting a mermaid to rise from the ocean and beg for the anchor to be removed as it was trapping her home beneath the sea. Recoiling in horror, the sailor quickly set sail believing that the mermaid was an ill omen and that she would curse them. When the villagers heard of this, they agreed that the mermaid was the same lady who had long visited their church, and that she had enticed Mathey Trewella to come and live with her under the sea. Today, the famous “mermaid chair” at St. Senara’s Church can still be seen and is one of the popular tourist attractions in Cornwall, putting Zennor firmly on the map for centuries to come.

 

Go back in time at Tintagel Castle

 

Image courtesy of English Heritage – sadly I haven’t managed to get to Tintagel yet!

 

This medieval fortress is one of the best known in the whole of England, and one of the most visited too. Located in North Cornwall, Tintagel Castle was built in the 13th century by Richard, first Earl of Cornwall, and was settled during the early Medieval period. The castle was believed to have fallen into disrepair and was left to rot for hundreds of years before archaeological investigation on the site began in the 19th century. Like many castles in England, Tintagel was linked to yet another hisotric myth, this time the legend of King Arthur, where the castle was believed to be the place of his conception. Since the mid 1900s the castle has been turned into a major tourist attraction and is now owned by Prince Charles and managed by English Heritage.

 

Celebrate the New Year on St Ives Harbour

 

Fireworks over the beach on NYE

 

I’ve only actually done this once, and I can’t believe I haven’t done it more times if I’m honest! I love celebrating New Years, even more than I love Christmas, because I love the idea of reflecting on the past year but also looking forward to the next year ahead too.  My family and I celebrate NYE together every single year and last year we went to St Ives for the first time during the festive period. It’s an old tradition for everyone in St Ives to wear fancy dress on new years eve, with literally EVERY SINGLE PERSON in the town going all out and dressing up – you end up looking pretty stupid if you DON’T dress up so we knew we had to go hard, or go home! Once we’d picked our outfits we headed down to the main street to do a pub crawl. Everyone tends to have the same idea and it’s so much fun looking at all the different outfits – I was people watching til my heart was content! Just before midnight everyone runs down to the harbour to get their spot for watching the fireworks over the sea, and there’s then a marching band that goes on parade up and down the harbour front and off onto the cobbled side streets. The whole night was amazing and we had so much fun! I would highly recommend St Ives for NYE for a quirky, alternative place to go – it definitely beats queuing in clubs and paying for overpriced drinks!

 

So there we have it, just a few of my top picks for your visit to this beautiful county. Whether you’re off surfing, rock pooling or standing on the edge of England, you’ll be sure to have a fantastic time. Have you ever visited Cornwall before? I’d love to know what you thought of it! Don’t forget to find your dream holiday home with Clickstay to make your holiday extra special.

Love Jess x

NB. This post was brought to you in collaboration with holiday rental company Clickstay, but all thoughts & comments are of course my own.

A Little Life Update… Where I Was vs Where I am Now

Don't look back… You're not going that way! ✈️🌎 #Venice #Italy #Venezia #wanderlustwednesday #noregrets

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Hi everyone,

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas filled with lots of love, fun and laughter – I know I did! The festivities feel like they’re well and truly over now though and, although I do love Christmas, I am so excited for the new year to arrive and for a fresh start. I’m looking ahead to all my travel plans for 2017 but am also reflecting and putting together my end of year review, with my top highlights from 2016. First though, I thought I’d share a very honest post with you all. As some of you will know, 2016 was a huge turning point in my life, for very personal reasons, and here’s why…

I lost 2 family members

 

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For the first time in my life, I lost 2 close family members. My Aunty Pat left us in January, and my Uncle Terry passed away in July, just six months later. It was awful, I’ve never really dealt with grief, or loss before. I’m lucky that, at the age of 23, none of my close family members had passed away, until this year. My nan gave us a scare too – she has had ongoing heart problems for a while now, but she collapsed and her heart stopped beating. Thank god she was in hospital at the time and was immediately brought back to life – I don’t know what I’d have done if she’d have left me. My nan is one of the most amazing, strong and selfless women I know, and she is my total inspiration. If you’re reading this nan, I want you to know how much I love you, and I hope I might have made you proud this year. <3

My health finally started to improve

 

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This is a huge positive, and one I am so happy has turned around for the better. As most of you will know, I suffer with a health condition called a prolactinoma, which is basically a small tumor on the pituitary gland in my brain. My condition seemed to deteriorate throughout 2015, when I was off and on medication and subsequently felt the worst I had ever felt. However, after a few months of yet more blood tests, eye tests and trips to the hospital I am finally in control of my condition and feel the best I ever have! My consultant and I made the decision to go back on my long term medication, and my prolactin levels have finally been lowered meaning my symptoms have disappeared and I am generally feeling much better. Yes I still have crippling headaches and yes I am often poorly, but I’m a million times better than I was last year and I finally feel happier with my health. I last went to the doctors at the end of November, and my next hospital check up is in March, so I’ll have more news then but, for now at least, I’m pleased to report that I’m feeling on top of the world… Long may it continue!

I made the decision to quit my 9-5 life

 

 

On to something less positive now, but it does have a happy ending- promise! Some of you might remember reading about my quarter-life crisis, where this time last year I had a mini breakdown. I was so unhappy with my life; I wasn’t enjoying my job, I didn’t know what I wanted to do or where I wanted to go, and I had this incurable wanderlust that made me want to travel as much as possible, although, at the time, I just didn’t know how to go about it. Then 2016 came along and, all of a sudden, this light-bulb went off in my head and I knew something had to change.

 

 

On 7th January 2016, after a few hours in my local STA Travel store in Oxford, I made the decision to book an epic Contiki trip across America, from LA to NYC, and I knew that there was no turning back. The following Monday, I handed in my notice at work. I knew that travelling across America would make me more determined than ever to travel as much of this world as I possibly could, and I knew that I couldn’t do it without quitting my 9-5 job. So I did it, I handed in my notice ridiculously early, and I started my final few months at work whilst preparing for America and then, subsequently, deciding what I was going to do when I returned.

I travelled more than I ever have before

 

 

The start of 2016 saw me take numerous trips to London and Liverpool, as well as little visits to Brighton and Bournemouth too. As you’ll know, June and July saw me travelling throughout America, across 23 states in 28 days and I had the time of my life! I visited over 25 cities, from LA and Vegas to Memphis, New Orleans, Miami and New York. I helicoptered over the Grand Canyon, parasailed over Daytona Beach, road tripped across Route 66, visited the White House in Washington and went ghost hunting in Savannah. I also celebrated 4th July in New York courtesy of my £471 flight change fees (!!!) the craziest, most spontaneous decision I have ever made, but so totally worth it!

 

September saw me travelling across Italy, from Venice to Florence to Rome, and ticking even more off the bucket list. I rode a gondola around the canals of Venice, climbed the Duomo in Florence, wandered round the Collosseum and threw a coin into the Trevi Fountain in Rome. I’m also about to embark on my last trip of the year and will be heading down to St Ives in Cornwall on Thursday ready for some new year celebrations – I’m so excited!!

 

Ride a gondola in Venice – TICK! ✅✅ Next stop Florence 🚂🚂 #bucketlist #italianescapade #tourists

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My blog continued to grow

 

 

I’m so pleased that my little blog had it’s best ever year in 2016, and I couldn’t be more thankful to my amazing friends, family and my READERS who have supported me throughout this past year. Journeys with Jessica has gone from strength to strength; we’ve had press coverage, an award nomination and our first press trip – these were things I could only have dreamed of when I first started writing back in 2014, and I still can’t quite believe that they all happened! I’m excited about the prospect of growing my blog even further in 2017 and can’t wait to continue to share all of my future adventures with you all – THANKYOU for making this all happen, I wouldn’t be anywhere without you lovely lot! <3

 

I launched my freelance business

 

 

When I returned from America in July I took a month or so off to just completely relax, see friends and spend some quality time with my family. I celebrated my mum and dads 25th wedding anniversary, went to Liverpool for a week to stay with my nan and granddad, and I went to V Fest with my cousins. I wanted to have a month where I just had FUN, lived life and totally let go. I think this was really important for me to do as it gave me perspective on what I actually wanted from life, and what truly made me happy. At the end of September I decided to launch my freelance business as an online virtual assistant, and I’ve never looked back! It’s still early days, but my client base is growing and I’m making enough money from it now to go full time – although the dream is still to be a full time blogger, and I’m hoping I’ll make it there one day! For now though, I’m super happy with my new freelance life and am looking forward to continuing this in 2017.

 

This is how I feel right now. Today I calculated that I've earnt *almost* as much each month as I was earning in my old 9-5 job! I knew I could do it!!! I've started with nothing and built up my little business all by myself. At times I felt like giving up, like I wasn't good enough, and like I had no right to make a career for myself, but today I've felt so inspired and so pleased that my hard work seems to be paying off. Any doubts that may have been in my mind have now been dismissed and I am SO excited to continue my journey in my new career and see where this takes me! Here's to future success and many more adventures 📝💻✈️🌍 #MondayMotivation #freelancer #bloglife #virtualassistant

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So that’s my little life update. I guess when you think about it, an awful lot has happened in such a short space of time! Aside from the obvious negatives, and the low points, I think that, overall, 2016 turned out to be one of the best years of my life. I had so many highs and ticked SO much off my ever growing bucket-list, and am so much happier now compared to where I was this time last year. Since October I have been freelancing fulltime whilst throwing myself into my blog too. Fast forward to December and I’m still doing both of those things whilst looking forward to seeing what 2017 will bring, and I’m pleased to announce that planning for my European Adventure is well underway… Watch this space!

Love Jess x

#summer ☀💖

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November Newsletter

Hi everyone,

It’s that time of the month again, and my jam-packed newsletter is here! As November is a five week month it’s felt like ages since I wrote my last newsletter, but I have crammed so much into these past few weeks and am so excited to tell you all what I’ve been up to! Here goes…

I celebrated Bonfire Night

 

My favourite time of year 💥🎉😍🍂 #bonfirenight #fireworks #autumn

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Bonfire Night is undoubtedly my favourite time of the year, I just LOVE it! I love wrapping up warm, grabbing a sparkler and gazing towards the skies as they light up with firework after firework. The food is a winner too, who doesn’t love tucking into a  hot dog (or three) whilst watching the fireworks go off?! I was lucky enough to go to TWO local displays this year and they were both wonderful.

I watched Ghost the Musical on stage

Musicals are soooo my thing, I love everything about them and am attempting to see as many as I can over the next few years! This year I’ve already seen The Bodyguard, Chicago and Les Mis, so watching Ghost was my final show of 2016 and what a show it was. Every single element from the cast to the music to the performance was mesmerising; I cried like a baby at the end but I loved every minute of it! Congratulations to the fantastic cast, crew and production company for putting on SUCH an amazing show.

I attended WTM London for the first time

 

 

I was sooo excited to attend my first conference at WTM London this year and couldn’t wait to start rubbing shoulders with brands, tourism boards and fellow bloggers at the biggest travel trade show in the world. I met so many people and learnt so much in such a short amount of time, one day definitely wasn’t enough to take everything in. Read all about my amazing time at London’s ExCel Centre here – I already can’t wait to return in 2017!

I won FREE return flights with Jet2.com

 

 

So anyone that knows me will know that I have really BAD luck at winning things. I never win on scratch cards, on lottery tickets or at any competition at all, until this month when I was one of 20,000 lucky people who won FREE return flights with Jet2.com’s  Name It competition! I was sooo overwhelmed I couldn’t believe it! I have the choice of visiting over 58 of Jet2’s fab European destinations in summer 2017 and I need to pick my holiday destination by 16th December, so I don’t have long! At the moment I’m torn between a cheeky week in Tenerife, or a little city break to either Dubrovnik, Geneva or Warsaw – people of WordPress… HELP ME CHOOSE! I might run a Twitter poll because I genuinely can’t decide.. watch this space…

I visited London three times in space of 7 days

 

 

It’s no secret how much I love London, and I was delighted when I recently got the chance to visit the city three times in the same week. I did some sightseeing on the Southbank, some wandering around Winter Wonderland and accidentally stumbled upon the UK premier of Fantastic Beasts in the middle of Leicester Square! London is looking particularly beautiful now that all the Christmas lights are up, and I just love the city at this time of year.

I entered Accor Hotels latest competition

 

 

I found this competition after scrolling past something on Twitter but I was also emailed directly about it and was invited to enter before the deadline closed, so thought I would get my entry in nice and quickly! AccorHotels is inviting bloggers to share their top tips on how to spend 24hrs in their fave cities. Naturally, I chose to write about the Big Apple as I literally had just 24hrs there before I had to jet back to sunny London the day after Independence Day! The prize is an incredible 9 night stay in Berlin, Amsterdam and Paris which, for me, would be my total dream trip so I’m keeping everything crossed that I may have a teeny tiny chance of winning. Have a read of my entry – and GOOD LUCK to all other bloggers entering, don’t forget to use the dedicated hashtag #AccorHotels24Hrs

I spent a festive day at Winter Wonderland

 

 

If you follow me on Instagram you’ll know I’ve been to Winter Wonderland recently as my feed is FULL of festive images from my day out there a couple of weeks ago. London’s Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park is celebrating it’s 10th anniversary this year, and my fourth annual visit to the wintry spectacle certainly didn’t disappoint! I had a wonderful time and already can’t wait to return next Christmas (am I really thinking about next Christmas already?! Time – Please. Stop. Going. So. FAST!!

I reviewed a lovely hotel at the heart of the Cotswolds

 

Another day, another hotel review! Wonderful stay in the heart of the #Cotswolds – full review and blog post coming soon! #Oxfordshire

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Last weekend I had the pleasure of staying in one of the cosiest Cotswolds retreats, The White Horse Inn at Duns Tew. I was reviewing the Inn on behalf of a PR company and had a wonderful time. The staff made us feel so welcome, the room was sooo nice and cosy, and the dinner and breakfasts the next morning were AMAZING! The White Horse Inn was such as lovely location to spend my last weekend in November, and I would whole-heartedly recommend it to those looking for the ultimate getaway at the heart of the Cotswolds. Full review and blog post coming soon!

So there we go, I told you I’d had a busy month! It seems like November has gone by nice and slowly, and has given me chance to catch my breath after my hectic summer and busy autumn. I can’t quite believe we are about to enter our final month of 2016 though, where the HELL has this past year gone?! I’m in full festive mode now, I’m halfway through my Christmas shopping and I’m looking forward to the big day. Have you got yourself prepared for Christmas yet? Are you spending the festive period away from home? Tell me all your plans!

Love Jess x

 

Unexpectedly #London bound… Again! ✨💃 #selfie #happytuesday #backtomyfavecity

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Surviving your first time at WTM London

 

Had so much fun @wtmlondon earlier on this week! Blog post coming soon! #WTMLDN #london #LDN #ExCel

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Hi everyone,

So last week I attended WTM London for the first time EVER and I had the most amazing time! For those of you who don’t know, WTM is the biggest travel trade show in the world and is held in London every November for three days, at the ExCel Centre. Anyone and everyone from the travel world is present at WTM, from tour operators and tourism boards to hotels, airlines and resort representatives. I consider myself to be a little blogger in a big, big travel pond, so I was understandably nervous/excited about the prospect of attending WTM for the first time! Here’s my guide to surviving your first time at this fantastic exhibition…

Fail to prepare, prepare to fail!

 

 

I can’t stress how important this is when attending WTM for the first time! I feel as if I prepared as much as I possibly could by navigating the website, booking meetings, looking up lectures and planning my journey in advance before the big day arrived. I made sure I planned my tube route (although this changed due to station closures on the day!), I made sure I knew where my meetings were and what stands I wanted to visit, and I made sure I knew which lectures I wanted to attend. Planning in advance really helped me to calm my nerves and take everything in my stride when I eventually arrived on the day. I also reached out to other bloggers who had attended before, Eileen from Crooked Flight held a fantastic webinar which was super helpful and I was SO glad I watched it before I attended!

 

Just one of the fab exhibitors @wtmlondon this year! #WTMLDN #mexico #tourism #TravelTuesday

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Don’t get me wrong, I  was totally overwhelmed by WTM; the ExCel was absolutely enormous and I felt so out of my depth! I had lost my voice and had a terrible cough that day, so I think that just affected my confidence at first, but once I’d had a few meetings and started speaking to more people I felt much more comfortable and began to enjoy myself a bit more! Make sure you research the companies you have meetings with, know the name of the person you’re going to be speaking to, and make sure you know what it is you want from WTM. I wanted to meet with tourist boards and enquire about potential press trips, as that’s the direction I want my blog to take, but others may want to become a travel trade consultant or progress their careers in the industry, so talking to specific brands about what you want to achieve is key to success at WTM.

 

Make sure you look the part

 

 

Treat WTM as you would treat a professional meeting, or a job interview. I wore a skirt and top to look smart, and I took a blazer too but wore flats as I knew I would be doing a lot of walking! I feel I looked professional but not too over the top, and hopefully I went for style as well as comfort! Jeans and a t-shirt is a definite no-no; most of the guys were in suits or a shirt and trousers, whilst most of the girls were in dresses, smart tops and trousers or skirts and tops like myself.

Book meetings in advance

 

 

Booking meetings ahead of my visit to WTM really helped me to plan my day. It also ensured I could spend a certain amount of time meeting brands and a certain amount of time attending lectures, so I could balance my day correctly. I found the WTM website to be extremely helpful when planning; you can contact brands directly, find out about all the lectures and speakers and even see the full A-Z list of exhibitors who will be present each day. There’s also a WTM app which you can download and use to interact with brands and speakers on the day, making sure you’re super involved throughout the whole process. You can also use Twitter to mention brands and exhibitors in your tweets, showing them that you’re excited about the big event and that you’re planning it before you’ve even arrived… everyone loves a build up!

 

Print your media kit and take plenty of business cards

 

And I was sooo pleased with how my press pack turned out too! Who else took one to @wtmlondon this year? #London #WTMLDN #ExCel

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I have never printed my media kit as I think carrying prints around is very old-fashioned, but I am so glad I took copies to WTM with me! I printed around 20 of them, and had 100 business cards on me which was plenty. I gave all of my media kits out, and around 30-40 business cards too, as not everyone wants to see your media kit. I made sure my media kit was given to people I had meetings with, and people that I approached who I was really keen to work with. The beauty of presenting a media kit is that it gives you something to visually share with the person/company you’re approaching, and I think it makes you stand out over someone who is just there to drop off a business card.

 

Look up the lectures you want to attend

 

This was my holy grail @wtmlondon – wouldn't have survived without it! #London #WTMLDN #ExCel

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I think WTM is all about time planning, especially if (like me) you only have one full day there! To me, the lectures are just as important as meetings with professionals, you can learn a lot from the speakers and the Q&A sessions, so I was keen to catch as many lectures as I could during my day. It helped to look them up in advance so I could ignore any irrelevant ones and focus on the ones I really wanted to attend. The WTM guide that is handed out to you upon arrival is really helpful in terms of planning, but there are giant boards and maps dotted about too so that you can get your bearings and make your way to the lecture halls on time. Be sure to arrive early to make sure you get a seat!

 

Catch up with your fellow blogger friends

 

 

WTM doesn’t have to be totally serious; yes, you’re there to learn and meet professionals from the travel industry, but it’s s really great place to have some fun too. I met up with three of my fellow travel blogger friends whilst I was there- Emma (Paper Planes and Caramel Waffles), Kate (Kate Victoria Photography) and Mel (Footsteps on the Globe) – and we hung out, took photos and attended lectures together. It’s really nice to see a few friendly faces during what can be quite a stressful day, so I really enjoyed spending some time with these girls!

Follow up after the event

 

wtm1

Following up afterwards is just as important as attending the conference on the day! I did my follow ups yesterday, a week after attending, and sent emails to brands I met and had proper meetings with throughout the day. Following up doesn’t have to be in the form of emails though, you could interact with the brands on Twitter, make it fun, make yourself memorable! Keep in contact and you never know where your initial meetings might lead to in the future.

So there we have it, my ultimate guide to surviving your first time at WTM London. Have you been before? Are you wanting to go next year? Sharing is caring, so I’d love to hear any tips you have too!

Love Jess x

 

Where can you visit every country in the world, all under one roof? @wtmlondon of course! #WTMLDN #london #LDN #ExCel

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How to plan the perfect Italian Escapade!

Hi everyone,

So as you’ll probably know, I’ve just returned from yet ANOTHER trip of a lifetime; a wonderful Italian Escapade visiting some of the country’s most beautiful cities. My sister and I flew from London to Venice, and then caught the train to Florence and onwards to Rome before flying back to London. We had an incredible 9 days filled with lots of fun, laughter and SO. MUCH. SIGHTSEEING!

We effectively did three city breaks all in one go and, you know the best part? We planned it all totally by ourselves! No fees, no appointments in store, everything was booked online ourselves and we saved £500pp compared to quotes we received from a well known travel agent! £500pp?! That’s a whopping £1000 between the two of us – say whaaaatttttt?!-  I’m here to show YOU exactly how we did it, without the need for a travel agent! And as if by magic you can now BOOK the exact same trip I planned in one easy step – scroll down and read the last paragraph for details! In the meantime though, here’s what we got up to, and how you too can plan the perfect Italian Escapade…

So we've made it to #Venice and it is BEAuuuutiful 😍😍😍

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The cities

Italy is such a beautiful place, with tonnes of cities up and down the country brimming with history, culture and a whole host of iconic landmarks that are just waiting to be ticked off the bucket list! We chose the top 3 most visited; Venice, Florence and Rome, but you can pick whichever cities you like and work your itinerary around them. I’ll do full city guides on all three in the coming weeks and post these separately on the blog, but for now I’ll introduce you to them briefly:

Venice – the city of love; think candlelit al-fresco dining, gondola rides and bridge after bridge crossing the Grand Canal. Venice is a city unlike any other I’ve ever been to before;  its unique, pedestrianized centre is full of tourist attractions and getting around the city by boat is an experience in itself! Venice certainly isn’t cheap, but it’s well worth a visit – we stayed for 2 nights and felt that was definitely enough time to see everything.

Ok so I can't leave #Venice out – just LOOK at it 😍🇮🇹 #Italy #ig_italy #venezia

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Florence – ah beautiful Florence, this place has it all! From climbing the to the top of the cathedral for panoramic views across the city, to strolling along the Ponte Vecchio bridge on the River Arno and watching the sunset cast its shadow, Florence is as pretty as a picture and offers a range of things to do. We stayed for three nights and used the Hop on Hop off bus as a way to explore and find our bearings. The city’s cobbled streets and lively piazzas are a haven for locals and tourists alike and there’s something happening on every street corner.

Rome – the eternal city, and my absolute FAVOURITE! I wouldn’t normally go back to somewhere I have been to before, as I’m a firm believer that we should always try new things and experience new places, but I will make an exception for Rome. I fell in love with it from the minute our taxi passed Piazza Repubblica on that sunny Tuesday afternoon! Think London and New York, but with thousands of years history instead of just a few hundred and you’re pretty much there. Rome is like an open air museum, there is something to discover on every road, in every alleyway and down every side street. The Collosseum and Trevi Fountain were personal highlights for me, but I guarantee you will fall in love with every aspect of Rome if you choose to visit!

Rome's Collosseum- colossal in every way! 🏟🏟 #Rome #Italy #ig_italy

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Other Italian cities that I REALLY wanted to visit were Pisa, Milan and Verona, but we just didn’t have the time. We were thinking of doing a day trip on our last day in Florence, either visiting Pisa and it’s legendary leaning tower, or hiking the stunning Cinque Terre and ticking 5 more Italian villages off our lists, but sadly we couldn’t make it work in our already packed schedules, so decided to spend more time exploring Florence instead. If you have a few extra days though, I’d highly recommend taking a day trip from Florence as you can see everything you need to there within 2-3 days and have an extra day for exploring somewhere new. You could also take a day trip to Pompeii from Rome and discover the historical volcanic site, which is now one of the most popular tourist attractions in Italy with over 3 million visitors per year.

**TOP TIP – If you are planning a day trip away from your cities, book online before you go for the best deals, don’t leave it until the day as many trips are full day ones starting at 7 or 8am and they get booked up fast!**

Beautiful by day ….

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#Florence sunsets 😍🌅 #Italy #visitflorence #nofilter #takemeback

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The transport

Once you’ve flown to your first city, getting around Italy is super easy, and we used the well organised, high speed trains during our visit. I booked train tickets a few weeks in advance to get the cheapest rates, but you could just turn up at the station and buy a ticket if you needed to, I don’t think there was too much difference in price. I’d highly recommend trainlineeurope and goeuro – they also offer reduced tickets for those under 26 which is well worth taking advantage of. It was around 50 euros for both of us to get between Venice and Florence and then between Florence and Rome.

In terms of flights, good old EasyJet worked a treat for us, it cost £70pp for a one way from London Gatwick to Venice Marco Polo and then £79pp for a one way from Rome Fiumicino back to London Gatwick. Just bear in mind that you’ll need to book your airport transfers too – especially in Venice. We booked a private shared water taxi (super cool speed boat just for us and two other ladies) online with HolidayTaxis for £70 and this got us there in next to no time. We could have just turned up and taken the public ferry for just 15euros each, but this would have taken well over an hour and the ferry’s get so full, especially with peoples suitcases. If you’re on a budget, go with the ferry but if you prefer to arrive in style definitely pre-book a water taxi; it started off our holiday so nicely!

Arriving in style by private water taxi! Bonjourno #venice 🙋 #Venezia #Italy #wanderlustwednesday

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We also pre-booked our train tickets from Rome Termini station to the airport for just 14euros pp – much cheaper than a 50euro taxi, and we arrived in half the time! We used standard cabs when getting between Florence’s Santa Maria Novella train station and our Florence hotel, and between Rome Termini and our Rome hotel, and they weren’t too pricey but, depending on where your hotel is, I’d avoid cabs if you can as they can be very costly.

**TOP TIP – Save money on luggage if you’re traveling with airlines like EasyJet as they charge per bag. We took one 20kg suitcase (£38) plus one carry on case (free of charge) between us and this was more than enough!**

**COST – £140pp for flights there and back, booked separately with Easyjet. £38 for one suitcase. £70 for private taxi in Venice. 10euros for private taxi in Florence (each way). 5 euros for private taxi in Rome (each way). 25euros pp for train between Venice and Florence. 25 euros pp for train between Florence and Rome. 15euros pp for train transfer between Rome Termini and Rome Fiumicino airport. **TOTAL – approx. £265pp on transport.**

Sometimes a Hop on Hop off bus is the best way to see the #city #sights! #Rome #italy #wanderlustwednesday #citysightseeing

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The accommodation

This is something that should be entirely down to your personal taste, depending on if you prefer hotel or hostel and luxury or budget, but I found that having a nice hot shower and a lovely warm bed to come back to after a long day of walking was soo nice and I wouldn’t have swapped our hotels for the world! We knew hotels in Italy were going to be pricey, so we gave ourselves a maximum budget of £300-£350 for the two of us for 3 nights. Granted, Venice cost us that for just two nights, but we did expect that.

Little #Italian hotels with cute Italian decor! #Venice #Venezia #Italy #wanderlustwednesday

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We found that all our hotels were very centrally located; close enough to get to where we needed to get to without being noisy at night. Our Venice one, Hotel Gorizia, was located right in the middle, and we were surrounded by bustling shops and restaurants down every tiny side street. Our Florence one, Hotel De Rose Palace, was a little further out than we thought it would be, and was a good 15-20 minute walk to the historical centre, but we could walk along the River Arno past all the wonderful bridges so it felt we weren’t too far from the charm of the city. Finally, Hotel Opera Roma was a 4* luxurious property right at the heart of Rome, just seconds from via Nazionale, the main strip of the city. Bars, restaurants and shops were within easy reach and the landmarks were all within a 10 minute walk – I’ll be posting a full review of this hotel on my blog in due course.

Another city, another hotel! 🛌 #Florence #firenze #italy #hotel #wanderlustwednesday

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Depending on your budget, I would say hotels are definitely a great option giving you a place of comfort each night after a long day’s walking! Some days we walked between 12 and 16km exploring our new surroundings, so it was lovely to be able to get some decent sleep and have a nice hot shower before we got up and did it all again. If hotel’s aren’t your thing though, have a look on Air BnB or see which cheap hostels you can find if you have less of a budget.

**TOP TIP – Don’t forget that almost everywhere in Italy (and other parts of Europe) now charge a city tax per person for each night of your stay. This is charged upon check out and the cost varies depending on the class of your hotel ie. you’ll be charged more if your hotel is a 4 or 5* as opposed to a 2 or 3* property. Make sure you leave yourself with some cash upon check out as it is mandatory to pay this tax – ours was around 3-4 euros per night per person.

**COST – £350 for 2 nights at Venice hotel. £300 for 3 nights at Florence hotel. £350 for 3 nights at Rome hotel. **TOTAL – £500pp approx. on accommodation**

The food

Where do I even BEGIN?! Not gonna lie, the food was one of the main reasons I had always wanted to visit Italy – gimme all the pizza, pasta and gelato! Eating out can be expensive though, especially as the recommended service charge is at least 13% – not as pricey as America, but not as cheap as it is back here in the UK! I can, however, see why that charge is necessary; the restaurant trade is huge in Italy, yet the wage packets of waiters and waitresses are next to nothing. When the food is as good as it is in those little authentic restaurants though, you really don’t begrudge paying it!

Ending the day with gelato by the Trevi Fountain… Bellissimo! 🍦🇮🇹 #beautifuldestinations #ig_italy #italy #rome

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I’d say the food felt a little more ‘mass produced’ in Rome and Venice than it did in Florence, although don’t get me wrong it was still lovely and fresh, it just felt like it was served more promptly and they wanted us in and out quicker as opposed to the more relaxing vibe we felt when we were in the Tuscan capital. Make sure you try some proper Italian Prosecco during your visit – it’s not like the cheap stuff we get at the supermarket back here! And it’s reasonably priced too, approx 4 euros a glass, I paid over 5 euros for a glass of sprite one night (!) – that’ll teach me to think I’m better off avoiding alcohol 😉

**TOP TIP – Try an Aperol Spritz, one of the signature drinks over in Italy and it’s especially popular with tourists in the cities. Grab a table at a local bar overlooking the piazza and people-watch  whilst sipping on your new favourite tipple; it’s quintessentially Italian and will leave you totally refreshed!**

**COST – a meal for two with drinks and service charge ranges between 35 and 45 euros, depending on what you choose for main; fish and meat are more expensive than pizza and pasta.** TOTAL – 50- 60 euros per day on lunch, snacks and dinner.**

When in #rome – fine dining is a must! #pizza #pasta #prosecco #aperolspritz #gimmeallthefoodndrink 🍴🍸🍾🍕

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The excursions

There are plenty of trips that you can do during your time in Italy, and most can be done within the cities you are actually staying in, as opposed to venturing further out and potentially incurring more costs. In Venice we took a gondola ride for half an hour for a total cost of 80 euros. YEP – you heard me right, 80 euros!!! I know, expensive right? Butttt we had decided that it was pretty much the only touristy thing we were going to do during our 2 nights in Venice, and you can’t NOT visit the city of love without hopping on a gondola- us sisters had a wonderfully romantic time 😉

Ride a gondola in Venice – TICK! ✅✅ Next stop Florence 🚂🚂 #bucketlist #italianescapade #tourists

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Florence was the least touristy of all the cities we stayed in, but we did pay 15 euros each to discover the Cathedral in the centre and climbed the bell tower as well as exploring the baptistery, museum and the beautiful basilica as well – a great price for an all in one ticket! Most people climb the Duomo for panoramic views of the city, but we climbed the bell tower (414 steps up & 414 steps back down again) and were able to see the Duomo as part of the Florence skyline which was arguably better, in my opinion! Don’t forget to take a Hop on Hop off bus (23 euros pp for a 24hr ticket) to make your way around the entire city, and you can also explore the nearby town of Fiesole and climb Michaelangelo’s Piazza, a must when in Florence!

Panoramic views over #Florence? Yasssssss 🙌🙌 #Firenze #michaelangelo #italy #ig_italy #sundayfunday

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Rome felt like it had the most excursions on offer, particularly with the vast amount of museums and ancient sites that we were able to discover. We paid for a 1 day Hop on Hop off bus (20 euros pp) which enabled us to get around from place to place; it’s well worth getting one as Rome is huge!  You obviously don’t need to pay to see the big landmarks in Rome, such as the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps, but we did pay to gain access to the world famous Collosseum -when in Rome, right?! I’m a massive history fan and I LOVE anything to do with the ancient Romans so couldn’t wait to explore one of the oldest buildings on the planet. We turned up without booking and were sold two tickets (30 euros each) by Gladiator Tours which granted us access to both the Collosseum and the Roman Forum, both with guided tours in small groups. I found both tour guides to be really interesting and informative and it was much better than going in alone, not knowing about the facts and the history etc. Each tour lasted for around an hour and you could then spend time wandering around the attractions at your own leisure.

Made it to the Collosseum! 🏟🏟 #Rome #twinnies #matchingeverythinggggg

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**TOP TIP- If you’re using the CitySightseeing Hop on Hop off buses save your tickets and get discount off your next ticket purchases in your next city! We did this in Florence and Rome and saved 4 euros each. You can also use the buses as a way of getting from one stop to the next without feeling the need to get off – use it as your method of transport and save money on taxis and the metro etc.**

**COST – Gondola in Venice, 80 euros. Hop on bus & cathedral all in one tickets in Florence, 23 euros and 15 euros pp. Hop on bus & Collosseum/Roman Forum tour in Rome, 18 euros and 30 euros pp. **TOTAL – approx. 130 euros pp on excursions.**

The breakdown

We booked the entire trip for just over £800pp, with £400 (500 euros) extra for spending money pp when we were over there. We felt this was a fair price for a 9 day holiday, with decent flights, good accommodation and transport between each destination and airport included. If you really scrimp on meals and souvenir shopping when you’re over there you won’t spend much money at all, apart from on excursions and tours etc.

Italy offers some wonderful history, culture and architecture and you can tick plenty of wanderlust inducing landmarks off your bucket lists day after day! Getting around by train is a really efficient way to explore as many cities as possible, and you’re guaranteed to have a smooth journey between each destination. The whole trip can be as luxurious or as budgeted as you wish, but embrace the Italian culture and enjoy some of La Dolce Vita when you’re there!

So, there we have it, you’re now fully informed and able to book your epic Italian Escapade! Remember, the above was focused on our itinerary of Venice, Florence and Rome, but you can pretty much tailor this to suit your needs depending on which cities you choose for your trip.

As mentioned above, you can now book the EXACT trip I did in one easy step – just click on the link below for more details and to request a quote!

Get a quote for this trip

What did you think of my itinerary? Would you consider going on a holiday like this, and would you book it yourself just like I did? Call me crazy but I loved the whole process from start to finish, from the research to the booking to the reservations, that I’m even toying with the idea of offering my services to people just like YOU – let me know if you’d consider employing someone like me to take the stress out of booking your travel plans.. I’d love to know what you think!

Love Jess x

T H I S P L A C E 🏟🏟 #Rome #collosseum #italy #ig_italy

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