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My Dubrovnik Bucketlist, Croatia’s Crowning Jewel

 

Croatia has been a popular European country for decades, with harbour front resorts, cosmopolitan cities and busy shipping ports at every corner. Croatia is famed for its blue skies, turquoise waters and charming heritage, but its crowning jewel has got to be the beautiful city of Dubrovnik. Rising in popularity due to its recent appearances in the blockbuster Game of Thrones series, Dubrovnik is one of the hottest places to visit in 2018. Luckily, I’m going to be there for the first time this summer when I embark on a cruise around the Mediterranean, and I can’t wait to explore this pretty place. So when villa rental company James Villas,who offer fantastic Dubrovnik villas in the city, asked me to put together my Dubrovnik bucket list, I jumped at the chance to create my own itinerary…

 

10.00 – Arrive in Dubrovnik 

 

 

I’ll be arriving in Dubrovnik on a flight from Manchester in the early hours so am pleased that I’ll be able to make the most of having a full day in the city. Once our luggage has been safely delivered to the ship and I’ve refreshed from my flight I’ll be ready and raring to explore the first stop on my cruise!

 

 11.00 – Head to the Old Town

 

The amazing Old Town of Dubrovnik ~ Photo @ccr135

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Nothing screams history like an old town, and if you’ve been following my blog for a while you’ll know how much I love exploring a good ancient area! As Dubrovnik has been high up on my bucket list for ages, I’ve got a good idea of what I want to see, and this historic area is definitely the right place to start. I plan on heading to the market square to look at the stalls, food halls and little cafe’s and shops and will go from there. I’ve heard it’s a cultural hub with incredible architecture and endless cobbled streets, so I can’t wait to kick off the day and explore this area.

 

12.00 – Walk along the ancient City Walls

 

Just magnificent! @miikkanevalainen #dubrovnik

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Dubrovnik is famed for its city walls, and rightly so as they wrap around the entire old town and stretch to over 2000 metres in length. Dating back to the 7th century, the fortifcations were built to defend the city from hostile forces and offer a wealth of history. I’ll be walking as far along the walls as I possibly can in the short amount of time I have and am really looking forward to seeing the city from an elevated position, I think it’ll really help me to get my bearings and get those all important Insta pics of the iconic red roofs and stone buildings!

 

2.00 – Stop for lunch at trendy restaurant Nautika

 

🙂

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A regular haunt of VIP’s and a host of celebs, I’ve heard this restaurant is the place to be to enjoy a spot of fine dining. I’m not sure if my budget will allow it, but I hope to pop by and scout it out whilst I’m in Dubrovnik. Apparently the roof terraces offer the most incredible panoramic views over the crystal clear waters below, so I’m hoping to catch a glimpse of that whilst I visit, even if I don’t end up getting a table! I’m sure there will be plenty of other places to eat though, so I can refuel ready for a few more hours of exploring afterwards.

 

4.00 – Take the cable car up Mount Srd

 

 

I’m not sure I’ll have time to do this one, but I will certainly try my best to fit it in! Cable cars are a brilliant way to see a new city as they offer wonderful views from above and are an exhilarating experience at the same time. I’ve heard it’s a little pricey, but am sure it’ll be worth it when I get to the top and the buildings turn to tiny dots as the Adriatic sea dominates the skyline. There’s also a restaurant/cafe at the summit too, which will be just perfect for snapping as many pics as I can and taking in the incredible 360 degree views… Ahhh I’m getting excited just thinking about it!

 

6.00 – Take some time out on Banje beach

 

 

This will probably be a luxury thing and something I’ll only do if I have time to spare as I’d much rather run around and explore the city instead of laze around on a beach, but this one looks really beautiful and I hope to at least take a few pictures of it, even if I don’t get the chance to soak up some rays. With it’s gorgeous white sands, bright turquoise waters and rocky cliffs, Banje beach looks like a sun worshipper’s haven and I can certainly see why!

 

8.00 – Sink a sundowner whilst watching the sunset

 

Chase the sunset 🌅 Photo @dubrovnikboatcharter

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Watching the sunset is without doubt one of my favourite things to do when exploring a new city, and I know Dubrovnik is going to be an amazing place to do this! I’m going to try and head to a bar with a panoramic roof terrace and grab a cocktail or a glass of fizz whilst watching the sun go down as it casts its orange glow over the buildings and the sea shimmers below. Sounds totally dreamy, doesn’t it?!

 

10.00 – Return to your cruise ship ready for departure

 

 

Phew, I’m exhausted just thinking about this itinerary! After a busy day of exploring I’ll be ready for a good sleep during my first night at sea and will probably welcome a day of rest on the ship the next day. I’ve certainly packed a lot in, and I’m not sure if I’ll be able to do all of it, but I’m going to try my best to see as much of Dubrovnik as I possibly can and I think it’ll be a great way to kick start my Meditteranean cruise.

 

So this is what my Dubrovnik bucket list currently looks like, and I’m hoping it’s as every bit jam packed as this when the day comes! As you can see, I literally have 12 hours to explore this Croatian gem and want to see as much of it as I possibly can during my time there. Our cruise starts and ends in Dubrovnik, so I may be able to squeeze in a couple more hours of exploring before I head back to the UK, but here’s hoping I can leave with some wonderful memories from my short time in the city. Have you ever been to Dubrovnik before? Let me know if there are any places I’ve missed that should be on my bucket list itinerary! And if you’re looking for somewhere to stay in the city, don’t forget to check out Dubrovnik villas with James Villas for a luxury alternative to a traditional hotel break!

NB. This post was sponsored by James Villas, but all thoughts and comments (and this itinerary!) are of course my own.

 

Ready for a sunday walk around the Old Town? Photo @unsettledown

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Travel Guide to Geneva, the Chic Swiss City

 

 

Last summer I had the pleasure of spending a couple of days exploring the Swiss city of Geneva. It was my first time to the city, and to the country of Switzerland, and nothing could prepare me for its undeniable beauty (and its extortionate prices!). My visit to Geneva came at the start and end of my trip to the ski resort of Nendaz, where I spent a week enjoying summer in the Alps for the first time in my life. Just a short flight from London (1h 40m), Geneva plays host to the United Nations HQ and is the perfect place for a short weekend city break no matter what time of year. Surrounded by stunning countryside and boasting an enormous, clear blue lake with the famous Jet D’Eau water fountain at its heart, Geneva is truly captivating. The cobbled streets of the old town provide history and culture, contrasting perfectly with the snazzy sidewalks of the new town, with its designer shopping quarter reflecting the city’s wealth. I only had 1 night/2 days to explore this pretty place, but here’s what I got up to during my time there…

 

Marvel at the Jet D’Eau & wander round Lake Geneva

 

Lake Geneva in the summer sunshine

 

The focal point of the entire city and probably its most famous attraction, Lake Geneva and it’s wonderful Jet D’Eau are an absolute must-see when in the Swiss capital. You can’t really miss them to be honest, and you wouldn’t want to either as they are stunning! The blue water shimmers in the bright sunshine whilst the Jet D’Eau, an enormous fountain that shoots water 100ft high into the air, dominates the city skyline, with surrounding mountains in the background. You can take a boat across the river to see the rest of the city from the water, or just simply walk around the lake and admire it from every angle whilst staying nice and dry. I walked round the lake a couple of times during my short stay in Geneva and loved nothing more than parking myself on a bench, devouring some gelato and staring into the deep blue water watching the world go by. Look out for the swans though – they are EVERYWHERE!

 

Take a stroll around the Old Town

 

The gothic St Pierre Cathedral

 

I’m a sucker for an Old Town, and I wasn’t sure where Geneva’s was during my first couple of hours as I wandered around aimlessly on my own whilst waiting for the other girls on my blogger trip to arrive. However, after consulting my map and tearing myself away from the Lake for a few minutes, I realised that the Old Town lay just behind the busy district quarter and could see the spire of St Pierre’s Cathedral peeping from behind the tall buildings. The Old Town is quite small, but really cute with cobbled streets, tiny buildings and traditional shops and restaurants. Just as you’d expect, there was a wonderful cathedral right at its beating heart, and St Pierre’s was a really beautiful church with a tall, striking spire. The Old Town is also home to the longest wooden bench in the world, The Marronnier de la Treille, and was built in 1767. At 413ft long, the bench snakes around Geneva’s promenade and is tucked behind the city hall, overlooking the pretty La Treille Park. Despite having almost every aspect of an Old Town, this area didn’t actually have a central market square from which everything centred around, and I kind of missed that element when comparing Geneva to other European cities. It is split right in half from the New Town to the Old Town though, so I guess the split kind of centres everything, I just missed having a market square to wander round!

 

Wander through Jardin Anglais

 

The famous flower clock with the Geneva ferris wheel in the distance

 

One of the most popular areas of Geneva is without doubt the beautiful Jardin Anglais. Best enjoyed in summer, the gardens are a colourful spectacle which come alive in the sunshine and create picture perfect photo opportunities at every turn. The famous ‘clock face’ is built into the floral displays and is the busiest place for a quick selfie, although you may have to battle your way through the crowds first! You can take a train through the gardens for a relaxing ride around the park, or why not hop on a boat at the edge of the pier and take a trip over the lake? There are small shops, café’s and ice cream vans at every turn offering plenty of food and drink if you fancy a picnic, but you’re still just a stones throw from the Old Town with its winding cobbled streets if you’re wanting to eat a little more substantially.

 

Shop til you drop in the business quarter

 

The water front divides the old and new town in the city

 

For a city with so much history, it may surprise you to see a vast row of ultra-modern office buildings and high end stores and eateries right in the middle of the city. Located just behind Lake Geneva, and with St Stephen’s Cathedral and the Old Town in the distance, the business quarter screams luxury and adds a new dimension to Geneva. Women totter around in high heels, guys stride confidently in their suits, and there are children being pushed in designer prams everywhere you look! Geneva is well known for its jewellery and watch-making, and this plays a huge part in the retail market here. I don’t tend to shop or spend much time in business quarters when I’m on a city break, mainly because I can’t think of anything worse than going clothes shopping when I’m abroad, but this place has a different feel to it and I was weirdly drawn to its luxurious centre. Whilst you wouldn’t catch me in Prada, I did find myself wandering around for an hour admiring all the glamorous locals and people watching to the max whilst I was stuffing my face with gelato and trying to look posh! When in Geneva…

 

Where to eat/drink

 

The marina is home to a number of restaurants, cafes and bars to enjoy

 

I had such a short amount of time in Geneva that I didn’t really get chance to sample the Swiss cuisine or try out any of the local restaurants. As I spent the night in a hostel with my blogger friends, and it was chucking it down with rain, we actually decided to get food from the supermarket for a quick meal and had a movie night in the hostel common room, chatting with fellow travellers and soaking up the bacpacker vibes before we were treated to 5* luxury in our ski chalet over in Nendaz! We passed a number of fancy restaurants by the lake and in the old town though, and they did look amazing! There were some on the waterfront with gorgeous views, and some tucked away down side streets in the old town, and they all looked super cute but quite expensive. As we were staying close to the train station, there wasn’t a large selection of restaurants within close walking distance and we didn’t want to go far as it was raining so much. If I had  more time though, and wasn’t on as much of a budget, I definitely would have wandered down to the lake to check out some of the eateries that were on offer. I know cheese fondue is huge in Switzerland (we had it loads in Nendaz!) so I would highly recommend treating yourself to this delicious dish whilst you’re in Geneva!

 

Where to stay

 

Image courtesy of Booking.com

 

As we were only there for one night at the start of our blogger trip, we didn’t want to pay a lot of money and were on a limited budget. Everything in Geneva is damn right expensive,  but when we found a hostel for £30pp we jumped for joy and booked it as quickly as we possibly could! We stayed in City Hostel Geneva which was in a great location, not far from the train station and within walking distance to all the major attractions in the city. Unfortunately it was really hot that night and the air con wasn’t great, but it was only for one night and we survived! The proximity to the train station really helped though and I would definitely recommend this place if you’re looking for somewhere cheap to stay in a city which is super expensive. Otherwise, have a look at some of the independent/chain hotels located near the train station, they all looked very fancy and expensive, but if you can afford to splash the cash then there’s no better place to do it than Geneva!

 

As you can see, my time in Geneva was short and sweet but super fun, and it made for a lovely start and finish to my week long trip in Nendaz. Although one of the most expensive cities I have EVER visited, Geneva is one of those places with serious wow factor, and you actually don’t mind paying over the odds to just enjoy being in the Swiss city. Summer was a great time to visit and made the gorgeous lake look even more blue and sparkly, but I can imagine in winter the place feels super festive and looks amazing too. Whatever time of year you visit, you’ll be sure to have a magical stay in wonderful Geneva. Have you ever been before? Let me know what you thought of it, and if it was worth the money!

Love Jess x

 

Til next time, Geneva!

 

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My 2018 Destination Bucket List

 

So I know we are well and truly in to 2018 now, but lately I’ve been thinking a lot about my upcoming travel plans for the year ahead and am itching to get away! I haven’t travelled since last September, just before I started my new full time job, which is a really long time for someone who usually takes at least one trip a month. I am restricted to annual leave this year for the first time since 2016, so I know it’s going to be tricky to tick lots off my bucket list, but if anyone can be cheeky and use their AL to the max then it’s most definitely me 😉 So after all this travel talk I was caught by surprise when the guys over at Destination2 challenged me to put together my ultimate 2018 bucket list and, naturally, I jumped at the chance to share my upcoming bucket list plans with you all…

 

Paris, France

 

So today I booked my hotel for beautiful #Paris which is the first stop on my upcoming European inter-railing adventure and it feels oh so real now! 🚂 My sister and I are heading to the French capital to devour allllll the croissants, walk along the many winding streets and soak up epic views like this from the top of the Eiffel Tower 🗼 This photo was taken on my first and only visit to the city back in 2013 when I had just one full day there to whizz around like a crazy person and see as much as I possibly could whilst on a day trip from Disneyland 🏰 This time round I plan on seeing the sights, taking strolls along the Seine and finding the most Instagrammable places in town 📸 Have you been to the city of love before? Send me your recommendations! 🇫🇷 #IgersParis #IgersFrance #VisitFrance #VisitParis #JessDoesEurope

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My first trip of 2018 will take me to the City of Love, beautiful Paris, somewhere I’ve been before but only for a day trip and I absolutely cannot WAIT to go back! I spent my first visit running around like a headless chicken trying to see the sights and tick off as much as possible, but there is SO much to see and do that it obviously can’t be done in such little time. I’m heading to Paris at the start of April with my sister as we hop on the Eurostar from London and embark upon an inter-railing adventure that’ll take us to France, Luxembourg and Belgium. I actually haven’t left the country since going back to full time work in September and I am literally just itching to get away with every day that passes. Kick-starting my inter-railing adventure in Paris will be so much fun, and a great start to the trip. We’re staying close to the River Seine and the Notre Dame, so we are hoping to tick off those as well as wander down the Champs Elysee, see the Arc de Triomph, climb the Eiffel Tower and visit The Louvre, the Sacre Coeur and the Moulin Rouge too. I cant wait to get back to the French capital and I couldn’t think of a better place to kick off my 2018 travel plans.

 

Bruges, Belgium

 

It's that time of year where I'm thinking of my upcoming travel plans for 2018 and I've got such itchy feet! 👣 I haven't been out the country since September, which is soooo long for me especially as I've spent the past year and a half taking at least 1 trip a month! I'm starting to go abit crazy as I haven't travelled for so long, and I just want to hop on a plane, or train, and get back to exploring ✈️🚂🌍 I don't have long to wait until my first trip of the year though as I'm going interrailing (again) over the Easter period. My sister and I are starting in #Paris and ending up in the beautiful Belgian city of #Bruges – somewhere I have wanted to visit for agessss! 🇧🇪 We can't wait to wander round the old town, see the beautiful belfry and eat allll the chocolate waffles 😋 Have you ever been to Bruges before? Send me all your tips! 📸 – my lovely pal @ambermarie1912 . . . #travel #travelblogger #travelblog #interrailing #europe #city #citybreak #travelgram #instatravel #darlingescapes #explore #travelmoment #igersbruges #brugge #belgium #igerseurope

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After visiting Paris and Luxembourg, the third and final stop of my inter-railing adventure will be the fairytale Belgian city of Bruges and I am equally as excited for this place as I am for Paris. There’s just something about Bruges which looks so magical, especially the gothic architecture, the picturesque river and the vibrant market square. We plan to hit up the museums, wander along the river and check out the historic buildings including the City Hall, Belfry, Basilica of the Holy Blood Church and St Salvator’s Cathedral. We’re going to be eating copious amounts of crepes and waffles and chocolate whilst we’re there and plan on doing this every single day! We’re also hoping we might be able to squeeze in quick day trips to both Ghent and Brussels too whilst we are on the way back to London via the Eurostar, as I’ve heard great things about both cities and it’s always nice to tick even MORE things off my ever expanding bucket list!

 

Rotterdam, The Netherlands

 

 

After spending a week inter-railing in April, my next trip at the end of May will take me on my first visit to the Netherlands and I’m looking forward to visiting my 23rd country! I’ll be in Rotterdam for 3 nights for the annual Traverse conference, a fantastic event which connects brands and bloggers from all over the world. The final schedule for the conference hasn’t been released yet, but I’ll be at the opening party on the Friday night, then at the conference all weekend before flying home on bank holiday Monday. I haven’t heard  a lot about Rotterdam so I have no idea what to expect but I know it’s a super cool city with lots to see and do. I’m actually using the Eurostar AGAIN on this trip as I’ll be spending one day and one night in the Dutch capital of Amsterdam before heading over to Holland’s second city. I have wanted to visit Amsterdam for soooo long and I’m super excited I’ll be there this year, even if it is only for a short amount of time!

 

Dubrovnik, Croatia

 

 

I’ll be having a few months break in between my trips in May and then subsequently in August, when I’ll be taking my first EVER cruise! Ahhh I’m both nervous and excited in equal measure as I get ridiculously travel sick (especially on boats) but I’m hoping that the ship will be so huge I won’t feel anything and I’ll be completely fine… *fingers crossed!* My cruise is a trip around the med and, after starting in Croatia, I’ll be heading to Malta, Sicily, Greece and Montenegro. I am so intrigued as to what the cruise will be like and how I will find it, especially as I’ve never spent any length of time at sea before! I’m looking forward to lots of sun, sea, food and drink though as I spend a whole seven days relaxing. Kicking off in Croatia will be wonderful and Dubrovnik, with its ancient city walls and historic buildings, is somewhere I’ve been dying to visit.

 

Valletta, Malta

 

 

The second stop of my cruise will the Maltese capital of Valletta and I’ve heard so many great things about this place. Listed as the 2018 European Capital of Culture, I think Malta is seriously underrated and is the perfect place for a quirky, alternative city break. Like with most of the places on my cruise, I only have one full day to explore but I’m definitely going to walk around the city walls and see as much as I can. There will be sun, sea, history and culture aplenty in Valletta and it’ll be another new country for me to tick off too. My cruise is a family holiday with 13 of my crazy family members and I am sooo excited for us to all be together and make tonnes of new memories!

 

Mykonos, Greece

 

This is a little different to my last few posts, but are you dreaming of blue skies, bright sunshine and warm sands? Yep, me too! ☀️Luckily there's a brand new, wanderlust inducing post on the blog coming soon and it's all about my 2018 Bucketlist 🌍The list includes multiple city breaks round Europe, a Mediterranean cruise and I've been daydreaming about a beach holiday to somewhere like this beautiful place.. hands up who's been to #Mykonos before?! 🙋 Sadly I haven't yet, but I'm hoping to visit this Greek gem one day! 😍 📸- my work BFF @schipps88 . . . #travel #travelblog #travelblogger #wanderlust #worlderlust #inspo #inspire #travelgram #instago #travelphotography #beautifuldestinations #darlingescapes #ig_captures #europe #greece #mykonos #igersmykonos #igersgreece #luxurytravel #travelmoment #tourism #igtourism #travelbug #instatravel #instapassport #europe_vacations #turismo

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The Greek party capital and somewhere that is fast becoming the new Ibiza, Mykonos is Europe’s answer to paradise. With it’s crystal clear turquoise waters, white sand beaches and endless infinity pools, Mykonos has it all. Since starting my new job as a villa rental co-ordinator, Mykonos is one of the destinations I look after and I’m hoping that I might be able to go on a fam trip to the island this year to inspect our existing villa portfolio. There’s something about the Greek island that just screams luxury and I would love to spend a few days exploring the island and seeing what it has to offer. Spectacular sunsets are on the cards most evenings, and I know Mykonos is famed for its rocky landscape too. Here’s hoping I can take a trip to this pretty place at some point during 2018, if work allows me too of course!

 

Lisbon, Portugal

 

 

The Portugese capital of Lisbon is somewhere I was supposed to visit a couple of years ago, but sadly I never got round to booking my flights and it just didn’t happen. My parents actually met on holiday in Portugal over 25 years ago, when they were both young and carefree and enjoyed a real life holiday romance (it lead to marriage and three kids, so it does happen guys!) so I think I’ve wanted to visit Portugal for a long time. Lisbon looks super cool, unusual, vibrant and I’m sure there’s plenty of history to uncover too. I’ve also heard it’s got a brilliant foodie scene and I think it’d be a great place to go for an autumnal city break later on in the year. Although I don’t have any firm plans to visit Lisbon yet this year, I always see cheap flights on Skyscanner and I’m sure I can squeeze in a cheeky weekend away before the year is out!

 

As you can see, I’m quite ambitious with this year’s bucket list and I’m only 70% sure that I’m going to get to visit some of these places. I certainly won’t be able to do them all, but what can I say? I like to aim high! My firm travel plans include my European inter-railing adventure in April, my long weekend exploring the Netherlands in May and my Mediterranean Cruise in August, but after that who knows?! I’m hoping to try and squeeze in a couple of short UK mini breaks this year too as I still haven’t been to Dublin and Edinburgh yet (bad Brit, I know) and I love to make the most of my weekends whilst I’m working full time. Where are you hoping to head to this year? Let me know as I want to hear all your plans! Don’t forget to check out the wonderful Destinations2 website and blog for plenty of travel inspo over the next 12 months…

Love Jess x

NB. This post was brought to you in collaboration with Destinations2, but as always all thoughts are of course my own.

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48 Hours in Ljubljana, Slovenia & a Fairytale Day Trip to Lake Bled

 

 

I know I start most of these posts with the same line, but if you’ve been following my blog for the past few months you might remember my travel guides to Warsaw, Prague and Salzburg from my autumnal inter-railing adventure last September that I took with my friend Toni. We spent nine days travelling around Europe and had the most magical time. The last stop of our adventure was lovely Ljubljana, and I think we certainly saved the best til last! This was my first visit to Slovenia, and it’s capital city had been high up on my bucket list for the past couple of years, since the tourist hype from the fairytale Lake Bled found its way on to my Instagram feed. My time in Ljubljana exceeded all of my expectations, and I had the most amazing couple of days which ended my inter-railing adventure perfectly. Two nights/three days was definitely enough time to spend in the city, and I even had time to take a full day trip to Lake Bled and explore some other beautiful areas too including the stunning Vintgar Gorge and the medieval town of Skofja Loka. Here’s what not to miss during your stay…

 

Look out for the numerous city bridges

 

 

As Ljubljana is fairly small, it’s super easy to walk around and it helps that it’s connected by a series of historic bridges in the middle!  Well known for being home to no less than SEVENTEEN bridges, the Slovenian capital is a visual treat and it’s bridges add to its interesting history. My favourite ones were the iconic Triple Bridge, Dragon Bridge and Butchers Bridge too. Dating back to the 1800s and at the heart of Preseren Square – the focal point of the city – the Triple Bridge is the city’s most famous and most visited too. I also loved the Dragon bridge which was built in 1901 with yep, you guessed it, huge green dragon statues at the end of each walkway. The Butchers Bridge is lined with glass walkways giving a view of the Ljubljanica river below, and the support cables either side are decorated with ‘lovelocks’ left by tourists and locals alike. I walked along these bridges many times during my stay to get from one end of the city to the other as they connect the old town with the new town and I found it to be a great way to get my bearings and explore the area!

 

Cross over the Ljubljanica river

 

 

Ljubljana is a modern, up and coming city with cool bars, nice restaurants and plenty of green spaces in between.  If, like me, you love nothing more than wandering around for hours and exploring a new city on foot, you will fall in love with Ljubljana. During the summer months I imagine the streets will be packed with tourists, but during my visit in September it was fairly quiet and we pottered about quite happily. Much like the bridges, the Ljubljanica river is at the heart of the city and its’ one of the most well known features. The city comes alive at night, and the numerous bars, cafe’s and restaurants that are dotted along the riverbanks make it a vibrant place to be no matter what time of year you’re visiting.

 

Climb up to the top of the castle tower

 

 

One of my favourite things to do when exploring a new city is climb a tower, or find a castle, or do BOTH! Luckily in Ljubljana I was able to do just that and discovered the medieval fortress that has been present since the 11th century. The castle was thought to have been constructed in the 15th century, and it’s prominent position on top of a hill enables it to take in some spectacular views over downtown Ljubljana below. After a short walk from the central Preseren Square, Toni and I took the funicular up to the top of the castle fortress where we were treated to stunning views over the city below just as the sun was starting to set. Exploring the castle grounds at dusk was a magical experience, as was catching the last of the sun’s rays as the red roofs shone in a bright orange glow on our first afternoon in Slovenia… Truly mesmerizing!

 

Take a day trip to Lake Bled…

 

 

Despite only having two nights to cram everything in, we knew that no visit to Ljubljana would be complete without a day trip to the most talked about lake in the world right now… the stunning Lake Bled! The wanderlust inducing images that I’ve seen all over social media made me want to visit this place months ago, and I’m soo glad we were able to squeeze in a visit during our time in Slovenia. The wonderful guys at Roundabout Travel booked me on to their full day Alpine Fairytale Tour which sounds as magical as the name suggests. One of the highlights was of course the magnificent Lake Bled which looked incredible against a backdrop of blue sky and yellow sunshine as we enjoyed a warm sunny day in September. Bled was everything I thought it would be and a little trip across to the island on a traditional Pletna made for the most photogenic boat ride I have ever taken. Despite its beauty, Bled was absolutely HEAVING with tourists and their annoying selfie sticks, especially at the cafe at the top of the hill which gave us some breathtaking panoramic views of the lake below. We did however enjoy an ice cream with our view before climbing up to the castle and seeing yet more spectacular scenery. I can see why it’s so popular – it took my breath away every time I looked at it and looked picture perfect from every single angle!

 

…and Lake Bohinj…

 

 

On our Apline Fairytale Tour we spent a full nine hours exploring different parts of Slovenia that you can’t see whilst in Ljubljana alone, and the tour really gave us a chance to see other important areas of the country. There was only six of us, and our tour of the Julian Alps began with a visit to the traditional medieval town of Skofja Loka, elevated 1000ft high and built in between two rivers, where we walked along its cobbled streets and stumbled across its ancient town square. Next up was a stop at Triglav National Park, with its resident glacial lake and mountainous backdrop. I’m gonna be a little controversial here and say that I actually thought this place, Lake Bohinj, was EVEN BETTER than Lake Bled because the mountains surrounding the lake were insane and there was literally no one around and it was so peaceful and beautiful and I just loved it so much. Isn’t it amazing what you can discover when you steer away from the tourist hot-spots and find hidden gems like this?! Our tour guide was amazing – super knowledgeable and really friendly whilst allowing us plenty of free time to explore at our own pace too – thank you Jerry for looking after us during our time in Slovenia!

 

…Oh and pay a visit to Vintgar Gorge too

 

 

As if you needed any more reasons to visit Slovenia than your very own WATERFALL! I had never heard of Vintgar Gorge until I booked on to the Alpine Fairytale Tour and it definitely ended up being one of the highlights of our entire trip, not just on our visit to Slovenia. Walking through the Gorge, with it’s caves, bridges, narrow walkways and glorious waterfalls was a truly amazing experience and one I definitely won’t forget in a hurry. You can walk at your own pace whilst following the trail, stopping to take in the scenery and to take a million photos like I did. The walk takes around an hour to complete and isn’t too difficult, just a little hilly and narrow in places but there are plenty of people about and a cafe/shop/toilets at the end for you to make use of. I got the most stunning photos of this place and every now and then I have to pinch myself and remember that I ACTUALLY went there because it was just so beautiful. If you get the chance to visit this place whilst in Ljubljana, please please go – I promise you’ll love it just as much as I did!

 

Where to eat/drink

 

The restaurants along the riverbank come alive at night

 

 

Ljubljana is brimming with trendy bars, cafe’s and restaurants to choose from during your stay and we were certainly spolit for choice when it came to finding some yummy food after a busy day of exploring. After crossing the Dragon Bridge you’ll walk alongside the Ljubljanica river and find numerous places to choose from. There are restaurants from all corners of Europe, most notably Austria and Italy where Slovenia takes lots of food influence from, and we ate in a fancy Italian restaurant one night which was AMAZING. We also found a cute cafe which served traditional Slovenian cakes including apple pie, derived from Balkan influences and one of the most popular dishes in the country. Whatever your tastebuds desire, you’ll be spoilt for choice in Ljubljana.

 

Where to stay

 

Image Courtesy of Cube Central Rooms For 2

 

As my friend and I were inter-railing for ten days we were on a budget and most of our accommodation consisted of hostels/cheap hotels. We were a little limited for choice in Ljubljana as we left it late to secure anywhere and we found there was a huge conference event taking place during the weekend we were there which meant that lots of hotels were already booked up months in advance. I did however manage to find a little gem just a stones throw away from the centre of the city which meant we could enjoy all the sights with the comfort of knowing that everything was within walking distance. Cube Central Rooms For 2 provided exactly as the title suggests – compact rooms for two in an unbeatable central location. This place was neither hostel nor hotel, more like tiny little self catering apartments with shared common rooms and bathrooms. Perfectly formed, despite being super small, and with key codes instead of physical keys, our double room barely had any space for ourselves let alone our suitcases and hoards of clothes, but it was cute and the beds were comfy which is all we really needed. I think the rooms were all full during our stay, but we rarely bumped into any other guests at all and pretty much had bathroom use whenever we wanted it – no queues for the toilet in the middle of the night! If you’re looking for luxury, this isn’t the place for you, but if you just want somewhere to rest your head for the night and enjoy a peaceful residential location just away from the city centre, I would definitely recommend Cube Central Rooms For 2! Thank you to Petra the lovely receptionist for making our short stay so comfortable!

 

As you can see, I managed to fit an awful lot in to my short time in Ljubljana, but I am sure there are many things that I missed and did not get chance to include. If, like me, you’re limited on time I would suggest that these sights are a good place to start. Ljubljana is so pretty and so full of greenery it would be nice to just find a park on a sunny day and enjoy the scenery, but equally it’s great fun for a jam-packed city break and the area has so much to offer. Have you ever been to Ljubljana before, or is it on your bucket list for 2018? Let me know as I would love to hear your thoughts!

Love Jess x

NB. My stay at Cube Central and my tour with Roundabout Travel were offered to me at a discounted rate for the purpose of this blog post, but all thoughts, images and notes are of course my own.

 

I'm currently drafting my #Ljubljana travel guide and it's giving me alllll the throwback feels 😍 The Slovenian capital was the last stop of my interrailing adventure back in September and I think we definitely saved the best til last! Here's the view from the top of Ljubljana Castle with the red roofs, green trees and shady mountains in the distance 🏰🏔 #ThrowbackThursday #VisitLjubljana #Slovenia #ifeelsLOVEnia . . . #travel #bloggers #travelblogger #wanderlust #worlderlust #travelphotography #traveladdict #instago #instatravel #travelgram #inspo #passionpassport #incredibledestinations #tourism #darlingescapes #lonelyplanet #beautifuldestinations #mytinyatlas #icelollyloves #travellover #girlsvsglobe #europe #interrail #girlslovetravel

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,

Happy New Year! My 2018 Resolutions

 

Happy new year everyone!

Welcome to my first post of 2018! It’s my first post of many for January and, given that we’re celebrating the start of a new month and a new year, I’m kicking off with a traditional resolutions tick list for you! If you read my 2017 resolutions post last January (how has it been a year already since that was published?!) you’ll know that I’m a big fan of making new year’s resolutions, and I do actually stick to them, promise! Last year I vowed to:

  • visit 10 countries (TICK)
  • grow my blog as much as possible (TICK)
  • get a part time job (TICK)
  • start spending more time with family and friends (TICK)
  • spend less time on social media (FAIL) – ooooops
  • stop buying scratch-cards (SEMI-FAIL) – these two were harder than I thought!

I’m really proud that I managed to achieve most of these things within a year, and even more so that I managed to surpass my expectations by visiting 11 countries instead of 10, got a part time job to run alongside my freelance business and then landed my dream full time position and started my career in the travel industry, and grew my blog to the biggest it’s ever been, going on press trips and working with some incredible brands.

All in all, 2017 was a pretty amazing year for me, but as one year ends another one begins and this brings me on to my resolutions for 2018. I’m already thinking ahead to the next few months and am super excited to fill in the empty pages of my new chapter for this new year. Here are my 2018 resolutions…

 

Visit at least 5 countries

 

 

Last year I was lucky enough to visit a whopping 11 countries as I embarked on my greatest year of travel yet as a full time blogger and freelancer, but this year I have annual leave restrictions that I need to be careful of, so that will definitely impact on how many trips I can take! I’ve already got two trips planned and am in the process of planning a third which will take a few weeks to get organised. My first holiday will (hopefully) be an inter-railing trip starting in Paris and Luxembourg and ending in Brussels and Bruges – I’m really excited to go inter-railing for a third time and can’t wait to finalise everything for this week-long European adventure with my sister! I’m then going to be hopping over to Amsterdam and Rotterdam with some of my fellow blogger friends for my third annual Traverse conference and I’m soooo excited that it’s going to be held outside of the UK this year for the first time ever! My next holiday will be a cruise round the Mediterranean taking in the sights of Croatia, Malta, Sicily, Greece and Montenegro. I’ve never been on a cruise before and I’m nervous/excited in equal measures but can’t wait to see how the week unfolds, and I’m going with 13 of my crazy family members, so whatever happens I’m sure it’ll be a week to remember. I’m sure that more last minute trips will pop up over the course of the next 12 months, but I’ll definitely be making use of my weekends off as well!

 

Reach 10,000 followers across my social channels

 

It's the last day of 2017 and I'm reflecting on everything that has happened in my little life over the past 12 months… My highlights include press trips to #Spain #Switzerland and #Germany with my blog, a holiday to #Tenerife and my #European interrailing adventures. 🌍 I celebrated my 24th birthday, freelanced full time, took 17 flights to 11 countries, bought a new car, started my career in the travel industry with my new job, opened a help to buy account to start saving for a house, became a charity ambassador and shared my story with the national newspapers, went on countless day trips, weekends away and nights out with my friends and family and pushed myself to say YES to things and make the most of every minute. 🌟 Sadly I've ended on a low note after losing my beautiful Cassie, but she is in a better place and she'll remain in my heart forever 💖 I'm so grateful that I've got amazing friends and family and am surrounded by love each and every day. 2017 has taught me a lot and has brought me so much, but I'm so excited to see how 2018 will top it and can't wait to see what the future brings. Happy new year everyone, here's to making every second count! 🎉 #2017bestnine #HappyNewYear #2017

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This is going to be a HUGE milestone and I really hope that it’s something I can achieve within the next year. Currently, I have 4200 Twitter followers, 1800 on Instagram, 600 on Linked In and 540 on Facebook, so I’ve got a long way to go before I hit my target of 10,000! I do think it’s going to take a lot of effort and hard work to get it done, but I love a challenge and am determined to make this happen, plus my stats on my media kit are going to look pretty damn good if I finally reach the big 10k!

 

Spend less time on social media

 

 

Ok, ok, so I know this is massively contradictory to my last resolution, but I want to try and spend less time on social media on a personal level, although I want to grow the followers for my blog as much as possible. I have a constant obsession with logging on to my apps, refreshing the news feeds and scrolling aimlessly for hours, consuming irrelevant content about things which mean absolutely nothing to me. It’s something we are all guilty of, but the constant scrolling is what really gets me down and I know I really need to stop. I’ve made a good start by deleting my apps and muting all of my notifications, so now I only get bothered when someone texts or calls me! My accounts are still active but I’m going to try and post less and, in turn, scroll less too. I also want to read more books and so, whenever I get the urge to scroll during the ad break of my fave TV show, or during a quiet 5 minutes on my lunch break, I’m going to read chapters of my books instead and keep my mind occupied on something more productive.

 

Work on new projects for The Pituitary Foundation

 

 

As part of my role as an ambassador for UK charity The Pituitary Foundation, I’m trying to raise as much money and awareness as I possibly can for an organisation which has been hugely important to me since my own prolactinoma diagnosis back in 2011. I became an ambassador last summer and have already taken part in a fun run, national newspaper campaign and a Go Orange event in order to raise awareness of the charity. This year I’d like to step it up a notch and get more involved, take part in more events and raise even more money than I ever have done. My plans include another fun run and Go Orange day, as well as a summer fete and a hike up Mount Snowdon as I aim to challenge myself as much as I can. More details will be emerging when I have them, but for now please wish me luck!

 

Start saving at least £500 a month

 

 

I’ve only been able to do this one since I went back to full time work at the end of last year, but in October I opened a Help To Buy bank account as I aim to start saving for my first house. It’s going to take me a good few years to get a deposit behind me, especially as property prices in my local area are ASTRONOMICAL, but if I can try to save at least £500 every single month then I’ll stand myself in good stead going forwards. Since landing my dream job I’m starting to feel really settled and really positive about creating a stable future for myself. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to stop travelling and I’m certainly not ready to get married and have kids, but I just want to give myself the best future possible and saving lots of money will definitely help me to achieve that.

 

Incorporate exercise into my weekly routine

 

 

Exercise is something I have ALWAYS struggled with, I hated P.E. as a child and my idea of increasing my heartrate was standing at the back of the rounders pitch having a good gossip with my school friends and doing a few star jumps! As I’ve got older my attitude has changed a little, but I still feel faint at the idea of even going in to a gym, let alone doing a full blown workout. I do however really enjoy the gym once I get some blood pumping, but it’s the idea of going that makes me feel really demotivated, and maybe it’s because I’m a little intimidated by all the amazing girls and guys who go and look like their professionals. I’m going to start doing a small workout at home once a week though to improve my fitness, and my core strength. It’s not about losing weight or toning up, I think I just want to feel good about myself again and I know how much exercise can do for your mental and physical health. Here’s hoping I can do at least one workout a week to help with this – plus daily walks too!

 

Grow my blog as much as possible whilst working full time

 

 

I’m hoping to smash this one as I’ve already had a positive start to the year, but the first few months of being back to full time work meant that my blog really took a back seat at the end of last year. I was just so exhausted doing 40 hour weeks, plus 2 hours of driving a day, and didn’t want to do anything other than watch telly and get into bed during my week night evenings, and my weekends were for catching up with friends and making exciting plans. I also lost my beautiful dog Cassie at the end of last year and this had a massive impact on my motivation to do anything productive. If I’m honest, I barely slept or ate, let alone found the time to blog, and it did affect me. I was totally consumed by grief and loss, which is something I had never experienced before. But with the start of a new year comes new positivity and I’m really excited to throw myself back in to my blog and make proper time to publish regular posts, grow my followers and keep up my social media statuses. I’ll probably schedule in one evening a week and one day of the weekend to dedicate time to my blog and I’m hoping to stick to it over the coming weeks.

 

I like to think that these resolutions are all achievable and are all things that are going to enhance my little life over the next 12 months, and I’m feeling more motivated than ever to make this another incredible year. In addition to these resolutions, I’m also hoping to make more time for myself and put myself first. Little things like having a bath, popping on a face mask or reading a book will all help to give myself some well deserved ME time and I intend to do this a lot in 2018. Do you make New Years resolutions? Do you ever stick to them? Here’s hoping I achieve mine – happy new year everyone, wishing you all a successful, healthy and happy 2018!

Love Jess X

 

Happy new year y'all 🍾🍾 #NYE2017

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