Travel Guide: Isle of Skye

Oh, beautiful Skye. A truly inspiring and breathtaking island, in the Scottish Highlands, the Isle of Skye is somewhere everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime. It has been recognised as one of the top islands in Europe by Conde Nast and National Geographic so who can argue with that? Here is my latest travel guide and voted staycation of the year (by me)! 

Getting to the Isle of Skye 

I’m going to be honest with you. The journey up to the Isle of Skye is not for the faint-hearted. It’s an epic journey along winding, country roads and the further north you go, the more remote you feel. BUT, if you enjoy driving and don’t mind being in the car for the day, then it is 100% worth it, the views are just spectacular! 

I loved the drive up. It was my first road trip in my MINI. There’s something so freeing about driving along country roads, roof down, sun shining and music ON. Pair this with the fantastic scenery, and the drive becomes a real treat. I wish I had a photographer on hand to capture the incredible landscape. There were plenty of WOWs, OMGs, and THIS IS AMAZING whilst I was driving along. 

I drove up from Oxfordshire, which is a trek; however, I am lucky to have family in Scotland so made a pit stop half-way to break up the journey. So technically it took me two days. There are, of course, quicker ways to get there; you could fly to the nearest airport (Inverness or Glasgow) and then hire a car. 

One thing is sure though; you need a car in Skye!

Where to stay? 

I chose to base myself in the main town of Portree. The location is pretty great in terms of being central enough to drive to all of the attractions easily, and there is quite a bit going on (even in COVID times)! 

I stayed at the gorgeous Marmalade Hotel, a recently renovated manor house. It sits on a hill just a short walk from the centre, and I was lucky enough to wake up to incredible views of the coastline every morning at sunrise. *Not an ad*, but I would highly recommend staying here if you are looking for a stylish, comfortable hotel. I received a warm welcome, excellent customer service during my stay and fantastic food! What more could you want? They also have a second hotel, The Bosville, right opposite the harbour with equally gorgeous views so immediately you have two great options! 

Of course, there are plenty of other places to stay. When I was searching for accommodation, I found so many Bed and Breakfast’s, and if camping is more your style then there are options for you too! I would book ahead as it was pretty busy given everyone is opting for a staycation for the foreseeable.

What to do in the Isle of Skye

There are so many things to do and see in Skye, and I only had a couple of days so couldn’t squeeze in everything but I did have a little help from a friend choosing what to prioritise which was great! Here are some of my highlights that I recommend for you too. 

Fairy Pools 

The fairy pools are up there as one of my favourite places in Skye, and potentially the world. I know that’s a big statement to make, but they were stunning. You turn off the main road onto a single track road (there are lots of these) until you arrive at a car park on a hill. It’s £5 to park all day (you can pay by card) and there were plenty of spaces when I turned up at around 11 am. I hear it gets jam-packed though, so it might be best to plan your day with this in mind. 

I met some family friends who happened to be in Skye at the same time, and we hiked to the fairy pools together, which was lovely! There is a bit of walking involved here. You go down from the car park, have to cross the water on these large stepping stones and then walk up the side of the waterfalls to get to the top. On the way up, there are so many photo opportunities – it was hard to put my camera down! The water changed colour from deep blues to magnificent greens and purples. There are several ‘pools’ as you make your way up and if you’re brave enough, you can even have a swim. I did wear my bikini, but it was SO cold that I decided not to – I’ll have to go back another time! 

The fairy pools were honestly one of my favourite places, so I 100% recommend visiting here. Who knows, maybe you’re braver than me and will go for a dip. If you do, I want to see the photos!

Old Man of Storr – Munro

I had a big breakfast this morning ready to fuel my day and my god I’m glad I did. It was an active day of hiking and exploring, and I needed all of the energy I could get! After breakfast, I headed up to Old Man of Storr, parked in the car park (this one was hourly rated but wasn’t expensive) and made my way to the beginning of the site. I was already out of breath before I’d even started and this was the first time I had climbed a steep mountain since my illness, so I took it slowly and was proud of myself to reach the top. The views were incredible, and it was much quieter first thing so I would recommend conquering this one early on.

Neist Point Lighthouse 

I was undecided at first whether I would visit the lighthouse, it certainly wasn’t top of my list. But a lovely Canadian girl at the hotel recommended it as her favourite place on the island, so I listened and jumped in the car to drive over (which took about 1.5hrs from Portree). I remember passing a single Jewellery shop in the middle of nowhere on a hill and thought – how do they make money out here? The lighthouse was in a remote area of the west side of the island with nothing around it for miles, so I would recommend taking supplies with you (water and maybe even a picnic)! 

I lucked out with the weather as it was a beautiful, sunny day! It took me about 15 minutes to walk down the cliff to the lighthouse itself and then I chilled in the sun and took in my surroundings. A friend informed me that the sunsets here are amazing as well, so if you’re looking for a cute, romantic spot then this could be it! 

Talisker Beach 

If you know me, you’ll see that I love a beach so when I added Talisker beach to my itinerary I had it in my head that I HAD to go. I had planned to go after the fairy pools on the first day, but the rain started to pour, and the winds picked up, so I thought it was best to wait and decided to have a cosy evening exploring Portree, enjoying dinner and then chilled at the hotel instead. 

So, the next day was my epic adventure. Having visited Old Man of Storr first thing in the morning, and Neist Point Lighthouse in the afternoon, it was nearing 4 pm. I was getting a bit hangry, my phone battery was dying, and my SatNav wasn’t recognising Talisker at all. I knew it was ‘off the beaten track’ and the funny thing was I knew I was close. I was on a mission to find this beach! Luckily, my grandpa had given me an AA Map before I set off ‘just in case’ and I turned to said map with my last bit of hope and as if by magic the good old trusty map lead me straight to Talisker! (Here’s a recommendation – take a map in case technology fails)! 

If you follow the single track road, past The Oyster Shed, to the end, you finally reach a small group of houses (it might only be 2) where there is parking (mainly just on the side of the road #remote). You then have to walk for a couple of km past the houses, following the signs for the beach, and along another track (I questioned if I was going the right way) which opens out to a beautiful cove and beach with surrounding cliffs.

It honestly took my breath away. The water was so clear, the sand was a very dark grey, and it was riddled with rocks (not little pebbles, giant stones). Because it was so remote, it was peaceful with only a handful of families and couples enjoying the views, and making sandcastles. There were even a few brave soles swimming. I took off my shoes, and walked along the beach, sand between my toes, the icy waves skimming my feet. I was so lucky with the weather, so I sat down on one of the rocks, closed my eyes and just enjoyed the sound of the waves crashing, the sun slowly starting to set in my happy place. 

Tip: I had to get back for a dinner reservation however I’ve heard this is a pretty special place to watch the sunset as an alternative to Neist Point Lighthouse. 

Where to eat 

There are so many lovely restaurants on the Isle of Skye, but you do need to plan your stops so I would encourage you to make some reservations. There’s also not much in between the small towns for snacks, so it’s worth popping into the Co-Op in Portree to stock up! 

Restaurant wise, there are plenty of options in Portree. My favourite was the restaurant at The Bosville – the food was delicious, and it had a friendly atmosphere. I even got chatting to some of the locals which I love doing as nothing beats getting recommendations from those who live in the area – you always uncover things off the beaten track. I also enjoyed fish and chips by the harbour one delicious evening! 

For all you foodies out there, there are also several excellent, high-end restaurants to choose from including 1 Michelin Star restaurant! Unfortunately, I didn’t know about these ahead of time, and they require booking in advance, so I’m leaving them below for you to check out! 

My top tips for visiting the Isle of Skye 

I can’t finish my travel guide without sharing my top tips! 

  1. Depending on the time of year you visit, you need to be aware of the dreaded midges! Make sure you get some strong midges spray – I used Avon Skin So Soft
  2. There are limited places to buy food when you get on the road so if you are planning a long day of visiting some of the attractions I would take a packed lunch and plenty of water with you.
  3. A lot of the sites are in and amongst nature, and therefore there were limited toilets! There were toilets in the main towns, so when driving through, it might be best to stop off. 
  4. I wasn’t expecting a good phone signal given the remoteness of the island, but fortunately, because I am on EE, I managed to get 4G easily! So the good news is if you’re an EE user, you’ll be fine. 
  5. If at all you have a choice, I would recommend taking an automatic car over a manual. It’s not a dealbreaker but, as the roads are single track, there was a lot of pulling over to let cars pass meaning you are always going up and down the gears! 
  6. Take a physical map in the car just in case! 
  7. Most importantly, be careful of the sheep! You will find that they are sometimes at the edge of the road or on the tracks so drive carefully. 

Further Information 

Someone I know recommended some brilliant activities during my stay so if you’re thinking about heading to the Isle of Skye, check out his website: https://www.myskyetime.com/

Travel guide: Cornwall, England

Staycation is the new vay-cation. 

It may seem a little strange to be talking about travel plans at a time of crisis. However, restrictions are starting to lift and let’s face it; everyone wants a break from staring at the same four walls for the past five months. 

Many of my friends, family and colleagues are making new plans for some time away. Still, it’s pretty challenging to navigate with the rules about which countries we can and can’t visit continually changing. Staycation to the rescue! 

Cornwall is the new ‘hot’ destination this summer in the UK, and I’m not surprised with its gorgeous beaches, walking routes, award-winning restaurants and microclimate. Having shared some recommendations with a few colleagues recently, I wanted to compile those into this travel guide for anyone heading to the South West of England this summer.

Cornwall: summer holiday destination 2020 

My family and I have visited Cornwall several times, usually during the October half-term, and we love it! There’s so much to see and do for all the family. I know we’re talking about summer holidays here but as an aside, we find that October is an excellent time to go – it’s not too busy yet you get relatively good weather, and the sea has had the summer to warm up which means when we go surfing it’s bearable. I don’t know about you, but I hate the cold and even with a wetsuit on the sea chills my bones! Whether you choose to go in the next few weeks, or months, there will be plenty of things to keep you busy.

Cornwall is a vast place, so a little disclaimer here. I’m sharing just some of my suggestions and the places I love based on my experiences. We tend to stay in Rock and spend a lot of our time in the Padstow and Polzeath area so if you’re heading that way then here’s my list of top things to see and do.

Padstow  

Padstow is a cute little fishing town (I’m obsessed) and is home to many famous restaurateurs including Paul Ainsworth and Rick Stein. You can spend your day exploring the town, walking the narrow cobbled streets coffee in hand, browsing in the local independent shops or you can take a walk along the coastline. The real draw here though is the fantastic food! If you’re a foodie like me, then you don’t want to miss out on these gems. 

Paul Ainsworth at Number 6
This is Paul’s Michelin Star restaurant, located in a beautiful Georgian townhouse in the heart of Padstow, serving British food with a focus on locally sourced Cornish produce.

Cafe Rojano 
Italian being my all-time favourite, Cafe Rojano is not to be missed. This restaurant is slightly more casual in style to reflect its Italian roots, with a menu to die for.

Rick Stein’s Seafood Restaurant
We were so impressed with Rick Stein’s Seafood Restaurant. A classic, serving deliciously fresh seafood in a lovely, bright atmosphere – perfect for a special dinner by the seaside.

NB: I would recommend checking their websites for updated guidance surrounding COVID,19 and it is probably worth booking as I know they’ll be super busy! 

The other thing we love about Padstow and Rock is the ferry that takes you from one to the other. Departing regularly throughout the day, and at a small price, you can quickly get across from Padstow to Rock (or the other way around) on foot which means you can enjoy that afternoon beer or glass of wine! 

Rock

We love to stay in Rock, just across the water from Padstow… a quieter town but equally as beautiful. Here you can pick up freshly baked goods from the bakery in the morning, and they have a couple of little clothes and home shops to explore. After walking the dogs in the fresh air, we like to stop at  ‘The Mariners’, another of Paul Ainsworth’s delights, for a cold drink and sometimes snacks although we’re often then tempted to stay for a full meal because it’s so lovely! It’s more casual than some of his other places and is great fun – it feels like you’re down your local pub with friendly faces there waiting to greet you on arrival. 

There are also loads of beautiful walks along the cliffs, and you can get down onto the beach to do watersports should you wish! Another little gem is a cafe called the Blue Tomato down by the shore – they serve a gorgeous breakfast, and the hot chocolate is ‘award-winning’ in my sister’s eyes. They even serve up dog treats for your furry friends. 

Polzeath 

Polzeath is well known for it’s surfing. The waves aren’t massive, which is great if you’re a beginner (which we are) so we enjoy it. You can hire wetsuits and have lessons at Surfs Up, and there are plenty of cafes on the beach for the spectators. You’re also guaranteed to see families and couples out walking their dogs here, which is adorable! 

There is a gorgeous walk that we religiously do with the dogs along the clifftops which I highly recommend. If you walk out to Pentire Point and The Rumps you’ll be able to get some breathtaking photos. 

That’s my travel guide to Cornwall. I appreciate there are so many other gorgeous places to visit, but I would highly recommend some of the above if you are in the area – it is truly breathtaking. Who needs the South of France when you have Cornwall? Wishing you all a lovely holiday wherever you may be and let me know if you do visit – I’d love to hear your travel stories and further recommendations for places I may have missed!

Siam Park, Tenerife

In my last blog post I wrote about my summer holiday to Tenerife with Lauren, which seems like an age ago now. Autumn appears to have arrived early by my books and I wasn’t quite prepared for it. So, before we say goodbye to the sun there are a few more posts that I wanted to share with you.

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Where to stay in Tenerife

I don’t know about you but to me August always feels like the quietest month of the year. Probably because everyone attempts to escape the somewhat indecisive English weather for a full blown holiday in the blazing sun, somewhere exotic. I definitely fall into that category. My sister and I decided to take a week off from life and travel to the Canary Islands for some down time. Neither of us had been to Tenerife before but i’d heard good things and it ticked the boxes; sun, pool, bars and of course you can’t go on a European summer holiday without going to a waterpark. Once we had narrowed down our search to Playa las Americas, we had to choose a hotel. Have you ever spent hours searching booking.com or Trivago, seeking out the best deals? It can be so time consuming. We did know one thing, in the height of the school holidays an adult only hotel was a must.

Continue reading Where to stay in Tenerife

Rogano. Glasgow’s Favourite Restaurant

If you haven’t stopped by Rogano in central Glasgow yet then you should definitely add this one to your list! Titled Glasgow’s favourite restaurant, it has been around since the 1930s and lives on as a world class destination for food and drink.

Continue reading Rogano. Glasgow’s Favourite Restaurant

Troon, Scotland

With half of my family being Scottish I’ve spent weeks during the summer holidays up here but this is probably the first time I’ve jumped on a plane to visit for a long weekend, and in the midst of winter. “You’re mad” my colleagues said, ‘it’s cold and snowy up there’ as if Scotland is a distant land far far away from London. To be fair, they weren’t wrong… each day has drawn colder and when the wind hits, it’s bitterly cold. Good job I brought a hat.

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Exploring Rio as a local

If you’ve been following my posts on Instagram you’ll have seen that I’ve started uploading one photo a day of my travels around South America last summer. I was looking through a few photos, reminiscing, and realised I had so many photos yet to share. As I wasn’t blogging back then either I have loads of tips and tricks for travelling that feel wasted not sharing. So my first story – discovering Rio de Janeiro as  a local.

Continue reading Exploring Rio as a local

When 2 travellers came to stay

The thing I love about travelling is that you get to meet so many people that you wouldn’t necessarily cross paths with in your day-to-day life. The one thing I learned was actually how small the world is. It’s a great thing to be able to meet new people but then know that if you want to, it is possible to see them again. Whilst travelling in Peru last summer I met people from all walks of life. I stayed in touch with a friend named Denica who lives in Canada and that’s where this story starts.

Denica and her friend Chanla were planning on travelling around Europe and asked my advice on places to visit in England. Of course I offered up my sofa straight away and told them London should be top of the list! So last week the time had come. I had booked a day off work to become a London tour guide for the weekend and I couldn’t wait! It’s crazy how much you can actually fit into such a short period of time. Denica sent me a list of places they were keen to visit and I completed it with must-see attractions to come up with the perfect tour of London (and we ended up walking for miles!).

Denica

Some highlights included stopping at Kings Cross to visit the Harry Potter shop and have a photo on platform 9 3/4, I absolutely love HP so this was an easy stop! We spent hours in Camden looking around the markets and eating lots of yummy food. Denica is obsessed with Alice in Wonderful so was over the moon when she got to chat to the Mad Hatter and have her picture taken – it was an impressive set up!

I made sure we visited the main attractions; Green Park for Buckingham Palace, Westminster, Big Ben. To my surprise they’d never heard of Big Ben but they had managed to dig out Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium, how that works I’m not sure! But it was great to show them some of London’s great history.

Buck P

Shopping. You can’t come to London without doing a bit of shopping and that we did plenty of. We headed to Carnaby Street and browsed the shops. Chanla bought a really nice leather jacket from Cheap Monday after searching for one all weekend! We made our way to Piccadilly for a visit to Fortnum and Mason’s for some tea. I’d never been in before but it’s the most incredible shop. We spent ages searching high and low for different flavoured tea’s and coffees, looking at hampers, cheese & wine, beer and funnily enough we even found dried bugs. No joke – they had a table set up encouraging shoppers to taste the latest creation by Jimini’s; flavoured dried crickets. I wasn’t brave enough to try one myself but Denica went for it! Somewhere in France this is a delicacy and I am sure some people may take to the idea but it just isn’t for me!

The last big thing that we did was explore Shoreditch. As Denica absolutely loves art she jumped at the opportunity to roam the streets taking pictures of all of the street art. We went to the food markets and grabbed some lunch – we all opted for popcorn chicken which was delicious but our eyes were too big for our bellies! We strolled down Brick Lane looking in the various shops, peaked our heads into the Cereal Killer Cafe (I have to go back there one day it’s my idea of heaven!) and took in the atmosphere – it was buzzing. In a bid to explore more street art we took a small path off of Brick Lane where we found the strangest yet very interesting Nomadic Community Garden. Denica was completely in her element here so we went along with it, taking photos and exploring what the garden had to offer.

It is funny yet completely inspiring the things that you can come across in a city! London is so big I’m sure I still have a lot of ground to cover, but it was great to explore with my two travellers. Next stop Canada where they can take over as the tour guide!

MAR d’FORA, Portugal

This restaurant is a hidden gem. Tucked away on the cliff top in Praia de Paraiso, Carvoerio, it boasts a gorgeous set up with stunning views of the sea and surrounding area. If you decide to visit for dinner you can sit outside on the veranda and watch the warm blends of purple, orange and red as the sun sets, it’s beautiful.

We (friends of mine and I) were lucky enough to discover MAR d’FORA whilst taking a tour of the town on a little train. This was perhaps the most exciting find on the tour, it definitely made it worthwhile. We booked to go for dinner on our last night of the holiday to celebrate the great week that we had had and it did not disappoint.

IMG_7093 (1)

The menu had a great selection of starters, mains and desserts with plenty of fresh fish options. The waiter asked if we would like to see which fish they had available that evening so we obliged. Before I knew it the waiter appeared behind me with a tray. Wait a second, something just grazed my arm.. OMG the lobster was alive. Safe to say I have never been presented with a tray of fish, let alone a live lobster. I think all of us around the table were quick to say no to that! It was an interesting experience none the less. We ordered some bread and olives to start whilst we studied the menu some more before coming to a decision, although it was a no brainer for me.

Alice ordered the lamb with potatoes and vegetables in a gravy which was succulent and tasty. Emma, Callum and Jack opted for the Tuna steak presented on a risotto bed accompanied by carrots and a jus. The Tuna was perfectly cooked and fell apart easily, the risotto creamy and full of flavour. Having read a review online I chose the fettuccini with shrimp and clams which the waiter said was a great choice! He wasn’t wrong – the dish was full of flavours with a bit of a spicy kick.

We all had a fantastic evening; great food, great wine & great company. The waiters made us feel very welcome, provided giggles and moments of surprise! Perhaps next time I will be brave enough to try the lobster…

I would definitely recommend visiting this restaurant if you ever find yourself hungry in Carvoerio. Enjoy and please share any of your own experiences!

Summer has arrived

And so the holiday season begins, my absolute favourite time of the year. Everyone’s so much happier, there’s such a feel good vibe in the air and the obligatory holiday snaps don’t go a miss. This week I’ve been sunning it up in a small town called Carvoerio, situated in the Algarve, Portugal with some friends. We stayed in a beautiful villa just a 10 minute walk from the town which was perfect for getting to the shops, restaurants and bars. We spent the first couple of days lazing by the pool, topping up our tans (or burning for some of us) eating and of course there was a bit of drinking as well.

When it hit 6pm, it was in the shower and ready to take the evening by storm. We strolled into town looking at the restaurant menus, deciding what we would like to eat – there was so much choice. Afterwards we made our way through a selection of bars including local favourites Round Up (insane karaoke nights), Carvoerio bar and Bar Six before ending up in Mungo’s most nights for a boogie.

Sadly, from Wednesday onwards the weather was cloudy with rain and thunderstorms but this wasn’t going to stop us from having fun. We decided to go for a walk along the coast which took you to a lovely little restaurant in the middle of some rocks and a cave. I wasn’t so sure about the crooked brown boardwalk but we made it there safely and the views were worth it! We had some lunch and sangria before exploring the cave and climbing on the rocks. Luckily the rain held off.

Rock Climbing

Throughout the next couple of days we rested, cooked food in the villa, drank and watched some movies. I was also trying to catch up with Game of Thrones – almost there but not quite, agh! On Thursday the sun came out in the afternoon so Callum, Alice and I decided to go into town and explore. We caught the local train which took us on a tour of the town. To be honest there wasn’t a whole lot to see besides the beach and town centre which was small but it was a lovely ride and we got to nosey at some lovely villas. We also spotted a gorgeous restaurant that we ended up in on our last night.

PortimaoNot wanting to waste our last full day in Portugal we caught the local bus to Portimao – the next nearest town. It had a lovely harbour which we walked along, following the other tourists and locals. 45 minutes later, after walking through a ferry port and down some random roads to our surprise we arrived at the beach! It was a great find. There were people playing volleyball and other sports, it was buzzing. On our walk back to the bus stop later on we took a different route in a bid to find the town (that was apparently a 5 minute walk away). We were unsuccessful this time but we still enjoyed our little adventure.

So that really sums up my week in Carvoerio. I had a great time and definitely feel refreshed and ready to seize the week ahead. It helps that we came back to 25 degree heat in England too! For more snaps check out my Instagram or FB.

Where are you going on holiday this year?

Travel Guide: Lake Garda – Where to stay

Recently I posted about my summer experience living in Italy, on Lake Garda. As you can imagine, there is far too much to talk about to possibly even try and fit it into one post, so here is post number 2.

Working in Gardone, I had the opportunity on my days off to explore some of the other towns around the lake. The frequent ferry routes made this possible and reasonably priced, it’s the best way to travel across the lake. These were all equally beautiful but offered quite different experiences, so depending on what you are looking for, you may find one town a better fit than another. I have picked out a couple of my favourites below.

Lake Garda

Riva del Garda 

Italy, Grand Hotel Gardone 2011 183

Riva is a special place as it is where the lake ends and the Brenta Dolomites begin. Here you can experience rich history & art, the architecture is beautiful (another thing I admire about Italy). There is plenty to do and visit as a tourist and lots of water sports on offer if that is your cup of tea. I really enjoyed Riva but sadly only managed to spend a couple of hours here.

Malcesine

 Famous for the Scaglieri castle perched on a cliff overhanging the lake. Family friends got married here before I went out to work in Italy so this was definitely a destination on my list having seen the wedding pics! Malcesine has so much going on, lots of sightseeing and walks in the mountains, you can take the cable car up to the peak of Mount Baldo and look over the entire lake, it’s magnificent. As with all of the towns, there are great restaurants and bars to relax, it really has everything. And I’ve been told you can ski here in the winter season too!

Bardolino 

A somewhat quieter, but large town, the perfect place to relax and wind down taking in the scenery of the harbour and the lake. Locally produced ingredients; wine, oil and fish are used in the restaurants for traditional Italian recipes – gorgeous! If you do go to Italy you must try a Caprese salad, the fresh ingredients just make something so simple, something to die for. I had a great day out here just relaxing in the sun and spending time with friends.

Sirmione 

I feel I keep repeating myself, but Sirmione too has so much history behind it that there is so much to see and explore, mainly the stunning views of the peninsula, the fortress and the thermal baths. It’s a very laid back destination, and I would say it has the best ice cream for sure. We enjoyed a lovely afternoon here, I probably wouldn’t want to stay more than one night, but it is definitely a must to visit.

Desenzano 

What can I say about Desenzano? Definitely one of my favourite destinations which we visited on multiple occasions. With lots of cars, shopping, restaurants, bars & nightlife it has everything. I loved the layout of the village with the squares and harbours, bridges crossing the water. Utterly picturesque and full of character but it also had that buzz about it. AND it had the best pizza restaurant too (called Kapperi), I was one happy girly. I love the fact that every bar gives you nibbles to snack on while you have your drinks, it’s such a lovely touch and makes your drink that much more enjoyable.

Salo 

Salo was another favourite place of mine and being next door to Gardone Riviera, very easy to get to. I spent many an afternoon here trying out new cafes and bars, reading my book in the sun or writing an entry in my diary. There are lots of boutiques and shops, restaurants, sports whether it be hiking up in the mountains or taking to the water with windsurfing or renting a boat, it is just a great mix. And not forgetting the all-important nightlife if you are looking to extend your evening further. It was the type of place that you could live in, the dream summer home. Walking along the lakefront promenade as the sun goes down.

So there we have it- six of my favourite destinations across the lake, all for very different reasons, all as beautiful and as picturesque as you can imagine. If you do find yourself travelling to the lake, do make room in your itinerary to visit at least one or two other places as then you can truly experience the magic that is Lake Garda. 

I’d be interested in hearing other people’s opinions and experiences, please share below.

A summer in Lake Garda

265845_10150233434355547_977153_oNearly 5 years ago now I got the opportunity to work in Italy for a summer as a restaurant host in a hotel called Grand Hotel Gardone. Anyone who knows me knows that I absolutely love Italy as a country – the place, the people, the language, the food! So for me it was insane to think that this beautiful country could be my home for the summer.

It all started quite randomly – my step mum, Fiona, was doing a bit of work in Salo for an Italian company and met a few people, one of whom knew the owner of a hotel in Gardone. I sent an email to the owner and just like that they got back to me with an offer, which I wasn’t hesitant to accept!

5 years is quite a long time ago so you’re probably wondering why I’m telling you about this now. Two reasons; it was an experience that gave me a lot of amazing memories that I will never forget (and some of which I will share with you) and, I am hoping to go back to visit this year.

So just like that my summer transition from college to university went from worrying about my results and which university I was going to be accepted into, to making new friends, learning new skills and exploring a beautiful country. I was nervous when I arrived at the hotel but who wouldn’t be? I couldn’t speak any Italian and I had no idea what to expect but my welcome couldn’t have been any nicer! Barbara on the front desk knew exactly who I was and gave me a huge welcome hug. She showed me to my room before the restaurant manager collected me and my step mum for dinner on the veranda. It was great to meet some of the people I would be working with and see how the restaurant worked ready for my first day. Fiona and I went for a walk and found a nice little bar where I tried by first Aperol Spritz (it’s an acquired taste but after the first couple I became an advocate), before saying goodbye to each other for the summer.

I’m hesitant to get into too much detail about the actual job as I would prefer to share with you details of the beautiful town but it turned out to be the best experience I could’ve hoped for. After a few days I had truly settled in, made friends with the girls on reception and the waiters and chefs in the restaurant, albeit the girls had to do a bit of translating for me. We ate ice cream, drank spritz, went to parties and chilled on the veranda. It was a dream.

I worked a split shift so spent the afternoons exploring and of course sunbathing. The town of Gardone  was beautiful; relaxing but buzzing with tourists and locals at the same time which is what I love. I went for walks and explored Il Vittoriale, a stunning hillside estate overlooking the lake that oozed with character and style. The gardens were beautiful, so peaceful and there was an amphitheatre (I would love to spend my summer evenings listening to music and watching theatre here).

Another of my favourite places was La Torre di San Marco or ‘the tower’ as we called it. It is a beautiful venue with rich history and style (an amazing location for a wedding). We went there in the evenings to enjoy the music, piano playing and cocktails, rain or sunshine. Later on in the evening it turned into a club outside with a DJ and areas to sit and talk, lots of people dancing and having fun. It was just a magical place.

On our days off we would explore other places around the lake, eat lunch, drink spritzers and enjoy the sun. There’s just too much to tell you in one post so look out for more posts coming up to discover some of the great towns and villages that exist along the lake and my trip to Verona but if there is one message you take away from this post let it be that you absolutely need to visit Lake Garda at least once, one day.