We love to travel. And while we’ve been travelling, because we tend to veer off the tourist trails, we realised that we were discovering so many hidden gems, having amazing experiences and picking up tips and avoiding near-disasters, that we thought it would be a nice idea to have somewhere, where this could be shared. In March 2017 we finally realised our dream to relocate to the sunshine and are now living in Istria, in northern Croatia. We continue to travel, although currently (2021) our travels are more Croatia-influenced. As well as the ongoing global pandemic, which is obviously restricting travel, we are moving onto our second Istrian renovation project and so are taking the opportunity to explore our new home country. Of course, we still remain very linked to the UK – our families are there, our We Are Life Design clients are there, and our friends are there, so we will continue to keep our close links to the areas in UK in which we have lived. And will still return to on a regular basis.

What we blog about will be a good mix of wherever we go. So whether that’s somewhere not too far from where we live in Istria, a UK destination or a bit further afield, it’ll be here. If you love quirky places and things maybe a bit different from the norm, hopefully you’ll like what you find here. You can also pop over to Twitter, for the brief version!

And, we’re not being paid to mention hotels etc, & none of the blogs are sponsored – although, if one day, I could make a living out of travelling to gorgeous places…

Latest Blogs…

Vatican Museums : Rome : Italy

Vatican Museums : Rome : Italy

The Vatican Museums are the public museums of the Vatican City, displaying works of art amassed by the Catholic Church and papacy throughout the centuries, including several of the most renowned Roman sculptures and some of the most important Renaissance artwork in...

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Hotel Heritage : Ljubljana : Slovenia

Hotel Heritage : Ljubljana : Slovenia

According to the website, the recently renovated Heritage Hotel is... ...one of Ljubljana’s finest boutique hotels. It combines the rich cultural heritage of a Renaissance bourgeois building from the 16th century with the luxury of modern architecture and the prestige...

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Puglia : Italy

Puglia : Italy

Living now in Istria, the tiny heart shaped peninsula, right up in the north of Croatia - bordering Slovenia, close to Trieste and across the Adriatic from Venice - we are very lucky that we can now travel to Italy very easily. Muggia is our closest Italian town, and...

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sperlonga : latina : italy

sperlonga : latina : italy

We’d not previously heard of this place, but now we know about it, it’s very definitely somewhere we’d revisit next time we’re in the province of Latina. Halfway between Rome and Naples, the very pretty village, perched high on a hilltop overlooking the sea, is a...

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Zadar : Croatia

Zadar : Croatia

Zadar has the most beautiful sunset in the world, more beautiful than the one in Key West in Florida, applauded at every evening. So said, Alfred Hitchcock, on a visit to the stunning Dalmatian coastal city of Zadar. And, if he said it, it must be true... We are now...

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nerja : andalusia : spain

nerja : andalusia : spain

We've not visited Nerja for a while, but when we still lived in Didsbury, we did visit often. We were very lucky that we had a friend with a family apartment there, and so if there was availability, we could make a booking and do a quick getaway from Manchester. We...

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The Dolphin Suites : Veli Lošinj : Croatia

The Dolphin Suites : Veli Lošinj : Croatia

After a long hiatus from travel, and after getting our second vaccinations, we decided to do a bit of exploring this summer. Croatia has managed the pandemic well, so far and so we felt comfortable about beginning to explore where we live. Travel in the past has...

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frigiliana : pueblo blanco : andalusia

frigiliana : pueblo blanco : andalusia

The small white village of Frigiliana - one of the famous pueblo blancos - is in the Axarquia region of the Costa del Sol, and regularly features in lists of Spain’s most beautiful villages. This pueblo blanco is distinctively Moorish in appearance, with the old...

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ayo : burriana beach : nerja

ayo : burriana beach : nerja

A chiringuito is usually a bar or a restaurant on a beach - and one of the most famous ones in Nerja, is called Ayo. Like most chiringuitos, outdoors, it is a simple construction with a partly roofed wooden terrace. On the menu, you will find tapas, fried and grilled...

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la concha soul boutique hotel : paguera : Mallorca

la concha soul boutique hotel : paguera : Mallorca

It’s hard to imagine that there could really be anywhere to avoid on Mallorca. We’d discounted Magaluf, as unfortunately we’re no longer in our early twenties, and so, when booking places to stay, we were pretty confident that every place we chose, would be a winner....

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Vrbnik : Krk Island : Croatia

Vrbnik : Krk Island : Croatia

This was originally posted in August 2019, so all pre-Covid, when we could all travel much more freely... As well as family and friends coming out to visit us in Istria, we now have the opportunity to meet up with people who come to Croatia on holiday. We still find...

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Lluna Aqua Hotel : Sóller : Mallorca

Lluna Aqua Hotel : Sóller : Mallorca

When we last visited Mallorca, one of the hotels we booked was the Lluna Aqua Hotel in Sóller. Housed in a traditional Mallorcan townhouse, which we were told had been empty for over eighty years, the renovation had only recently been completed and the hotel only...

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Brondo Architect Hotel : Palma : Mallorca

Brondo Architect Hotel : Palma : Mallorca

Over the last few years, we’ve been very lucky to be able to pack in a huge amount of travel – as well as actually move abroad, relocating from Manchester to Istria, in northern Croatia. We’ve spent the last couple of years renovating a stone house and exploring our...

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tarifa : andalusia : spain

tarifa : andalusia : spain

Tarifa lies on the Costa de la Luz, across the Strait of Gibraltar facing Morocco, in the province of Cádiz, Andalusia. Located at the southernmost end of the Iberian Peninsula, it is primarily known as one of the world's most popular destinations for windsports. We...

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salts mill : saltaire : yorkshire

salts mill : saltaire : yorkshire

It turns out Christmas Eve was just about the most perfect time to visit Salts Mill, in Saltaire, on our way up to the North East for our festive break Now a Unesco World Heritage Site, like the very beautiful Port Sunlight on The Wirral, Saltaire was an industrial...

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Metz : Grand Est : France

Metz : Grand Est : France

We first discovered the beautiful medieval city of Metz, two years ago, on our first road trip from Istria to England, for Christmas. Positioned where it is, in north eastern France, it was a good place to stop and break up the journey to Calais. We’ve stayed a few...

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The Falstaff : Canterbury : Kent : England

The Falstaff : Canterbury : Kent : England

When we drive back to England, we tend to do a much needed stopover in the south-east after the ferry crossing from Calais. This year, we plumped for The Falstaff in Canterbury, which, according to its website – …has been a focus for hospitality in Canterbury for over...

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riley’s fish shack : tynemouth : northumberland

riley’s fish shack : tynemouth : northumberland

Although it’s been a while since I lived in the North East, we do still get to experience it when we visit family. It’s become a bit of a tradition that we do a bracing post-Christmas walk, usually on the coast, and this year was no exception. On the day after Boxing...

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Frescoes : Draguć : Istria : Croatia

Frescoes : Draguć : Istria : Croatia

In northern Istria, is the small village of Draguć, somewhere I’d never heard of, let alone been to, until this summer. That’s the beauty of Istria. It’s a small peninsula and so I guess that once people who visit have been to the big-hitters – Rovinj, Porec, Pula,...

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Roxanich Wine & Heritage Hotel : Motovun : Istria

Roxanich Wine & Heritage Hotel : Motovun : Istria

Whenever we filled up the car in the garage in Motovun, we always used to say how beautiful the derelict building opposite, was. It was a huge structure, but had been clearly been abandoned some years ago. But was still an impressive structure. We imagined winning the...

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Treviso : Veneto : Italy

Treviso : Veneto : Italy

Amanda and Steve, friends who come and visit us from Manchester, usually fly into Treviso, north of Venice, spend a couple of days there and then hop on the train to Trieste where we pick them up. They keep telling us that we must visit Treviso, because we’d love it....

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Hotel Navis : Opatija Riviera : Croatia

Hotel Navis : Opatija Riviera : Croatia

What a treat, a day and night away at Hotel Navis, in Opatija, is. Built into a cliff-face, and with all rooms overlooking the sea, it is situated between Rijeka and Volosko, on Preluk Bay – and for us, not too far away from our home in Istria. We spotted the hotel on...

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Petit Sant Miquel : Calonge : Mallorca

Petit Sant Miquel : Calonge : Mallorca

After spending time on the western side of Mallorca, we decided to explore the eastern side of the island and found a gem of a hotel, called Petit Sant Miquel in the very pretty and very traditional village of Calonge. Renovated and opened in August 2018 by a...

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Hotel Grand Wiesler : Graz : Austria

Hotel Grand Wiesler : Graz : Austria

Sometimes, you see somewhere online and you just have to go. No matter what. This happened recently when I discovered the website for the Hotel Grand Wiesler, in Graz, in the Styria region of southern Austria. When we lived in Manchester, the thought of seeing a hotel...

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Maribor : Slovenia

Maribor : Slovenia

Maribor is Slovenia’s second largest city, but that doesn’t mean it’s big, by any stretch of the imagination. Up until now, we’ve overlooked it, in favour of the capital, Ljubljana, whose appeal is immediate. It’s beautiful, full of well restored and well maintained...

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Officine Cavour : Padova : Veneto : Italy

Officine Cavour : Padova : Veneto : Italy

Our second accommodation on our weekend stopover in Padova was an apartment, slap bang in the historical centre, called Officine Cavour. Directions to the car park were great – but we struggled a little bit initially to find the actual apartment. It’s located in a...

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Best Western Plus Net Tower : Padova : Veneto : Italy

Best Western Plus Net Tower : Padova : Veneto : Italy

We often drive around the outskirts of Padova (Padua) when we travel back to Istria from Italy. We’ve always found it – even with Google Maps – quite a perplexing city to get out of. It’s not a big city, but the outskirts are a bit on the confusing side, so we...

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Carnevale : Venezia : Italy

Carnevale : Venezia : Italy

Apart from Easter in Seville – Santa Semana – we’ve not witnessed a spectacle quite as amazing as the Venice Carnival. We arrived in Venice on a cold, misty February morning, having booked two nights in Venice. Not even considering what time of year it was. We stepped...

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Freetown Christiania : Copenhagen : Denmark

Freetown Christiania : Copenhagen : Denmark

We love Copenhagen. Everything about it just oozes understated style and sophistication. It is effortlessly cool. Bars and restaurants (or at least the ones we’ve visited) are contemporary without being up themselves. Shops are largely of the independent variety, and...

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Il Circolino : Citta Alta : Bergamo : Lombardy

Il Circolino : Citta Alta : Bergamo : Lombardy

On trips to Bergamo, we’ve regularly meant to eat at Il Circolino, just off Via Colleoni, up in Citta Alta. But, we’ve never done it. It’s always looked interesting. The menu has always appealed. It’s definitely inexpensive. But, in such a small city, with just so...

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Brimham Rocks : North Yorkshire

Brimham Rocks : North Yorkshire

Although we know most of the north of England fairly well, we weren’t aware of Brimham Rocks. How did we not know about them? Found on Brimham Moor in North Yorkshire, England the rocks began taking their shape roughly 320 million years ago, when water, grit, and sand...

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London : England

London : England

Not too long ago, when we still lived in Didsbury, we often thought about having time away in London, but never got round to it, because, well – London was just too far away from Manchester. The traffic would be awful. We’d end up sitting on the M6 or the M25. It was...

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Whitby : North Yorkshire

Whitby : North Yorkshire

Split by the River Esk, Whitby is one of my favourite spots on the Yorkshire coast. I always seem to have visited in the winter months, and although I am sure spring and summer are glorious (mostly!) – my impression of Whitby is of brooding and dramatic skies, and...

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the georgian townhouse : walton-on-the-naze : essex

the georgian townhouse : walton-on-the-naze : essex

Recently, we travelled south to Essex to visit a We Are Life client and decided to make a bit of trip of it. Not having ever been to Essex before, assuming it was all brash a-la “The Only Way is Essex”, we weren’t really sure what to expect and I certainly didn’t have...

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Venice : Italy : 2018

Venice : Italy : 2018

The first time I visited Venice was on a school trip, back in 1977. We’d been on a ski trip and spent a day on the way back to the airport, in the city. It was January. It was cold. And, the city was flooded. St Mark’s Square was like a pool – I remember splashing...

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Road Trip : September 18

Road Trip : September 18

We’ve made a few trips back to England since we moved out to Istria, and we’ve just completed our second road trip. Driving is definitely not the quickest way to get back, but it’s surprisingly less stressful than flying. And especially landing in a UK airport....

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Rovinj : Istria : Croatia

Rovinj : Istria : Croatia

We thought we knew Rovinj, in Istria pretty well as it’s now one of our go-to places when we need some sea air and a bit of comfort away from an on-going house renovation. We decided to stay somewhere different this time, and chanced upon the very stylish and...

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road trip : istria : italy

road trip : istria : italy

We’ve just said goodbye to our second set of friends who’ve been staying with us for a few days. Amanda and Steve had a few days in Italy first – they flew to Venice Marco Polo from Manchester and then spent a couple of days 30km north of Venice, in Treviso and then...

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Cómpeta : andalusia : spain

Cómpeta : andalusia : spain

Although much larger than Frigiliana, and perhaps not quite as immediately pretty, Cómpeta is another of Andalusia's white-washed towns - the famous pueblo blancos. In the Axarquía  (meaning 'East' in Arabic) region, with beautiful traditional architecture and ancient...

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capo testa : sardinia : italy

capo testa : sardinia : italy

Capo Testa is located in northern Sardinia and is a wild and pretty remote part of the island. For thousands of years, the powerful wind over the Mediterranean has shaped Capo Testa, into an unreal world of lunar rock formations. Smoothed from the sea breeze, the...

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pisa : tuscany : italy

pisa : tuscany : italy

A double header of an Italian trip meant that we could visit Florence and Pisa in one trip. We travelled independently and so our schedule was very flexible. The main stay was in Florence, with a train journey to Pisa. At just over an hour and less than €15 for return...

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florence : tuscany : italy

florence : tuscany : italy

Our trip to Florence was pretty whistle-stop as we also wanted to tie in Pisa, and we only had a few days. So, every time we return to Italy, if we are in the region (or thereabouts) of Florence, if we're in a car, we intend to revisit. It's not happened again yet, as...

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Bergamo : Lombardy : Italy : 2015

Bergamo : Lombardy : Italy : 2015

Bergamo, located west of Milan, in the region of Lombardy, is beautiful. Often overlooked for the more glitzy (and possibly more brash) Milan, it has everything. There is the lower, more modern town (Citta Bassa) – although, as well as your retail therapy kicks, you...

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casa 1800 : granada : andalusia

casa 1800 : granada : andalusia

Casa 1800 are hotels I've had an eye on for some time. With one in Seville and in one Granada, I figured that some way we'd find a way to visit one of them, at least, but I also assumed that price may be prohibitive. So, when we decided to visit The Alhambra again, we...

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Vineria Cozzi : Citta Alta : Bergamo : Lombardy

Vineria Cozzi : Citta Alta : Bergamo : Lombardy

We love Bergamo in Northern Italy. It's often overlooked as a gateway to its more showy neighbour, Milan, as lots of flights land here with easy transport links to the bigger city. But, you are really missing a trick if you just land in Bergamo and hop on a transfer,...

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los coracoles : frigiliana : andalusia : november 14

los coracoles : frigiliana : andalusia : november 14

On a drive from the white washed hill top town of Frigiliana, down to Torrox on the coast, we noticed some strange shaped buildings looming up on a hill ahead of us - and were totally bemused, as we drove past them, to see that they looked like hobbit style dwellings,...

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padre pio : san giovanni rotondo : foggia : italy

padre pio : san giovanni rotondo : foggia : italy

Having driven around much of Italy, I think we can safely say that this guy – Padre Pio – is very definitely a superstar saint. You can hardly escape him – statues, images, grafitti, even a whole TV channel dedicated to him. I had heard of him before & had been...

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riad mimouna : essaouira : morocco

riad mimouna : essaouira : morocco

This is riad is quite simply, stunning. Located right on the sea walls, and converted from a very grand 19th century residence, you just could not have a better place to stay in Essaouira. The entrance to the riad is breath-taking – hand carved thuya wooden ceilings,...

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hotel valemare : tropea : calabria

hotel valemare : tropea : calabria

Tropea is an absolute jewel on the Calabrian coast and we couldn’t recommend highly enough, a stay in this beautiful town. However, if you are looking for accommodation, we couldn’t recommend highly enough that you steer completely clear of Hotel Residence Valemare....

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villa mercede : frascati : lazio : italy

villa mercede : frascati : lazio : italy

Villa Mercede is a bit different to many of the hotels we choose to stay in on our travels. Personal choice, but we prefer quirky, boutique style (although not those with silly prices), old, traditional etc to modern and quite functional. Which is what Villa Mercede,...

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Hotel Rocca Della Sena, Tropea, Calabria

Hotel Rocca Della Sena, Tropea, Calabria

When we were in Italy, last year, we had an awful experience with a hotel in the beautiful Calabrian town of Tropea. We’d booked into Hotel Valemare for four nights, but it was so terrible, we left the next morning, not knowing if we’d get a refund*. We’d heard of...

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ortigia : syracuse : sicily

ortigia : syracuse : sicily

On our travels through Italy last year, we made the decision to explore the eastern coast of Sicily and having done some online research, decided that Ortigia (in the region of Syracuse), sounded like our kind of place. We took the car ferry from Reggio Calabria to...

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favignana : aegadian islands : sicily

favignana : aegadian islands : sicily

Trapani (or Birgi Airport, located about 19 km south of the city) is accessible by Ryanair from the UK. Once in Trapani, the Egadi Islands – Favignana, Marettimo and Levanzo – to the west, are as easily accessible by ferry. We chose to spend six days on Favignana –...

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tropea : calabria : italy

tropea : calabria : italy

On our travels in Italy last year, we were so lucky to find some real off-the-beaten-track places. We’d hired a car and had no real plan, apart from having a couple of weeks to get from Rome to Ortigia in Sicily on the first part of the trip. So, with trusty road map...

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semana santa : seville : andalusia : spain

semana santa : seville : andalusia : spain

Easter may be well over now, and it’s a couple of weeks since we returned, but memories of Seville are still burning very, very brightly. We were lucky enough to be there during Semana Santa (Holy Week) and, oh my word! What a spectacle! The week features the...

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Ronda : Andalucia : Spain

Ronda : Andalucia : Spain

Staying in southern Spain, with a hire car, meant that we could get out and about and really explore the region of Andalucia. One of our trips was across to the west and the amazing city of Seville. All the more amazing because we visited over Easter and this was...

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castellabate : campania : italy

castellabate : campania : italy

In my book, a “cool” place to stay doesn’t need to be hip and trendy and cutting edge. It just needs to be somewhere that isn’t bog-standard. And this place we stumbled upon – quite literally – in Castellabate, Campania is very cool, if like us, you like things that...

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angel of the north : gateshead : england

angel of the north : gateshead : england

We're big fans of Anthony Gormley's sculptures and whenever back in Formby, visiting relatives, we take a trip over to Crosby Beach and walk amongst the Iron Men statues, when the tide is out. So, on our recent Christmas trip back to the north east, we decided to get...

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le petit dejeuner : montmartre : paris

le petit dejeuner : montmartre : paris

Although Paris is packed to the gills with the most gorgeous places to eat, sometimes its the unexpected ones you stumble upon that are the most memorable. We recently stayed in Montmartre and Saturday morning was cold and grey – much like a home from home, so it was...

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venice : italy : 2013

venice : italy : 2013

Of all of the places we visited recently, Venice has to be one of the most memorable. We arrived on a cold, misty afternoon and were prepared for the weather to stay this way as we’d been under thick cloud all the way from Rimini. The lagoon, on either side of the...

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rimini : emilia-romagna : italy

rimini : emilia-romagna : italy

Rimini – Hotel DuoMo… a pretty spectacular find of a hotel, right in the heart of Rimini. Surrounded by historical buildings and vaulted, arched walkways, sits the very striking Hotel DuoMo – almost brash compared to its neighbours, but somehow it fits. Bold, cherry...

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hotel basiliani : matera : basilicata : italy

hotel basiliani : matera : basilicata : italy

The amazing Matera, in the region of Basilicata, in southern Italy, is going to have a blog post all of its own because it is quite simply, one the most incredible places we visited recently. This blog however, is all about Hotel Basiliani – a real modern jaw dropper,...

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ragusa ibla buskers’ festival : sicily

ragusa ibla buskers’ festival : sicily

We hit lucky when we were staying in Ortigia, Siciliy – a friend tipped us off about a Buskers’ Festival which was happening in the inland town of Ragusa, and so with very little knowledge about it, other than it was happening, we hit the road. The journey over to...

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anti paxos : ionian islands : greece

anti paxos : ionian islands : greece

Anti-Paxos is a tiny island, about 2 miles to the south of Paxos, in the Ionian Sea. It is reached by a speedboat service from Gaios on Paxos – but don’t miss the last one back at 5.30pm as you’ll be stranded. The two or three beach tavernas close when the last boat...

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Tuscany : Italy

Tuscany : Italy

Tuscany is an area of Italy I’ve never really discovered -I’ve visited & stayed in Florence and Pisa, but have never before experienced the rolling hills and fields full of sunflowers, which seem to be so associated with this part of Italy. But, in the first week...

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Siorra Vittoria Boutique Hotel : Corfu Town : Corfu

Siorra Vittoria Boutique Hotel : Corfu Town : Corfu

UPDATE – SEPTEMBER 2014 Once again, we found ourselves pulled towards the magic of Paxos, after travelling around Sardinia, and so when we had a night’s stop-over in Corfu town, we couldn’t resist Hotel Siorra Vittoria again. Sometimes, when you don’t have long to...

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Ortigia Market : Syracuse : Sicily

Ortigia Market : Syracuse : Sicily

The early morning market in Ortigia, Siracusa (Siciliy), is a sight to behold. Whilst we do have some excellent fresh produce markets here in the UK, this Sicilian one blew us away… Every kind of fresh vegetable and fruit seemed to be available, along with fish caught...

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