We arrived at Has & Has Porta Dextra on a very chilly afternoon in January ready to warm our insides with some good local Austrian wine. We enjoyed looking around the shops vast array of food on sale including fresh meats, loaves of bread, nibbly bits, fancy popcorn and of course a lot of wine!
We were greeted warmly and shown downstairs into the upper level of the cellar where all the wines were displayed for customers to peruse at their leisure. A little table was set up with some fresh tasty snacks and 2 empty wine glasses just waiting to be filled!
Barney Our Wine Connoisseur
Our wine tasting host Barney joined us and introduced himself. He was super friendly and clearly very enthusiastic about wine and the cellars in which he worked. Barney invited us to ask questions as we go and was very approachable – even to us wine tasting novices! Barney was keen that we tried wines in which we liked and so we told him our preferences for white wine and he adjusted his suggestions accordingly to our tastes.
As we nibbled on the accompanying snack board full of meat, bread and cheese, Barney poured us our first glass of wine to taste – a very easy to drink local wine. Barney told us about the region in which the wine came from, about the grapes used and showed us pictures on a map to give us an idea of its distance from the city and type of landscape on which the wine is produced.
Sneak Peek of the Cellars
Whilst Barney topped up our glasses, he showed us down to the lower levels of the cellars. He told us all about the history of the cellars – which date back centuries – and how the wine would have been transported and stored here in Vienna. There was history to be heard from back to Roman times which makes you realise how long humans have been enjoying wine! I can tell you that after three weeks of being on anti-biotics and not drinking for a few weeks longer, the wine was going down very well indeed at this point!
The cellars can be rented out for events and parties; the brickwork and lighting add to the cool vibe of the place and I can see why it is popular for hosting exclusive functions. We went back upstairs and sampled two further gorgeous tasting white Austrian wines. Again, as with our first wine, Barney told us where they came from, how they were made and any accompanying history about the company.
After tasting the three wines we chose our favourite and asked Barney to put a bottle aside for us for we were planning to enjoy our final night at our Air B&B with some home cooking and some good wine. Barney left us to it to finish our glasses and the remainder of the snacks (avoiding the horseradish – why is that so popular in Austria?! We finished up, brought our wine and headed back out into the cold crisp Austrian air (for which I think I needed!).
The wine tasting experience can be booked through the 365 Days in Vienna website. 365 Days is a company that offers sightseeing tours and excursions allowing both tourists and locals to see the best of what the city has to offer. They offer all sorts of tours including the Scent of the Empress perfume tour, Vienna photography Tour and a chance to discover the secrets of the Fiakers (another tour we tried). They also offer the incredible looking sparkling sightseeing in a classic electric car which includes a 40-minute sightseeing tour with sparkling wine (insert link) and what’s not to like about that?! If you are visiting Vienna anytime soon then certainly get in touch with the lovely Marco from 365 Days in Vienna and get some awesome sightseeing tours booked! 365 Days in Vienna can also be found on Instagram and Facebook so go check them out!
The wine tasting experience costs €27.50 per person (approx £23.00). The duration is stated to last 30 minutes, although we had a little longer with Barney and we weren’t rushed in any way to finish our drinks and snacks after the tasting had finished. There was no pressure to buy any of the products sampled either which was nice – no one likes the hard sell do they!
We both really enjoyed our wine tasting experience and appreciated getting to see and hear about the wine cellars too. If you’re interested in wine (and drinking it!), with a bit of history and some tasty snacks thrown in too then this is the tour for you! Big thanks to Barney for being a lovely, friendly and knowledgeable host and for 365 Days in Vienna for gifting us this experience.
***Whilst the wine tasting tour as gifted to us by 365 Days in Vienna in return for this review, all thoughts, opinions and pictures are my own.***
When we visited Geneva, Switzerland back in August for Nathan’s 30th birthday we stayed at the fantastic ibis Styles Geneve Mont Blanc hotel. I chose the hotel for its great city-centre location and modern looking rooms and we weren’t disappointed.
When we arrived we were warmly greeted by the staff at reception who checked us in and told us a little bit about the hotel and local hotspots in Geneva. We had been delayed overnight when flying from Bristol and so annoyingly had missed a night at the hotel. Unfortunately, the hotel was unable to reimburse the money spent for the night we missed or add a day onto the end of our stay, as I had brought a non-changeable or refundable rate on booking.com. Whilst this was a shame and felt a little frustrating at the time, I guess this is what happens when things like delays occur that are out of your control and you book the cheapest rate possible for a room online! Luckily, we did get compensation from Easyjet for our cancelled flight and this covered my losses so it all worked out in the end!
Our room was a few floors up in the lift and was bright and modern. Nathan was excited to find a mini bottle of prosecco, chocolate and special birthday note on the bed – this was such a lovely touch and made the stay extra special given we ended up actually arriving in Geneva on Nathan’s 30th birthday. The Ovaltine chocolate, by the way, was super scrummy and I ended up buying a bigger bar to take home!
We liked the modern yet simple design to the room and of course the huge TV! The theme of the cogs and wheels followed throughout the whole hotel, including the bathroom where the cog pattern was etched into the shower door.
The bathroom was clean, modern and the shower had plenty of hot water. There wasn’t anything to dislike about this room to be honest – it suited our needs and was ideal for our little mini-break.
The hotel’s location is fab! Right in the streets of the city and a short walk from the main train station and tourist information office. It is also within a 10-minute walk of the lakefront making it the perfect location to reach either the city’s shops or Lake Geneva on foot. It was also next door to an ice cream shop so we made the most of this by having late-night ice cream!
Free wifi is available and actually works which was good and helped us plan our itinerary for the short trip. We had a late evening flight back to Bristol on the day we left and the hotel kept our bags for us after we had checked out so we didn’t need to lug them around whilst sightseeing – always very helpful and much appreciated!
The hotel offers a buffet-style breakfast which was really good actually. Available was fruit, yoghurt, cereals, meat, cheeses and pastries. There was a small selection of hot foods and pancakes too!
We liked the little dining area too with its modern and chic feel. There seemed to be travellers from all over Europe when we visited so there was a really nice friendly, multi-cultural feel at breakfast.
Probably the best bit about this area was the drinks machine – free hot drinks of all varieties offered 24/7 for you to help yourself too and take away aswell. The hot chocolate was divine!
Overall, the ibis Styles Geneve Mont Blanc Hotel was the perfect place to stay for a busy and fun trip in Geneva – I can see why it has such good reviews on Tripadvisor now! A great mix of comfort, modern amenities, cleanliness and a good breakfast. The special touch of the birthday greeting was extra special too – thank you ibis!
Travelling solo can seem a bit daunting, even to those of us who love the freedom and adventure it brings. If you have a few bucket-list trips up your sleeve, however, and are planning to set out independently, there are a few tips that will help you along the way. Packing light is one, and leaving copies of your passport and bank cards with someone back home is another. A little forward research is useful too. Check out the handy survival guides at 1Cover for even more advice.
1) Find the street stalls
Award-winning travel writer Ben Groundwater recommends heading for street stalls, such as the hawker stalls in Singapore, where you can enjoy amazing dishes at incredibly affordable prices. What’s more, the shared tables of street stalls are perfect if you are on your own; you just pull up a stool and eat with the locals and fellow travellers.
2) Solo-friendly accommodation
Look out for places to stay that are sociable. Hostels are an ideal choice, and offer opportunities to mingle with other travellers, but also small hotels, B&Bs, pubs and inns tend to offer more personal, friendly service, as well as handy tips and advice. Camping grounds can also be a great option, with plenty of community feeling. It’s a good idea to stay away from the larger hotels, which can sometimes feel a bit more formal and charge single supplements.
3) Get multi-trip insurance
Not necessarily the fun part of travelling – who likes buying something they hope they won’t need? – but proper travel insurance is essential for peace of mind and potentially digging you out of an unforeseen hole. Imagine how stuck you could be if you woke up one morning to find your passport, money and phone had gone missing. The world would suddenly feel like a very hostile place. Find yourself an annual multi-trip policy, and travel with protection.
4) Stay safe
Travelling solo can easily increase your vulnerability. Get smart and protect yourself. Ditch the bulging bum bag, or obvious travel wallet, which shows the world where you are keeping your valuables. Be aware of who’s around you when you stop in the street to look at a map or your phone, remember that some people who approach you to “practise their English” may have other less friendly motives in mind.
Access all areas. Some of the top travel experiences in the world require a cruise. Think of the unique wildlife of the Galapagos Islands, located some 1,000km off the coast of Ecuador. Or the awe-inspiring frozen landmass of Antarctica. Even parts of remote Western Australia, such as the beautiful, rugged Kimberley region, are best experienced on a small cruise ship. And cruising is a great fit for solo travellers. Join the more than 2 million UK and Irish travellers that have discovered the benefits of cruising.
6) Stay in touch
We all like to travel to get away from it all, and lots of us who choose to travel alone do so just for that very reason. But we also need to know we can get in touch when we want to. And it needn’t cost a fortune in data or excess mobile phone charges, either. Look out for free WiFi in cafes, bars and restaurants, download free phone apps such as Skype, and social media apps that let you call friends, such as WhatsApp. And find a phone plan that is tailored for travel in the parts of the world you plan to visit.
What are your top tips for travelling solo? I’d love to hear them!
Two days in Dubai! Wow, for this a lot of people will say that its nothing as compared to the enormous number of attractions, some would say it is enough to capture the essence of this majestic city, if you plan it right. Well, we can’t agree more and that is why here’s presenting a well-crafted itinerary for all those who get to stay for just 2 days in Dubai. This is your perfect schedule to enjoy your time while in Dubai and explore the most revered attractions of the city. Read on.
Day 1: Explore iconic attractions that make Dubai the Best Tourist Destination in the World
Grandeur of Dubai Mall:
Irrespective of whether shopping is there on your mind or not, exploring the Dubai mall is a must. It gives Dubai the status of having the largest mall in the world with footfalls higher than people visiting New York in a year. Enjoy your time with 1200+ retail outlets, 150+ food court stalls, 25-screen multiplex cinema, Olympic ski rink, and so much more. Don’t forget to visit the Candyland, the world’s largest candy store. Inside the mall itself, is the world’s largest aquarium, the Dubai aquarium and the Dubai underwater zoo, home to world’s best, rarest marine species. We promise you wouldn’t want to step out of the mall.
Mighty Burj Khalifa
Without visiting the Burj Khalifa, your 2 days in Dubai itinerary is incomplete. It enjoys the status of the tallest building in the world. But you just don’t get to see it, you can go to the top and enjoy the majestic views too. Take a ride on one of the world’s fastest elevator and enjoy panoramic views of Dubai from the observation deck on Burj Khalifa’s 124th floor. Top up this experience by buying tickets for the 148th-floor observatory deck. Watch the sunset from Dubai’s highest point and experience what it feels to stand on the world’s tallest tower, literally!
Dhow Cruise to End Your First Day
Make your way to populous Dubai Marina for your evening Dhow Cruise and a special dinner. Why do we suggest it? Simply because after the hectic day of watching and experiencing the most iconic attractions of Dubai, you need to unwind and relax. Spend two blissful hours sailing the waters of the Persian Gulf in the traditional Dhow vessel, modernised enough to suit your needs and taste. It is Arabs original trading vessel used since the ancient times. It’s almost as if you take a ride in the history. Enjoy the amazing Dubai’s glittering skyline, high-rise buildings lit up to the nines, and their lights reflecting on the waters. Relish a delectable Emirati buffet dinner on board and enjoy the entertainment by belly dancers, henna artists, and tanura dancers as well. The best way to enjoy it is to incorporate this in your itinerary of Dubai packages in order to avoid last-minute hassles and cancellations. This way at the end of the day, the cruise will be awaiting your gracious presence and no last-minute reservation issues required.
Day 2: Explore the Attractions that form the Soul of Dubai Makes it a Must- Visit Place
It’s time to visit the traditional markets (souqs) of Dubai. Dubai holds the world famous spice, textile, carpet, and the much known gold souqs in Bur Dubai and Deira area. The narrow lanes of the traditional Arabic streets cobbled with old stalls loaded with spices, nuts, berries and rarest in the world dry fruit varieties. Cross the Dubai Creek from the Deira to the Bur Dubai side 1 AED on a wooden vessel known as the Abra. Visit the Meena Bazaar, in the old city. These old areas of Dubai are its soul as these are the places where trading started in Dubai centuries ago. Even if you don’t want to shop (which is highly unlikely) experiencing the diversity, vibrancy of the place is fun in itself.
On the second day of your 2 days in Dubai, visit the Al Fahidi Neighbourhood. The entire area defines what life would’ve been before the tourist and oil boom in Dubai with its narrow alleyways, the beautiful art galleries, traditional cafes serving Arabian delicacies, and the rustic crumbling houses built of black coral. Visit the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding for sure. It is a place that literally offers a sneak peak into the past of the humble Dubai before oil was discovered. Spend some time soaking in the glorious history of the UAE. Don’t forget to visit the Dubai Museum for its collection of weaponry, armour, pearls exhibit, tools, and dioramas of life of the ancient Dubai.
Dubai Desert Safari
Spend your last evening in Dubai doing something which makes the entire trip worthwhile. Enjoy the magnificent Dubai Desert Safari. Gear up to enjoy some adrenaline-jerking dune bashing, adventurous quad biking, one of a kind sand boarding and laid-back camel riding. Followed by a fabulous Emirati buffet, along with entertainment of belly and tanura dancing. If your flight is in the morning and you have full night, you can enjoy the overnight safari and spend a night under the starry blanket of stars. It’s an experience of a lifetime.
Two days in Dubai seems so less compared to the enormous attractions it has in store for every traveller but that does not mean we don’t enjoy the best of Dubai even if it is for two days. So next time you have a weekend to spare or a business trip that can have a halt at Dubai even for two days, don’t think twice. Book the break journey and plan your stay in Dubai to perfectly mix business and fun together.
Have you ever been to Dubai? It’s certainly on my bucket list! Let me know in the comments below!
As part of my solo South West tour of England back in September 2018 I stayed at the incredible Hideaway at Kingsland Farm – a gorgeous shepherds hut retreat just outside Dorset. Check out my full review of my wonderful stay.
What’s On Bridport
Whilst in Bridport I was sure to check out the town and see what it had to offer. Parking my car was easy and I enjoyed walking through the town’s high street. I reached the tourist information office and of course brought a couple of postcards!
I made my way to the Bridport Museum – a free museum detailing the history of Bridport and life in Dorset. There are lots of interesting displays telling visitors all about the market town and stories from days gone by. There’s a gallery dedicated to Anglo-Saxon times and an interesting display of rocks and fossils.
There was lots to learn about the town’s famous net and rope making industry and some interesting machinery to look at. There are over 800 years of history to read about and some interactive display points to keep people interested too.
Considering the museum is free to enter I think there is so much to see and learn and it was really well maintained. If you’re looking for something free to do whilst in Bridport then it really is a must!
Home Front Home Exhibition
Back in September when I visited the museum there was a really interesting temporary exhibition called ‘Home Front Home’. The exhibition was commemorating 100 years since the end of World War I and focused on telling women’s stories from the war and how they experienced the time in Bridport.
Display boards told stories of 7 different women who lived through the war and tells you all about their different roles and responsibilities. It was so interesting to hear about the local women and see pictures of where they lived and worked.
Bridport Arts Centre and Philip Sutton Exhibition
After enjoying my time at the Bridport Museum I stopped off at the Bridport Arts Centre – a centre featuring art exhibitions, cinema shows, and other arty events. I stumbled across an art exhibition – Philip Sutton at 90 – which celebrated the artwork of Philip Sutton.
The artwork was really incredible and there were several pieces I really liked. I appreciated the bright colours of the paintings and would have happily brought a couple for my flat if I had been able to afford the price tags!
After all that walking around and learning I was in need of a cuppa tea and a tasty snack. I stopped off at one of the many tempting cafes along the main high street and sat outside watching the locals going about their daily lives. I can’t remember what was in this cake but it was so bloomin tasty – I know that! I enjoyed it whilst reading through some local leaflets I had picked up from the tourist information office and planned to head to some of the nearby beaches.
Have you ever been to Bridport? What did you think? Did I miss anything out?
Sandbanks Beach in Poole, Dorset has got to be one of the nicest beaches in Dorset, if not the whole of England! It’s sandy dunes, gentle waves and long stretches of sand make it a lovely place to visit for a relaxing day on the beach.
I enjoyed a couple of hours relaxing on Sandbanks Beach during my solo South West tour of England back in September. The weather was still quite warm and despite the clouds, it was very pleasant to sit and watch the waves. There were quite a few cheeky seagulls to keep an eye out for too!
I lived in Poole for a year whilst I was doing my master’s degree at Bournemouth University so I have visited Sandbanks quite a few times. I was able to sit and reminisce on my masters days and think about all the fun I had.
After some time spent relaxing and reflecting it was time for me to leave the beach and head to my Air B&B for the night. The accommodation was not far from Sandbanks and was clean, cozy and had all I needed. I enjoyed an evening chilling out in front of the TV before heading to explore Exbury Gardens and Steam Railway in Hampshire the next day. I am sure I will return to Sandbanks again one day!
Have you ever been to Sandbanks beach or any of the other beaches in Dorset?