Driving through Transylvania’s Fortified Saxon villages and exploring Bran Castle

Once you creep over the Transylvanian Alps, you’re into a wide lowland area of rolling hills that is dotted with picturesque Fortified Saxon Villages, well preserved Old Towns and, of course, the famous Dracula castle of Bran Castle.  Whilst some parts of more worth visiting than others, the whole area easily allows you to dream back to what it must have been like in a bygone age untouched by the modern world
The Citadel of Sighisoara, Bran Castle and the fortified church of Viscri are must sees.  The rest is more about the slow paced vibe of the Transylvanian lowlands.  Total of 2-3 days is probably enough, and I’ve listed some tips below

A day for the highlights of Milan

Milan felt like the definition of style – not only the perfect buildings and the art, but everyone walking around looks like they’re just about to hit the catwalk.  Maybe this was just a summer thing, but either way it seemed to ooze style!

That being said, I didn’t find it a particularly deep city for things to do / see, so I’d say a full day is enough, with some obvious sites to draw your attention

Portugal highlights on a 2 week roadtrip

Portugal is a great country for visiting for 10/14 days as it has a heap of varied things to experience and not vast distances to cover.  By basing yourself in the 3 major areas of Porto / The Douro Valley, Lisbon, and the Algarve, you can use each as a hub for adventures nearby and also be able to stop off on a few places directly in between that are great for a couple of hours or so

 

Big highlights for me were actually some of the smaller places that I’d never heard of before I arrived in Portugal.  In particular the gorgeous Duoro Valley wine region, the hilltop town of Sintra and the beautifully charming streets of Cascais.  Plus, the more famous highlights of port tasting in Porto and various neighbourhoods of Lisbon

 

Each piece that makes up this itinerary has its own travel post, but I’ve also condensed the key points and listed some more general tips below

2 days in London and top 10 things to do

One of the world’s premier cities and with just about everything you could hope for in a 2 day city visit.  World famous sites such as the Houses of Parliament and the Tower of London; world class restaurants, shopping areas and entertainment venues; vast parks which give you the opportunity to break away from the mayhem; and, of course, the mania that surround the Royal Family and their residences.  Yes, its busy, but it’s also a must visit city

 

There’s obviously heaps and heaps of things to do.  I’ve listed out below what I think are the top 10 split between must-sees and great to sees.  Plus, some general tips for how to get the most out of your visit

Classic highlights of Paris

One of the world’s most famous cities and with some of the most recognisable landmarks anywhere, Paris is quite simply one of world’s must-visit destinations.  However, it is unfortunately quite common for people to leave Paris a little disappointed.  In fact, Paris Syndrome (“a sense of disappointment exhibited by individuals when visiting Paris”) is a thing.  This is less down to the lack of allure from the big ticket highlights, and more people’s disappointment that Paris doesn’t meet their romantic dream-like expectations of the peaceful walk along the tree lined streets all to themselves as they drift to find a hidden restaurant with that perfect table sat out the front under the stars with perfect views of the Eiffel Tower . . . ahhhhh how wonderful . . . oh and with the subtle music playing in the background and that perfect (reasonably priced) meal . . . ahhhhh, yes, how dreamy.  Of course, the reality is that Paris is a big expensive modern city with millions of fellow tourists wanting a piece of the action and the ever-present risk of the moody grey Northern French weather

 

So, whilst I think many people do get that perfect visit, many don’t as they either don’t know the secrets or don’t have a local to show them round.  I’ve visited Paris several times, but haven’t really had that local knowledge, so I’m going to score the visit based on that which, in summary, is still “one of the world’s must-visit destinations” based on its big ticket attractions, but don’t build up your expectations to the point that you leave with Paris Syndrome

Two days in Florence

As cradle of the Renaissance, Florence quite rightly is seen as one of the “must visit” sites in all of Europe.  The Duomo, Michelangelo’s David and the Ponte Vecchio are world-class sites that are enjoyable for both art and non-art lovers, and the setting looking out across the terracotta roofs and to the distant Tuscan mountains really are beautiful.  But, I would say that a big part of Florence’s enjoyment is dependent on your knowledge of Renaissance art and, if you don’t have that, it can get a tad tiring.  If, like me, you are in that less cultured group, I would suggest either learning more about it before the visit (I would recommend reading the fascinating biography of Leonardo da Vinci for a bit of a starter that certainly helped me with a bit of context), or limit your visit to 2 days

Three days in Rome

One of the most famous cities in the world and, when I think about my “Culture” rating, arguably the most culturally rich city in the world as well.  I’ve visited Rome twice and, despite my love for all things Roman history, it was at a time when I didn’t get as much out of the city as I’d wished to have and so I won’t write a detailed review.  Instead, as I look back on my visits there, I’ve shared below some high level tips to hopefully steer you in the right direction

Hiking and swimming in the rock pools of Kakadu National Park

Kakadu is the highlight of the top half of Australia’s Northern Territory.  A vast national park where the combination of scorching dry seasons and flooded wet seasons have created sharp rock formations and billabongs that attract a variety of wildlife and make it feel like the definition of what you have in mind when you think of Australian Wilderness.  In addition, its one of the best places in the country to experience the traditional Aboriginal way of life with its ancient rock art

 

Only a brief travel entry on this occasion as we only had a day in this wonderful place, but is to head out to one of the many hikes that finish with a refreshing swim in the rock pools and views across the national park.  Motorcar Falls was in particular beautiful