Destination, Barcelona.

Features, Uncategorized

People travel for many different reasons. To find themselves, to lose themselves, to escape daily life and to experience the unknown. Travel is a mental journey, just as much as a physical one. For me, travel is what I turn to when I don’t know where I’m headed. When my life reaches a sudden point of change and I am forced to decide on the next step, that step is usually in the direction of the nearest airport check-in desk.

It all started when I finished school and didn’t know what I wanted to study at university. Instead of dealing with this unnerving prospect, I decided to take a gap year and booked a flight to South East Asia. I spent six months backpacking through various countries and while I was there decided I wanted to study many things, photography, psychology and nutrition, to name just a few. I ended up choosing none of these subjects but having one of the best experiences of my life. Fast forward three years and I graduated from university and was faced with the even more daunting task of entering the ‘real world’ and perhaps even finding a job, so me and my best friend – neither of us particularly thrilled by this prospect – began planning a trip to Indonesia and Malaysia. When I was diagnosed with a chronic illness last year, despite the fact that just getting out of bed was the last thing I felt like doing, I cautiously packed my bags and spent two weeks travelling up the Croatian coastline with my boyfriend. The amount of prescription drugs I was carrying was enough to get me stopped at security, but the best medication was being in a new country, experiencing the unknown, discovering the undiscovered.

This habit of reaching for my trusty old backpack when things get complicated has stuck with me as the years have gone on – although admittedly now it is often a suitcase I’m packing for a weekend mini-break, rather than a six month expedition. When I’m feeling low or unfulfilled I find myself scrolling through stranger’s beach snaps on Instagram, manically Googling holiday deals online and day-dreaming about my next adventure.

Recently, my agreeable nine to five existence came abruptly to a halt and I was faced with whole load of those dreaded, daunting decisions, so naturally I reached for my laptop and Lonely Planet and began planning a trip.

Funnily enough, one thing I don’t mind deciding on is where to travel to on my next journey. This time I settled on four nights in dynamic Barcelona. A city bustling with art, culture, history, shopping, beaches and of course, nightlife. I would go so far as to say that Barcelona is the pretty much the perfect destination for a mini-break, whether you have in mind a romantic escape for you and your other half or an energetic girls weekend away. Culture buffs, sun-worshippers, shopaholics and alcoholics, Barcelona will prevail. Absorb yourself in Gaudi’s awe-inspiring architecture, soak up some sun on the beautiful coastline (the weather was just about warm enough for sunbathing when we visited, although I didn’t brave the bikini) or treat your tastebuds to the illustrious tapas dishes and sip copious amounts of Sangria. Do any or all of these things. This city is what you make it.

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Hanging Out In Krakow

Features, Food

Briefly put aside Krakow’s extensive, captivating history and the horrors which bring 1.4 million fascinated tourists to the area each year, and the city itself can best be described as, well, a lovely place.

While the Auschwitz museum and memorial is responsible for the majority of these visitors, I couldn’t think of a nicer place to return to after perhaps one of the most overwhelming and emotionally exhausting days of my life. Though it doesn’t take long to complete TripAdvisor’s Krakow ‘must-do’ list – we found we had ticked almost everything off in a couple of days – it is the diverse selection of “hang-outs” which will keep you enthralled day after day. Oh, and the vodka is pretty good too.
Eszeweria, Jewish Quarter

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I confess, I had a little help from The Guardian in finding this little gem, suitably hidden in the Jewish Quarter of Krakow, this bar is the archetype of the bohemian bar. One gloomy, bare-walled room, leads to the next, winding through the dusty antiques and clusters of locals chatting in the candle-light. Screaming character and authenticity, Eszeweria is no attempt at capturing the spirit of Kazimierz, it is the real deal.
Alchemia, Jewish Quarter

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If you have been to Kazimierz at night, you have probably been to Alchemia, as it is the place to go to enjoy a drink whilst experiencing the atmosphere of the former Jewish district. This it does exceptionally well, with its candle-lit rooms, forgotten photographs and intriguing furnishings, the only downside is, every tourist in Krakow is doing the same thing.
La Habana, Jewish Quarter

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Looking for something a little bit more Cuban? No, I wasn’t either, but La Habana was just across the street from our hotel and I couldn’t help but be intrigued by this shabby looking little den. A super-friendly barmaid offered us a selection of vodkas to try (but they also have a extensive menu of beer cocktails,) while subtle lighting and Latin American tunes offered a laid-back but cheerful atmosphere and the locals puffed away on hand-rolled Cuban cigars.

Staropolskie Trunki Regionalne, Old Town

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This place is somewhere between a bar and an alcohol shop, with a friendly sign outside inviting passers by to come and try traditional polish tipples, namely, vodka. Though pretty intimidating at first – the selection of flavours is quite spectacular – after a couple of free taster shots we were happily sitting, sipping and watching the world go by. I challenge anyone to leave this bar without falling in love with vodka all over again.
Cryano de Bergerac, Slawkowska 26

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We spent our last evening dining by candlelight in the brick-lined cellar of one of Krakow’s many old buildings. This cellar has been transformed into one of Krakow’s premier restaurants, serving gourmet French and Polish cuisine in spectacularly authentic surroundings and has seen guests such as Roman Polanski and Prince Charles dine at its tables. Although a bit on the more expensive side for Poland prices, the ambience and location, not to mention the mouthwatering food, were worth every zloty.