Home to over 7000 islands, The Philippines is one of those destinations that is hugely underrated compared to the other destinations in Southeast Asia. This beautiful collection of islands offers endless white sandy beaches, crystal clear waters, volcanoes, lakes, huge rice fields and impressive mountains.
We have always wanted to do some sort of Italian road trip so we decided to team up with Rentalcars.com who kindly gave us a car for the week, we then started off in the stunning city of Milan and then made our way up to the Dolomites, back down to Cinque Terre a quick stop in Pisa and then home! Here are some of our favourite picks from the trip!
Milan, a metropolis in Italy's northern Lombardy region, it is the global capital of fashion and design. Home to the national stock exchange, it’s a financial hub, also known for its high-end restaurants and shops. We fell in love with this city within the first few hours of being there, the food, drinks, architecture and just the general vibe of the place was beautiful! We were lucky enough to find a stunning little Airbnb just outside of the city centre, whom the owner was very welcoming, I’ll link the Airbnb below as it’s a beautiful location within walking distance from everything, even if you’re not up for the walk there is great public transportation close by!
Milan Airbnb - https://abnb.me/UEmsNRXfiS
Lago di braies
The Pragser Wildsee, South Tyrol
One of our first stops in the Dolomites was a valley in South Tyrol.
Lago de Braies is indeed quite incredible both for its position, framed as it by the Dolomites, and especially the imposing Croda del Becco, and for its emerald green and turquoise waters, so clear it looks like a mirror reflection.
I’d wanted to visit this lake for so long and to just be there and see it for my own eyes was breathtaking! It didn’t quite hit me until we got back to the hotel and I was looking over some photographs and drone footage. I couldn’t believe I actually took these photographs of a place so perfect and picturesque. It blew my mind! An absolute must if your visiting the Dolomites.
Fam. Erlacher, Via Egger 3, I-39030 Sorafurcia - Valdaora
South Tyrol - Italy
We found this hotel last minute and we weren’t really expecting a lot. Just a quick 20 minute drive from Lago De Braies, stood this beautiful hotel situated on the side of the mountain surrounded by absolute tranquillity.
We get to see some insanely beautiful places while traveling but when ever we head out on a trip it’s usually very full on and we have little time to our selves, so when we found out Hotel Krystall also boasts a beautiful spa, we decided to spend a few hours there and we felt all the better for it! With complimentary drinks and snacks at hand we sat looking over the Italian alps, having some much needed relaxation!
Hotel Website - https://www.hotelkristall.it
The Italian Riviera
Surrounded by vineyards, cobbled streets and pastel colored houses you'll find natural beauty and a slow pace in the Cinque Terre. The Cinque Terra (also translated to Five Lands) is made up of five small towns draped around the coast. Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore make up what’s known today as the Cinque Terre, which is part of the Italian Riviera and also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
We arrived to the most popular ‘lands’ of the five, Manarola. After parking the car, it was a short walk down into the main town. The unspoiled town was filled with small restaurants serving freshly caught fish and traditional shops selling homemade cooking oils, vinegars and homemade wines. We hiked up a small path through vineyards until we finally reached the top of the cliffside looking over the Manarola Coast, luckily we arrived just in time to watch the sunset, which is a sunset I won’t be forgetting in a hurry.
It’s not hard to see why these five small towns are so popular with tourists, whilst being very accessible by train and boat, these villages are filled with everything you need and more. It’s truly unspoiled, making it easy to relax and even spend the whole day exploring.
Best known for its iconic Leaning Tower, Pisa was our next destination. Surprisingly, it was the only place that we weren’t initially planning on going to, but considering we had a few hours free, we decided to make the trip to see what all the fuss is about. We stopped at a small Italian restaurant for some grub before taking a look around.
We found that apart from the tower, there is little to see in Pisa (compared to Venice & Florence) and the main tourist area can be seen on foot in under an hour. Obviously, the main sight in the city is the leaning tower of Pisa. It really is the most weird and impressive structure, how it is still standing is beyond me. You can climb to the top €18 if you want the best views.
A small city but its definitely worth a visit to see the ‘Leaning Tower’ alone!
For some last minute summer sun, I decided to take a trip out to Ibiza. We had a late flight and arrived late at night, so all there was to do was to grab some food and head straight to bed to be up nice and early the next morning.
Balearic Islands, Spain
After doing some general research of the island I decided that the first stop must be the mysterious rocky island that is Es Verda.
The small island of Es Verda is a place of legends, UFO sightings and great beauty. Its also said to be the third most magnetic point on the planet (yes my phone stopped working!!.) When you first set eyes on Es Verda, its not hard to see why its such mystical island. Its an incredible sight that dominates the horizon. If you are planning on taking a trip to Es Verda, I would advise hiring a car or scooter as some sort of transport, allowing you to visit what ever time of day that you like. Es Verda is only a 35 minute drive from San Antonio by car.
Balearic Islands, Ibiza, Spain
Next up is the beautiful town of Ibiza, a place of narrow cobbled streets and great restaurants amongst small friendly communities. After filling our stomachs with some fresh bananas from the local market, we decided to make the 30 minute trek up to the top of Dalt Vila. There are many paths up to the top but we decided to just keep walking and hope for the best.
After reaching the top, the first thing we saw was the view. Being so high up, we were looking over Ibiza Old Town, Playa d'en bossa, salt pans of Las Salines and the rest of the Mediterranean in its entirety. With its white washed walls, orange roofs and sparkling turquoise waters, this place is truly the image you see on postcards.
For a break from exploring, its easy to find somewhere to eat or recharge your body with plenty of bars and restaurants. It's easy to lose track of time exploring this quaint town, so just be sure to wear comfy shoes!
Ibiza Old Town, Spain
We were invited down to the closing party in Ushuaïa on September 15th. The night featured Tinie Tempah, Jax Jones and Dj Charlsey. The open air venue has an incredible atmosphere with friendly and welcoming staff.
Its situated right by the famous Playa d'en Bossa beach, giving it a prime popular location. Ushuaïa is known for hosting its legendary parties, attracting thousands of guests at each event, with the biggest names in music and stunning stage production. It's easy to see why this is at the pinnacle of Ibiza nights.
Many revelers have this nightclub written on their bucket list of places to visit, simply because of the amazing reviews and feedback from those that have visited the place. I would advise to buy your tickets in advance as they sell out pretty quickly.
Platja d'en Bossa 10, Ibiza, Spain
Within the final few days we found ourselves trying to find the mysterious Lost city of Atlantis. Situated opposite the island of Es Verda, it is a common spot with the locals and known as one of the spiritual cores of Ibiza. It's a lengthy walk down and an especially tough one in the Summer sun.
The area was originally used as a quarry farm to build the walls of ibiza town. Many years on the weird yet incredible rock formations make it a perfect place to relax, have a picnic, take a swim in the cool mediterranean waters and has some amazing rocks to do some acrobatics off of.
Be sure to take plenty of water with you - the trek back up is a lot tougher than the way down! Also be sure to leave in good time before the sun goes down as it's not somewhere you would want to be in the dark.
Lost City, Ibiza
A U G U S T 1 7
For a late summer trip in Europe we decided to head back to one of our favorite cities, Amsterdam. We partnered up with IAMSTERDAM who kindly give us two City cards so we could fully explore the city without limits.
The card gives you free entry to some of Amsterdam's best museums and attractions, it gets you free unlimited use of the bus, trams & metros, a free canal cruise, discounts and special offers throughout Amsterdam and its surrounding areas (the list is endless!). This card was a saint, it honestly made getting around the city very stress free. You can pre-order them online or purchase one upon arrival in the IAMSTERDAM store located at Schiphol Airport.
I Amsterdam City Card
Free entry to the city's top attractions and free public transport for the duration of your stay.
After our short flight from Cardiff Airport, we arrived in Amsterdam and checked into our first hotel, The Hotel Exchange. Located on Damrak Avenue, it was a great location and only a two minute stroll to Dam square. The Hotel The Exchange is a considered a fashion hotel with a variety a unique rooms all designed by young fashion designers from the Amsterdam Fashion Institute. Its truly a great, quirky hotel and I'd highly recommend staying there. Plus the breakfast at Stock (the hotels cafe situated right next door) is literally to die for!
Hotel The Exchange
Damrak 50, Amsterdam, Noord-Holland, 1012 LL
For our second night in Amsterdam we were reccomended a lovely restaurant called De IJ-Kantine, located in Amsterdam North. We took the ferry (which is free btw!! I know right) over to Amsterdam North where the restaurant was right within walking distance. The location was unreal. Possibly one of the most picturesque places, especially at 7PM when the sun was setting. The food we had was a delight, and the service was excellent. They couldn't do enough for us! it was perfect.
Mt. Ondinaweg 15-17 (From the back of central station you can catch the NDSM ferry)
After an amazing few days it was time to check in to our next Hotel, The Canal House. A canal side luxury hotel that was home to Dutch merchants in the 1600s. This place was gorgeous, situated in a quiet but great location, just a short walk from the artistic Jordaan district and the Anne Frank House.
The bedroom boasts a king size bed, (Oh Yeah!!) a grand fireplace, with views extending onto the garden, and a pretty big bathtub which makes this place the perfect getaway. The staff at Canal house were extremely accommodating, friendly and even recommended us some of their favorite places to go in Amsterdam. After possibly one of the best nights sleep I've had, we made our way to the breakfast room, where there was a complimentary buffet. It was beautifully presented and had a vast variety of cuisines for all tastes. They basically had everything you need in a good breakfast to start you on your day of exploring!
Keizersgracht 148, 1015 CX Amsterdam, Netherlands.
Our final stop in Amsterdam was the Gem that is Foodhallen. This place was built in a renovated tram depot in October 2014. The concept was inspired by indoor food markets from around the world, a big hall with high ceiling with 20 stalls serving different cuisines. This is a very informal place, you wander through dozens of food stalls, make your pick, buy a drink, and try to find a table or be friendly and share with others.
Although being a little bit out from the way from the city centre where we were staying, the food and drink was worth the journey. It holds a great atmosphere and thats why this place is a must if your visiting Amsterdam.
Bellamyplein 51, 1053 AT Amsterdam, Netherlands