I literally cannot believe it is March already! Yesterday marked exactly 5 weeks until we head off on 100 days of travel around Europe and on Sunday we booked our flights home to Australia in July! This year has sped by so fast already and we’ve had a few lovely getaways to the coast and to London as well as an incredible holiday to Scotland, the last country in the UK I had left to visit! With just over a month left in the UK these last few weeks are going to be incredibly busy as we try to see everyone before we leave and also try and pack up our lives over here!
Where have we been?
In January we were asked by the travel money experts, Travelex to plan the best day possible in London using a Multi Currency Passport with $150 Australian Dollars loaded on it and share our day with all our readers! Armed with our oyster card and cash passport we spent our day trying all the foodie delights in Camden Town and Borough Market, strolling beautiful, colourful Portobello Road Market in Notting Hill, cruising around London’s parks on our “Boris Bikes”, catching the best views of London from the View from the Shard, stumbling across the Winter Festival at Southbank and stopping for a few drinks at the Rekorderlig Cider Lounge which had real live fire pits outside and having a delicious dinner at a traditional English Pub, The Ship Tavern.
We hadn’t planned it but our day in London also coincided with the Lumiere London light festival which was taking place over the weekend. Lumiere was a free light festival which was held for the weekend in over 30 locations across London! We strolled through Piccadilly, Regent Street and Leicester Square to check out the installations there which were really interesting! By the time we made it home that night we literally felt like our feet were about to fall off! We had an incredible day in London and if you can read more about our adventures as a #TravelexTourist here.
We also headed down to the coast to Eastbourne for a romantic Valentines Weekend and stayed at the gorgeous Grand Hotel Eastbourne. We left feeling relaxed, pampered and rejuvenated after a weekend in luxury by the seaside!
The highlight of our last few months has certainly been our trip to Scotland last week! The week we spent in Scotland was incredible and we were absolutely blown away with how beautiful Scotland was. We crammed as much as we could into a 24 hour stay in Edinburgh and managed to try countless types of Scottish Whisky at The Scotch Whisky Experience, explored the seriously impressive Edinburgh Castle, ate a deep fried mars bar and hiked up Arthurs Seat to take in the beautiful 360° views of Edinburgh which is something we recommend for anyone visiting Edinburgh!
We then picked up our hire car and headed North into the Highlands. Over the next week we explored stunning Glencoe and Loch Lomond National Park, Glenfinnan and the Harry Potter bridge, Inverness, the Cairngorms, and Loch Ness. The scenery was so incredible and we spent our days hiking and exploring before returning to our beautiful log cabin to relax of an evening! We even took a dip in Loch Ness which was on my Bucket List and brrrrrrrrr it was freezing cold! We absolutely fell in love with Scotland and cannot wait to come back and explore further.
Where have we stayed?
We stayed at The Grand Eastbourne for a romantic Valentines weekend. Eastbourne is a large seaside resort which has an enchanting mix of classic Victorian architecture, natural beauty and English heritage ensuring it is one of the UK’s favourite seaside destinations. The hotel is ideally situated on the seafront in Eastbourne and commands breathtaking views of the sea and the dramatic cliffs at Beachy Head. The Grand Eastbourne is one of Eastbourne’s most iconic landmarks and also has the incredible accolade of being the only 5-star luxury hotel on the British coast! The hotel is elegant, luxurious and timeless and our weekend was absolutely perfect and everything we’d hoped it would be.
Our first stop in Scotland was Edinburgh where we stayed at the iconic, luxurious G&V Royal Mile Hotel. The G&V Royal Mile Hotel is wonderfully located in this gorgeous city and has the incredible accolade of being the only five-star hotel on the historic Royal Mile, the most iconic street in Edinburgh. The G&V in addition to its ideal location boasts stylish rooms, beautiful city views and impeccable service. We had an incredible stay at the G&V Royal Mile Hotel, the hotel was ideally located and I truly couldn’t think of a better located hotel to stay at in Edinburgh. The service we received was top notch and that which you would expect of a top five star hotel but with an added friendliness and warmth from every member of staff we interacted with during our stay. Edinburgh was a city that won our hearts very quickly and our stay at the G&V Royal Mile played a big part in that.
Our final destination in Scotland was Fort Augustus on the shores of beautiful Loch Ness. We stayed in a beautiful apartment in the Highland Club which is housed in a beautiful abbey that has been converted into luxury apartments! It felt like we were living in Harry Potter world and strolling the halls of Hogwarts! Our apartment, Old School 11 was beautifully furnished, spacious and we loved relaxing in it after hiking during the day and making full use of the Highland Club’s facilities which included a beautiful indoor heated pool and spa/sauna! Our apartment was ideally located and could not have been any closer to Loch Ness which we loved and we absolutely loved the history of this beautiful place! Our review will be up on the blog in the next week so stay posted for an insight into Harry Potter land on Loch Ness!
Last but certainly not least is our favourite place we’ve ever stayed, not just in Scotland but in all our travels. We spent a few nights in the most gorgeous log cabin at Eagle Brae in the Scottish Highlands. The owners of Eagle Brae have literally created the most incredible, luxurious retreats in Scotland and their log cabins are like no others in the world. In addition to being breathtakingly beautiful and an incredible feat of architecture, the cabins are also enviornmentally friendly being completely carbon neutral! We’ve never stayed anywhere like it before and we’ll be writing about our stay over the next few days so don’t want to give away too much right now! Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for gorgeous photos of the most incredible place we have ever stayed on the blog very soon!
Where have we eaten?
It’s been fairly quiet on the foodie front for us as we’ve really been trying to focus on our health and fitness since Christmas, especially with our European Summer adventures fast coming up! Dan has lost an incredible 13kg since Christmas and I’ve managed to lose 9kg! We’ve been gyming like crazy and eating really well so we’re both feeling a lot better and losing some of that extra winter weight that seems to creep on each year. Our sailing trip in Croatia with Medsailors has been one of our biggest motivations! We were lucky in Scotland to have mostly self-catered accommodation and Dan being the masterchef of the two of us cooked us up some delicious dinners whilst we were away!
Being total foodies we’ve still had a few treats and enjoyed a few treat dinners out! Whilst we were on our Travelex day in London we had dinner at The Ship Tavern in Holborn. The Ship Tavern is a traditional English pub that dates back to 1549 and pride themselves on offering what a British pub does best: good service, honest, home cooked British classic food and serving excellent ales! The Ship Tavern has been described as “Holborn’s best kept secret” and after a wonderful evening there we can certainly attest to that. We had an incredible three course meal with the highlight being my entree which was crumbed and deep fried brie served with rocket leaves and cranberry sauce. I was blown away by the Brie. It was an enormous serving of Brie which oozed out from its crumbed shell once cut into, it was absolutely mouthwateringly delicious and tasted even better when eaten with the cranberry sauce.
Whilst we were staying at the beautiful Grand Hotel Eastbourne we dined in the stylish, elegant Mirabelle Restaurant which has been ranked among the country’s top restaurants and has received numerous accolades including its well deserved two red AA rosettes. We had a lovely three course dinner and our main courses certainly were the stand out dishes of the meal. The service was impeccable and it was a beautiful, elegant restaurant to dine for Valentines Day.
The Blog is continuing to grow rapidly and last month we had over 30,000 visitors! We’ve now had over 540,000 visitors to the blog and over 4 million Google+ views which is incredible! The Aussie Flashpacker has steadily been in the top 100 travel blogs worldwide on Rise and we’ve now got over 27,000 social media followers including 14,000 on Instagram!
We’re super excited to be working with some incredible brands on our upcoming trip around Europe and will be blogging almost daily whilst we are travelling.
At the beginning of April we are leaving England after almost two years here and our first point of call is Portugal where we will be collecting our Soul Campers campervan to explore the beautiful Algarve for a week! Over the period of 100 days we’ll be travelling through Portugal, Spain, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Turkey & Greece. We’re excited for every part of this trip but a few major bucket list items which we will be ticking off are visiting Barcelona, hiking the Cinque Terre, glamping in Lake Bled, sailing in Croatia, island hopping the Greek Islands and spending three weeks on land and sea with Neyzen Travel & Yachting to explore Turkey in depth. We’re so excited and will be blogging and updating on social media daily so be sure to follow along! We’ve gone into more detail with our travel plans in our 2016 Travel Plans & Wanderlust Wishlist post.
Has 2016 been an adventure filled year so far for you? Let us know! x