Corfu Town

The Budget Girls Weekend Destination Guide

Sometimes there’s nothing better than a weekend with the girls. Whether you’re exploring somewhere new, downing the local wine or hunting down the best cheese boards in town, girls weekends are the best time to wind down and relax.

These precious moments with your gal pals don’t need to cost the earth either. Make the most of your mates and check out these budget-busting destinations to get the most weekend for your money!

Berlin, Germany

Berlin ReichstaggIf you’re a culture-vulture by day and a hardcore raver by night, Berlin is for you. Check into an apartment with your friends (Airbnb has lots of choice), take to the streets and explore this vibrant and eccentric city.

Perfect for the budget conscious, Berlin has plenty of free museums and the free walking tour is a must!

Hvar, Croatia

Hvar CroatiaThis small slice of island paradise is easily accessible for a weekend getaway. Party hard in Hvar’s budget bars and wash away your sins in the crystal clear Adriatic sea.

 

Switzerland

Switzerland GrindelwaldGet out into the great outdoors and lose yourself in Switzerland’s rugged scenery. Head to the slopes in Winter or visit in Spring to see the mountains in bloom.

Keep an eye on EasyJet for cheap flights to Switzerland’s cities.

Brussels, Belgium

Belgian Waffles BrusselsFoodie heaven. Wash down your sweet treats with local Jupiler beer, admire the architecture at Grand Place and have a laugh at the Manneken Pis.

It’s worth parting with 4 euros for entry into the Museum of the City at Grand Place. The Manneken Pis exhibition is probably the most hilarious thing I have seen.

 

Canterbury

Canterbury Cathedral I have made my love for this Kentish city (and my University town) quite clear on this blog!

Just because I’ve graduated doesn’t mean I’ll be letting my Canterbury addiction go any time soon…

Canterbury is a great place for a girly break, catch-up in one of the city’s many bars, coffee shops or restaurants (here are my faves) and soak up the history of this quaint medieval town.

If you’re visiting in the Uni holidays, bag some cheap accommodation in the University halls. Find out how here.

 

Corfu Town, Greece

Corfu Town Beautifully undiscovered, as far as girls-only weekends go, Corfu Town is a hidden gem. Hit the shops, relax on the beach and eat as much Tzatziki as is humanly possible!

Come back home bronzed and refreshed.

 

Dublin, Ireland

Dublin PubOne of the ultimate girly escapes and the first one I took. Dublin is conveniently close to home and cheap to get to with airlines such as Ryan Air.

When you’re there, avoid the expensive pubs in touristy Temple Bar and instead follow the locals into one of the hundreds of other drinking holes. Grab and Guinness and prepare yourself for a sing-along!

Have you been on a girly weekend? What is your favourite destination? Let me know in the comments below or via my social media pages!

 

Wedding Table

The Wonderful Wedding

This weekend was a whirlwind!

The first of my group of girls was getting married!

Heading off at the crack of dawn on Saturday, we made our way to deepest darkest Kent, the home of my friend’s fiancé. Managing to glide down the M25, we made excellent time, arriving at our gorgeous B&B in time for brunch.

We were staying at Beacon Hall House, a beautiful family home surrounded by scenic fields and pretty villages. The hostess, Julie, had graciously allowed us to check-in early so that we had time to get ready for the wedding. She had even allowed all six of us to stay in her two double rooms. We thought it would be a squeeze but the beds were the biggest I have EVER seen (and the comfiest I have slept in).

Wedding Bed Hotel

 

Photo Credit

With lots of time to spare, we skipped to the closest village, Tenterden, for some food. The village was chocolate-box cute, with darling tea rooms and craft shops bustling with country-folk. I thought I lived in the countryside, but it was nothing compared to here. Where did they buy their clothes from?! There definitely wasn’t a Primark…

During a lovely brunch at The Secret Pantry, we were cut short by a phone call from a friend, now stranded at the local station. Apparently, they don’t do taxis in the countryside either!

Wedding Brunch

Panicking, we abandoned our bacon butties (that was painful) and rushed back to the B&B where Julie luckily offered to pick her up. We couldn’t have been more grateful! This would never have happened if we were staying in a chain hotel and we would have ended up missing the wedding. It’s all about the small family run businesses!

We ended up hitching a lift in the back of Julie’s Land Rover and made it to the church on time to watch our beautiful friend walk down the aisle.

The wedding was lovely and the perfect send off for our friend, who will now be moving to this tiny Kent village for the foreseeable future.

Wedding Hall

Wedding Table

Wedding Place Setting

Wedding Card Tree

After an energetic night of barn dancing we rounded the evening off with a nightcap at the local and headed back to our heavenly beds.

A weekend well spent!

What did you guys get up to this weekend? Have any adventures?

Brisbane GOMA

Top 5 Modern Art Museums for £1 or Less

Whenever I travel, I love to track down the local modern art museum and inject a bit of culture into my trip.

I usually end up getting as far as the foyer and leaving in a huff at extortionate admission fees, what about art being for the people, huh?!

Luckily these 5 gems are all either free or below £1 to enter- so suitable for us budget student travellers! They are a great place to walk around and learn more about the creative culture of your chosen destination.

So here goes, my Top 5 Modern Art Museums for a £1 or Less:

The Tate Modern: London, England

In my humble opinion, London is the best city in the world for free entrance to museums and galleries- from the Science Museum to the National Portrait Gallery. But my favorite of the lot has to be the mighty Tate Modern.

Situated on London’s bustling South Bank, the Tate Modern is a great place for a wander and to view some of the best art in the world.

When you’ve had your culture fix, head to the rooftop bar for stunning views of the capital.

Tate Modern London Cafe

MOCA: Shanghai, China

I’ve written about the MOCA on the blog before (check it out here) and can’t seem to stop banging on about it. At only £2 for adults and £1 for students, this gallery is a bargain.

Living in the western world, we often neglect the rising Chinese contemporary art scene when these artists probably have the most to say about the world we live in. Their work is brave, shocking, often illegal. They risk everything for their art.

It’s not just Ai Weiwei who is speaking out.

MOCA Shanghai

Photo Credit

GOMA: Brisbane, Australia

Australian culture used to be something that people joked was non-existent. But with an emerging popular art scene, more and more Ozzies are embracing places like the GOMA in Brisbane.

It’s a great place to check out the latest Australian artists and a couple of golden-oldies too.

Brisbane GOMA

Turner Contemporary: Margate, England

Small yet perfectly formed, the Turner Contemporary is one of my favorites. Named after the legendary JMW Turner, this pocket sized gallery has hosted some of the most famous artists in the world, from Tracey Emin to Turner himself.

Situated on Margate’s seafront, the Turner Contemporary could be the saving grace of the town bringing back the visitors Margate so desperately needs and transforming this corner of Kent into the new art Mecca.

Turner Contemporary

Photo Credit

MOCA: Bangkok, Thailand

A beautifully refreshing collection of art is housed here. I had never seen any South East Asian art before so was enthralled by how contemporary and interesting the pieces were.

The museum is often quiet so it’s like a cultural oasis in the heart of this throbbing city. Entry is £3.50 for adults and £1.50 for students.

moca BangkokPhoto Credit

What is your favorite Modern Art Museum? Have I left it off my list? Let me know via my social media links or in the comments below.

Mouthwatering Meze, Lunchtime at JoJos

I’ve already splashed snippets of my graduation around the blog and around Twitter, but have so far neglected THE most important part of any Graduation Day. Not the modelling of the ceremonial gowns, not the collection of our degree certificates and nope, not even the end of my university career. It’s all about the post-graduation meal.

Traditionally this meal is a gift from the parents celebrating three or four years of your hard work. Graduates are treated to slap-up meals and the tables in the best restaurants in town are heaving with proud families popping bottles of champers. Except, like me, my parents like to do things a little differently. With this in mind we left the packed eateries in Canterbury and headed down the coast to Tankerton.

I’ve mentioned JoJos in my previous post about Whitstable (catch it here) when my boyfriend and I treated ourselves to lunch in their fabulous cafe. However, now with the parents in tow, we had decided to sample their highly commended lunch menu in their restaurant. We had heard so many things about JoJos, their restaurant spread in particular and so had high expectations. Their menu can change daily as they only use locally sourced ingredients although their meze style menu includes dishes from all over the world, featuring cuisines from Greece and Spain to name a few.

As it was my Graduation Day, we had to start with some bubbly, it would be rude not to…

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The waiting staff were very helpful in explaining their slightly complicated menu. The dishes work the same way as tapas, with the table ordering together and sharing each order. The dishes were brought out randomly and you could add to the order at any time if you were feeling a little peckish. The menu was eclectic featuring meat, fish, cheese and bread plates with prices ranging from £3.95 to £11 per dish. We began by ordering the mixed meze, minted lamb, cod goujons and patatas bravas (potatoes with tomato sauce). The wait flies past when you’re accompanied with a front row view like this.

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When the mixed meze platter arrived we were astounded. Even if none of it tasted any good, the look alone was mouthwatering enough!

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The platter was stuffed from end to end with local cheese, cured meats, dips (Tzatziki to rival the Greeks, Taramasalata and Hummus) and smoky olives. We dove in.

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It was all the better washed down with the gorgeously sparkly Prosseco.

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When we had licked the platter dry, the next plates arrived. I am ashamed to say that we polished these off before I had a chance to take any snaps. Just take my word for it, they were superb. The lamb with a mint sauce dip was probably the best I have ever tasted.

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Rubbing our satisfied stomachs, we were shown the dessert board. I’m not usually one to have desserts in restaurants, I’m much more of a savoury kind of girl, but when I saw that they had pavlova- my all time favourite dessert- I couldn’t resist. It was amazing. A mountain of light, fluffy cream drizzled with cherry sauce and studded with fruit.

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Everyone else’s desserts weren’t too shabby either. They divulged in sorbets, chocolate cake and an impressive lemon posset with shortcake biscuits on the side.

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Still, nobody could beat that pavlova.

As you have probably gathered, I am a massive fan of JoJos with their fresh food and relaxed dining experience. If you ever find yourself in the Whitstable area, or even in Canterbury, then I couldn’t recommend JoJos enough. If you want to dine in the restaurant then you should book ahead as it gets very busy. The restaurant is open Thursdays-Sundays and you can make reservations up to two weeks in advance. For more information, visit their website here.

2014 UKC Graduation

The Final Farewell to Canterbury

As you may have noticed the blog posts have been a little bit sparse this week as I’ve been busy shaking off my post-holiday blues with my final official trip to my university town of Canterbury. Canterbury has popped up a couple of times in this blog, such as here and here and I’m sure I’ve made it clear how mildly obsessive I am over this little pocket of the world. However, this week marked the end of an era, my graduation.

At the University of Kent we are lucky enough to graduate in the spectacular surroundings of Canterbury Cathedral, it is one of the main selling points of the university and a great treat after all our hard work. However, being students still (I will always be a student at heart!) we decided to start the week in a lot less classy surroundings. Being too poor to afford to rent a house on campus for the whole week, yet desperate to prolong the graduation celebrations for as long as possible, we decided to pitch a tent on one of the sports fields. Desperate I know. You don’t realise just how unwilling I am to have my student status revoked!

Now, this was probably trespassing and therefore probably illegal so we washed down the fear of capture with plenty of beer and boxed wine as the sun set.

San Miguel Beer

Drinking Outdoors

Kent Countryside

Although it made sleeping in the tent a whole lot easier, waking up feeling…slightly under the weather wasn’t ideal. Waking up at sunrise with a banging head in a tent/sauna isn’t the best start to the first week of our adult lives.

After soothing our sore heads and growling tummies with a stomach full of McDonalds, graduation beckoned. The weather was perfect -perhaps just not for camping…- as hundreds of graduands (your title before you’ve officially graduated) descended on Canterbury. We were dressed up in our formal attire and ceremonial gowns, ready to take the first step into adulthood. The cathedral was decked out for the day and our ceremony was given a classical backing track with a full brass orchestra and organ accompaniment. The setting was simply something else. It was like you were graduating from Hogwarts.

Canterbury Cathedral Windows

Canterbury Cathedral Graduation

Graduation Canterbury

It was a great day which I even managed to enjoy after an hour and a half of solid clapping. I have loved every bit of university and hopefully have managed to squeeze everything I can from Canterbury. I am so sad to let it all go but I need to keep reminding myself that it only means that there are plenty more adventures to come. The Student Travels may have graduated but you ain’t seen nothing from her yet!

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So Long Canterbury

Today was D-Day. The end of my three years studying in Canterbury, Kent.

Aside from lamenting my amazing university experience, saying goodbye to Canterbury and its ancient winding streets forever full of endless surprises, was devastating. I have spent three years desperately squeezing all I could from this micro-city and its surrounding towns and sprawling countryside.

This little pocket of East Kent will forever be crammed with memories of fiery sunsets and spontaneous adventures.

The only fitting way to put Canterbury to bed was to visit the Cathedral one last time before my graduation in July.

Early evening is the best time to visit this mystical place.

At around 5pm, the crowds have evaporated and the slowly fading light shows the cathedral in all its romantic glory. Wandering round its perfect gardens and the spooky bowels of its atmospheric crypt was a perfect way to say my goodbyes.

So, farewell Canterbury, I am honoured to have shared three years of your endless history with you.

Canterbury Cathedral

Broadstairs Beach Huts

Beach Bums in Broadstairs

As soon as the first rays of sunshine hit the Kentish Coast I am out on the beach, decked out in my bikini and slathered in sun cream, desperate to soak up as much of the warmth as possible. Like many Brits, I’m not very optimistic about the weather and so make sure I make the most of every second.

Broadstairs is one of my favorite East-Kent beach towns due to its charming beach huts and winding ancient streets. Charles Dickens spent his summers here and is rumoured to have penned and based Bleak House in the town. Head away from the busy main beach and follow the coast to the left where quieter stretches of sand are sheltered by chalky cliffs. A lovely day spent lazing on the beach and hopping between rustic English pubs. Let’s hope this heat-wave lasts!

Broadstairs Kent

Broadstairs Beach Huts

Broadstairs Beaches

Kent Coast

Kent Cliffs

Bulmers Cider

Tankerton Beach Huts

A Wet Weekday Retreat in Whitstable

29th January 2014- Whitstable

An English beach in the middle of one of the wettest winters in history isn’t everyone’s idea of a relaxing getaway but with a habit for bucking the trends and (more likely) the eye for a bargain, that is exactly where I ended up one week this January.

Whitstable Fisherman's Huts

The blustery beach in question was Whitstable, a cute pebble beach town in East Kent, conveniently nestled twenty minutes from my University campus. It had been my boyfriend’s birthday the Monday before and so I was treating him to a mid-week night away in one of Whitstable’s converted fisherman’s huts (http://www.whitstablefishermanshuts.com). They were running an offer in January, enticing guests with a reduced rate of £75 and the huts were simply too cute to resist.

Turning up on the bus isn’t the most glamourous way to arrive at your romantic retreat but we made do student-style and trudged from the bus stop to the Hotel Continental where the fisher man’s huts are run from. After collecting the keys to our very own cabin we trudged back along the harbour to our new home. Did I mention how cute they were?! The little cabins were painted in their original black and green yet the insides were sleek and modern with white walls and nautical paintings adorning the walls. The huts are as close to the sea as you can get, I expected the waves to be lapping at our door at high-tide.

Whitstable is a great town and I would heavily recommend a nose around the throng of unique shops and eateries which line the high street. After a meal at Zizzi (we had vouchers of course), we wandered past the local pubs, many decked out in fairy lights and candles and mentally noted down which ones to drag our friends back to in the summer.

Avoiding the rain we went back to our hut and spent a very comfortable night trying to made out the sound of the waves and the clinking of the sailing boat’s masts. It seemed comforting being in our little hut-bubble, so close to the stormy sea yet perfectly isolated from it.

Whistable KentThe next morning we said goodbye to our little hut, seeing it off with a massive English breakfast back at the Hotel Continental. We spent the morning taking in Whitstable, checking out the little charity shops which provided the boyfriend with amazing bargains and me, obviously, with nothing. It was then back on the bus again and a quick ride took us just down the coast to Tankerton. A less desirable resort than Whitstable, Tankerton’s beach is still equally if not more lovely than Whitstable’s and was completely deserted when we arrived, its wooden groynes regimenting the unruly pebbles, creating a rather impressive spit when the tide is out far enough. After a ramble along the seafront we headed to the highly recommended JoJos Restaurant (http://www.jojosrestaurant.co.uk/) for a quick spot of lunch. JoJos specialises in local produce and ingredients as well as low prices. The food is incredible, somehow a simple Chilli Burrito and slice of Toffee Fudge Cake were transformed by fresh and surprising flavours. I’m no food connoisseur but that was some good stuff.

The night away made me realise how many great little places are on my doorstep, even in winter-time. Our local seaside towns needn’t be neglected during the winter months, just visited in a different way. It wasn’t often that I purused Whitstable’s shops or lingered in its restuarants. In summer it was all about the beach and in winter I could take a step back and appreciate the town itself. It was also refreshing to take a break away from Uni and take time for a breath of fresh air. Just be prepared for the bump back to earth…

Whistable Kent

Canterbury Panoramic View

Canterbury- The Insider View

Canterbury Bar

Canterbury is my university town and somewhere I have grown very familiar (and very fond) of over the past three years. I like to get out and about and I’ve compiled this list of my city highlights as a quick go-to guide which I hope encapsulates the best bits of this glorious historic town!

Where to Eat

Club Burrito

My new favourite eatery in town. Serving up the best burritos in the city, this kitschy cafe/bar/take-away offers up live music nights and walls adorned with the coolest South American prints I’ve ever seen. The burritos are a reasonable £6.50 but drinks from their well stocked bar can be pretty expensive so make them last!

Cafe des Amis

Another amazing Mexican (yes fajitas and burritos do make up the majority of my daily food intake…) Rumoured to be frequented by Orlando Bloom when he’s visiting the ‘rents, this classy joint offers great student discount and is filled with works of art for sale. Their fajitas are beyond compare and are great to share between two. A firm fave.

The Goods Shed

This place is organic fresh food heaven. This old railway barn has been converted into a gathering of local traders who sell everything from home-made cheeses to fresh apple juice and milk straight from the cow. You can pick up one of their amazing sandwiches and pastries or have a more formal lunch/dinner in their restaurant. A little pricey but you can taste why!

Canteen

Great for a little pit-stop lunch. Situated just outside Canterbury Cathedral, Canteen serves up healthy and nutritious grub in the form of freshly made wraps, soups and sandwiches. Most are made-to-order so think of it as a guilt-free alternative to Subway. 10% student discount here too- winner!

Where to Drink

La Trappiste

Out of the hundreds of bars and pubs in Canterbury, I am yet to find one with a better or more interesting selection of beers than La Trappiste. A Belgian inspired restaurant and bar, La Trappiste is at its best in the summer months when you can enjoy a strawberry flavoured pint on their sun-trap of a terrace.

Thomas Beckett

The best pub during those chilly winter months. Offering tasty Sunday Roasts under a canopy of hops and wooden beams, this traditional pub is Canterbury all over.

Bramleys

My number one bar in Canterbury. Hidden off one of Canterbury’s winding streets is Bramleys, a 1920s themed bar which makes you feel like you’ve stepped into a time machine. Bramley’s cocktails are unbelievable (especially their Cosmos!) Head down on a Thursday night when the posh cocktails are BOGOF.

Where to Stop for Coffee

Chocolate Cafe

Fancy a couple of truffles with your coffee? Then the Chocolate Cafe is for you. Mouth-watering chocs, Belgian waffles and the legendary hot chocolates are worth the wait, as this place can get pretty busy. Licensed to sell alcohol, this cafe stays open late and a bottle of wine goes down great with a nice glimpse of the cathedral.

Cafe Turquoise 

A new addition to the town centre, this Turkish cafe serves up traditional coffee in the sweetest little Turkish cups. The service here isn’t the best but it’s great if you want to try something a little bit different.

Boho

One of the high street’s highlights. Boho is definitely on the quirky side, with Jesus effigies lining the walls and brightly coloured cushions and table cloths. Their bacon and brie sandwiches are the best I have ever tasted and if you have more money to splash they do full-on meals too. Pop in for a coffee and a cupcake to soak up the relaxed atmosphere.

What to Do

Cathedral

Well obviously. The place is famed for its Cathedral for a reason. Amazing on the outside, amazing on the inside. Wait for the crowds to disperse and get in for free after hours. Trust me, you’ll be gasping to escape the hoards of French school kids!

Punting Tour

A punting tour is a great way to see the city from a different perspective. The River Stour winds its way through the centre of town, gliding you past its array of beautiful old buildings. Following the river out of the city reveals Canterbury’s lovely countryside. For something different try a late-night ghost-tour or a romantic trip for two. Shop around to get the best deal and route for you.

Westgate Gardens

In summer this park really comes alive. With lovingly attended flower beds and plenty of grass to picnic on, a stroll along the river side is a great way to get out of the city. Continue walking to visit the cute Highland Cattle which are left to graze in rolling meadows.

Canterbury Cathedral