A Weekend of Wine and Wonders in Warsaw

{Apologies for the quality of some of the pictures in this blog entry; my phone camera was cracked and only worked when zoomed out! I have a shiny new phone now!)


The King-to-be announced another British bank holiday for his coronation and immediately, my sister, cousin and I jumped at the chance for another whirl on Ryanair Roulette.

I pretty much did this when I ended up in Vienna in February, and we did it again for the May 2023 bank holiday, opting for the Polish capital of Warsaw.

My sister’s boss and my cousin’s friend are both from Poland and had both long espoused the coolness and culinary pleasures of Warszawa, so I was more than happy to book on and see what was in store!

After a rubbery, stale cheese baguette at a hen-party animated Manchester airport terminal 3, we ascended into aerospace and gabbed between ourselves until we drifted down into Warsaw airport where the staff barely even glanced at our passports, stock British smiles plastered across our tired faces as we passed the Polish frontier.

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La Isla Bonita: San Fernando, Cádiz

There was something in the air that night, the stars shone bright, Fernando.”

I can’t help but begin this blog entry on San Fernando, Cádiz, with the tentatively linked Abba lyrics that simply mention ‘Fernando’. Anti-chronologically, I will also make the first photo of this post the last I took in San Fernando which was a beautiful sunset that recalled those lyrics as we watched on, cerveza in hand, bare feet buried in the cool, powdery sand as the tide lapped in peacefully in soft, white frothy waves.

I have long loved the Andalusian province of Cádiz which is located in the southwest of Spain, close to the border of Portugal and views of Morocco from Tarifa. (Also see- El Puerto de Santa María and Algeciras)

My friend Chris and his partner (now pareja de hecho) Pilar and their Pomeranian called Lobo moved to San Fernando a couple of years ago and they invited me to stay at their beautiful house built back in 1874 complete with a well in the hallway, a spiral staircase, stained glass windows and a traditional Andaluz patio complete with patterned tiles (I have a thing for these types of tiles!).

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Ohhh Vienna: What to See and Do in the Austrian Capital in Three Days

The February half-term holiday was approaching and I decided that I needed a trip to look forward to following a very trying few weeks at work.

This is where “Ryanair Roulette” steps in- you check the cheaper airlines to see where has the ideal combination of cheapest flight prices along with most convenient dates and times, then you check hotel prices and availability and you go from there. It’s not about finding the absolute cheapest holiday, but about having an open mind to go somewhere that might not necessarily be your first choice but somewhere that presents itself as an economical and convenient opportunity for this particular time.

Obviously, there are other factors to take into consideration such as weather, safety, and whether or not the place does actually appeal to you in some way otherwise there is no point.

This strategy has lead me to Bordeaux, Tallinn, Porto, and now Vienna, the capital of Austria.

Everybody close to me already had holidays lined up around this time and Andrea, my partner, had just returned the day before after a month in Italy studying hard towards his final veterinary specialism exams that will take place in Frankfurt at the end of March. I moved abroad to Córdoba alone, took several trips to Málaga and Madrid alone whilst living in Spain, and I’m no stranger to driving across the country to visit family alone, but I had never gone on a holiday travelling abroad totally alone. I decided it was time to take that adventure.

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What to See and Do in Turin: City of Chocolate and Coffee

Turin, or Torino as it is called in Italian, is located in the north of the country as the capital of the region of Piedmont.

Turin is a beautiful and classy location for a winter city break, nestled close enough to the Alps to glimpse stunning snow-covered peaks as you fly into the airport.

Turin is famous for its chocolate, coffee, Juventus football club, and for being the home of Fiat and the location of Alfa Romeo’s headquarters; both Italian automotive icons. Most recently, Turin hosted the Eurovision Song Contest 2022 (and will be passing the baton on to my home city of Liverpool in 2023!). Nutella was created in the nearby town of Alba too!

Before Italy’s unification in 1848, Turin was the capital of the Duchy of Savoy, of the Kingdom of Sardinia under the rulership of the Duchy of Savoy (despite being so far away!) and notably the first capital of the Kingdom of Italy after unification. This rich history means that Turin is the third economic city of Italy after Milan and Rome.

We arrived in Turin from Manchester on the 17th December and it was very cold but a dry sort of cold that is actually really refreshing. I bought a pair of gloves as soon as we arrived but I am a fan of cold places, having loved previous trips to Iceland, Stockholm, Finland and Estonia. I’m a January baby from the north of England after all.

A cold Italian city is a lovely place to visit round Christmas and Turin certainly looked festive and cosy at all turns. Italy does sun-soaked beach days well and it likewise does twinkly Christmas very well too, strings of fairylights and candlelight for everywhere the eye can see.

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What to See and Do in Arezzo: The Italian City of Marble and Gold

I’m finally getting round to writing this over three months after visiting Italy as work and life take over!

We’ve just booked flights to Italy again for Christmas where we will be seeing Turin and Pisa (flying into the former and out from the latter 8 days later) so it felt opportune to write about Arezzo before I come back from this next trip and have more to write about!

We were on our third day in Tusany, after visiting Montepulciano, when we decided to visit Arezzo- a small city in eastern Tuscany- on a day of torrential, horizontally-slanted rain.

It was August and still warm enough for vest and shorts but the rain came down cold and we spent a good portion of the day running out of the rain and into shelter. Conveniently, the city is lined with numerous porticoes where we could wait it out before digging back in to see the sights while we could.

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