Half Term Getaway to Spain: Part 2

Beautiful view of Valencia from the top of Torres de Serranos

Valencia really was a beautiful city with a very interesting mix of cultures, history as well as modernness to it – evident from the buildings across the city.

Plaza de Toros de Valencia (bullring)
Valencia Nord Train Station
Valencia Central Market

Being a my usual foodie self, my first stop on my last day in Valencia was the impressive centre market. It features a wide range of food ranging from the famous Spanish Jamón, fresh meats, fruits and sweets as well as different kinds of preserves. It certainly took a long time to go around the entire place! 😉

Of course it won’t be Spain without Jamón! 🐷
Love all these exotic fruits! Shame I can’t buy them all home!
“Snacking” in the food market (from top left going along the row): spinach empanada, pepito carne (fried stuffed sandwich), mandarin juice, Jamón and an apple semifreddo dessert 🤤 (thought it was a cake but it turned out to be ice cream!)
And a surprise buy! 😂

I then headed the city centre of Valencia, visiting the grande and historical town hall as well as the central post office.

Correos (Central Post office)
Grande ceiling in the post office
Valencia Town Hall
Beautiful chandeliers!
The Laws of Valencia standing at the centre of the room!
Exquisite ceiling
The Valencian Flag
The old parliament

After a long walk in the heart of Valencia, I then headed back to the direction of Plaza de la Virgen where I was last night to visit the Valencia Cathedral. But before that, I stopped for a little tea break sampling a local drink called Horchata, which is a milk made from tiger nuts, typically accompanied with a sweet pastry called Farton. 👌

Horchata with Farton
Valencia Cathedral (entry for 8 Euros – though I got away with a student discount again! 😂👌)
Main altar of the cathedral
Beautiful chapel 🥰🥰
Love stained glass whenever I visit a cathedral!
Underground of the cathedral
Eek 😬😬💀🦴🦴

After wondering through the town some more, I then rode the bus to the more desolated Pinedo beach which sat on the outskirts of Valencia, enjoying the breezes from the sea before riding back to the city again. 🌊 🌊

Pinedo beach

And after a few drinks at some bars and places across town (getting a little light headed lol), I settled for a final light dinner at a couscous bar near to my hotel in the Russafa area. The waitress was so lovely and welcoming, and we had such a nice chat about the city and travelling (turned out she is from Miami, so we got chatting about America which I longed to visit!) 🥰🥰

Couscous buffet bar for a light and healthy dinner! 😋

And don’t forget it’s Halloween this Sunday! 🎃👻 Stay safe and enjoy the festival! 😉

Birthday Weekend Getaway: Salisbury and Stonehenge (Part 2)

I didn’t realise how tired I was last night until I was back in my hotel room and quickly fell fast asleep. 😴 Lately, I have been struggling with insomnia and intense dreams, so I was glad to wake up this morning feeling really refreshed. Guess this weekend away from London did do some good for me after all! ☺️

Breakfast at the hotel

After enjoying a Full English in the pub area of the hotel (I genuinely was quite surprised to see that there were a good handful of people staying in the hotel last night 🙂) and another bath time 🛀 back in my room, I headed out to round off a few things in town and visited Salisbury Cathedral among a few other noticeable places in before hopping on the train back to London which was scheduled just after lunchtime. The weather was just as miserable as it was yesterday 😅🌧🌧, so it was a bit of a hassle at times juggling between the shoppings (mainly some sweets for my colleagues at work) and the umbrella in my hands. 😂🛍 ☔️ (I was determined not to lose my umbrella again today! 🤣)

Salisbury Cathedral
Under the rain ☔️☔️
Sculptures in the park surrounding the cathedral
Army museum (Didn’t go in, since I spent too much already yesterday and try to save money… 😛)
A bridge (?) over High Street
Market Square
Council building (I think… 😅)
Thought this was cute so took a picture lol… 😂
A monument in town centre with the Haunch of Venison just right behind it

A friend of mine who originated from Salisbury recommended me to check out the Haunch of Venison, a gastropub in the area. I loved the old, historical interior look of the pub immediately which made me the more excited to try out their game menu! 😋

The interior of the dining room
The staircase
Had a wander inside the pub 👀
The pigeon starter – loved the crispy kale it came with! 😋
Venison Sunday roast with a trio of sauces – horseradish, mint and cranberry

Now I am ready to board the train 🚂 with a full stomach!

Day 2 in Exeter: Hello Sunshine ☀️

The sun is definitely shining bright and high as I rose from my bed this morning. (I took a more lazy approach today and stayed in the bed longer. 😂) The weather makes it very ideal for some outdoor dining, so I went to Tea On The Green right opposite Exeter Cathedral for my brunch. Sunshine, beautiful view and food, what more can one ask for? 😉

Brunch in full view of Exeter Cathedral ☀️☀️
Another new way of ordering 😂

Having been turned away yesterday, Exeter Cathedral was at last opened for visitors today. (For those of you who don’t want to do a me, make sure you don’t try to come here on a Sunday! 😂) I have always loved visiting cathedrals, and the beautiful stained glass inside really reminded me of the many wonderful ones I have seen in Europe before. There weren’t a lot of visitors here today (think there were about 4-5 visitors besides me plus a few members of staff), so I felt I was really immersed in the environment inside. It was simply captivating! ❤️

Outside of Exeter Cathedral
Seeing these origami birds really tagged my heartstring, especially in such time of uncertainty ❤️ (I couldn’t fold one though 😅 but I did leave a prayer on the notice board.)

This followed on with more exploring around the city…

Exeter Guildhall
Don’t know what this is exactly, but so love the historic feel to it ❤️
St Stephen’s Chruch
Architecture in this city is absolutely amazing! ❤️❤️
St David’s Church, just down the road from my hotel

As my stay in Exeter is coming to an end, I have planned an early night-in this evening (as I will be hopping on to an early train to a different city tomorrow. 😉) But before that, I have also paid a visit to Dinosaur Café (which was just adjacent to St David’s Church) for a nice takeaway meal of Greek food. 👍

Stuffed aubergines 🍆 with rice and salad – a nice cosy tea in my hotel room 😁 (I did end up leaping to the shop again to get a kebab later though – didn’t have enough earlier haha! 😂)

See you early the next morning! Any guess where am I heading next? 😉

Day 3 in Vienna: Climb Every Mountain ⛰

For the penultimate day of our stay in Vienna, we decided to head to the neighbouring city of Salzburg – the location of ‘The Sound of Music’! 🎵🎶🎶 (Already can’t stop humming the tune! 😂) In order for us to get to Salzburg, we were up early and ready to aim for our train at 9:42. 🌅 (But not before I made my own waffle for breakfast first! ❤️)

Waffle for Breakfast! 😋
First time I made my own waffle too, believe it or not! 😂

The return train ticket from Vienna to Salzburg costed just under €60 – a very reasonable price! And after we grabbed some snacks and drinks from the shop, it was all aboard and off we go! 🚈 The train journey to Salzburg lasted around 2 hours and 20 minutes – which gives me more than enough time to play games on my phone 📱 and nap 😴 in between haha! 😂

Catching the train
Glimpses of the Alps as we are approaching Salzburg

Upon arrival in Salzburg, we went immediately to the information centre to get a Salzburg card (costed €26) which allowed entry to all the major attractions here and also covering costs of buses – honestly if you want to spend a day sightseeing here you should definitely get one! 👍 👍

The Salzburg Card

Our first stop of the day was the Untersberg cable car that travels to the top of the Alps. 🚠 Despite the rainy weather, the mountain views were still breathtaking to behold! ❤️❤️ (Rather than let me waffle in words, I will let the pictures and videos do the talking haha! 😉)

The Alps
Breathtaking! ❤️
Starting the cable car… 🚠
View from above
Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow! ❄️❄️
Complete whiteness at the top! 😮

The poor weather today meant that the top of the Alps was covered by a raging blizzard. 🌨🌨 (Such bad luck! 😫 I only noticed on Instagram after that, on a normal day, the view is really spectacular. Such a shame…😕) The lady in the information office informed us that one can spend up to three hours there, but we didn’t even last more than 3 minutes outside! 😂

Blizzard attack! ❄️❄️
Let’s hurry back! 😂🏃‍♂️

After briefly trying to brave the storm, we went back inside and sat down in the restaurant to warm ourselves back up.🔥🔥 I thought the cold weather was perfect for a bowl of hot soup 🥣, and ordered Leberknödelsuppe – a beef broth served with a liver dumpling (which reminded me a bit of haggis!)

Leberknödelsuppe – doesn’t look that appetising, but it actually tasted great! 😋

After coming back down from the mountains, the awful weather continued 🌧🌧. However, we made the most of our day in Salzburg, visiting the Hohensalzburg Fortress, Salzburg Cathedral, Mozart’s Birthplace and Mirabell Gardens.

Hohensalzburg Fortress
View of Salzburg from the fortress ❤️❤️ (Yes, it looks brighter than it should because I edited it! 😂)
It’s snowing! ⛄️❄️
Exploring the inside of the fortress 🔍
The outside of Salzburg Cathedral
Inside Salzburg Cathedral 🤫🤫
The beautiful ceiling in cathedral
Mozart’s Birthplace (no photography or videoing allowed inside unfortunately)
The entrance of Mirabell Gardens
Mirabell Gardens
The beautiful view by the river 🌊🌊

The teatime treat though was the thing I was looking forward to the most today. We visited Sacher Hotels (not the original one in Vienna but its branch) and tasted their world-famous Sachertorte. 😋😋 The 34-steps recipe of the Sachertorte is apparently a top guarded secret and kept in a safe for security! 😬 And the cake certainly did not disappoint as it was perfectly moist with a rich chocolate taste balanced with a slight tartness from the apricot jam. ❤️❤️ We also ordered two other desserts, including the classic Viennese apple strudel which was wonderfully flaky, which paired well with the light custard sauce. But the highlight for me was the pear mousse 🍐. It was light and slightly tangy with the sharpness of the pear coming through. Plus, I love the beautiful pear crisp it was served with on top. 😍💚

The signature Sachertorte
Viennese apple strudel served with cream sauce
Pear Mousse Cup with a beautiful pear crisp! 💚💚

After a rather long train journey back to Vienna, we headed straight back to the hotel for a quick break before finally going out for our last dinner in Vienna to conclude a jam-packed day… but the journey is not over! 😉

Beef roulade with polenta and Brussels sprouts

Day 2 in Vienna: The Earth is Round and so is Vienna

Guten Tag here from Vienna! After a less than ideal night of sleep (due to a combination of my jet leg and the hotness of the hotel room 😓), it was rise and shine, and ready to go for a day of sightseeing!

Breakfast buffet in the hotel – I am always amused by the amount of cheese available whenever I visit an European country 🧀🧀🧀

Hoping to recover from our bumpy ride yesterday, we devised a plan to visit all our interested points of attractions for the day with our first destination set to be Schönbrunn Palace – the summer residence to the royal family in Austria (which to me, it’s almost like an Austrian equivalent of the Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh 😂). I searched up the location and noticed it was within very close walking distance from the hotel. But only upon arrival do we realised that I misspelt it as “Schönborn Palace” and in fact the actual Schönbrunn Palace was much further away from we were! 🤦‍♂️ 🤦‍♂️ (MISTAKE NUMBER 1! ❌ )

Back on track – quite literally 😂

Back on the underground, we went for the 24 hours daily train ticket (costing only €8) and finally arrived at Schönbrunn Palace after the minor delay. The place was just like one from a fairytale! ❤️❤️ We went with the grand tour around the palace, and I would love to show you the inside of it, but unfortunately the place bans any videoing or photography. One of my favourite places was the beautiful grand ballroom – imagine hosting a party in there! 🎉 🎉🎊🎊🎊 One could dream lol! 😂

Schönbrunn Palace
360 degree view!
Schönbrunn Palace from the back
Beautiful skyline at the back garden
Lost in the majestical feel of this garden 🧚🏻‍♂️🧚‍♀️

For lunch, we then decided to head to Kim Kocht, a Korean fusion restaurant run by a celebrity chef featured on MasterChef Korea- a place I was much looking forward to going to. We then headed to Währinger Straße-Volksoper station, but thought we ended up at the wrong station due to a different location show on the maps app. 🤷‍♂️ We then changed a different train to Schwedenplatz to the said location, but then found out that the place is permanently closed! 😱😱 (Turned out we were at the correct station where the current restaurant is, but the maps app did not update about the closure of the old address! – Still I should have checked the address on the website first. MISTAKE NUMBER 2! ❌ 🤦‍♂️) In the end, we settled at Hard Rock Café nearby and filled up on a larger platter and rehydrated from all the walking.

So thirsty…!
Need to recharge our energy!! 💪

We then continued onwards with our sightseeing, visiting the beautiful St. Stephen’s Cathedral and Mozarthaus before returning to the hotel for a short rest.

St. Stephen’s Cathedral
Inside the cathedral
So beautiful! ❤️❤️
Mozarthaus (again no video or photography allowed inside unfortunately)

After feeling refreshed from my brief nap, we headed out again to the evening. Our destination for dinner was the futuristic Rollercoaster Restaurant inside a quiet fairground. In here, foods are ordered on an iPad and then delivered to the customers through a rollercoaster track! 🚄🚄 (Behold the future of food delivery! 😂👏👏) It was actually a bit noisy and scary when the food landed, plus the food was rather average (my friend got a burnt burger and I received some undercooked pasta…😐) However, I am sure the gimmick will be one to enjoy, especially with family and children.

The Fairground
The Rollercoaster Restaurant
Very futuristic!
BANG! Here comes your food! 💨

And finally to end the night, we visited Onyx Bar just opposite St. Stephen Cathedral. The night view of the cathedral was amazing and so were the cocktails! 😉🍸🥂🍹

Great nightview from the bar! 🌃
Cocktail Party!

After the cocktails, my head is now truly spinning round lol! 😵