As the Easter holidays draw tantalisingly closer and the British weather tries to convince us that summer is upon us, our writers at Lifestyle thought we would put together a Journey Journal of our favourite places to visit to give you some holiday inspiration! Here are our tips on where to go, how to plan, and the things we wish we had done differently in some of the most popular holiday destinations in the world.
Ruth’s Journey Journal
Recently, in a much-needed mid-term break, I headed to Venice. Despite it being mid-winter over there, with Venice’s historical landmarks and canals it was indeed worth the trip. Having spent three days trekking through the city, I have compiled a list of my top places to visit, and I hope they’ll persuade you that it’s worth a trip too.
Firstly, the attractions contained in St. Mark’s Square, including the basilica and the Doge’s Palace. The best way I can describe these two amazing buildings is that they’re like the Renaissance in an afternoon. St. Marks comprises the most beautiful composite of different architectures, while the Doge’s Palace contains so much gold that it is a testament to the world power Venice held in the past.
The best way to get around Venice is by vaporetto, otherwise known as the water bus. Admittedly, a bus is still a bus; whether it floats or not, however from this viewpoint you get to see the vast cityscapes of this historically beautiful town.
Libro Acqua Alta was one of the hidden gems I found along the way. This tiny bookshop on the canal’s edge had stacks of second-hand books in every language from floor to ceiling, in gondolas and in bathtubs. Along with resident cats and a whole staircase made of old books, it was a book lover’s dream in the corner of a courtyard.
There’s so much more to I could mention about Venice, from the Rialto Bridge to the classical music concert I found in a church. However, to finish off, I have to comment on the food. Italian food in Italy is superior to any imitation of it in the UK. One bakery in particular called Farini (near the Rialto bridge) was the best pizza I’ve ever eaten (sorry Rome), and, any patisserie, like Venice itself, merits a trip.
Iceland is one of my favourite places I’ve visited yet. It’s indie culture, quirky coffee shops, and stunning landscapes make for one jam-packed trip. My honest opinion, however, is that it is on the pricey side of holidays as its remote location means a lot of imported goods and high-priced excursions to see the major tourist sites.
In this case, Iceland is an excellent weekend break or a short getaway. Reykjavik as the capital city is small but sweet, filled with its unique architecture and independent shops full of crafts. It’s a great place to buy second-hand clothes, with Icelandic jumpers and denim jackets frequently available at decent prices.
My favourite place and my highest recommendation are the black sand beaches at Reynisfiara. These world-famous sands are a sight to behold, and there is nothing like them anywhere else in nature.
Lexi’s Journey Journal
Berlin is a very photographic destination. One of my favourite things about Berlin is its graffiti, which adds a sense of community to the city. A lot of the Berlin wall is decorated, and each new sighting of its different sections scattered across the city emphasises its vastness and cultural significance.
Of course, a trip to Berlin would be incomplete without visiting the Typographies Des Terrors and the Memorial of the Murdered Jews of Europe. Standing beside these monuments evokes an awe-inspiring feeling that keeps your feet firmly planted on the ground. The memorial is especially chilling: located a minute’s walk between Brandenburg gate and the main section of the Berlin Wall, you could blink and miss the rows upon rows of unassuming grey blocks which fade into one another.
There is no end to Berlin’s rich history, from Check-point Charlie to The Spy Museum, which makes this destination ideal for any holiday-goer who is bored by the idea of sitting on a sun lounger all day.
My trip to Paris last summer marked my first holiday without at least one parent, and it proved to be a learning curve. My main recommendation is to have all of your documents ready at the airport – and make sure to check into your flight beforehand to avoid the queues! Leave the beret at home and be wary of looking too much like a tourist, because taxi fares seem to jump in price when the locals hear your accent.
During my three-day journey across the main landmarks of Paris, I learned that the most important thing is to wear comfortable shoes. Squint too close at selfies of me in front of various landmarks and you might notice a slight wince. Beyond the basics like comfy shoes and having an umbrella to hand – one picture in front of the Eiffel Tower was followed by running for cover – make the most of the delicious patisseries and the cosy side-street cafes Paris has to offer.
Out of all the essential tourist must-sees in Paris, the Notre Dame is by far my favourite. If you are not convinced to climb hundreds and hundreds of stairs for the gargoyle fridge magnet, then do it for the beautiful view of the whole of Paris when you finally reach the top. With all the beauty that Paris in the day time has to offer, my only regret is not seeing Paris at night; I would have loved a moonlit stroll along the Seine River.