Although a city, it’s small enough so you don’t feel rushed to “see everything” and the pace and atmosphere is that of a lazy town - but with LOTS of tourists.
What to do in Bruges?
As the title suggests, Waffles, Chocolate, Beer, Fries. Repeat.
Where to eat?
Despite being a very touristy "city", Bruges is really a nostalgic town at heart. It actually reminded us of a combination of Stockholm and smaller German towns like Nuremberg. Bruges’ charming streets, fantastic beers, boutique chocolate-makers and canal-side bars are well worth a visit. Perfect for a weekend getaway or a day trip from Brussels.
Lots of love,
Been to Bruges recently? Let us know, we would love to know your suggestions :)
Tried something from our list? :) Leave us a comment and let us know your thoughts! :)
Europe can be a truly magical place during Christmas - with fresh snow, mulled wine and Christmas markets! What better place to experience Christmas than the home of St.Niklaus himself?! Vruchi’s parents and sister were in Europe in December and we decided to spend the week of Christmas and New Years together in Switzerland so that Vruchi's family could experience a proper white Christmas.
Suggested 12 Days Road Trip Itinerary:
There are loads of whimsical towns, shimmering lakes, picturesque ski slopes (hello Alps!) and hidden gems that you can uncover in Switzerland. But here's our suggested day-by-day itinerary perfect if this is your first time in Switzerland. Pro tip: The beauty of Switzerland is really outside main highways and cities - and having a car with you definitely allows you to explore slightly less-accessible accommodation options. Try not to drive & sleep in a different town every day. By the end, you will be exhausted with all the un-packing and packing each night. Especially in winter.
With the following route, you won't be driving every-day + it will only be a max 1 hour 40 mins drive distance to the next stop (giving you plenty of detour and photo-opportunities to stop along the way) :)
Day 1 - Zurich Airport (Fly out after work, crash at Airport hotel in Zurich)
Day 2 - Mount Titlis / Lucerne - Sleep in Interlaken
Day 3 - Explore Interlaken & Grindlewald - Sleep in Frutigen
Day 4 - Explore Blaussee & Visp - Sleep in Randa
Day 5 - Day trip to Zermatt - Explore Matterhorn - Sleep in Randa
Day 6 - Day trip to Tasch or Zermatt again - Sleep in Randa
Day 7 - Drive to Montreux - Sleep in Roche
Day 8 - Day trip: Skiing in Villars-Sur - Sleep in Roche
Day 9 - Day trip: Skiing in Villars-Sur or Laussane - Sleep in Roche
Day 10 - Drive to Broc (Chocolate making) - Sleep in Bern
Day 11 - Explore Bern or Thermal Bath Spas in Broc - Sleep in Bern
Day 12 - Drive to Zurich, Explore Zurich - Fly out or add another day in Zurich
Pro-tip: Switzerland is an expensive country with only a few ways to save money. If you are driving, stay just outside the main cities to reduce the cost of your accommodations. There are stunning chalets and AirBnB's just outside main towns like Zermatt or Bern that come equipped with all kitchen essentials so you can save on breakfast or dinners too!
Day-by-day breakdown | Things to do, getting around & costs
Day 1 - Arrive in Zurich
We had decided to stay at the airport hotel since we would have arrived really late and would need to hire the car the next day. (If you are following us on Instagram, you'd know that our flights were actually cancelled, so we missed out on our first 2 days of our holiday. Nonetheless, Vruchi's parents followed the route and we met them on Day 3 to start our holiday).
Day 2 - Lucerne, Mount Titlis. Sleep in Interlaken.
Start your day early by hiring the car and heading out to Lucerne for breakfast. For Bollywood lovers, you can also try booking the Panorama Restaurant for lunch on top of Mount Titlis! These hills are alive with the sound of Bollywood with a life-size cut out of SRK & Kajol from Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge perched just outside the restaurant. Vruchi would have definitely loved to see this had our flights not been cancelled, and I have a feeling she will be dragging me here again sometime soon! But here's a photo from Google showing you what to expect:
Day 3 - Interlaken & Grindlewald. Sleep in Frutigen.
With us still stuck in London, Vruchi's parents explored Interlaken by themselves and headed up via a funicular to the summit of Harder Kulm - Interlaken's local mountain. They said the summit offered the best views of Interlaken as well as the nearby alps - Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. You can find more info on this here. Pro-tip: Heading up to any summit is an expensive affair with cable car / ski lift prices ranging anywhere north of 50 - 60 CHF pp for a day pass. It isn't economical to go up every single mountain peak, so choose 1 or 2 of the best and most iconic ones.
Day 4 - Explore Blaussee & Visp. Sleep in Randa
After cooking our own breakfast in our quaint little AirBnB in Frutigen, we headed down to Blausee (literally: Blue Lake) - a romantic secluded small lake in the middle of the forest. (A very easy 5 min walk from the car-park). The water is so clear and unbelievably turquoise blue where you can see the trout fishes swimming around. There's also a restaurant at the banks of the lake if you fancy a quick bite.
One of the highlights of this leg of the trip was the section from Blausee to Visp in the Lötschberg Car Train where you drive your car directly on the train! You remain in your car until the train takes you across the region - a quick 10 minute ride to get you to Goppenstein (27 CHF per car, one way) where we resumed our journey down to Visp and eventually Randa. You don't need to buy your tickets in advance, simply purchase them at the toll booth along the way.
Day 5 / 6 - Explore Zermatt & Matterhorn. Sleep in Randa.
At Randa, we stayed at the Matterhorn Ski & Golf hotel. It was a lovely little hotel, with stunning views of the mountains and very conveniently located near Tasch railway station. A train from Tasch is the easiest way to Zermatt (since Zermatt is a car-free town). Train cost: 17 CHF per person, return. A word of warning for future travelers to this hotel, the owner is quite an eccentric and quirky fellow and it can be difficult to get straight answers but other than that, the accommodation ticked all the boxes that it needed to.
From Zermatt to get to Matterhorn:
Matterhorn - mystical, majestic, the mountain of mountains - is probably most famous for being the Toblerone mountain! Standing tall at the border of Switzerland & Italy, it is an absolute must-see and fantastic experience to head up the alps for an unobstructed view.
Pro tip: There are a few different cable car options but we recommend heading up to Gornergrat - a complete paradise for hikers, skiers and day-trippers. As expected, extremely expensive for the cable car up - approx 76 - 90 CHF pp return, but if you wait until the 12:24pm train, you get the happy hour rates (~ about 58 CHF pp).
There are a few different stations along the way to Gornergrat and your ticket covers all of them. We recommended heading up all the way to Gornergrat, and on your way back getting off at Rotenboden - highly recommended for more serious photographers that would like a less crowded view of the majestic peak or if you fancy a winter hike! There's a 30 min walking trail from Rotenboden station to a lake to get gorgeous mirror views however the lake is completely frozen in winter. Continuing the walk, it takes ~45 mins to walk through the alps to the next station below. Pro tip: Try going around 3:30 - 4:00pm to watch the sky turn orange as the sun sets over the alps. Important: The walk is quite strenuous so make sure you have appropriate snow boots, have a decent fitness level and are rugged up warm if you are doing this in winter.
Day 7 / 8 / 9 - Drive to Montreux. Ski in Villars. Explore Lausanne. Sleep in Roche.
In Roche, we stayed in an Airbnb just a few minutes walk to Roche train station. The train & bus option came in quite handy as Vruchi's parents took the opportunity, when we went skiing, to explore Montreux & Lausanne (an option for non-skiers).
The most common thing people associate with Switzerland during this time of year is skiing however to be perfectly honest, we did not enjoy it at all and preferred skiing in Greece instead. We attempted skiing and snow-boarding in Villars-Sur-Ollon ski resort. Ski and snowboard rental is very expensive (approx 200 CHF pp per day) + the ski lift pass (approx 50 pp per day). Vruchi and I are both beginners at skiing/snowboarding respectively and we felt that Switzerland is not geared to beginners, unless you are willing to shell out 75 CHF for one hour beginner lessons. However, the view from the ski resort (and the drive to Villars) is unbelievable with the Swiss alps standing tall watching you as you stumble and fall down the slope.
Day 10/11/12 - Chocolate making & Thermal baths. Sleep in Bern.
After skiing, Switzerland is probably next best known for its fantastic chocolate. What better way to indulge in this delicious delicacy than getting your hands dirty (with chocolate) and learning to make your own chocolate?! The workshop finished with us making our own Chocolate cows and a delightful tour of the history of Swiss chocolate. We surprised Vruchi's dad with this fantastic workshop for his 60th birthday at Maison Cailler - highly recommended! (Cost: 45 CHF pp)
Gruyère Thermal Baths in Broc (Cost: 26 CHF for a 3 hour pass)
Wow! Just wow! This was probably the highlight of the entire trip for us. We did this at the very end of our trip - a fantastic way to wind down and enjoy some pampering! For those that have not heard of this before, this is an outdoor thermal spa (heated to 32-35ºC), against the backdrop of the breathtaking alpine landscape. There's a few different saunas, Turkish hammam massage options and a couple of indoor pools ranging in water temperatures - with one at 2ºC! (if you’re brave enough - brrrr). I tried a quick dip in that one and barely lasted 10 seconds!!!
Day 12 - Head to Zurich, Explore Zurich, Head back home.
Overall, this trip for us was about spending quality time with the family and we surely got to do that over the 10-12 days. Hot (swiss) chocolate and cheese fondues against a backdrop of the impressive Swiss Alps - provided for a perfect setting to spend quality time with our family. However, if it weren't for our slow paced family trip, perhaps 12 days is just a bit too much for Switzerland alone and in hind sight we could have split it between Switzerland and one of its neighboring countries. In fact, if you want a white Christmas with beautiful landscapes without the price tag, we'd recommend Slovenia instead! Read about that here.
Switzerland definitely is a country everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime - but perhaps that one time is just about enough ;)
Been to Switzerland or planning a trip there soon? Leave us a comment below or on our Instagram to share your tips and experiences!
Shankar’s parents were visiting us in London from Australia and we decided to take a short holiday with them over the weekend. Although Norway deserves a months holiday, we decided to do a taster-trip for the weekend to Oslo. Instead of staying in Oslo, all travel blogs and tips out there suggested the Oslo to Bergen drive - naming it as one of Norway’s most beautiful drives!
We didn’t drive as far as Bergen (It is approx 7-8 hours direct from Oslo) but decided to go as far as a cute little town called Geilo.
The 3 hour drive took us 5 as the jaw dropping scenery compelled us to stop along the way.
Usually, we always avoid the motorways or the main highways to go off beat. But this time around - we didn’t have to! The straight simple drive from Oslo to Geilo was so gorgeous that it was hard to keep our eyes focused on the drive.
We celebrated Shankar’s parents anniversary by stopping along the way for a snow fight! :)
Oslo towards Bergen - where to stop for food:
We recommend stopping at a town called Flä (or just before it). It’s at the 2 hour mark (ish) from Oslo.
There’s a stunning lake that envelops the town to the left, with tall amber and green trees surrounding it.
We highly recommend HallingEventYr Cafe! The cafe is situated just at banks of the lake (behind a petrol station, perfect spot to refuel if needed). Food was delicious (but expensive approx £80 pounds for the 4 of us). We ordered fish and chips, trout and vegetarian pastas.
The cafe / restaurant owner was a lovely, friendly guy who recommended that we visit Nordre Heie, a honey farm with a petting zoo. We did visit the farm but the petting zoo was closed for the winter. The photos on their Instagram look adorable, so we will definitely have to come back around in summer! :)
Where to stay if you want to break your Oslo to Bergen journey:
We recommend staying either at Geilo or Flam. We stayed at a very cozy Airbnb near Geilo - with views of the stunning mountain as our backyard. The smell of winter with the fire burning, hot chocolate and the crisp nip in the air was a perfect setting to catch up on stories with our parents.
It was quite a short trip but it definitely left us wanting more! Would love to go back for a week or so to see the plunging fjords and conquer the 12 hour Trolltunga hike, but for now - this was our Norway in a nutshell. :)
Have you been to Norway? Recommend anything spectacular? Let us know :) Comment below or reach out to us on Instagram (@100autumns_). Lots of love, V & S
Vruchi turned 29 this year and to celebrate this amazing woman, I decided to book a getaway for her this weekend. If you guys know Vruchi by now, you know she hates the cold - so Spain was the perfect warm getaway choice - even in October!
We decided to go to Palma de Mallorca, a small island in the western Mediterranean sea. The island is rich in culture, entertainment and good food. Being relatively compact makes it an attractive weekend destination and a viable option if you are short on time.
Exploring Palma: What to do
The first result on Google search will lead you to Palma Cathedral (oh no, yet another Cathedral?). But trust us - this one is worth it! This ENORMOUS Gothic Cathedral overlooks the sea, with vast windows and pillars. The edifice sits right in the heart of the town - you can't miss it!
Hit the beaches (or enjoy a drink overlooking the sunset)
Being a small island, there are some very secluded beaches around the entire island. If you don't want to travel further into the island - Palma city offers up some gorgeous beaches too. Dip your toes in or enjoy a cocktail while the sky turns bright orange to pink to pitch black behind you.
Get drunk while wine tasting!
Being a birthday celebratory weekend away, it is safe to say there was a lot of alcohol (and good times) around! I booked a wine and cheese tasting afternoon as a surprise to Vruchi at <____>. At a special request, I got to reserve the whole place for us - with a private tour to the cellars too!
Explore the alleyways
The Passage des Born is tree lined and filled with shops and good cafes. Stroll along in the evening or in the afternoon and get lost in the small adjoining alleyways - perfect way to soak in this gorgeous town.
And that's it, a short and simple getaway to celebrate Vruchi! I know she had a great time (partly because it was warm, but mostly because she had her friends and loved ones with her to celebrate) :)
Happy Birthday baby!
Love you lots - Your Monkey
Have you been to Palma before? What else would you recommend?
Let us know in the comments below!
In 2013, my best friend Aman and I went on a holiday to Europe when we were still living in Australia. Out of the 4 week holiday - this small Tuscan village was definitely the highlight of our trip. The town stood out for delicious food, relaxing ambience and great company. I remember vividly as we sat on a rooftop villa terrace overlooking the town, beneath the stars at midnight - we made a pact: In 5 years we will come back here to this town - with our wives. At that time, Vruchi and I had been dating for 3 years and I knew one day we’ll be married :)
Fast forward 5 years, we have upheld that promise.
When we visited 5 years ago, it wasn't a very well known town but since then with many films and TV shoes being filmed here, the town has gained some popularity!
What to do in Montepulciano:
Nothing. No, seriously! Montepulciano is a lazy town and a perfect for a relaxing Tuscan break. Take your time exploring the small town, get lost in alley ways, drink wine (for breakfast, lunch & dinner ;)), sample local cheeses, soak in the beautiful purple orange sunsets and star gaze in the night.
If you must do something, there is the Montepulciano Torture Museum that you can check out. An excellent, unexpected find along our journey of the city.
Where to eat / drink in Montepulciano:
1. Caffè Poliziano: Perfect for a small bite or a coffee & cake 3pm craving. They have the best views over-looking lush rolling green hills.
For our long summer break in August, we went to Iceland. (Separate Iceland blog coming up soon). Although beautiful, it was cold and windy and felt nothing like a summer break. So, for the August long weekend - we decided to soak in the last bit of Vitamin D and head to Faro, Portugal.
We had a busy few weeks leading up to this trip, so this was our ‘doing nothing and chilling on the beach’ holiday! :)
We treated ourselves and hired a convertible car and we were on our way! We decided to stay in Carvoeiro, a small town on the Algarve coast line approx 35-40 mins from Faro. The main reason we chose this part of Portugal was to see the famous Benagil caves. Carvoeiro was a perfect spot - with a small beach, beautiful hikes and bustling restaurants.
Day 1 Saturday - we spent exploring Carvoeiro and the surrounding beaches. By exploring, we mean literally sitting and swimming on the beach, napping for a few hours in the afternoon and heading out for dinner in the evening. We didn’t do much and took the time to just unwind, de-stress and catch up on our sleep debt.
Day 2 - Sunday.
We had booked a kayaking tour from Carvoeiro to Benagil. A 3km kayak trip (one way) was the best way to explore the coast line. The Algarve coast has a lot of secluded beaches and caves that can only be explored by a small boat or kayak (or swimming if you’re brave enough).
We booked our Kayaking tour through Experitour.com but you can also book it when you’re there. Small kiosks are all around the beaches selling kayak and boat tours to the caves.
I struggled a little with kayaking the whole way through. We both have done kayaking only once (so we aren’t experts) and we were out in the middle of the ocean for most of the trip. Plus, speed boats constantly zip by creating waves and ripples that make the whole ride choppy. I was scared and had to hop on the boat for 1/4th of the way. But, we did have 2 beginner girls in our tour group who were absolutely fine and had no problems. We do recommend this highly as the sights were stunning but just be aware that it isn’t an easy kayak ride and it does get a bit rough in some parts.
It was all worth it though when we got to the Benagil cave. It was oh so gorgeous! The cave is a lot larger than I imagined with 2 arch entrances leading us into it from the Atlantic Ocean. Once inside, you’re amazed by the beauty and the engulfing orange light dancing on the cave walls. The cave has an opening at the top with sunlight peering through. We have never seen a beach inside a cave - and so for us, it definitely lived up to the hype. :) Pro tip: It does get crowded, so we recommend going very early in the morning to avoid lots of tourist boats coming in the afternoon. You can also hike up above the cave and look down through this opening - but we didn’t have time to do this on this trip.
For dinner we recommend: Boneca Bar at Algar Seco look out point. The restaurant is literally in between two cliff rocks - perfect to catch the sunset!
Highly recommend the Salmon fillet & the fish soup! We also tried the fresh Oysters & Melon with ham as an entree - which surprisingly went so well together. The staff and waiters have extensive wine knowledge and paired the scrumptious food with an excellent Portuguese white.
Day 3 - Lagos
We drove to Lagos (a 40 min drive the opposite direction to Faro) on our last day as we had the whole day before we had to fly. Lagos - a bigger town than Carvoeiro felt straight out of a coffee table book about Portugal. Every where we looked we saw white washed walls, pastel doors and intricate tiles on houses.
We spent the day in Lagos having a very relaxing lunch and exploring the town centre before heading back to Faro to fly back to London.
And that’s a wrap!
The Algarve region was a perfect weekend getaway - and an extremely relaxing holiday :) We hope our blog inspired you to visit this beautiful part of the world :)
Have you been to Portugal? What are some of the things you recommend? Let us know! :) Planning a trip to Portugal after reading this? Comment below or DM us on Insta (@100autumns_) if you need any tips or have any questions :)
Lots of love: V&S
Literally everyone we know that has been to Iceland has raved on about it - imploring us to add it to the top of our bucket list! With very high expectations, we finally booked our flights to the land of fire and ice.
This is going to be an un-popular opinion: Iceland - we didn't love it. Thaaaat much. Let us explain.
You have so much expectations that you forget how beautiful the country is and only seek out to see the "best waterfall" or the "best mountain hike". When you are driving around, not one blog we read told us that we'll see 100s of cars parked at every "must see water-fall" or "tourist attraction".
For us, and you would know this if you have been following us for a while, that we love off-beat experiences. Trying to search for adventures outside of the tourist traps. That's one reason why we absolutely LOVED our Scotland road trip (blog post coming soon) or our Slovenia adventure. As we drove around these countries, the natural beauty compelled us to stop and jump out to take photos.
But not Iceland. As you drive along the ring road, you know exactly where to stop as you see the car parks and the tourist buses pulling up, taking away from the raw natural beauty Iceland has to offer. We were stopping at waterfalls we were told were the best, completely zooming past the other thousand waterfalls along the way.
Most blogs will crop the cars out - but the above image shows the reality. It does get less like this up in the north though!
Perhaps, that was our fault for trying to cover the entire ring-road in 9 days. And that's another thing. It's a LOT OF DRIVING! It's stretches and stretches of long albeit gorgeous drives - if you want to cover ground. Decent accommodation options are few and spread out especially in the North & East. Of course, you can take it slow and take a month's holiday, but realistically getting more than 10 days of leave from work is not that easy for us :)
But despite all of the above, Iceland is unlike any other terrain we've ever seen! On one side of the road, you will be greeted with lush green mountains with deep echoing valleys and on the other side - it will be barren dirt, flat, with molten clay bubbling away.
1. Don't have expectations! You'll enjoy your experience a lot more.
2. Be okay with not "ticking" everything off your must-see Iceland list. If you are ok with skipping a few touristy spots, you can literally stop anywhere else on the way and we guarantee it to be just as stunning! Plus, you will have the place to yourselves :)
3. Iceland is a photographer's dream! We recommend a tripod if you want to capture the soft gush of the waterfall. Drone - not so much though. Most places are "no-drone" zones and if you follow us on Instagram, you'll know from our stories that we lost our drone (R.I.P Drone Draper) to the high winds in Iceland.
We won't say these are the must-see spots as we would want you guys to discover this majestic land on your own and not just follow a set itinerary, so instead here's: Our favourite experiences of Iceland:
1. Chilling above Skogafoss
Can you spot Shankar perched up on that cliff above the 60m high waterfall? :) You can climb right to the top of this waterfall to get a completely different perspective. The climb is steep and a bit tiring (almost 500 steps) but totally worth it!
Approx time spent here: 1.5 hours.
2. Drive from Hofn to Egilsstaðir (South to East) - avoiding the f-road, via Thingmúli.
This drive is littered with waterfalls. Little streams pouring through tiny crevices in the mountains - honestly you'll see more than 50 waterfalls on this drive! It was so untouched!
You don't need a 4x4 for this drive.
3. The drive from Egilsstaðir to Akyureri
To be honest, we loved this drive because of the perfect weather conditions. A thick grey cloud was following us the whole way through, but out there in the distance - peering through the gaps in the cloud, the sun was shining as bright as a neon light. Coupled with the Game of Thrones soundtrack in the car, all we could exclaim was "THIS IS EPIC!". Landscapes in this region are flat and barren - and you can see nothingness all the way to the horizon.
4. Hverir geo-thermals
This place is literally Mars on Earth. Hot mud pools and pink sulfuric acid smoke against the backdrop of that orangish - red mountain. This place without a doubt was our most favourite - simply because how different it looked to anything we've seen on Earth!
The sulphuric smoke creates a very pungent smell and we'd recommend you have a small napkin with you to cover your nose and mouth. Approx time spent here: 40 mins
5. Climbing inside Rauðfeldsgjá gorge
On the West peninsula, there's a narrow gorge (essentially a small rift in between two mountains). From the road, you can hardly see the crevice but as you hike closer to the mountain, you see the gorge opening. A small stream of water trickles out and you can actually go all the way inside the gorge! Please be careful as the surface is very slippery and you will need good water-proof boots to go all the way inside. Approx time spent here: 1 hour
6. Kirkjufell mountain (Arrowhead, for Game of Thrones fans)
At this point of the trip, we must have seen over 15 different mountains and 100s of waterfalls but there was still something quite magnificent about Kirkjufell. The day was beautiful - sunny and warm and it felt like a great picnic spot! It's also apparently the most photographed mountain in Iceland. Approx time spent here: 40 mins
7. Speaking of Game of Thrones, trying to find landscapes from the TV show ;)
Here's Dip our friend with Drogon! ;) A lot of Game of Thrones was shot in Iceland and its not surprising why. You’ll only get such varied landscapes in Iceland. For GoT fans there are a lot of tour companies taking you on different shooting location tours. (Or you can just Google it and make your own way there :) )
8. Snorkeling in the middle of two continental plates
We need to thank our friend Neeru for pushing us to do this. Snorkeling at the Silfra Fissure gives you a chance to float between the two continental plates while enjoying the crystal clarity of the water. Absolute once in a lifetime experience but not gonna lie - the water is 2 deg cold and if you guys know Vruchi - it took a LOT of convincing! ;) We recommend Dive.is with their combined Horse riding combo. Approx time spent here: Half a day
9. Getting to know and ride Icelandic horses
Icelandic horses are unique to the country. These small, almost pony like horses can only be found in Iceland. The horse riding experience was so calming as we trotted through the mountains with pin-drop silence around us and only the click-clack of the horses to keep us company. You can book a Silfra dive & Horse riding experience here (not sponsored). Approx time spent here: Half a day
10. Going behind the Seljalandfoss waterfall
It's one of the most visited waterfalls in Iceland - so expect a lot of tourists but we just couldn't resist the temptation of being able to go behind the waterfall! You will really feel your own humanity as you face off against this giant of nature. Approx time spent here: 1.5 hours
11. And lastly, Blue Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon is extremely commercial and touristy, overcrowded as the day goes on and over-priced for what it is. But, it is such a relaxing way to end your 9 day strenuous road trip! It was the perfect way to pamper ourselves a little bit before we headed back home and back to work :)
And there you have it. Our honest review of Iceland!
Hopefully - this blog post will manage your expectations a little bit and allow you to truly love this magnificent country!
You can also check out our other blog posts here and reach us on Instagram here (opens in new windows).
Lots of love
V & S
A road trip from South of France to Spain
In May this year, Shankar's best friend, Naman and his wife and our good friend Nidhi with their son Rohan, plus my best friend Rajshri were visiting Europe for a wedding and a conference respectively. We decided to take this opportunity to take some time off work and go on a road trip with them from South of France (Nice) to Spain (Barcelona). We also had our friends from Luxembourg (Neeraj & Deepti) and friends from London (Aman & Neeru) join us! All of us are originally from Australia - so it felt like a mini reunion of sorts. :)
There's a lot that we covered in our road trip, so it is easiest to give you our route and mention a few must-see places and towns along the way :)
Road trip itinerary:
Arrive in Nice: Thursday night (cheapest / last flight from London to Nice)
Day 1 - Friday: Nice to Toulon (via Cannes & Saint Tropez)
Day 2 - 4: Explore Toulon and surrounding towns (Bandol, Sansary sur-mer, Marseille, Aix-en-Provence)
Day 5: Head to Perpignan (via Avignon, Montpellier, Beziers)
Day 6 - 7: Explore Perpignan and surrounding towns (Carcassonne)
Day 8 - Head to Barcelona
Day 9 - 10: Explore Barcelona and head back to London (cheapest / last flight to London)
Cannes / Saint-Tropez:
Since we were 9 of us - we were able to hire a beautiful house in Toulon just on the French Rivera!
We hadn't seen our friends since we moved to London - so Toulon was a really nice way to switch off, relax and catch up on each others live. We spent most of the days exploring small surrounding towns like Sanary Sur-Mer & Bandol but really just wanted to spend some quality time with each other that we had missed over the last year or so. We cooked, played games and even tried our first attempt at flying our drone (Drone Draper).
On our way to Barcelona:
Read more about our weekend in Barcelona here
Thinking of Morocco conjures up these exotic images of stunning palaces, intricate designs, colorful kaftans, palm trees & of-course camels! And Morocco does not disappoint! This blog post is our attempt at convincing you why Morocco should be your next travel destination!
We’ve extensively traveled Europe so far (well, we’d like to think so ;)) and after a while all the cathedrals and churches and “old towns” start to merge with one another. But so far, Morocco has definitely stood out as unique - both in terms of natural landscapes and the local culture.
Itinerary - 6 days
Day 1 - Land into Marrakech - Explore the town.
Day 2 - Head towards Atlas Mountains, Merzouga & Aït Benhaddou
Day 3 - Dadas Gorge - Head towards the Sahara Desert
Day 4 - Sahara Desert Luxury Camp (best part of our tour!!!!)
Day 5 - Head back towards Marrakech via Todra Gorge
Day 6 - Chill in Marrakech during the day - fly back home in the evening.
Pro tip: We did this trip over the Easter long weekend thus only taking an additional 2 days off work since Friday & Monday are public holidays anyway! :)
Can we drive or should we go with a tour?
Although feasible to do this via self-drive, and as much as we advocate exploring a country by yourself and a car - we highly recommend going with a tour option for Morocco. It isn’t as safe as driving around Europe. If you have a group, there are plenty of tour options that customize the tours according to what you want to see, number of days you have as well as style of traveling.
We chose to go with a private tour option from Sahara Morocco Tours where we were basically given a car & a driver for our disposal for 6 days. There was a rough itinerary planned but it was flexible enough to amend early morning start timings and time spent at each location.
The tour took care of accommodation (3-5 stars), breakfast & dinners + the car, petrol & driver - a bargain for £300 per person (for the entire 6 days).
What currency is used in Morocco?
Morocco uses both Euros and Moroccon Dirham (MAD).
If you are trying to covert GBP to MAD, it's best to do this at Marrakech airport after you land. Monzo / Revolut gives us a great exchange rate, so we ended up just withdrawing MAD from the ATMs. Euros are also used in places but usually at an unfavorable exchange rate. We recommend converting to MAD in bulk for the week and using that throughout your trip.
Rough costs for 6 days
~ €300 per person for the tour
~ €150 per person for 2 nights stay in a Riad (prior and after your tour)
~ €25 per person for lunch (breakfast & dinners are included in the tour)
~ €100 miscellaneous drinks / shopping / tips if needed
Day 1 & 6 Marrakech (without the tour)
After a really early 6am flight from London, we landed into Marrakech exhausted and sleepy. However, the second we stepped foot outside the airport, we were refreshed by the warm air and sun on our faces! We hadn’t been to a warm country since July! With smiles beaming, we took off our layers and headed to our Riad.
Where to stay in Marrakech:
There are plenty of accommodation options however we HIGHLY recommend staying at a Riad (a large traditional home with a courtyard / swimming pool in the middle of the home). We chose Riad Baba Ali and we were in for a treat. Photos don't do justice to just how beautiful this home! The host is a sweet french lady who took great care of us. We chose to have lunch at the Riad, which she made fresh for us as we ordered! Just what we needed after a tiring early flight.
What to do in Marrakech:
Marrakech has a lot to offer! Try bargaining for souvenirs at Jemaa el Fnaa exploring its labyrinth of traditional souks or head to the Koutoubia Mosque Marrakech's most famous landmark or if you are curious enough - try a local Hammam experience. We had never been to one before, and didn't know what to expect! You are taken in to a chamber - naked - while a local Moroccan lady gives you a deep exfoliation & massage. An amazing relaxing experience but if you aren't comfortable with being naked in front of a stranger - perhaps give it a miss. ;)
Spoil yourself at La Mamounia
Have a drink or a spa experience at Morocco's most prestigious hotel known for its opulence, and grandeur. You'll step into the most elegant interiors you've ever seen, strolling past magnificent gardens, marble sculptures and velvet armchairs. Be ready to pay a hefty price tag (compared to the local prices outside) for food & drinks (and make sure you book prior).
On the tour: Atlas Mountains, Todra Gorge, Dades Valley, & Camel rides & Camping in the middle of Sahara Dessert.
The tour takes us through a whirlwind of different landscapes and sceneries. From breathtaking gorges to dry arid deserts, from waking up to early morning sun over a valley to sleeping under the stars in the Sahara.. we had an absolute wonderful time exploring Morocco and all that it has to offer.
Highlight of the trip:
It has got to be the Berber luxury camp in the middle of the Sahara Desert. It was unimaginable to be treated with such luxury in the midst of sand dunes and open nothingness. On our camels we rode to our luxury camp and as the sun set, we were greeted with traditional Moroccon dances and fresh Moroccan tea. After a quick refresh in our glorious opulent tents (with ornate beds and intricate details), we were whisked away to a large tent serving freshly made dinner and drinks. On our request, they had also organised a Shisha for us underneath the North African stars. A truly unforgettable night followed by a spectacular wake up to the sun rising over the dunes :)
One of our closest friends (one of my bridesmaid) celebrated her 30th birthday at the Sahara desert camp - what an absolutely amazing way to welcome your thirties.
Overall, we think it was definitely a trip of a lifetime. So unique and incredibly culture rich - nothing like we've ever seen before. We highly recommend and thank the Sahara Moroccan Tours for giving us treasured memories that we will never ever forget.
Hopefully after reading our blog post, you can add Morocco to your bucket list! :) Let us know if you'd like any tips and any more suggestions.
Have you already been? Share your photos with us and we may feature them our Instagram :) <3
Love - V & S
This quote could not be more true for Arachova! A small tiny little town in the mountains of Greece, 2 hours north from Athens.
In 2014, my best friend (Rajshri) and I had gone on a girls Europe trip and we had decided to visited Arachova on whim. We had opened up the map of Greece, closed our eyes and pointed to a town and decided it’s Arachova that we will venture out to. We had found (on homestays) a lovely Greek family to live with in their house atop a mountain. Their house is called “Nefeles” aptly meaning “amongst the clouds”. We had the greatest time with the family over our 4 day stay. We connected so well with Magda and Andreas and their parents who treated us like family! They took us skiing at Parnasos (a huge ski centre near Arachova) and we quickly became good friends.
Fast forward so many years later, we’ve still kept in touch through Facebook. I’ve had such fond memories of this place that I really wanted to take Shankar to Arachova and stay at Nefeles again. I spoke to Magda over Facebook and she was delighted to have us back!
Road trip from Athens to Arachova
Driving from Athens to Arachova, we passed some beautiful countryside towns and sceneries. As usual, in true 100 autumns style we detoured off course several times to unearth the unseen parts of Greece passing tiny towns like Ellopia, Prodmoros & Kyriaki.
Where to eat on the way:
On the way, for lunch we really recommend trying Arvanitsa Cafe .
Nestled amongst a rainforest, this restaurant is practically in the middle of nowhere! 360 deg view of gorgeous mountains and gardens surround this place. Extremely kid friendly with dogs and cats roaming around the estate. Food was great too with decent service. Huge portion sizes though! So perhaps you can share a lot of their plates.
Arachova - where to stay
In one word: Nefeles.
You can now book their home through booking.com and various other sites. (Don’t worry, this isn’t a sponsored article ;))You won’t regret it at all! It’s a gorgeous home and we are sure you’ll fall in love Lina & Patmoss (the parents) hospitality. Each morning she makes fresh breakfast which you can enjoy with a stunning view.
The house is a bit difficult to get to and the first time Rajshri and I were in Arachova, we were absolutely lost finding it. Mind you, we didn’t have GPS or a working phone so if you’ve got that, you should be ok. The roads leading to the house are extremely narrow through a winding mountain - so be careful when you drive if you’re arriving at night. However, since it’s tucked away from the main city centre you’ll have the best time star gazing your way through the night.
Arachova - sights & attractions
Arachova is a tiny little town, so there’s not much to do. Wandering around little alleyways and soaking the culture - is all the ‘sightseeing’ you can do and we prefer this over a busy packed day of ticking things off a list. But, if you do want to do something - there’s a clock tower, main bridge and the 246 church steps - as the main “attractions”.
Delphi is also about 30 mins away and you can explore the ruins of Delphi as a day trip from Arachova.
The main thing however is Skiing! Yes skiing in Greece. It’s absolutely absurd when you think about skiing in Greece and a lot of our friends in London were so skeptical when we said we were going skiing in Greece. Parnasos Ski centre is a well equipped ski centre about 30-40 mins away. (We recommend hiring your ski gear in Arachova for a cheaper rate). It has some great range of ski runs (Baby green - to Expert Blacks) and a day pass is about €15 euros per person. They also have ski and snowboarding lessons for beginners. Both Shankar and I aren’t expert skiers / snowboarders, but we had a great time on the slopes!
Arachova / Delphi - where to eat
In Arachova, we recommend eating at the top of the 246 steps, behind the church at a tiny restaurant called Panagiṓta. (Also accessible by car if you don’t want to walk up, but be careful of EXTREMELY narrow roads). The restaurant has some great views of the town.
Another restaurant you can try is Phterólakka. Food portion sizes are enormous here and they have a funky menu system on large wine bottles.
There's also Kaplanis Taverna which is great for large groups for dinner.
In Delphi, stop by for coffee at the Delphi cafe, just as you are about to enter the town on your left. Again, absolutely stunning views of the mountain ranges!
Overall, Arachova will always hold a special place in my heart - and its all because of Nefeles! You won’t find the postcard view that you know of Greece but you know you’ll experience the truest purest Greek culture in this tiny town. I know we’ll be back here again because when you leave Arachova, you leave a little part of you behind....
Do you like visiting bustling cities or small towns? Have you been to Arachova? What other small towns do you recommend? Leave a comment below or DM us on our Instagram channel @100autumns_
Lots of love
V & S