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Rome – Off the beaten path

Rome is simply stunning, and just iconic! The Vatican, the Colosseum, the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps.. the List goes on! And just being in this city feels like a majestic step back in time. I just love it which is why I’ve been back twice! It would be easy for me to make this blog with a city that offers so many incredible places to visit so I thought I’d challenge myself and do what I love best. I’ve tried to search for hidden gems and spent my second visit on a mission to show you an alternative side to Rome. If you want to try something different you really wouldn’t be disappointed.

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Best Viewpoint..

Who doesn’t love spending a sunset on a rooftop with a prosecco in hand? And it would be rude not to mention ‘when in Rome’ in this blog so I’ll get it out of the way now. Luckily Rome has quite a few that offer breath-taking views of the city. Our favourite has to be Eitch Borromini which is positioned in the historical centre close to the Pantheon. The terrace has a 360 degree view of Rome, that almost no other rooftop bar in the city can offer. Even the locals here wandered around snapping photos of the gorgeous skyline in between sips of their drinks. And an aperitvo arrives with each drink so although it is a little luxurious it really is worth it. Best to book in advance.

Insta shot…

Street Art is encouraged by local institutions in Rome and as a result there are quite a few tours in operation. But if you just fancy a wander Metro Spagna has been recently involved in a non-profit contemporary urban art project. Here, widely known French worked together for two days to convert this high-trafficked area into something worth visiting, just before the iconic Spanish Steps. A great photo opportunity for an alternative trip in Rome.

Something different…

Well the whole blog is suggesting this but here’s my top suggestion. Why not take a visit to the other Colosseum? The Palazzo della Civilta Italiana or more commonly referred to as ‘The Square Colosseum’. An impressive structure in the EUR suburb which was built by Italy’s infamous dictator Mussolini. Every Sunday a flea market takes place at the foot of the building and although it has a controversial history there’s no doubt of its iconic beauty. It has also appeared in a number of films including ‘Equilibrium’

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Something active…

I was fortunate enough to find some time to fit in a run on my break. Rome is stunning and so impressive to seriously impressive ancient buildings sat beside modern coffee shops. It was great to cover so much ground on foot, and the sights helped me to keep pushing on. I loved making my way into Villa Borghese park past the boating lake and the gardens. If you’re feeling even more adventurous they host a well-regarded marathon in May which features on many people’s running bucket list.

Something to drink…

The first time I visited Rome, I struggled to find a nice post-dinner bar or any nightlife that didn’t involve more food! So this time I decided to do my research and that sent me on my way to Trastevere. Even on the walk over, slightly warmed by a few red wines I was stunned at the beautiful bridges and canal reflections of Ponte Sisto, so with a quick photo break we finally ended up at the cobble stoned area of Trastevere. To my delight there were plenty of bars to choose from, small in size but offering lots of character. It’s certainly worth a visit if you want to meet some locals, drink some limoncello (which is only ever a good idea after wine!) and dance off some of Rome’s glorious gelato.

Something to eat…

For a chance to sample some of the best produce in Rome head to Campi dei Fiori. In this square, otherwise known as ‘the field of flowers’ one of the most famous markets in Rome is held. The beautiful square surrounded by elegant palaces is full of the bustling markets every morning except Sunday. Colorful produce is beautifully arranged everywhere, and you can’t stop taking photos. There are also food and small gifts that can be purchased far cheaper than other places in the city. Grab a slice of pizza, pick up some beautiful Italian prosciutto and enjoy!

Something interesting…

The Romans constructed numerous aqueducts to bring water into cities and towns—often from distant sources. I really could not believe how incredible they were up close and I couldn’t recommend seeing them enough. They a colossal and how they were built is still a marvel today. I’d definitely say they are must see part of Rome and a perfect addition to seeing this beautiful city from a different perspective.

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Cheers to Champagne – Travel Guide

Champagne is the closest wine region to drive to from London so what better place to enjoy a sophisticated road trip with friends. It took us 8 hours on a leisurely drive and watching the French countryside pass us by was all part of the adventure. Champagne houses and the pretty French towns of Epernay and Reims were a delight to witness and the whole weekend felt like a chic, giggly and tipsy getaway. Where else in the world can you walk along the Avenue de Champagne and sample some of the greatest fizz on Earth.. So I say cheers to that. Here are some top tips..

View point…

Not only does the Notre Dame in Reims boast an amazing view as you walk towards it, a climb to the top of the Tower gives a beautiful view of the city. All of the steps to get there are well worth the effort. It’s a great view and a unique chance to see the architectural details and superstructure up close.

Insta shot..

There are lots of opportunities to take photos of thousands of bottles stack up in the champagne caves. These cellars are miles long and have existed for centuries which makes them remarkable to observe whilst learning about the process of champagne making.

Something different..

We noticed that although Reims has a quiet small-town feel, the evening plays host to quite a few rock music bars and events. For a great experience meeting the local crowd here I’d venture to Meltdown. Serving traditional saucisson as a bar snack which I’d recommend trying with a  Liqueur de menthe which is also a popular regional beverage.

Something active..

There are a few tour operators that organise bike rides between the champagne cellars in Epernay, along Avenue de Champagne, and further afield along country roads and past pretty vineyards. Just be careful to not drink too much Champagne before riding back.

Something to drink..

This shouldn’t be too much of a surprise but I think we’d have to choose Champagne! My favourite tour and champagne in the region was Tattinger. We thought the tour was the most informative, and personally thought the champagne itself offered the best taste to cost balance. We ended up taking some bottles home with us  – and enjoyed quite a few with dinner.

Something to eat..

A beautiful restaurant that I’d recommend booking in advance is Le Millenaire. It has a contemporary setting and an inventive menu. It’s a chance to feel glam and enjoy champagne in a perfect setting. this michelin starred restaurant is an ideal way to celebrate an evening in Champagne.

Something interesting..

The Villa Demoiselle is neighbour to the Pommery cellars and it’s an incredible sight – and well worth taking your camera for.  As the flagship of a blend of Art nouveau and Art déco, Villa Demoiselle was built in the early 1900’s by the architect Louis Sorel. Stop off here for a glass of champagne and marvel at the beautiful surroundings.

Enjoy, City Girl

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Beautiful Bruges – Travel guide

Bruges has to be one of the prettiest places I’ve visited so far. Cobbled streets and horse drawn carriages follow pretty canals and it’s hard to find an area that doesn’t provide a beautiful photo opportunity. Chocolate shops and delicious food are just an additional bonus to what can only be described as a piece of art in itself.

View point…

Climbing to the top of the Belfy Bell Tower gives you sweeping views of Bruges and the walk up the winding staircase (366 steps!) gives you a great sense of fulfilment and a guilt free excuse to eat more belgian chocolate. It’s in a great location and is a must see place to visit in Bruges. Avoid queues by getting there early or as the sun sets.

Insta shot..

Sometimes th best photo shot is unique but with Bruges I’d argue that the city in itself is a hidden gem. It’s stunning and just walking around presents an abundance of photo opportunities. I would stick to the iconic shot of the canal close to the fishermans square for the best addition to your instagram feed.

Something different..

The weather can sometimes be a little miserable and for that reason you can find lots of great things to do on a rainy day in Bruges. Apart from the obvious, the Chocolate and Beer museums also check out the Torture museum and the Friet Museum. We really enjoyed the experience and opportunity to learn about something we love (Fries!) and something we might look to avoid (Torture!). Both were fascinating though.

Something active..

I would argue that walking, walking, walking is the best opportunity to be active in this city. It’s beautiful and there are lots of great atrractions on the outskirts of the city. A walk to see the windmills and the nuns home is an unforgettable experience. Map it out and put some comfortable shoes on. There’s a good chance you’ll stroll past a perfect pitstop for gorgeous hot chocolate and belgian fries

Something to drink..

We were so excited to stroll past ‘The Beer Wall’ and inside we had the chance to enjoy a beer tasting. 4 samples of beers in great flavours including coconut and cherry are on offer and served with nibbles. The place has a great atmosphere and with 1,721 different brands of belgian beers on display it’s a great place to stop off and enjoy the boozy part of Belgian culture.

Something to eat..

It would be rude not to mention the classic cuisine on offer here, beautiful chocolates presented so perfectly, and belgian fries available throughout the city. For an occasion dinner I’d recommend Quatre Mains for gorgeous sharing food served in a modern setting and Mosselkelder for fresh mussels and seafood. If you want to try a warm flemish stew check out ‘T Walpoortje. It goes beautifully with a raspberry cider.

Something interesting..

Bruges is currently home to 3 impressive art exhibitions, Pablo Picasso, Savador Dali and Joan Miro. You can buy a ticket for all three at a discount and they are not too huge or overwhelming. A great opportunity to enjoy the cultural and arty side of Bruges.

Enjoy, CityGirl Xx