A Round Up of My 2018 Travels

Towards the end of each year, I love taking some time out to reflect on all of my travels and adventures over the past 12 months. Whilst it’s definitely true that I’m always planning my next trip, sometimes it’s nice to sit, pause and appreciate the adventures I’ve already been on, instead of concentrating on the next destination.

2018 has brought with it some personal challenges for me, but it’s also been an exciting year of experiencing new cultures, exploring old favourites and really going for it on the solo travel front.

I’ve ticked off five brand new countries, and returned to three places that I’d already been to and loved. I’ve travelled with family, friends, a boyfriend and solo. My love for Asia has deepened and my hunger for travel has grown ever more intense. I’ve seen my blog traffic increase slowly but steadily. I’ve taken up Spanish lessons.

It’s been a whirlwind in a lot of ways and so it’s time to pause and reflect for a while as the last day of the year draws closer.





My first stop this year was Dublin, Ireland.

I visited on my own, as an extension to a work trip to Northern Ireland. I have to admit that I didn’t fall in love with Dublin, which I was really disappointed about. But I guess we’re not going to love every place we visit; if we did, how would we ever appreciate the amazing places.

I think my mediocre experience might have been down to the trip being solo; I definitely think that Dublin is a city best experienced with friends. Still, there were definitely some highlights. I went to the cinema on my own for the first time ever, I went on a fascinating walking tour and ate the best brunch of my life at Urbanity Coffee.

This trip taught me that hostel dorms are a no for me, particularly for a short weekend break. I booked one to save some money and absolutely hated it! I even cried when I got there.

From then, I decided that unless I could afford/warrant a private or hotel room, I wouldn’t be going on the trip. Yes I felt like a bit of a diva, but there’s no point staying in places that will spoil your trip! I’d feel differently about dorms if I were to travel long-term, but as I don’t have any plans to do that currently, it’s private rooms and hotels for me.

Read more about my trip to Dublin, including lots of tips for solo travellers here.






Next off was another trip close to home; Edinburgh, Scotland for a hen party. I’ll admit that there was little culture or sightseeing involved but it was such a lovely girl’s trip in one of the best cities in the UK.

I’d only ever been to Edinburgh with work before, and still feel like there’s lots for me to see, so I’ll definitely be back!



The beginning of Spring brought with it a much-anticipated trip to Morocco, 10 days exploring Marrakech and Essaouira.

If you’ve followed me for a while, you may know that I’m ever so slightly obsessed with Asia, as I love the contrast with home and life in the UK. With that in mind, and although I had a trip to Asia planned for later in the year, I was keen to get in another dose of culture shock, just a little closer to home!

Morocco certainly delivered on that front; even though it’s only a short flight from the UK, it felt quite exotic and going there definitely provided me with the adventure that I was craving. We spent five days each in Marrakech and Essaouira; exploring, eating and having some much-needed down time too.

In hindsight, we didn’t need five days in Marrakech, in fact it felt too long, but I guess I didn’t know that when I planned the trip. At least it felt like we were really able to really explore the Red City and its many great restaurants (food was a definite highlight from the trip!) and rooftops.

Essaouira was my favourite of the two cities; I loved the laid-back vibe and whitewashed Medina. I’d highly recommend a visit if you’re going to Morocco.

My trip to Morocco definitely allowed me to appreciate how great a slower pace of travel can be and it gave me chance to create lots of blog content, which I often find difficult on shorter trips or where I’ve got a detailed itinerary.

For information on both cities and my trip, read more here:

How to Spend a Long Weekend in Marrakech

Morocco’s Windy City: Essaouira Travel Guide

Why You Should Stay in a Riad in Marrakech

An Honest Review of My Stay at Essaouira Lodge in Morocco










Whilst I’m great at booking trips to far flung places and around Europe, I’m absolutely terrible when it comes to taking the time to explore places within the UK, which is something I want to change in 2019.

My only other UK trip besides Edinburgh in 2019 was a lovely glamping trip that I went on in Yorkshire back in June.

We stayed at Camp Katur in one of their cool Geodomes; essentially a little plastic pod in the forest, complete with double bed; furniture and log burner. It also had its own little kitchen and bathroom, perfect for those like me who don’t really do camping.

Whist I’ll admit that I did miss home comforts by the end of the trip, the setting was wonderful and the Geodome was one of the most unique accommodations I’ve ever stayed in.

Check out more on my glamping adventure here.







At the end of July, I left behind the hot UK summer (how good was that fellow Brits?!) and flew to Budapest for a long weekend. I’d visited the city back in November 2013 and it still held the title of my favourite European city, something which I had hoped wouldn’t change following a return visit.

It certainly didn’t- if anything, it just confirmed to me how much I adore the Hungarian capital. I can’t quite put my finger on why I love it so much; I just do. I feel like it’s the same for lots of people that visit Budapest.

My second trip was spent visiting some old favourites and exploring new parts of the city. I also went to the Hungarian Grand Prix, which although not my thing at all, I loved!

It was great to visit during the summer, though at times it did feel a bit too hot! I’m desperate to go back already- I think I’ll try to go during Spring or Autumn on my next trip though, why not see the city in all seasons haha.

After experiencing both summer and winter, I’ve put together an ultimate Budapest itinerary.




F Bastion



A year without a trip to Asia is a year wasted in my book, so at the start of September, I headed off to Hong Kong and China for a couple of weeks solo travel.

It was without a doubt the most challenging place I’ve travelled around alone but to be honest, it ended up being a lot more straightforward than I’d expected.

I started my trip in Hong Kong, nipped over to Macau and then travelled to mainland China to visit three of the major cities; Chengdu, Xi’an and Beijing.

It was an amazing trip and I got to see so many amazing sights, not least the Great Wall of China, something that’s been high up on my bucket list for as long as I can remember!

I’m slowly sharing content on my trip (life has got in way since I got back somewhat!) but here are a couple of posts I’ve written in case you want to check them out:

A Guide to Hong Kong and Macau for First-Time Visitors

A Complete Guide to First Time Solo Travel in China













In October I went on a trip to the south of Spain with my Grandma, who pretty much lived there for about twenty years, before selling her apartment at the start of this year. It will always hold a special place in my Grandma’s heart and I love visiting with her, as she’s always at her happiest!

We only visited for a few days and it was quite chilled. We explored Malaga and Mijas, had long lunches and relaxed with a few good books. After a difficult couple of months, it was exactly what I needed. It also reminded me that sometimes it’s ok to just travel to get away, as opposed to madly charging around sightseeing and soaking in the local culture.

I developed a bit of a love for Malaga as a city, having only visited briefly once before, I had much more chance to explore this time. I’ve put together a guide to how to spend a day there, you can check it out here.




All in all, 2018 has been an amazing year travel wise. I’d love to hear from you; where have you been, what your favourite travel moment of the year was, and any other stories you have to share. Drop me a line via email, or through Instagram or Twitter.

See you in 2019!



My Ultimate Travelist

I received the Lonely Planet Ultimate Travelist for Christmas last year. It details the “500 best places on the planet… ranked” and it is possibly the most wanderlust-inducing thing I’ve ever read!

It got me thinking about what my ultimate travelist would be. So, I’ve decided to put together a top 10 of the places I’ve already visited and the 10 that are highest on my bucket list. I’ve ranked them in order, which was not an easy task!


Top 10 Places Visited

1. Khao Sok National Park, Thailand

Khao Sok National Park is situated in the Surat Thani province of Thailand. The crowing jewel of the park is Cheow Lan lake, which is home to beautiful lime stone karsts.

I stayed in a floating bungalow on the lake, where the facilities are very basic and there is only electricity for a few hours in the evening. The setting is absolutely stunning and my one-night stay is one of my all time favourite travel memories. Quite simply, it’s the most breathtaking place I’ve ever visited.

Read more: 9 Reasons to Visit Thailand 



2. Great Wall of China

The Great Wall probably makes it on to most people’s travel bucket lists, it is a bit of a cliche.

It rightly deserves a place, it is out of this world amazing. I was super excited to hike the wall but nothing could prepare me for quite how incredible (and steep!) it was.

I visited the Jinshanling section of this wall and there were barely any other people!





3. Temples of Angkor

The Temples of Angkor are out of this world and like nothing I’ve ever seen before.

I joined a small cycling tour when I visited; we got to Angkor Wat for sunrise and then cycled around the other temples and surrounding countryside.

Read more: Female solo travel in Cambodia and Vietnam: a 3 week itinerary 


4. Hoi An Old Town

Most people that have visited Hoi An Old Town would probably agree that the place just feels absolutely magical, especially at night when the beautiful old buildings are lit up with colourful lanterns.

It was definitely my favourite place in Vietnam, although as you’ll see, two more places in my favourite country ever have also made it on to my list!



5. Hanoi Old Quarter, Vietnam

Hanoi is by far my favourite large city in Asia. It’s busy and it’s polluted but it also has so much charm!

Home to many beautiful buildings, Hoan Kiem Lake, Ngoc Son Temple and lots of lovely restaurants, there’s plenty to see and do. But this is also a place where you can just wander and get lost, taking it all in.

Read more: Vietnam Travel Tips


6. Galle Fort, Sri Lanka

One of the things I loved most about Sri Lanka is that every place we visited was so different. Galle Fort was no exception, I certainly wasn’t expecting charming cobbled streets, boutique shops and a lighthouse in Sri Lanka!

I stayed within the fort, which I’d highly recommend doing.

Read more: Sri Lankan Adventure Part 1: Colombo to Galle


7. Plaza Mayor, Cuba

Trinidad in Cuba is by far one of the prettiest towns I’ve ever visited. Cobbled streets and pastel coloured buildings, it is a delight. It attracts a fair amount of tourists but it still felt really laid back and not at all crowded.

Plaza Mayor is the historic centre of the town and it’s the perfect place to wander for a couple of hours, followed by a cold beer.

See more: Cuba: Photo Edit





8. Halong Bay, Vietnam

Halong Bay is a must-see for visitors to Vietnam. It’s famous for its limestone karsts and dramatic scenery.

I stayed on a traditional junk boats for two days and it was an amazing experience, not to mention that the seafood served on board was some of the best and freshest I’ve ever eaten.



9. Habana Vieja, Cuba

Think of Cuba and Habana Vieja is likely to be the picture in your head- the bright, pastel coloured old buildings in the old part of town.

They are iconic and even better experienced on a ride around Havana in an old American car.

Read more: Cuba Travel Tips


10. Le Jardin Majorelle

I recently visited Marrakech and was concerned that I’d be disappointed by Le Jardin Majorelle given all the photos I’d seen and the masses of tourists.

I definitely wasn’t disappointed, the gardens were absolutely magical and like a complete oasis away from the slight madness of Marrakech itself.

Read more: How to Spend a Long Weekend in Marrakech






So, that’s where I’ve been. Now for the list of the top 10 places I’d like go visit form the Lonely Planet Ultimate Travelist:

1. Bora Bora, French Polynesia

2. Machu Picchu, Peru

3. Petra, Jordan

4. Taj Mahal, India

5. Bagan, Myanmar

6. Gardens by the Bay, Singapore

7. Dubrovnik Old City Walls, Croatia

8. Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi

9. Cristo Redentor, Brazil

10. Empire State Building

Check out the Lonely Planet Ultimate Travelist here.

Where are your top 10 places visited and the top 10 you want to go to? I’d love to hear from you xxx

How to Spend a Long Weekend in Marrakech


Marrakech is certainly one of those places that is an assault on the senses. The hot African sun beating down, crowds of people, brightly coloured stalls filled with handmade Moroccan wares, the smell of traditional spices. The Red City is like no other place that I’ve visited. Everything feels so alive, and at times it can be overwhelming.

Overwhelming but enchanting, definitely somewhere that should be on your bucket list. I will admit that Marrakech wasn’t one of my favourite cities by the time I left but there is something really special about it.

I’d recommend visiting for a long weekend, after all the flight from the UK is actually a lot shorter than you’d expect! Here’s everything you need to know about spending a weekend in the Red City.

Getting there

There are regular flights from the UK, especially from London airports, in to Marrakech Menara airport. Flight time is usually between three and four hours.

Arriving at the airport

Couple of top tips for arriving at Marrakech Menara: take a pen to fill out your landing card, and when putting down your occupation, write your job title in the simplest form. My boyfriend’s job title is a bit obscure and it meant that he spent 10 minutes being questioned at the border. For example, instead of putting down my title of “National Account Manager”, I simply put “Sales Manager”, which raised no questions.

Getting from the airport to the city

You can quite easily grab a taxi from outside the airport terminal and it shouldn’t cost much at all; a trip in to the city doesn’t take long. Be sure to haggle and agree a price before you get in to the taxi.

I pre-arranged a taxi with our riad, definitely the easiest option. Although more expensive by a long way (though still cheap by Western standards), it is much more straightforward if you’re staying in the medina. Taxis can’t enter most of the medina, and as such, it’s unlikely that you’ll be dropped off at your accommodation. Booking transport through your riad or hotel means that they will take you right to the door of where you’re staying, no matter how far in to the medina it might be.

How to dress

Marrakech is a predominantly Muslim country, and as such, you should respect local customs and dress appropriately. As a female, cover your knees, shoulders and chest as much as possible. I found that long culottes and midi skirts worked well. Take a light scarf as an extra cover up.

It’s a little more relaxed for males, although I’d still keep your shoulders covered. Plenty of male tourists were walking around in shorts and who can blame them in such a hot country.

Where to stay

I’d highly recommend staying at a riad (a traditional Moroccan house with interior garden or courtyard) within the medina. It’s an unforgettable experience, read more here. I stayed at Riad Spa Sindibad and Riad Dar More, both of which I’d definitely stay at again.



What to see and do

It’s likely your accommodation will be within the medina, especially if you opt for a riad. Just wandering the medina is an experience in itself, the narrow streets are bustling with people, scooters and horses.


Morocco is famous for it souks (marketplace or bazaars). Wander through these and get lost amongst all manner of stalls, selling everything from Moroccan spices to rugs to trainers to fresh olives. Be sure to keep on your poker face when trying to buy something, and haggle, it’s expected. Vendors can start at up to three times the price they actually want for an item. Yes haggling feels uncomfortable, especially when it’s over a small amount, but it’s completely normal in Morocco.



Koutoubia Mosque

The largest mosque in Marrakech, Koutoubia is stunning and not to be missed. Although non-Muslims are not permitted to enter, it’s well worth visiting to see from outside.




Le Jardin Majorelle

These gardens, lovingly created by French painter Jacques Majorelle over a forty year period, are one of the most visited attractions in all of Marrakech. Yes you’ll likely have to queue for a while to get in, yes it will be crowded, but trust me it’s worth it.

The gardens are filled with beautiful trees, plants and cacti. The buildings are painted in beautiful Majorelle blue and yellow. Definitely not to be missed.

Entry to the gardens costs 70dh (around £5.50) and its an extra 30dh to enter to Yves Saint Laurent museum.



Kasbah Mosque

Another beautiful mosque worth checking out.



Bahia Palace

My favourite of the palaces in Marrakech, Bahia is absolutely stunning. It was built in the 19th century and took 14 years to complete. Think intricate architecture, beautiful tiles and the most gorgeous colours.

We paid 10dh for admission but a lot of people just skipped this and entered for free; the ticket office is literally a little cabin by the entrance that can be walked by easily.



El Badi Palace

El Badi Palace was completed around 1593 after 15 years.

Be sure to head up the stairs just left of the entrance, there’s a view point with great views over the palace.



Jemaa el-Fna Square

The main square in the medina, Jemaa el-Fna is filled with stalls and orange juice stands by day. At night, vendors set up street food stalls. There’s also a number of street entertainers, snake charmers and people with monkeys on chains.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t like Jemaa el-Fna at all. If you visit, please don’t take photos with the snakes or monkeys, as you’ll only encourage these cruel practices to carry on.

It’s worth noting that locals will expect payment if you’re taking photos of them or their stalls. Also, be aware of the ladies offering henna. One came up to me and started brushing henna onto my arm without permission. Say no, be firm and walk away.


Maison de la Photographie

This photography museum takes you on a journey back time, with exhibitions documenting the history of Marrakech.

I didn’t love the exhibitions that we saw but I think I was unfairly comparing them to the ones I saw at Fotograsfika in Stockholm earlier this year, which were incredible.

The museum is well worth a visit just for the beautiful internal architecture and the gorgeous rooftop café, which has great views over the city.




Enjoy the view from a rooftop

There are plenty of rooftop cafes, restaurants and bars in Marrakech. In my opinion, spending time at these is the best way to soak up the city. If you visit during spring, you’ll be able to see the Atlas mountains in the distance; they make an amazing backdrop.


Food and drink
Moroccan specialities

Whilst in Marrakech, there are a few local and regional specialities you must try:

  • Fresh orange juice
  • Olives
  • Mint tea (with sugar!)
  • Tagine
  • Cous cous
  • Harira soup
  • Pastilla
Zwin Zwin

This was my favourite rooftop spot in Marrakech. It’s lesser known than some of the other places in the city and this makes it a more relaxing, less crowded place to grab some lunch.

The wraps and salads are fresh and tasty. They also serve alcohol, something that isn’t true of many places in Morocco.




Nomad is a trendy spot, perfect for grabbing lunch, a fresh juice and doing a bit of people watching. It gets busy and you may have to wait for a table.

The food is expensive by Moroccan standards but it’s tasty and there’s quite a few vegetarian dishes on the menu.



Al Fassia

There are two Al Fassia restaurants, serving delicious traditional Moroccan food.


Beats Burger

Sick of tagine and cous cous? You don’t exactly expect to find a great burger restaurant in Marrakech, but Beats Burger is just that.

The food is delicious and the restaurant itself is really cool, complete with a rooftop of course.



As I already mentioned, not many places in Morocco serve alcohol outside of tourist hotels.

Kosybar is situated in the medina and has a lovely rooftop where you can enjoy a drink. The wine and beer is good but avoid the cocktails- the Espresso Martini I ordered was pretty awful.



Have you been to Marrakech? Do you have any other recommendations? 


Why You Should Stay in a Riad in Marrakech


There are hundreds of traditional riads in Marrakech, from the simple to the outright decadent. During my recent trip to Morroco, I stayed in two riads within Marrakech medina, and I absolutely loved the experience!

If you’re heading to Morocco, I’d 100% recommend that you stay in a riad for at least part of your trip, it’s an unforgettable experience. Here are all of the reasons why.

You’ll be greeted like an old friend

There’s no hotel welcome like a riad welcome in my opinion. You’ll knock on the door of the riad and be greeted by a friendly local, who will usher you in to the tranquility of the courtyard.

You’ll be seated then offered some traditional Moroccan mint tea with sweet treats. Beats a watered down cocktail/fruit juice you get in most places!

It’s also likely that your hosts will give you a guided tour of the riad and will offer plenty of helpful advice about Marrakech. With the accommodation being much smaller than your standard hotel, you’ll find the service to be much more attentive, even in a mid-range riad.




The riad will be your oasis

Marrakech medina is an overwhelming place at times. Vendors, crowds, scooters, even horses trotting by make for a real hustle and bustle. It’s fun, it’s interesting but after a long and hot day, stepping in to your riad will be a welcome oasis.

Although you’ll still be right in the heart of the action, step in to your riad, and it will be like a different world. Quiet, cool, clean and relaxing. Possibly the exact opposite of the medina itself.




You’ll get serious interior decor inspiration/envy

Traditional Moroccan décor is absolutely beautiful and your riad will no doubt feature it in spades.

Think pretty tiles, gorgeous lanterns, handcrafted furniture, colourful cushions and lush greenery.

Aside from being perfect instagram fodder, you’ll feel like you’re experiencing the real Morocco.





You’ll get luxury without a huge price tag

Compared to what you’d pay in Europe, accommodation in Morocco is really reasonable. Riads are usually cheaper than your standard chain hotel and offer a real sense of luxury, from the surroundings right through to the service.

Staying in a riad is much like being in a boutique hotel, something that you can pay a lot for in many places.




A traditional Moroccan breakfast is the best way to start your day

Most riads will offer a complimentary Moroccan style breakfast. Fresh orange juice, mint tea, traditional breads and pastries, omelettes, fresh fruit; you’ll be spoilt for choice.

It’s a great way to start the day and certainly beats most hotel breakfasts I’ve ever had!




In-house spas mean pampering right on your doorstep

Many riads have in-house spa facilities that are again reasonably priced compared to in Europe.

Massages, hammams and manicures available right there, what’s not to love?




You can embrace rooftop living

With a mild winter climate, and being warm to hot from Spring though to Autumn, Marrakech is the perfect city to experience on a rooftop.

Lots of riads have lovely roof terraces on which you can enjoy your breakfast, or spend a relaxing evening. Again, this offers an oasis away from the craziness of the medina.

You may even be able to enjoy a traditional dinner up on the terrace organised by the riad.




It will be a completely unique experience

The main reason that I’d recommend staying in a riad is that it is a totally unique experience and definitely one you should have whilst in Morocco.

I can’t quite explain what makes staying in a riad so unique and special, so my advice would be to book a stay and experience it for yourself.



I stayed at Riad Spa Sindibad and Riad Dar More, both of which I’d highly recommend.

Riad Spa Sindibad is the slightly more traditional of the two; Riad Dar More feels a little more like a boutique hotel. Click on the links above to find out more, or I’d be happy to answer your questions!

An Honest Review of My Stay at Essaouira Lodge in Morocco

I stayed at the beautiful Essaouira Lodge for 5 nights during my trip to Morocco and wanted to share an honest review of the hotel, in case you’re thinking about staying there or are looking for a great place to stay in Essaouira.


The hotel is located in the hills of Essaouira, about a 15-minute drive from the city and the coast. It is on the edge of a thuja forest, which is so beautiful and definitely embodies the hotel’s tagline; “The Spirit of Nature”. Although out of the way of town, the hotel provides a free shuttle service throughout the day, about every hour. I adored the location of the hotel, I really felt like I was able to get away from it all but could still explore the sights easily too. Plus, Essaouira is known as Morocco’s Windy City, which can be frustrating at times. As Essaouira Lodge is away from the coast, it gets nowhere near as much wind. Perfect for relaxing in the sun.



We stayed in a Superior Suite, which was comprised of a spacious bedroom, kitchenette, bathroom and terrace. The accommodation is relatively basic and more like an apartment than a hotel suite but it’s clean and comfortable. Our terrace was huge, with beautiful views.

Essaouira Lodge also has villas for larger groups, some with their own private pools.



The pool and surrounding area is one of the best aspects of Essaouira Lodge. The pool is large, heated and the tiles are beautiful, as you’d expect in Morocco! There are plenty of sunbeds and seats around the pool, perfect for relaxing. There is also a spa that offers hammams and massages.




The grounds are stunning, the gardeners clearly work really hard to keep all the greenery looking gorgeous. The accommodation is spread over a relatively wide area, which really adds to the being in nature experience; it never feels crowded.




Essouira Lodge offers breakfast, lunch and dinner. The breakfast is very good value, around £4.50 for a variety of Moroccan breads and pastries, preserves, a continental selection, freshly cooked eggs, fruit, yoghurt, fresh orange juice and coffee.

The lunch is also very tasty, you pay around £16 but get a huge plate of salads followed by a delicious main course, and then dessert. Although more expensive than most options in town, it’s well worth trying if you fancy a lazy day.

For dinner, you choose from a few set menu options.

There’s a cosy dining room with a big open fire for colder days and evenings, or you can sit outside on the patio if it’s a little warmer.



As Morocco is a predominantly Muslim country, you’ll find that a lot of places don’t serve any alcohol. Essaouira Lodge offers beer, wine and cocktails, which is nice if you fancy a tipple whilst you’re relaxing around the pool.

The drinks are pretty good but on the slightly expensive side, as you’d expect at a hotel.


Essaouira Lodge has its very own yoga lodge and offers both yoga and pilates classes. Although I didn’t attend any classes, I checked out the yoga lodge, which looked rather good! Definitely a great place to start the day with a yoga session.



All the staff we interacted with were super friendly and helpful, making the stay at Essaouira Lodge even better. Nothing was too much trouble and everybody always has a greeting and a smile as you walk by!

Value for money

Rates are more than reasonable for the standard of the hotel, we paid around £268 for 5 nights, working out around £27 per person per night. You could definitely find cheaper accommodation in Essaouira but if you’re looking for a beautiful setting with friendly staff and a relaxing vibe, you can’t go wrong.

Overall verdict

Essaouira Lodge is a great place to relax for a couple of days or for a longer stay. You’ll leave feeling a lot more relaxed than when you arrived and it offers an oasis away from the hustle and bustle of Essaouira town.

You can book a stay at Essaouira Lodge directly here or on Expedia.

All booked and ready to go? Check out my Essaouira guide here.

Disclaimer: we were kindly offered a free upgrade from a standard room to a suite by the hotel but with no connection to my blog. All views are my own.