Top 3 things to do in Cartagena

If your trip involves Colombia, then visiting Cartagena is a must do. A city filled with colour, history and good vibes.

Cartagena is most definitely a place worth visiting and today the risk levels are generally low, however, as with anywhere in the world you need to keep your wits about you and practice safe travel.

The following 3 activities are my top recommendations which you HAVE to do during your stay:

  1. Free walking tours
    There are many walking tour providers, however, I could not recommend Beyond Colombia more, my experience was fantastic. With Beyond Colombia you have 2 options and I’d personally advise doing both! Both tours are approximately 2.5 hours and can be done in both English and Spanish. You can book a place on the tour through the link above, it’s advised to do so so that the tour guides know to expect attendees.

    A 10am Cartagena tour where you will explore the beauty of the walled city. Some of the areas you will visit include: San Pedro, Claver Square, Clock Tower, Heredia Theater, Inquisition Palace, Cathedral of Alexandria, Simón Bolivar Park and Aduana and Coches Squares.
    A 4pm Getsemani tour where you will visit the famous town and have the chance to experience it’s beautiful history and culture. Some of the areas you will visit include: Centenario Park, Trinidad Artistic Square, Afro Uprising, Cultural Street Art, Old Public Market, Plaza “El Pozo”, San Felipe Fortress Viewpoint.

    Both tours are informative experiences but also a lot of fun and extremely immersive. Hands down, some of the best walking tours I’ve ever done!
  2. Sunset at Cafe Del Mar
    A beautiful spot to experience the sunset, with some great food and drink options. You can reserve a table in advance here, or it’s also possible to walk in without out. However, if doing so i’d advise arriving there early between 4:30 – 5pm to guarantee getting a seat!
    Relax, listen to the music and enjoy the beauty of the sunset from one of the best spots in Cartagena. Even if the sky isn’t as clear as you would hope it’s still a beautiful spot with some immaculate vibes.
  3. Volcan el Totumo
    A unique day trip outside of Cartagena, but so worth the travel out of the city. This volcano experience is not what you may think! A mud bath inside the top of a volcano isn’t something you have the chance to experience in many locations, and it’s definitely an experience you don’t want to miss out on.
    Most, if not all hostels and hotels will be able to provide you with a tour guide who offers this experience and usually for a better price than if you were to book alone!

    When you arrive at the volcano there are a number of ‘add-ons’ that you can include, should you wish. Someone to look after your shoes, someone to take some pictures of you, a mud massage and someone to wash off the mud in the lake. Each ‘add-on’ will cost you 5mil Pesos (approx £1.00) so choosing to include them won’t set you back, however, I would personally advise that only the shoes and the photographs are the necessary options.
    The massage is more of a full body rub down (which looked a little too handsy for my liking), and the wash off in the lake is just not overly necessary – we’re all more than capable of washing ourselves off right? So when it comes to these options just politely saying ‘no gracias’ a couple of times will advise the locals that you’re not interested and they’ll quickly move on.

Although there are many many more things to do in Cartagena, these would be my absolute top recommendations, and things you won’t get to do or see anywhere else! Enjoy yourself and take lots of pictures!!

Must Eats in NYC

Like many people visiting NYC was always on my bucket list – feeling like I’m in the movies whilst walking around Times Square, whistling to hail down a yellow cab and eating that perfect New York Pizza. I can confirm my time in Times Square was not so glamorous, but it did involve eating Hershey’s smores and well, that was way more fun.

If you’ve never seen the Buzzfeed show Worth it, I would highly recommend it. A group of Buzzfeed producers travel around trying both high and low price food items and deciding whether paying a high price is always really worth it. Such a basic concept but makes for an amazing show!

As well as watching this show religiously, a lot of research went into where we would be eating whilst in NYC, reading blogs, watching videos, the works – eating good food is so important, so naturally, that’s where we channelled most of our planning energy.

Over the span of 6 days we managed to try a lot of foods, so without further ado, here are some of my top picks, you should definitely visit!

  1. Milk Bar
    For your bakery/desert fix you HAVE to try Milk Bar. Cereal milk flavoured soft-serve ice cream, birthday cake flavoured everything and their famous crack pie (which I think is formally called Milk Bar Pie) which is oh wow, so good you won’t ever want to stop eating it. I could spend days trying everything on the menu here, it’s divine.
  2. Eileen’s Special Cheesecake
    Classic New York Cheesecake, eat your heart out. Creamy, delicious and for such a good price. Grab a slice and go – with a fork in the bag you can stop by a nearby park to sit, enjoy the scenery and chow down on a little piece of heaven.
  3. Levain Bakery
    With a number of locations around Manhattan Island, at any point you won’t be too far away from the chance to bite into one of the most delicious oversized cookies. Try one of the classic famous chocolate chip walnut cookies, mix things up with a different flavour, or get a few flavours to try! Something you definitely won’t regret.
  4. Han Dynasty
    A Chinese cuisine restaurant which serves some amazing staple dishes, but the star of the show for me here was the DanDan noodles – Incredible flavours and spice, I always recommend people visiting here just for the noodles! No matter how hard a try, they just can’t be recreated quite like they make them here.
  5. Murrays Cheese Bar
    If you love cheese like me, this is the place for you. A Fairly small and casual restaurant, where the cheese is the star of the show. So many different choices of cheese and different ways to eat it, and recommendations of wine and beer pairings with each cheese dish. I was in heaven.

There are so many amazing options for food establishments in such a diverse city like NYC, but these are some of my favourites I recommend every time. If you try any do let me know what you think, and if you have any other recommendations send them my way!

A 4 Week Europe Trip

For my first solo backpacking trip, I wanted to keep things relaxed but still have an outline plan of where I wanted to go, as to not get completely overwhelmed with choices whilst away.

Unfortunately my plans were cut short and I wasnt able to complete it in full due to the pandemic. This route is a perfect basic route around Central Europe for those wanting to see both the popular larger cities, and some smaller towns which are beautiful hidden gems.

For my trip I chose to use Flix busses as a cheaper alternative to travelling by train. I found the busses to be reliable and although they take longer than a train would, the longest trip is only around 3/4 hours. If planned well this will not at all hinder your trip and give you a little down time between locations to recharge before the exploring begins again!

My trip outline was as follows:

  • Krakow 4 nights
  • Olomuc 1 night
  • Brno 2 nights
  • Budapest 4 nights
  • Vienna 4 nights
    • Bratislava (Day trip)
  • Telc 1 night
  • Prague 4 nights
  • Dresden 3 nights
  • Berlin 4 nights

Krakow
Krakow for 4 nights gives you more than enough time to aimlessly wonder around the city, to try foods and take in the beautiful settings, experience the vibrant (and amazingly CHEAP) nightlife and go on excursions such as the Salt mines or Auschwitz.

Olomouc
Olomouc is a beautifully small city which after some hard partying in Krakow gave me a short period of downtime and strolls around the centre, taking in the breathtaking history and architecture. If you decide to visit, a stay at Long Story Short Hostel is encouraged, a beautifully sleek and stylish hostel close to the centre.

Brno
A bustling student city rich with history is a must see whilst in central Europe. A free walking tour around the centre is extremely interesting and will give you a great start to exploring this city. Paired with bunkers, castles, and the second largest ossuary in Europe (after the Catacombs of Paris) you will easily fill your time in Brno. There are also some great speakeasy’s dotted around the city – ask some locals if you can!

Budapest
Rich with history, beauty and lots of parties, Budapest is not one to miss. Out of all of the options for tourist attractions I cant reccommend a night time river tour enough (you can also choose a wine tasting option for this which is VERY fun) to be able to see the city lit up in the dark, truly breathtaking. The thermale spa is fabulous but be weary of the night events, they can get a little rowdy and ‘steamy’ not just in the literal sense of the word… at some points it felt a little too much like an orgy for my liking.

Vienna
So much to do and so much to see! If you can get to the opera, standing tickets are CHEAP and it’s a once in a lifetime expereince for sure. Also check out my previous blog post Vienna From Above for some of the best views in the City.

Bratislava
It’s perfect for a day trip from Vienna, or a longer stay if you fancy it. The walking tours are great to see the whole city and just as great to meet other solo travellers to link up for lunch or a drink before you hehad back to Vienna!

Telc
Telc is another hidden gem of a city, with beautiful architecture and an abundance of history, it’s a great pit-stop as you travel further up north on your trip. Get in some r&r before you get to Prague!

Prague
I hope you’re ready to party! With some great hostels to offer in the city centre, you’ll meet some amazing like-minded solo travellers and have a whale of a time. Being a large city, travelling around is easy and there are a plethora of museums, galleries and historical exhibits to peak your interest whilst there.

Dresden
The city is one of the most visited cities in Germany and with the amount of wartime history it’s easy to understand why. There are a number of beautiful parks, great architecture and bridges to be seen during your stay here.

Berlin
The largest city in Germany has a lot to offer for tourists, historical, cultural, entertainment. You won’t be lost for things to do and see whilst in Berlin, there’s something for everyone including a booming nightlife if that’s what you’re into!

Although it’s great to have an idea of where you’re travelling around Europe, it’s not essential to stick to the script. When travelling alone it’s often better to have flexibility in your plans so you can meet new people, make friends and start continue your journey together. Hostels are also the best places to find reccommendations so try not to over plan and just roll with the punches.

Vienna From Above

The best places to see Vienna from a completely different perspective.

  1. St. Stephen’s Cathedral

The highest point you can climb to in the first district of the City, it’s not the easiest of walks up to the top, but my god is it worth it.

2. The Coffee House at Justizpalast

A lovely quiet spot with beautiful views and good coffee – really, what more could you want?

3. The Surrounding Hills

Take a walk up Cobenzl, Kahlenberg or Leopoldsberg mountains for some of the best views of the City. With all locations easily accessible via bus from the City centre they aren’t views that you’ll want to miss!

4. Bellevue-Wiese

A beautiful park on the edge of the city with views you’ll want to sit down and have a picnic to take in.

5. Gloriette at Palace Schönbrunn

Not only can you walk around the most BEAUTIFUL palace grounds and feel like an utter princess – the views are to die for. So stunning it’s a very popular proposal spot so keep your eye out for couples sharing that special moment!

6. Akakiko Restaurant Rooftop Terrace

During the summer you can enjoy a beautiful view whilst enjoying a delicious meal.

7. Haus des Meeres (Aquarium)

My absolute personal favourite location. It offers a fantastic experience and interactive walkthrough of the aquarium, finishing off with the option of food and drinks in the restaurant-cafe at the very top of the building, and obviously the fantastic view! The building also boasts a lot of history and dedicates a whole room to this for those who take interest in that area.