What to do in 2 days in Liverpool

Arguably the second most important tourist city to visit in England. Birth place of the Beatles and the idea and design of the most famous ship in world’s history, The Titanic (the ship was built in Belfast). Here’s a two days itinerary to the pop music capital of the world.

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Where to stay?

Liverpool is expensive and even staying outside of the city centre will be pricey. If at all possible, I recommend getting a bunk bed in a hostel, but if privacy is of importance, head to Airbnb or Trivago and chose a place with good public transportation links (http://www.merseytravel.gov.uk). We drove to Liverpool from Edinburgh and free parking was a must for us. For that reason we stayed at Gateway B&B, which I cannot recommend. We were there for only one night and paid £68.31.

What to see?

The most of Liverpool’s waterfront, from Canning to Queen’s dock, is worth a stroll around, but Albert Dock is absolute must see! Lined with cafes, pubs, restaurants and souvenir shops, with boats docked around, it makes a perfect spot for taking photographs.

The Beatles story museum is definitely worth visiting even if, like me, you’re not a fan. The story of the most famous band in the world is revealed, as you move around the rooms designed to bring you closer to the characters and events.

We took part in a Secret Liverpool walking tour, which was very much alternative to a standard walking tour. You get to hear about some (not so proud) history of Liverpool’s businessmen, as well as some graffiti’s hidden meaning. I had a really great time and can recommend that without hesitation. Although she still enjoyed it, Sara wasn’t as thrilled, as me.

Liverpool’s Cathedral is a spectacular building and the largest religious one in whole of Britain. The interior is as impressive as exterior and there’s a possibility of going all the way to the top to enjoy the views. Primarily, this was the reason we went there in the first place, but due to an event taking place inside, we couldn’t go to the top. Another “most see” for The Beatles fans is the Cavern, one of the pubs where the band played when they first started. The music wasn’t really to our liking, so we moved to a pub next door, where a young artist played and sang some popular covers.

Where to eat?

As we were on a budget, we did visit quite a few McDonald’s and Burger Kings; however we also ate quite amazing meal at Viva Brazil. It’s a classic rodizio, which has a buffet and serves grilled meat to your table.

So here is what I consider essential to be seen in Liverpool. Stay tuned for more travel tips.

Edinburgh top tourist attractions

You could argue my rights to write about Edinburgh as a tourist/traveller are long gone. After all, it has been my home for over 10 years now! What is truly amazing is that after all these years the city still stays as exciting as it was for me when I first got here in 2007. From the New Year’s celebration through the Six Nations Rugby tournament and Edinburgh Festival Fringe, to the Christmas Market; the Scottish capital is an “all year round” destination.

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Edinburgh Castle’s view from Princess Street Gardens

Where to stay and getting around

Even though the only time I had to book a hotel stay in Edinburgh was for my parents, when they were visiting a few years back, I’m still fairly confident I can be more helpful than most in this area. If you’re a solo traveller, hostels in Edinburgh will offer a good value all year round and who knows!? You may meet some like minded travellers. For those of you for who an inconvenience of not having a private bathroom is too much, I recommend Airbnb of which the city is plentiful. This is likely to be the best option for larger groups as well. During quiet periods in the year, hotels outside of the city centre will often offer great value.

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Princess Street – City centre

As long as they are near a bus route or tram tracks, I can recommend that option too. An unlimited day travel ticket (excluding trip to airport) will cost £4 and our transportation system is truly great. You can even plan trips outside of the city; with few spots well worth a visit (I’ll cover that later in the article). Always have an exact amount you need for the ticket, as the drivers can’t give you change. Visit Lothian Buses website to plan getting around the city. For those of you who plan to be here during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, one of the best options is an accommodation, which normally caters for students. Destiny student accommodation offer particularly good deals, with double room with private bathroom starting at £60 per night. There’s also added convenience of a 15-20 minutes’ walk to city centre. For best hotel and B&B deals, head to Trivago.

How long to stay

You could see most important of Edinburgh’s attractions in just 1 day, but my recommendation is to stay 5.

Top tourist points

Sitting at the top of the Royal Mile, in the heart of old city, is the castle and you can reach Edinburgh’s top attractions within walking distance.

Towards the bottom of the mile, you’ll pass St. Gillies cathedral and infinite amount of souvenirs shops, pubs and restaurants. When you reach the bottom you’ll see Scottish Parliament, Queens Gallery and Holyrood Palace, where the queen stays on her visits to Scotland.

From here you’ll also access Holyrood Park and city’s top peak, Arthur’s seat, one of the best spots for admiring the city from atop.

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View of Edinburgh from Arthur’s seat

Branching out of the Royal Mile is George IV Bridge with few “must see” spots for Harry Potter fans. Victoria Street was the inspiration for the famous Diagon Alley and The Elephant House is claiming to be the birth place of the books series. Greyfriars Kirkyard is where JK Rowling took inspiration for some of the characters’ names from the book and sitting in front of the graveyard is the statue of Bobby. His story is heart-warming and hear-breaking at the same time.

 

Still within walking distance you’ll find the National Museum of Scotland and George Herriot School – the inspiration for Hogwarts School of Witchery and Wizardry. Just around the corner is lively Grassmarket.

Princess Street is where you’ll find some of the key attractions with Sir Walter Scott monument seating proudly in the street’s gardens. At one end the Balmoral hotel (where JK Rowling finished the last of Harry Potter books) and a little further Calton Hill with its monuments. This is another great place to see the city from atop.

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Edinburgh’s city view from Calton Hill

Worth visiting (and a short bus trip away) are also Royal Botanic Gardens and a little further, Cramond village. For a half-day trip I suggest South Queensferry and Roslyn Chapel; both, accessible by Lothian buses.

Where to eat/drink

If you’re on a budget, there are few spots in the city where you’ll still eat a decent meal, but won’t get broke. For me, you’ll find the most value and quality for a pound spent in the Wetherspoon chain pubs. There are 6 in Edinburgh, with 5 in the strict city centre. You’ll find typical British and Scottish pub classic dishes, like fish & chips or beef and ale pie.
For a real Scottish beer drinking sessions go to Brew Dog or The Hanging Bat, both in Lothian Road and both serving lovely craft beers.
If you get fed up with Scottish food, go to Tupiniquim in Lauriston place to try some amazing Brazilian crepes.

…I almost forgot! Try Irn Bru, the Scottish fizzy drink.

So, all tips are based on my own experience and there’s a lot more to Edinburgh that what I mentioned. Get in touch if you’d like more specific information.

 

Long weekend itinerary in London

If you are backpacking around Europe, London will definitely come up on your list of cities to visit – if it doesn’t, it should! I know is a big city and you must be wondering what it’s the big fuss about it; but London does have its peculiarities.

On today’s post I’ll give you ideas of what to do on a long weekend in the Big Smoke. Greg and I have been there couple of times and can definitely bring insights for your trip.

Where to stay:

Central London can be very expensive, but there are few neighbourhoods that you can get pretty good deals and still stay central. You can find a room for two people from £51 at Whitechapel and the Tower of London is only around 20 minutes walking from there; in this area Ibis Budget has excellent deals throughout the year. Another good place to stay is Paddington, very close to Hyde Park and B&Bs start from £59 a double room with private bathroom.

How long to stay:

There are plenty of things to see around London and if you want to maximise your trip I would say 4 to 5 days would cover the most. But, if you are only looking for the popular attractions you should be fine with 3 days.

What to see:

I’m a crazy Harry Potter fan, so on my London “to do list” will definitely have some point of interest for the wizard fans. But if you are not into the whole J.K Rowling thing, don’t worry; there are still loads to see. I will highlight the attractions around London and make some comments about it so you can decide if that suits you or not:

Camden Town

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Camden Town is known as Amy Winehouse neighbourhood; is a very alternative part of the city, full of colours and nice characters. There is a flea market with food stalls from around the world; you can have great Spanish paella to delicious Brazilian churros. Also, if you are looking for souvenirs, that’s the place! 3 key chains for £5 and believe me, you won’t find cheaper than that.

King Cross Station

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Oh well, here are my Harry Potter instincts yelling! If you are a big fun, that’s a must do, get in the (sometimes) very long queue to take a good picture crossing the platform 9¾.

London Eye

11245380_888745077830546_691567024_nI need to be very honest with you guys, I would for sure skip London Eye as is quite expensive (£24) just to see the city from the top in a very crowded cabin, but it is still one of London “post cards” and it would be unfair not to put on the list, you have to experience it!

 

 

Big Ben

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Very close to the London Eye, here is where you will really feel you’re in London, have a little walk on the Westminster Bridge and contemplate the beautiful view this place offers.

Piccadilly Circus

This is a very cool place during the night, full of lights, shops, bars and restaurants. We went to an Ice Bar close by that worth visiting and another spot for the Harry Potter fans – Check it out

Buckingham Palace

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It´s really nice to see where all the royalties live; absolutely packed place as you can imagine, but still great to walk around the gardens and the square. You can watch changing of guard in the mornings at 10:45, which lasts 45 minutes. I particularly loved it!

Trafalgar Square
Trafalgar Square can be considered the heart of the city as is a stage for different events such as concerts, celebrations and protests. During the summer you can see few amazing street performances as well.

Abbey Road Crossing

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Even if you are not into Beatles, please go walk around it, there is nothing else than that but you will for sure have fun seeing people stopping the traffic for great pics.

Millennium Bridge
OK, that’s totally Harry Potter spot; this is the bridge that collapses at the beginning of Half-Blood Prince. It does have a pretty view though.

Tower of London

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I find this structure very charming and after Camden and the Big Ben it is my favourite place in London, its architecture is a little different than what you normally see in London, so maybe that’s why gets my attention.

 

 

St Pancras International

11301334_888745831163804_393314652_nThis huge station looks more like a palace than anything else; from the Victorian age St Pancras is a stunning attraction in London. It also has longest champagne bar in Europe and as you expect, another Harry Potter spot.

 

Well, these are my favourite places in London, but you can dig deeper and find many other attractions as the city is huge! For those who have been to the USA before and can’t live without Chipotle, London is the only place in the UK that has it, so make sure you enjoy it!