Exploring Napoli & The Amalfi Coast: Mediterranean Paradise On A Budget

The Amalfi Coast has become a popular destination for luxury beach holidays, and it’s not hard to see why – with its dramatic craggy coastline, gorgeous, tiny hotels and B&Bs perched atop cliffs overlooking Vesuvio and the Bay of Naples, delicious fresh seafood, impossibly blue water, and plenty of small-town Italian culture to discover, this slice of Mediterranean paradise is stunning. With unparalleled beauty comes exclusivity, and that can mean soaring accommodation prices and tourist traps. You may have seen the glamour of luxury travel along the Amalfi Coast in magazines and on Instagram, but did you know that you can have your own Amalfi adventure on a budget?

You can still swim in the azure ocean, eat authentic Italian food, and live it up in Positano without getting yourself into debt. With a bit of planning and the help of insider tips, you will be able to have your own Amalfi adventure on the cheap!

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Elgin, South Africa – A Romantic Escape into the Apple Valley

A Spring Wedding in the Overberg Countryside, South Africa

Last year in October, my husband and I had our family wedding celebration at South Hill Farm in Elgin, just outside of Cape Town. October is springtime in South Africa, which means frequent cloudbursts, apple blossoms, green vineyards, sunshine, and bright blue skies dotted with wispy white clouds. The weekend was absolutely perfect, and every time I look at the photographs of our wedding day and honeymoon, I get homesick.

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Osterfeuer in Blankenese, Hamburg

Have you ever celebrated Easter / the Vernal (Spring) Equinox with a gigantic bonfire on the beach?

I certainly hadn’t, until I visited Blankenese for the first time over the Easter weekend in 2014. This year we went back to Hamburg to celebrate Easter with family, driving up from Frankfurt on Thursday (6 hours on the road!) with the Osterfeuer celebration on Saturday night and an Easter-egg hunt for my nephews on Easter Sunday. Blankenese is about 30 minutes outside of Hamburg city centre – it’s part of the Hamburg-Altona district – and it’s famous for its beautiful historic houses perched on the hills overlooking the Elbe River. Altona was once governed by the Danish monarchy, and you can see a lot of Danish influence in the architecture of the houses. It’s one of my favourite places in Germany!

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The Black Forest in autumn

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This year, for my birthday, Marco took me to the Schwarzwald (Black Forest) in Germany for a long weekend. We rented a little Fiat 500 with a sunroof, and set off on Friday the 3rd October for our forest escape. We were incredibly lucky to have good weather (crisp, cool, clear, and sunny) the whole weekend, which allowed us lots of outdoor exploring opportunities. Unfortunately I’d hurt my back a few days beforehand, so I was unable to do any strenuous hiking, but we did lots of walking, and saw plenty of things for one weekend! I’d go back in a heartbeat.

I fell swiftly and deeply in love with the Schwarzwald region, with its kilometres of thick pine and spruce forest, winding and sometimes terrifying mountain passes, small towns nestled in the hills,  squat and imposing farm houses, lazy mountain cows, and rich folklore. I had read a few Brother’s Grimm tales before leaving, and I was secretly delighted by the traditional wooden homes on the edge of the forest – I imagined Hansel and Gretel huddled before a wood-burner in autumn, fearful of the dangers in the woods that loomed behind their small house.

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A Wintry Weekend in Paris

The first time I visited Paris was in July 2003, in the middle of summer. I was 13 years old, in Europe for the first time with my family, and everything seemed impossibly magical. All the wonderful things I had only read about or seen in movies came to life in vivid colour that summer – the huge, imposing Eiffel Tower, the delightfully colourful and symmetrical flowerbeds and hedges of the Jardins de Tuileries, the sophisticated sidewalk cafés, the delicious pastries, and the famous artworks I had only ever seen in musty old textbooks in my art class back home.

I fell in love with Paris swiftly and deeply. As we sat on the steps below Sacré Cœur on Bastille Day (July 14th), I watched the fireworks over the city and felt incredibly blessed to be in one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, and to have the opportunity to soak up the sights and culture.

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Weekend Woodland Getaway in Northern Germany

I have always loved forests. There’s something undeniably magical about them – the eerie stillness, the soft, dappled patterns of shade and sun, the rustling leaves – something magical, and something mysterious. I used to imagine that, like Bessie and her siblings in The Enchanted Wood, I need only wrap my arms around the trunks of great big trees in the woods, press my little ear to the bark, and that they would then whisper to me through the rustling of their leaves, telling me their secrets.

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