When the bank holiday spells stella weather, and endless sunshine, what better than exploring somewhere new, and somewhere you’ve passed multiple times on the way to university.
I had managed to book 2 extra days off the last bank holiday, and I was determined to make it count. The first on our agenda – Arundel. A stunning town nestled in the South Downs of West Sussex, and somewhere I have passed on countless journeys to and from my university city of Southampton. Being just over an hour from home, we thought it only fitting we both finally experience the medieval town that we had always passed with intrigue.
Despite being just a town, Arundel offers plenty to keep you occupied and meander round, including quaint tea rooms, shops and festivals during the summer. It even has ample parking, neither to costly – just £5 for all day!
If you have ever passed the area, you are always drawn to the stunning Cathedral that overlooks the town. Perched atop the town, and steeped in stunning architecture, this was our first pit stop.
It’s worth noting, the cathedral is atop a pretty steep hill – and in the heat this was a challenge. But the view over the town was worth it, and the Cathedral itself made a nice respite from the heat.
You really can’t head to Arundel without stepping into the Castle grounds – and you know how much I love a Castle. However, we didn’t fancy a castle walk, and after considering the weather, we decided to stick to the outside spaces. You can purchase tickets to do the grounds and the castle, which works out at £22.00 per adult.
The castle looks spectacular, and I have never really seen a castle so grand when walking around the base. I was a little regretful we didn’t go inside, but it means we have a reason to go back!
On a stunning day like ours, the gardens were gorgeous – we generally felt like we were abroad. Beautifully tended, and with many open spaces, and almost Venetian sculptures, it was perfect on a hot day. I would highly recommend wandering the castle grounds. You even get some stunning views of the Cathedral through the gardens.
We of course wandered the picturesque streets of Arundel and stopped off for classic English tea including homemade scones and clotted cream, before heading home in the evening sunshine.
Our afternoon in Arundel was a great way to spend a bank holiday Friday. So, if you’re looking for somewhere offering English heritage, and history, make Arundel your next day trip destination.
Okay I am abit of a city wanderer. Honestly, I love a city break. Exploring somewhere completely new and experiencing the hustle and bustle of a completely different world. Because that is what a city is. A new world of history, new modern buildings and a mass of people from all walks of life and countries.
I even managed to turn my husband into a city break lover. With many cities packed with plenty to do, I hugely recommend everyone and anyone into doing atleast one.
Since i’m forever planning city breaks, and trying to explore as many worldwide cities I thought I’d share a complete guide for a perfect city break.
Read: Boston – A Travel Guide
Double check flight times
When heading on a city break, chances are you are only heading for a couple of days. When it comes to booking flights, really consider the time you are flying. Whilst the cheaper flights tend to be at the most inconvenient time of the day it will be well worth spending the extra dosh on early flights on your way out and late flights on your way home. This way it gives you two days either side to make the most of your trip. ,
Consider budget and location of your hotel
Understadably the more central located hotels tend to be a little pricer. But before you dismiss them, consider how much money this will save you once you’re there since you can pretty much walk everywhere.
If you do have a strict budget, do remember the costs you will incure if your hotel is out of the city, or go a little low standard – it is only a base for sleeping of course.
Pre-book airport travel
Although most cities have brilliant transport systems to and from the airport, it’s well worth pre-booking something ahead of going. It makes it easier, and stressfree. Plus there’s no worry a taxi is going to swallow lots of your cash.
Double check the luggage allocation
*Most* city breaks are short, sweet and fairly local. So handluggae cases are just enough for a fw days exploring. Double check you are content with that arrangement as hefty fees can be incured at the airport to check in extra baggage. The further afield cities offer hold luggage but still incur weight restrictions.
If you haven’t already, now is the time to research what there is to do in the city. Seachpinterest for blogger travel guides and use instagram to find hotspots. Don’t miss out on the best places for pit stop coffees and candlelit dinners. Create a board, take screen shots, print webpages. Whatever your find easier to research the city you’ll soon be exploring.
Set a itinerary
Now you’ve done the research, you can carefully set an itinerary for your trip. Don’t underestimate how long it will take you to find your bearings around a new city and pencil in plenty of breaks. Sometimes I don’t set itineraries as weather and other things can play a role in what you end up doing when. But having a good idea of what you want to visit and experience is a must. .
Book if need be
Whilst I don’t advise booking everything before you go, you can get some cracking deals online if you book ahead. Consider carefully and be sure to shop around before hand.
Any city break is going to be tiring and include a lot of walking. Be sensible in what you pack. Comfortable shoes, clothes to cover your from the elements including sun and rain, and bags that will hold everything you need for a day out and about. Whilst you will be able to buy somethings there, this can be rather expensive and time consuming when you are there.
Buy your cash before you head to the airport
I have always avoided airport currency exchange counters. They really don’t give you the best deal, and if you shop around before heading away, you can get some cracking deals online and at your local supermarket. It’s worth researching exchange rates, as it can save you some pennies in the long run!
This was the first year we were eager than ever to just get away, without a care in the world other that what to wear for dinner and what bikini should I switch to tomorrow. Of course we wanted to see and experience some culture and some of the place we planned to jet to, but it wasn’t essential. This holiday was about relaxing and having nothing to worry about nor anything to really get up for.
Two weeks away from the desired departure date and we booked ourselves a 10 day time out trip to the Greek island of Crete. A half board, adults only resort packed with numerous pools (3 to be exact), poolside bars and a sandy beach to walk and stare upon after dinner. It looked dreamy as hell.
We spent the 2 week lead up dreaming of sleepy days by the pool and updating our summer wardrobe. The day to leave had finally arrived and my teacher husband had said good bye to the school year and was ready to hit a sprog free oasis. Within a matter of hours, we were mooching around our Cretan resort.
Now I’ll stop the over dramatic descriptions ( clearly read 3 too many fiction novels on said holiday ) and get to the nitty gritty shall I.
As mentioned up top, it was the perfect oasis for a young, newly married couple ready to celebrate their first year anniversary. Just a 30 minute coach journey from the airport, and boasting its own beach, it had everything we wanted from a quiet yet relaxing time on Crete.
We were lovingly upgraded upon arrival and our pretty average room now included access to a shared pool. Albeit shared it was, it was perfect in size and our two neighbours seem so to enjoy casual dips and quiet time as much as we did. We only ventured to the main pools ( 3 to choose from) a handful of times – mainly when the sun on our private veranda had depleated.
We had seen better, and worse hotel rooms, and personally on a holiday where you wanted to be poolside or strolling the beach, this didn’t bother either of us. It had a big enough bed, a shower that could be hot or cold and a tv that showed some English speaking channels. We had a safe and a fridge which we stocked up with ciders and Smirnoff ice we purchased from the up the road supermarket. We even got a free bottle of water daily!
So, we were half-board. Without the choice of all inclusive this of course is the next best thing. If you haven’t been half board before, essentially you have breakfast and dinner provided. All drinks need to be purchased, aside from your morning coffee and juice. Most resorts offer your food on a buffet style – just like this one. I would really recommend, on a hot holiday style getaway, to spend a little extra and try and get this. You needn’t worry about food and whilst you do pay for evening drinks, there are always local supermarkets to stock up on for mid evening drinks.
The food offered on site was actually really good. There was always lots of choice and as a picky eater, or so my husband calls me, there was only one evening where I just ate pizza and chips – not that I’m complaining!
Whilst we did mostly lounge round the pool, we did take a day out to explore the west coast of the island. Most of the tourist attractions and hot spots are on the west coast so we decided a day on the road exploring these popular areas was a must.
Best of the west
As we had booked our entire holiday through Tui, we downloaded their pretty nifty app and managed to decide and conclude the tour we desired without a pesky tour operator in sight. Nothing against tour operators and reps but God how early 2000s is that spending your first morning being lectured into the tourist excursions. We paid online and had the confirmation In minutes.
On our tour of the west coast, we would more notably visit two of the most stunning cities on the island : Chania and Rethymno . We had heard both cities were abundantly in culture and gorgeous architecture, as well as unique stalls and market places.
This excursion cost us £57 each and included transport two and from the hotel as well as a tour guide for the day. It was minimal stress and we would be able to experience the most visited spots on the island for little to no hassle for us. Winner winner chicken dinner I say!
We packed sun lotion, hats and plenty of water. We had a busy day ahead and we knew in the cities we would most likely melt. Our first leg of the trip to our first city was 1hr 20mins.
Our first city was Rethymno. We don’t like to research tooo much of where we are heading, since we like to have the element of surprise. Arriving into the city, we saw the very quaint lanes and the stunning Venitian harbor. There were lots of people around, but it was pretty easy to find some quiet back lanes to explore and wonder.
We only had one hour here to experience the city and honestly, that was enough. It was peaking 34degrees and although the narrow streets offered plenty of shade, it still didn’t ease the heat.
There were lots of pretty shops, restaurants and waterside coffee shops to stop off and catch some shade. There is of course the Venetian harbor to explore. The stunning beauty of Rethymno is in the architecture that surrounds the city. I would even go as far to say that with the beauty of the buildings, and the relaxed almost romantic feel within the streets, it really doesn’t feel like a city.
After wandering Rethymno we headed further west to Chania. This was a further hour, of which our tour guide filled us in on more history and landmarks of the island.
When we arrived at Chania, we swiftly made our way to the Agora, which is essentially a indoor market. I didn’t think there was much to it, but it’s a pretty good starting point. From their we wandered down towards the harbour, stopping in cute stall shops and weaving throughout the lanes. I would say, Chania is more commercialised. We even managed to grab a Starbucks!
We had 2 hours here to wander and explore, and we mostly shopped. There were lovely stalls among branded stores too, so we managed to pick up lovely pieces. As it was so hot, neither of us were actually hungry and mostly lived off 1euro slushies – which were delish and refreshing!
Both Chania and Rethymno are so similar, just different in size. After finishing at Chania, we made our way back to our hotel. It was a really long day and so tiring, but it was well worth the excursion to see more of the island.
My advice if you are heading there…..
Crete is a gorgeous Grecian island to head to if you are on the lookout or a quick plane ride ( only 4hours ), and looking for some sunshine, a little bit of culture and great, friendly people. We really were looking for a relaxing holiday and we got just that. We didn’t venture out much and I really don’t regret not seeing more. The hotel was superb, the food amazing and the pool perfect.
You should visit….
Next time we might just consider hiring ourselves a car. Whilst the excursion with Tui was really good, having a bit of freedom would certainly make it easier to get around what is a pretty large island. Here’s a couple of places I would visit on my next trip to Crete :
Santorini – you can go for a day trip from the island. It’s a little expensive but a good idea if you had always wanted to visit the ever popular island.
Knossos – Its ruins left of the oldest city on the island. This would make a great trip for half a day to get to know the history of the island.
Psychro Cave – Located not too far from Malia, this is said to be the birth place of Zeus and looks like a great exploration day trip!
There is ofcourse lots of stunning beaches up and down the West coast that would be pretty pricey to visit without the use of a car. I would highly recommend you researching the key sites and what you wish to do whilst you are there. We were only 20min transfer from the airport of Heraklion however, we were a fair distance from key hot spots along the west coast.
We had such a brilliant time in Crete, it’s spurred us to look closer a field a little more often instead of always looking at long haul destinations.
Have you ever been to Crete? Heading to Greece this summer? Have somewhere you think we should head to next? As always, please leave your thoughts in the comment section below.