Where Heather travelled in 2014

As we see out the old year and bring in the new, there’s something of a tradition in blogging circles to review the places you visited, share photos from the year just gone and generally reminisce about those days of sunshine and happy memories – doesn’t everything seem more rosy in retrospect?

Looking back over my travelling year, I’m amazed at how many places in the UK and Europe I managed to fit in, considering that I have a full-time job and family (although only one of my little birds left in the nest). Perhaps that’s why my preferred travel style is the short break, to pack in the maximum fun from a limited amount of holiday. My most regular travel companion is my husband Guy who by his own admission is as expert in ‘loafing’ as I am at scribbling, photographing, video-ing, although he regularly gets roped in as assistant cameraman and videographer. Whenever I get the chance, I also love travelling with friends and family, especially when the (nearly-grown-up) kids do us the honour of coming along.

So here is a taste of my travelling year in 2014 in anticipation of many more happy travels in 2015.

January: Still recovering from Paris in December

Christmas market at Notre Dame in Paris Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Christmas market at Notre Dame in Paris

January was something of a catch-up month, so I’m cheating a little bit here by including the pre-Christmas trip to Paris from December 2013. We found that Paris at Christmas is surprisingly un-Christmassy as the French are pretty low key about their celebrations and decorations. On this trip we stayed clear of the regular tourist traps (although we couldn’t quite escape Notre Dame) and enjoyed exploring the more local haunts, with a gourmet walking tour of Marche D’Aligre, a local dining experience with a Frenche Creole flavour and a walk along the pretty Canal Saint Martin in Bastille.

Read More: Our winter weekend in Paris, the food, the sights, the video

February: A winter break in Copenhagen for the Wondercool festival

The picturesque harbour at Nyhaven, Copenhagen Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

The picturesque harbour at Nyhaven, Copenhagen

In February we were back in Copenhagen, a favourite of mine, to see what the city has to offer in winter and check out the Copenhagen Cooking festival. The gastronomic highlight was a gastro-cruise around the harbour during which we stopped at no less than six of the top restaurants in Copenhagen, each of which had prepared a different dish of mussels. I hadn’t quite realised that the focus would be entirely on one ingredient so was quite thankful that both Guy and I love seafood! We stayed at the fabulous and colourful Anderson boutique hotel and managed to combine more gourmet food tasting at the Torverhallerne food market with culture at Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek and Rosenborg Slot.

Read More: In Photos: Our weekend break in Copenhagen

March:  Heather is featured in Woman and Home Magazine

Heather is featured in Woman and Home magazine Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Heather is featured in Woman and Home magazine

Although this is not actually a place I travelled but I have to mention how thrilled I was at being featured in Woman and Home magazine, with two other bloggers in a feature about “Blogging for fame and fortune”. I had such a fun day at the photography shoot, being made up and dressed up in impossibly high heels with tons of make-up, and a suitcase that would never have made it past the Ryanair police. All great fantasy and left me floating on air when friends kept telling me they had seen me in the magazine.

Read More: Blogging for fame and fortune? Heather is featured in Woman and Home magazine

March: A weekend in Marrakech in search of Josephine Baker

Trying an orange juice in Jemaa el Fnaa, Marrakech Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Trying an orange juice in Jemaa el Fnaa, Marrakech

March took me off to Marrakech to get my fix of spring sunshine and we stayed in the magical Riad Star which was once the home of French cabaret artist and superstar of the 1920s, Josephine Baker. The Riad has been beautifully renovated in a Jazz Age theme, with a relaxing roof terrace, inner courtyard where we enjoyed breakfast and even had its own dressing up box. We spent the weekend trying to not get too lost in the Souk, perfecting our haggling skills, and visiting a fair number of beautifully decorated mosques, palaces and gardens. Of course there was the obligatory snake charmer photo opportunity in Jemaa el Fnaa.

Read More: Marrakech – on shopping, sightseeing and (not) getting lost in the souk

 April: A spring break in North Devon

Primroses in North Devon Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Primroses in North Devon

April is when spring is truly upon us with the daffodils and primroses blooming in North Devon. We spent a weekend with friends in the lush, green wilds of the Devon countryside at Penhaven Country Cottages, booked through Premier Cottages. There was plenty of pub grub, coastal walks and a visit to Clovelly, the picturesque cliffside village that is now a major tourist attraction and could easily play a starring role in any costume drama about smugglers and pirates.

Read More: Primroses and daffodils – a spring break in North Devon with Premier Cottages

May: Walking the Pembrokeshire coastal path and the puffins on Skomer island

Puffins on Skomer Island Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Puffins on Skomer Island

In May we went walking in Wales along the Pembrokeshire coastal path with Macs Adventure on a taster version of their Best of Pembrokeshire itinerary. We had chosen the perfect time of year to visit Skomer island, a short boat ride off the coast, since it was the beginning of the Puffin breeding season and we were able to get really close to the cute looking Puffins as they arrived back at their burrows. Our walk along the Pembrokeshire coastal path continued from Broadhaven, past the lovely harbour at Solva, ending at St David’s where we had a look around the famous cathedral, art galleries and craftshops in the “Smallest City in Great Britain”, which is really an overgrown village.

Read More: A long day’s walk on the Pembrokeshire coastal path – Broadhaven to St David’s

May: A Mediterranean Cruise with MSC Cruises

MSC Splendida at Tunis Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

MSC Splendida at Tunis

Later in May we were off again on a Mediterranean cruise with MSC Cruises. We embarked at Barcelona and had a fun week as the ship cruised around the Med visiting Marseille, Genoa, Naples, Messina and Tunis, before returning to Barcelona. The ship was very glamorous with a lively atmosphere and plenty of families on board, and at each port we visited I wished we could have stayed just a little longer!

Read More: Cruising the Mediterranean on MSC Splendida? Here’s what you need to know

June: Discovering Dylan Thomas in Swansea and Laugharne

With the Dylan Thomas statue in Swansea Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

With the Dylan Thomas statue in Swansea

One of my favourite UK trips this year was to South Wales to discover more about the poet, Dylan Thomas in his centenary year. Swansea, where Dylan grew up, is not the prettiest of cities but provided a fascinating gateway to his childhood and early years. We followed his life through the dramatised walk we took around the streets from the Dylan Thomas Centre and our visit to the Dylan Thomas Birthplace at 5 Cwmdonkin Drive. Our Dylan Thomas discovery continued at Laugharne in Carmarthenshire, where we stayed at Dylan’s favourite drinking haunt of Brown’s Hotel and visited The Boat House where he lived and worked, overlooking the beautiful Taf estuary. With views like these who wouldn’t be inspired?

Read More: An ugly, lovely town Part 1 – a Return Journey to Swansea with Dylan Thomas

June: Walking the beaches of the Gower in South Wales

Caswell Bay on the Gower Peninsula, South Wales Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Caswell Bay on the Gower Peninsula, South Wales

In June, I was back in Wales with another cottage stay at the fabulous luxury cottage, Promenade View in Mumbles through Home from Home Cottages. The cottage was perfectly situated on the promenade of this traditional holiday resort which is also the gateway to the fabulous beaches of the Gower Peninsula. We took full advantage, with a long walk from our front door along the coastal path, past the fabulous beaches of Bracelet Bay, Langland, Caswell, along the clifftop to Pennard, where we caught the bus back to Mumbles. The next day we had a morning in the sand-dunes and flat beach of Llangenith, a favourite beach for surfers which left us feeling refreshed and miles from our busy life in Bristol.

Read More: Walking the beaches of the Gower and our luxury Mumbles Cottage

July: Back to Copenhagen for a family holiday

With our bikes, by the harbour in Copenhagen Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

With our bikes, by the harbour in Copenhagen

Two visits to the same place in one year must mean that I really like a place and we took the family back to Copenhagen in late July for a family break, staying in a large apartment near the harbour side. The weather was hot and sunny and we cycled everywhere, swam in the harbour, ate great street-food and took ferries across the harbour. Like Copenhageners of all ages, we enjoyed a day at Tivoli, although after the adrenalin rush of the roller-coaster with my kids I was happy to sit and admire the rose garden from a shady spot on the lawn.

Read More: 10 summertime cool things we did in Copenhagen (and you could too)

August: Zakynthos Greece for a beach holiday with my daughter

On Dafni beach in Zakynthos, Greece Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

On Dafni beach in Zakynthos, Greece

Since my sister lives on the Greek island of Zakynthos, I try to visit her each year and in August I was there with my 19 year old daughter and English niece. Since my Greek niece was also there with four of her friends, I got to hang out with the beach-babes in the most trendy beach bars, check out all the unspoiled beaches and generally live the life of a 19 year old on holiday. When not sipping on my chilled frappe coffee or swimming in the clear water to cool off, I was able to observe Greek beach style and etiquette which I wrote about in the article below.

Read More: Six things the English girls get So wrong on the beach in Greece!

September: A foodie adventure in South Tyrol, Italy

In the Dolomites on the Via Ferrata in South Tyrol Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

In the Dolomites on the Via Ferrata in South Tyrol

September took me to South Tyrol in Italy, an area that is close to the Austrian and Swiss borders with stunning mountain scenery in the Dolomites. I spent a few days there, combining outdoor activities with gastronomic pleasures, cycling around Lake Kaltern on the South Tyrol wine road, visiting some of the local designers and the climbing a Via Ferrata. These ‘iron routes’ are rock climbing routes of varying difficulty where you are secured to a cable that snakes up the rock-face, enabling relative novices like me to reach the top (although best with a guide) in a scary but exhilarating experience.

Read More: Climbing my very first Via Ferrata in South Tyrol

 September: Hiking the Dry Stone route in Mallorca

Heather and Julia wlaking the dry stone route in Mallorca Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Heather and Julia wlaking the dry stone route in Mallorca

Later in September I was off for another walking holiday with my friend Julia, to Mallorca. Having completed the Tour de Mont Blanc together in previous years, we fancied something that combined views of the sea with mountainous walking and decided to walk a section of the Dry Stone Route, a long-distance path that skirts the west coast of Mallorca into the Tramuntana mountain range. We passed through several of the coastal resorts of Mallorca but my favourite time was walking the higher rocky sections of the Traamuntana from Soller to Lluc monastery.

Read More: Hiking the Dry Stone route in Mallorca from Deia to Lluc monastery

October: Athens for TBEX Blogger’s Conference

Heather at the Parthenon in Athens Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Heather at the Parthenon in Athens

In October I was in Athens, a city I haven’t really explored, despite visiting the Greek islands every year to see my sister. The city has been through a tough time with the recent ecenomic crisis but we found a new spirit of optimism and purpose as the worst seems to be over. The city was hosting the TBEX blogger’s conference and as part of this I spent a day in Athens on a gastronomic walking tour as well as a visit to the Parthenon. I was pleasantly surprised the warmth and spirit of Athens and it’s one place I’d love to get back to see more of in 2015.

Read More: Athens is on the menu for 2015 – a taste of Greece at TBEX

November: A weekend at the Moorland Garden Hotel in Devon

Moorland Garden Hotel in Devon

Moorland Garden Hotel in Devon

In November I was back down to Devon for a weekend on the edge of Dartmoor at the Moorland Garden Hotel. This is a part of the world that I have visited quite a few times and we visited the market town of Tavistock, on the edge of the moor and visited The Garden House and National Trust property of Buckland Abbey nearby. There were all too many opportunities to try those yummy Devon cream teas.

Read More: Our weekend break at the Moorland Garden Hotel in Devon

December: A pre-Christmas weekend in Dublin

Bewleys in Dublin at Christmas Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Bewleys in Dublin at Christmas

To bring the year to a close I spent a weekend in Dublin with my husband and 17 year old son in early December. The purpose of our trip was the Trinity College open day, since my son is looking at university choices for next year, but we managed to pack in an awful lot else, with shopping on Grafton Street, the Little Museum of Dublin and plenty of great meals, not to mention the odd pint of Guinness.

Read More: 10 things to do on a Christmas weekend in Dublin

So the year comes to a close but I know there will be plenty more travel adventures in 2015. In January I will be back down to Devon to stay in another lovely cottage that’s close to the Jurassic coast, as well as a visit to India at the end of the month to visit the charity project that I support in Andhra Pradesh. I hope that you’ll join me through the blog on these and other trips and follow my photos on social media too.

Wishing you many happy travel adventures of your own in 2015.

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6 things the English girls get SO wrong on the beach in Greece!

On the Greek island of Zakynthos I’ve been enjoying plenty of beach time while on holiday, hanging out with my daughter, my Greek niece and her friends. From behind my (designer) sunglasses I’ve been observing Greek beach etiquette and realising how different it is from a British day out at the seaside. The stylish Greek girls laugh at the English holiday-makers who get it wrong in every way on the beach, so if you want to blend in with the cool crowd on the beach, here’s where you need to know;

On Dafni beach in Zakynthos, Greece Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

On Dafni beach in Zakynthos, Greece

1. Don’t think that the beach is free

If you’re used to a week in Cornwall you may imagine that on your Greek holiday you’ll be laying your towel out on the sand and unpacking the picnic you brought with you. The beach is free, right? Wrong! In Greece you need to rent a pair of sunbeds which will cost you €4-10 for the day. No self respecting Greek would lay their towel on the sand unless they were in a completely deserted spot with no beach bar. The sand is way too hot for a start and there’s no shade, besides you need that handy table to put your drink and you’d want to relax and chat your friends without getting sand in your hair. Some beach bars don’t charge for sunbeds but you’ll still be expected to order a couple of drinks at the bar. For sun-beds and drinks you probably need to budget €10-15 for a day at the beach.

The Greeks would rather rent a sun-bed than lie on the beach Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

The Greeks would rather rent a sun-bed than lie on the beach

2. Don’t try to get bronze in a week

The Greeks look on with astonishment at the English girls who lie in the sun for hours, desperate to go home after a week’s holiday with a deep and lasting tan. You’ll never see a pink and peeling Greek girl. The Greeks respect the sun and will either stay in the shade or sunbathe for short periods with plenty of sun-cream and then have a siesta in the hottest part of the day. Why worry about your tan when the summer stretches ahead of you with plenty of beach time to develop that gorgeous brown body.

Order a chilled Frappuccino on the beach in Greece Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Order a chilled Frappuccino on the beach in Greece

3. The coffee comes chilled not hot

Why would you order a hot drink when the temperature is in the 30’s? The Greeks love their coffee too but it has to be chilled. To be like a Greek you need to order a “Freddo” coffee, which is the typical Italian style of coffee such as expresso or cappuccino, but on ice. When the guy comes round to take your order as you lie on the sunbed, make it a Freddo cappuccino, Freddo Expresso or a Freddoccino (iced mocha coffee with chocolate). If you need something stronger then order an iced beer although the Greeks would never drink more than one or two since they’ll be going home for a home cooked meal later on and wouldn’t want to appear drunk in front of the parents.

The pool's lovely at Windmill Hotel in Zakynthos but the Greeks prefer the beach Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

The pool’s lovely at Windmill Hotel in Zakynthos but the Greeks prefer the beach

4. Why spend the day at the pool when you can go to the beach?

The Greeks can’t understand why the Brits come on holiday for a week and then lie by the pool rather than going to the beach. You can find a pool in any city or hotel, but when you are on holiday you surely want to make the most of the beautiful beaches and swim in the sea as much as possible. The Greeks believe the pool water is full of chemicals and other people’s sweat, while the sea is natural and healthy. There’s a Greek saying that if you swim in the sea all summer, you’ll be healthy all winter. The Greeks on holiday will also want to see as many different beaches as possible and will hire a car to go and explore the best ones rather than keep returning to the same place. On Zakynthos you could probably find a different beach or rocky cove for every day of the month and still have not seen them all.

The Greeks love the latest trendy designer sunglasses Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

The Greeks love the latest trendy designer sunglasses

5. Be sure to wear the latest designer sunglasses

The sun in Greece is strong, so the Greek girls understand the importance of a good pair of sunglasses that will protect your eyes. This is an investment purchase, not a bit of 5 euro fun to throw away at the end of the holiday. A Greek girl will buy a new pair of designer sunglasses each summer, depending on the latest fashion, so she has a few pairs in her wardrobe. Last year it was all bright frames, this year it’s oversized rounded frames and iridescent lenses. My Greek fashion spies tell me that in Athens everyone is wearing wooden framed sunglasses, so next summer you’ll probably see them on every Greek beach.

Be sure to wear your sexy bikini on the beach Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Be sure to wear your sexy bikini on the beach

6. Understand the importance of a sexy bikini

In the magazines you may admire those elegant one piece or tankini swimming costumes and think that they are just the thing to cover up any embarassing bulges. But in Greece everyone from the largest to the slimmest, from your daughter to your granny wears a bikini, so leave your one-piece to wear in the pool back home. In the blistering Greek summer a one-piece would just be too hot and inconvenient. And while we’re on the topic of bikini etiquette, the Greeks always wear their bikini to the beach, never change when they get there. Slip on your micro-shorts and a transparent, floaty top to show off your figure and you’ll be considered sexy but not slutty. On the sun bed or in the beach bar you can pose in your tiny bikini, go for a swim, dry off and then cover up again to go home where you’ll shower and change before dressing up for an evening meeting your friends in the bars and clubs.

Now you have all the Greek secrets for a stylish day on the beach where you can blend in with the locals and not stand out like a beetroot. Thanks to Sophia, Nicki, Fruzsi, Ezster, Tolya, Sophie-Anne and Georgie – my beach babes and Greek style advisors.

More things to see in Zakynthos

Shipwrecked on Navagio – the most photographed beach on Zante
Swimming the turquoise blue at Porto Limnionas
10 gorgeous beaches and places to swim on Zakynthos

This article by Heather Cowper is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read the original article here

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You’ll also find our sister blog with tips on how to build a successful travel blog at My Blogging Journey

My Flopz are on a Greek Island holiday – and I have 3 pairs to giveaway

August 17, 2014 by  
Filed under Europe, featured, Giveaways, Greece, Zakynthos

Summer holiday time is here and my Flopz flip flops are sunning themselves on the Greek island of Zakynthos. I woke up at our apartment at Windmill Hotel in Argassi (my sister’s place) and this was the view as I sipped my morning coffee – not bad huh? I love the fact that at this time of year in Greece you never have to check the forecast, there’s only one setting and that’s full-on sunny and hot, hot, hot. If you’d like to win a pair of Flopz flip flops to wear on your next holiday, read on as I have 3 pairs to give away…

This is the view from our apartment on Zakynthos in Greece Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

This is the view from our apartment on Zakynthos in Greece

I first came across these delightful flip flops when the folks at Flopz sent me a pair to try out on my recent Mediterranean Cruise and they were perfect for sea days wandering around ship and relaxing by the pool as we sailed back to Barcelona. I was also glad I’d popped them in my handbag to wear after after the gorgeous pedi I recently had on another Cruise Day so my nails would stay nice and shiny – read about it here.

I wore my Flopz around the pool on my Mediterranean Cruise Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

I wore my Flopz around the pool on my Mediterranean Cruise

Not only do these Flopz flip flops come in a rainbow collection of colours which you can see below, but the insole is covered with gel bubbles that massage your feet as you walk around. Although I’ve been wearing them non-stop since I got them, they are still looking good and are so stylish that I’m happy to wear them around town as well as to the beach.

flopZ5

Today, we were at one of the best beaches on Zakynthos at Vasilikos, a long stretch of golden sand lined with beach bars like the trendy Banana Baya where I was hanging out with my daughter, my Greek niece and all her friends – oh to be 19 again! As the temperature was in the mid 30’s the sand was scorching hot and you could burn your feet just running to the sea for a swim, so I was happy to have my Flopz to save me from the ouch! factor.

My Flopz on the beach in Zakynthos - that sand was hot! Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

My Flopz on the beach in Zakynthos – that sand was hot!

The sea was lovely and warm, and believe me it takes quite a lot to get me in the water, but I really enjoyed floating around chatting to the girls. Do check out the Flopz coral collection inspired by the exotic locations and oceans of the world.

My Flopz go paddling on the beach on Zakynthos Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

My Flopz go paddling on the beach on Zakynthos

So I know by now that you’re thinking, where can I get a pair of Flopz to take on my next holiday? Well that’s something I can help you with, since the lovely folks at Flopz have given me 3 pairs to give away (and you can choose what colour you’d like too).

About the giveaway

I’m giving away 3 pairs of Flopz Flipflops worth £35 to 3 lucky readers. The giveaway is open to all readers regardless of where you live. The giveaway will run for 2 weeks and end on Monday 1 September 2014. For the full terms and conditions please see the bottom of this article. To enter the giveaway all you have to do is;

Check out the Flopz website and then leave a comment below telling me which colour and size you would love to win and where you’d love to be wearing them.

You can also add 5 additional chances to win by doing any of the following through the Rafflecopter widget below;

      • Like the Heatheronhertravels Facebook page
      • Spread the word about the giveaway on Twitter, for example; I’d love to #win a gorgeous pair of @FlopZuk flip flops in the #giveaway at @heathercowper http://ow.ly/ApJNO
      • Follow Heather on her travels on Twitter @heathercowper
      • Follow Flopz on Twitter @FlopzUK
      • Like Flopz on their Facebook page

a Rafflecopter giveaway

More articles from Greece

Get in your car and drive – the bits of Zante that you won’t see from your sun-bed

10 gorgeous beaches and places to swim on Zakynthos

How to make delicious Greek stuffed tomatoes

The full Terms and Conditions

      • This giveaway is a prize draw/sweepstake
      • The prize is a pair of Flopz flip flops in the size and colour of the winner’s choice, subject to availability.
      • The giveaway is open to all readers in any location
      • The 3 winners to receive a pair of Flopz flip flops will be chosen at random
      • The giveaway ends on Monday 1 September at midnight
      • The winners will be notified by e-mail within 7 days of the draw and must confirm their acceptance of the prize within 4 days or the prize will be allocated to another winner.
      • The prize will normally be posted to the winners within 14 days of them accepting the prize and may be posted by the cheapest method, so this will determine when they will arrive.
      • The giveaway is restricted to one entry per individual.
      • Any duplicate or automated entries will disqualify the entrant from this giveaway
      • Entering this giveaway gives permission for you to be added to the e-mail lists of Heatheronhertravels.com but we will never spam you and you can unsubscribe at any time.

This article by Heather Cowper is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read the original article here

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You’ll also find our sister blog with tips on how to build a successful travel blog at My Blogging Journey

Some great competition websites:

Competitions Today
UK Competitions and Prize Draws at UKwins
Online Competitions
ABC The Place to Win
OfferOasis

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