Dublin, Lisbon, Rome – where will your next citybreak be?

When spring arrives with sunshine and daffodils, it always puts me in the mood for planning my next getaway, a mini-break to throw off the chill of winter and tide me over until the summer holidays. If you’re in the mood for a weekend away in Europe or the UK, take a look at the fun web app from SuperBreak to fuel your holiday inspiration. Whether you’re planning a relaxing half term break with the family, a weekend of eating and entertainment with your friends, or a cultural city-break with your partner, here are some of the destinations that you might want to consider;

If you’re a couple looking for a weekend of food, drink and entertainment you might look at….

Dublin

Dublin at night Photo by Lendog64 on Flickr

Dublin at night, the ultimate party town

What Superbreak have to say; Just a quick jump across the water and you can enjoy traditional Bars, comedy clubs, delicious local food and the ever-so-friendly Irish welcome! Guinness at the ready!

What I enjoyed about Dublin;

  • I love the way that the Irish always have a story to tell, that you can go into any pub and strike up a conversation with a complete stranger and there’s always some music and a song or two.
  • Visit the Guinness Storehouse in an amazing 7 storey old warehouse with modern glass additions to learn about Dublin’s favourite tipple – you’ll be shown how to pull the perfect pint of the black stuff and can buy up the brand’s heritage (love the retro toucans).
  • Take the train out to Sandy Cove, a seaside spot where the members of the 40 foot swimming club test the water every day of the year and where James Joyce lived in an old Martello tower and liked to take a dip.

Here’s what I wrote about Dublin: The best of TBEX, the best of Dublin

But if you and your partner are looking for a weekend of culture in Europe, why not try…

Rome

The Trevi Fountain in Rome Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Throw your coin in the Trevi Fountain in Rome to return some day

What Superbreak have to say; With a wealth of history, culture and plenty of Italian charisma, you can’t help but feel the love on a weekend break in Rome with someone special.

What I enjoyed about Rome;

  • Buying a gelato from the kiosk shop on the island in the Tiber and eating it with a view of the river where Dan Brown’s hero, in the book Angels and Demons, parachutes out of an exploding helicopter to land on the island.
  • Visiting the Turtle fountain or Fontana delle Tartarughe in Piazza Mattei first thing in the morning before the crowds have gathered – so much more charming and less crowded than the Trevi Fountain.
  • Visiting the daily fruit and vegetable market in Campo de’Fiori and buying a slice of pizza fresh from the oven from the artizan bakery at one end, then sitting on the steps of the central monument to eat it.

Here’s one of my stories about Rome: The view from the dome of St Peter’s in Rome

If you are a couple who fancy a weekend of culture in the UK take a look at …

Stratford-upon-Avon

The river at Stratford-upon-Avon Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Picnic by the river at Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of Shakespeare

What Superbreak have to say; Discover the quaint city of Stratford upon Avon on a romantic weekend break. Step back in time in this historic city and see the spots where Shakespeare’s most famous plays were created.

What I love to do in Stratford-upon-Avon;

  • Visit the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, a fabulous venue that has gone through a multi-million pound renovation. You must try and get a ticket to see one of their Shakespeare productions but even if you can’t, be sure to pop in to wander round the building, visit one of the exhibitions, climb the tower or take a backstage tour.
  • Taking afternoon tea at the Arden Hotel right opposite the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, the perfect place for a lunch stop in between sightseeing or a pre-theatre dinner before you pop across the road for the performance.
  • Several of the houses in and around Stratford associated with Shakespeare and his family are open to the public, and we we especially love Anne Hathaway’s Cottage with its cottage garden and the settle by the fire where young William might have snuggled with his new bride Anne.

Here’s what I wrote about Stratford-upon-Avon: The Tower and other Transformations at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon

But if you are a group who’d like a weekend of culture in Europe why not try …

Paris

Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Visit the great Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

What Superbreak have to say; With history, landmarks and iconic French architecture around every corner, Paris offers everything a group would need for a cultural break. Don’t forget your camera!

What I enjoyed about Paris;

  • Wandering around the Parisian’s choice of market, Marche d’Aligre with the most polished and perfect fruit and vegetables, a mouthwatering selection of prepared dishes in the covered market and a flea market where you can buy everything from vintage footwear to elegant wine glasses.
  • Walking down Canal Saint Martin to admire all the houseboats and then continuing along the narrow footpath right beside the Seine, with views of Notre Dame in the distance – a world away from the tourist crowds at the cathedral itself.
  • Exploring the covered arcades with art galleries and street cafes in Place des Vosges and then visiting Maison Victor Hugo to find out about the life and times of this celebrated French writer, author of Les Miserables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Here’s what I wrote about Paris: Our winter weekend in Paris, the food, the sights, the video

And if and your friends are looking for a weekend of culture in Europe, why not try…

Lisbon

The vintage trams in Lisbon Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Ride the vintage trams in Lisbon up the hill

What Superbreak have to say; A weekend break in Lisbon, Portugal’s capital offers an eclectic mix of fascinating Portuguese history and contemporary art and culture.

What I loved about Lisbon;

  • Listening to the mournful Fado singers who perform in the restaurants in the Bairo Alto and Alfama neighbourhoods – don’t expect the food to be anything special but the music will touch your soul.
  • Eating Pasteis de Belem from the famous cakes shop near the Monastery of Jerónimos - these creamy custard tarts are the signature of Lisbon and you can either sit in the vaulted cafe rooms at the back of the shop or take them away to eat in the gardens overlooking the port.
  • Taking the yellow, vintage No 28 tram up the hill to the Castelo de Sao Jorge where you can walk around the ramparts and gaze over the rooftops towards the river where the ships left to conquer the New World centuries ago.

Here’s one of my stories about Lisbon: An autumn weekend in Lisbon – Podcast

There are plenty more inspirational short break destinations to discover with the SuperBreak app so why not give it a try and see where your inspiration leads you.

About the Superbreak Holiday Inspirator:  To celebrate their 30th anniversary, Yorkshire based holiday company  Superbreak.com have created a fun app to help you choose the perfect UK or European city break based on who you’re travelling with and what you enjoy. Check out the Superbreak Holiday Inspirator Webapp or follow the coversation on the Superbreak Facebook Page or on Twitter @Superbreak using hashtag #SuperBreakinspo

This article is brought to you in partnership with Superbreak.com

Photo Credits: Dublin at night by LenDog64 Other photos by Heatheronhertravels.com

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

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A weekend in Birmingham on the Tolkien Trail

With the latest addition to The Hobbit trilogy being recently released on DVD, and the next instalment ready to grace our cinema screens in a few months, now would be a perfect time to delve a little deeper into the life of the author, JRR Tolkien. While he may have been born in South Africa in 1892, he had an affinity with the city of Birmingham since moving there at four years old and, as such, literary fans will love to explore the sights that have been linked to the writer’s Midland adventures.

The Tolkein Trilogy

The Tolkein Trilogy

It’s often believed that Middle Earth was based on the Midlands, so it’s only natural to want to see where Tolkien gained his inspiration. If you’re after a weekend break in the city so that you can see more, book with Travelodge and you won’t have to worry about spending more than your budget can allow on accommodation. The Tolkien Trail is the perfect way of exploring parts of Tolkien’s childhood, with highlights including:

Sareholl Mill in Birmingham Photo: Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

Sareholl Mill in Birmingham on the Tolkein Trail

  • Sarehole Mill, situated in the village of Sarehole (which is often considered to be the inspiration for Hobbiton and The Shire), is a fantastic museum that pays homage to Tolkien. It’s believed that he, and his brother, used to play for hours near the mill. It’s only open for part of the year though, so make sure you check that it’s open before you visit to avoid disappointment.
Moseley Bog in Birmingham Photo: Peter Lewis on Flickr

Moseley Bog in Birmingham

  • Moseley Bog was once a mill pool and was the site of many an adventure for Tolkien when he was a lad. Nowadays, it’s a Local Nature Reserve and a perfect addition to your Tolkien itinerary if you’re a lover of the great outdoors. You can access it via Yardley Wood Road or the Wake Green Playing Fields.
  • St Anne’s Church on Alcester Street is where Tolkien and his family used to worship. Pop by during service hours and you can enjoy the interior beauty as well as the outside.
  • Perrott’s Folly stands near to the Edgbaston Waterworks, alongside a Victorian tower that, together, are believed to be the inspiration behind the Two Towers of Gondor – which, as any Tolkien fan will know, is the name of the second book in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Perrotts Folly in Brirmingham Photo: Tony Hidgett on Flickr

Perrotts Folly in Birmingham on the Tolkein trail

Whether you wish to head off on your own adventure, discovering these places and more, or you prefer to embark upon a Middle Earth tour with the help of a tour guide, the Tolkien trail is a must for any fan of this fantasy writer. These tours operate at various times during the year, so keep an eye on the Midlands Discovery Tours site if you fancy being part of the next one – you can sign up to receive email notification of when tickets for the next tour go on sale, and it’s recommended you do so, because they sell fast!

If you can’t wait for the next tour, there’s no reason why you can’t venture out on your own to see where the inspiration for Tolkien’s amazing literary works evolved. Incorporate it into your visit to Birmingham and learn more about Tolkien’s roots in The Midlands.

This article was brought to you in partnership with Travelodge.

Photo Credits: Sarehole Mill by Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Moseley Bog by Peter Lewis, Perrott’s Folly by Tony Hisgett, Tolkein Trilogy from TheHobbit.com

This article 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

A cool boutique hotel in Copenhagen – the Andersen Hotel – video

In a city like Copenhagen that’s awash with cool Scandinavian design, the Andersen Hotel manages to combine colourful and trendy decor with a warm welcome and above-and-beyond service. We stayed at the Andersen Hotel for a weekend break in February and found it was ideally located for seeing the sights of Copenhagen and convenient for getting to and from the airport.

Our Junior Suite in the Andersen Hotel in Copenhagen Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Our Junior Suite in the Andersen Hotel in Copenhagen

But don’t be surprised if you pass a shop window full of sex-toys and fishnet body-stockings as you walk the short distance from the Central Station to the hotel, or head to the Kødbyen meat packing district nearby to try out one of the excellent restaurants. Vesterbro, where the Andersen Hotel is located, is the red light district of Copenhagen but also a mixed neighbourhood with bars, restaurants and designer boutiques that’s known for its nightlife scene. In liberal Copenhagen everyone takes these things in their stride.

I hope you enjoy the video below about the Andersen Hotel in Copenhagen

If you can’t see the video above of Andersen Hotel, Copenhagen view it on my blog here or on YouTube here

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Walking in from the street, the large reception area felt instantly cosy, with a quirky round fire burning on the wall and the chess sets laid out for a game, under the oversized pink and purple lamp shades. Candles glowed in the purple glass holders and a freshly brewed coffee was available on request. If you’re downstairs between 5 and 6pm you’ll be offered a glass of wine on the house, which in pricy Copenhagen is much appreciated by thirsty guests. Just around the corner from the hotel is the Mikkeller micro-brewery and bar where you can taste Copenhagen brewed ales with live music.

Reception area of the Andersen Hotel in Vesterbro, Copenhagen Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

The cosy and welcoming reception area of the Andersen Hotel in Vesterbro, Copenhagen

Our Amazing Junior Suite on the third floor was decorated in a Mermaid colour scheme which the hotel describes as “vibrant aqua’s, turquoise and lime colours on a graphic earth ground base in magical harmony” and it was good to be transported to the vibrant tropics and away from the grey February day. All the room names have superlatives here; the Standard rooms are Cool; the Deluxe rooms are Brilliant; the Superior rooms are Wonderful  and we were hopeful they’d live up to their name.

The seating area of our Junior Suite at the Andersen Hotel, Copenhagen Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

The seating area of our Junior Suite at the Andersen Hotel, Copenhagen

Since we had the largest style of room, our Amazing Junior suite had a spacious sitting area with a turquoise velvet sofa, a little glass coffee table just big enough to rest a couple of wine glasses and a flat screen TV that swung round to be viewed either from the sofa or the bed. There was a shaggy green rug on the light wood flooring and a mural on the wall stacking the names of other places you might want to visit on your travels; Oslo, Riga and Stockholm among them. As my laptop is my constant companion, I was pleased to find that there was free, fast wifi throughout the hotel and in our bedroom.

There was enough storage in the single wardrobe for a couple on a weekend break to hang their party clothes and next to it was a fridge and safe with a clear perspex ‘mini-bar’ perched on top with some individual wine bottles and snacks to purchase. The bed was super-comfy, with a soft and fluffy duvet which we squirted liberally with the sleep spray provided and drifted off in a cloud of lavender. Our room was on the corner of the building overlooking the street, so the sound of voices drifted up to us late at night and in the early morning we were awoken by the clattering of service lorries. If you are a light sleeper like me and not so much of a party animal, I would probably ask for a room that overlooks the internal courtyard rather than the street.

The bathroom in our Junior Suite at Andersen Hotel, Copenhagen Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

The bathroom in our Junior Suite at Andersen Hotel, Copenhagen

The equally colourful turquoise bathroom featured a Phillip Stark bathroom suite with a large rectangular sink, well-lit mirror and hairdryer on the wall. While most of the rooms have a walk-in shower, our Junior Suite had a bath with powerful shower above, which we had the option of sharing with the Andersen Hotel rubber duck. Surrounded by so many local design names I was surprised that the neroli and cedar toiletries were from the Green Park range by English company Molton Brown, but then the hotel also uses Designer’s Guild furnishings so perhaps there’s an Anglophile thing going on.

I had a snoop around some of the other rooms to see how they compared to our Junior Suite and was impressed that even the smaller rooms had the same levels of design and comfort, all slightly different while incorporating the turquoise “Mermaid” colour scheme or the fuschia and purple “Princess” scheme that’s found in the lobby. Take a look below at my photo of some of the other bedrooms.

Cool Standard Single Room in the Andersen Hotel, Copenhagen Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Cool Standard Single Room in the Andersen Hotel, Copenhagen

Cool Standard Double Room in the Andersen Hotel, Copenhagen Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Cool Standard Double Room in the Andersen Hotel, Copenhagen

Brilliant Deluxe Double room at Andersen Hotel, Copenhagen Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Brilliant Deluxe Double room at Andersen Hotel, Copenhagen

Breakfast was served downstairs in the dining area which was partitioned off with a curtain during the day when not in use. The same pink and purple Princess colour scheme extended to the breakfast room, with wood and chrome cafe tables and perspex throne chairs which were surprisingly comfortable despite looking like something out of a Disney film.

Breakfast area at the Andersen Hotel in Copenhagen Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Breakfast area at the Andersen Hotel in Copenhagen

There was an excellent spread, although the hotel does not serve hot dishes at breakfast and the nearest you’ll get is a warm boiled egg in a basket. Even so we found plenty to sustain us for a day’s sightseeing in Copenhagen, from dense grainy Danish bread wrapped in a napkin, cubes of local cheese to be sliced thinly with a wire cutter, miniature pastries and muesli with little bowls filled with nuts, seeds and dried fruit to sprinkle on top. Being Denmark you could wash it all down with beetroot and carrot juice, an unusual tea with a names like Jade Wings or Green Mint from the colourful Osterlandsk tins, or even a warming nip Gamel Dansk liquor.

Breakfast at the Andersen Hotel in Copenhagen Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Breakfast at the Andersen Hotel in Copenhagen

Throughout our three night stay we found that the staff were extremely helpful with plentiful suggestions and recommendations, going out of their way to get us the information we needed and to look things up on the internet.  When I asked for some suggestions from the lovely receptionist, Anne Mette on romantic places to go in Copenhagen, she provided me with a whole printed list of suggestions on our return to the hotel, having researched it for us while we were out. The staff at Andersen Hotel seemed to be recruited for their warm and helpful personalities and nothing was too much trouble.

Extending this customer friendly approach, the hotel offers a Concept 24 option which can be requested when you book, and allows you to keep your room for a full 24 hours from your check in time. Around 60% of the guests take advantage of this option, as we did, which meant that having arrived in the evening, we could check out later in the day, allowing us to keep our room until the afternoon before heading off to the airport.

"Happy Hour" a glass of wine at Andersen Hotel in Copenhagen Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

“Happy Hour” a glass of wine at Andersen Hotel in Copenhagen

Andersen Hotel is ideal for….

Couples, groups of friends, leisure travellers and even business travellers who want a conveniently located base in Copenhagen for sightseeing, eating out and nightlife. We loved the friendly service, trendy decor, delicious breakfast and the free glass of happy hour wine.

Andersen Hotel may not be for you if….

You have young children or are easily offended by the red light aspects of the Vesterbro neighbourhood, or want a hotel that has a restaurant or wide range of facilities such as spa or gym.

Thanks to Andersen Hotel who provided a complimentary weekend stay for Heather and Guy.

Andersen Boutique Hotel, Helgolandsgade 12, DK- 1653 Copenhagen V. Reservations: booking@andersen-hotel.dk Tel: +45 3331 4344

For more information, reservation and prices visit the Andersen Hotel website. At time of writing typical room rates seen on the website for a weekend stay for 2 people with breakfast were; Standard rooms: 1445DKr – 1695 DKr , Deluxe Rooms: 1645 DKr -1895 DKr , Superior Rooms: 1725 DKr – 2025 DKr, Junior Suite: 2025 DKr – 2325 DKr

What else did we enjoy in Vesterbro?

On our first evening we took a short walk from Andersen Hotel to the Kødbyen or Meat-Packing district that sits within the Vesterbro neighbourhood. It was dark so we didn’t really see a lot of the many bars and cafes in this area, but we loved Bio Mio, an organic brasserie-style cafe with a very friendly, relaxed atmosphere, ideal for groups of friends.

Bio Mio Organic Restaurant

Bio Mio Organic Restaurant in Vesterbro, Copenhagen Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Bio Mio Organic Restaurant in Vesterbro, Copenhagen

If we’d had more time we would have liked to also try out Kodbyens Fiskebar which specialises in fish and seafood with good wines in an informal setting and Mikkeller, a bar and micro-brewery just round the corner from the hotel, which has 20+ ales on tap from Copenhagen and around the world.

Claus Meyer deli

Claus Meyer Deli in Copenhagen Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Claus Meyer Deli in Copenhagen

At the far end of Vesterbro bordering the more upmarket Frederiksberg we had lunch on our last day at the Meyers Deli which servers delicious light dishes and Smørrebrød, where you’ll be tempted by all the other Claus Meyer juices, jams and preserves as well as some fresh dishes to take away.

Museum of Copenhagen

The Museum of Copenhagen, Vesterbro, Copenhagen Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

The Museum of Copenhagen, Vesterbro, Copenhagen

At the Museum of Copenhagen which we passed by chance, we had a look around the ground floor exhibitions which change regularly and were currently on the theme of immigration and Becoming a Copenhagener. Upstairs we enjoyed an exhibition on the theme of the many different kinds of love, which incorporated the writings and possessions of Copenhagen philosopher and writer Soren Kierkegaard.

Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek

Only a 10 minute walk from the Andersen Hotel, right opposite Tivoli Gardens we loved the sculpture museum and art gallery of Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, built to house the impressive collection of brewing magnate Carl Jacobsen which includes plenty of Impressionist paintings that you’ll recognise.

Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in Copenhagen Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in Copenhagen

More information for visiting Copenhagen

While in Copenhagen we enjoyed a gastro-cruise as part of the Copenhagen Cooking festival, one of the biggest food festival in Northern Europe which takes place in August and February. The festival showcases the best of Danish and Nordic Cuisine  with special events throughout the month of February that combine artistic, musical and gastronomic experiences hosted by different restaurant and venues around Copenhagen.  Look out for the summer edition of the Copenhagen Cooking festival in August. Read about our gastro-cruise here.

We used the Copenhagen Card during our stay for free public transport by bus, train and metro as well as free admission to 75 museums and attractions. The Copenhagen Card costs are; 24 hrs – 299 DKr Adult, 159 DKr Child; 48 hrs – 449 DKr Adult, 199 DKr Child; 72 hrs –  529 DKr Adult, 239 DKr Child. We used the card to get free entry to many of the sights we visited on this and previous visits such as Ny Carlsberg Typtotek, Rosenborg Slot, The Museum of Copenhagen, The Harbour Cruise and Tivoli Gardens as well as for getting around on the metro and train.

For more information about visiting Copenhagen, see the Visit Copenhagen official Tourism website. Thanks to Wonderful Copenhagen who hosted our weekend visit to Copenhagen.

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

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