Category Archives: Art

A trip to Bentonville, Arkansas

A friend of mine recently moved to Arkansas, so I decided to visit her. I realise Bentonville is probably not on the top of most people’s travel destinations, but I believe that with good company you can have fun anywhere. And… it’s the home of Walmart!!

I grabbed another friend and we road tripped from Texas to Arkansas. On the way, we stopped at Buc-ees… I love Buc-ees! It’s basically a gas station tourist attraction with food and goods, ranging from their own brand chocolate through to T-shirts, portable chairs and coolers. Their brisket sandwich is worth going back for. It’s a growing chain across Texas and a few other states.

We also drove through Oklahoma with beautiful lake and forest views.

We checked into our hotel, and first stop was dinner at Table at the Station, a cute independent restaurant with great service. I really enjoyed my ribs, they were delicious.

After dinner, we went to the main square in Bentonville with the original Walmart store, which is now a museum. Unfortunately there wasn’t online availability for tickets that weekend, otherwise they could have been booked here. To compensate, we made an effort to visit some of the regular Walmart stores that were dotted around the city.

In the evening, my friend had booked us tickets for a Prince tribute concert being held at the Meteor Guitar Gallery. This is a guitar shop by day and a concert hall by night, in a renovated old theatre. It has a lot of character and a great vibe. The live music was great, and many of the crowd came in their purple and/or glitter outfits in their own personal tribute to Prince. It was a great night out to welcome back some ‘post-covid normalcy’ (I know we’re not quite back to normal yet, but getting there!)

The following day, we visited Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. They had a number of exhibitions and I really enjoyed wandering around and absorbing the art.

In the evening, we headed to another great restaurant called Local Lime. This is fusion Mexican – I don’t know what it’s fused with but it was a great combination. The queso flameado with chorizo was full of flavour, as was the green chile stew and tortilla soup.

After dinner, we headed back towards Crystal Bridges Museum to check out the Buckyball. We’d seen this unlit from the parking lot by day, but it was mesmerising at night, lit up with pretty colours and patterns. The three of us sat at the wooden loungers and enjoyed the evening show. Other small groups also came and went, some with blankets. It was a lovely evening and a great way to unwind for the end of the weekend.

So, I had a great time in Bentonville. There was a lot to see and do, and I liked that everything was so nearby. A lot of places were only an 8-minute drive away! My friend who now lives there also grew up there, so she was able to point out how the city has changed and how the Walton family (owners of Walmart) have invested in developing the area. I’d be happy to go back – I still want to check out the Walmart museum!


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COVID travel blues? Be a local tourist!

I’m sure I’m not the only one who is dearly missing some trips away and going somewhere new. I cancelled a trip to Vegas in May, and more recently I also cancelled a long weekend away in Austin TX as COVID rates had been increasing.

However… I did decide to do something else! I had a look on Google maps and found a few things that are nearby to me and also outdoors that I could enjoy. It’s not quite Vegas, but the point of travelling is to experience something new and different – and there are plenty of things I hadn’t seen near me.

Here are a few of the ‘new’ things I checked out recently:

Fossil Rim Wildlife Center

This is like safari in the middle of Texas. Fossil Rim Wildlife Center is an endangered species research and conservation center near Glen Rose, Texas. The facility has over 1,000 animals from 50 species.

It was located an hour and a half’s drive from me and I went with a friend who also loves animals. We bought tickets in advance at $25 each and drove through the park to see many deer, zebra, mountain goats, and giraffes. It was a great photography opportunity too.

Interlochen Christmas lights

Interlochen is a local area to me in Arlington Texas famous for its Christmas lights. It’s a 40 year tradition and only open for about a week in December. There was a lot of traffic to drive in and through the neighborhood, but it was a nice and ‘safe’ evening trip from the comfort of the car. We saw a lot of different lights and it was great to enjoy other people’s serious efforts to decorate for the most wonderful time of the year!

Parr Park Painted Rock Trail

This find was definitely thanks to browsing on Google maps. It’s a section of a large forested park that displays hundreds of painted rocks. I was really pleasantly surprised by this – I expected to find a small patch of badly painted rocks, when in fact there were literally hundreds of painted rocks in many different styles. I went with an arty friend who actually enjoys painting rocks, and it was a good outing in fresh air and walking through the forest.

I had read through the reviews on Google and took the tip of parking close to the church with a parking lot, rather than the Google location that took us to someone’s house!

Lolo Falls

So, I’m not sure why this has four 5* reviews on Google, because I was completely underwhelmed when I found this! I followed the directions into a very residential area, parked the car, and wondered if I was at the right place. My friend stepped towards the little river and said she’d found it!

We spent about a minute laughing about this waterfall, then walked the path and bridge nearby. It was a nice day and a lovely neighborhood, and a good excuse for some exercise.

So there you have it! I am glad I took the opportunity to enjoy some of the attractions at my doorstep – they are easy to overlook. It’s not quite the travels I had in mind for this year, but at the end of the day, I was able to enjoy some new experiences and when I have good company, I always have a great time!

I wholeheartedly encourage you to explore what’s outdoors and close to you – whether it’s a local forest, lake, or tourist attraction. As tempting as it is to stay cooped up indoors, you’ll have more fun going outdoors, getting some exercise, and seeing something new, whether it’s by yourself or with some low-risk friends, family, or people in your household.

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Filed under Art, Safari, Texas, Travel, Wildlife

One week in New York!

Ah New York.  So many things to do!

I really love New York and have spent a lot of time there, including one year as an intern.  I enjoy going back and discovering new things and re-visiting old favourites.  This time, I went for a week with a good friend of mine.  We managed to cover a lot of new and old ground, including Manhattan, Astoria (Queens) and Brooklyn.  Here’s the lowdown of some of the things we got up to!


Times Square

Things to do in Manhattan:


Drag brunch at Lips
I’d had dinner with a show here before.  This time I went to the Sunday drag brunch show that includes a meal and unlimited mimosas for an additional $6.  Great funny show and great entertaining drag queens.  Definitely something different to do!  Definitely book in advance.
Check it out here:

Comedy Improv UCB theatre
My friend booked tickets for a Sunday evening comedy improv session.  I’d been to prepared comedy shows, this was the first time I’d seen live improvisation in action, like on the show ‘Who’s line is it anyway?’.  It was pretty random, with subjects from peanuts through to Disney!  Very enjoyable.
Check it out here:

Drinks at Off the wagon
I used to love finding ladies’ nights and happy hour drink offers as an intern in NY.  It seemed a little harder to find happy hours that ended after 7pm this time around, but there were a few.  One of them was at Off the Wagon, an old favourite, with half price drinks until 8pm.  A low key dive bar, just the way I like them!
Check it out here:


Live music at Groove Bar

Live music at Groove bar
For a $5 entry charge on a Wednesday evening, we went to the Groove bar, which was one of my favourite live music places.  We listened to a live group in a packed out bar and were lucky to get seats.  Great atmosphere and always great music.
Check it out here:

Staten Island ferry
Did you know the Staten Island ferry is free??  I didn’t!  Luckily my friend did!  We’d both visited the Statue of Liberty before and weren’t too bothered about seeing her up close and personal again, so the free ferry from Manhattan to Staten Island was a great compromise.  We got to take the ferry from the Whitehall ferry terminal for a great view of the Statue of Liberty.  Ferries run 24/7 and regularly.  Just so you know, there wasn’t much to do at the Staten Island end, we got a coffee and waited for the return ferry.  A friend tells me that there are some shops being built near the terminal so there should be some shopping fun available soon.
Check the schedule here: 


Statue of Liberty

Roosevelt Island cable car
So while wandering around, we came across a cable car that goes to Roosevelt Island.  A little investigation showed that it’s run by the MTA so you can use your standard subway pass to take it for the same cost as any other journey.  We went along for the views and to try something new, and I’m glad we did.  Have a look at this cool time lapse video of the view across the city…

Of course, you have to go shopping in New York!  There are countless places to shop, but I have two favourites.  One is shopping around Union Square (14th Street) where there is a big DSW (shoes!) and a Burlington’s Coat Factory.  There’s also Barnes & Noble (books), TJ Maxx (discount everything), Old Navy and other places nearby.


Union Square

My other favourite is Century 21.  There are a few of these around, but the one I always go to is the Downtown Manhattan store (Cortlandt Street).  The store is pretty mahoosive and good for a wander around.
You can check locations here:

Things to eat in Manhattan:

Ippudo is a nice Japanese restaurant with great ramen.  There is a very friendly, lively and buzzy atmosphere here and the food was very tasty.  There a few different locations, you can check them here:

I LOVED this place.  It’s a Japanese grill place where you order various meat dishes and grill them straight on the table in front of you.  We went to the Times Square restaurant at lunch time on a weekday.  The lunch offers were awesome, including $6 cocktails.  We both ate well and the food was so tasty!  I would have happily eaten here again.  Multiple times…
Here is the website:

Have a look at this delicious video…

Xian famous foods
This chain is a low key restaurant serving tasty, and often spicy, Chinese food.  It’s reasonably priced and very unassuming.  More cafe style dining.  I enjoyed my spicy lamb noodles and the iced tea was lovely.
You can see their menu here:

I met an ex-colleague for lunch and she recommended this seafood restaurant close to Union Square.  It’s a very cute and cosy place with great service and a nice atmosphere.  I ordered the seafood paella, which was very tasty.
Here is their website: 


Seafood paella at Sagaponack

Things to eat in Astoria:

Astoria in Queens has become cooler and trendier over the years.  There are a lot of new shops and restaurants opening up regularly.

Don’t come here if you’re looking for a light snack.  Do come here if you’re looking for a hefty fresh gooey cookie.  Chocolate peanut butter cookies were goooood.


Cookies at Chip NYC

Pink Nori
I know this place has been here (survived) for at least a few years as I came here before.  The photos of the sushi don’t do it justice!  It was very tasty, and we celebrated with happy hour lychee mimosas.

New York City Bagel & Coffee House
New York and Bagels are a winning combination.  I enjoyed my ‘everything bagel’ with cream cheese, and a good chai latte.  We even had breakfast here twice.  My friend enjoyed waffles on one of those mornings.
Here’s the website for the chain:


Waffles for breakfast


We spent one evening in Brooklyn, which started with us walking across the Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan – a nice 25 minute stroll.  We then took the train to Jefferson Street and walked through part of the Bushwick Collective and saw some of the street art.


Brooklyn Bridge


Brooklyn bunny

We met up with some friends at Archie’s for pizza and drinks.  It’s a really nice little unassuming restaurant with great food.  We were lucky to get seats!  Also pretty chilled out and it was nice not to be rushed at all.  We enjoyed a good chat over our food and drinks.
Here is their website:



Trip summary

So that’s not even everything that we did or ate, but it is a good selection!  The trip was really jam-packed with a lot of walking and a lot of eating.  New York is a great place for walking around and transport is really convenient.  It was easy to find anything we needed.  As ever, I’m always happy to go back to discover even more about this great place.

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Filed under Americas, Art, New York, Restaurants, Travel

Dallas Museum of Art

Free art museum in Dallas Texas

While perusing my Texas guide book, I came across the Dallas Museum of Art. It’s located close to St Paul station on the DART train and the added bonus is it’s free to enter.


I didn’t really know what to expect and I was pleasantly surprised. There are quite a lot of rooms, some are very small exhibitions and others are significantly larger. I was impressed by the array of art – from paintings to jewellery and bowls to books. I was also impressed by how global the art was. I saw the works of some very well known artists including Monet, Van Gogh and Frida Kahlo.

Dallas-Museum-of-Art-Monet Dallas-Museum-of-Art-frida-kahlo

This was a really nice couple of hours of looking around at various and eclectic art. I’d recommend it to anyone looking for something chilled out to do in Dallas centre.


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Heart of Hollywood tour – London O2


A friend took me to see the Heart of Hollywood that is currently on tour in London until 17th July.  It’s part of a world tour that will cover 60 cities.  I didn’t know what to expect, but it was pretty awesome!  It is a collection of memorabilia from Hollywood, including the original letter ‘H’ from the Hollywood sign, iconic art and some original costumes from movies including Superman.


The highlight was definitely the one-hour dancing and singing outdoor performance at dusk as the sun set over London.  The performers were really amazing and it was such a lively and eclectic selection of songs.

This was a really awesome and ‘different’ thing to do in London.  It’s located in North Greenwich by the O2 arena so there is easy access and plenty of restaurants nearby.  You can find out more and buy tickets here:

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Visiting Amsterdam

I went to Amsterdam a number of years ago and I always intended to go back.  I was glad when the opportunity came up to go again with a few friends.

Airport to city

It was quite simple to get into the city from Amsterdam airport.  We took a €6 train into Centraal, then took a taxi to our accommodation, which cost about €35 in total.  The other option would be to take the tram from Centraal that costs about €3 per person.

Stayed in Airbnb

For this trip, we decided to stay in an Airbnb property.  There were four of us travelling for four nights, so we stayed in a 2 bedroom apartment close to the centre.  It was great to have a kitchen, dining table and shared living room for us to hang out in.

Things to do

So much to do in Amsterdam!

Canal ride

High on the to-do list was a canal tour.  Amsterdam has loads of pretty and picturesque canals, so we joined the Blue Boat Canal Cruise for €18.  We were able to buy tickets on the day.  It lasts about 75 minutes and everyone got headphones to listen to the pre-recorded tour information in their chosen language.  It was also fully covered and heated, so no need to worry about the weather.

Rijks Museum

As we purchased our tickets for the Rijks Museum from the canal cruise company, we got to pay €15 rather than the usual €17.50 per ticket.  I was really impressed with this museum, there was such a huge range of things to see – from Rembrandt paintings to pocket snuff boxes!


Walking tour

I’m a big fan of the Sandemans free walking tours.  I booked us spots for a morning tour that started near the Royal Palace.  It was a good way to check out the city on foot and learn about Amsterdam’s history.  We covered the National Monument, the red light district, Anne Frank’s house and more.  As with all of these free tours, you leave a tip at the end for your guide – however much you feel is reasonable.

Anne Frank’s House

I’d already visited Anne Frank’s house on my last trip.  My friends hadn’t been before, but unfortunately they weren’t able to get tickets!  Tickets were temporarily available online only at that time, and it was already fully booked.  If you’re interested in going, definitely look into booking tickets online as soon as you can.

Places to eat

Food in Amsterdam was really amazing.  There’s a lot of Asian influences and international food is available everywhere.  Here are some of my favourite places that we went to.

Food Hall – Vietnamese

Luckily this Food Hall was just around the corner from where we were staying.  There was a lot of variety in the food available.  I went for the Vietnamese noodles, which was really tasty.  Here is the Trip advisor page.

Asian Kitchen

This is a very low key cafe style restaurant with great food and even greater food portions!  It was on the cheap and cheerful side, and we were all satisfied with our meal. There was a flower market just across the road too, which we investigated after lunch.  Here is the Trip advisor page.

Blauwe Hollander

This restaurant was recommended to us by our Airbnb contact for actual Dutch food, since we were enjoying so much Asian food!  It’s a nice restaurant near the central area.  Turns out Dutch food is quite hearty!  My pea and bacon soup was really nice and we all had some version of ‘stamppot’ that includes mashed potato and meat.  It was really good.  Here is the Trip advisor page.

De Vier bakery

I’m really sad I didn’t make it to this restaurant because it looks amazing.  Fortunately, my friend did bring me some Dutch pancakes (poffertjes) with Nutella and strawberries for me to eat.  They were so yummy.  Dutch pancakes are like little mini pancakes, that are delicious with Nutella!  Here is the Trip advisor page.

Pancake Bakery

This was a recommendation from the tour guide, and I have to say it was a disappointment after the De Vier pancakes.  The restaurant itself is small and cosy, the disappointment was that the ‘chocolate sauce’ was not Nutella.  It was some generic dark chocolate sauce, which just didn’t taste as good!  I’d recommend the De Vier bakery if you get a choice, unless you don’t care for Nutella.  Here is the Trip advisor page.

Holiday conclusion

I had a really great time in Amsterdam.  There’s something very chilled out about it, people are very friendly, it’s easy to get around by tram and the food is great.  In fact, I think I’ll go back again one day.


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A trip to the Tate Modern #London

It’s always a pleasure to visit the Tate Modern, especially on a sunny London day with a viewing level!

I must admit that I didn’t really pay attention to the artists’ names, I just like to wander around and see what catches my eye, like this money tree:

There was a great range of different art works, plenty to keep me occupied for a few hours!

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SPAIN: Al Hambra, Granada and Malaga

January 2015

It was on my mind to take my mum to see the Alhambra one day – having seen an offer on flights to Malaga on Ryanair I decided to book it in.  Fortunately I had been to Granada before, which gave me the confidence to co-ordinate the trip.


We arrived on a Thursday afternoon at Malaga airport.  I had booked coach tickets to Granada with Alsa coaches:

There was a bit of a wait between the flight landing and the coach arriving, we sat down and had something to eat and drink in the airport.  The coach took about 2.5 hours to arrive at Granada bus station, and from there it was about 10 euros by taxi to the hotel.  We stayed for two nights at the NH Collection Victoria hotel:

This is a really nice hotel and very reasonably priced for its good location.  We had a look around at some shops that evening (open til late!) and found a street that had a number of restaurants.  We decided to try the set menu at Nuevo Restaurant:

I wasn’t too impressed with this place.  It looks nice, but it didn’t feel very authentic, the service wasn’t great, and the food wasn’t really great.  My mum was happy though!  She enjoyed her fish and the restaurant, I think I expected something that in my mind is more ‘Spanish’.  At least it wasn’t an expensive disappointing meal!


We pottered around locally in the morning, past the shops and around the cathedral.  There were a lot of market style shops and we had lunch at a Spanish restaurant with Moroccan staff.

The Alhambra

I had booked tickets in advance for the Alhambra on Friday, as I heard it is often fully booked: 

There is a morning (8h30 – 14h) and afternoon option (14h – 18h), I booked the afternoon option and selected a time to visit the Nasrid Palace.  It came to 15.40 euros per person.  The hotel had directed us to take a bus to the Alhambra which cost less than two euros.  This is definitely advisable – it’s quite a long and steep journey upwards, I would have no idea which way to go on foot.  Also, the local bus is much cheaper than the ‘tourist’ bus.

We were able to pick up the tickets from the main ticket office, and they wouldn’t let us enter until 2pm as we arrived a bit early.  Once we did get in, it was beautiful.  Very grand, spacious and well kept.  There was so much to see!  And there is a lot of walking – through gardens, buildings and on stairs!

We stayed for about 2.5 hours.  We easily could have stayed longer, but being January it was surprisingly cold and my mum had a bit of a cold, so we decided not to cover every inch before heading back.  The Nasrid palace was really lovely, I’m glad we took the option to view all areas – since you’re in the hood you might as well!

We took the bus back down to the bottom and visited some of the shops on the way back to the hotel.  I was absolutely thrilled to find a big Sephora store for makeup – these are plentiful in the US but sadly they don’t exist in the UK.  And I also love shopping in Zara while in Spain.

For dinner that evening, we tried to track down a restaurant that a taxi driver had recommended to us, and failed.  We ended up back on the same street as the evening before but in a different restaurant.  This one had a bit more of a pubby feel and there were lots of Spaniards dining there too – always a good sign.  We ordered a fried fish platter, mainly for my mum’s benefit, which was huge and very good.  They also gave us a tapa of fish with our drinks – I was pretty fished out by the end.  That’s already my annual fish quota fulfilled!

We ambled back to our hotel after dinner.


The plan for this day was to head back to Malaga for the night, as we had an early flight on Sunday morning.  I’d booked the coach for around 1 pm, so we checked out at midday from the hotel and bought some snacks from the local bakery.  It was easy to get a taxi to the bus station, and there is a lot of indoor seating at the bus station.  The coach ride back was smooth with lovely views.  We got off at the airport stop, and took a taxi to our next hotel, which came to about 25 euros. 

I’d stayed at the Tryp at Berlin previously, so was looking forward to staying at the Tryp Guadalmar hotel in Malaga.  It is a pleasant hotel with nice staff, our room had such a beautiful view of the sea from our balcony.  We were right next to the beach.

After a little walk along the relatively short patch of beach, we headed in to town.  The good news was the bus stop was just outside the hotel (line 5).  The bad news was that it only came once every 30 minutes, and it also took about 30 minutes to get into town!  This is not so bad when you’re on holiday and the agenda is to relax and take your time about things.

My highlight, sadly, was the TACO BELL when we got to the bus stop!  This isn’t saying anything bad about Malaga town – I just happen to really like Taco Bell and it doesn’t seem to exist in England.

So after a taco stop, we went for a walk along the pier.  It’s very pretty and lively.

It was getting dark so we decided to head towards the return bus and had something to eat around there.  I don’t remember the name of the place, but it was across the road from the bus stop where we arrived, which happened to be the same stop for taking the return bus too.  Nice and easy…

This was not an especially memorable meal.  We sat outside on the street next to the busy road, there were a lot of smokers on the tables nearby, and the food was just not that great.  It was bland and probably heated up in the microwave.  I’m so pleased that my mum was not being a fussy eater, she was happy with her slightly soggy fried fish.  Thanks for being cool mum!!

Towards the end of our meal, we spotted a line 5 bus but weren’t in a position to leave, so decided to wait a little before heading back, since they were every 30 minutes.  Or as we found out the hard way… they were even more sporadic as it got later.  **TIP – check the return bus times when you arrive at the bus stop ** I do wish I’d checked this earlier, but it wasn’t the end of the world, we had a walk around as the next bus was about 50 minutes after the last one.  We walked along and found a street full of shops and lovely decorations.


We did get back for the next bus, which was then another 30 minutes back to the hotel.  The return bus stop is a couple of minutes away from the hotel – easy if you know the way.  Luckily a lovely Spanish woman pointed out how to get back.


We had a very early flight back on the Sunday.  We had checked with the hotel who told us that there were usually taxis outside the hotel at all times, and sure enough there was a taxi waiting at the ungodly hour we were up.  It cost about 20 euros to get to the airport – all smooth sailing from there back to London Stansted.

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Lots of culture in Rome – Italy

October 2014

Italy had been on my to-do list for a very long time.

A school friend and I decided to make the trip this year, which was awesome, until we started to think about WHERE in Italy we would go to. Rome was top of my list, I forgot that she hates cities, and hence lives in the countryside in France.

We compromised on that holiday and went to La Rochelle together (August), which was a lovely trip, and also another story!

After the La Rochelle trip, I still felt the need to go to Italy, and for my travel plans not to be foiled because it didn’t work out with someone else – so I booked a trip on my own!

I admit, I was secretly hoping that one of my friends would decide to join me at the time of booking.  At the same time, I was mentally preparing myself for travelling alone.  My biggest question of course – how does one eat dinner alone!?  However, after meeting a couple of cool travelers in Berlin (September) I was really looking forward to having some me-time and doing as I please on holiday!


I arrived on a Saturday afternoon at Ciampino airport and took the Terravision coach to Termini station (affordable and easy).  From there, I took the Metro towards my hotel.

Hotel – Best Western Hotel President

This was a very nice hotel about a minute from Manzoni Metro stop.

Dinner at the local pizza place – MISTAKE!

I decided to wander out and find some local grub.  There weren’t too many restaurants, and I wandered into a little deli style pizza place and eyed up some delicious looking aubergine pizza.  The guy working there was Bengali, we had a little chat and I grabbed a couple of slices and a little bottle of prosecco (prosecco to was down my pizza!) and headed back to the hotel room… where I discovered the base of this pizza was pretty burnt!  Probably not authentic Italian pizza… however, it wasn’t all burnt and the topping of aubergine and cheese (mozzarella?) and the herby tomato sauce was really good.  And I still enjoyed my fine pizza with prosecco dinner.

Pub crawl

Inspired by the cool people I met in Berlin who were travelling alone and went out to a pub crawl, I decided to do the same thing.

This was a cool organised night out which started with an open bar.  I got talking to quite a few people and spent a lot of the evening with a couple of lovely Australian girls.  Ended up partying until the wee hours…


I missed the tour that started at nine, as I was dead to the world.  I dragged myself out of bed to get to a tour by midday… and there was no one at the meeting point.  I hung around for 15 minutes before having a leisurely walk back to the hotel.  Luckily this was a very nice walk past the Colosseum and some other fab buildings – I can’t tell you what they were!  There was also a little street market taking place.

I emailed the tour company, who said the tour guide thought the complete group was there so left and I must have just missed them.  I was definitely there AT 12 though… grrrr.  At least it got me out of bed and exploring Rome!  And they did refund the booking fee I had paid.


Lunch at the local pasta place – MISTAKE!

Close to my hotel, I passed a little cafe style restaurant that looked tempting….  I had a seat and ordered a salmon pasta dish with the Chinese waiter.  The pasta dish looked nothing like the glorious picture, and it tasted like crap.  I’m not an especially fussy eater, but I was really tempted to walk out.  I didn’t though, I picked at my food and left soon after.

Lesson was finally learned – find a restaurant run by Italian people!!!


I joined a free tour in the late afternoon led by an Italian guy.  He was obviously very passionate about architecture.  He kept talking about Bernini and Boromini very emphatically, I found myself switching off on the info but enjoying walking around and looking at the awesome buildings and picturesque scenery.  We went into a church which was AMAZING.  I have dabbled with painting – it is time-consuming and hard to get something realistic.  The beauty and skill was so impressive…  We also visited the Trevi Fountain which was under construction at the time, and a whole bunch of other beautiful places.  A good tour overall.



Vatican Tour

I joined a Vatican tour at 10 am:
FYI the meeting point ‘the large column, looking at the Spanish steps on your right’ is referring to the circular column outside the Spanish Embassy, not the big pointy thing at the top of the Spanish steps.

I really enjoyed this tour, passed a lot of beautiful places.  We went to the Pantheon – I didn’t realise that’s what it was when I went past it during the tour the day before, which made me realise how much I’d switched off during that!  The tour guide was very engaging and provided good information.  Very handily this ends near the Vatican itself so you’re lined up for the next thing to do.

Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel – buy tickets online in advance!!!

Fortunately a work friend had recommended that I book the tickets online and I’m so glad I did.  I must have walked past at least three hours worth of people queuing around the block – and this was only midday on a Monday!  Seriously, book them:


Hotel – Palazzo Montemartini

I decided to treat myself to a 5* hotel for my last night and I was so excited about this one.  This hotel is AMAZING.  I loved everything about it.  Especially the beautiful spa with pool, jacuzzi and sauna.  I spent nearly two hours chilling out, which was great after all the walking I’d done.   My room was awesome, very modern.


I met up with the two Australian girls at the Spanish steps, after popping in to Sephora, which I was thrilled to find as it doesn’t exist in London.  We headed to a restaurant that the first tour guide had recommended to us.  Apparently on the ‘pricey’ end, but actually very affordable.  I had the spaghetti with anchovy in butter sauce, and it was delicious.

After that we headed to Giolitti’s for gelato:

Very yummy and generous servings!!  There was no elegant way of consuming a melting gelato on the street…

After dessert, we went back to the hotel for a drink at the bar, which was very classy and pleasant.  I had a great cocktail, freshly made and very fruity.  It was lovely to hang out at this beautiful hotel.  It’s also just a couple of minutes away from Termini station so it was easy for my friends to get a taxi back to their place.

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