Monday, 11 December 2017

72 hours in Basel, Switzerland

I don't know about you, but I'm obsessed with booking my next trip. You will find me on Skyscanner, looking for all the cheap flights, regardless of where they're heading. Last year I booked us a random trip away to Lithuania for the weekend, and that turned out to be really great.

This year, even though we had a big trip planned to America, I still had the itch to book a little European break. After deciding EasyJet's flight to Oslo, was in fact nowhere near Oslo, I stumbled across flights to Basel for £130 for two, early December with EasyJet. After a little search online, I was sold on a Christmas weekend away in Switzerland.

The flights gave us from Friday evening until Monday afternoon to wander around this land-locked city, eat all the Swiss chocolate and drink all the mulled wine. A month or so before we were booked to fly I decided I couldn't put off booking a hotel any longer. I chose the Motel One which turned out to be a fantastic hotel in a great local at a very reasonable price.

Basel Switzerland Travel Guide 72 Hours European City Break
Basel Switzerland Travel Guide 72 Hours European City Break
Basel Switzerland Travel Guide 72 Hours European City Break
Basel Switzerland Travel Guide 72 Hours European City Break

Basel is beautiful. It's buildings are all pastel colours with windows that are all stunning in their own right, topped with deep red and brown tiled roofs. Everywhere you look makes you feel like you're in a fairytale land, especially at Christmas time when they go big on the twinkly lights. We did a lot of walking around the city as there aren't many major attractions, but the the main sights we took in whilst we were there were:

  • The Basel Minster. Taking a very narrow trip nearly all the way to the top (we're chickens), the Minster offered fantastic views of the area and was a perfect introduction to this sleepy city.
  • The Gate of Spalen. One of the last remaining gates from the city walls. Although not a very time-consuming activity, it's definitely worth a wander to see.
  • Tinguely Fountain. Not the best thing to see when its cold out, but this fountain has a lot of moving parts to look at.
  • The City Hall. This is such a stunning building that is perfectly kept and seriously made me wish I lived there.
Other attractions that we didn't visit included taking a trip over the river Rhine and lots of museums and art galleries.

Basel Switzerland Travel Guide 72 Hours European City Break
Basel Switzerland Travel Guide 72 Hours European City Break
Basel Switzerland Travel Guide 72 Hours European City Break
Basel Switzerland Travel Guide 72 Hours European City Break
Basel Switzerland Travel Guide 72 Hours European City Break
Basel Switzerland Travel Guide 72 Hours European City Break
Basel Switzerland Travel Guide 72 Hours European City Break

Of course being a food blogger, I couldn't go to Basel and not look for some nice places to eat. I was very excited when I arrived and realised that Switzerland was the home of Raclette, a cheese lovers dream. However over the weekend I didn't manage to try any. Although I was disappointed about this I did have some lovely meals and drank lots of Baileys hot chocolates. If you were going to Basel, I'd recommend these places for a meal:
  • Markthalle. This is a huge dome shaped building filled with lots of different street food stalls and plenty of seating to accompany it. Here you can literally travel the world without leaving the market, they have everything from Vietnamese, to Caribbean, Lebanese to Japanese. It may be the environmentalist inside me saying this but I love that here you can sit with a real plate and cutlery to enjoy your meal rather than disposables.
  • Latini. An fancy Italian restaurant a short walk from our hotel which served lovely pasta and risotto. 
  • El Mexicano. A lively Mexican restaurant set on a strip of shops and restaurants near the main Christmas market. Had some really nice food here on our first night which I'd recommend for a lazy tea.
  • Creperie Am Kohlenberg. This is a super cute little cafe that serves lots of different types of crepes. For a midday pick-me-up we both had a cup of tea and a Nutella crepe.
Of course whilst we were in Basel, the Christmas markets were on. They appear every year from 23rd November to the 23rd December. If you're going for the markets, you should definitely stay at Motel One as you literally step out of the hotel doors into the market. 

Basel Switzerland Travel Guide 72 Hours European City Break Christmas Market
Basel Switzerland Travel Guide 72 Hours European City Break Christmas Market
Basel Switzerland Travel Guide 72 Hours European City Break Christmas Market
Basel Switzerland Travel Guide 72 Hours European City Break Christmas Market
Basel Switzerland Travel Guide 72 Hours European City Break Christmas Market
Basel Switzerland Travel Guide 72 Hours European City Break Christmas Market
Basel Switzerland Travel Guide 72 Hours European City Break Christmas Market
Basel Switzerland Travel Guide 72 Hours European City Break Christmas Market
Basel Switzerland Travel Guide 72 Hours European City Break Christmas Market
Basel Switzerland Travel Guide 72 Hours European City Break Christmas Market
Basel Switzerland Travel Guide 72 Hours European City Break Christmas Market
Basel Switzerland Travel Guide 72 Hours European City Break Christmas Market



There are two Christmas markets in Basel, one in near the hotel, the other is a five minute walk away near the Minister. Both are full of traditional nick-nacks, candles, Christmas decorations, clothing and of courses there are food and drink stalls. The most common treats you could indulge in were mulled wine (literally you could smell it everywhere), Raclette and German sausages. 

There was plenty of chocolate, meats and bread to eat around the market so you defintely won't go hungry. Just a note on the market near the Minister, there is a fantastic little area dedicated to young people where they can try different trades and crafts, and this is where there are fantastic fires to sit around with your hot drinks.

Our trip was very quaint and relaxing. Basel is definitely not a busy bustling city, so don't plan a trip here if that is what you're expecting. If you're happy to wander the streets, sit in cafes and drink lots of mulled wine, this is certainly somewhere you will enjoy.

Where is the best European city you've visited for Christmas?

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Tuesday, 21 November 2017

New York (Day 4) - Coney Island, Brooklyn

I think most people who know a thing or two about America are familiar with Coney Island. The reason it made it on to our list to visit was because of Matt's love of the film The Warriors. To be honest, you probably haven't seen it. I've been in the room whilst it has been on, and still haven't watched it. 

Basically its a 1970's cult film about a group of gangs caught up in a shooting with one group getting blamed for it, The Warriors. They try to make their way home to Coney Island whilst being met along the way by the other gangs trying to turn them in to the police (it's on Netflix if you're curious).

Now you're caught up... the film actually has nothing much to do with Coney Island, but if you go you'll see The Warriors merchandise in most shops. As I said, this is the reason we were heading there for a day of fun. To get there from Manhattan you've got to take the subway which took us about an hour on the express from Times Square.

When we arrived I was instantly excited to start exploring. From the subway station you can see Nathan's Delicatessen selling their world famous hot dogs, the tips of numerous colourful rides and smell the sweet smell of fair food.

Coney Island, Brooklyn Nathan's Hot Dogs Travel Blog
Coney Island, Brooklyn Subway Station Travel Blog
Coney Island, Brooklyn Nathan's Hot Dogs Travel Blog
Coney Island, Brooklyn Luna Park Travel Blog
Coney Island, Brooklyn Graffiti Travel Blog
Coney Island, Brooklyn Deno's Wonder Wheel Park America Travel Blog
Coney Island, Brooklyn Boardwalk America Travel Blog
Coney Island, Brooklyn Boardwalk America Travel Blog
Coney Island, Brooklyn Deno's Wonder Wheel Park America Travel Blog
Coney Island, Brooklyn Deno's Wonder Wheel Park America Travel Blog
Coney Island, Brooklyn Deno's Wonder Wheel Park America Travel Blog
Coney Island, Brooklyn Nathan's Hot Dogs Travel Blog
Coney Island, Brooklyn Boardwalk America Travel Blog Food
Coney Island, Brooklyn Boardwalk America Travel Blog Funnel Cake

From the fantastic graffiti covering the walls, to the numerous rides all boasting different colours, everywhere you look in Coney Island is brightly coloured. Walking around the amusement parks and boardwalk is really exciting. There is a new and interesting thing to see or do around every corner. 

As it is one of, if not, the most famous landmarks in Coney Island, we had to take a ride on the Wonder Wheel. It's 150 feet tall and has 24 fully enclosed passenger cars with 16 of the cars able to slide and snake the wheel and another eight that are fixed. We of course chose the fixed as we're a little scared of heights. Once we were up there and saw what the swinging cars did, we were glad we picked the static. 

From up top you had an amazing panoramic view of not only the parks around you but further afield. In the distance you could even see the Manhattan skyline which was pretty special. After two goes round, it was time to get a famous Nathan's hot dog.

We walked the boardwalk, which made me feel super American, taking in the gorgeous beach and snapping up a funnel cake to try. As this one was already pre-cooked and just warmed for me, it wasn't that good. I'm not sure if eating it fresh would make it any better but it was just like a wiggly plain doughnut and I like more than that.

And just like that our time in Coney Island was up. We were really happy that we'd taken the time to visit this place and it makes you feel like you're getting a real American experience, or at least one you see on the movies.

Just wondering around Coney Island and its numerous parks will take a few hours, so the journey down on the subway is definitely worth it. Make sure you get an express train back as we made the mistake of getting a local and it took us another 30 minutes.

Next time you're in New York will you be taking the trip down?
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Sunday, 19 November 2017

New York (Days 2 & 3) - Heights, sights and songs

For the next couple of days in New York we took in a lot of the big sights. Catching glimpses of the breath-taking infamous skyline, walking miles and miles and seeing thousands of faces across the city.

For the best views we decided to visit Top of the Rock twice, in the daytime and at night, so we picked a pass that let us do just that and made the two trips fit into the rest of our day. We ventured across there first thing in the morning and absolutely melted at the top in the strong sun.

Whether you have visited twenty times or never before, the views don't cease to amaze you. The sheer size of Manhattan, the height you’re at and the hundreds of buildings all packed onto the one island can never fail to be beautiful.

Going up to the Rock is always an experience from entering the lobby to taking a trip in the lift to venture up to the top floor. At night time the city changes into a landscape that twinkles with the millions of lights across the city. It's a totally different atmosphere and it is a must see.

Top of the Rock Day and Night
Top of the Rock Day and Night
Top of the Rock Day and Night
Top of the Rock Day and Night
Top of the Rock Day and Night
Grand Central Terminal tourist New York
Grand Central Terminal tourist New York

During our second day, we also came across Grand Central Terminal. With so many films featuring this exquisite train station, you can’t help but stop by and have a nosy. Its a great stop for a couple of photos and if you're a candle lover, there is a Bath and Body Works a stone’s throw from the station.

The weather really held up for us in New York considering it was October. Throughout our stay it was pleasantly warm. We wore shorts everyday and were regularly filling up our water bottles. Our first stop on the third day had to be to take some time out in the gorgeous weather and stroll through Central Park. This was about a 20-30 minute walk from our hotel which wasn't bad at all. When we entered the park we started to walk towards the iconic boating lake. We chose not to take a boat out as we had much more to see, so we walked towards the nearest subway and hopped on a train to walk the Brooklyn Bridge.

Central Park tourist october new york
Central Park tourist october new york
Central Park tourist october new york
Brooklyn Bridge New York
Brooklyn Bridge New York
A Bronx Tale New York Theatre

The Brooklyn Bridge is actually really easy to find. It is quite near the bottom of Manhattan, where we'd been on our first day. We started to walk across the bridge and at first we didn't realise just how long it was. With the hustle and bustle of people and bikes to content with, we got to the first open area and then headed back knowing we had lots more to fit into our visit. It was great to see the bridge, and on another day we might have walked the length, but with a short stay in New York it wasn't to be. After we'd been to visit the 9/11 Memorial site, we took a subway back Uptown to get ready for the theatre.

We had booked our tickets to see A Bronx Tale direct at the theatre the day before which provided us with reasonable prices and a great view. The actual show was fantastic. I didn't know what to expect before I went into it as I hadn't heard of the story beforehand. It turned out to be a really interesting story with some great songs and lots of humour. Definitely one that will interest both men and women.

So with days 2 & 3 done, it was on to our last full day in NYC and we were off to Coney Island. That deserves a post of its own, coming soon...
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