5 great European road trips | The LDN Gal

5 great European road trips

Europe’s mix of open fields and rolling mountains make a perfect scenic backdrop for any road trip or holiday. From the stunning scenery, unforgettable nature or even vibrant nightlife, Europe will not disappoint.

I’ve teamed up with Compare and Choose to round up my top five European road trips.

Verdon Gorge circuit, Provence, France

Province boasts one of France’s deepest central gorges, the Gorges du Verdon, and a lot of care has gone into keeping it as beautiful as possible. The circuit takes just under two hours at full speed, but you can easily enjoy it at a more leisurely pace – from the quaint little town of Moustiers Sante Marie to the spectacular views of Balcons de la Mescala, this road is a constant stream of new sights and sounds that you’ll never get tired of!

There’s plenty of places to stop and take in the fantastic view from a distance, and if you’re hungry, there’s classic French food available from the many towns and businesses that you’ll find on your journey.

The Autobahns, Germany

Adrenaline seekers will flock to Germany’s famous Autobahns, the giant highways that let you cut loose and enjoy miles upon miles of raw speed! If you prefer to pace yourself, you can always slow down on the side lane and enjoy a long, smooth, hassle-free afternoon drive.

Most Autobahn roads are lined with trees, fields and small forests – nothing over-the-top or exotic, but enough to keep you relaxed and interested throughout the whole journey.

Plus, with so many places you can break away from the road, who knows where you’ll end up?

La Route des Grandes Alpes, France

Designed, constructed and maintained specifically for tourists, this road takes drivers through over fifteen mountain passes and four national parks, as well as some of the most scenic points in the French Alps. The gorgeous Geneva Lake provides a lovely backdrop to the fresh air and wide-open spaces of the mountain region.

There’s no need to rush – the easy turns and straight roads make the Alps easier to explore than ever, offering a new way to see some of the world’s most famous mountains from the comfort and warmth of your car.

Furka Pass, Switzerland

A Swiss Alps road that challenges even the most confident of drivers – more variety and fewer stretches of plain straight road mean that you’re always seeing something new with each new corner you turn or hill you pass. The beautiful grasslands and majestic mountains give you a view that’s definitely worth the effort.

Patience is a key part of any good road trip, and there’s almost nowhere it’ll pay off more than Furka Pass.

Transfăgărășan, Romania

The “Road to the Sky” takes drivers from the base of the mountain range to the highest peaks in all of Romania, always sticking to an easy-to-climb angle that even the most overloaded car could easily tackle! From a beautiful grassy valley to a spectacular mountain peak, the Transfăgărășan is the definition of variety and can last anywhere from a few hours to a whole day depending on how you want to pace your trip.

The intriguing wildlife and scenic pathways offered by the mountains’ off-road areas mean that you can easily stretch your legs, so there’s no need to confine yourself to your car all day – every good road trip needs a stop now and then, after all, and the Transfăgărășan is more than happy to oblige.

Which of these road trips would you take? Where is your favourite place in Europe?

Stephanie xox

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This post is in collaboration with Compare and Choose

A 20 something's guide to Budapest - Hungarian Parliament Building

A 20-something’s guide to Budapest: Top 10 things to do in Budapest

A city of beauty, culture and cheap eats, Budapest is simply on everyone’s European bucket list – and for good reason.

Celebrated as the “Paris of the East”, the winding Danube highlights the city’s beauty, separating Buda from Pest in a sea of twinkling lights by twilight, emulating the grandeur of its buildings and monuments that line its banks.

With a Budapest card in tow, it is time to explore this city and with your new card, all your public transport travel within Budapest is totally free!

The Hungarian Parliament Building, Budapest - A 20 something's guide to Budapest - The LDN Gal

The Hungarian Parliament building:

Renowned as one of the most iconic buildings in Budapest, The Hungarian Parliament building is a truly spectacular sight on the Pest side of the river and one that cannot be missed. You can venture inside and see its stunning interior and the Holy Crown of St. Stephen on an organised tour.

See it from the Fisherman’s Bastion on the Buda side at night for a truly enchanting view – and photograph to boot.

St Stephen's Church, Budapest - A 20 something's guide to Budapest - The LDN Gal St Stephen's Church interior, Budapest - A 20 something's guide to Budapest - The LDN Gal St Stephen's Church view, Budapest - A 20 something's guide to Budapest - The LDN Gal

St. Stephen’s Basilica:

St. Stephen’s Basilica is a truly magnificent Roman Catholic cathedral, named in the honour of the first King of Hungary.

Step inside this Neoclassical church and discover its gorgeous and grand interior and the mummified hand of St. Stephen himself (eek). Once done, ascend up to its cupola lookout for some fantastic panoramic views.

You can save 15% off your cupola lookout ticket with the Budapest card.

Szimpla Kert ruin bar exterior, Budapest- A 20 something's guide to Budapest - The LDN Gal

Szimpla Kert:

Allow yourself a cheeky evening treat and stop for a drink in one of Budapest’s famed ruin bars. Within seemingly disused buildings and overgrown outdoor spaces, these bars are housed within their remnants.

My favourite? Szimpla Kert. A quirky bar embellished with stolen literature, mismatched furnishings and years of memories, its ceilings littered paper. It has a cool vibe and offers a fantastic selection of drinks, food and even shisha. It can get busy, so head there early or during the week to soak up the interior and just unwind for a few hours.

House of Terror - A 20 something's guide to Budapest - The LDN Gal

House of Terror Museum:

Discover more about Budapest and its fascist and communist past at the House of Terror Museum. Here, you will learn more about the historical terror the tyrannic occupying forces made locals endure as you immerse yourself in the interactive exhibitions within.

This haunting building served as the former Nazi and Soviet headquarters and commemorates the victims of these regimes. Its basement, the former prison, emulates the horror faced by these victims at the time, who were tortured in its darkness.

Shoes on the Danube - A 20 something's guide to Budapest - The LDN GalChain Bridge at Night - A 20 something's guide to Budapest - The LDN Gal

Explore the Danube:

Regarded as one of the most beautiful rivers in Europe, the banks of the Danube are just asking to be explored. Be sure to take a cruise, be it in the day or at night, to soak up the architecture and beauty around you.

Once done, spare a moment by the haunting Shoes on the Danube memorial and pay your respects to the 20,000 lives cut short on the Danube banks under Ferenc Szalasi’s influence.

Be sure to cross the illuminated Chain Bridge at night, it offers a lovely evening stroll from Buda to Pest or vice-versa. With brazen lions standing to welcome you at each side, be sure to use it as a photostop.

Church Cave, Gellert Hill - A 20 something's guide to Budapest - The LDN Gal Gellert Hill, Budapest panorama - A 20 something's guide to Budapest - The LDN Gal Gellert Hill, Danube view - A 20 something's guide to Budapest - The LDN Gal

Gellért Hill:

For the best view in the city, take a leisurely stroll-come-hike up Gellért Hill. Once atop, you will see Budapest in all her magnificence with panoramic views. It is the perfect place for a shop-bought picnic beneath the grand statues of the Citadella.

As you make your way down, stop by the Gellért Hill cave church for a unique venture into a church within the hill – not an everyday attraction.

Hospital in the Rock, Castle Hill, Budapest - A 20 something's guide to Budapest - The LDN Gal Hospital in the Rock artifacts, Castle Hill, Budapest - A 20 something's guide to Budapest - The LDN Gal Hospital in the Rock mural, Castle Hill, Budapest - A 20 something's guide to Budapest - The LDN Gal

Hospital in the Rock: 

The Hospital in the Rock presents a turbulent and at times tragic wartime past, offering visitors a fantastic history lesson. Step back in time and discover this former hospital located within a cave system underneath Castle Hill.

Tours are given on the hour in numerous languages and offer an informative insight into the hospital and its fascinating WW2 and 1956 Revolution history, as well as touching on the nuclear disasters within Japan – I held back tears on more than one occassion.

You can save 30% off your ticket with the Budapest card.

Fisherman's Bastion - A 20 something's guide to Budapest - The LDN Gal Matthias Church, Budapest - A 20 something's guide to Budapest - The LDN Gal

Fisherman’s Bastion:

Fisherman’s Bastion is a dreamy structure sitting atop Castle Hill. This fairytale terrace sits in front of Matthias Church and close to Budapest castle.

It is free to wander around but if you desire to go up the ramparts to the upper lookout there is a small fee. From here, discover the picturesque and panoramic views of the Danube and Budapest cityscape.

You can save 10% off your ticket to the upper lookout with the Budapest card.

Holocaust Memorial Centre, Budapest- A 20 something's guide to Budapest - The LDN Gal

Holocaust Memorial Center:

Within the Holocaust Memorial Center you will discover that around 1/3rd of the people at Auschwitz-Birkenau were Hungarian. It is a shocking statistic and the interior of this memorial center emulates the shocking reality of the horrors faced by Hungarian citizens, Jews, Roma gypsies and homosexuals during this time. Its a harrowing and humbling experience, and one that simply cannot be missed.

You can save 10% off your ticket with the Budapest card.

Budapest zoo petting zoo - A 20 something's guide to Budapest - The LDN Gal

Budapest Zoo and Botanical Garden:

The Budapest Zoo is one of the oldest in Europe and rather strangely, located within the city centre. It has nearly 1,000 species of animals on display from across the globe and a lovely botanical garden to boot. The best part for most? An interactive petting zoo where you can stroke goats and deer.

You can save 25% off your ticket with the Budapest card.

Have you been to Budapest? Where would be your first stop?

Stephanie xox

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This post is in collaboration with Budapest card

Thorpe Park Fright Nights

Fright Nights at Thorpe Park review

I love theme parks. Actually, that is an understatement. I ADORE theme parks. There is nothing quite like being hurtled around loops and sheer drops that doesn’t make a great start to the day.

In the South of England, there is really only one place you want to spend Halloween being thrown about from rollercoaster to rollercoaster, and that is Thorpe Park.

Although lacking elaborate make up or a costume, I knew I was in for a spooky and fun day spending my Halloween at Fright Nights at Thorpe Park.

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So, what did I think of the Fright Nights at Thorpe Park experience?

Walking in, the park had evidently had a Halloween theme revamp, with ghoulish decor, low-lit lighting, smoke machines and live actors creeping in as dusk settled for the night.

In collaboartion with AMC The Walking Dead, Thorpe Park also featured two new scary mazes. Say hello to THE WALKING DEAD: Living Nightmare and THE WALKING DEAD: Sanctum.

Sanctum was a real treat, a creepy live action outdoor maze with a deep South twist. With accents haunting each twist and turn, the live actors certainly knew how to put a shiver down your spine.

Thorpe Park Fright Nights Sanctum MazeThorpe Park Fright Nights Saw Alive MazeThorpe Park Fright Nights The Big Top

In addition to the usual thrill ride and attractions, Fright Nights at Thorpe Park also welcomed four additional mazes and attractions to explore, including Saw Alive, The Big Top, Platform No. 15 and Containment.

It was certainly a worthwhile venture, with later closing times, the addition of new mazes and attractions and the haunted vibe taken into consideration. I would recommend a ticket for 2018 and I will probably return again myself. Do remember though, “the island changes after dark.”

Have you been to Fright Nights at Thorpe Park? How did you spend your Halloween this year? 

Stephanie xox

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This Fright Nights at Thorpe Park experience was exchanged for an honest review

The LDN Gal (@stephmulz) at The World of Beatrix Potter Attraction

The World Of Beatrix Potter Attraction review

Revisiting your childhood is always fun. Who doesn’t love memories of long summer days, adventures aplenty and a bookcase stacked with delicately illustrated books?

I have to be honest, Beatrix Potter was a dear friend of mine as a child. As soon as I could read, I inherited her entire collection, entranced by the little animals within her stories and their quirks. Like most children, Peter Rabbit held a special place in my heart.

When visiting the Lake District with my family, I could not resist The World of Beatrix Potter Attraction in Bowness-on-Windermere and it certainly did not disappoint.

Mr Tod and Jemima Puddle-Duck, The World of Beatrix Potter Attraction exterior

Entering the building, I must admit, I felt a tad peculiar when surrounded by a gaggle of toddlers, accompanied by worn out mothers with their buggies and rucksacks in tow.

Purchasing our tickets, we were led into a small theatre room and given a quick contextual review of Beatrix Potter, her character and treasured work. It was a nice little summary of the great author before entering the attraction.

Jemima Puddle-Duck statue, The World of Beatrix Potter Attraction garden

So, what is there to see and do inside The World of Beatrix Potter Attraction?

Once inside, we were placed within her incredible stories, with delicate displays featuring her characters alongside a host of interactive and interesting exhibits – there were photo opportunities aplenty.

The highlight of the attraction was the garden, which was particularly lovely and surrounded with wonderful flowers. Its centrepiece an imposing statue shrouded in characters with two children letting go off a seemingly disgruntled Jemima Puddle-Duck in mid-flight.

Mr McGregor's Garden, Peter Rabbit, The World of Beatrix Potter AttractionMr McGregor's Garden, Peter Rabbit, The World of Beatrix Potter Attraction

In one corner, stood McGregor’s own garden, warning people out with a tongue-in-cheek sign. It’s own centrepiece the baby blue coat and boots of Peter Rabbit hung on sticks, while the cheeky statue of Peter Rabbit knawing his stolen vegetables stood boldly beside.

Going through each story was wonderful and in the penultamite room of the attraction you are presented with another theatre, detailing Beatrix Potter’s life and dedication to the conservation of the Lake District – an area she protected with her wealth, donating a vast amount of land to the National Trust.

Peter Rabbit and family, The World of Beatrix Potter Attraction

As you leave, an imposing (and slightly terrifying in my opinion) aged waxwork statue of the author bids you farewell.

The adventure isn’t over yet though. Swinging by the packed gift shop you will soon be tempted in by the Beatrix Potter Tea Room downstairs. This themed cafe may not look like much initially but its quaint decor and high tea is simply incredible. If you haven’t guessed already, I am mildly obsessed with the quintessentially British tradition of afternoon and high tea.  

This high tea was nothing short of spectacular, with sandwiches made-to-order alongside a seasonal salad, complimented by a selection of homemade cakes and two gargantuan scones with clotted cream and delicious jam.

It’s safe to say, my parter and I devoured it. However, I must admit that my mother also assisted – she simply could not resist once she saw what was on offer.

Overall, The World of Beatrix Potter Attraction is a truly magical experience, allowing you to revisit childhood happiness and dine on a spectacular feast of fresh sandwiches and homemade cake – lets be honest, can you really think of a better day out than that?

What was your favourite Beatrix Potter book? Have you been to the Lake District?

Stephanie xox

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A view of Prague Castle from the Vltava River, Prague

Guide to Prague: A long weekend of pastel coloured views and terracotta roofs

Prague has always fascinated me – pretty buildings, cultural attractions, and an affordable price tag, what more could a girl want from a city break? With all that in mind, a weekend in this scenic city was definitely on the cards, and Prague was the next destination myself and my boyfriend had planned to visit in Europe. Here is a 20 something’s guide to Prague:

Prepped for a long weekend, our mini adventure would begin after a nights sleep in our okay-ish hotel. The Hotel Colosseum was well located to attractions and to be honest, pretty cheap – I am not overly snobby when it comes to hotels, I literally sleep there. 

Old Town, Prague:

Our hotel was less than five minutes from the celebrated Dancing House or ‘Fred and Ginger’ and this was to be our first stop. This deconstructivist style building features quirky architectural design and fascinates many in its place amongst a myriad of Baroque, Rococo and Renaissance buildings, to name a few architectural styles found within Prague. We gave the Dancing House a quick glance and raced towards the UNESCO-listed Old Town – naturally.

Church of Our Lady before Týn, Old Town, Prague

Church of Our Lady before Týn, Old Town, Prague

Stepping into the Old Town in Prague is very charming, lined with ornate buildings, street food vendors and the grand Church of Our Lady before Týn and of course, the wonderful Astronomical Clock. Embellished with cobbled streets, Gothic churches and its array of architectural styles, the whole city is very romantic – our favourite start to the day being coffee together in the square each morning.

Astronomical Clock, Prague:

What did we love most about the quaint Old Town and its buzzing square? It would have to be the famed Astronomical Clock. Be sure to await the hourly procession for a truly lovely show, with rhythmic chimes and animated figures – we managed to miss it about eight times during our stay before finally seeing it.

Astronomical Clock and Church of Our Lady before Týn, Old Town, Prague

Astronomical Clock and Church of Our Lady before Týn, Old Town, Prague

Another cultural delight that mesmerised was the exquisite Gothic Church of our Lady on Tyn, a grand building, which dominated the Old Town skyline, its interior almost as astounding as its exterior. This divine and ornate church dates back to the 14th century.

Letenské Sady Park, Prague:

However,  there is another church that dominates the Prague cityscape, and that is St. Vitus Cathedral, a beautiful church within the mighty walls of the Prague castle compound. Uphill, we made our way through the lush Letenské sady park to the castle – there is so much green space in Prague, it is truly fabulous. 

A view on the descent towards Prague Castle, Prague

A view on the descent towards Prague Castle, Prague

Once you have made your way to the top of Letenské sady , ensure to stop a moment and appreciate the wonderful view of the city beneath you, it is so picturesque, a sea of pastel houses, terracotta roofs, and trams, separated by the delicate and winding Vltava river – it is a little bit magical, to say the least. 

Prague castle, Prague:

As you enter, be sure to purchase a ticket for Prague Castle that includes all the attractions you desire to see. The handy thing about these tickets is they seemingly last two days, so no rushing around to catch everything in one visit before 4pm.

St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague Castle, Prague

St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague Castle, Prague

St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague:

For me, St. Vitus Cathedral was the focal point of the area, its dark exterior boldly contrasting against the smooth and light pastel walls surrounding it. Similar to all the other churches in Prague, the interior was sublime, truly beautiful for any fan of churches like myself.

Golden Lane, Prague:

After a rather disappointing venture into the castle’s interior, we had a bite to eat and wandered down towards Golden Lane, a collection of former and rather cosmopolitan looking homes of seamstresses, moviemakers, and herbalists that used to live within the castle grounds.

Golden Lane, Prague Castle, Prague

Golden Lane, Prague Castle, Prague

Charles Bridge, Prague:

While in Prague, be sure to sample some Czech delicacies by indulging in some delicious street food. Local treats include trdelník (essentially a spiralised pastry with delicious fillings), as well as famed sausages and hams. Saying this, we were tempted more so by the Hard Rock Cafe in Prague and had a wonderful Americanised meal. Whatever food you choose to carb overload on, be sure to make your way towards the exquisite Charles Bridge afterwards.

A view of Charles Bridge from the Vltava River, Prague

A view of Charles Bridge from the Vltava River, Prague

Malá Strana, Prague:

Strolling along the winding Vltava River it is almost impossible to miss the entrance to the grand Charles Bridge. It becomes an even more impressive affair as you cross it, adorned with religious statues along its ancient stone walls. The bridge connects the Old Town with the pastel coloured streets of the historic district of Malá Strana. It is like crossing into a fairytale, with many a wow moment.

The historic district of Malá Strana, Prague

The historic district of Malá Strana, Prague

John Lennon Wall, Prague:

The backstreets of Malá Strana are amazing to wander, as you step off Charles Bridge you will discover an array of food vendors, cosy riverside views and sweet lock bridges in abundance. An interesting stop in the area, is the John Lennon Wall, a graffiti shine to the late Beatles singer and songwriter, adorned with some peculiar quotes and imagery  – It makes for an interesting picture, to say the least. 

The vibrant John Lennon Wall, Prague

The vibrant John Lennon Wall, Prague

Petřín Hill, Prague:

Having already seen Prague Castle, we took the steep climb from Malá Strana, past the exquisite Baroque St. Nicholas Church, up to Petřín Hill to explore some more. There we discovered incredible views, old castle ruins and so many cute dogs we didn’t really want to leave. It really is nice to just step away from the city for a moment to stop and see it all. We decided against Petřín Tower, already having gained some incredible views from walking through the parks alone.

The view from Petřín Hill, Prague

The view from Petřín Hill, Prague

After all the walking and with a recommendation from a friend, we decided to celebrate one evening with a few quirky cocktails at AnonymouS Bar, a very tucked away establishment near the Old Town Square. This quirky bar sells some strong cocktails, doing so in a rather animated and exciting fashion – trust me on this one, try it out and try to get a glimpse of the secret menu.

After a whirlwind weekend, we had managed to walk about 30 miles (public transport really isn’t too necessary), see all the attractions we desired to and had a truly amazing time. I would recommend Prague to anyone and would be more than happy to give some advice if needed!

Have you been to Prague? Where is the next European destination on your travel list?

Stephanie xox

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Suitcase essentials for your next holiday

I recently got asked by Age UK on behalf of the Joe Blogs Network, what would my suitcase essentials be if I were to go on holiday.

As I am off to Australia for Christmas, this question could not have come at a better time, and it got me thinking (and far more excited) about what I will need to be taking.

Obviously, it is dependent on the holiday, are you going on a weekend city break? A week or two away somewhere sunny? Or are you venturing away for longer?

You have to think about the climate, what season is it going to be? Are you going to be sweltering or freezing?

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So, what do I need to take on holiday with me?

These are my (rather thorough and expansive) suitcase essentials this summer:

♥ All documentation – Passport (ensure that it is valid for the duration of your trip!), travel and insurance documentation, personal identification, visas, health insurance documentation/European Health Insurance Card (if travelling in Europe), driving license, student card (can come in handy for tourism attractions) and all relevant emergency numbers  (bank, travel insurance provider, contacts at home, etc.).

♥ Travel money – Currency of country, money for when you return home, debit and/or credit card (secure wallet to keep it all in).

♥ Clothing and accessories – Clothing (remember a jacket for the chilly evenings), underwear, tights, sleepwear, swimwear and accessories, specialist sporting clothing (if your off skiing for example) shoes (limit them, they are unnecessarily heavy), bags, belts, jewellery and watch.

♥ Sun protection – Sunscreen, after sun, sunglasses and insect repellent.

♥ Beauty essentials  – Makeup, makeup/wet wipes, nail varnish and nail file.

♥ Hair care essentials – Hairbrushes, shampoo, conditioner, hairbands, straighteners, curling tongs, tweezers, shaving gel and razors.

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♥ Personal care essentials – Toiletries (shower gel, body lotion, toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash) at 100ml if carried in hand luggage, antiperspirant, perfume, towels (often provided), female hygiene and sanitary products and any relevant prescription medication (painkillers are a must).

♥ Camera – For all your memories, remember to bring your chargers if needed and the relevant plug converters/travel adapters, batteries can come in handy too.

♥ Mobile phone – Bring your charger and relevant adapters and ensure it has credit or the relevant data and internet plans beforehand. Ensure to remember your headphones!

♥ Laptop – To keep a record of your adventures online, to update your blog and contact family members back home if you are going on longer ventures.

♥ Actual diary – Pack all relevant stationary too.

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Double check to ensure you are within your luggage allowance, baggage restrictions are very specific. Do keep some space for all the goodies you plan to bring home with you!

Keep your valuables in your hand luggage. Although it rarely happens, suitcases can go missing or get damaged in transit.

What do you always pack? Are you off anywhere nice this summer?

Stephanie xox