I am happy to announce that Blublazerguy is a finalist in the Lifestyle category for the UK Blog Awards 2019.
I would like to thank each and every one of my followers who voted and of course the judges at the UK Blog Awards for taking me through to the final.
I am constantly working on improving and developing the blog to make sure that I provide the best content for my fantastic followers and couldn’t do this without your continuations support and feedback.
I have worked with some amazing brands and companies in 2018 all of which I would like to thank you for not only your partnership but also your belief in my work.
I look forward to creating further exciting content in 2019 and once again thank you, I really do appreciate it.
Around three hours south of Miami is the spectacular Florida Keys. I travelled to the most southern island; Key West. Driving down through the keys is an experience in itself. You navigate along the narrow road and cross the infamous 7 mile bridge. I travelled by coach along the meandering road with water on each side, where I felt I was literally skimming over the blue ocean. Each Key that I passed had its own unique character. My only wish was that I was not confined by the restrictions of travelling by coach and had driven myself. This would have given me an opportunity to stop off at each place and explore. However, due to time constraints my main aim was to get to Key West as soon as possible. This certainly was a place that did not disappoint.
As soon as I arrived I had an immediate smile on my face as the place was like a little haven of nautical happiness. Each street was adorned with wooden clad, pastel coloured houses with gorgeous gardens with beautiful names to match. Every house felt like a home with a unique story and individual character.
It’s laid back vibe was infectious and charming with chickens walking aimlessly around and small coconut stands on street corners. Everywhere you turned you were greeted with colourful art work and majestic door ways.
Although I could have wandered its charismatic streets all day, due to time constraints, my friends and I took the Key West Trolley Tour. This tour gave personalised and detailed information on the history of Key West and where to find the best food and drink. You were able to hop and hop off from conveniently located stops all over Key West. You were always guaranteed to be greeted by a friendly and enthusiastic driver, who was also your tour guide. This friendly persona was echoed through the streets, where live music is often playing at the open bars. This open mindedness and culture of acceptance was seen in every local person I chatted with.
The old town was like stepping back in time; with old fashioned bars such as Whistle Bar and the infamous Sloppy Joe’s frequented by Ernest Hemingway. Donned with historical photographs and cultural references, Sloppy Joe’s told a tale of an America that I have only read about.
If Hemingway is of interest to you, you can also visit his house on the Southern coast of the Island. This unique visitor attraction was home to Hemingway from 1931 to 1939 and was one of the first houses on the island to be fitted with indoor plumbing, an upstairs bathroom and the first swimming pool in Key West. You may not be the only visitors in Hemingway’s house, as it is adorned with unique six toed cats. Yes, you read that correctly!
Visiting the Keys you cannot leave without trying their famous Key Lime Pie. This sweet and tangy dessert is all over the island but according to our tour guide, the best place to try it is Kermit Key Lime Pie. Sit outside in the gorgeous sun and observe the beautiful streets and houses as you taste this tantalising dessert. I must say it was the only time my friends and I were completely silent on this trip! It was as creamy and tasty as you would expect and I was tempted to have two or three slices at the same time.
Whilst I’m on the subject of food, I have to mention the delicious Conch Fritters and Coconut Shrimp. These delightful treats are sold in abundance here and are traditional to this island. If you like seafood, they are definitely worth trying as a snack or even for lunch with an additional selection of fresh seafood accompaniments.
Although it’s very touristy; being in the most Southern point of continental US, I had to stop off at the marker point to get my photograph. You will have to wait in a long queue of people however like any Brit that is used to queuing, this strikes up new conversations with others where you can share your experiences from people from round the globe. This is something you cannot leave the island without doing.
Everything in this area is called “the Southernmost…” so be sure to visit the Southernmost Beach. Albeit small, this wee suntrap is the perfect place to relax and grab a drink or food at the most Southern bar on the island.
Sadly my time in Key West had to end, however as our coach departed i was lucky to see the glorious sunset visible over the water. The majestic colours of the sinking sun truly took my breath away and was tranquil end to a lovely trip.
After another fun filled festival month, its hard to believe that its all over for yet another year. However, as the street entertainers say good bye and crowds disperse, please don’t think that Edinburgh and its surrounding areas have nothing more to offer. In fact this is the perfect time to visit the city, catch the last of the longer evenings and ‘better’ weather. Often, flights and accommodation are cheaper and of course it’s less busy, therefore you can enjoy the city at a more leisurely pace.
Edinburgh is a city full of culture, history and enjoyment! However, as I touched on in my previous post, if you ever want to prise yourself away from its captivating beauty, there are still many places you can visit that can equally enchant you. Within the space of an hour you can be walking along a soft sandy Scottish beaches, admiring the rugged Scottish coast, be surrounded by sprawling woods and rivers, and enjoy other bustling cities that Scotland has to offer.
Here are my recommendations if you want to enjoy a day or two away from the City of Edinburgh.
East Lothian – 26 Miles Away
Only a 45 minute car ride or 30 minutes by train, is the lovely coastal town of North Berwick. As you walk down to the sandy shores of the Firth of Forth, you feel like you’re in nautical heaven with rows of pastel coloured houses and the smell of fresh salty air.
On a lovely sunny day, enjoy a walk around the vast crescent golden sandy beach and listen to the waves lap against the rocks. You can’t help but feel envious of the houses that are perched over the sand that have this amazing outlook as their front garden.
Something else you can’t help but notice is the famous Bass rock that juts out of the water as if watching over this seaside town. This rock holds the world’s largest Gannet colony and without taking away from the beautiful image in your head, what gives the rock its white appearance is the birds toiletry habits.
You can learn more about the bird life in the area at the five star sea bird centre or stroll around the harbour and taste the delightful catch of the day at the popular lobster shack.
Peel yourself away from the beach and you can enjoy the surrounding streets, adorned with restaurants, pubs and shops. Don’t miss the chance to grab some fish and chips followed by some ice cream at the lovely Alanda’s Gelateria recently visited by Ewan McGregor. If you are anything like me, you should definitely take a visit to my favourite home ware store Time and Tide, with is abundantly filled with nautical inspired goodies.
Kingdom of Fife – 35 miles away
This tranquil village located in the Kingdom of Fife is only a one hour drive from the centre of Edinburgh. Perched on the side of Falkland Hill (that can be seen from Edinburgh’s shoreline) this little treasure is a must when visiting Scotland. Walking into its quaint village square you are bombarded with picturesque buildings filled with eating establishments, craft shops, a violin shop and pubs. On a lovely day you can sit outside, enjoy the peaceful surroundings and simply watch the world go by.
As you wander around its narrow streets you feel like you have stepped back in time and perhaps this was why it was used to film a few scenes for the popular series Outlander.
Also in this area is the beautiful 200 year old Renaissance style Falkland Palace, wander around the reconstructed rooms filled with gorgeous 17th century items or stroll around their tranquil gardens, home to the oldest Royal tennis court in Britain which was made for King James V.
Take a walk through the village and you will enter the expansive Falkland estate, 1900 hectares of woods, farmland and countryside. Follow the clearly marked path in either direction and you will eventually reach my favourite eating place: The Pillars of Hercules. This 100% organic vegetarian café feels like it has grown out of the ground itself. With its wooden structure nestled in the middle of fields and trees, it brings back a simplicity in life that is often lost these days. All the food sold here is grown around the area and freshly cooked on the day. On a gorgeous day you can sit outside on their rustic wooden tables within their strawberry fields and enjoy their delicious delights as you look out to vegetable patches and orchards. They also have a lovely organic food store and an area where you can purchase some of their very own, freshly grown flowers and herbs.
Spiced Orange Cake
Veg Burger and fresh juice
Afterwards, take a walk around the estate through gorgeous fern covered woods, visit a local studio where wooden furniture is made from the surrounding trees and enjoy the splendid views of the imposing Falkand Hill that provides a gorgeous backdrop to the village.
Glasgow City – 45 Miles Away
Only 45 mins by train or 1 hour by car; Glasgow is Scotland’s largest city. In comparison to Edinburgh, Glasgow excerpts a more cosmopolitan and industrial feel with grid like transport system and underground trains. Glasgow boasts to be the biggest retail hub outside London. Its main shopping areas are Buchanan street, Argyll street and Merchant City. Buchanan Street, with its wide exposed outlook is filled with the latest high street shops, high-end fashion stores and plentiful places to eat and drink.
The city is also famous for its music scene, so much so that it was named UNESCO city of music in 2008. With an abundance of music venues, you’re never too far from your favourite band or artists. On the outskirts of the city is the large indoor arena; The SSE Hydro, which attracts all the most famous musical talents and artists.
Don’t let its raw edge put you off, as Glasgow is home to some beautiful historic sites too. One that needs to be highlighted is the beautiful 1920’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. These are free to enter and house beautiful collections of art including Monet and Vincent van Gogh. It also holds a large collection of Natural history items, that are sure to keep you wandering this delightful building for hours on end.
This hidden treasure is only a 85 minutes drive from Edinburgh. Drive over the the impressive stone bridge to reach this picturesque town that straddles the side of the cascading River Tay. With a quaint main street filled with Scottish gift shops, hotels and places to eat and drink, a visit here is definitely worth it.
Wander around its beautiful Cathedral and it’s expansive grounds, where you can sit at the side of the river and enjoy the views of the delightful trees and the historic building itself.
Casually stroll around its small square and enjoy the lovely scented baskets of flowers that hang outside the historic little houses.
Of course you cant be in Dunkeld and not visit the impressive; Jeffreys Interiors. This amazing interior design shop is situated inside an old church and it’s a true pleasure for the senses. Filled with aromas of burning candles, perfect mood lighting and a display of the latest high quality interior products, you wont want to leave.
A walk from Dunkeld is the awe inspiring woodland called The Hermitage. Walking through this expanse of green, vibrant forest brings a sense of calm as you as follow a carefully marked trail. The trees tower above you and eventually open up to a beautiful arched stone bridge and Follie looking over a bubbling, rushing waterfall washing away all of your stresses are cares.
Perthshire – 69 Miles
Pitlochry is known as the gateway to the Scottish Highlands and even though it has grown in popularity it still hasn’t lost its charm. Being only 90 Minutes drive from Edinburgh or a 120 By train, Pitlochry has a lot to offer. As you enter the town you will be greeted by the darkened building of the Bells Whisky Distillery, continue driving and you will pass through the historic main street, which is adorned with food and drink establishments, craft shops and of course, stores packed with Scottish products made locally.
Take a walk around the majestic Loch Faskally, which on a clear calm day, acts as a mirror that reflects the surrounding forests. Stroll over the dam, where at the right time of year, you can watch salmon pass through the famous fish ladder created to allow them to reach the upper parts of the river in order to spawn. If you fancy a treat, why not climb the stairs from the Loch and visit the beautiful five star Fonab Castle. Enjoy a cocktail or two in the lounge looking over the Loch. You could even splash out and have a flavour filled afternoon tea or meal at its established restaurant.
If you are visiting by car be sure to explore the surrounding areas of Blair Athol. Here you can visit a beautiful historic castle and perhaps have a spot of lunch at the Watermill & Tea Rooms; where they grind all their own flour to bake with.
Further afield is the breathtaking Bruar Falls, where you can walk a beautiful forest covered trail and view the gorgeous falls cascading down from the hills above.
If you are staying longer and feeling a tad more adventurous why not climb the local mountain Ben Vrackie. Covered in true Scottish heather, this beautiful rugged walk provides rivers, waterfalls, wildlife and views to die for.
Of course these are only a few of the places you can visit from Edinburgh, we are lucky enough to be bang in the centre of many beautiful spots. If you are unable to drive or take the bus and train there are some tour companies in Edinburgh that can take you to some of the places I have mentioned, these can be found here.
As a child, visiting Edinburgh was like a mini magical adventure. I can still remember the excitement from getting on the train and crossing the grand Forth Rail Bridge. The best part was when the train would slowly approach Waverley Station and I was able to look up at the imposing and dramatic Castle. It’s comes as no surprise that as an adult I decided to move to the city. Since moving, I have now been here for twelve years and Edinburgh still holds that certain magic for me. Its typical that when living and working in any city, you get used to the sights, your daily work takes over and you sometimes forget the beauty that surrounds you. However, Edinburgh has a mystical charm that when you start to forget its beauty and its surroundings become mundane, in some unsuspecting way it pulls you back in and reminds you of why you love it so much.
Okay, it’s not a secret that our weather is not known to be the best however with each day, comes an unpredictable work of art. Sometimes, when the sun is shining and the sky is blue, the normally grey buildings are transformed and illuminated into a multitude of hues, surrounded by a backdrop of deep green trees and gardens. The city truly comes alive with tourists and locals alike. In August, the Edinburgh festival invites people from all over the world, descending to enjoy the charms that Edinburgh can offer. As winter approaches, the low sun creeps behind the numerous cathedrals creating amazing shadows and silhouettes. The rusty orange glow from fallen leaves blow through the streets. Sometimes the mischievous haar (sea mist) that slowly ebbs its way up from the coast masking the city, creates a haunting mist around the towering clock tower of The Balmoral Hotel. The only thing I don’t enjoy is the occasional wind that confusingly whips around from all directions An umbrella being completely useless when rain is added to the equation, but then again, this has its own beauty (although the locals would disagree). As is the way with Scottish weather, of the above could actually happen on one day therefore its important to be well prepared!
Although a city, Edinburgh has areas where you feel like you are in a completely different environment. There are little pockets of relief from the noise and bustle of the city centre. Being relatively small you can get to these compartments of beauty in a reasonably short time and they are of course all free of charge.
Below I give you my #high5 of my favourite places to enjoy a more relaxed and tranquil side to Edinburgh. For me these are preferably enjoyed when the weather is nice but due to Edinburgh’s unpredictability, remember to be prepared for all types of weather; rain or shine.
#Water of Leith
This walk is best done when it’s a nice sunny day. I often venture here on a lazy Sunday. The water of Leith stretches for miles through Edinburgh but my favourite part starts from the Cannonmills area. Grab some breakfast at the lovely Earthy’s, selling a whole range of wholesome foods. Follow the signs to the water of Leith and start your walk through this meandering path, through the leafy woods.
After a short time you end up in the beautiful area of Stockbridge. On a Sunday, you can experience the Stockbridge Market showcasing some of the produce from local shops and farms. It’s a great place to sample some of Edinburgh’s finest food products. You should grab a takeaway coffee, and some nibbles then start your next leg of the water of Leith. Pass the beautiful statue of Hygeia and twisting under the imposing arches of Dean Bridge you will enter Dean Village. Here It feels like you have travelled back in time and the beautiful Well Court which was built for local mill workers in the 1880’s provides a Harry Potter style feel to the place. It is sure to cast a spell over you.
Once you can peel your eyes of this quaint little area, continue following the river through the green lush woods and you will then reach Dean Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art. If it’s a lovely day try and grab a seat at the back of the Gallery of Modern Art for a bite to eat. If you have brought your own, you can picnic in the middle of a piece of art in itself on the gallery’s lawn. This stepped serpentine mound twists around crescent shaped pools of water. #Arthur’s Seat
As a dramatic backdrop to the city you can’t help but notice Arthur’s seat. This large natural monument jutting from the landscape provides sweeping views of the city.
A short walk from the city centre and down the historic Royal Mile, passing the Scottish Parliament and Holyrood Palace you approach this commanding piece of land. As you trek up its steep incline the sounds of the city begin to drop away and you feel like you have been transported to some uninhabited wild landscape. Circling around this beautiful crag brings amazing sights for the eyes. On one side a far-reaching view of the city and on the other a view of the vast Firth of Forth.
Once you reach it’s summit, you are filled with a satisfying feeling of achievement. You can’t help but sit, feel the fresh air on your face and revel in the cities beauty and colours. Trailing down the other side, the city fades from view and the gorgeous colours of grass, heather, thistles and wild plants dance in the breeze.
As you reach the bottom enjoy a fantastic picture opportunity from ruins of St Anthony’s Chapel, looking over St Margarets Loch, Holyrood Park and of course the Queens official residence; Holyrood Palace.
#The Royal Botanic Gardens
Hidden out of view from the main street of Inverleith Row, this garden oasis is an amazing rest bite from the droves of crowds in the city centre. With protection all round by beautiful trees and plants it makes an amazing sun trap, perfect to sit and read a book, eat a picnic or simply stroll around. In summer the garden is bursting with colours and fragrances from an array of different flowers and its peaceful interior provides a perfect illusion as if there were no city out with its borders.
From the city centre it can be reached in 15 minutes by bus or if you want take a slow walk (its all downhill) you will be sure to be treated to a few lovely sights of the beautiful Georgian architecture of the New Town area.
From the lovely Chinese hillside walk, to the delicate rock gardens there is something for everyone here.
My favourite has to be the woodland garden, where plants are left to grow wild and birds sing from the dense green leaves above.
Another beautiful site is the gardens Victorian Palm House which was built in 1832. This beautiful piece of glass architecture stands proud yet fits perfectly within the gardens and houses a beautiful array of palms and exotic plants and flowers. No wonder this garden was frequented by the Queen Mother. On a rainy day, you are able sit in for some warmth and listen to the rain tap against the glass roof.
As you leave Edinburgh Botanic Gardens from its main entrance, make sure you head over the road to Inverleith Park. This green expanse is perfect for families, fitness fanatics, runners and dog walkers. It also provides a sweeping view of the city and castle; a great view point for Edinburgh’s New Year fireworks display.
Near the shore of the city is this little hidden gem. It’s much smaller compared to Edinburgh’s iconic castle, however offers a beautiful historic building and lovely serene gardens.
As you walk around this beautiful 16th century building you are welcomed with a surprising sweeping view of the Firth of Forth and Cramond Island. Have a walk around the expansive lawn where in the summer, croquet is being played.
Take a minute and sit on the bench looking out to an amazing view of fields and the dramatic coast.
Within the grounds there is a peaceful and serene walled Japanese garden filled with willow trees, ponds and trickling waterfalls. #Cramond
If you fancy a trip to the coast then this is sure to float your boat. Feel the fresh sea air on your face and take a walk along the wide Granton promenade often used by dog walkers, cyclists and runners. As you walk along, soak in the beautiful sights of the Firth of Forth and the Kingdom of Fife that straddles the other side of the water.
You will walk past the iconic 8 tonne fish sculpture carved from pink granite and eventually come to Cramond beach.
When the tide is low the golden sands stretch out for miles and the small Cramond Island can be reached. This small tidal island is 1.6km out into the water and can be reached by a causeway during low tide, but be sure to check your times as you don’t want to be stranded.
In summer this beach is perfect for spotting some beautiful Scottish sunsets.
Also in this area is the quaint little village of Cramond that lies at the mouth of the River Almond. Wander around the areas charming little buildings, watch the small fishing boats sway in their docks or take a walk up the meandering River Almond, whatever you choose to do, you’re sure to be captivated by this hidden little corner of Edinburgh.
It’s that time of year again where Edinburgh’s annual Foodies Festival hits Inverleith Park from the 5th to 7th August.
There will be lots going on in this very popular festival and tickets are sure to sell out fast. From Cake and Bake Theatre, Street Food Avenue, Vintage Tea Tent and an abundance of food and beverage stands your sure to fill all your culinary needs all in one place. There will be a few returning chef’s to the venue such as the amazing Brian Grigor, who I interviewed in my Christmas Foodies Festival Post and Master Chef Finalist Tony Rodd who I met at the last festival.
I have a pair of tickets to give away for this popular event. In order to win, all you have to do is
– follow my Instagram ‘Scottjmcglashan’ and Twitter @ScottE2hotE
– Paste and share the following on Twitter: check out @ScottE2hote blog post and competition http://wp.me/p6taVJ-oZ
Do you ever close your eyes and imagine transporting yourself somewhere amazing, that’s how I feel when I think of Turkey. I have been travelling to Turkey for over 10 years and each year I see something new, experience something better and come home with memories to cherish forever. I have seen places transform as tourism has grown and I have gained amazing friends all of whom I still keep in touch with today.
My most recent venture was to the sunny, pine clad mountainous region of the turquoise coast, called this because of the amazing blue coloured sea that laps up against the beautiful coves and beaches in this area. I wanted a place where I could relax and be transported away yet still within easy reach of the hustle and bustle if I wanted to go there. I chose a village called Ovacik which nestles in the mountains between the two main tourist resorts of Hisaronu and Olu Deniz and also near the traditional Turkish town of Fethiye. My chosen accommodation was the all inclusive Hotel Greenland which was located in a secluded area at the base of the Babadag mountain surrounded by green beautiful pine forests and nature. The hotel gardens were like a little slice of paradise with hammocks swaying under the trees, chickens and turtles running around and the sound of birds all around.
Exterior of Hotel
View from the upgraded hotel room
Hammocks in the Garden
A short bus ride through the mountains we arrived at Olu Deniz. This beach is a protected beach by UNESCO and is one of the most photographed beaches in Turkey and I can understand why. The scenery is simply breath taking and the sparkling blue water is like something from a movie.
Olu Deniz Beach
Me and my lovely gran
Olu Deniz Beach
This beach is famous for its paragliding and you can watch countless people jump from the mountains around and land safely onto the sand. We were lucky enough to try this and the views were out of this world especially the aerial view of the famous blue lagoon.
The atmosphere around Olu Deniz is lovely and relaxing and there are many shops, cafes, restaurants and bars to satisfy your every need. I especially loved visiting the cafes for a dark syrupy Turkish coffee during the day to keep me going as I was so laid back with the relaxing aura of the place. This was served with traditional Turkish Delight which you can find all around this area. Of course I never strayed to far away from the warmth of the beach and its lovely white sands.
I first travelled to Fethiye over 10 years ago when tourism hadn’t yet taken its grip and I absolutely fell in love with the place. This bustling town doesn’t look anything from the outside but once you get in it captivates you with its maze of streets and underlying energy. Fethiye has changed over the years and has certainly got busier due to its growing popularity, however due to its restrictions on high rise buildings its overall look hasn’t been destroyed by the influx of tourists. I love this place because of its location, surrounded by pine clad mountains and the impressive Amintas Rock tombs that hang on the cliff tops above the town and can be seen from various viewpoints. The old town is filled with shops with leather goods, perfumes and spices and a great place to stop of for a drink and shisha and absorb the call to prayer that echoes around the town. Not so far from there is the beautiful harbour, where a mass off boats and yachts of all different sizes wait to whisk you off to the nearest island or beach. There is a huge array of restaurants here where you can try out the fresh local fish and at night it is wonderful for a walk as the cool breeze laps against the coast and gently rocks the boats back and forth.
There are many trips available to places from Ovacik and I would highly recommend Dalyan. Dalyan is a small town located along the banks of the Dalyan Cayi River. Here you can take a small boat which navigates and meanders around the natural reefs that grow from this amazing river. You are transported to a natures paradise here and you simply sit back and watch the world go by.
As you sail along you aren’t prepared for the sights that await you…high above the flowing river a historical treat appears, the Lycian Tombs. These tombs have been carved out the cliff sides and are believed to be as old as 400 bc.
While continuing along the river you are yet again bombarded with further magical images. These now come in the form on Turtles. The famous and protected Iztuzu Beach is located at the end of the river. It is here where the loggerhead turtles lay there eggs. Of course during the day they have managed to separate the turtles from the beach so that us tourists can enjoy the wonders of this area, it is no wonder why they chose this beach. Fresh water on one side and salt on the other it is a strip of beautiful sand which is so unspoilt.
We were then whisked away ready to meet the famous residents of the area. We were taken by boat to the local fishermen who took it in turn to throw pieces of crab into the water. To our amazement the famous turtles appeared from the depths. It was a sight that will remain in my memory forever.
While here I recommend tasting the local blue crab, this is caught and cooked in front of your eyes and with a twist of lemon, the taste is to die for.
While driving towards the Saklikent canyon yet another historical sight awaits you, this is the oldest and largest Lycian settlement called Tlos. To wander through something this old is out of this world and it has a very strange but captivating energy. There are ruins of tombs, amphitheatres and castles and it is a must see for the tourist who is interested in anything historical.
Near this historic site you can also stop of at yakapark, a place where you can enjoy the natural waterfalls, fresh fish and even try your hand at trout tickling.
Another great trip is to visit the Saklikent Canyon. This canyon is an impressive 300 metres deep and 18km long. It can only be accessed in the summer months when the water levels have gone down. Here we crossed a very very cold river in order to walk inside of the canyon which was an amazing experience and although we didn’t venture along the 18km’s even just what we saw at the entrance was a wonderful sight.
It is a must for any adventurous person when visiting this area to try the white water rafting down the amazing river rapids. For me who usually doesn’t do anything like this, it was one of the biggest highlights of my trip. The water is very shallow and therefore is okay for the non-swimmer among you. You are seated in an individual dingy and pushed out into the river and for 3km’s you glide down the river through the spectacular scenery.
After a very adventurous day you can then head to the nearby natural mud baths, which apparently make you look thirty years younger! (do not all rush at once).
As previously stated I have visited many parts of Turkey and the Turquoise coast is definitely my favourite. It has everything from history, nature, clubbing, beaches and more to satisfy any kind of traveller. The people are wonderful and are not pushy unlike other places in Turkey that I have been too. When you step foot in this country and feel the warmth of its sun, see the green of the pine trees that invade the surrounding mountains and hear the haunting sounds of the mosque call to prayer you will undoubtedly know why I am so hooked on this place and why you will also never forget your Turkish Delight.
When you say Malaga city it isn’t somewhere that you would immediately plan to visit. Usually for us in the UK, Malaga is somewhere to fly into so we can be transferred to one of the numerous resorts along its coast. So on my first visit to this city I was truly surprised by its charm and authenticity and surprisingly no English breakfasts in sight and hardly any British tourists. Only a short journey away from coastal resorts such as Fuengirola, Benalmadena and Marbella and a few hours from large cities such as Granada and Seville this city is a great base for anyone wishing to visit the region of Andalusia.
We decided to stay in a traditional Andalusian house in an area called Ciudad Jardin, meaning Garden City it is a lovely, leafy and quiet neighbourhood full of palm trees, orange trees and white tiled houses. The house contained a small garden and as you approached the property the sweet smell of jasmine cascading over the wall filled your nostrils. The living space was over two tiers with the living/dining area, twin bedroom and bathroom on the bottom floor and a double bedroom on the top overlooking the ground floor from a mezzanine. Although small it was perfectly formed, very quirky and its beautiful tall windows allowed light to pour in throughout the day. Close by there was direct access to the city centre by bus or as I preferred a twenty minute stroll into the centre of town which allows you to take in the sights of all the surrounding area.
On the corner of the beautiful Calle Granada is the historic Café Madrid. Opened in 1892 this establishment was a gathering for writers, journalists and very important people throughout Malaga and is renowned for its Coffee, chocolate and Churros. Today it still sits in its familiar setting and attracts everyone from all walks of life. As I walked into its entrance the first thing I could smell was the sweet aura of chocolate. The place was full of people laughing and talking, the white shirted waiters rushing around the maze of tiny wooden tables carefully balancing everything on their small circular trays. Considering the place was full, our chocolate and Churros arrived in no time. The chocolate was thick, sweet and creamy and the churros deliciously warm and crispy. Dipping them into the velvety dark mixture was all part of the experience but the taste was even better. A true recommendation for some traditional sweet treats in Malaga City.
Established in 1890 this simple yet inviting establishment is the place to visit if you wish to experience the regions beautiful smooth ice cream (Helado) and the traditional Turron. Casa Mira isn’t a fancy place the floors are white marble, the tables stainless steel and walls of mirrors but its cool interior is welcoming from the warmth outdoors. As you arrive you are greeted with a menu with a huge array of flavours to choose from. I must admit I was here on a daily basis and the woman began to know our faces and always greeted us with a smile. Its one thing I don’t eat at home so trying lots of different flavours was fun. Hazelnut, Leche Merengada, Bounty, Pistachio, Toasted caramel, turron, blanco y negro the list goes on! My ultimate favorite is Leche Merengada! I first tasted this in a drink form in Salobrena a small town on the Costa Tropicale, I got so addicted to it I often tried to replicate it at home. It’s a simple yet tasty treat consisting of cream, merengue (in its soft form), cinnamon and lemon. You can experience it as a drink or as an ice cream and both are delightful as each other.
When you see the word hostel you don’t automatically think of cool funky rooms and a contemporary roof top bar. The Alcazaba Premium Hostel is a four story building in the historic centre. As you enter the hostel you are greeted with a very friendly receptionist behind an ultra-modern desk. The lift takes you to the very top floor and when the doors open you are transported to a sleek swanky roof top terrace. The white furniture and the wood and glass floor is illuminated with ultra violet light. The terrace is surrounded by a glass barrier so that the view aren’t interrupted, from the back drop of the Alcazaba to the marina and its London eye style wheel over to the historic centre there are certainly worst places to have a drink. The vibe is cool and laid back and the bar sells an array of fantastic cocktails at affordable prices, a large mojito being only 7 Euros and they didn’t skimp on the alcohol as they do here in the uk. I had a snoop around this little hostel and it was very sleek and individual with small nooks and crannies, a glass lift with artwork rolling past as it moved, a great looking restaurant and fantastically clean it would definitely be somewhere I would consider staying in the future.
This fortress palace located high above Malaga city centre can be seen from all around the city and its vantage point reminded me of the castle here in the city of Edinburgh. Alcazaba whose name in Arabic means citadel, is one of Malaga’s most visited sights because of its history and beauty.
If you are unable to climb the steep path towards this beautiful fortress there is the option of a lift which on a very hot day can be a godsend. However a climb or descent on this path is must to see the numerous gardens, architecture and fountains along the way.
When you reach the top you are greeted by a spectacular construction and mixture of Roman, Arab and Renaissance architecture all within a small distance of each other and the views out the city and fantastic. The building is adorned with an array of different military components and you can’t help but see why it is situated in such a location, perfect to defend from any side of the city.
It is a perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city below. A small piece of paradise contained within historical walls, full of interesting rooms and areas, palm trees filled with chirping green coloured parakeets and trickling, soothing water fountains.
A short walk from the historic city centre is the beautiful beach called La Malagueta. Although this is a man-made beach it doesn’t disappoint. Its huge expanse of golden sand stretches out and is not over crowded by a swarm of tourists which is often the case in this part of Spain. Scattered along the beach is a few informal café’s and restaurants where you can take shade from the sun and eat or drink as the soft sea breeze caresses your skin.
Close by you can see the fishing area and lazily watch fisherman untangle there nets as the sun twinkles on the water’s surface. If laying on the beach isn’t your thing you can take a walk to the beautiful marina which has an array of upmarket shops, gelateria’s and bars or you can visit the famous Pompideu museum.
Malaga, In the beautiful words of Vicente Aleixandre,
‘My eyes always see you, the city of my seabound days.
Perched on a majestic mountain, barely standing still