THE 5-MINUTE TRIP PLANNER: A weekend in Berlin

Berlin is a great city. At some point I should really stay there for a couple of weeks, but so far I’ve only been for short breaks.

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Aside from the main highlights, it’s a great place to wander around and explore all the different neighbourhoods.

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I really want to go back!

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  • Go: The flight from London only takes two hours, so go after work to make the most of the weekend.
  • Stay: Schoenhouse Aparments is great – large flats in a great location, highly recommended!
  • Eat: Brunch is massive in Berlin. You’ll be completely spoilt for choice around Prenzlauer Berg, a lovely neighbourhood to explore on a lazy Sunday morning.
  • Do: Don’t miss highlights like the Brandenburg Gate and Checkpoint Charlie, as seeing these up close gives you great insight on recent German history. But also make sure to spend some time just wandering around – Berlin is full of hidden gems and you don’t want to miss that!

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The 5-minute trip planner: Planning a short trip in no time

THE CLOUDSPOTTER’S GUIDE: Take this book with you next time you’re on a plane

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Once I was on a plane, at a window seat in one of those planes with two rows of three seats. The middle seat was empty, but there was a men in the aisle.

He turned to me and asked if it was okay if he moved to the middle seat, showing me his camera. I understood it was his first time on a plane and he wanted to take pictures out of the window.

So I said he could take my place instead, and he happily obliged.


Seeing the world from up high always gives you a different perspective. It also sometimes adds one of those ‘wow’ moments to a trip: being face-to-face with the Julian Alps before landing in Ljubljana, or the amazing sunrise on the plane back from Iceland… you don’t often get to see things like that.

So after noticing it in bookshops a few times, I finally bought a copy of The Cloudspotter’s Guide, by Gavin Prettor-Pinney.

This is a lovely book about, well, clouds. Despite the name though, it is less of a guide and more about looking at and appreciating clouds (the author is the founder of the Cloud Appreciation Society).

And it is the perfect companion for a plane journey, as you can look outside and understand a bit more about all the different cloud shapes and textures.


Just don’t forget to book a window seat!

WISHLIST: 3 amazing and unusual stays

I usually book my holidays thinking about all the things I’m going to see and do. But sometimes hotels can be destinations in their own right. Here are three amazing stays that I would love to visit!


Photo by Living Architecture

This place is part of Alain de Botton’s project Living Architecture. It looks absolutely amazing – who wouldn’t love to spend a few days in a floating silver barn with a swing right underneath it?


Photo by Cappadocia Cave Suites

Turkey has been on my wishlist before – there’s just so much to see and do there. Staying in a luxury cave hotel where you can watch hot air balloons go by? Count me in!


Photo by Cabane dans les Arbres

Well, this is a bit more than a tree house: it’s a tree house modelled after a French château. Perfect for a romantic getaway, as you can relax sipping French wine in the hot tub.


2014 TRAVELLING: The year in review


This was another year full of travelling! Here’s how it went:

  • Our first trip was not until March, when we went to Berlin with friends. It was my third time there, but I still want to go back!
  • We then embarked on our Eastern European adventure: we started off in Croatia, went to Montenegro for a day trip, took the bus to Mostar and Sarajevo in Bosnia and ended up bar-hopping in Serbia.
  • In May I hopped on the train at King’s Cross and went to visit my friend in Edinburgh.
  • Then we crossed the Atlantic and spent two weeks in Brazil: we flew into Manaus, swam with river dolphins, stayed in a jungle hotel and finished it off watching the World Cup live!
  • We saw the athletics at the Commonwealth Games: the best bit was Usain Bolt being right in front of us!
  • I finally went to Amsterdam and enjoyed all the highlights of the Rijksmuseum.
  • We had an amazing time in Prague: beautiful, relaxing and scenic.
  • I chased rainbows with my friends around Geneva.
  • We drank Belgian beers and took a boat trip in Bruges.
  • In September we had an amazing adventure through Jordan: we drove through the King’s Highway, explored Petra, slept in the desert, floated in the Dead Sea, and saw mosaics in Madaba. This is definitely one to remember!
  • I went back to Marrakech and got lost in the souks again. It’s amazing every single time.
  • In November I went to Bangladesh for work – I never thought I’d go there!


Twelve trips and thirteen countries – not bad!

A WEEK IN BANGLADESH: River journeys and rickshaws


I visited Bangladesh with work. I didn’t know much about the country before going there, so I was looking forward to learning more.


Dhaka, the capital city, has the craziest traffic I’ve ever seen. You can stay hours stuck in the same place, among rickshaws, crowded buses, and even elephants!


The city is completely overcrowded, a sea of people wherever you look. People-watching (and being watched) was great fun though.


Bangladesh doesn’t have many tourist attractions, but I visited a few local highlights in Dhaka: the Pink Palace (Ahsan Manzil) and the Lalbagh Fort. Both were nice, but not remarkable.



I visited Habiganj, a district in the north-east of the country. Although it’s a remote area, there are people everywhere you look: Bangladesh is quite a small country, but 170 million people live there.


Travelling through the Bangladeshi countryside I saw a completely different area of the country: rice and tea plantations, and local communities whose lives revolve around the local rivers, which they use to fish, to bathe, for transportation, for leisure…


It is a beautiful country, and people there were absolutely amazing, but it was also quite harsh. I’m really happy I got the opportunity to visit Bangladesh, as it’s not a destination that I would have chosen otherwise.



A Golden Age is a great book to learn about the recent history of Bangladesh. It is the first part of a trilogy, and it’s set around the country’s independence in 1971.



Portugal is mostly popular with the British because of its beaches, but Lisbon is a great place for a city break.


There is a lot to see and do, from cultural attractions to a vibrant nightlife.


And because of the mild weather, it’s a good place to visit for most of the year.



  • Go: Easyjet normally offers the best prices, and you can go after work on a Friday to make the most of the weekend.
  • Stay: Lisbon has good options for accommodation at better prices than most European capitals. My recommendation is Artbeat rooms, an artsy hostel where each room is dedicated to an artist. They have the best recommendations of places to go, and it’s centrally located.
  • Do: Visit the Monument to the Discoveries and follow it by Jeronimos Monastery – it’s a great overview of the age of exploration and Portuguese history. Then recharge with a cup of coffee and a couple of custard tarts at the place where they were first made.
  • Drink: Stop at one (or a few) of the many bars and restaurants around Chiado and Bairro Alto. There are always new places to go for a glass of local green wine!


The 5-minute trip planner: Planning a short trip in no time.

TRAVELLING LIGHT: 4 tips on hassle-free packing

I rarely check any luggage these days as it takes so much longer to get everything sorted at the airport. Even if I’m travelling for one week, I might still only take my backpack.

Here are some of my tips on how to pack effectively:

1. Make a list

My packing list evolved over time, and nowadays it includes the main things I might forget, like phone chargers and adaptors.

But if you don’t want to come up with your own, there are lots of packing lists around – this one from Knock Knock is my favourite. Not only does it have everything you may want to take on a trip, but they also made it into a notebook:

Image from pinterest

2. If you’re not sure you will need it, you definitely won’t

There are very few things that you really need to remember to take with you (passport and credit cards are probably the only two essential items on my list). Most things are available to buy wherever you are going.

If you’re unsure whether you need an extra pair of trousers, don’t take it with you. If you really need something, you can always buy it at your destination. Remember, anything you pack you will have to carry around.

3. Have a ‘travel uniform’

It helps if you all the clothes you are taking on a trip go together – jeans and a t-shirt are my travel uniform, so I don’t need to worry about making everything match.

If you’re taking a fancy outfit or something like that, make sure it’s small. Rolling up a dress and a pair of flat shoes doesn’t take much space and sorts you out if you need it.

4. Keep your travel essentials ready

I once read that Marissa Mayer (Yahoo! CEO) has a ‘just add clothes’ suitcase with all the things she needs for business trips. Of course I don’t go to such lengths, but I do have a few basics that I always keep together.

I’ve developed a very good toiletries kit over time, so when it’s time to pack that is all sorted!

Get packing!