WINTER SUNSHINE AND GLAMOUR: A weekend in Nice and Monaco

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We decided to go to Nice in February for a bit of winter sun – it was beautiful!

We arrived in the afternoon and had time for a nice walk by the Promenade des Anglais. The architecture there is really amazing.

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In the evening we went to the Old Town, exploring the little streets with cool bars and restaurants. We quickly found our favourite place: Distilleries Ideales, a great bar with an impressive choice for beers, cocktails and wine (two drinks for 7.80€ plus tip).

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In the morning we hopped on a train to Monte Carlo (7.80€ return per person). The trip from Nice takes only 24 minutes and goes through beautiful beaches, so it’s definitely worth it.

Monaco itself is what you’d expect, other than spotting Ferraris and yachts there isn’t that much to do, but it’s fun to recognise all the places from the Formula 1 GP.

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In the evening we headed back to Nice Old Town, where the crowds were getting ready for the carnival parade. We went back to Distilleries Ideales for a couple of drinks, then we had dinner at Delhi Belhi, which despite the name served delicious Indian food (dinner for two including tip for 42€).

On Sunday we started the day visiting the impressive Russian Orthodox church. We then headed to the Marc Chagall museum, which is small but has a good selection of his paintings (tickets for 10€).

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We headed back to the Old Town where we had lunch at Caju, a vegan cafe with great food and friendly service (lunch for two including dessert and tip for 35€). They suggested we should check Castle Hill nearby, where there is a waterfall and great views over the city and the promenade.

We finished our little break joining the crowds by the promenade as they left the carnival parade and we boarded the bus back to the airport.

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HOW TO DO IT:

  • Stay: We stayed at an Airbnb flat close to the station. The location was good but it was really noisy at night. But there are lots of options to choose from and they are not necessarily that expensive.
  • When to go: We went in February, which is definitely off season but the weather was a pleasant 15 degrees. During low season it’s best to stick to the main areas of the city centre and Old Town as otherwise restaurants and shops may not be open.
  • Get around: Nice’s centre is easily accessible on foot. The city is also served by a good network of busses. You can get a bus to and from the airport for 6€ each way (the ride only takes 20 minutes). Nice is also a good gateway to other destinations in Cote D’Azur, such as Monaco and Cannes, so it’s a good base from where to explore the region.

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SANGRIA BREAKS AND MODERNIST TILES: A weekend in Barcelona

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For our first trip of the year, we decided to go to Barcelona for a chilled weekend. Barcelona is always great, and it was just what we wanted!

On our first day we hit the city centre to check out some highlights. We started at la Rambla and Barrio Gotico, then made our way to Barcelona Cathedral. We stopped for lunch of delicious vegan burgers and beers at Cat Bar, which is great (service was okay) – lunch for two including beers and tip for 25€.

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We wandered around and ended up at culture centre El Born, an amazing market where you can see ruins of old Barcelona.

In the evening we reached Barceloneta, where we watched surfers brave the cold as the sun set. We stopped for drinks at Bar Celoneta, a vegan sangria bar that served delicious food (and definitely the best sangria I’ve had, although I’m no expert!) – tapas and a pitcher of sangria for two for 40€ including tip.

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We woke up to blue skies, so on our second day we headed to Park Guell for outdoor fun. It was a beautiful day, so we took lots of photos. We only visited the free areas, but you can also pay 8€ to access an area of the park where most of the Gaudi sculptures are.

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We then headed to El Bosc de les Fades, which is an old favourite. This whimsical bar looks like a little forest, and it’s an amazing place to get a drink after a few hours of exploring the city (two drinks for 6.50€).

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The Picasso museum is free on Sundays, so we headed in that direction – on arrival the queue discouraged us, so we instead we went to Ale&Hop, a veggie bar with a great selection of local beers (tapas and beers for two for 22€). This bar is in a great area, so we spent some time just wandering around.

And then it was back to out flat for a quiet evening before our early flight back to London!

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HOW TO DO IT:

  • Stay: We chose an Airbnb flat a bit further from the centre, which is always a good way of saving money. There’s lots of options in Barcelona and prices are generally good.
  • Transportation: The metro is the best way to travel. You can buy 10 single tickets for less than 10€, which is nice and easy. You can also get the metro from the airport to the city centre (tickets cost 4.50€), which is very convenient.
  • Money: With the current exchange rate between the pound and the euro we weren’t sure how expensive things were going to be, but Barcelona is still definitely cheaper than London. We also found that there are lots of budget options for food and drink.

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