How have you made the most of your summer holidays this year? Me? I went gallivanting across Europe with a road trip and some relaxing breaks abroad!
Travelling is a brilliant way to de-stress after hectic weeks and months of teaching at school. Whilst I absolutely love to teach, I love to travel just as much; exploring other cultures, cities and traditions makes me very happy. So, taking advantage of the free time during the school holidays is the perfect time to enjoy this (expensive) hobby.
To indulge this summer holiday, I planned three trips which kicked off the week after the school holidays commenced in July. The first trip of summer, was to Sicily for my sister’s 30th birthday with a group of family/friends. Secondly, I went to Crete with my family for an all inclusive beach resort holiday (don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it!) Finally, I went on a road trip with my mum, dad and fiance to Andalucia. Travelling for nearly four weeks is a luxury. However, if you’re interested in travelling to Sicily, Crete or Andalusia any time soon, read on for a brief overview of where I stayed and what I recommend doing there.
We stayed in Mondello in an AirBnb, spent the first day on the beach there sunning ourselves with the locals. We hired cars and did a couple of road trips around the island. We went to Scala dei Turchi (stairs of the turks), which is definitely worth going to and quite similar to the white salt cliffs in Pammukale in Turkey. We stopped off at the Valley of the Temples which is one of the largest and oldest archaeological sites in the world. We also visited Scopello and the beach, called Calla Mazzo di Sciacca – also breathtaking! On our final day, we hired a private boat and went to great scuba diving spot, where we swam with the fish in crystal clear, warm waters. You can see images of the white cliffs, great beach views from the road trips and view of the port before our boat trip in the Med, below.
Here, my family and I stayed at the Creta Maris Beach Resort which was an all-inclusive break and absolutely beautiful from start to finish. The quality and range of food on offer was superb, the staff were extremely helpful and the location was perfect for travelling along the coast.
We organised the 7-day holiday with Jet2Holidays (flights, transfers and accommodation). I would book with this travel company again in a heartbeat; we had one small issue and it was rectified immediately by Jet2’s representative. The service and friendliness of all the Jet2 staff in the air, at the airport and at the hotel really was second to none.
Since we wanted to see some of the island, we hired a car and spent the day on a road trip to Knossos to see the Minoan palace and learn about the history of the area through a guide. We also travelled independently to the impressive cave of Zeus, known as the Diktaean Cave which is located just 10 minutes walking-distance from Psychro, in Lassithi Plateau. If you are near Heraklion, I would certainly recommend a visit to both of these stunning sights.
Below, you can see images from and inside the cave of Zeus from our road trip around Crete, and views from the Creta Maris Resort Hotel, including food that a waitress requested that the chef makes especially for me. Saganaki (a Greek cheese dish is delicious!!)
ANDALUCIA, SPAIN – ROAD TRIP
For the last five years, I have wanted to do a road trip around Seville-Cordoba-Granada, so when my dad suggested doing a road trip to Andalucia, I jumped at the chance. Once again, we stayed in AirBnbs for 1-3 nights per location, hired a car and visited:
Seville – free walking tour with the firm Heart of Seville Free Tours, climbed ‘Las Setas’, ate tapas and did a tour of The Alcazar with an audio guide
Jerez – sherry tasting and visit to the Bodega Lustau
Cadiz – walked along the coast, sampled local fish, visited the Roman Amphitheater and dipped our toes in the warm waters of the Med!
Cordoba – toured the city on foot with OwayTours, climbed the bell-tower of the Mezquita and enjoyed delicious food at LaLola
Granada – took part in a guided walking tour, viewing the main sites of Granada, ate delicious churros with chocolate and did another tour of the Al Hambra (most recommended part of the trip!)
Almeria – Almeria itself wasn’t all that. In fact, if you can avoid it, I would! We stayed in Roqueta de Mar which is a nice little town and also visited Cabo de Gata – this is the most beautiful beach I have seen in a long time. We also drove up the coast to San Pedro del Pinatar to visit the black mud baths: Las Charcas, which was a lot of fun!
Malaga – on our way to the final stop of Malaga on our road trip across Andalucia, we made a planned visit to Nerja to see the cave there, which I also thoroughly recommend visiting. I have been to so many caves, but this one is HUGE and the stalagmites and stalactites are very impressive. Eat in the buffet restaurant there too – it’s all you can eat for just 12 euros! We also planned a visit to Ronda, which was also a highlight – vist the new bridge, explore the town and take a little detour to Cueva del Gato, a pretty cave with an ice cold lake! In Malaga, we walked around the city and were pleasantly surprised not to encounter any drunk people! It’s a lovely city with a lot of history. We went to a Flamenco show, walked up the castle and to a couple of the shopping centres. There is a Taco Bell in the train station, which I had to visit (since we don’t have one in England). I also suggest that you eat at Napolitan BBQ if you fancy a burger. Another highlight was a trip to the Picasso museum, which also had an exhibition of Andy Warhol’s work – go and see it!
We stayed in a number of AirBnBs during these summer holidays – these great alternatives to hotels and you can usually find some gems at great prices. I suggest carefully reading the reviews before booking though and also recommend double checking the facilities and amenities available. We had a car, so free parking was useful. Also, during the height of summer, air conditioning is also a requirement in the accommodation, so check that all rooms are equipped with an air conditioning unit. If you’d like to grab £25 off your stay and help me get a bit of cash of my next stay too, then sign up to AirBnB through this link: AirBnB £25 Off.
I hope that you have been inspired to visit either Sicily, Crete or Andalucia (or all of them!) If you need any tips or other recommendations, let me know. What have you been up to this summer?
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