Porto – Mercado do Bolhão

When I visit anywhere, I always try to see if there is a local market. I love walking around seeing fresh produce, what’s in season, and what the locals are eating. Some places are better than others – the Boqueria in Barcelona has an abundance of stalls, and is great fun, but very busy. Whilst in Sofia, Bulgaria, the market was sparse!


The Mercado do Bolhão dates from 1850 and is a little bit run down and ramshackle, but this makes it charming. Like Porto itself, although much of the city is being regenerated and it’s definitely smartening up. So I wonder how long until the market is refurbished. 


The stalls mainly sell seafood, meat, cheese, fruit & vegetables and wine. There are several cute cafes where you can get a decent lunch with super-fresh seafood and wine, surrounded by locals. It’s not the biggest market, and at first I was a bit underwhelmed, but by the end I liked that it wasn’t so frantic. We drank vinho verde and ate bacalhau (cod) tapas in the sun for the grand sum of €4. You wouldn’t get that in London!!


Oh – if anyone can tell me what these are I’d be very grateful!!!! 😂🙄🍆

A Crazy Balkan Roadtrip – Part 3: Kosovo

After visiting Macedonia and Albania, the next destination was Kosovo. Instead of visiting the capital, Pristina, after a bit of research, Prizren – known as the cultural capital – looked like a good alternative. The second largest city, it’s a young and vibrant town filled with picturesque mosques and churches, and good restaurants and nightlife. Travelling through the Balkans, I can’t help but think of the relatively recent war, and how the legacy of such a vicious conflict must affect the people here. It’s good to see that life continues, and tourists are returning, although it’s still not possible to travel from Kosovo directly into Serbia.

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A Crazy Balkan Roadtrip – Part 2: Albania

After spending a very pleasant day and night exploring Lake Ohrid in Macedonia, we just made the bus to Tirana after a car chase (!) and settled in for what looked like a three hour journey, give or take an hour. We had checked the map before leaving, and it looked like a pretty straightforward route. Due to the unplanned excitement when catching our bus, we had no food or water, and no local currency (the lek). Never a good move when you’re venturing into the unknown – bad travellers. How d’you lek them apples? Or lack of them…

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Crossing the border into Albania, tourist fee paid with the last Macedonian denars, I stared out the window, watching the world go by. I like travelling by bus when you’re not in a hurry, and you don’t really know where you’re going. You get to see more fragments of local life. The roads were dusty and twisted and turned through the mountains. There were hand-painted signs everywhere: ‘lavazh’…’lavazh’…’lavazh’ – …carwash…carwash…carwash. Every second home, and business seemed to have a carwash, some just an awning and a hose, others more upmarket. I couldn’t understand it as I couldn’t see that many cars on the road.

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A Crazy Balkan Roadtrip – Part 1: Macedonia

Back in 2013,  we planned an adventurous road trip through the Balkan Peninsula, covering seven countries in eight days, using only public transport. Adventurous or mad…you decide! We managed to visit Macedonia, Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro, Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Serbia. You can read about the first leg of the journey in Macedonia below.

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Morocco – Hiking the Atlas Mountains

As part of last year’s trip to Morocco, I really wanted to get out of the city and see some of the countryside, and decided on an overnight hike in the Atlas Mountains, staying with a family in a traditional Berber village. It happened to be New Year’s Eve, so definitely a different way to celebrate!

After plenty of research I chose a company called Berber Travel Adventures, as they are locally owned and I wanted to support the local community. They are a sustainable tourism company, and they try to have a positive economic, environmental and social impact. The villages they visit are very small, and definitely not on the tourist trail.

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Morocco – 24 Hours in Essaouira

When I was planning my trip to Morocco, I wanted to fit in a side trip to Essaouira. It’s a beautiful port city on the west coast, with a fortified medina perfect for a lazy afternoon’s exploring. It’s much more chilled than Marrakesh – it used to be a hippie hangout in the 1960s, with Jimi Hendrix being one of its most famous visitors. It’s also famously windy, and for this reason it’s escaped relatively unscathed by beach tourism, as it can be too windy to sunbathe. For the same reason it’s very popular with kitesurfers and windsurfers.

We didn’t have a lot of time, but an overnight trip was do-able. It’s around three hours driving from Marrakesh, and there are regular buses run by Supratours and CTM. Make sure to book your tickets in advance in the summer! The bus depot in Marrakesh is about five minutes from the Medina in Gueliz, and when you arrive in Essaouira it’s a short taxi ride (Supratours) or a short walk (CTM) to the medina.

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Morocco – Old Town Marrakesh

I planned a winter trip to Morocco last year, to grab some much needed sunshine and get away from the New Year’s Eve madness in London. The weather was beautifully bright during the day, but it got very cold at night, especially in the mountains, so make sure to bring layers!

We spent a few nights in Marrakesh, one night in Essaouira and hiked to a Berber village where we spent New Year’s Eve. That was a very different experience, and a unique insight into life in the Atlas Mountains.

Marrakesh is a crazy, bustling, colourful city, and a total assault on the senses. Most people stay in the medina, which can be a bit unsettling at first, with narrow alleys that twist and turn into dead ends. The locals wear traditional hooded kaftans, called djellabas, and they look like Jedi knights, adding to the surreal feeling. Once you get your bearings though, there are discoveries to be made around every corner, and it seems like the sights, smells and sounds have been the same for centuries. Apart from the motorbikes – watch out!

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