The Best Casa Particulares (Homestays) in Cuba

If you could trace the origins of the phrase “Mi Casa es Tu Casa” (translation: my house is your house), I’d put money on the phrase being invented in the casa particulares in Cuba. To many people, particularly those most familiar with staying in hotels when they travel, renting a room in a casa particular in cuba is a strange concept. “What? You stay in the spare bedroom in somebody’s house?! You eat breakfast and often lunch and dinner with them?” “Yes,” is my simple answer. But it’s one that is very quickly followed by a strong reassurance: “And I … Read more

To Take Tours or Not to Take Tours – That is the Question

I’m an independent traveller. Have been for over a decade, but that doesn’t mean I’m against organised tours. Although my personal preference is to go it alone, I think tours can offer an invaluable travel experience if done well and taken in the right circumstances. I’ve taken tours that have lasted hours, days and weeks. I’ve toured in big groups, small groups and everything in between. I’ve experienced tours run by international brands and local outfits. I’ve even started running my own Prosecco tours. Based on my experiences, here’s my guide to whether to take tours, looking at the advantages and … Read more

The Gambia’s “Roots”: When Good Intentions Lead to Bad Tourism

“I bet Alex Haley would turn in his grave if he could see this village now,” I whispered to my friend. We were sat under the cover of concrete and the King of the village (who happened to be a woman) was presenting certificates for sale. They were simple photocopies on plain A4 paper serving as a memento of a trip to the village Juffureh. The cost was less than £1, a price I, like most tourists, could easily afford, but that wasn’t the point. Unlike most of the tourists before me, there was something I needed to know – … Read more

The 10 Weirdest Places I’ve Been

I get asked on a regular basis where is the best place I’ve visited. It’s a hard question to answer because over the years I’ve fallen in love with so many destinations and all for different reasons. However, someone asked me a slightly different version of this travel question the other day: where is the weirdest place I’ve been. It got me thinking.  After visiting over 50 countries around the world, there wasn’t just one location that I’d nominate as the weirdest place on earth, I have a pretty long shortlist. So, here it is.  In no particular order, here’s … Read more

How to Speak to Someone who Doesn’t Speak Your Language

Ever since I first set foot in Spain, then Latin America, I’ve been trying to learn Spanish. It’s not proven entirely impossible – I certainly know more than when I left England and spending a month in Spain, in Andalucia helped. From there, I visited Germany, where I can barely say thank you. In fact, most of the time I’m travelling, I’m communicating with people where one of us is not using our mother tongue. It’s made me realise there are good and bad ways to communicate with someone who doesn’t speak your language. From the mean middle-aged woman who … Read more

Visiting Malaga: Just Another Brit Abroad?

Malaga. Uurgh. I let out a soft sigh. I was planning to spend a month in Andalucia and the cheapest flight into the region would land me in Malaga. Brits Abroad Central. Brits Abroad: The (embarrassingly accurate) stereotype It’s fair to say that I’m not a fan of my countrymen and women who meet the sadly stereotypical but embarrassingly accurate set of characteristics that mark them out as Brits Abroad. I wouldn’t deny anybody the luxury of a 2-week break defined by sun and fun but why do some people feel the need to pack their culture with them? The sunburned skin, … Read more

Dying for Culture: Bullfighting in Spain

Have you ever visited a place expecting no more than your average tourist interaction but came away with something much more profound? It happened when I visited The Gambia and it happened once again when I went to Ronda, Spain. I went to this small Spanish mountain town to see Tajo Gorge. And I expected this post to be a neat summary, complete with eye-candy of the long-legged bridge that straddles the gorge. And I won’t disappoint – details about visiting Ronda are below. But after days of struggling with this write-up, I realise I can’t overlook my more significant … Read more

How To Visit Pearl Harbor – Tickets, Tours & Tips

The day after my hike up Diamond Head I decided to visit Pearl Harbor. History was never my favourite subject at school. My teenage thoughts were more focused on finding the next acid rave (hey, it was the 90s). But I did remember Pearl Harbor. How could I not? The surprise Japanese attack on the pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor Hawaii naval base on 7 December 1941 that dragged the USA into World War II? Over 2,000 people died during the attack on Pearl Harbor Hawaii including 1,177 men aboard USS Arizona. The crew had an average age of 19 … Read more

Things To Do In Pearl Harbor – The Main Attractions

Due to its historical significance, visiting Pearl Harbor Hawaii was very high on my travel itinerary while I was on Oahu. I knew it wouldn’t be the cheeriest day out but I, like the millions of others who visit Pearl Harbor each year, felt a compelling need to go. Frustratingly, Pearl Harbor isn’t the easiest place to visit since the four main sights are run by four different organisations, meaning four different ticketing options. Don’t worry, I’ve written a guide to How to Visit Pearl Harbor – Tours, Tickets and tips for visiting. In this guide you can read about … Read more

7 Traditional Dishes To Eat in Rome – Italy

We’ve all heard the saying, “When in Rome do as the Romans do.” But considering the amazing Italian cuisine available there, it could be said that, “When in Rome, gain 10 pounds.” I did a touristy trip to Rome back in 2010 as part of my round-the-world adventure (if you want to travel back into my archives, here’s the post I wrote, ahhh) but, when I visited the Eternal City this time round, I had a very singular agenda – to do one of the things I love most…eat! What many people gloss over is that fact that Italian cuisine … Read more