Spelunking aka Caving in Iceland


"You know in the US this caving thing is known as spelunking" said the chatty American girl with the dazzling white teeth and waterproof jacket to match. Spelunking. What?! As a Brit I'd never heard this Read more

50 Best Road Trip Songs


I LOVE a good road trip and one of my essential items is a playlist full of amazingly good road trip songs. Good music always makes a journey better and there's few things better Read more

Relaxing in the Blue Lagoon Iceland


One of Iceland's most famous attractions is the relaxing, steamy waters of the Blue Lagoon and I sure as heck wasn't planning to miss an opportunity to get some pamper time during my trip! The Read more

Iceland's Golden Circle


One of the things I knew I just had to do whilst in Iceland was to tour the Golden Circle.  Why I hear you ask? Well, because I've been dreaming of Iceland for years now Read more

Discovering Dumfries and Galloway


Dumfries and Galloway is a region located in Scotland's western southern uplands and one I had the pleasure of discovering recently. Despite living less than two hours away from Galloway and Dumfries it is Read more

Quad Biking on the Hills Above Reykjavic, Iceland


I LOVE a little taste of adventure when I'm travelling and Iceland is certainly a destination where you can get adventurous with all those hills to climb, volcanic caves to explore (I'll be sharing Read more

Spain

Quirky, Cool Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

Posted on by Emma Gray in Spain, Travel Tales | 6 Comments

I have to admit that before visiting Las Palmas de Gran Canaria I wasn’t expecting anything overly cool, unusual or exciting. I imagined it to be touristy, a little generic and similar to most of the other large cities and towns across the Canary Islands due to it’s popularity with young British tourists. I expected to find one of those places that’s perfectly pleasant with a nice beach, some cute shops and a few nice eateries but one that isn’t entirely memorable or interesting.

Boy was I wrong. 
LAS PALMAS DE GRAN CANARIA STREET ART

I certainly didn’t expect to find hundreds of surfers, amazing street art and cool, indie cafes and restaurants, not to mention a pretty awesome beach! Add to this the temperate climate of The Canary Islands, thanks to being situated right next to Northern Africa, and you can see why many people are attracted to this little island. Read more

Chilling On The Costa Del Sol

Posted on by Emma Gray in Spain, Travel Tales | Leave a comment

I spent last week in Benalmadena on Spain’s Costa del Sol relaxing and partying all in aid of my cousin’s hen party. She’s getting married this summer and a big group of 11 of us travelled to Benalmadena to have some fun before her big day. So, here’s our week in Spain in pictures…

Benalmadena, Costa Del Sol Read more

The Natural Beauty of La Palma, Spain

Posted on by Emma Gray in Spain | 2 Comments

When visiting La Palma, one of the Spanish Canary Islands, I was most struck by the extreme natural beauty of the island. It is known as ‘Isla Bonita’, literally the beautiful island and during my visit I definitely found out why.

The capital and main port of the island, Santa Cruz de La Palma, is utterly charming but sadly on the day I visited everything was closed for a public holiday. Instead of wandering around a pretty but deserted city, we decided to get out into the countryside and explore the forests of the island.

View of Santa Cruz de la Palma, La Palma, Canary Islands, Spain

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Bewitched by Besalu

Posted on by Emma Gray in Spain | 10 Comments

I’d seen pictures of Besalú, Spain before I arrived, but I wasn’t prepared for just how stunning it would actually be. As we drove into the town our first glimpse was of the medieval Viejo Bridge, and I was blown away by how much it looked exactly like the pictures. You know sometimes when you go to a new place and you’re disappointed because what you really see isn’t as good as what the pictures portray? Well, if anything Besalú was already better.

 Viejo Bridge, Besalú, Costa Brava

Viejo Bridge (aka the fairy-tale bridge)

I was desperate to explore, and on my first walk around the village of just over a thousand people, I felt like I was walking in a fairy-tale setting. Read more

My Return to Murcia

Posted on by Emma Gray in Spain | 1 Comment
Once again I travelled to the city of Murcia, in the south-east of Spain to visit a close friend who is studying there for a year. I flew from Glasgow to Alicante and caught the local bus from the airport to Murcia which takes around 50 minutes and costs less than 5 euros for a single trip.
As a region Murcia is one of the sunniest places in Spain yet, despite this the city of Murcia itself is relatively free from tourists, who instead tend to flock to the coastal towns such as La Manga on the beautiful Mar Menor. Although it was the middle of December during my visit the temperatures were relatively high, around 20degrees in the middle of the day, and the sun shone throughout.
SANTA MARIA CATHEDRAL MURCIA
Santa Maria Cathedral
SANTA MARIA BELLTOWER MURCIA
The belltower on the Santa Maria Cathedral
One of the main attractions in Murcia for me is the tapas. The city of Murcia is littered with tapas bars, ranging from small, cafe style bars to more upmarket and therefore expensive restaurants. There are places to suit every budget and because the city is not a major tourist destination in general the prices are very reasonable for the quality of food which you receive.
One place which we visited that we really enjoyed was Bar Togo II. Here the tapas was presented together on one dish, instead of on separate dishes, as is generally typical of tapas. The food was presented beautifully and looked almost too good to eat! Despite the sumptuous food and wonderful presentation the price was very reasonable, costing just 15 euros for lunch for 3 people.
TAPAS MURCIA
Tapas at Bar Togo II
If you are thinking of visiting Murcia and wish to research possible restaurants online before your trip, you should be aware that many of the online reviews which I have found myself have been very out of date and the places written about have either changed hands or disappeared completely.
I discovered one of Murcia’s hidden gems Pequeña Miss Cupcake- an adorable cake shop which specialises in handmade cupcakes, cookies and biscuits. The shop itself is located in the bustling area around the University and is beautifully decorated in pastel colours with perfect finishing touches, such as fabric bound menus. It is definitely the perfect spot to relax and have an afternoon nibble!
murcia spain
Gorgeous finishing touches
Pequeña MISS CUPCAKE
Pequeña Miss Cupcake
There are lots of great bars in Murcia to relax and spend an evening. One of my favourites is Cafe del Arco which is just steps from Plaza de Santa Domingo. It’s a very modern bar with seats outside which are great for a spot of people watching! Another of my favourites is Kano which is a restaurant and bar in Plaza de Santa Domingo. It too is great for people watching and serves great tapas and paella. If you’re looking for a club to head to after a few drinks then I can recommend Boutique. It plays a great mix of R’n'B, Spanish music, Reggaeton and Indie so there’s something to suit everyone. It can get super busy in here and drinks are quite expensive but it has a great atmosphere and is the perfect place to get your dancing shoes on and party till 7am!

 

CAFE DEL ARCO BAR MURCIA
Enjoying a cocktail at Cafe del Arco
Murcia really is a great city if you want to experience the ‘real’ Spain rather than the large tourist towns and especially if you want to improve your Spanish as almost none of the locals speak English. There are hotels, restaurants and activities to suit every budget and its proximity to the coastal areas of La Manga (can be reached by local bus in under an hour) make it the ideal destination for people who want to enjoy the city but also visit the beaches of the surrounding area.
If you want to read my post from my last visit to Murcia you can find it here.

Living like a local in Murcia, Spain

Posted on by Emma Gray in Spain | 3 Comments
I travelled to the city of Murcia in the south east of Spain for a week to visit one of my best friends who is there for a year studying at the Universidad de Murcia.
After arriving into Alicante airport we travelled (buses run straight to Murcia bus station for around 5euros) to the Silken Siete Coronas hotel in the centre of the city of Murcia. It is situated on the edge of the river which is just a few minutes walk from the Plaza de Toros and my friend’s flat. The hotel was very clean, tidy and well furnished. It was also quiet at night and offered free wifi which is a must for many travellers I know!
The first thing we did after arriving was, of course, head out for tapas! There are so many amazing and highly inexpensive tapas restaurants in the city of Murcia and a visit would not be complete without sampling some of the best local tapas dishes. One of my favourite dishes was Zarangollo, a traditional Murcian dish of eggs, zucchini and onions and garlic and I would highly recommend everyone to try it. Some of the restaurants we enjoyed were; La Tapa Murciana and La Sidrería Escondida.

The prices of meals in Murcia are so cheap because it is not a typical tourist area and they also do not expect tips which I found very strange. A typical tapas meal in a local restaurant including drinks (Tinto de Verano being a particular favourite of mine!) will normally be around 10 euros per person!

On our first night in Murcia we went to a restaurant called La Sidrería Escondida which serves Asturian cider from the north of Spain in strange contraptions as seen below! Definitely an experience!
La Sideria Escondida Murcia Spain
One of the must see places in Murcia is the Santa Maria Cathedral, an imposing, Baroque style building which was completed in 1751. It features many Renaissance, Gothic and Baroque elements although the interior is mainly Gothic.
Santa Maria Cathedral Murcia Spain
Santa Maria Cathdral
Santa Maria Cathedral Murcia Spain
Santa Maria Cathedral Belltower
Another nice place we visited was the Palacio Episcopal, an 18th Century building with a beautiful inner courtyard which is on the same square as the main entrance to the Cathedral.

Murcia is also within a good distance of the beaches of the Costa Calida and the Mar Menor, or the small sea. Buses run from the main bus station and take about 50 minutes.

The Nueva Condomina (a large shopping centre and the location of the new Real Murcia football stadium) is easily reached by tram from the centre of the city. The tram system is very clean, efficient and reasonably priced and is a great way to explore outside of the city. If you are looking for somewhere to have lunch whilst at the Nueva Condomina I highly recommend Cerveceria 100 Montaditos which can be found inside the shopping centre itself. Montaditos are literally small sandwhiches and the sheer range of choices here makes it an experience in itself.

Murcia is a great city to visit if you want to be immersed in the Spanish language and improve your skills. Very few people speak English and if they do it is usually only a few words so you are forced to attempt to speak Spanish.

I highly recommend this region of Spain, it is purported to be one of the sunniest areas in the country which is never a bad thing and there are so many great places that can be reached within a relatively short distance.
Emma Gray Murcia Spain