I visited Santa Barbara as part of a road trip, we were on our way to Las Vegas and had just spent 4 nights in Los Angeles.
We got the Pacific Surfliner from Union Station and in just under 3 hours, we had arrived in the charming city of Santa Barbara.
The train takes you to the centre of town, and it was a short walk from our hotel – Hotel Milo. The hotel was right on the beach and walking distance to everything, which makes sense as the city is a small with a population of less than a 100,000. The hotel was perfect for what we were looking for, it was inexpensive and simple. If you’re looking to spend a bit more check out the following hotels: San Ysidro Ranch and the Belmond El Encanto
There isn’t much to do in Santa Barbara apart from relax on the beach, eat and enjoy the beautiful Spanish Colonial style architecture.
One restaurant you should definitely try whilst you’re in town is Olio e Limone Ristoronte they serve the most delicious Italian food, I still dream about their angel hair pasta..
Rome is the perfect weekend getaway, it has something for everyone, museums, art galleries, great food and depending when you go, great weather!
Top 5 Things to Do in Rome
Rome is the perfect weekend getaway, because there is so much to see and do, so I’ve compiled a list of my Top 5 Things to See and Do..
- The Vatican: book your tickets in advance online to avoid the long queues. Go early in the morning to as this is when the museum is quietest. There is so much to see, so give yourself plenty of time to enjoy it, we spent around 3 hours exploring, but if you opt for a tour it will take you most of the day.
- The Colosseum: again book in advance, all the major tourist attractions in Rome get busy, and you can end up wasting a lot of time queueing if you’re not organized.
- EAT EAT EAT! This is a pasta lovers dream (aka my dream!). Avoid eating at any of the tourist trap restaurants in St Marks Square. My favourite restaurant was Le Jadin de Russie. Go for an early dinner and sit dine in their beautiful courtyard.
- Walk this is the best way to absorb the energy of the city, and enjoy the ancient Roman architecture.
- Shop all the best European boutiques can be found near the Spanish Steps.
Flights from London Heathrow – Rome were £150 per person with British Airways travelling at the end of May.
Two nights at the St Regis booked with American Express Travel cost £540 for a superior room.
The moment I arrived in Positano, I fell in love.
Positano is a gorgeous tiny town on the Amalfi coast, with a population of around 4,000. It’s a charming town full of boutiques, amazing restaurants, luxury hotels and medditeranian views. You can walk everywhere in Positano, everything is close, and there are no cars in the centre.
We visited the town of the last May Bank Holiday, which we were told was the best time to visit, the weather was warm and perfect for sunbathing. Although it was busy when we were there, the summer crowds hadn’t yet arrived, so it was a ‘nice busy’.
Our hotel was wonderful – Palazzo Murat. The rooms are old fashioned and charming, each with their own balcony which allows you to enjoy the beauty of the grounds from your room. The hotel was everything we expected it to be, it was beautiful, the service was great and it had a beautiful swimming pool, but be warned, it’s freezing!
Getting there… it’s a 2 hr drive from Naples, and the it’s a perfect way to see the splendour that is the Amalfi. Its impossible for cars to get right into the heart to the town as the roads are so narrow, so your driver will walk you with your bags down to your hotel.
We travelled via train from Rome to Naples, which took just over an hour. The train was inexpensive and it was much cheaper than flying directly to Naples, which tends to be pricey as it’s the closest airport to chic destinations such as: Capri and Ravello.
Positano is relatively easy to get to, it’s around an hours drive from Naples airport. Flights to Naples can be expensive, especially during the warmer months, as everyone is flocking to various glamours locations such as Capri and Ravello. A good way to cost cuts down is to fly to an alternative airport, we went via Rome.
Flights from London Heathrow – Rome were £150 per person with British Airways.
We paid 990 euros for 3 nights staying at the Palazo Murrat in a garden room, this rate included breakfast. Hotels in Positano are really expensive, and get booked up fast, we booked around 9 months in advance and we got the last room!
The taxi from Naples to our hotel was booked with Euro Limo and it cost 110 euros each way. This sounds expensive, but I shopped around before booking and realised it was a pretty standard price. If you’re a confident driver then there is the option to hire a car and drive yourself, but parking may be an issue once you arrive.
Eating out was comparable to that of eating in London, so it wasn’t a massive shock to me, and I didn’t feel as though I spent all that much.
My cousin and I spent a fabulous, yet freezing long weekend in New York in March. Here are my Top 10 Things to Do in NYC
- Top of the Rock: this will give you be the best views of the city, plus you can get some brilliant pictures of the city with the Empire State Building in them.
- Staten Island Ferry: this is a free commuter service between Manhattan and Staten Island, but it’s also a great way to see the Island of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty. The round trip will take you just over an hour. If you have more time and are interested to learn more about the history of Ellis Island, there are lots of tour options.
- The Jewish Museum: a brilliant place to learn more about the global history of Jews and their migration and influence in NYC. There’s also a brilliant café/ deli serving traditional Jewish and Kosher treats –Russ & Daughters.
- Cocktails at The Standard High Line in the trendy Meatpacking District. This iconic penthouse bar and restaurant is super cool and offers panoramic city views.
- Go to a Live TV show – I’m a massive fan of the Wendy Williams Show, so as soon as I booked my trip, I booked my tickets to see the show live. Tickets are free; it’s just a matter of booking them in advance. There are lots of other live shows, have a look here www.nycgo.com
- Clubbing: NYC has a great night life, there are lots of clubs to chose from, it just depends what music you’re into, we love hip-hop so we picked: Lavo and 1OAK. Both were amazing, entry can be expensive, so my advice is to reach out to club promoters via instagram and see if they can get you on their guest-list.
- Walk the Brooklyn Bridge obvious one, but a good one!
- EAT! There are so many amazing places to eat in NYC, here are some of my favourites: Prince St. Pizza -BEST PIZZA EVER! Levain Bakery, these are the hugest, most delicious cookies in the world, and it’s clear the whole city agrees, as the que is around 30 mins.
- Williamsburg Brooklyn this is a super cool neighbourhood full of independent restaurants and shops.
- Central Park…
The hotel – The Westin Grand Central was perfect for what we were looking for. It was inexpensive and centrally located. The service was friendly and polite, this is by no means a design hotel, but the room was spacious, clean and functional.
Getting around the city is really easy once you figure out the subway, and it’s cheap. My only advice is not to take it late at night as it doesn’t feel particularly safe, but it’s absolutely fine during the day as it’s packed with commuters. Depending on the weather, I recommend walking as much as you can as it’s a great way to get a sense of the city and it means you can stumble across places that aren’t in the guidebooks.
We booked our holiday with British Airways as part of a package deal. We paid £610 per person; this included 5 nights at the The Westin Grand Central and direct flights from London Heathrow to JFK. The great thing about BA Holidays is that you can book your holiday by putting down a small deposit, and pay the remaining balance 5 weeks before departure.