Carrer Parlament, which runs along the lower part of Barcelona in the residential Sant Antoni quarter of the Eixample district, has recently received some much needed rejuvenation and is now awash with great places to eat out and buy fresh, well sourced, local produce. This up and coming part of Barcelona is just a stone’s throw away from the famous Mercat Sant Antoni, which is currently being renovated.
Located at number 27 is Vinito, the wine shop and one of the longest running establishments on Carrer Parlament. They’ve recently extended their services into a bar as well. It’s a great place to duck in to and have a glass or two whilst browsing the barrels or alternatively there's a terrace outside to relax on with a drink.
Next door at number 25 is the popular and fun Bar Calders, which is a great spot to head to for all occasions, including morning coffee, delicious tapas dinner or an evening drink. Whatever your tipple Bar Calders is sure to satisfy with its endless drinks menu. Its renowned for it’s vermouth especially the Falset, which can be nursed on the sprawling terrace down the side street of the bar. Other specialties include the limited addition of Sant Antoni red wine, which is made sparingly each year. The inside design of the bar is decorated with paintings by Ramón Lamarca who’s one of the founders.
Next down the street at number 39 is the Federal Café, the trendy brunch go-to that offers affordable and appetising food. Federal Café was born out of the owners recognising a niche for a breakfast and brunch spot in Barcelona. The owners are Australians and the down-under easygoingness is evident in the uber relaxed atmosphere of the joint. The café's laid back vibe has been extremely popular with both locals and those visiting the city. With its leafy garden roof terrace the café the ideal spot to hang out and enjoy Barcelona’s never ending sunshine whilst drinking a delicious fresh coffee. The light, casual décor that flows through both floors reflects Federal Café's tranquil. The menu has an emphasis on eco friendly, freshly and locally grown produce. Although brunch is Federal Café’s specialty, lunch and dinner are also available and very recommendable.
At number 19 is Tarannà Bar & Café, which only recently opened it doors. Josechu, the owner, has created a communal, homely environment with an airy, light feel and vintage wooden furniture. Keeping with the communal theme the tables are shared or alternatively its possible to sit on the window stills that look out onto the street.
The menu is varied with offerings including traditional French delicacies and a variety of tasty tapas' and sandwiches. For dessert be tempted by the mouth watering homemade cakes. In terms of beverages the drinks list doesn’t disappoint with an array of teas, coffee, juices, wines, beers and spirits all available.
Nextdoor at number 17 is another recent addition to Carrer Parlament Zucker Haus, a boutique bakery owned by German Italian Manuela. Manuela’s culture is reflected in the selection of cakes on offer, such as black forest gateaux and plum frangipane tart. Swing by Zucker Haus and enjoy the delicious delights while making use of the indoor seating available. Also if you need a caffeine boost tea and coffee are amongst the treats. This is the perfect place to pop into to refuel whilst browsing all Carrer Parlament has to offer.
Address: Carrer del Parlament, 08015 Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain
At 365km end to end you could make a weeks holiday cycling along this beautiful canal path. However, we took an easier option and camped at the green and leafy camping municipal in the small town of Blain, right next to the canal, and cycled our family up and down for a relaxed and flat good few miles each way. There are plenty of picnic sites to stop at, different boats sailing up and down to look at and working locks to stop and observe, which makes this route ideal for taking with children. The Chateau de Blain also has a tower section which can be visited and explored.
This rather quirky, old fashioned youth hostel was the highlight of our Brittany cycle trip on the V7 - rooms two metres from the sea and fantastic communal breakfasts to power you for a day cycling - all for €16. You just need to find it hidden behind the Aquarium.
From £11.50 per night for two adults with small tent and car).
Just three miles from Land's End, Treen is also a short walk or drive away from some of Cornwall's best beaches, including the isolated sands of Pedn Vounder. Sennen is a 10-minute drive away, and Whitesands Bay is one of the best places to surf. The site sits in a field back from the cliff top, so it's not too exposed, even in inclement weather. Local attractions include Porthcurno Telegraph Museum for wet days, or the dramatic Minack Theatre, an open-air auditorium cut into the rocks. Facilities include the all important: showers, lavatories, laundry and washing-up area. There is plenty to see and do and the price is very reasonable and affordable :)
Hillend campsite sits at the midpoint of the 5km long Rhossili beach and is just a 200m sandy walk from the sea. A perfect camping location. Heath land and small farms surround the 14-acre site. Two of the four camping fields are exclusively for families and couples. Dogs are forbidden, which means clean shoes around the tents and also on the beach. Even with 300 pitches available there are plenty of free hot showers, washbasins, and lavatories. All are very clean and smartly maintained. A shop and Eddy’s Café-bar provide for those who miss the comforts of the high street. Rhossili is a world rated beach with its own surfing school, has excellent fishing, and the space and steady wind for kites. Walkers will find plenty of way-marked footpaths along the coastal cliffs, and a 3 km hike up over Rhossili Down to Worms Head with 3600 views across the Gower and the Bristol Channel. The staff are very helpful and the site has a relaxed and friendly air.
Hillend Caravan Park Ltd, Llangennith SA3 1JD
Open from April 1 to October 31. Prices from £18 Sun-Thurs, for a tent or motor home with 2 adults, and up to 3 children. £22.50 on Friday and Saturday nights. No bookings. Hillend Camping, Llangennith, Gower
+44 (0)1792 386 204
Google map: bit.ly/15WcRF7
Far from the 'Madding Crowds'of Jack Wills shops, jet skis and Range Rovers calmly sits the untouched charm of Cilan on the Lleyn Peninsula. Nant-y-Big is a very peaceful and rustic campsite run by and for families. Hedgerows bursting with life, sea birds protecting their young, high on the cliffs and the Lleyn Coastal Path beckoning you onwards, gently rocking you to the lull of the sea. Basic yet spotless facilities and warm, helpful staff awaiting any request. The beach is half a pebble's skim down wooden steps. If Range Rovers and over-priced hoodies don't do it for you, you can't go wrong and at £9 per adult and £3 per child a night, electric hook-ups if needed, all the better. While we were there an earthquake almost woke us up, but the sea air had got to us first!
In a grand situation below the spiky rock of the Black Cullin, Britain’s most fearful mountains, Glenbrittle provides well-spaced grassy pitches at the edge of a bay looking across to the Small Isles. It's wild and peaceful.
I wouldn’t say it has frills but there's plenty of hot water, and you’ll get to test your tent against the wind which often funnels on or off shore.
A 15 minute drive up the road, the Old Inn at Carbost has a proper pub atmosphere (not always easy to find in Highland) and wild swimming can be had within minutes at the Fairy Pools or round the corner in Talisker bay. Yes, that Talisker; keep a dram for after.
Camping is a fair one person one fee charge of £7.00 per night. Campervans come and go, too. Downsides: two showers will sometimes be too few; whenever the wind drops after early June there’ll be midge; and it’s so temptingly close, you might feel the need to scare yourself on the Cullin ridge. (Open April to Sept incl.)
From Sligachan take the road to Uig, turn off left to Carbost, then take the Glenbrittle Road. IV47 8TA.
Google map: bit.ly/19ZJRzD
Port Ban is a seaside camping and caravanning park in a remote setting on the west coast of Kintyre. The site offers stunning views of the Paps of Jura, a great beach with rock pools for kids old and young to explore, and the chance of seeing otters. The site has a small shop, cafe and launderette, while foodies will love the nearby Kilberry Inn. Kilberry also has some carved Celtic stones. It's a long way from anywhere so many visitors will just want to relax, but if you go off site you can visit the historic and prehistoric Kilmartin Glen, the Crinan canal and Knapdale, where beavers have been introduced. In the evening beach camp fires are a regular occurrence. For shops I visited Tarbert (about 15 miles away) with its beautiful harbour). A wonderful safe place for the kids.
It's a fantastic campsite on the remote Applecross Peninsula. Set on the coast overlooking the sea, and the isles of Raasay, Rhona and Skye. The campsite boasts a covered reception and café area, but the biggest bonus is that the iconic Applecross Inn is only a couple of minutes walk. Applecross can be accessed via Bealach na Ba (which is an experience in itself), or the more sedate coastal road.
Situated in the most westerly part of the UK, one side of the island has a rugged and dramatic coastline while the other boasts white sandy beaches with turquoise water and subtropical plants. With no cars on the island, you can explore the surrounding archipelago by kayak, sailing boat or in low tide by foot. The only reminder that you are still in the UK is the friendly Cornish accent and good English breakfast at the Vine Cafe.
A gorgeous, laid back small hostel in a lovely old building in the beautiful medieval town of Ulm in Southern Germany. The owner is charming and helpful, the common spaces such as the sweet kitchen, are warm and inviting with interesting retro furniture. The rooms are spacious and characterful with high ceilings and the shared bathrooms and loos are spotless. Ulm itself, a town built on the Danube river, is a few minutes walk and delights with narrow cobblestone streets with Hansel and Gretel houses and a huge choice of very good restaurants - definitely worth a few days of your time if you are in southern Germany. There's a great pop art exhibition - American Idols - on at the moment in Ulm's modernist art gallery with Andy Warhol et al. Oh yeah and I suppose you should know it has the highest church steeple in the world and Albert Einstein was born there! Visit the Museum of Bread Culture while there too - an adorable quirky museum that has lots of art works related to bread, including by Dali, Chagall and Banksy (!)... Enjoy!
A coastal site with a beautiful view, clean facilities and a lovely little campsite shop. Plus, it's still very affordable, so it's ideal for families and big groups of friends. Plus there are no nonsensical and expensive "organic glamping value adds" bumping up the pitch fees here. Thankfully.
If you need to see, feel and hear the sea this is the place. Next stop America. The view from the tent door must be one of the best in the UK in any weather!
Tourist City Cards are rarely worth their price, but during our last trip to Barcelona we found that the Barcelona Card was an exception.
Ticket prices of museums, attractions and transport almost doubled during the last years (the T10 transport card now costs €9.80 compared to €6.30 last time we visited Barcelona in 2007) while the Barcelona Card includes more museums and sights.
You still have to do the math if you want to be sure, but with €55 for a 5-day card (€11 per day) it was well worth it for us.
If you don´t plan on visiting as much museums and attractions as we did, you´re probably cheaper off with the T10 and separate tickets.
Just have a look at the list of discounts before you buy the card to see if it´s worth it. This list is updated quite frequently.
The Barcelona Card is for sale at Tourist Information offices in the city. If you buy the card online you get 10% discount: www.barcelonacard.org/
For a budget but also immersive experience of Portugal, forgo hotels for a quinta such as the fantastic Quinta de Marrocos in the beautiful Duoro valley. This is a homely farmhouse and winery situated on the Duoro river where the comfortable rooms include antiques and the meals are home-cooked and accompanied with the quinta's own wine.
For a luxury self catering holiday on a budget, from 560 euros a week
Casa De Calhariz, an expansive estate which includes a working vineyard, within the Parque Natural da Arrabida, has Mediterranean-like flora and microclimate. Accommodation is converted from traditional white farm buildings, and has amazing views over the Arrabida hills. They are spacious and airy, with terraces for outdoor dining. The luxury pool is unparallelled within this price-range. There is horse-riding and cycling with bikes provided on the estate. It is 40 minutes drive from lovely, cultural, historic Lisbon, and only 10km from Sesimbra and its sandy beaches.
Quinta de Calhariz, 2970-210 Sesimbra Portugal
+351 212 681 007
Two hours drive west from Lisbon, in the Alentejo, is the ancient hilltop village of Monseraz. Below, by the Alqueva dam, is a small family run bed and breakfast - Monte Alerta. It is a charming white stoned villa with a garden and swimming pool (and a real fire in winter). It is the ideal base for exploring the area, which is sparsely populated with undulating hills dotted with cork trees. Within a 30 minute car drive are the historic towns of Evora, Elvas and Estremoz. There are a number of restaurants in Monseraz. The spectacular sunsets can be enjoyed in the garden with a drink (BYO).
Apartado 101, 7200-175, Monsaraz, Alentejo
Thatched lime-walled Pixie Hut and two self-catering artistic wood cabins on lush mountain site within walking distance of river, owned by a practicing sculptor. Fruit trees, owls, geckos, golden oriols, woodepeckers. Site previously owned by Guru Tony (from Hastings!). We flew to Faro, hired a car, drove to the beach (15min), crashed a few art exhibitions for free wine and nibbles, then returned to Fonte da Estrela to sit on the terrace overlooking rolling hills, watch for owls, drink red wine, and talk art to our attentive host, Toin, when she wasn't waving an arc-welder around! Studio facilities for artists and sculptors or borrow a three-man tent and do a Robinson Crusoe down by the river. From 35 euros/night (Pixie Hut), or 30 for cabins
Great value place for peace and quiet, space and scenery. We were there at May half term and had the place almost to ourselves. Staff are extremely helpful and friendly. The in-house restaurant serves great pizzas plus meals and wine is good value at 1.60 euro per glass.
Superb beaches nearby and the quieter western seaside villages are on hand to visit.
Our five night stay with pitch for one tent, parking, wi-fi and showers etc was only about 100 euros.
Superb value spa high in the hills far from the madding crowd. A slightly fantastical collection of buildings set in sunny valley a bit like a mini Port Merrion. We paid 178 euros for two nights B&B with two treatments included each. Large room with antique furniture looked over a beautiful courtyard. Excellent buffet breakfast in 1692 restaurant and deal included wine with dinner one night. Rooms with spa access can be had from 50 euros per night (not per person) and we extended our stay!
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