Thursday, 21 February 2019

Alpaca trekking in Kent

For Christmas I was fortunate enough to receive an alpaca trek experience from my boyfriend Stuart. He found the experience on Groupon and the voucher permitted us both to walk with alpacas for 90 minutes in the beautiful East Kent countryside. The tour group offering the voucher was 'Woodland View Alpacas' and they are a local group of farmers operating at Quex Park in Birchington: a beautiful country park between Canterbury and Margate. I rang one of the staff members at Woodland View shortly after Christmas to arrange a time for us to redeem the voucher and much to my delight he managed to pencil us in for early February. Consequently on Saturday 9th February at midday we set out for Birchington and an exciting afternoon of walking alpacas.

Kat Last with Alvin the alpaca on an alpaca trek with Woodland View Alpacas in Birchington, Kent

Arriving at Quex Park

Alpacas at Quex Park in Birchington, Kent

Quex Park is quite a big estate and Laurie (the guy I spoke to on the phone) had sent me directions to the meeting point in advance. We parked at the Jungle Jim's car park at the end of the estate, before heading over to the small hut-like building adjacent to the car park. The building was clearly marked with an alpaca sign outside and when we walked inside Laurie greeted us and asked us to take a seat. After a short wait and safety tutorial it was time to head outside and pair up with our alpacas.

Meeting my alpaca

Alvin the alpaca at Quex Park in Birchington, Kent

My alpaca was called Alvin and he was small but energetic. Alvin kept making groaning noises when we started walking, which made everyone laugh. After a few minutes of jumpiness and trying to keep up with him, I felt comfortable to start trekking with him. We explored the Quex Park fields and woodland areas, letting our alpacas chew on all of the grass and vegetation that they could dream of. Alpacas are pack animals and they like to stick together so it was great to see them wander off for grass and then immediately retreat back to the herd and familiar territory. We walked in a loop around the estate for over 90 minutes in the end arriving back at Jungle Jim's just before 3pm.

Alpaca trek with Woodland View Alpacas in Birchington, Kent

Returning the alpacas

When we'd finished the trek one of the farmers showed us the rest of the alpacas at Quex Park. There was a baby and some pregnant females that they couldn't take out on the trek, who were all very cute. Alpacas really are adorable animals! On the way out we were able to purchase affordable alpaca-themed souvenirs, so I bought an alpaca pin to go on my pin board at home.

I had such a lovely time trekking with Woodland View Alpacas. Quex Park is a beautiful area to walk around and I'd definitely like to revisit in the future and take another alpaca out for a walk. What a fabulous Christmas present, only a stones throw from Canterbury.

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Thursday, 14 February 2019

Broadstairs beach and Botany Bay

If you're looking for somewhere unique to visit for a day out in Kent, look no further than Broadstairs. Located in East Kent approximately 40 minutes by car from Canterbury, Broadstairs is the perfect blend of nostalgic seaside town and colourful beach hut paradise.  If you drive to Broadstairs, you'll be able to visit some of the town's gorgeous coastal sights that attract visitors from all over Kent. Whether it's Summer or Winter, you're bound to have a great day out at Broadstairs beach (Viking Bay) and Botany Bay.

Beach huts on Broadstairs beach, Kent

Broadstairs beach (Viking Bay)

Broadstairs beach, Kent

The beach huts are what makes Broadstairs for me, as they are painted such beautiful bright colours. The huts look so lovely against the golden yellow sand and they line the beach so well. Broadstairs beach is small but really well kept and there's even a wooden raised path to walk along if you don't fancy getting sandy toes or shoes. We recently visited Broadstairs in the Winter and I was grateful for the path.

At the end of the beach you'll find a cute little hut, which stocks unique seaside gifts. If you're a souvenir collector like myself, definitely stop by the store for a seaside trinket or postcard.

Botany Bay

Botany Bay, Kent

If you drive outside of Broadstairs centre and follow the coastline you'll find Botany Bay: one of the most beautiful coastal locations in Kent. With it's stunning white chalk cliffs and sandy beach it attracts lots of budding walkers, looking to explore the archways and cliff formations that the area is known for. When we visited Botany Bay in January it was a brisk sunny day and the walking conditions were perfect. The sunlight was making the seawater a bright blue and the cold Winter air was so refreshing. Botany Bay is much quieter than Broadstairs beach and this is largely because of it's remote, undisturbed location. When we visited the bay there were next to no people on the beach.

Botany Bay in January

Broadstairs and Botany Bay are great locations to visit for a day out on the Kent coast. We visited the area in Winter when the tourist footfall was low, but in Summer I'm sure it'd be even better as the sand would be warm enough to walk on and the water would be warm enough for you to dip your toes in. Having Broadstairs and other coastal places nearby is one of the many reasons why I adore living in Canterbury.

Kat Last exploring Botany Bay, Kent

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Thursday, 7 February 2019

A guide to Ljubljana's bridges

In early November, Stuart and I headed to the Slovenian capital for a long weekend. We didn’t really have a plan for our time in Ljubljana, all we had was a list of places to visit including the castle, the pink Franciscan Church and some of the city’s famous bridges. The Ljubljanica River runs through the city and if you walk along it’s banks you’ll see the bridges within a 5-10 minute walk of each other. I’d never seem so many beautiful bridges across one river and that’s the inspiration for today's post: a guide to Ljubljana’s famous bridges.

The Ljubljanica River and the centre of Ljubljana's Old Town, Slovenia

The Triple Bridge

The Triple Bridge, Ljubljana

Arguably ‘the big one’, Ljubljana’s Triple Bridge is positioned directly in front of the Franciscan Church. There are three concrete and limestone bridges which make up the collective ‘Triple Bridge’ and lots of people head to the centre of Ljubljana’s Old Town so that they can walk across the individual sections of it. The Triple Bridge and the Franciscan Church are the core of Ljubljana and you can visit anywhere in the city centre from here, as there are side roads splitting out in all different directions.

The Dragon Bridge

The Dragon Bridge, Ljubljana

Slovenia’s interest in dragons throughout history led to construction of the Dragon Bridge in the early 20th century. On each end of the bridge there is a pair of dragons, overlooking the banks of the Ljubljanica. The bridge is one of the most photographed in Ljubljana and it's popularity can be seen in the city's tourist shops as almost every store stocks dragon souvenirs. It is located on the edge of the Old Town, so make sure you remember to walk right along to the bridge and go across it.

Continuing with the dragon theme, there is also a special dragon exhibition at Ljubljana Castle, where you can find out about why dragons are so important in Slovenia.

Butchers' Bridge

Padlocks on the Butchers' Bridge, Ljubljana

The Butchers' Bridge is the least aesthetically pleasing of the bridges we saw in Slovenia, but the hundreds of padlocks attached to it made the bridge a real spectacle to look at. I've seen the padlock bridges in Paris, Prague and Riga and the Butchers' Bridge was definitely the quietest out of the ones that I have visited, but this made walking across the bridge all the more fun though as we were able to photograph the padlocks and look at them all properly, without crowds of people. Butchers' Bridge is surrounded by cafes, restaurants and places to sit and it's a fun place to sit and people watch, so I highly recommend visiting the bridge on a warm afternoon.

The Ljubljanica is a beautiful river that is adorned with spectacular bridges. The river is at the centre of the Old Town and one of my favourite things about visiting Ljubljana was getting to walk along the banks of the river and look at the gorgeous Old Town architecture and the bridges. Hopefully the bridges I've mentioned will be a good starting point for your trip to Ljubljana as they are some of the city's most popular sights.

Ljubljana is a gorgeous city. Have you ever visited?

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Thursday, 31 January 2019

What I ate in Ljubljana

Ljubljana, Slovenia was one of our most relaxing city breaks of 2018. We'd had a busy few weeks at work and all we wanted to do was stroll around the city centre and enjoy the restaurants and cafes in the city's Old Town. From the minute we got off the plane our trip went smoothly as we were dropped right outside our hotel by the local Go Opti service. Our hotel was on the edge of the Old Town and we spent the next 2 days walking around the old part of the city, sightseeing and eating good food. Ljubljana city centre is small but it's got plenty of eateries and after enjoying the places we visited so much, I thought I'd share my 48 hour food diary on my blog.

Kat Last standing by the Dragon Bridge in Ljubljana, Slovenia


Hot Chocolate at Lolita tearoom in Ljubljana, Slovenia

We arrived in the city during the day on a Friday in December and after having snack food over lunchtime, we stopped at the beautiful Lolita tearoom for hot drinks in the afternoon. I had the dreamiest hot chocolate and it was such a lovely place to sit for an hour or so, watching the world go by.

Exterior of Hood Burger in Ljubljana, Slovenia

At dinner time we went to Hood Burger: a Shake Shack style burger joint on the edge of the Old Town. It was New York subway themed inside and very popular with locals, as a queue quickly formed at the counter whilst we were in the restaurant. We both ordered classic burgers and fries and the meals were absolutely delicious. It was quickly evident when we started eating why the fast food restaurant had so many customers.

Burger and fries at Hood Burger in Ljubljana, Slovenia


White Hot Chocolate at Lolita tearoom in Ljubljana, Slovenia

On the Saturday morning we had breakfast at the hotel before heading out for a day of exploring. We spent the morning at the castle and then at lunchtime we walked back down the hill into the Old Town, stopping at a small cafe for a bite to eat. The cafe was a little local place and we enjoyed a tasty panini there, amongst the lively atmosphere and the natter of old groups of friends in the cafe.
In the afternoon we stopped at Lolita again for more of their wonderful hot drinks. This time I ordered a white hot chocolate and it was delicious. If you're visiting Ljubljana any time soon, I can't recommend this tearoom enough.

Exterior of Joe Peña in Ljubljana, Slovenia

Mexican wasn't the cuisine that I expected we'd be eating on our final evening in Ljubljana, but after stumbling across a themed place near the Tivoli Park I couldn't say no. Joe Peñas was a lovely, candle-lit place with a lively atmosphere, serving traditional Mexican favourites. For a starter we enjoyed a chips and dips sharer featuring guacamole, cheese, salsa and a delicious peanut-based sauce. Enchiladas followed (veggie for myself and chicken for Stuart) and the portions were huge! They were such good value main courses, piled high with rice and salad. Joe Peñas was a fun place for us to visit together on our last night in the city.

Vegetarian enchiladas at Joe Peña in Ljubljana, Slovenia


On our final morning in the city we had a tasty breakfast at the hotel, before heading to the airport. We had such a relaxing weekend in Slovenia and we would happily go back for Lake Bled at some point in the near future.

Have you ever been to Ljubljana? Where did you go for dinner whilst you were visiting the city?

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