8 ways to make the most of your travel budget

Travelling can be expensive, there’s no bones about it.

The good news is that this doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of ways to make sure you’re getting the best value for money.

Being able to travel often is a balance of finding ways to get away that don’t cost the earth and being willing to explore off the beaten track.  A budget trip doesn’t mean going without, rather it’s all about trying new things, getting out of your comfort zone and learning what the locals love.  Some of my best travel memories come from discoveries we’ve made over the years that we might have missed if we’d opted for the easy (and more expensive) option.

As it’s always better to share, I thought I’d put pen to paper and offer my favourite ways to make the most of travelling on a budget.  Here’s my top eight;

1. Be flexible with travel times

Think outside the box when it comes to when you want to travel. My other half is a teacher, so we’re often limited to school holidays – which can be pricier, especially when it comes to getting away to the sun. Our solution? Make the most of less popular times of year to travel. We love visiting northern Europe in the autumn half term, which usually falls at the end of October. Flights are cheap, cities are less crowded and you can enjoy the stunning displays of copper-coloured foliage that this time of year brings.

Make the most of off-season prices in June and September and delight in exploring without the crowds if you want to head to southern Europe. April and May are fantastic for city breaks as you can spend all day on your feet without sweltering or needing to pack your thermals. And try to book well in advance to make sure you get the best prices.

Want more suggestions for off-season travel? Try my city guides to Vienna and Bratislava for some autumnal inspiration.

Bratislava, Slovakia, city skyline

2. Bag a bottle

Something that stacks up pretty quick when you’re away? Bottled water. A few Euro here and there on every trip soon adds up. If you’re happy with tap water, grab yourself a travel bottle and top up for free in hotels and airports to save a pretty penny (that I like to consider a contribution to my beer and pastry fund). I’m obsessed with my Platypus bottle that has traipsed around Europe with me for the past couple of years. It folds completely flat and rolls up to squeeze in a handbag or pocket when empty, but can hold enough to keep me hydrated on a day’s hiking.

Platypus collapsible water bottle

3. Ah, the Easyjet cheap flight finder

Not limited exclusively to Easyjet – most budget airlines have online tools to help you find their best value flights. If you know when you want to travel, use a cheap flight finder to pick your travel dates and set your departure airport – then let it suggest the best value for money flights available at that time.

It’s a novel way to solve the age old problem of “where should we go next?” and can throw up some suggestions you might never have otherwise thought of.

Find the Easyjet cheap flight finder here, Ryanair route map here and Norwegian’s low fare calendar here.

Wing of Ryanair aircraft

4. Don’t pay for baggage!! (unless you can help it)

Max out your hand luggage, and carry everything with you if you can. It might not work for everyone, or for longer trips, but you might surprise yourself with how much can be carried in your hand luggage allowance (check with your airline first, as this can vary).

If you need to take more, consider buddying up with your travel companions (easier, admittedly, with a partner than with mates) to share the allowance for checked in bags. Share a suitcase half and half – and remember that for most airlines you can carry up to 20kg, which coupled with your hand baggage allowance might be more than enough.

5. Plan your whole journey

I love an irresistibly cheap flight. But before you get overexcited and grab your wallet, take a few minutes to plan your whole journey, including the cost of travel to the airport and parking if necessary.

It might cost more to fly from your local airport, but if you can get there by public transport, or get a lift (and offer lifts in return to your kindly lift-giver) you might find your travel costs far less overall.

Don’t forget to consider alternative travel options too – Eurostar, long-distance coaches, and road trips by boat or Eurotunnel can be amazingly good value. And slow travel can be a fantastic way to soak up the atmosphere and see more of the world as you travel along at ground level.

6. The best things in life are free

I know, it sounds cliché. But it’s so true. Exploring the streets of Paris? Free. Watching the sun set over the Mediterranean in Korcula? Free. Meandering around the canals of Bruges? Free. I could go on.

I love to walk and get a feel for a place more than checking into museums and attractions. But if that’s more your cup of tea than mine, it pays to do your research. Many museums and galleries in London are free, the Prado in Madrid is free provided you arrive after 6pm, or 5pm Sunday (it’s a great way to spend an hour or two before seeking out drinks and tapas) and if you’re under 26 or a student (it’s always worth carrying your student card with you) you’ll find you’re entitled to a discount in most continental galleries and museums. Check prices and opening hours in advance and work out how to squeeze in a visit at the right time.

Gamla Stan - the old town of Stockholm, Sweden

7. Don’t dismiss hostels

The budget travellers friend, hostels often can’t be beaten if you’re looking for a bed for a bargain price.

But don’t underestimate them if you don’t fancy spending your trips in a packed dorm full of snoring Australian’s on a gap year.

Some of the larger hostel chains, such as Generator, now offer high-quality accommodation in locations that can’t be beaten. There’s dorms if that’s your thing, larger private rooms that are ideal if you’re travelling with a group of friends or private, ensuite double rooms that are great for couples or families. I like the laid back atmosphere, the friendly staff and no-fuss approach of hostels which feels perfect for shorter trips.

My favourites? Generator in Paris can’t be beaten for quality, no-frills accommodation in a city where the hotel market is decidedly dicey. And for tapas lovers, the Oasis Hostal Toledo, Spain, has a secret roof terrace with stunning views, lovely cafe next door and beautiful double rooms with French windows opening onto the cobbled street outside.

Find out more in my guide to 24 hours in Toledo.

View from Oasis Hostal Toledo in Spain

8. Branch out for breakfast

If you’re booking hotels through a comparison site, such as booking.com, chances are you’ll be able to choose whether or not to include breakfast in your booking.

Now, if you’re staying in a more expensive location, and can manage three plates of food before 9am, book the breakfast! Fill yourself up and save on snacks later. My personal record: four full plates in the Comfort Hotel Malmö, a stunning hotel in Sweden’s glorious third city, that included hot options and hot waffles.

But, if you’re in southern Europe, think twice before you click ‘add’. For the 5 or 6 Euro it’ll cost for a hotel buffet, you could enjoy a coffee sitting on a sun-drenched cafe terrace watching the local market set up, and follow it with an irresistible buttery pastry from the bakery down the road. It’ll probably cost you less too.

Emmerys bakery for breakfast in Copenhagen, Denmark

If you’re visiting central and eastern Europe, supermarkets tend to be considerably cheaper than at home and we’ve enjoyed going to town on juices, granola and fruit for little more than a euro or two a day. It’s a great choice if you’re staying in an airbnb, and even better if you’ve got a terrace you can eat it on.

Rookie error: Don’t carry a bag of granola around Croatia for a week. You’ll be finding bits of granola in your clothes for weeks to come. I learned the hard way…

So there’s my eight top tips for making the most of travelling on a budget.  What are your suggestions?  Have you found any fantastic things to do for free, or can recommend any great budget options?

8 ways to make the most of your travel budget

Twenty four hours in Toledo: A city guide

Spring has well and truely sprung this week in southern England.

I love this time of year.  Warmer days, brisk April showers, longer evenings, trees bursting forth into leaf and blossom dusting the pavements of my hometown.  It’s a beauty to watch the transformation a little sunlight and warmth can bring.

Last year, Easter fell this week and we headed south to Spain for a few days.  The magnolias were in bloom, the trees lush with fresh new foliage and skies blue.  It was the perfect antidote to the grey winter months we were only just leaving behind.

We spent a couple of nights in Madrid before jumping on the train to medieval Toledo for our last two days.  Baking in the spring sunshine beside the river, and within the old stone walls, Toledo seemed glorious.  Although we only spent twenty four hours in this little slice of Spanish history, I couldn’t have been happier that I picked this location for our last night.

So, if you’re looking for some spring delight, you’ve found it here.  It’s my guide to exploring the fortified town of Toledo, one tapas at a time.

Tell me about Toledo

Toledo is a ancient yet lively walled town situated in the region of Castilla-La Mancha in central Spain.  It’s only half an hour from central Madrid by train, making it the perfect addition to a trip to the Spanish capital.

The station alone makes quite the architectural statement, with nods to the some the Moorish style buildings you’ll find within the town.  But, situated a little way from both the newer town and historic walled centre, it feels quite an innocuous arrival.  Follow the signs from the station and you’ll be wondering what the fuss is all about for a moment.  There’s a main road and some modern buildings in the distance, but nothing to write home about.  Suddenly the road bears round to the left and the old town, in all it’s glory, arrives in front of you perched above the river on a rocky outcrop.

Getting into the old town means crossing an ancient fortified bridge, then trekking up a couple of narrow, stone walled alleys.  There are easier ways to do it (look out for the extraordinary sight of escalators criss-crossing the outer walls in places), but they’re not quite as fun.  Eventually you’ll arrive in the centre of town, in the Plaza de Zocodover.

Old streets of Toledo, Spain

At this point in your journey, you’ll have to accept that Toledo – even out of season – is a very popular tourist destination, especially for coach trippers staying in, or visiting, nearby Madrid.  We arrived at midday and were slightly dismayed to find that the square was packed full of school kids and chain restaurants that contradicted the fabulous entrance we’d experienced.  But don’t let this put you off.  And let me share our secret for making the most of a visit to this little town.  Stay for the night!  As the sun goes down, the crowds melt away and a new-old city emerges – atmospheric, alive with locals and full of quiet corners to enjoy a few drinks and tapas.

Where to explore in Toledo during the day

Head outside the city walls when the streets are packed.  Our favourites? Exploring the riverside foothpaths encircling the city, and Toledo’s Roman past.

Take a walk along the river.  From the Puente de Alcantara you can get down onto a waterside path that tracks around the old town.  It gives you a different perspective on the town – you’ll see views you just won’t find by road, and stumble across unexpected picnic spots and pretty houses aplenty.

The Rio Tajo in Toledo, Spain

Follow the path to the Puente de San Martin (a bridge that’s worth a visit in it’s own right, for it’s panoramic views) and cross over, away from the old town.  Take a left turn and head up the hill for a couple hundred metres.  On your left you’ll see a signpost and path leading to the chapel of La Cabeza.  From here, you can look down on old Toledo from a completely different angle – it’s a great way to get a feel for where the largest, monumental buildings sit within the walls.

View of Toledo from La Cabeza chapel

Take a walk back in time.  Toledo began life as an Roman trading town, with strategic importance at the centre of the Iberian peninsula.  It was a focal point for the many farming communities that surrounded it, and sported as it’s pièce-de-resistance a phenomenal arena or ‘circus’ that hosted sporting events and markets with crowds tens of thousands strong.  Incredibly, substantial parts of this vast structure still remain, peppering a little park that’s sandwiched between the new and old town.  They give clues to the vastness of the arena – as well as it’s impregnable construction.

Roman amphitheatre in Toledo Spain

Where to explore in Toledo on a evening

The early evening is the perfect time to stroll the cities meandering streets.  Pop your head inside cavernous churches, soak up the sun with a beer or two in a streetside cafe, and seek out hidden squares and courtyards tucked away within the old city walls.

Sunset over city rooftops in Toledo, Spain

Take in the monumental buildings of Toledo – the Alcazar, the Cathedral, the many churches – like the locals do, on an evening stroll.  And with gift shops and tourist cafes shuttered up for the day, look out for signs of life that have remained unchanged for decades, even centuries.  Hand-painted signs on the rendered exterior of town houses hint at the traditional industries and trades that have contributed to Toledo’s wealth and success over the years.   Pretty little trees in blossom bore signs of the summer that was to come.

Hand-painted signs in Toledo, Spain

Where to explore in Toledo on an early morning

This little Spanish city is especially magical first thing in the morning when the streets are quiet, but the sun gives Toledo and the surrounding hillsides and plains a glow you won’t see once it’s fully risen.  Get up early and circumnavigate the city walls at first light, and enjoy the fresh air by the river.  It’s a wonderful place to run, if that’s your thing.  Or enjoy breakfast whilst watching the world go by from an old-fashioned cafe – tasty suggestions coming up.

Rio Tajo in Toledo Spain

Where to eat and drink in Toledo

Toledo is a curious place.  As it metamorphoses from day to night, the somewhat generic restaurants and eateries packing the main square largely disappear as the evening approaches.  It makes finding food more of a challenge, but I like a challenge.  Fortunately, Toledo doesn’t fall short and there’s plenty to find if you’re willing to explore.

If cooking is your thing, head straight to Calle Coliseo (better earlier in the day than later) to scout out the traditional market that’s home to butchers, grocers, pescaterias and a handy supermarket.  You won’t find better for authentic ingredients in town, and it makes a good stop if you want to grab a few indulgent essentials for a picnic lunch or breakfast.

If you’re hoping for someone else to do the hard work in the kitchen, make like a local and head to the Mercado de San Augustin just off Calle Silleria.  More of a streetfood market, this recently renovated building is home to a handful of bars and restaurants across three floors offering up tapas, drinks and more on an evening.  We found it packed with students (Toledo has a university campus nearby, and students are usually a good sign of fun and inexpensive food) forming a great long queue at Show Burguer.  Not wanting to miss out, we joined the queue and tucked into gourmet burgers topped with local specialities.

As the night was still young, we meandered our way through the warm streets looking for somewhere to quench our thirst.  We happily stumbled across La Maquerida de la Trinidad on the corner of Calle Trinidad.  Charmed by the looks of it’s cosy interior, we retreated inside to enjoy a few beers and some of the most delicious complementary tapas I’ve ever enjoyed.  Just don’t tell the owner we’d already eaten – we were enjoying woofing down delicious mouthfuls of homemade tortilla and little pinxos.

Lastly, if there is one meal I love most in Spain, it’s breakfast.  We popped to the charming La Papa next door to our hostel to fill our boots.  The very reasonably priced €3.50 ‘energetica’ breakfast left me comfortably full of pan con tomate, tostada and tortilla, and their cafe con leches tasted as good as any I’d savoured in Madrid’s more upmarket coffee shops.

Where to stay in Toledo

I can’t recommend the hostel where we stayed in Toledo enough.  Even if you think you’re not into hosteling, think twice before you decide this gem isn’t for you! (and I don’t use exclamation marks lightly).  The Oasis Hostel Toledo was simple but perfect.  The central location is fabulous, and our room was comfortable, beautifully presented and had two rather-romantic french doors looking out onto the sleepy street below.

Oh, and the best bit?  This view from the roof terrace;

View from Oasis Hostal Toledo in Spain

A private room with en-suite came in at just under €50 per night (for two guests) in April.  The stunning views? Priceless.

The verdict

Toledo is worth a day of any traveller’s time, with it’s wealth of history, charming streets, sleepy cafes and panoramic views. But to see the real Toledo, time your trip right. Soak up the morning sun as the city slowly comes to life. Sip a cold beer and nibble tapas outside a cafe as the sun sinks golden below the spires and rooftops of this ancient town.  And step beyond the streets well-trodden to see signs of centuries of life in this atmospheric little place you’ll be glad you discovered.

Have you visited Toledo? What hidden gems did you stumble across?


The practical bit

We flew to Madrid in April 2016 with Easyjet and travelled to Toledo by train with Renfe, the Spanish rail network, from Madrid’s Atocha Station.  A return ticket cost €20.60.

Our bed for the night was at the beautiful Oasis Hostal Toledo, one of the most recommendable hostels I’ve ever had the pleasure of staying in.

A guide to the hilltop city of Toledo, Spain

Dublin in a weekend: A city break at the heart of the Emerald Isle

Choosing the perfect location for a weekend break can be hard.

As you start juggling travel time, convenience and cost amongst other things, you can pretty quickly realise you’ve killed the magic by picking a location just because it was practical.

Fortunately, I think we’ve found the answer to the question “Where’s fun and easy to visit in a weekend?”.  It’s Dublin: a compact city packed full of culture, good craic and glorious architecture that’s also less than an hours flight from London.  There’s a plethora of airlines flying daily to the Irish capital from airports large and small across the UK and Europe – and you’re right in the thick of things as soon as you arrive.  With no long transfers or complicated transport networks to negotiate you can crack straight on with the job of enjoying yourself.

We headed across the Irish Sea for a long weekend at the end of February and surprised ourselves with how much fun (and good food) you can squeeze into three days.  So, jump on board as I show you how to spend 48 hours on the Emerald Isle.

Day one:  Barbecues, Temple Bar and the river Liffey

We spent our first day getting to know central Dublin, and the banks of the river Liffey.

After checking into our hotel we crossed the Ha’Penny bridge (a pretty wrought iron number that is one of several pedestrian bridges spanning the river) and headed to Temple Bar.  It’s a good place to start exploring, with inviting cobbled streets and bustling venues whatever time of day you arrive.  Ignore it’s reputation as party central (unless you’re here just for the craic, in which case dive straight in) if that’s not your thing, as the Georgian buildings, cafes and restaurants makes it worth a wander.

From here, it’s an easy stroll to some of Dublin’s central landmarks that are worth a look – St. Patrick’s cathedral with it’s formal gardens, St. Stephen’s Green (a centrepoint in Ireland’s political history) and the graceful quadrangle of Trinity College, Ireland’s oldest university.  Grafton Street leads you back towards Temple Bar along the city’s main thoroughfare, a busy shopping street with plenty of places to grab a coffee (or a doughnut at the Rolling Donut – you won’t be able to resist) if you need a bit of sustenance.

View of the docklands along the river Liffey, Dublin

If you’ve not had enough of pounding the pavements, head out of the centre and along the river a little way.  The docklands have seen substantial redevelopment over the last fifteen years, and striking modern offices and apartments jostle for space between renovated warehouses along the waterfront.  Follow the northern bank of the river and pause for a moment to take in the famine memorial, a poignant reminder of a heart-breaking period in Ireland’s history.  Cross over the eyecatching Sean O’Casey bridge and explore the Grand Canal basin, keeping your eyes peeled for some great murals along the way.

Running wolf mural along the river Liffey in Dublin, Ireland

Now, if you’re like us, you’re probably pretty hungry by this time.  It might seem tempting to head to Temple Bar or retreat to somewhere close to your hotel if you’re after something to eat.  Instead, go a little further south of the river to the area around St. Georges Street and George Street Arcade to find a cornucopia of cafes and restaurants.  You’ll be spoilt for choice, because if there’s one thing Dublin knows how to do it’s amazing food.

We made a beeline for the highly recommended – and highly recommendable – Pitt Bros BBQ.  It’s one of those magic places that you know must be good, because you can’t make reservations and service ends “when the meat runs out”.  It’s a cracker of a restaurant, serving up barbecue favourites with succulent sides and an imaginative drinks menu.  We opted to try the  Pitt Bros. original ribs and the St. Louis ribs with a bucketload of sides, and tucked in for a feast.  We loved it.  And, as if it couldn’t get any better, once we finally finished our plates we got to go and help ourselves to a big old Mr Whippy from the in-house ice cream machine.  What more could a girl want?

Pitt Bros. BBQ in Dublin, Ireland

After dinner, stroll the streets awhile to get feel for Dublin alive at night.  Dublin castle is particularly picturesque lit up, but lets be honest. You’re going to want to head to a pub.  We nipped into the Brazen Head, allegedly the city’s oldest pub, to nurse a pint by the fire.  I hate to admit it but it felt a little packed full of tourists and lacking in atmosphere.  So we embraced a little of Temple Bar spirit for the rest of night, ending up more through luck than judgement in the quirky Buskers on the ball.  Walk through the doors and into the basement to discover it’s definitely not your average watering hole.  Instead it’s quite wonderfully home to a vast number of table tennis, fussball and air hockey tables in place of your average bar furniture.  Grab a drink, challenge your travelling companions to a game and enjoy – we thought it was great.

Day Two:  Brunch, botanicals and stand-up comedy

We got going on day two with brunch at the Art Cafe, nestled under railway arches to the north of the river.  A little way out from the centre it meant fantastic value for money, with hearty food and plentiful tea and coffee for less than €7 per head.

Art Cafe in Dublin, Ireland

Art Cafe features an ever-changing collection of works from local artists.  But it doesn’t stop here.  If you’re here on a Sunday morning like us, head over to Merrion Square for art by the armful.  The railings around the outside of this pretty garden become an impromptu gallery once a week where local artists display prints and original pieces for sale.  It’s a great way to see to see Dublin and the Irish landscape through the eyes of some wonderfully creative sorts.

If the weather has got the better of you, don’t despair, explore the delightful Dublin City Gallery instead.  Behind the picturesque Georgian townhouse facade you’ll find an impressive collection that includes stunning local works, Impressionist masterpieces and the Francis Bacon studio, dedicated to one of the city’s most famous sons.  It’s also free of charge, so it’s a worthwhile trip even if you’re tight for time.

With a full day to play with, take the opportunity to explore a little farther out from the city centre.  Looking for a little splash of spring on a cloudy winters afternoon, we optimistically headed to the National Botanic Gardens, about 3 miles north of the river.

Bird of paradise in the National Botanic Gardens, Dublin

Even when the weather’s not on your side you can potter to your hearts content around the graceful glasshouses, the sweeping lawns or explore the native woodland.  Look out for the collections of tropical plants and orchids on a grey day, or warm up with a brew in the cafe just inside the gates.  The palm houses were a joy (and a good place to warm up!).

Having trekked a fair few miles over the course of the day (we walked to the Botanic Gardens, which I wouldn’t recommend unless you’re feeling pretty intrepid.  There’s helpfully a bus that will do the hard work for you), we decided that we’d earned ourselves some afternoon tea.  Brother Hubbard was a chance to get to know Capel Street, with it’s brightly coloured buildings and eclectic mix of shops, as well as what might be the best scones known to man.  Pop in for a ganache hot chocolate (yup, that tastes as good as it sounds) and stay for a cheeky slice of cake, brunch or dinner.  It may be a little on the upmarket side, but the cosy atmosphere and fabulous aromas make it worth the while.

Umbrellas on display in Temple Bar, Dublin

We meandered back into the thick of things as darkness started to fall.  Close to George Street Arcade you’ll find Jo’Burger – the sort of place dreams are made of after a long day on your feet.  We retreated into the warmth to fill ourselves with juicy burgers topped with magical combinations: mushroom, cheese and bacon for Mr, sweet beetroot and horseradish for me.  Oh, and trust me when I say try the lemonade.  Their home-made citrus-y combinations are ridiculously good, and the lime and ginger was winner for us.  All in all, another thoroughly recommendable spot to eat that promised and delivered delicious food.

To finish off our day, we had one of life’s lucky moments.  There are plenty of things we plan when we travel, and plenty that we don’t.  Sometimes we just go for a wander and see what we find.  Fancying an after-dinner drink we found ourselves in the Stags Head in Temple Bar, a stunning building with an old fashioned bar and stained glass windows.  This in itself made it a good find.  What we hadn’t banked on was discovering that they host free stand-up comedy gigs every Sunday, Monday and Tuesday night in their basement.

One thing led to another (or one drink led to another, something like that) and we ended up spending our evening with a front row seat for some of Ireland’s best comedians.  I couldn’t recommend it enough.  We laughed, drank, laughed even more, and somehow managed to get a free ice cream, again.  If you’re in Dublin don’t miss The Comedy Crunch – it’s wonderful!

Day 3: Cafes, coast paths and chippies

We wanted to venture a little way out of the city on our last day.  As with any good plan, it started with a good breakfast – this time at The Woollen Mills, close to Ha’Penny Bridge.  This cafe is a Dublin institution, even if it’s hipster interior belies it.  We tucked into huge plates of delicious food over a morning cuppa and watched the world go by outside.

Breakfast at The Woolen Mills, Dublin

Suitably filled, we headed to Tara Street station and hopped on a train to Howth.  Less than half an hour away from the city centre, Howth is a pretty fishing village perched on a windswept peninsula, looking out across the Irish Sea.  Dubliners love this place and it’s not hard to see why.  The colourful terraced houses, restored waterfront warehouses now home to fish restaurants and oyster bars, the views across to water to the pretty little offshore island of Ireland’s Eye: it’s everything you’d hope to find by the sea.

Happily, there are miles and miles of coastal path leading to, from and around Howth.  We occupied a pleasant, if a little windy, couple of hours exploring the coastline and taking in the views across the water.

Sea views from Howth near Dublin, Ireland

Contented after a few hours of walking, we warmed ourselves up with chips on the seafront before returning to the quaint little station.

If you can squeeze in time, make sure that you’ve explored the area around St. Georges Street by day before you leave.  Georges Street Arcade is a fabulous brick and iron structure packed with quirky shops and market stalls and some fantastic places to grab a bite to eat if you’re about to make a dash to the airport.  We stopped at Lolly And Cooks for homemade takeaway hotpot (divine) and to gaze longingly at their sweet treats – a happy end to a happy trip.

St. Georges Arcade, Dublin


The practical bit

We flew to Dublin with Ryanair in February for less than £30 per person – proof that great value flights are out there!  From Dublin airport it’s an easy bus ride on the Airlink Express into the heart of things.  A return ticket cost €10 and appears to be open-ended.

Normally, I’d let you know where we stayed – but we didn’t love the place and therefore it wouldn’t feel right.  Don’t get me wrong, it was a comfortable enough roof over our heads on Lower Gardiner Street, but I’d love to hear your suggestions if you’ve visited Dublin and found somewhere great to stay.  Hotel?  Hostel?  What would you recommend?

Dublin in a weekend: A city break at the heart of the Emerald Isle

Skiing the Milky Way: The sun-drenched pistes of the French-Italian border

The Milky Way – or Via Lattea as it’s known in Italy – hugs the French-Italian alpine border, taking in the resorts of Montgenevre, Sestriere and Sauze d’Oulx in one easily navigable ski area.  Not only is it perfect for more experienced skiers and boarders looking for a huge number and diversity of pistes, some of the prettier villages that dot the Milky Way offer beginner and family friendly slopes set in a stunning landscape.

Confession: I’ve fallen a bit in love with the Milky Way.

I’ve just returned from my second trip within a year, and keep finding reasons to recommend it.  Basing ourselves at opposite ends of the Via Lattea on each visit, we’ve explored the vast majority of this surprisingly budget-friendly ski area.  But I’m still looking for excuses to return.

So, if you’re a lover of mountains, snowsports, perfect pistes and plenty of cheese, read on for my guide to making the most of the Milky Way;

The resorts

The Via Lattea comprises seven resorts, six in Italy and one in France.  But don’t let the border worry you – you can ski and board back and forth between the two countries to your heart’s content, with several routes to choose from.

Starting on the French border – Montgenevre

This purpose-built French resort delivers everything you’d expect and more.  It’s situated high up meaning that good snow conditions are almost guaranteed for most of the winter.  The large ESF-run ski school is great for beginners and improvers, there’s a good selection of restaurants and cafes (it is France after all) as well as a smattering of useful shops, plus it’s easy to access the piste from anywhere in town.

Montgenevre is a fabulous location for mixed ability groups.  You’ve got a huge range of pistes on your doorstep, from pretty tree-lined green runs that everyone can enjoy to challenging reds and blacks that’ll get the blood pumping and help you explore every inch of the mountain.  And at the end of the day, you can warm up on the way home with a vin chaud at one of the many bars along the main street.

Looking down over the French resort of Montgenevre

 The best bits: The pistes up at Les Gondrans are a dream.  They’re varied and easy to access from four lifts, making it perfect for those who want to spend some time finding their ski legs, practising their technique or having some fun.  There’s something for everyone here – and Cafe Les Anges is ready and waiting once the hot chocolates are a’calling.

 Be aware: If you’re hoping to explore the whole Milky Way, it can take a long time to get across from Montgenevre.  You’re best off taking a bus – or heading to nearby Serre Chevalier (separate lift pass required) if you’re after some variety.

Claviere

This traditional little village sits on the Italian border just 3km from Montgenevre, with easy ski links between the two.  Smaller than its French neighbour, it’s a great spot for families and those who want the pistes to themselves.  We based ourselves here at the Grande Albergo Hotel Claviere, a budget friendly hotel that was great for groups.

Claviere is quiet, but well-served with a small Italian supermarket, bakery, the recommendable Gallo’s bar and a couple of delightful pizzerias and restaurants both in town and on the piste at La Coche.

The small ski resort of Claviere in Piedmonte, Italy

The best bits: Claviere is well located for exploring the whole of the Via Lattea and we could get across to Sansicario, Sestriere and Sauze d’Oulx from here if we moved fast enough.  This makes it a good strategic base for more experienced skiers.

Be aware: It’s not a party town, so if you’re hoping to hit the après or aperitivos you’re better off considering Sauze d’Oulx or Montgenevre.

Sansicario and Cesana

A venue for the 2006 Torino Winter Olympics, Sansicario is largely purpose-built and one of the smaller towns on the Milky Way.  It’s close to the valley town of Cesana, a functional hub in the centre of the ski area that’s home to more locals than tourists.

What Sansicario lacks in size it more than makes up for in enjoyable piste, with sweeping reds and blacks that are the perfect playground for boarders and experienced skiers.  Sauze d’Oulx and Sestriere are only a few lifts and pistes away if you want cover as much snow as possible.

Views of the Monti della Luna from Sansicario on the Milky Way

The best bits: Sansicario is a sun trap on a clear day, so slap on some suncream and head over to make the most of the open upper pistes and cafe terraces (because when in Italy, have your fill of Italian hot chocolate. It’d be rude not to).

Be aware: The lower slopes were in relatively poor condition this winter (2017), so I wouldn’t recommend as a ski-in/ski-out location – you’ll be spending a lot of time carrying boards and skis if you base yourself here.

Sestriere and Pragelato

Synonymous with world-class skiing, Sestriere – and nearby Pragelato – sit in a bowl towards the southern edge of the Via Lattea.  This upmarket resort might not be the prettiest you’ve ever visited but it’s heritage as a host of world cup skiing tells you everything you need to know.  You’ll find spectacular, challenging pistes right on your doorstep as well as mountain restaurants galore.  A gondola offers a speedy link to Sauze and Sansicario, giving you the opportunity to ski a massive area each day.

The best bits: The central location and wide variety of accommodation and eating options.   As with Montgenevre, you’ll also find the elevation here (2,000m) means that Sestriere is pretty snowsure throughout the season.

Be aware:  Sestriere isn’t a great recommendation for budget travellers – base yourself in Sauze d’Oulx instead and head across early in the morning.

Sauze d’Oulx

Sauze has a bit of a split personality – part traditional Italian alpine village, part party town.  Whichever side you’re most interested in, it’ll be outshone by the meandering tree-lined pistes that make Sauze a joy to visit in its own right.

It’s one of the larger resorts on the Milky Way, meaning you’ll find a good variety of accommodation and eating options on and off the slopes.  It also offers the best value for money I’ve come across in this area for both – especially when it comes to enjoying food up on the mountain.

Pistes in Sauze d'Oulx, Piedmonte, Italy

The best bits: Take a little time to stroll around the old town without your boots on – the narrow cobbled streets, overhanging eaves of hundred year old chalets and arched stone doorways make you feel more like a visitor to an Italian village on the plains than a ski resort.  There are some great budget eats too – try the fantastic Famelica Pizzeria in the old town for the best takeaway you’ve ever eaten (bonus points for enjoying it out in the snow), and the cafe at the top of Col Basset offers fantastic paninis made fresh in front of you for a little over €5.

Be aware:  As with Sansicario, the lower pistes can struggle with snow cover if conditions are warm.  Unseasonable weather in 2016, when we based ourselves in Sauze, required some serious efforts from the piste-bashers and snow cannons to keep the returns into town open.

Lift passes

Depending on where you base yourself, and how much of the Milky Way you intend to explore, there are several options when it comes to lift passes.

The international pass covers you for all resorts on both the Italian and French sides of the border. Given the size of the ski area and the amount of time taken to get from one end of the Milky Way, this represents good value for money only if you’re a very experienced (and ambitious) snowsports enthusiast, or if you’ve got your own transport to move from one resort to the other.

For most skiers or boarders, the Via Lattea or Montiluna Montgenevre passes are a better fit.

The Via Lattea pass gives you full access to all Italian resorts, and one day in Montgenevre (if you go for the 6 day pass).

Alternatively, if your base is in Montgenevre or Claviere, you can opt for the Montiluna Montgenevre pass that allows you to explore these two resorts to your heart’s content, and spend one day in six in the other Italian resorts.

The Via Lattea and Montiluna Montgenevre passes offer great value for money as they cover substantial areas.  Take the opportunity to make the most of a day’s skiing elsewhere in the area by taking a coach transfer – usually easy to arrange through your reps in resort – to Montgenevre, Sauze or Sestriere (this should get you there for lift opening, and return once the pistes have closed).  It is possible to take lifts all the way across, but expect to need a little bit of patience and ability to shuffle in ski boots if you go for this option.

You can find out more about lift passes on the Via Lattea website.

Skis on the Via Lattea. Italy

The practical bit

The Milky Way is just over an hours drive from Turin airport, making coach transfers and fly-drive options a breeze.  Sauze d’Oulx is closest to the fast motorway links, with Montgenevre and Sestriere taking a little longer to reach.

If you’re travelling from the UK you’ll find a wide range of tour operators offering good value packages to this area – we’ve travelled here most recently with Crystal and Neilson.

You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to accommodation with hotels, catered chalets and apartments in abundance, although pick your resort carefully if you plan to self-cater and shop in town.  Some of the Italian resorts including Sauze d’Oulx have a real lack of any good food shopping, however Montgenevre and Claviere have much greater choice.

We opted for the Neilson Hotel Edelweiss in Sauze d’Oulx in 2016, which gave us easy access to the Jouvenceaux lift to get onto the mountain, generous food and stylish rooms.  For contrast, we headed to the opposite end of the resort in 2017, staying at the Grande Hotel Albergo Claviere in the centre of the village.  This hotel is run by Crystal and pitches itself as family-friendly, but it’s a good choice for all budget travellers.  It’s got fantastic ski links, a friendly bar and a plentiful – if not gourmet – menu.

Is it worth it?

Absolutely. There’s something for everyone here, and with another eight weeks left of this ski season there’s still time to book a quick getaway. The Milky Way has been blessed with great snow conditions so far in 2017, and coupled with it’s sunny slopes it should be perfect this coming Easter.

And don’t forget, if you’re looking for some more Alpine inspiration, try  Winter wonderlands: Where to ski in Europe this season for my favourite European resorts you’ve not yet heard of.

Feeling inspired to plan a trip?  Tell me about it in the comments below or on the Girl with a saddle bag Facebook page.

Skiing the Via Lattea: The ultimate guide to the pistes of the French-Italian border

Why I run when I travel

I wasn’t born a runner.  I never even tried until I was in my late teens, and the bug never truly bit until I was in my early twenties.

Now, I could wax lyrical about why I love to run, but that isn’t what you’ve come here to read about.  Instead, I’d like to share why I run when I’m away.

Running is part of our routine when we’re away. The way we shape our trips has evolved over time, but somehow carving out half an hour or an hour, early in the morning, seems to have become a constant.

There’s a certain magic to being up and about before others are.  In a city, you’ll get the streets to yourself – or get to share them with only a few.  Without crowds in your way, your eyes pick out details you would not otherwise have spotted, your senses become sharpened.  You find streets, passageways, invisible at other times.  You follow your feet.  Visiting Munich a few years ago I found myself sharing the cobblestones with an incredible team of handymen transforming the city’s largest department store into a festive delight, decked with trees and lights.  Walking back into the city later, at breakfast time, the transformation was complete.  I was the only one who saw what went on behind the scenes.

Wrought iron gateway in Toledo, Spain

 Then there’s the light.  The time of year doesn’t matter, although the best light will be found at different times in different places.  In Toledo, as my feet fell softly on the stone beneath them, the rising sun cast a soothing glow over the misty fields below the city walls.  In Stockholm the days are short in winter, and capturing the dawn is a way of life for the Swedes.  Unlike elsewhere, people are out at first light going about their business.  The warm colours of the painted facades in the old town came alive as the sun peaked above the horizon.

 In southern Europe, the smells are just as provocative.  In any French town, get up early on market day.  Watch the streets come alive with vibrant colours and alluring fragrances.  Cut flowers, fresh baked bread just out of the oven, sweet pastries, pungent herbs.  There is no happier place on earth than the winding passageways of Annecy in the French Alps, on market day.  As you slip past, lithe on your feet, your mind doesn’t have time to take in everything it can see, but it can take in everything you can smell.  Breathe deeply, and enjoy.

City gate in Carcasonne, France

 It’s fresh first thing.  Exploring during the summer months can be hard, with a hot sun beating down on you.  On an August morning, it’s cool under the trees and by the water.  It’s an excuse to get up and out.  In Hvar town, you can follow the Riva through the old town harbour and beyond.  Sheltered by umbrella pines and out of the glare of the sun, you catch the breeze by the water.  It’s hot, but it’s not unbearable.  Following Ivana Vucetica brought me to a deserted cove, with sand under my feet.  Me versus the world, just sea and sky, blue and bright.  It’s the moments you run for.

Running on the Dalmation coast of Croatia

 Your feet take you places you could not otherwise go.  On city streets, it’s the curious cut-throughs and alleys that take you to hidden squares, secret gardens.  Peep through doorways in Catalunya into the courtyards beyond.  Canal towpaths, where tree roots burst through the banks and paths making it treacherous by bike, are made for trail shoes. Under the shade of the Plane trees lining the Canal du Midi it’s tranquil at dawn.  Mountain paths can feel heavy going on hike, but you feel light on your toes first thing.  The views reward above and beyond anything else.  Running gives permission to be inquisitive, to find the road less trodden.

I don’t run to get faster, burn calories, for kudos or to meet goals.  I run because I explore, and exploring is more than just visiting a place.  It’s about throwing yourself in head-first, finding out what makes somewhere tick.  Changing the way you see a place changes how you see a place.

 And I’ve seen good things.

Why I run when I travel

Beautiful Bath: The jewel in Somerset’s crown

I’m the first to admit that I’m terrible at exploring my home country.  Somehow, making the most of where I live can pale into insignificance when I get excited about planning another trip abroad.  So, I’m making a definitely-not-a-new-years-resolution-because-it’s-only-December.  I want to better know my own little piece of England.

First on the list?  The beautiful city of Bath.

What’s so great about Bath?

Bath is a picturesque little city in rural southwest England whose petite size means that it’s just right for exploring in a day.  Packed with independent cafes, local restaurants, stylish shops and stunning Georgian architecture, it’s a delightful getaway that offers something for everyone.

Set in the heart of the lush green county of Somerset, it’s also surrounded by idyllic countryside.  Old-fashioned market towns full of cream-coloured sandstone cottages pepper the local landscape and make Bath feel a million miles away from London.    That said, it’s also surprisingly easy to reach by train from Bristol, Cardiff or London – or by road from much of the southwest.

The Royal Crescent, Bath, UK

The city is best known to many for its Roman baths (the reason for my only previous visit, almost twenty years ago) and Georgian thermae spa – where you can still indulge in the authentic spa experience.  But, these weren’t on the cards for our visit one misty winter morning.  You only need to step into the warren of streets lined with higgledy-piggledly sandstone shopfronts and Georgian arcades to know that there is much more to see.

So, what can I do?

Shop, eat, explore, repeat.

I’m not a big shopper, but Bath has a delightful mixture of high-end stores, quirky independent retailers and British high-street stalwarts.  Look out for the Corridor – an elegant glazed gallery of shops and restaurants – and Bath Market, which is still home to a quintessentially British mixture of old-fashioned market traders.  The facades alone are worth seeing, even if the stylish window displays aren’t enough to lure you in.

As someone who rates drinking-coffee-whilst-eating-pastries pretty highly on my list of favourite activities, we found that Bath spoilt us rotten.  Independent coffee shops and bakeries seem to be on every street corner, tempting us with sweet and savoury delights.  We started our day by heading straight to The Thoughtful Bread Co where we grabbed coffee and a most delicious apple crumble pastry.  Had we been staying in town longer it would have been a perfect stop for a lazy brunch or to stock up on their artisan breads for a gourmet picnic.

On the opposite side of town is Made by Ben, where you can enjoy your coffee and pastries (in this case homemade sausage rolls: mine was packed with flavoursome, roasted butternut squash and goats cheese) sitting next to the coal fire in the snug, looking out over the rooftops from the window.  And if you want to grab something caffeinated and locally roasted, stop at one of two Society Cafés in town.  Pull up a stool at the window to watch the world go by, and order a hot chocolate made with luscious Willie’s Cacao.

Once you’ve had your fill of deliciousness, simply stroll the beautiful streets and passageways.  Soak up the timeless views of the Royal Crescent, find picture-perfect townhouses, circumnavigate the circus.  Georgian Bath is quite simply stunning.

And you should go, now

There’s three excellent reasons.

One. You can avoid the crowds.  Yes, Bath is busy at any time of year.  It’s a bustling University city.  But away from the peak summer season you’ll find far fewer coach-trips and spend more of your time sharing streets with the locals.

Two. Winter time is beautiful.  From the twinkling lights in glorious shop window displays to the artful-lighted Abbey, the city has incredible charm after the sun has set.  But before this time arrives, the late afternoon sunshine and golden hour can be spectacular.  Watch the sun set behind Pulteney Bridge or over the Royal Crescent to see Bath bathed in it’s best light.

Bath's Georgian streets at sunset

Three. It’s full of Christmas cheer.  Whilst we tend to think of Germany and other northern European countries when it comes to Christmas markets, Bath proves that the UK can more than compete.  Hundreds of market stalls selling everything from beautiful handicrafts, local preserves and gifts galore can be found clustered around the Abbey and Abbey Green.  Yes, it’s packed, but it’s also packed with atmosphere and Christmas cheer. When you’ve had your fill of browsing, head to the après bar for some faux-Alpine festivities or tuck into a delicious gourmet burger or pie from one of the many streetfood stalls.

Bath Abbey UK at sunset

Bath is practically perfect at this time of year.  It’s bewitching charms are timeless and season-less.  So, by all means come and enjoy a day, week or more in the summer sunshine – but if can get here now, do.  Embrace the season of hot drinks, warm hearts and frosty mornings in the wonderful southwest.


The practical bit

Bath is easy to reach by road or rail.  Bath Spa station is on the London – Exeter mainline with services running early until late seven days a week.  If you’re travelling by car, take advantage of the city’s Park & Ride services.  They’re cheaper and easier than parking in the city centre, and you get a chance to take in the view over the city as you approach by double-decker bus.

Beautiful Bath: The jewel in Somerset's crown

Winter wonderlands: Where to ski in Europe this season

Europe boasts an incredible variety of ski areas, from delightfully cosy alpine villages to packed, crowd-pleasing purpose-built resorts.  All of them offer the opportunity to explore a beautiful winter wonderland, and are a playground for skiers and boarders.

Growing up, I was enthralled by the charmingly British ‘Ski Sunday’ (yep, I bet you can hear the theme song in your head already) that was compulsory TV-viewing in my family, and I couldn’t wait to one day venture onto the pistes myself.  As soon as I hit my twenties I made it my aim to learn to ski – and opened up a world of new travel experiences.

The most difficult thing about skiing however, other than the hangovers and the tired legs, is choosing where to go.  With a wealth of places to choose from, here’s my picks for this winter from some of my favourite trips.

For beginners and confidence builders | Chamrousse, France

Nope, we’d not heard of it either.  But this French resort perched just above the city of Grenoble deserves more attention than it gets.  The town is split into two parts, a skiable distance apart, with Chamrousse 1750 the resort centre and Chamrousse 1600 the older village.  Chamrousse 1750 is home to pretty, low rise apartment blocks centred around a sports centre that offers free access to the snow-rimmed outdoor pool, saunas and hot tubs to lift pass holders.  We had a lift quite literally on our doorstep, and a smattering of bars and shops within a five minute walk.

Snowy pistes in Chamrousse, France

What Chamrousse lacks in size, it makes up for in charming views and easy to ski, well-maintained pistes.  It was our first trip without ski school and we found the gentle blue and red runs (Olympique Dames a latterly amusing exception!) to be great confidence builders and largely empty even in January.  Our lift pass was thrown in with our apartment package (This still appears to be the case for the 2016/2017 season – shop around for tour operators offer this deal), and the nearest bar – Doudou’s – offered mulled wine and crepes for a ludicrous €1 in the evening.  We were smitten.

Pros: Great value, easy skiing, ski-in/ski-out accommodation

Cons: Experienced skiers may want more piste, quiet nightlife, the weather – lower pistes notoriously sit in cloud much of the time so you’ll need to head up high for good vision and views

For those who want to Après | Mayrhofen, Austria

Tucked away at the head of the Zillertal valley in the Austrian Tyrol is the town of Mayrhofen.  Better known to some as the home of Snowbombing festival, it’s a great choice all season long with fantastic skiing and a lively, party atmosphere.  Although the snow has been drawing crowds here for decades, the legendary après scene also guarantees you’ll have as much (if not more) fun off the pistes as on.

Penken Mountain Mayrhofen Austria

The Zillertal valley is a huge ski area, so there’s plenty to explore whether you’re an experienced skier or boarder, or a complete beginner.  I learned to ski here, and found the ski schools not only great value for money but also good at getting us out exploring whilst we found our ski legs.  You won’t be stuck on a green run for long.

Up on the mountain you’ll find lots of restaurants offering hearty and affordable food, as well as cold beers and hot chocolates as the afternoon wears on.  The Schneekarhütte at the top of the Horberg offers something a bit more special and has fabulous views from its terrace.  Just don’t fill up too much, there’s a challenging red run back down from here into the valley!  At the end of a day on the mountain, the bars and restaurants at the top of Penken gondola are a great stopping point with good views of the pistes behind.

Back in town is where the party starts.  For cheap beers and the best crowds, Ice Bar (at the foot of the Penken Gondola) is where the crowds go.  By 5pm you might not be able to get through the door, so stop off on your way home for a Europop party and the best of Austrian hospitality.  It’s early doors, so make the most of it – you’ll have to be out at 8pm.

For later nights, there’s a huge variety of places to choose from along the pretty main street.  Basement bars make a cosy spot for drinks and catching up with friends, and there are a couple of clubs if you fancy making it a late one.  Our favourite evenings were spent in the Sports Lounge at the SportHotel Strass, where you’ll find live music most nights – and White Lounge.

Ice Bar Apres Ski in Mayrhofen Austria

If there’s one thing you need to do in Mayrhofen, you need to go to the weekly party at White Lounge.  2,000m high on the Ahorn mountain, it’s a hotel and bar igloo complex, built from fresh snow each season.  A gondola packed full of partygoers heads up the mountain early in the evening, to be greeted by a torch-lit procession.  Flaming torch in hand, you’ll head to the igloos, where you’ll find a packed dancefloor, chillout rooms and the sort of fun that’ll have you dancing on tables before you know it.  Yes it’s raucous, but it’s also one of the coolest things you can do on snow.

Pros: Good value accommodation and eating/drinking out, big ski area, great nightlife

Cons: You’re not going to get a quiet night, comparatively expensive lift pass

For budget travellers | Bardonnechia, Italy

Relatively unheard of compared to its more popular neighbour, Sauze d’Oulx, Bardonnechia ticked all the boxes for us as a group of moderately experienced skiers and boarders looking for somewhere with a bit of life to it.

The ski area is big enough to keep you entertained all week, with a variety of pistes and some notably pretty tree-lined ones.   We booked ski-in/ski-out accommodation at the Campo Smith apartments which made for a great base for the week.  It’s a minute from the nearest lift and a less than a minute from our favourite après-bar, Cipo’s, notable for its retro taste in music (good) and free antipasti between 5pm and 6pm each evening (even better).

Empty pistes in Bardonnechia Italy

The town itself is a little more unusual as most of the properties are owned by Torino families who visit on weekends and holidays, meaning it can feel pretty quiet much of the time.  That said, we found a good selection of restaurants (serving authentic Italian food) and bars, although the supermarket was a little on the small side for adventurous self-caterers looking to dip into Italian cuisine.

There’s also lots to keep you entertained when you’re not racing down slopes: We found great cafes on the mountain with the most incredibly delicious hot chocolate (our favourite was Birichini at the top of the Les Arnauds lift), and spent an afternoon snow-shoeing through the most beautiful countryside further up the valley.  It’s also less than an hour by train from the town’s rail station to Turin city centre if you fancy exploring without skis strapped on.

Pros: Lovely pistes, Cipo’s bar, fabulous snow-shoeing

Cons: Not the prettiest of towns, busy on weekends

For the best snow | Val Thorens, France

Val Thorens is the jewel in the crown of the Trois Vallées.  Perched at the top of this famous ski area, it’s the highest altitude resort in Europe.  This means one very important thing – fabulous snow.  Whether you’re hoping to ski early or late in the season, or just want to be confident you can make the most of every daylight hour on the pistes, this friendly, purpose-built town is the perfect base.

You have access to a vast ski area – with Courchevel and Meribel accessible on piste for confident skiers and borders – and it’s diverse.  The huge bowl shaped valley offers lots of gentle slopes perfect for beginners, whilst more experienced skiers can venture further afield or tackle more challenging reds and blacks close to home.  It’s also a perfect sun trap – and a great spot to people watch from balconies overlooking the piste.  We visited in January and were hugely impressed with the proportion of pistes that were open, and even as relative newbies could comfortably ski new ground every day.

Apres ski at the Folie Douce in Val Thorens France

When you’re done exploring for the day, head to the Folie Douce on the Plein Sud piste for some of the most outrageous après you’ll find in France.  The party gets started around 3pm, with a live DJ every day and live music too if you’re lucky.  Grab a beer, find a spot in the snow and enjoy one of the most surreal and fun experiences to be found with your skis on.  And try and keep hold of you ski legs on the way back down – not everyone does!

Pros: Breathtaking views, vast snowsure area, fantastic accommodation, the Folie Douce

Cons: Pricey lift passes, pistes near to town can get icy quick when in the sun

Feeling inspired?  Or have your own off-the-beaten path suggestions for frolicking in the snow this winter?  I’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments below.

Winter wonderlands: Where to ski in Europe this season