Author Archives: Karen Bryan

About Karen Bryan

Hello, I'm Karen Bryan, I created Europe a la Carte in 2002 to highlight the best places to visit in Europe with travel tips, photos and no fluff reviews. I’m also an artist; my artworks are often inspired by my travels

Taste Exhibition at the Gallery of Modern Art Glasgow

The Taste exhibition at the Gallery of Modern Art Glasgow opened on 14 July 2017.

Here are photos of some of exhibits.

Overcast cold / upturned leaves / laid on a line in bracken by Andrew Goldsworthy

Hazel stick throws Banks, Cumbria by Andrew Goldsworthy

Campbell’s Soup II: Oyster Stew

Paintings by Beryl Cook

The Glen, Port Glasgow by Stanley Spence

Photography is dead long live painting by David Hockney

How to Host the Ultimate Family Night When Staying in a Villa

A family holiday can be a balancing act. When going on vacation it’s because you are wanting to de-stress and bring yourself back from the brink of exhaustion. It’s a need for some serious relaxation time and pampering as well as outlet for your children’s everlasting energy. To find a holiday that balances both can be struggling when deciding on a villa that will benefit yourself as well as your children. It’s okay to want to choose a villa that has all the pampering options you so desperately need, but what about when these types of villas incorporate no kind of features for your kids?

It becomes hard trying to please both parties. There are so many things to consider when you have children, like is the pool going to be too deep? Depending on their ages are the beds safe for them to sleep in or do the villas provide cots? Are there places nearby where your children can engage with other children? Are there any sport facilities to occupy teenagers? Are nearby beaches child-friendly? And whilst you’re considering these, you’ll also want to find villa features that will benefit you… after all this is your holiday too.

Some big problem villas seem to have that hotels don’t is the opportunity for kid’s clubs, that ensure your children are occupied so you are able to relax, but if you choose the safest family friendly holiday accommodation you’ll have no problem with this. It should be like staying in the comfort of your own home. It shouldn’t be a chore to find the perfect accommodation when you choose the perfect villa company that offer features suitable for everyone.

Therefore, your most essential step is finding a company whom offer villas with a wide range of features, beneficial to both you and your children. One example if you’re looking for villas in Santorini can be found here. No matter the size of your family, they have a villa to accommodate all, with many luxurious features worth your investment. From heated indoor and outdoor Jacuzzis, BBQ’s, access to WI-FI, fully equipped gyms, indoor heated pools, tennis courts, fully stocked mini bars to home cinemas and play stations. Each of the villas won’t include every single one of these features only the ones that meet your desires.

Not only are these features available to you but they also have a 24/7 on-site concierge team to care for all your needs, their team really wants to spoil you! With on-site spa treatments, massage therapists, beauty services and a private chef whom will freshly prepare you delicious meals you’ll find that time to finally relax like you wanted now you know your children are all cared for. Therefore, investing in luxury is the best option, you’ll never want to come home!

If you do end up opting for a more luxurious vacation you may not want to leave for nights out where you’ll have to spend even more money, especially when your villa essentially has everything you could possibly need. This is why I’ll now be giving you a short-guide on a fun family night in with your family.

Because of the endless features that come with each villa, potentially you have a lot of options concerning what you can do. Due to you having all the time you’d like to spend in your private pools and jacuzzi you may want to a good extra couple of hours swimming in them as you have no one there to tell you to get out at a certain time like hotels do.

Since you’re spending the night in together, you don’t have to worry about getting all dressed up to go to a close restaurant or bar, so you could all have showers and get into your pyjamas, ready for your meal served by your very own chef in the dining area. By having someone else prepare your meals means you really don’t have to lift a finger on this vacation and you can truly relax.

Most villas will come with board games to play with or you may have come prepared and decided to bring your own, so you could all kick back in the living room area and show your competitive side by engaging in a classic board game.

You may then want to switch up the board game and play a game together on the Playstation most villas provide or even take that family competitive streak outside and play a sports game together.

Lastly, when you’ve drained your children of that non-stop energy you could all unwind in the home cinema and watch a movie together. If the night is still young after that and you’ve taken your children to bed, you could then have that massage you’ve been longing for to de-stress yourself or sip on a cheeky cocktail whilst sat outside on the terrace.

Beyond the Cities: Exploring France to Discover Its Real Soul and Culture

France is a unique country that has so much to offer to its visitors. Even if there are main cities to discover, if you plan wisely your trip a car hire may be the perfect solution to make the most of it and explore some amazing and not so common areas of this picturesque and romantic country.

The main cities you will most definitely visit are Bordeaux, Marseille and even Paris.


Paris, the capital, is fascinating, romantic and rich in cultural attractions; Marseille is the largest commercial port in the Mediterranean, fused in traditions and ethnic food, with many sites of artistic interest, while Bordeaux is famous for its wines, vineyards and countryside and has been recognized as a UNESCO heritage. Other famous cities are: Cannes, Lyon and Lille with its luxury hotel and lifestyle.

Where to explore in the South of France

If you rely on some car rental in France check out where you can find the right solution to explore the most beloved France, the most striking one and go beyond the common touristic paths. We are talking about the French area located in the southwestern where everything is authentic, typical and it cherishes the real heart of the French history and culture.

Nature lovers? We got you covered!

For tourists who love touring nature and relaxing places, a region of France to visit is the Brittany region, at Mont Saint Michel, a place on a small rocky island, where you can watch the spectacular and beautiful Tide phenomenon. Provence with Aix- en-Provence and Avignon is a region where flavors and fragrances blend in a hilly landscape of thousands of colors; The nearby Cote d’Azur (French Riviera), on the Mediterranean coast of France, is one of the most well-known seaside resorts in the world.

Other itineraries into history

If you are interested in medieval trails, like pilgrims on the so called “ Via Francigena, we would recommend you to admire the cities mentioned in the architecture books for the most impressive gothic cathedrals in the world: Chartres, Tours, Reims, Amiens and Rouen. And don’t forget the Loire, very close to Paris, with its charming castles.


So, take your time and get adventurous with a wider tour to explore the inner hidden side of this incredible country!

How the Super-Rich Travel and an Evolution in Luxury Travel

The super-rich people in this world have the luxury of choosing much more glamorous ways of travelling. Instead of hanging around at the airport and cramming on economy class flights, the wealthy can travel in a lot easier, quieter and more luxurious ways. For the wealthy elite, travel is often as enjoyable as going on vacation instead of a means to an end.

Private Yacht

A type of transportation that is synonymous with the rich and the famous. It does not get more stylish than travelling in your own private yacht. In many cases, this is not a form of travel and instead a vacation in itself. Relaxing out at sea with champagne, fine food and good company is relaxing enough and a fantastic way to indulge in the finer things in life.

Private Jet

Of course a private yacht isn’t much good if you need to get to your destination quickly, which is why a private jet is often the most popular form of transportation with the super-rich. This allows you to bypass the entire airport experience, plus the service that you find onboard is out of this world. In addition to the amazing equipment, fine food and drink and the level of service, a private jet also provides great comfort and privacy that you do not get with commercial airlines.


These are the main methods of transportation for the elite upper class and it is easy to see why. The wealth that the richest in the world have now allows them to buy their own private jets, but aviation travel has evolved in recent years and private jet travel is now something that many more people are able to experience.

Private Jet Chartering

This is due to the rise in private jet chartering. Instead of owning a private jet, it is now possible to purchase on-demand flights to a destination of your choosing. One of the more affordable ways of doing this is to book onto empty leg flights – these are flights where the departure and destination are predetermined and great for short notice leisure trips.

Luxury travel is certainly evolving and opening its doors to a much wider group. The richest in the world will continue to travel in style and be the envy of many, but the rise of the on-demand economy is now allowing many people to get a taste of the high life and travel in the most glamorous way imaginable.

La Cabana Restaurant in Benalmadena

La Cabana restaurant is situated on the Prom in Benalmadena. After walking down from Benalmadema railways station through the market and Parque de la Paloma, we were ready for sit down and some food.

We were attracted by the 10 Euro three course set menu at La Cabana, The price also included bread and a drink.

My Scampi starter was beautifully presented.

Our son Gary had the Tuna and Tomato Salad as a starter.

My Pork Chop main course was tasty.

Gary thought that his Calamari was good, but the batter was a bit too thick.

For dessert, I had Ice Cream and Gary had Chocolate Brownie.

I thought that at 10 Euro for a three course set menu including a drink, that La Cabana offered good value for money, in a pleasant location. Our waitress was lovely, very friendly with a constant smile.

Review of Sky Lodge Perth Scotland

I stayed at the Skylodge Perth in Scone on a Saturday night in late May 2017. I searched for the cheapest single room in the Perth/ Blairgowrie area on the HotelCombined price comparison website. The Perth Skylodge was by far the cheapest. I found a single room for £27 on

When you turn into Perth Airport, you take the first turn to the left to reach the Skylodge. There appear to be quite a few industrial units and domestic dwellings on the site, so it wasn’t that easy to spot the Sklylodge on the signs.

Check-in is in a separate building which looks a bit like a portacabin. There were no spaces left at the car parking area closest to my room, so I left the car near reception.

My single room was in a single storey block.

The room was nicer inside than the exterior had led me to believe.  There was a pine chair, desk and a small bedside chest of drawers. However there was nowhere to hang my clothes, so initially I laid them out on the bed. Then when I went to bed, I hung them on the back of the chair.

The single bed was comfortable. I didn’t try the free WiFi. I had a good mobile broadband signal. A notice in the room advised that the WiFi was only suitable for checking emails and light browsing.

The shower room wasn’t great. It was small and there wasn’t a towel rail or a shelf for toiletries.

I knew that I’d arrive at the room in late evening, so it didn’t bother me that’s it’s located outside Scone. But if you want a short walk to a choice of pubs and restaurants, Perth Skylodge won’t suit you.

Check-out time was pretty early 10.30am.

For the price of £27 on a Saturday, Perth Skylodge offered clean, quiet accommodation.  My main recommendation to improve the room would be to add some hanging space.

Click here to check availability and price for Skylodge Perth.

The Great Tapestry of Scotland

The Great Tapestry of Scotland is on display in Alloa Library until 18 August 2017. It’s free to see this wonderful pictorial history of Scotland in Alloa.

Below are photos of some of my favourite pieces.

Bank of Scotland founded 1695

Home Weaving, Reeling and Spinning

Listen to the surge of the sea

George Smith founds the Glenlivet Distillery 1824

Paisley Lady

The Great Depression 1930s

Scots in India

William Wallace and Andrew Moray 1290s

The formation of Scotland

The wild wood and its fauna 8500BC

Orkney and Shetland ceded by Denmark to Scotland 1469

Fingal’s Cave

The first Edinburgh Festival 1947

North Sea oil licences granted 1965, Aberdeen, Nigg Bay

Linwood beings production of Hillman Imp

The Great Scottish Tapestry will move to the Verdant Works in Dundee, where you can it from 26 August until 22 October 2017. However, you will have to pay an admission fee to enter the Verdant Works.

Top 7 Places to Drink Beer in Europe

Europeans have some of the best beers in the world. In fact, it is absolutely possible to base one’s entire holiday on a holiday surrounded by Europe’s diverse breweries. The reason for this is that Europe’s oldest and best breweries are in some of the most stunning cities that Europe has to offer. Some examples of the countries that offer Europe’s better beers are: Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, The Czech Republic, and France. These respective countries require Euros, Danish Krone, and Czech Koruna. Even though these countries are quite close to the UK, it is wise to exchange from GBP before leaving the UK in order to get the best exchange rates. If you’re going to a Euro country, take a look at the Asda euro rate. When dealing with less frequent currencies such as the Czech Koruna, it is best to order your notes early so that they are ready in time for your departure. Here are seven diverse, yet divine places to have beer in Europe:

Prague, Czech Republic

Prague is one of the leading beer destinations in the world. What is wonderful about Prague is that there are many tours that are dedicated solely to beer tasting. In fact, it is possible to hire a private guide to tour you around Prague’s best breweries. U Fleku is a great place to experience Medieval Czech food and beer while beer tasting in Prague. The brewery was opened in the sixteenth century and has been in continued operation ever since.

Antwerp, Belgium

Antwerp is a great place to enjoy a smaller European city that has intimate bars and restaurants. Within these bars, it is possible to find some excellent beers that have been in production for centuries. One of the highest rated bars in Antwerp is surely The Kulminator. This bar has 800 different beers to choose from that are mostly from Belgium. This is the ideal place to relax at for hours and enjoy high level beers.

Munich, Germany

Munich offers fantastic beers all over the city. That being said, there is one restaurant that truly stands out in terms of high level quality is Augustiner, which is a brewery and restaurant that has been in business since 1328. Beer lovers looking to try some of Germany’s best, will greatly enjoy what Augustiner has to offer. Lastly, if travellers would like to sit outside on a warm day, it is wise to venture to the Hirschgarten, which has been in operation since 1791 and can fit up to 8,000 guests. Here, tourists will be able to order great beers with a pretzel on the side.

Brussels, Belgium

Brussels is full of European bars to experience. Many have a rich history such as the Au Bon Vieux Temps that has been there since 1695. Here, you will be able to venture through small historic alleys and enjoy a high-quality pint of beer where many individuals have throughout history.

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam primarily has Belgian beers; however, for the true beer lover, it is important to know that there are several craft breweries that have been popping up in Amsterdam that are surely worth a sample. One example is Proeflokaal Arendsnest, which is a bar that features only craft beers from the Netherlands. This craft beer scene will likely be growing in the coming years in Amsterdam, which will be exciting to see how it develops.

Ghent, Belgium


Ghent has its own local beer culture for being a small town in Belgium. De Dulle Griet is a great local spot to investigate that has over 250 different beers that are both local and international. The medieval interior makes for a pleasant atmosphere while sampling local Belgian brews inside.

Strasbourg, France

Strasbourg is a unique locale on this list; however, it does have a distinct culture with a strong German influence making for great beers for travellers and locals to enjoy. Recently, the Craft Beer scene has taken off in Strasbourg, which has allowed bars like Au Brasseur to reopen their doors since the 18th century with a new twist in the 1990’s.

A Reminder to Consume Alcohol Sensibly

When taking a holiday that is inspired from beer tasting, it is highly recommended to try the beer, but to not consume them in excess. To truly get a taste of what beers taste like, it is recommended to try not more than six during one tasting day. This way, you will remember which beers were your favourite and will be more health conscious while you are travelling.

Final Remarks on the Subject

When looking for ways to experience Europe in unique ways, it is highly recommended to take a holiday that is inspired by the distinct breweries that Europe has to offer. By doing so, you will learn a great deal about European history while simultaneously tasting wonderful beers. Just be sure to exchange your GBP before departing the UK so that you are in the position to have the best possible exchange rate for your wonderful tour of European breweries from eras past.


An Amsterdam Food Tour by Withlocals

As one of my friends is thinking of visiting the Dutch capital, I decided to have a look online to to get some ideas for her on things to do in Amsterdam. I thought that going on a couple of tours would give her an introduction to the city, and be an opportunity for her to meet some fellow travellers.

I saw that Withlocals offered a great selection of tours and activities in Amsterdam e,g. an urban farming bike tour, private vintage shopping and homemade gourmet dinners.

Withlocals is an online platform which directly connects travellers and hosts, enabling travellers to book affordable but unique experiences with locals as their private guide. It’s always good to see a city with a local who can offer you their insights into their home town. This helps travellers avoid falling into the tourist traps.

I thought that my friend would enjoy tasting some great food on the Amsterdam’s Favourite Food Tour by Withlocals. The tour includes five food tastings per guest. This tour is in the Pijp area, which lies south of Centraal Station.

Below is a guide to the itinerary, but the tours can be personalised to suit your preferences.

Stop 1

The first tasting is at the best fish seller in Amsterdam for a piece of delicious Kibbeling (fresh, fried fish usually served with garlic mayonnaise or tartar sauce) or authentic herring (often served with a sprinkling of raw onion).

Stop 2

Next it’s a visit to Cuyp Market, which is the largest daily outdoor market in Europe. Started in the early 1900s, it is now home to over 300 stails, where you can buy everything from food to souvenirs.

Stop 3

The next food on the itinerary is a warm Stroopwafel (syrup waffle). This consists of two thin layers of baked batter with a sweet filling between the layers. The Stroopwafel originated in the Dutch city of Gouda.

Stop 4

Then it’s time for a relaxing drink at a new Collective Cafe, where rather than items being priced, you can pay what you feel the food and drink is worth.

Stop 5

This is a walk around the Pijp area, which is now considered pretty hip.The area was originally built in the 19th century to provide low cost housing for the ever increasing population. The southern part of Pijp, which includes the Diamond neighbourhood, was constructed later, in the 1920s. Several of the streets are named in honour of Dutch painters including Van Gogh, Ruysdael and Jan Stein. The Dutch artist Piet Mondriaan lived in the area.There’s a small red light district by the Ruysdaelkade canal.

Stop 6

Next you will tuck into a Telo Kabeljauw (fried cassava with salted cod) and Baka Bana (fried plantain served with peanut sauce) at a Surinamese-Javanese family owned restaurant.

Spot 7

Your tour is rounded off with a cheese platter at the Gollem beer-cafe. Holland is famous for it cheeses, such as Edam, Leerdammer and Massdam. You may also be tempted to purchase one of Cafe Gollem’s own ales to accompany your cheeses.

As you can see, Amsterdam’s food is very cosmopolitan, with influences from many different cultures.

You can choose which private guide you would like to lead your Amsterdam’s Favourite Food Tour. Olav, pictured below, is described as a rock star chef, who is also a biologist.

Other guides include Bauke, the bohemian historian, Erika, the storytelling jeweller and Dina, the joyful chef. Each of the guides is featured in a video, which you can watch to help decide which one you’d like to lead your tour.

I think that my friend would select Erika, as she loves custom made jewellery.

Amsterdam’s Favourite Food Tour can be personalised to your own taste and interests. It costs from 35 Euro per person with eight participants, 44 Euro for four and 60 Euro for two. You can select a day (the tour is not available on Sundays) and start time from 10am through to 3pm.