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

Jia Aili at CAC Malaga

A major exhibition by Chinese artist Jia Aili runs until 18 June 2017 at the Centre for Contemporary Art (CAC) in Malaga.

The paintings portray bleak apocalyptic landscapes.

Several pieces feature rather forlorn solitary figures.

Some of the paintings are enormous.

One of the artist’s aims is for visitors to the exhibition to think about the role played by humans on the planet.

CAC Malaga is located close to Malaga Centro-Alameda railway station and it’s free to enter.

Viking Gods and Mosaics at Gothenburg City Museum

The Gothenburg City Museum charts this Swedish city’s history.

gothenburg city museum

I’ve always been rather intrigued by the Vikings, so as I had limited time in the museum, I went straight to the ‘Vikingr – Between Odin and Christ’ exhibition.

There were sculptures of several Viking Gods.

I hadn’t heard of any female Viking gods previously. Freyia was the god of female sensuality.

Freyia the God of female sensuality twin sister of Freyr in Gothenburg City Museum Sweden

Her twin brother Freyr was the male fertility god.

The fertility god Freyr in Gothenburg City Museum Sweden

Odin was the main Viking god. He only had one eye. Legend recounts that he was willing to sacrifice an eye in his quest for wisdom.

The God Odin in gothenburg city museum

Thor was one of Odin’s sons.

The God Thor in Gothenburg City Museum Sweden

I was glad that I decided to venture out onto the museum’s courtyard, as there were mosaics on the benches and a plant pot.

gothenburg city museum mosaic bench

gothenburg city museum cat mosaic

gothenburg city museum horse and rider mosaic

gothenburg city museum mosaic plant pot

gothenburg city museum train mosaic

Entry to the Gothenburg City Museum is included in the Gothenburg City Card.

My stay in Gothenburg was organised by the West Sweden Tourist Board.

Cultural Guide to Eastbourne

Eastbourne, in East Sussex, lies on the south coast of England. It takes around 90 minutes to reach Eastbourne by rail from Victoria Station in London. Eastbourne’s  packed events calendar ensures plenty to do and see at any time of year. Outdoor lovers can enjoy coastal or inland walks, in beautiful countryside with pit stops in pretty villages.

Coastal Culture Trail

The Coastal Culture Trail stretches for 18 miles from Eastbourne, heading east to Bexhill and then on to Hastings. You can walk, cycle or take the train along the route.

You could start the Coastal Culture Trail at the Towner Art Gallery in Eastbourne. The gallery was originally a collection of 22 paintings in a manor house in Eastbourne’s Old Town, donated by Alderman John Chisholm Towner. As the collection grew, it needed a new home. The new Towner, designed by Rick Mather Architects, opened in Eastbourne in April 2009.

As you start to head east, you’ll pass Eastbourne Bandstand, which was built in 1935. Events here include the 1812 Fireworks Concert, traditional afternoon concerts and a Eurovision Party.

In another few hundred meters, you’ll pass Eastbourne Pier, which is home to a Victorian tearoom, the 1901 Jazz Club and the Atlantis Nightclub.

In Bexhill, you can visit the De La Warr Pavilion. At the eastern end of the Coastal Culture Trail is the Hastings’ Jerwood Gallery.

Devonshire Collective

The Devonshire Collective comprises of five venues in Seaside Road and Seaside, all close to the Pier. At DC1, there is a cafe and a gallery. The other venues are studios and workshops.

Eastbourne Theatres

There are three theatres in Eastbourne; the Congress Theatre, Devonshire Park Theatre and the Winter Garden. Forthcoming performances include the comedy ‘One Man Two Guvnors’ and ‘Forever Eagles’, featuring the music of the US rock band.

Beachy Head

If you enjoy walking, you can head west from Eastbourne towards the chalk headland at Beachy Head. The village of East Dean, where you’ll find the Tiger Inn pub and the Hiker’s Rest tearoom, is close to Beachy Head. You can also sample some local ales, such as Legless Rambler and South Downs Ale, on the taster tours at Beachy Head Brewery.


You could have a great day out in the Herstmonceux area. The 15th century red brick Herstmonceux Castle is now the International Study Centre for Queens’ University in Canada, so tours of the interior are only available at specific times.

But the grounds and gardens are open daily from March to October.

The Observatory Science Centre is located a ten minute walk from Herstmonceux Castle. The Centre was the home of the Royal Greenwich Observatory between 1947 and 1990. When the Observatory relocated to Cambridge, many of the telescopes were left behind and the Observatory Science Centre was developed.

Italian Gardens

The Italian Gardens lie at the western end of Eastbourne Prom.

The site of the Italian Gardens was formerly a chalk quarry, which was transformed into the Gardens in the 1920s.

From 26 July to 5 August 2017, there will be evening performances as part of the Alfresco Shakespeare programme.

Michelham Priory and Gardens

The Priory was founded by Augustian canons eight hundred years ago. The site is surrounded by the longest medieval water filled moat, dating from 1229. After the destruction of the Priory and the dissolution of the monasteries during the reign of Henry VIII, it was rebuilt as a country home.  You can purchase the organic flour milled in the water mill in the grounds.

Redoubt Fortress

The circular Redoubt fortress was built in 1805 as part of England’s defences during the Napoleonic Wars. It’s free to visit the gun tower and parade ground. If you wish to visit the interior of the fortress, you’ll need to buy a ticket.

The Pavilion next door has a cafe and an exhibition. The current free exhibition at the Pavilion is ‘Living on the Edge 8000 years by the sea’.

Pevensey Castle

Pevensey Castle started life in the 4th century as a Roman Saxon shore fort. It also was the landing spot for the Norman invasion by William the Conqueror in 1066.

More Information on Eastbourne

You can find out more on the Visit Eastbourne website and the Eastbourne Holiday Guide.

Visiting Florence in Spring

Spring is one of the best times of year to visit the Italian city of Florence. Below are some ideas for things to do in Florence this Spring.

If you are in Florence on Easter Sunday, you can watch Scoppio del Carro (explosion of the cart). This origin of this tradition dates from the First Crusade when a resident of Florence was the first person to climb the walls of Jerusalem. in recognition of his fearless act, he was gifted three flints from the Church of Holy Sepulchre. When he returned to Florence, he began to use the flints to light a holy fire at Easter. Now on Easter Sunday, a 500 year old cart filled with fireworks, is drawn by white oxen from Porta al Prato to Piazza del Duomo (Cathedral Square). A long ignition wire is lit at the Cathedral altar, which triggers the twenty minute firework display on the cart

I recommend a walk up to Piazzele Michelangelo, for some wonderful views along the River Arno.

There’s a Gelato (Ice Cream) Festival in Piazzale Michelangelo from 21 – 25 April 2017.

The Iris Garden flanks the eastern side of Piazzale Michelangelo. The Iris Garden is only open for a few weeks in Spring. It’s home to more than 2,500 varieties of iris.

photo by Living in Florence, Italy by Melinda Gall0

The Rose Garden is on western side of Piazzale Michelangelo. it is open all year from 9am to dusk. it was created in 1865 by local architect Guiseppe Poggi.

photo by ilaria

Spring is great time for a stroll around Boboli Gardens, which is adorned with sculptures mainly dating from the 16th to 18th centuries.

Palazzo Pitti is adjacent to the Boboli Gardens, it was originally home of the grand dukes of Tuscany. It is now the largest museum complex in Florence.

The Florence Bike Festival runs from 21 – 23 April 2017, with most events taking place in Parco delle Cascine. The festival is for all age groups and abilities. On Sunday 22 April, there’s the non-competitive Sunrise Bike Ride. It starts at 6am, lasting for one hour along a easy route.

As you’d expect, there is plenty to see on the arts front in Florence this Spring.  The G7 of Art is an exhibition of the work of seven international artists, including British sculptor Louise Giblin and Japanese artist Yasumichi Nakagawa. It’s on until !7 April in the crypt at Bascilica di Santa Croce.

The Gustav Klimt Experience runs until 1 May 2017 at the Church of San Stefano al Ponte.

The poet Dante Aligheri, known simply as Dante, was born in Florence in 1265. If you are interested in literature, and are looking for some respite from the Tuscan sunshine, you could visit Dante’s House, which is now a museum. You could also visit Santa Maria del Cerchi church, where Dante first saw, and fell in love with, his muse Beatrice, when he was only nine years old.

If you are in the mood for dance, the Florence Tango Festival runs from 29 April to 1 May 2017.

A boat trip on River Arno is one of the best ways to see Florence at sunset.

To savour the delights of Spring in Florence, you’ll need a good hotel in Florence as a base.  The Brunelleschi is a beautiful boutique hotel, located in the city centre. The hotel is named after Filippo Brunelleschi, a local designer and architect regarded as one of the fathers of the Renaissance, who designed the dome of Florence Cathedral. The hotel’s Pagliazzi Tower Suite has views of the Cathedral.

The Balcony Suite offer views over the rooftops toward the Palazzo Vecchio.

I’d love to sit in my hotel room and be able to see Florentine landmarks.

The Hotel Brunelleschi even has its own private museum, where exhibits unearthed during renovation work are on display.

I hope that I have inspired you to visit Florence in Spring.

Now Exhibition at Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art Edinburgh

The first part of the three year long NOW exhibition is on at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art until 24 September 2017.

A fair part of the exhibition consists of work by the Glaswegian artist Nathan Coley.

It was a bit alarming to see smoke coming for the recently opened Switch House in Coley’s ‘Tate Modern on Fire’.

Another iconic London landmark is featured in Coley’s ‘Paul’

The rear of ‘Paul’ reminded me of a dolls house.

Coley’s installation ‘The Lamp of Sacrifice, 286 Places of Worship’ features cardboard models of all the places of worship in Edinburgh listed in 2004.

I loved the texture and colour of the moon in Jock McFadyen’s ‘Calton Hill’.

In the same room Peter Doig’s ‘Milky Way’ is on display.

Another piece which caught my eye was ‘State’ by Louise Hopkins.

Why Travelling First Class No Longer Represents Luxury Travel

Those that have had the pleasure of flying class know just how luxurious it can be. Whereas economy is loud, cramped and not very private, flying first class allows you peace, quiet, space and incredible service. For many people, their idea of a luxury vacation involves travelling first class on a flight to an exotic destination, but this will all change soon.

Within the last few years, there has been a huge shift towards private jet chartering. Similar to how Uber has changed the way in which people travel by road, the rise of hiring private jets looks set to become the ultimate in luxury travel. Flying in a private jet was previously seen as only for CEO’s and celebrities, but there are more and more companies that now provide the more affordable option to hire a private jet. This has resulted in fewer people owning their own jets and instead relying on this service.

There is no doubt that flying first class is a fabulous way to reach your destination, but it does not come close to flying on a private jet. In addition to the glamour of boarding a cool plane with your party and avoiding the hassle of the airport, you also get complete privacy, plenty of space to move around in and a service like no other. A private jet is, essentially, your own private party in the sky and you will feel on top of the world up in the clouds.

he reason that this will become the future of luxury travel is that it is quickly becoming much more affordable. Many companies offer a subscription model where you pay a monthly fee and can make as many flights as you wish, which can be ideal for businesses that make regular trips.

Alternatively, companies like Fly Victor provide a service comparable to Uber where you pay for a one off trip to the destination of your choosing. Additionally, many of these companies also offer “empty legs”, where you can make huge savings by booking onto the return leg if a private jet is booked only one way. This is a very affordable way to experience this unique way of travelling.

There is no denying that flying first class is an amazing experience and a great way to begin a vacation, but it does not compare to flying in a private jet. Fortunately, this lavish, glamorous and amazing method of transportation is much more affordable with the rise of private jet chartering companies.

Why You Should Walk Around and Risk Getting Lost in Cities

When I was in the Swedish city of Gothenburg. I decided to walk the two miles to the Botanical Gardens. Although I could have used my Gothenburg City Card to take the tram, I wanted some exercise and the route looked interesting.

I found several interesting sculptures in Kungsparken.

The concrete oval sculpture provided a frame for the buildings on the other side of the river,

sculpture in kungsparken gothenburg

I was intrigued by the huge, patchwork head-shaped sculpture.

Sculpture in Per Angers Plats Gothenburg Sweden

There were two large openings in the shell on the other side of the piece, which revealed a yellow suspended blob, which looked like a nerve cell. in the middle.

Sculpture in Per Angers Plats Gothenburg Sweden1

The deer had a lovely expression.

Deer sculpture in Kungsparken Gothenburg Sweden

I missed my turning to head south. ending up in the Haga district. Several of the pieces in the ceramics shop looked like cacti. Very appropriate, as I was heading for Gothenburg Botanical Garden.

Ceramics shop on Vastra Skansgatan Gothenburg Sweden

As I made my way back east, I happened upon some boat sculptures in small garden square.

Boat sculptures in Vintervag-halles ej in Gothenburg Sweden

Although walking to Gothenburg Botanical Garden took more than twice as long as anticipated, due to getting lost and stopping to take photos, it was time well spent. It enabled me to see a lot more of the city than simply taking the tram.

Lunch in the Greenhouse at Fridheimar Tomato Farm Iceland

We stopped for lunch in the greenhouse at the Fridheimar tomato farm on our Golden Circle tour in Iceland.


The most popular lunch option at Fridheimar is the tomato soup buffet. I opted for this The home-made bread was really good.


The other lunch options are pasta and tortilla. My husband had the tortilla and thought that the cheese used was very mild and lacking in flavour.

There was a selection of tomato based drinks, both non-alcoholic and alcoholic. We had the non-alcoholic Healthy Mary made with green tomato, lime, honey, ginger and sparkling water.

The  Little Tomato Shop at Fridheimar sells a selection of edible souvenirs.



Lunch is served at Fridheimar between noon to 4pm all year.

Making the Most of Your Gothenburg City Card

If you plan to do a lot of sightseeing in the Swedish city of Gothenburg, it could be worthwhile buying a Gothenburg City Card.

gothenburg city card

The Gothenburg City Card costs:

Adults: 24 hours – SEK 375, 48 hours –  SEK 525, 72 hours –  SEK 675
Children : 24 hours SEK 245, 48 hours –  SEK 345,  72 hours –  SEK 435

At the time of writing the exchange rate is 11.14SEK to £1 Sterling.

The Gothenburg City Card offers free public transport including trams, buses and some ferries. The standard flat fare is SEK 25. Although you could walk between many attractions around central Gothenburg, it’s a good idea to use trams or buses, if you want to save time.

You can visit the islands in the Gothenburg Archipelago, such as Saltholmen and Vinga, using the City Pass. The adult price for the cruise to Vinga is SEK 220.

vinga on the gothenborg archipelago

The island of Vinga

If you mainly plan to visit museums, then paying the SEK 40 (around £3.60) adult admission fee at any of the museums listed below, gives you to annual pass to all the museums on the list.

  • Natural History Museum
  • Art Museum
  • Gothenburg City Museum
  • Maritime Museum
  • Rohsska (Design) Museum

If you are under 25 years of age, admission is free to the above museums.

Dress by Franco Moschino and Roy Lichtenstein at Rohsska Museum Gothenburg Sweden

Dress by Franco Moschino and Roy Lichtenstein at Rohsska Museum 

If you wish to visit other museums, e.g. the Volvo or Aviation Museums, most cost around SEK 100 for an adult admission, but are included in the City Pass.

I visited Martiman, a floating maritime experience centre. Standard adult entry there is SEK 120, but it’s included with the City Card.

lightship fladden at maritiman gothenburg

The SEK 95 admission fee to the Liseberg amusement park is waived if you have a Gothenburg City Pass, but rides are an additional cost. When I was in Gothenburg in December 2004, I really enjoyed walking around Liseberg. There were three million Christmas lights, reindeer drawn sleigh rides and a mini ski slope for toddlers.

The Gothenburg Botanical Garden is lovely. If you visit in Summer, the long opening hours from 9am to dusk, offer good flexibility of times to visit. There’s a voluntary admission fee of SEK 20, With an additional charge of SEK 20 to enter the greenhouses. Entry to the garden and the greenhouses is included with the Gothenburg City Card.

gothenburg botanical garden mansion garden

The Mansion Garden in Gothenburg Botanical Garden

If you have any questions about the Gothenburg City Card, the online chat facility, found at the bottom right of the Tourist Office website is great. I asked about the opening hours at the Lipstick building, and my query was answered with a few minutes.

My top tip for getting the most from the Gothenburg City Card is to do your research in advance, carefully checking days and hours of opening and ferry timetables. Then add up the admission fees and transport costs to check that these outgoings come to more than the cost of the Gothenburg City Card.

Be prepared to get up early, enabling you to arrive at the first stop on your itinerary just after opening time.

Geysir Iceland

One of the highlights of our Golden Circle Tour in Iceland was Geysir.


The mixture of sunshine and dark clouds made this steamy geothermal landscape all the more dramatic.









The gift shop had a good selection of garments and souvenirs, plus free toilet facilities.


I liked the painting in the restaurant.