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

Top 5 destinations For a Freelancer

Taking advantage of the freedom provided by technology to find job opportunities anywhere in the world is a fact. Nowadays, the most common professions such as bloggers, journalists, sales people, photographers, or web developers are part of this new job trend, the so-called:freelancers.

There are thousands of companies hiring nomads, but the one that caught my attention is Trendhim, a Danish fashion company who offers a huge variety of men accessories, such as: ties, lapel pins or bracelets.

Their marketing department is full of student freelancers. Having a freelance job while studying is one of the best opportunities in life I would say. Your twenties are made for travelling and getting lost in random destinations, so it is always good to have a job that allows you to travel around without feeling tied.

Are you a freelancer looking for a change? Here are the best 5 places in the world to make the most of freelance. Who knows, maybe you’d be the next freelancer on board. The only necessary condition is to have an adventurous spirit and a job that does not depend on a particular geographical location.

Sofia, Bulgaria

At the moment, it is elusive to find a better city for the digital nomads than Sofia. Sofia provides freelancers with a cheap lifestyle, not to mention that they have one of the best internet connections in Europe. Also, Sofia is a beautiful and a safe city with friendly and respectful citizens. A city with a strong history and a night life you could not even dream of.

Chiang Mai, Thailand

For those cold winter months your city is Chiang Mai. It has a fantastic climate that attracts freelancers like honey attracts bees. In addition, the living standards are low and there is a good internet connection. What else can you ask for as a freelancer? Chiang Mai is such a popular destination among digital nomads, that it is known as “the Asian freelancehub”. Many of its cafes rather than being cafes are shared work spaces, so pick one, bring your computer and start working.

Porto, Portugal

With a very picturesque architecture, Porto is one of the secret destinations for digital nomads. The city is famous both for its architecture and its wine. The inhabitants of Porto are very friendly, always willing to help. Although it is a much smaller city than Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, there arecafés and coworkings to work all over the city. Overall, the internet connection is very good; and the food is not expensive.

Budapest, Hungary

Budapest the captil city of Budapest is full of energy and contradictions. It is a city for all tastes: beautiful architecture, delicious food, nightlife, and interesting people. Budapest always has something new to offer. It is considered to be one of the cheapest cities in Europe,and its internet connection is anything but slow and expensive. The cafes offer not onlyfree wi-fi and co-working sites like Mosaik and Vagabond Nation but also very affordable prices. Budapest is less touristy than Porto, but it is one of the best connected cities in Europe

Bali, Indonesia

Bali, the island of gods or better known as the island of freelancers. Bali is another of the favourite corners of those who know how to live and work: good gastronomy, unique beaches, the spirituality linked to the village with its thousands of temples and green pools.

Adventures in Space: The Architecture of Science Fiction exhibition in Edinburgh

The Adventures in Space: The Architecture of Science Fiction outdoor exhibition in Edinburgh’s Festival Square runs until 30 September 2017. It’s part of the Festival of Architecture 2017, organised by the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland.

I took photos of the Adventures in Space exhibition as it was being set up. I didn’t have time to hang around until it was ready, as I needed to drive out of Edinburgh before the start of the evening rush hour.

Below is a selection of photos of the display boards that had been erected when I was there.

If you are a science fiction fan, you should head to Edinburgh to see the Adventures in Space exhibition, preferably on a dry day.

A Trip to the Seaside at Espinho near Porto

When I was in Porto in mid June it was far hotter than I’d anticipated, well over 30 degrees Celsius almost every day. I thought that it’d be a good idea to head for the Atlantic coast and hopefully a  cooling breeze. As my Porto Card included rail travel as far south as Espinho, I chose it as my destination.

It looked like a good destination for surfers, due to the large waves.

I certainly wasn’t tempted to swim in the sea. However there is a beautiful 1940s outdoor swimming pool on the prom.

There were lots of colourful small tents on the beach. I wasn’t sure of their use. Maybe as wind and sun shelter?

I had a walk along the prom to admire the long golden beach. But even with the breeze, it was soon too hot for me to be in the sun.

I recommend Esphino for a day trip from Porto. The train journey from the city centre took around 30 minutes. I believe it costs around 2 Euro each way if you don’t have a Porto Card. There’s a good selection of cafes and fish restaurants.

A Quick Guide to Planning a Road Trip

After several months of wet and icy roads, surreal blue skies and comforting weather are compelling reasons to load up your vehicle and hit the road.

However, all your planning will quickly go awry if you cannot rely on your car. An operative failure on your daily travel back and forth is one thing, but what if your beloved automobile refuses to move along and leaves you trapped miles away from home? Of course, we all know that frequent upkeep of your car is necessary year-round, but it is of critical importance before a road trip.

Here are some checks you need to complete:

1. Coolant

When the vehicle is running and the engine is hot take a sniff. If a sickly sweet odour hits your nose you probably have a coolant leakage. Moreover, if you spot yellow or green streaks on the engine-oil dipstick, the probability is close to surety. Therefore, get it checked out.

2. Oil

Oil is critical for an engine. It lubricates moving components such as the crankshaft, pistons and camshaft to prevent friction. Remember, oil must be changed every 3k to 5k miles. If you have already gotten an oil change within that mileage, use a dipstick to assess the condition of the oil. If it is black or below the minimum, get it checked immediately.

3. Belt, hoses and timing belt

Look under the hood of your automobile to spot signs of trouble. For instance, squeeze the belts to ensure they are tight. Also search for any noticeable fraying, cracking or missing teeth in the belts. Lastly, check the hoses to see if there is any fluid leakage, especially close to the joining points. Having a hose break in the middle of a drive can cause havoc for an engine.

4. Battery

Get your battery examined and be cautious by also buying a backup. It is economical to pay for a durable battery, as opposed to paying for someone to come and help you when you’ve broken down (and then having to buy a new battery anyway). Whether you’re travelling in your car, a van or a motor home, Yuasa batteries are the battery of choice as they’re extremely reliable. You can explore the range Hardwarexpress have (https://www.hardwarexpress.co.uk/yuasa-78-c.asp) if you’re planning a long road trip and want to get prepared.

5. Air filter

A road is a dirty venture with debris, dust and bugs all around. Therefore, manufacturers install air filters to prevent gunk from entering the interior or the engine. However, gradually an air filter reaches its capacity and becomes clogged, conceivably affecting the engine performance and economy of fuel, and unquestionably polluting interior air quality. Air filters should be changed nearly every 12k miles.

6. Tires’ Tread and Air pressure

Tires require two things to function properly – tread and air. To check the tread’s depth, insert the head side of a penny into it. If you can see the inner part you need new tires.

Underinflated tires waste gas while over inflated ones deteriorate the ride quality as they are less compliant. Also, an inaccurate air pressure can cause tires to wear raggedly, which will call for replacement sooner. Remember to check tire pressure about every 1k miles.

7. Windshield

Do not forget to clean your windshield inside out and substitute frayed wiper blades (one-piece blades provide an optimised performance).

8. Brakes

It is affordable to get your brakes inspected as the auto-mechanic will also examine the complete braking system, including the master cylinder, wheel cylinders callipers and brake lines. It is critical to ensure the health of your car’s brake fuel. If your automobile’s pedal feels squishy or has extra mileage, the fluid may well be contaminated.

9. Fuel

Keep your fuel tank well above half-capacity to avoid forming condensation as it may lead to a frozen fuel line. You also don’t want to run out of fuel whilst out on the roads!

10. Exterior lights

Get into your car and take an evening ride to carefully observe the brightness of the brake lights, reverse lights and turn signals. If your headlight covers seem slightly grubby head to a body shop for a wax job to considerably improve your lighting.

It is an open secret that vehicle care can be a pain. However, it is not anywhere near as bad as having a thrill-ride ruined by problems that could have been averted.

Move Over Rio – The Barcelona Carnival is Where You Want to Be!

Barcelona is a fantastic destination for a weekend break or a longer holiday. With the blend of  culture, coast and countryside the cosmopolitan Catalan city is vibrant, colourful, exciting and diverse. Barcelona is a destination suitable for all the family. This diversity and cacophony of sound and colour is a reason why this is such a fantastic party city.

The people of Barcelona love to celebrate their culture. There are a variety of festivals, carnivals and fairs. There are around thirteen major festivals and carnivals in Barcelona throughout the year as well as smaller neighbourhood parties. There is no better time than fiesta time, to really embrace and gain an understanding of the lifestyle in Barcelona.

Barcelona Carnival

Originally banned by Franco until the year 1980, this carnival is the last chance to let your hair down before Lent, taking place during February and March. The La Gran Rua de Carneval is where the carnival comes together and a sea and spectacle of floats, fireworks and fancy dress are in abundance.

Sant Joan

Some of these festivals are around religious holidays, the biggest beingSant Joan. This celebration is marked with thousands of fireworks, pyrotechnics, all washed down with sangria.  The eve of Sant Joan is the biggest party night of Barcelona’s calendar. The day that follows is a public holiday and therefore this is a fantastic chance  for the people of Barcelona to really let their hair down. If you are still celebrating at sunrise then head to the beach to watch the sun come up.

Festa de la Merce

In autumn, in the 24th September, this festival is celebrated by one of the biggest street parties in Europe. This festival sees the re-enactment of many Catalan traditions. There is a programme of concerts across thecity and these events take place either side of the 24th. There is also free entry to museums on the day.

Festa Major de Sants

One of the lesser known celebrations during the last two weeks of August, during the week and weekends, the residents of Sants host a street party for one another. As you wander through the highly decorated streets, you can marvel at the efforts made by Sants residents. Take the chance to sample some  ‘botifarra’ sausage or ‘fideuà’ noodle-based dish, or any of the delicious offerings.

Dancing and drinking a large parts of this festival, particularly the spicy rum ‘cremat’ which is set alight, with music filing the streets of this corner of Barcelona you can enjoy classical music as well as a variety of other live music shows.

Montjuic de Nit

Barcelona is home to city, coast, mountains and beach, it really can offer a fantastic all round experience. During July, there is a free festival on the Montjuic mountain, with its’ idyllic views across Barcelona. During the evening there is a melee of film festivals, one minute film festivals, open air concerts in the Grecian amphitheaters. This is one of the most infrequent festivals, but it really is worth keeping a watch for details of when and if this festival is on.

Sala Montjuic

In warm summer nights, the residents of Barcelona still get to enjoy the views over the city and are invited to picnic on the mountain and listen jazz concerts and enjoy a night of openair cinema. This takes placethroughout the evenings of July and August. There are refreshments
available but packing a picnic yourself can be a wondrous treat.

Formula One Spanish Grand Prix

This race fills the race calendar in May and has been regarded as a festival for its popularity and draw to the region.  The race comes into town and is a hive of activity, a draw of celebrity and a melody of engine noise,happy crowds and celebration.

The Circuit de Catalunya is based twenty kilometers outside Barcelona inMontmelo.It is a popular event and can be one of the more affordable raceson the racing calendar.The three day event, entices  crowds to buy into the story of the season, supporting the teams colours their favourite driver. You don’t necessarily need to know a lot about F1 to enjoy the spectacle of pit crew, paddock, fast cars. There is a natural competition and part atmosphere surrounding these events and therefore this race weekend is a wonderful excuse in itself, or a way to start a week or end a week in Barcelona.

So next time you are taking a trip, consider booking it around the festivals, perfect for a group trip. Festivals can attract more people to a destination and therefore accommodation can book up quickly.  Think about booking early but if there is a large group or you are looking for some alternative accommodation consider booking an apartment, splitting the costs and there can scope for more of you to stay, make more of a holiday and take a look at beach apartments in Barcelona.

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.

Marseille

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 holidayautos.co.uk 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.

Rouen

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.

Evolution

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.