Berwick-upon-Tweed Is Nearby

berwick upon tweed bridges

Berwick-upon-Tweed may now be a part of England, but has historically also been a part of Scotland so I thought I’d find a place for it here on the blog. It’s just a hop and a skip (or a 40 min train ride) away from Edinburgh after all, on the east coast route to London.

The small town is just the right size for a day trip with potential for an overnight stay too (it being January, our budgets didn’t stretch that far). Berwick is nestled on the estuary of the River Tweed, its best known landmarks being the three bridges that cross the river alongside each other.

tweed river walk

We rambled along the banks of the river admiring the bridges and scenery but soon surrendered to the endless pools of mud. Wellies are the only way forward here!

berwick upon tweed beach

The beach, pier and Magdalene Fields golf course were a much drier route so we spent most of our afternoon mucking around there. Beware the rather treacherously high tide! Also, be careful while walking along the pier in high winds.

A word of advice: don’t visit Berwick during low season. We found most places of interest were closed from October to April and there were no boats departing for the nearby Holy Island or Lindisfarne, which we’d been most looking forward to. The Barracks, Conundrum Farm and Chain Bridge Honey Farm were closed. In town, the Saturday market was a letdown, only selling cheap clothes.

Sadly, the town square’s been taken over by pound shop style establishments and charity shops. Of course, there’s also the inescapable chain coffee shop. Among these are a couple of bakers and butchers, which I do hope will survive.

berwick public toilet ticket

One of the most amusing moments of our day was a visit to the public toilets which requires you to purchase a ticket… from a machine!

To eat: You can’t claim to have visited a British seaside resort without having eaten fish and chips, complete with a dollop of mushy peas, of course. So we recommend tucking into the absolutely humongous portions on offer at the Cannon restaurant on Castlegate between the railway station and the town centre. As you’d expect so close to the seaside, the fish is cooked to order.

berwick fish and chipsFortunately, working up an appetite isn’t difficult in Berwick with its winding coastal and riverside walkways.

To drink: We found the only pub to be busy on a Saturday evening was the local Wetherspoon’s, The Leaping Salmon on Golden Square. Although we would have preferred a cosy local establishment, at £2.99 for a double whisky we weren’t complaining.

(Top 3 photos by Rihards Andrusko)

Latvian Easter Stories from Scotland and Elsewhere

Happy Good Friday everyone! Easter is a time of year when I really miss home. Latvians have some fantastic traditions, some weird but all wonderful, to mark the occasion. Last year I already managed to share my joint favourites with you: egg dyeing with onion skins and egg fighting. So for 2012 you get my second favourite…

Latvians believe that, in order to protect yourself from being attacked by mosquitos during the summer, you must swing on Easter Sunday. And so it is that giant wooden swings take centre stage at many public Easter celebrations to this day, where locals queue up to protect themselves from mozzies, driving the repellent industry into the ground.

Over the past 6 years that I’ve been away from Latvia during the Easter period, I’ve found myself in some rather bizarre situations. A few times I’ve had to resolve to swinging from tree branches due to a lack of real swings in the vicinity.

My most remarkable Easter adventure, however, has got to be two years ago on Canadian soil. A group of us had taken a road trip to Green Gables, Anne’s house on Prince Edward Island. It felt like we were the only people around for miles yet somehow we returned to our parked car only to discover three bags had disappeared. And so Easter was spent on a sombre note, drinking to the loss of a few iPods, cash, Mexican and Polish credit cards and a pair of glasses that left my dear Miss Polish Travelling Buddy having to wear prescription sunglasses at all times of the day. Needless to say we still managed to laugh at the whole thing after our initial shock had passed!

Easter on Prince Edward Island

Proof that we were the only people around for miles!

Oh gosh, and how could I forget my Icelandic Easter adventure in 2009? Freezing our butts off with Miss Red Headed Lithuanian, but warming the cockles of our hearts with fresh fish stew, live music by FM Belfast at Aldrei For Eg Sudur Festival in Isafjordur and a swim at the local hot spring.

Rocking our socks off at Aldrei For Ef Sudur

Do you celebrate Easter with a bang? Share your favourite traditions and let me know if you’ve ever found yourself in an odd situation or if it’s really only me who has such random Easter stories to tell.

– Miss Red

City guide #3: Tallinn

Tallinn Old Town Square

My most ambitious city guide to date and also the one I’m most frightened about posting because I have a whole host of pals in Tallinn who might have something to say about my take on the city! Here’s hoping the feedback will be good.

Tallinn is an utter treat. The Old Town is arguably the cutest among the three Baltic capitals aided by the geographical advantage of both a hilly terrain and seaside.

Tallinn at night

We all like to make fun of slow Estonians but these days that’s more than a bit ironic considering factors like the country’s excellent WiFi coverage that lets you browse away wherever you may be in Tallinn for free.

To stay: Unfortunately I have no advice on this… I’m a lucky gal to have such accommodating friends living smack bang in the centre of the city. But no matter where I go, I always trust Hostelworld, and the local Couchsurfing community seems to be quite active.

To eat: Leib or Bread in English is a brilliant new restaurant in quite possibly the most serene courtyard in Tallinn. If you’re lucky enough to get seated outside (there are patio heaters for the chilly autumn months), you’ll get to smell the mouthwatering fumes from the open grill where your order is cooked to perfection right in front of your eyes. The trout was excellent as were the desserts like blueberry soup and crème brulèe. Service was oh so much better than the Baltic standard.

Boheem is the ultimate choice for brunch (and I’m a bit of a brunch snob). Its location just outside the centre makes it ever the more appealing as it’s tucked away from most tourist hotspots. Serving up delicious big portions of pancakes, wraps and other goodies, you’ll be full up fast without breaking the bank. The cafe seems to be a favourite among locals. Very pretty décor too.

Kehrwieder is the place to head to for a glorious afternoon tea. You’ll be well impressed with the selection of cakes, teas and coffees. The prices may be a bit steep but you get great service, good quality and seats in either the vaulted indoor area or quaint outdoor courtyard all centrally located on Town Hall Square.

F-Hoone Tallinn

F-hoone is stunning design-wise. Situated in an old warehouse, the architects have made sure to keep the best of the industrial features intact and highlight them with funky lighting and furniture. The food is unbelievably cheap for such a trendy place, and so tasty. The gazpacho was excellent as was the oven-baked camembert cheese with bread sticks and lingonberry jam. It seems like the place to be seen at this season.

To go out: Telliskivi Loomelinnak is a redeveloped old factory complex that now serves as the city’s artsy area. Hosting exhibitions, parties and shows, check out the website for what’s on when you’re in town. I got to experience ”Mutant Disko”, a party with live bands and DJs that gathered quite the crowd. Only downer was the drinks prices that came in at around 5 a pop.

Unusually for a Baltic capital, Tallinn has a buzzing gay nightlife and some of the most fun I’ve had in the city has been late night dancing at one of the numerous gay clubs. Cheesy pop and pole dancing make for an awesome night out and epic memories… Head to Kapp for a slightly more upmarket experience or G Spot for less glam but a more mixed crowd.

Hoov is quite a new addition to the city’s night scene. The name translates into courtyard and a courtyard it is. Located just off Town Hall Square, it’s a pleasant alternative to the Old Town’s many touristy Irish pubs and alike.

To do: Fankadelik vintage store is simply beautiful. Situated in a second floor flat, you have to ring the buzzer to be let in – how cute is that? You can instantly tell the pieces on sale have been selected extra carefully and no one item is an impulsive choice. If you browse for long enough, the owner will even offer you a cup of tea. Unlike many salespeople, they’ll let you try on the most expensive designer gear even though they know you won’t be buying it. Be warned, the clothes are exquisite and so tempting.

KUMU TallinnKumu Art Museum is a must for any visitor to the city, whether a fan of modern art or not. The architecture of the museum building itself is epic. Stay around for a little while after enjoying the exhibitions and have a coffee on the terrace cafe overlooking the leafy Kadrioru Park. If that doesn’t make you love Tallinn, I don’t know what will.

Pirita is a small town, essentially a suburb of Tallinn right on the seaside. It’s pretty for a walk and some fun in the sun and you can ogle at the stunning modern houses where the local rich reside.

The Rottermani area in town is trendy to say the least. A reconstructed old industrial and trade centre, it’s now been regenerated as a business and commercial zone with shops and hip cafes to while away the hours in. There’s also a funky Soviet Life Exhibition worth seeing that provides lots of legendary photo ops.

I’ve heard good things about the Museum of Estonian Architecture across the street from it too.

Patarei Prison, Tallinn

Spend an afternoon wandering along the Culture Kilometre down by the water. It starts next to the old concert hall Linnahall, which is worth a visit itself for the views across the bay. You’ll find the impressive Patarei Prison complex along the way that you can tour for a mere €2. Definitely not for the faint-hearted, the prison hasn’t been touched since its closure in 2002 and maintains a lot of its old Soviet attributes and daunting atmosphere.

(Much of the credit for this post has to go to my dear Estonian friends who’ve introduced me to some of the coolest places in town. You know who you are – cheers!)

– Miss Red

City guide #2: Ljubljana, Slovenia

Ljublana, Slovenia

Ljubljana has strongly secured itself a place in my Top 3 cities in the world. I even caught myself googling ”masters studies Slovenia” the other day… I’ve rarely felt so at home in a foreign city.

Both Rosé and I had been to Ljubljana before and adored it so we decided it was high time to pay the city another visit. We were there in mid-June and the weather treated us so well. There’s no better way to enjoy the place than by sunbathing with a cool drink in hand at one of the many cute bars and cafes aligning the banks of Ljubljanica river.

To stay: Alibi Hostel is cheap and cheerful and located smack bang in the centre of Ljubljana. It’s very basic accomodation – you literally just get a bed and access to the common room. There’s no kitchen in the hostel but being so close to supermarkets and city centre cafes, that’s not really an issue.

Celica Hostel is slightly less central but near the railway station and trendy arts area Metelkova. It’s really modern and designed to perfection but seems like quite the party place so not necessarily the best choice for travellers who want a good night’s sleep.

To eat: Frks on Kongresni Trg was recommended to us by an Aussie traveller at our hostel. €2.50 gets you a massive wrap with a generous filling. You can choose from a selection of vegetarian or meat options like the Greek wrap with feta and veg or the Mexican wrap with chilli beef.

Cafe Lolita, LjubljanaMy new favourite cafe in the world is Lolita at 1 Cankarjevo Nabrezje. I would call it an absolute must-see for any visitor to the city. It’s beautiful, detailed interior (complete with cherry-shaped lamps and a local edition of Lolita) and outdoor terrace will lure you in easily, as will the trays of freshly made sweets and other goodies. We ventured in for an afternoon treat expecting to pay at least a fiver each but an espresso, a mocha and a mouthwateringly good raspberry macaroon set us back, get this, €4.30! Well-priced luxury indeed.

Le Petit Cafe at 4 Trg Francoske Revolucije is, surprise surprise, a French-themed cafe serving up brunches, coffees and luscious-looking cakes and tarts. It seems to attract the trendiest of the trendy locals who really do make the place look Parisian, cigarette smoke clouds included. The coffee is excellent.

To go out: Bi-Ko-Fe is a hipster hangout on 2 Zidovska Steva, right near the university. Expect to see lots of people on bikes and at least one person in a corner making use of the free wi-fi on their Mac. The atmosphere is really laid-back and the music is definitely not chart-topping hits. One for the ladies – the barmen are drop dead gorgeous.

Metelkova, LjubljanaMetelkova is an area outside the city centre (though nothing is far in Ljubljana) that used to be an artists’ residence and has now become a hive of bars and clubs. We were in town during the week and nothing much was going on but we heard it gets wild from Thursday onwards. It’s a grungy looking area with some pretty strange sculptures dotted around including a Foot-Mouse, which we had great fun playing with. Even though we probably looked way out of place there and very touristy, no one seemed to mind our presence – the crowd’s nice and welcoming.

Pr’Skelet on the river bank between Alibi Hostel and Lolita cafe is a cocktail lover’s heaven with a skeleton theme… The prices don’t sound too great – it’s more or less €8 a pop, however, when the clock strikes happy hour… you get 2 for 1 and may I say the measures they use are frightening. A few sips and I’m not afraid to admit I was a tad tiddly 🙂 The barmen also have their very own party trick but I’d ruin the fun if I told you what it is so go check it out for yourself.

To do: We ran out of time to do everything we wanted to but next time I’ll be in Ljubljana, I’ll definitely rent a bike from the city’s Bicikelj scheme. Locals seem to love their bikes – it must be amazing cycling along the river bank and through Tivoli park, especially during the summer months.

Visit the central market to stock up on some vitamin C. Local produce is sold at quite good prices and you’ll be tempted to try a lot. There’s also a milk vending machine or Mlekomat that looks like it could be fun to try out ;D

Every guide book will tell you to climb up to Ljubljana castle to admire the views across the valley and I can only encourage you. Stroll over to Tivoli Park too for a picnic.

– Miss Red

Latvia in July: Positivus festival

Positivus Latvia

Positivus is one of many festivals Latvia can be proud of. Every year in mid-July it gathers thousands of Baltic folk and foreign friends for a weekend of quality music and entertainment at the seaside town of Salacgriva.

This year saw Hurts, Royksopp, James, Editors and Beach House headlining with plenty of other artists playing on the cute stages nestled in among the trees.

The party certainly doesn’t end when night falls. DJs play in most bars including 2 right on the beach. If you get tired there’s a cinema tent showing movies into the wee hours and there are hammocks hung between the coastal pine trees.

It’s impossible to get hungry at Positivus because of the 24/7 food zone selling great and exotic food for good prices (contrary to other festivals where food is even more expensive than the overpriced booze!). Oh, yes, on the topic of booze 🙂 Beer and cider really are ridiculously cheap and accessible. Stronger stuff is available in a few bars dotted around the festival area.

Most people sleep in the official camping ground but as the festival is in good old ”Eastern” Europe, plenty of unofficial camp sites spring up around the area too. Locals earn good money by charging a fiver or so to park your car or build your tent in their garden, which ends up being cheaper than paying for the official option.

In the morning there’s no better way to start the day than by taking a swim in the very mild Latvian sea.

You should totally come next year – all this and more will set you back a mere £30!

– Red

City guide #1 : Pula, Croatia

Pula, CroatiaThis summer Croatia’s what everyone’s talking about. Rosé and I spent a fantastic 4 days in Pula in the north of the country. It’s the less touristy of Croatia’s coastal cities and maintains some good old Eastern European charm. Pula’s not a glamorous city, it’s just very laidback and perfect for a relaxing and pleasantly cheap holiday.

Pula AmphitheatreHow to get there: We got a bus from Trieste in Italy to Pula for €12 one-way. Be warned they also charge €1 per piece of luggage that they forget to tell you in advance… The trip took 3 hours but was well worth it because of the amazing views you get over the Slovenian and Croatian mountains.

Pula bus station has regular services to most big cities in Croatia and occasional ones to neighbouring countries too. Do not trust the local train system! The internet says one thing but I walked over to Pula Station to discover a near-abandoned building where the only person I could find was an angry security guard who managed to tell me “Ljubljana never!” We then resorted to taking a bus along the stunning coastline to Rijeka and a train from there to Ljubljana for a grand total of €21.

To stay: Dea Apartments booked through hostelworld.com For approx. €10 per person per night you not only get a flat to yourselves but also access to the garden and barbeque. Upon arrival owner Andrea greeted us with a map and recommendations for what to do during our stay. Her husband is equally lovely and joined some of us travellers in the garden for a glass of wine.

The flats are situated literally 50m from the beach and have supermarkets nearby so you don’t necessarily have to leave the area…

To eat: There’s not much variety in Pula but there are plenty of universal bistro-pizzerias that serve up cheap but filling meals. Avoid the tourist traps on Kandlerova Ulica where waiters will offer anything just to get your custom. Try some local favourites like grilled calamari or chevapchichi. Local wine is also highly recommended – a 3l box will set you back a mere €2.80 if you’re lucky like me and get it on sale.

To do: The beaches stretching from Stoja to Punta Verudella are all worth seeing and enjoying. My favourite is the narrow Sisplac bay just down from Hotel Pula. You’ll find most beaches have bars or cafes right by the waterfront if you get thirsty or fancy a post-swim ice-cream.

Pula Old Town is nice and compact so you can see most sights in a day. Do check out the Forum, Amphitheatre and Portarata Square. Climb up the hill to the top of the city for fine views across the bay and strangely aesthetic industrial parts of town.

Pula boat tripBoat rides are another must when in Pula. Walk along Riva to find the best deal for you. Most boat companies will offer a selection of day trips, some for a full day and others for a few hours. You might also be offered a “fish picnic” where you’ll be served dinner on the boat. Wine and soft drinks are included in the price of the ticket regardless of whether or not you choose to eat, cheers to that! Our boat also had an epic Kylie and Eurovision mixtape.

This is city guide #1. Please let me know what you think by e-mailing redandrosegirls@gmail.com or tweeting @redandrosegirls. If there’s a city you’d like to see in the list, who knows, maybe I’ve been there, loved it and have a lot to say about it 🙂 If not, I’ll be sure to visit it sometime. – Red

Pretentious, Nous? Only in Venice

We were lucky enough to be in Venice for the 54th Biennale and visited both the larger venues – Giardini and Arsenale – as well as some smaller ones around town. Students get in for the very reasonable price of 12Euros so we can highly recommend it if you’re in Venice anytime until October. Be sure to be wiser than we were and visit the two venues on different days otherwise you risk a severe art overdose.

This year we were particularly impressed with the Polish, Korean, Swiss and British pavilions while Russia and Australia really disappointed us.

Other great things to do in Venice? Go to the market near Rialto, stock up on fresh veg and seafood and then hop on the cheapest gondola in town that will take you across the canal for 0.50Euro cents. You can also seek out some bars that serve up local favourite Spritz (Aperol/Campari, white wine and soda water) and offer a free buffet with it in the evenings. You’ll find Venice isn’t cheap for food so that’s a wise option.