staycation

Unfortunately, Covid doesn’t just end when the clock strikes 12am on January 1st…

As much as we all can’t wait to travel again internationally, it might be too much of a risk again this year – so: staycation.

Although it’s still not advised to travel abroad, who says we can’t bring abroad to us!?

There are some great staycation places to discover right here in the UK, offering the exotic vibes we’re all seeking!

Consider a staycation at Lizard Point, Cornwall

lizard point

No, this isn’t the Caribbean – it’s Lizard Point and Kynance Cove, in Cornwall. This place is my number one because it truly is a sight to beheld.

What about A STAYCATION in Bournemouth, England?

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Want to pretend you’re in Australia’s Bondi Beach? The golden sands of Bournemouth beach are waiting…

Consider A staycation at Windermere, Lake District

windermere

With views that look too good to be true, Cumbria’s Windermere reminds me of being back in Switzerland.

How about a staycation in the Isle of Anglesey, North Wales?

isle of anglesey

A place of unmatched beauty and endless adventure, Anglesey is a historic island that’s brimming with character.

Consider a staycation in the Isle of Skye, Scotland

isle of skye

The Isle of Skye is one of wonder. Being the largest of the Inner Hebrides, it’s home to some of Scotland’s most iconic landscapes.

What about A staycation at St Ives, Cornwall?

st ives

You might think it’s St Lucia, judging by the picture, but it’s definitely St Ives… Famed for its sandy beaches and breathtaking scenery, St Ives is another place in Cornwall that’s worth a trip to.

How about a staycation in Bath, Somerset

bath

Bath, the wonders of BathAncient Roman vibes galore, just buy a slice of pizza and you’re practically there! Even though Thermae (pictured) might be closed during the lockdowns, there’s plenty of other stuff to see and do in Bath.

Consider a staycation at Jurassic Coast, Devon

jurassic coast

For those of you who don’t know, I’m Lebanese originally, and this really reminds me of Lebanon’s Raouche (Pigeon) RocksJurassic Coast screams all things Mediterranean!

What about a staycation at Cotswolds, England?

cotswolds

An area of natural beauty, there are fields and greenery for days!

Whatever it is that you’re looking for from a nature’s perspective – whether it’s to frolic in fields, or just explore quaint villages, Cotwolds has it.

Consider a staycation at The Eden Project, Cornwall

the eden project

Cornwall is obviously the place to be, this summer… In the space of one post, three different parts of it have come up.

The Eden Project is one unique place, with a rainforest cathedral, a garden filled with flowers of South Africa and a Rainforest Canopy Walkway… It’s not to be missed.

What about a staycation at The Aspinal Foundation, Port Lympne?

port lympne

With views that look like they could be from a Kenyan safari, they’re actually here in the Kent. You can pay to stay at lodges, where the animals come up to the window!

This post was inspired by Jojo’s Cup of Mocha.

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Norte Dame Grotto at Lourdes, France

Welcome to my first ever travel post! Today, I will be reviewing one of the most peaceful and beautiful holiday destinations I have ever been to…

Last year was the first time I visited France (and Lourdes in particular). I loved it so much that I went three times, last year alone!

(My excuse – not that I need any: I’m strengthening my faith, Lourdes is quite close to London by plane, and the flight tickets aren’t very pricy)

I know what you’re thinking: “isn’t Lourdes just for Catholics and Christians?” The answer is ‘no’. You don’t need to be religious enjoy the sights…

The are some impeccable views in Lourdes, and Pic du Jer’s mountain can be seen from every part!

If you’re looking for some great excursions that don’t involve a trip to the extremely beautiful Grotto, below are a few ideas…

Funicular – Pic du Jer in Lourdes

Sorry for the bad quality video of my journey in the funicular… In it, I hope you can make out the great views!

The Funicular will take you to the top of the Pic du Jer.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=2d_No3EKiV4

You might be pleased to know that I will be investing in a Canon camera, which will enable me to record some brilliant vlogs of my upcoming trips (not just in Lourdes).

Boat cruise in Lourdes

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Boat cruise, Lourdes

Another excursion I enjoyed was a boat cruise. A friend of mine has a boat, so he took us for a ride. It was beautiful! Luckily, we chose a great day to go, the weather was stunning and the views were spectacular.

Strolls / Hikes in Lourdes

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Evening strolls around the town and Grotto, Lourdes

Late evenings are very quiet in Lourdes, so – why not take a stroll (or a hike up the mountain) around the grotto?

It’s a great place to be to clear your head – getting some peace and quiet, which is what holidays are all about…

If you’re a stroller/hiker by nature, why not try morning/afternoon ones?

Chateau Fort in Lourdes

There’s a 1000 year-old Chateaux Fort close by too, just a short hike up a hill… The views from up there are extraordinary!

What’s inside the castle? Musée Pyrénéen, a museum showcasing both regional artifacts and art.

If historic architecture is not your thing, there is a shopping district a quick bus ride away… (I didn’t take any photos of this, whoops!)

Story of Lourdes

Okay, now- let’s discuss the story of Lourdes, and why I went there specifically…

Lourdes is the town where Bernadette Soubirous lived with her family. The Soubirous‘ were a poor, Catholic family that made their money from running a flour-mill. As a teenager, Bernadette would go (to what’s now the Grotto) with friends…

During one of her trips, Bernadette experienced her first apparition of Virgin Mary.

Obviously, she was quite shocked and couldn’t believe what she was seeing, so Virgin Mary came back a few times afterwards – proving to her that it was real.

Each time Virgin Mary visited Bernadette, she told her secrets about the town, and gave her insight into future – along with a few tasks. One of the tasks was to “dig until you find a fresh water spring, and drink from it”.

Bernadette didn’t think it was possible to find a water spring, as there was nothing but mud and concrete, but her faith and belief made her do it. After she kept digging and sure enough water started to flow- not just any water, Holy water (which may not have been blessed by the priest – who didn’t believe Bernadette’s apparitions – but by Virgin Mary herself).

After word got around of Bernadette’s apparitions, she fled to a convent in another part of France, where she later died in her early 30s.

Miraculously, her body has yet to decompose all these years later, and is being showcased in a museum. Apparently, all the staff have done is add a thin layer of wax on her hands and face, everything else is God’s miracle!

Since then, people have travelled from all over the world, for the Bath (in Holy water at Lourdes Sanctuary) and to experience miracles from the Grotto and Virgin Mary shrine.

Many people have experienced miracles and cures from their physical and mental ailments.

On one of my trips, I met a lovely lady who explained that she previously experienced symptoms of MS, and the doctors diagnosed her with the condition shortly after, as she began to deteriorate. However, she made a pact to visit Lourdes each year and bathe in the water… I am glad to announce that since visiting once a year for five years to-date, her condition did not worsen… Every hospital appointment saw her consultants telling her that her MS has not worsened or progressed. She very recently received the all-clear and was discharged.

Look, the main thing that all those who went to Lourdes and experienced miracles have in common is that they all believe, strongly. Their faith in God is unfailing and unwavering. Without it, they wouldn’t have experienced them.

Sanctuary of Lourdes

The image at the top of this post is of the Grotto, in the Notre Dame Sanctuary. The statue of Virgin Mary is positioned in the exact place where Virgin Mary appeared to Bernadette. Also, the rock walls surrounding the Grotto (shrine) miraculously have the water pouring from them. That’s where people go to bless themselves, each other and their possessions.

Nighttime mass, Lourdes

Above, is the video of one of the greatest memories of my life. This was recorded on the day of Virgin Mary’s assumption, in 2019. I cannot get over the beauty, it has to be witnessed in real-life because the video doesn’t do it justice.

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Candle-lighting section in Sanctuary, Lourdes

If you know me, you know that I love candles… Fun fact: I used to be so scared of flames, naked (and clothed). I couldn’t even light a match until last year… Since then, it’s been candle-lighting galore!

I cannot confirm nor deny that all the candles in the picture were lit by me!

I love the Sanctuary! There are three basilicas on the grounds. One of which is underground (used for international mass), another called the Rosary Basilica and the third being Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.

There is no denying that Lourdes is one of the greatest places on Earth. Every time I visit, I feel the most peaceful I’ve ever felt.

As someone with an admittedly short fuse, my fuse has never been burned in Lourdes. It’s just magical!

Want to visit? I recommend staying at the Alba.

Hotel Alba in Lourdes

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Views from Alba Hotel, Lourdes

Alba is a 4* hotel a short walk away from the hustle and bustle. It’s in the quiet part of Lourdes, overlooking the mountains. It’s breathtaking to say the least.

Le Bodegon Brasserie in Lourdes

Introducing one of my favourite restaurants in the entire world. Shout-out to one of the greatest chefs of all-time, Jean-Pierre.

I promise to update this post with a selfie of him & I next time I’m there!

Aside from being the best chef ever, Jean-Pierre also makes the most delectable hot sauce, also ever! He very kindly gave me two jars to take home with me!

Le Bodegon Brasserie is fine-dining at its best. For €50, you can enjoy a Michelin star three-course meal! I had the best steak I’ve ever had, here.

What’s more, the ambiance in this restaurant is amazing. “Tres romantique” as I’m sure the French won’t say (because in their accent, everything sounds better)!

I went with my mum (and she’s my Valentine this year – as she has been every year)! But, it’s worth going with your significant other!

Of course, there are other eateries around, but Le Bodegon is my favourite.

Rating of holidaying in Lourdes: 5*

We plan to go again this year!

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