The NC500 – Inverness to Ullapool (via John O’Groats)

A tired Carol & Nigel had arrived in Inverness; somewhere we started our original Scottish tour back in 2020 prior to lockdown being announced. We liked Inverness but this was only a stopping point as we had seen it before. We were roughly planning to following the NC500 route from here on. For those of you who don’t know the North Coast 500 it is a driving route of over 500 miles which offers stunning scenery, rugged mountains, fishing villages and beaches. It was unlikely given the time we had we would manage the whole route so we needed to be a little more selective about where we were feasibly able to visit.

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Zakynthos/Zante Greece.

We booked a last minute trip to Zante after we heard that restrictions for quarantine were lifted in Greece. From our own research it appeared that Greece have managed well with Covid with only 4000ish cases and 200ish deaths (mostly on the mainland).  We were a little apprehensive of what to expect in terms of health checks and covid safety and so thought we would share our experiences to inform others.

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Budapest, Hungary

It was time for another ladies holiday away but this time with the purpose of celebrating Ginny’s 60th Birthday.  She was given the task of deciding where she would like to go and Budapest was a popular choice due to the fact none of us had been there but had all heard good things.  After some travel planning earlier in the year we managed to find reasonable flights from Stansted with Ryanair and a lovely looking apartment from Booking.com and away we went.

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Riga, Latvia.

The bus trip from Tallinn was actually quite comfortable; the journey took 4hr 40 minutes but unlike any other bus trip like this we had been on, it had in-coach entertainment! We were able to watch a couple of films which made the journey go quicker and they had free tea and coffee and a toilet if required! We encountered a blizzard on the way,  but unlike the UK the roads were adequately prepared and there were no delays.  There is no hard border between Estonia or Latvia we just had to present our passport before we boarded.  We had a couple of stops on the way including Parnu and arrived at Riga bus station at 5pm.

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A Week in Malta.

Malta was somewhere on our list of European countries we hadn’t been to and looking for a warm break in October is no easy feat! After ruling out Cyprus due to the cost and looking at a map we decided to check out Malta.  With average temperatures of low to mid 20 degrees Celsius, it seemed a comfortable option although we were aware there was also a possibility of rain at that time of year.  We had arranged to go away with Caitlin and a friend, and with Malta as the agreed destination (having ruled out Croatia on grounds of lower temperature), we managed to find reasonable flights with Air Malta from a new airport for us,  Southend.  We had dropped someone off there previously and had a good run so didn’t discount it from future travel and here was our opportunity!

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Frankfurt, Germany, Perugia, Italy and San Marino, San Marino.

After some deliberation and the fact we had some time off, we decided to head away for a few days in July for Nigel’s birthday.  After a few searches of Skyscanner.net for what was cheap on the dates we had and a bit of deliberation about destinations we hadn’t been to before we decided to head towards San Marino!

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Bucharest, Romania. Bears, Wolves and Dracula.

After a snowy drive to the airport, we got our Wizz air flight from Stockholm Skavsta to Bucharest Henri Coanda/Otopeni (OTP) Airport which departed an hour late and arrived in Bucharest just before 1pm.  We also had a delay awaiting our ‘meet and greet’ for the car hire also; however, after a few calls we were collected and taken to the off-site car hire location.  Our first impressions coming into Bucharest were that they had had a lot of snow and this was apparent on the sides of the roads and pavements also.  Off we set in our hire car heading for the estimated 30-minute journey into central Bucharest.

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