As a traveller, I try to arrive in new places with an open mind and not form an impression based on things I’ve read or heard from others. That said, I thought I had a pretty good idea of what Gran Canaria was about before heading there earlier this year: mass tourism, good surfing and a buzzing digital nomad culture.

And Gran Canaria is each of these things. But it’s so much more besides.

It’s been described as an island of many faces, and with good reason. It has magnificent mountains, deep ravines and stunning craters, yet is fringed with beach resorts, ranging from secluded coves to huge tourist beaches with sunbeds crammed on every grain of sand. It has a desert, yet its interior has areas of rainforest. The tourist resorts lining the south are crammed with people, but drive a short way and you could be the only person around. It has a spiritual core and a reputation for brashness.

The diverse landscapes of Gran Canaria mean the island experiences extreme microclimates – you could be baking on a beach in the south, while sheltering from rain in the lush, mountainous north, and bemoaning the seemingly constant cloud in the city of Las Palmas (which I did a lot!).

With all this packed into a circular island only 1,560 sq. km. in size, it’s little wonder Gran Canaria has been called the world’s smallest continent.

As a fun way of showing off the diversity of the island, I thought I’d highlight some interesting places moving from south to north, inspired by a road trip with friends. During our journey I was fascinated to watch the landscapes of Gran Canaria vary dramatically as we drove from the desert at Maspalomas northwards into the heart of the island. Read More

Before last year, whenever I thought about music festivals my mind conjured up images of muddy fields and welly boots, tiny tents and burly security guards, partying post-A-level teens and glow-sticks, huge crowds of drunken dancers and expensive stodgy food. And rain, lots of rain…

But that was before I went to the Worldwide Festival in Sète.

Now, when you mention the word festival to me, I’m transported to a world of rosé wine and seafood, long days dancing in the sea and along the water’s edge, magical nights in the Théâtre de la Mer, and the friendliest crowd of people you’ll ever meet. People united by a single thing – a love of Gilles Peterson and his unique brand of eclectic music.

Worldwide 2015 was the 10th anniversary of this special little festival. It was also my first visit, after years of listening wistfully from a distance. And it was one of my undisputed highlights of last year. Could Worldwide 2016 live up to that? You know, if possible I think it was even better… Read More

The waiter indicated to a spare table on the outdoor terrace at Fotografiska. I slipped into the chair, feet gently throbbing, and tucked the soft blanket around my legs – it may be summer in Stockholm, but as the sun fell below the horizon there was a definite nip in the air.

Sipping my cool glass of wine, I reflected on my jaunt around the city. Since beginning life as a digital nomad, I’ve tried to stay in places for a minimum of a month, preferably longer, to give myself time to really get to know a place and its people. Finances, not helped by the freefalling GBP following the disastrous Brexit vote, meant I only had a short time to spend in this notoriously pricey city when I was lured here by the TBEX travel blogging conference. But armed with a free Stockholm VIP pass courtesy of TBEX Stockholm and Visit Stockholm, plus a 72-hour transport pass, I’d spent the past 48 hours on a whistlestop tour of some of the main things to do in Stockholm.

Here are my highlights. Read More

Mid-July, I took a deep breath and headed to Stockholm for TBEX, widely regarded as the travel blogging conference.

I’ll admit to slight nerves, mainly because my blog is fairly new and I wasn’t sure if I should be better established before mingling with the travel-blogging elite.

(Also, ahem, because it followed the Worldwide Festival in Sète – one of my highlights of the year – a seven-day music festival that finished at 4am on Monday morning, with the official opening party for TBEX Stockholm taking place that Thursday evening. Ouch!)

So was I glad I attended and what did I learn from the experience? Read More

I arrived in Gran Canaria at the end of January, just as the island was revving up for the onslaught of Carnival. February was certainly an experience – an explosion of riotous colour, outrageous drag queens, thumping drums, outlandish costumes, sultry hip action, huge dance parades, all-night parties, and a spectacular fireworks display.

But while Carnival is the big one, don’t be fooled into thinking the rest of the year is quiet.

Canarian culture is filled with a rich tapestry of customs and traditions, many of which involve some kind of party. There are numerous fiestas held around the island throughout the year, with almost every town seeming to hold its own celebration at some point.

So imagine my delight when my friends, by now fully aware of my love of Canarian cheese, announced a Fiesta del Queso (yup, that’s right – a cheese festival!) in Montaña Alta de Guía. I was all set for a trip to cheese heaven! Read More