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40 Nelson Road
New Malden

My name is Rachel Carr and I started This Is Carrt in 2014 when my husband's job moved to Germany and I decided to give up my day job in the city and go with him on the adventure! I had always loved to travel and write, and was also passionate about photography so one day I sat down and mingled all three of them on this website and my Etsy page. I write about a wide range of things like how to cope with airline hand luggage allowances to what to wear to any destination wedding. However, when I write up a holiday destination, there are more often than not a few common themes linking what are otherwise very different places:

1) Food. I love to eat. It structures my day to day life as well as any trip that I go on. I think food is a great way to start to experience a new culture as well as meeting new people.

2) Value. I don't get swayed by places to be seen and clothing to be seen in for the sake of it. I hate being ripped off. Be that by a fiver or by hundreds of pounds. If an activity or an excursion I go on is expensive but an amazing experience, I will still highly recommend it, but won't recommend it simply because it is deemed luxury.

3) Beauty. I love looking at pretty things. They don't have to have a purpose!

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Our Blog - Dedicated to Travel, Food, Lifestyle and Fashion

With a love of travel and writing as well as a passion for photography, this blogsite and my Etsy page mingles all three.

The Best Alternative European Destinations

Rachel Carr

There are many places in Europe that are sadly so fantastic that they are either overrun with tourists or are so expensive that they are no longer a viable option - unless you travel at 06.20 on a Tuesday from Southend Airport and return at 0100 the following day. Below are my alternative options for well known destinations that may have fallen prey to this.

If you wanted to go to Paris, try Lille instead

Lille's beautiful main square 

Earlier this year, my husband and I stopped off in Lille en route back to London from the middle of Germany. Away from the main tourist drag, which in itself was still pretty and elegant, I found the city to be utterly charming - full of chic boutiques, cute cafés and gourmet restaurants. Whilst it is far from the grandeur of Paris, I could happily while away a weekend here with my other half again.

Best For: a less obvious romantic weekend away.

If you fancy Barcelona's city and beach break offering, jet to Valencia

Quite the beach in Valencia - and this is only part of it

Valencia is further south than Barcelona so blessed with even more sunshine, which is great considering it has a stunning, and natural, beach to lie on - a perfect activity after a day of sightseeing and paella eating. Valencia is just as dynamic a city as Barcelona, full of culture and buzzing from its local crowd. It makes a great year round destination.

Best for: A girly weekend away

If you are a chocolate and beer lover wanting to travel to Bruges, try nearby Ghent

Ghent's church heavy skyline

Ghent's church heavy skyline

Whilst Bruges is one of the prettiest places I have ever visited, so is Ghent, which is ultimately far less touristy too. It is full of the same canals, pretty pointy roofed buildings and squares to eat Belgian waffles in. I went with my mother for a night and felt like we didn't do the town justice- steeped as it is in history and dripping with yummy places to eat.

Best for: Foodies who have exhausted the usual destinations

If you are after some big nights out, swap Amsterdam for Rotterdam

Rotterdam may be an industrial city, but it doesn't mean it is devoid of soul. In fact, I found quite the opposite on a recent trip there and would urge anyone to visit - especially those who want to go to Amsterdam but are finding it tricky to locate a hotel that doesn't cost the earth. Rotterdam is a far cheaper alternative that still manages to deliver vibrant bars, slick eateries and cultural things to do for those that can manage it.

Best for: a quirky stag do

If you want a weekend full of pizza, pasta and Italian culture, go to Verona instead of Rome

The beauty of Verona

I adored my trip to Verona this year and would heartily recommend it as a trip in its own right, so it certainly holds it own in comparison to its better known Italian brothers. It is a stunning town that is small enough to discover in two to three days - perfect for a long weekend away. It's compact nature also leaves you time to eat as much as possible of the delicious food on offer everywhere you turn. Another added bonus is that Verona is just a 45 minute drive to Lake Garda - aka heaven on earth.

Best for: culture vultures

If you are staycationing this year, why not travel to the New Forest instead of the Cotswolds

The Cotswolds has long been the destination for wealthy Londoners, Japanese tourists and Americans in search of quintessential England. It is undeniably pretty, at any time of year, yet the New Forest, to the south, is also extremely picturesque and has the added bonus of not being on the international radar yet. This may change with the continued success of hotels like The Pig or Limewood, so if you prefer your English staycations to be spent with more time in front of a roaring fire with a brandy in hand, and less time behind yet another coach load of tourists, I would plump for here asap. 

Best for: short weekends away for couples or girlfriends in need of easy relaxation and luxury.

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