Where to go skiing? Portes du Solei, France & Switzerland. A guide for beginners and others!

The area called Portes du Soleil is literally translated as ‘The Doors of the Sun,’ and it’s the second-biggest skiing location in the world. It will stun you with breathtaking mountainous landscapes, plenty of ski slopes of different levels of difficulty, charming wooden chalets and fantastic regional food. In this blog post, I’ll describe my first skiing experience – a one-week stay in the beautiful village of Chatel, which is a part of Portes du Solei, and, next week, a post about the comforting food I tried after skiing.

Chatel, France, Portes du Soleil
Beautiful chalets in Chatel.
Chatel, France, Portes du Soleil

When choosing which part of Portes du Soleil you want to stay in, you should first consider your skiing experience. If you are a beginner, you should (or even must) look for an area with green slopes. It’s advisable to take lessons with a skiing instructor, but we didn’t. Instead, we watched a video explaining basic skiing skills and practiced for an hour on a little hill.

Piste de La Bellete, green slope, Chatel, France
Piste de La Bellete – an easy green slope where I practised my skiing skills on the first and second day.

Blue pistes are for more experienced skiers (don’t trust the maps saying they are easy as some of them are not!), red ones are inclined and challenging and the black ones are for…the suicidal. Just kidding, obviously, but you must have a lot of experience to approach red or black slopes, so take it slowly and sensibly.

Skiing in Portes du Soleil
I felt comfortable on Piste de la Bellete, but it was my comfort zone and I had to try other slopes as well in order to progress!
Piste du Loup - Portes du Soleil, red piste
Piste du Loup – The Wolf – is an example of a red piste. As a beginner skier I stayed away from the red slopes!

A very important thing to remember is not to be demotivated when seeing some 6-year-old kids overtaking you or skiing on the red and black slopes. They’re normally part of skiing schools and train every weekend from November to April. You also shouldn’t think, ‘Oh, if a child is going on this slope I can do it too!’ It’s misleading, because some of these children are real skiing masters!

Portes du Soleil, France, Abondance
Looking at experts skiing down the slopes is really inspiring.
Dreamy views of the mountains and enormous pine trees.

If you’re a skiing expert, you can ski from one area of Portes du Solei to another by using gondolas (télécabines) and slopes encoded in different colours. If you look at the map below, its way of getting you from one place to another reminds me a bit the Underground map, and that’s the way you should read it.

Map of the Portes du Soleil
If you enlarge the map you’ll see a spiderweb of slopes of different colours connected to each other.
The mastermind of our skiing adventure. Ben is planning the skiing route with the map.
Despite having little experience, this guy turned out to be the Wolf of the slopes!

Ben went everywhere on his skis, but because I was scared to use the blue and red slopes to get from Chatel to Morzine, we had to take our car to get to the green slopes in Super-Morzine, which took 45 minutes.

We didn’t regret taking the car, as the views were spectacular.

Chatel is appropriate for beginners with its green slope La Bellete, however it’s not the best one to start with because it’s quite narrow and curvy. If I were to choose again, as a beginner, I would have gone to a town called Morzine for a full week. The slopes in Super-Morzine (check the map) are wide, and I think I gained a lot of confidence there which is the key to improving your skiing skills. The video below shows a beautiful part of Super-Morzine

The views from the gondola in Super-Morzine.
 Morzine- Avoriaz with beautiful views
A short break for some hot tea in Morzine-Avoriaz with beautiful views.

I felt so confident on Morzine’s slopes that I finally took to the blue pistes and eventually got to the Swiss part!

 the French-Swiss border. Pointes des Mossettes.
It was extremely windy on the French-Swiss border. Pointes des Mossettes.
Proclou piste
Always look where you’re going and make sure you choose the right colour of slopes!

It’s apparently a pattern when you start skiing that one day you feel that you can conquer any green or blue slopes and the day after you think you’re like a starter again. This theory proved right in my case. Remember you’ll also experience tiredness and muscle stiffness after a few days of skiing which doesn’t help to see the improvement. Prepare yourself for some bruises!

My face, full of doubt when I wasn’t sure if I could manage skiing down the blue slopes. Fortunately, that day was my day and I did it!
Remember to take some time to admire the breathtaking views and inhale the tranquility of the mountains.”Les Crosets” in 🇨🇭
The view of ‘Les Dents du Midi’ translated as the Teeth of the South, in Switzerland.

Skiing Equipment

If you don’t have your own equipment, skis, shoes and poles can be rented on the spot at special shops. The staff will help you to choose the appropriate ones for your weight and height. Our skis, shoes and poles were included in the price of a self catering apartment and tele-ski tickets. The tickets Ben bought for us allowed us to use all the slopes in Portes du Solei, but you can choose a smaller area which will be cheaper. Check the booking options here.

Portes du Soleil, Chatel
In front of the restaurant on one of the slopes where you can warm up by drinking mulled wine, tea or eat some comforting food.

Other gear can be bought in Decathlon in the skiing section. I would suggest the following: a helmet, gloves, skiing trousers, and special blouses that keep you warm. Don’t forget about suncream protection, as the sun can be very strong on the top of the mountains, and lip balm – your lips get super dry on the slopes!

Portes du Soleil, Super Morzine
Lying on the sunbeds with these views is dreamy!

I hope my blog post explained what’s important to consider when going skiing for the first time. Portes du Solei was a real ‘Door to the Sun’ for us with one week of full sunshine and soft snow on the pistes, and despite some bruises, feeling of doubts, and tears, I am really grateful for the experience. My next blog post will explain everything about so-called apres-ski – things you can do after skiing – but I will mainly focus on traditional dishes. Stay tuned for mouthwatering photos of Fondue, Raclette and others! 

The village of Abondance
Admiring the village of Abondance in the evening.
Beautifully lit chalets.
Have you ever been skiing? What was your first experience?

Christmas Eve in Poland – dishes and traditions.

Today’s post is all about spending Christmas at my family home in Poland, but mainly focusing on Christmas Eve. I’m sure every Polish family is different – what’s served at my home is not necessarily served at another – but there are definitely a few dishes that my compatriots will recognise immediately. I grew up with the traditions and dishes shown below and I simply love Polish Christmas food. If you’re ever invited to a Polish house for Christmas Eve, don’t hesitate for a second! I hope my blog post will show you why.

Christmas traditions in a nutshell

We celebrate Christmas on the 24th of December contrary to English-speaking countries where it’s celebrated on the 25th. It’s always a big family gathering: the more people, the merrier! There is always one empty plate put on the table in case an unexpected guest wanted to join the feast or was simply looking for shelter. We sing Christmas carols and share an ‘opłatek’, which is a wafer with religious embroidery.

While taking a piece of ‘opłatek’ from each member of the family, we exchange best wishes for the upcoming New Year.

Another important tradition is that we put some hay beneath the tablecloth as a form of rememberance that Jesus, according to the Bible, was put in a manger covered with hay.

It is believed in Poland that animals are magically able to talk on the 24th of December. Legend has it that they received this power to talk because they were present at the stable where Jesus was born. So don’t be surprised if you see a Polish person talking to his/her animal and expecting an answer in a human voice…

What a shame! Bibi, my aunty’s dog, was unsuccessful at speaking with a human voice on Christmas Eve!

In a traditional Polish home you should abstain from eating meat or drinking alcohol on the 24th of December – a rule not followed by my family. We both eat meat and drink alcohol – naughty people!

According to tradition, there should be twelve dishes served on the table – one for each month of the year (twelve is also a symbol of wealth and represents the twelve apostles). In my family, we don’t really count how many dishes we serve. I would say that we usually have more than twelve and it’s the reason we cannot move from the table after we finish eating! Below are some traditional dishes that we eat. I won’t describe all the ingredients these dishes are composed of, but just mention the main ones to give you a general idea of what they actually are. If you’re looking for the recipes for some of them, just type the names into Google.

Main dishes

Red Borscht with small dumplings (called uszka) – Barszcz czerwony z uszkami

We normally start celebrating Christmas Eve with a traditional Polish soup made of beetroots, served with home-made dumplings filled with mushrooms.

Dumplings filled with sauerkraut and mushrooms – Pierogi z kapusta i grzybami

Sauerkraut with mushrooms – Bigos.

Bigos has to be prepared in advance and it’s at its best when simmered for a couple of days. My mum adds grated apples, tomatoes and bacon. One of my favourite dishes.

Fried carp

Fried carp

Carp is the most popular fish served at Christmas and I would risk saying probably only at Christmas, as outside of this period carp is not popular at all. When I was younger I remember my father bringing some live carp home and putting them in a bath filled with water. The tradition I once loved and got excited about is now something I don’t really understand and get angry about. In fact, not only me – there have been a lot of campaigns against it, mainly due to the fact that carp are brought home alive in plastic bags before being released in the bath.

Carp in jelly

My father’s favourite (unfortunately, not mine due to the texture of the jelly, which I’m not keen on).

Cod marinated in grated carrots, tomatoes, onions and vinegar – Ryba po grecku

The direct translation would be “Fish made in a Greek way”, but the funny thing is that the Greeks know nothing about this method. It’s in fact a modification of a famous Greek recipe.

Polish Potato Salad, also known as the Russian salad – Saładka jarzynowa

The salad is made from different types of root vegetables like potatoes, carrots, and parsnips; we also add boiled eggs and gherkins and mix it all with mayo.

Steak Tartare – Befsztyk tatarski

This is raw minced meat mixed with raw eggs, gherkins, onions and mustard. I used to avoid it, thinking I would have a tape worm in my stomach after eating raw meat. I love it now and the meat is actually safe to eat. This dish should not really be part of traditional Polish dinners served at Christmas, but it is in my home, so I’ll always consider it as my family’s tradition and a part of Christmas Eve.

Desserts

Poppy seed cake – Makowiec

This is made of poppy seeds and leavened dough – it takes ages to prepare and I don’t think I will ever consider making it myself!

Cheesecake – Sernik

White cheese is mixed with flour, eggs, sugar and, contrary to English cheesecakes, it requires baking.

My father’s layercake

Layer cake is not a traditional dish on Christmas Eve, but my father always prepares it and it’s spectacular!

There are drawbacks to such an abundance of food on Christmas Eve. First of all, it’s time-consuming and therefore stressful. Shopping in advance, spending hours in the kitchen and, of course, arguments happen! In my home everything is home-made so you can imagine how much time and effort is spent on preparing these dishes. However, these are the traditions I grew up with and would like to cultivate in the future – I’m not sure what the outcome will be!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Things to do in Bournemouth in Autumn.

Autumn can be quite depressing – it’s the season when many people experience lowered moods. That’s why it’s so important to make the most of sunny days (whenever they appear), and go out and enjoy a stroll while watching colourful leaves fall. Going to a local farm to pick some seasonal fruits and vegetables, or mushroom picking in the forest should absolutely be on your autumnal ‘to do’ list too! In today’s blog post, I will describe some activities you can do in Bournemouth and the surrounding area that can make autumnal melancholy and gloominess a bit more bearable.

Upper Gardens, Autumn 2019
It might be cold, rainy and gloomy, but the autumn has so much to offer…

Go to the New Forest

I don’t need to introduce the New Forest to locals, but if you are a tourist or a student in Bournemouth, visiting this National Park is a must. Wild ponies, deer, pigs, and spectacular purple heathland are some of the wonders awaiting you in the New Forest. If you want to know more about one of the New Forest’s fascinating villages, Burley, I wrote about it here last autumn. The legend of the witch who used to live there will get you into the Halloween mood.

New Forest Ponies
Wild ponies in the New Forest are friendly, but don’t approach them from the rear – I witnessed one kicking a lady!
New Forest ponies
Deer in the New Forest
Seeing one deer is something special, but seeing hordes of them is an unforgettable experience.
Heather in the New Forest
Heather in the New Forest.

Another thing you can do in the New Forest is mushroom picking, but only if you are able to distinguish the edible from the poisonous! I’m not an expert, but I can definitely spot the kings of mushrooms – ceps – which are very precious ingredients for restaurant owners. If you want to learn how to collect edible mushrooms, check out the foraging course the New Forest commission organises here. Mushroom picking in the New Forest is allowed, but not for commercial purposes. It means families who go foraging can pick up to 1.5 kg.

Once you learn how to collect edible mushrooms, try making risotto. The one we made with the New Forest ceps tasted heavenly and made me grateful for the amazing fruits that autumn bears – wild mushrooms.

Ceps, New Forest
The kings of mushrooms – ceps! We were lucky to find some of them to make home-made mushroom risotto.

Go for a walk to the Gardens and take some ‘perspective’ photos with leaves

I live close to the Upper Gardens, which are in the town centre. I go there for autumn, spring and even winter strolls and I’ve written about its history and plants here and here. You can make your autumn walks unique by taking perspective photos with leaves. Using leaves is an original and creative way of capturing an autumnal atmosphere on your phone or camera. Simply grab a leaf or two and play with your imagination. I went for leaf wings and a skirt, as you will see in the photos below!

You can become an autumnal angel for a moment. This photo was taken with my Sony camera. It focused on my body and blurred the leaves creating a mysterious effect.

In order to take a perspective photo with a leaf, ask your photographer to hold a leaf in front of the camera while you move further away from them. It’s not easy to take a perfect shot, but it’s feasible if you cooperate and move according to the photographer’s instructions.

You need to find the right size of leaves in order to create the perfect illusion. Not every leaf will be good for taking a perspective photo

These are two examples of when perspective photos do not look as they should!

Go to a local farm to pick some seasonal vegetables.

There’s something satisfying about cooking dishes made from produce you picked yourself. I think it might be an inheritance from our ancestors who had to harvest according to the season to provide food for the family. It’s fun, educational and you can support local farmers. There are so many of them; we went to Sopley Farm, but you can Google other local farms in the area.

Dan's Tanners farm in Bournemouth, pumpkin
A pumpkin for Halloween anyone?

Whether you’re an autumn lover or you tend to experience some melancholy during this rainy and windy period, I hope I’ve encouraged you to take part in some of the activities that are featured in this blog post to cheer you up. Will you try them?

He just pretends to be an angel…little devil.

What to visit and eat in Sicily

Sicily enchanted us with its hospitable people, natural beauty, architecture, and fantastic food. In this blog post, I’ll suggest a couple of places which are worth visiting and the food you should try if you go to the eastern side of this beautiful Italian island. To be honest, when I look at the content of this blog post, there are more photos of food than anything else, but this is what I like most about travelling – eating traditional and local food! There’s one important thing you need to remember in order to enjoy Sicily – you need to rent a car!

We landed in Catania, one of the biggest cities in Sicily, so we decided to spend two nights there. Unfortunately, the city did not make a good impression on me. Apart from having an apartment with a view of Etna, trying very good food at Al Gabbiano 2, and experiencing the buzzing night life, I will remember Catania as loud, crowded, and full of graffiti and dirty streets. I spent only one day there so my opinion may be unfair, but I would avoid spending too much time in this city. If you are interested in its architecture and sights, visit this website.

The view of Catania from our apartment and the Etna volcano in the background
Pasta with anchovies, bread crumbs and small grapes…I know, a surprising combination, but very tasty

Not far from Catania (about 45 minutes away) there is a picturesque seaside town called Taormina – click the link to see ten things you can do there. Its beautiful pebbly beach, the Issola Bella island in the middle of the sea, and the spectacular views you can admire from the top of Taormina’s hill will impress even the most demanding tourists.

The pebbly beach at Isolla Bella in Taormina. Beautiful, but walking into the sea is a bit painful…I had a few scratches on my feet!
Isolla Bella in Taormina - translated as a Beautiful Island
Isolla Bella in Taormina – translated as ‘Beautiful Island’
Arancini
Arancini is deep-fried rice stuffed with different fillings like mozzarella or ragu sauce

While walking around the centre of Taormina, you’ll experience lively music performances, an abundance of little trattorias with authentic Sicilian food, and posh boutiques. Taormina definitely deserves the title of the ‘Sicilian Saint-Tropez’! We ate a seafood platter at Osteria da Rita and we highly recommend it!

A seafood platter at Osteria da Rita
A seafood platter with tuna, shrimps and mussels at Osteria da Rita

If you like peacefulness and tranquility and want to avoid crowds, I’d suggest renting out a room at a farmhouse called Pantanelli Di Vendicari. It’s located near to the touristic town of Noto, but far away from its crowds. If you stay at this charming guesthouse, you’ll eat delicious food made from their home-grown produce (aubergines, peppers, almonds etc.), hear crickets in the evening, birds in the morning and simply be far away from noise of everyday life.

Pantanelli Di Vendicari.
These rosemary bushes smelt amazing!
Bruschetta – grilled bread with tomatoes and olive oil. A classic Italian starter – it tasted heavenly!

The farmhouse is located close to the Vendicari Natural Reserve which is a great place to walk around and admire its wildlife. The sea there is crystal clear and the wilderness of the place will release you from the everyday busy-ness of your life.

The beach at Vendicari Natural Reserve
The beach at Vendicari Natural Reserve
the ruins of the ancient tonnara
The ruins of the ancient Tonnara, part of the Natural Reserve

Ten minutes away from the farmhouse, there is the fishing village of Marzamemi, where you should definitely spend a couple of hours. You’ll love its cute little restaurants in the square and the harbour. Be careful though – if you want to buy lunch or dinner in the square, be prepared to empty your whole pocket and still feel hungry. The seafood we had at the restaurant Principino was delicious and fresh but the portions were not generous and the prices high.

Marzamemi, a beautiful fishing village
Gnocchi with seafood
Gnocchi with seafood and ricotta cheese. Tasted heavenly…and expensive!

The beaches in San Lorenzo (the town very close to our farmhouse) are simply stunning. The beach was empty, probably because it was late September so off-peak season, and we felt as if the beach was just for us. Don’t forget your snorkeling equipment as the crystal clear water will allow you to see plenty of sea life.

San Lorenzo beach and its crystal clear water
The beach in San Lorenzo and its crystal-clear water

If you are a history and architecture lover, take a trip to Noto – a town which will stun you with its beautiful baroque-style architecture. It’s know as the ‘Stone Garden’ and in the pictures below you’ll see why.

Noto
Noto, Sicily
The buildings in Noto have a characteristic creamy colour. How monumental does this building looks compared to little me?
Noto, baroque town in Sicily
A beautiful combination of beige and green can be seen all over Noto

On your way back to Catania’s airport, stop at Syracuse. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to visit the historical centre, but we managed to pop in to the Ortygia market, where charismatic fishermen sell fresh seafood and other Sicilian delicacies.

Tuna, Ortygia Market, Syracuse
I had never seen a whole sword fish before. It’s actually massive!
Fish at Ortgia Market, Syracuse
Fish at the Ortgia Market, Syracuse
Spices at Ortgia Market, Syracuse
I mean, just look at the colours of those spices…
Olives at the Ortygia Market

I hope my blog post about what to visit on the eastern side of Sicily will encourage you to visit some of the places and try some of the dishes I have included in this article. Below I will write some pieces of advice you may find useful when going to Sicily:

  • If you plan to rent a car, take your credit card with you. The rental companies do not accept debit cards to take a deposit and you’ll end up paying a lot of money for insurance.
  • Be extremely careful while driving – some Sicilian drivers don’t respect any road rules!
  • Avoid renting out accommodation in busy places like Catania. It’s better to search for so-called ‘Agroturismo’ run by families. It’s more relaxing to stay there and they will feed you with local food at a much cheaper price than in the centre of touristic towns.
  • Don’t be surprised to see the sides of streets and motorways full of rubbish bags. It is apparently a consequence of new recycling requirements which some Sicilian people are not used to following. They prefer to leave their bags on the motorways!

A quick reminder of what Sicilian food you should try:

  • Pasta Siciliana (pasta with almond pesto which is so creamy and delicious)
  • Pasta alla Norma (pasta with grilled aubergines, tomatoes and grated ricotta cheese)
  • Local wine (any type really; it is delicious) and Messina beer
  • Cannoli (an Italian dessert with pistachio or ricotta filling)
  • Arancini (fried rice covered with breadcrumbs, most commonly with a mozarella or ragu filling)
  • Seafood (especially tuna)
  • Bruschetta
  • Gelato (I recommend almond flavour)

Sicilian ceramic Moorish heads- the story behind the head here
A very common sight at Sicilian shops with souvenirs – ceramic Moorish heads. The story behind the heads can be read here

Most Instagrammable places in Bournemouth, part 2: Beach huts

When you visit London for the first time, taking a photo with Big Ben or the London Eye is a must. When you come to Bournemouth, you probably want to capture something which exemplifies its seasidey nature and will later on remind you of the time you spent by the sea. Well, what can be more seasidey than some colourful beach huts? Don’t get me wrong – I’m not comparing beach huts with Big Ben! I’m just saying that they are a symbol of Bournemouth and at the same time very Instagrammable!

The beach huts between Bournemouth Pier and Boscombe Pier

The most colourful beach huts are between Bournemouth Pier and Boscombe Pier. Some Instagram influencers adjust their outfits to the background of their photos and I can assure you that Bournemouth’s beach huts are painted in so many different shades that even the most colour-obsessed influencer will be satisfied.

The beach huts between Bournemouth Pier and Boscombe Pier

An interesting fact is that Bournemouth’s first beach hut, which was built in 1909, still exists, and you can find it near the Bournemouth Seafront Office. It’s easy to find, because it’s marked with a Blue Plaque.

The beach huts between Bournemouth Pier and Boscombe Pier

What can you use the beach huts for?

There are more than 250 beach huts available for hire, and you can read FAQs about hiring one of them here. People rent beach huts because it’s an easy and convenient way to spend a whole day at the beach with the possibility of cooking (gas stoves are provided) or hiding inside to avoid the wind or scorching sun. While passing by the beach huts, you’ll often see a group of friends, or families having barbecues, or people just lying on sunbeds next to their huts.

the beach huts on the way to Poole
One of the beach huts on the way to Poole
Mudeford beach huts
Mudeford beach huts

If you have a little bit more time, you can have a walk , a bike ride or take a bus to see the beach huts in Mudeford. They are much bigger so you can actually sleep there, which means you can rent them for a whole weekend. If you happen to want to purchase one of these colourful beauties, you’ll need around £250,000!

Approaching the beach huts from Hengisbury Head
Looking across the water at Mudeford beach huts
Looking across the water at Mudeford beach huts

If you think no-one sane will want to buy a beach hut which does not have a shower, toilet facilities, running water or electricity for £250,000, you’re mistaken! As a potential buyer, you would be on a waiting list of 30 people. You can read an article about it here.

One of the Mudeford beach huts
One of the Mudeford beach huts
Mudeford beach huts
The rainbow of colours

Even if I were a millionaire, I would hesitate to buy a beach hut in Mudeford. But while I was looking at the sea from a beach hut’s decking, admiring the pristine beach and the Isle of Wight in the background, I understood that the peacefulness and tranquility of this place may be priceless to some people…or at least tempt them to pay £250,000 just to wake up with this view.

The view from one of the beach huts in Mudeford
The view from one of the beach huts in Mudeford. Would you pay £250,000 to look at it on warm summer nights?

Would you agree with me that beach huts are a symbol of Bournemouth?

Mudeford beach huts

Get to Know the Blogger – Magda

Bournemouth Bloggers

Today’s Get to Know the Blogger is with Magda from My Life in Bournemouth, showing us a little insight into her blog.

Thanks for taking part! Can you tell us a little bit about what My Life in Bournemouth is all about?

As the name suggests it is a lifestyle and travel blog about my life in Bournemouth. I moved here about 5 years ago from Poland, and despite the fact that it feels like home now, I have this constant urge to explore places and areas around Bournemouth as if I were in a new place. I am a foreigner and probably look at things from a different perspective.

DSC09232.JPGHow long have you been blogging for, and what made you get into blogging to start with?

I’ve always thought that blogging was a pleasant and creative thing to do. I was following some bloggers and started thinking that I…

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Most Instagrammable Places in Bournemouth, part 1: Upper Gardens

I have decided to prepare a series of blog posts presenting different places in Bournemouth where you can take some artistic, colourful, original and memorable photos, whether you’re a tourist, international student or local. In other words, the most Instagrammable places in Bournemouth! This first one contains some shots from the Upper Gardens. Walking from the Square in the town centre until the end of the Upper Garden takes about 30 minutes (check the map here).

If you haven’t heard the word ‘Instagrammable’, then you should know it’s used to describe places, food, and things which seem attractive enough to be captured on camera and shared on social media. The Upper Gardens is definitely one of those places, especially with the abundance of flowers.

The best season to photograph flowers in the Upper Gardens is spring or early summer when the flowers start to bloom and their colours are most intense. The photos in this post were taken in mid-August and some of the petals are a bit washed out, but still beautiful!

Upper Gardens in Bournemouth, the red bridge in the Asian sector
One of the red bridges in the Asian sector of the gardens.

The Gardens used to be private and belonged to one family(!) – the Durrants – until they were leased to Bournemouth Council and are now open to the public. They are divided into three themes: European, Asian and North American, all based on the species planted in different sectors. The Asian part is very interesting due to its adorable red bridges, which are a great backdrop for photos. In my opinion, even a wedding photo session would look great there!

Upper Gardens in Bournemouth, the red bridge in the Asian sector

Other Instagrammable photos can be taken among bamboo sticks, and you can find plenty of them in the Upper Gardens…if you hide among them, you can pretend you’re on holiday in a tropical jungle…

Bamboo trees in the Upper Gardens, Bournemouth.
Upper Gardens in Bournemouth, Wellingtonia Sequoiadendron giganteum from Sierra Nevada.

The massive trees from America in the American sector are really impressive and will make you feel tiny…the photos below present the Wellingtonia Sequoiadendron giganteum (I’ve always disliked those long Latin names!) from Sierra Nevada, and it’s the biggest species of tree in the world. It can reach a height of 300ft (92m)!

Upper Gardens in Bournemouth, Wellingtonia Sequoiadendron giganteum from Sierra Nevada.
Upper Gardens in Bournemouth, Wellingtonia Sequoiadendron giganteum from Sierra Nevada.
Look at how tiny I look standing next to the trunk of this tree…

The gardens are about 3 kilometers long, but who would mind walking 3 kilometers of pure beauty…? Our walk ended on the Coy Pond (which is already in Poole) where you can see some red fish.

Coy pond, Poole
Coy pond can be found at the end of Upper Gardens

Have you ever walked through the Upper Gardens and taken any photos with its beautiful flora? I think the Gardens are simply underrated because the main tourist focus is the beach. But give it a try, you’ll enjoy them at any time of the year!

Upper Gardens, Bournemouth.
Have I encouraged you to go there?