Category: Travel-tastic

HOTEL REVIEW: Holiday Inn Penang

When I think of the Holiday Inn chain, I don’t think of them as a beach holiday hotel, but the Holiday Inn Penang in Batu Ferringhi was absolutely perfect for our needs. Situated in the heart of the resort, the hotel is made up of two buildings – the beach side (which is around 6 stories high and has the main check in reception, restaurant, pool and access to the beach) and, across the road, the tower which is 24 stories high and has a salad bar, games area, gym and children’s play area).

The two buildings are connected by a walkway over the road, for safety and ease of access. During our stay there was some work being done on the beach side, with the bar closed for renovation, but everything was boarded off and it didn’t interfere with us in anyway.

We arrived in Batu Ferringhi at around 11am after a looooong journey and it was already in the low 30s and incredibly hot. I’d emailed the hotel in advance to ask about an early check in, because the official check in time wasn’t until 2pm and they’d said they would try to accommodate us. There wasn’t a room available as soon as we arrived, so we had a wander, had a drink, and an hour later not only were we able to check in, but we’d been upgraded to a balcony room on the 14th floor of the tower building, overlooking a wooded hillside from where we used to hear monkeys and birds chattering from dawn til dusk. The room was huge, with incredible air conditioning (an absolute must, as humidity levels were through the roof), a massive and super comfy bed, lots of storage space, a big marble bathroom with separate shower cubicle and the afore mentioned balcony with a table and two chairs.

Holiday Inn Penang bedroom

The staff were, without exception, an absolute asset to the hotel. Everywhere you went people would say hello and smile, and not in a fake way, they genuinely seemed happy to see you. That was actually the case outside of the hotel too, the people on Penang were absolutely lovely and so welcoming and proud of their country.

Breakfast in the hotel was served on the beachside – the restaurant was partially indoors, partially undercover, and partially outside facing towards the sea so you could choose where you wanted to sit each day.

Served buffet style, there was quite literally something for everyone! From sausages, baked beans, doughnuts and pastries, through to Malaysian curry and noodle dishes (traditional for Malaysian breakfast – I enjoyed being able to eat such spicy food in the morning without being judged!), cereals, an egg station where you could have eggs cooked fresh in front of you anyway you chose, including omelettes, fresh juices, fruit, cooked meat and cheese – it would be impossible to not find something you liked to eat. Again the restaurant staff were very friendly and efficient, and the whole area was incredibly clean and well looked after, with that beautiful sea breeze coming in from the beach.

The pool was an OK size and pool towels were provided free of charge. I can imagine that in high season it would get very busy, but we were slightly out of season so there were always sunbeds available on the days we chose to chill out rather than sightsee. There was the option to sit in the gardens too, looking out to sea.

The beach view, accessed through the gardens, was rather lovely!

The outdoor bar was a nice touch, and we enjoyed a cold glass of wine or beer after a day out, or before heading out to dinner. Prices were very reasonable, for food too, not overinflated as you would usually expect in a hotel.

We couldn’t have been happier with every aspect of our stay, and I would highly recommend this hotel to anyone.

Have you ever been to Penang? Let me know…

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

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Kek Lok Si Temple, Penang

Back to Malaysia for this post, as I still have so much to tell you, and so many photographs to share. I can’t believe it’s already been 2 months since we were there!

We visited a few religious buildings in Penang – Dhammikarama Burmese Temple & Wat Chayamangkalaram in George Town, and Kapitan Keling Mosque in Little India ,but this one deserves a post all of it’s own. It’s a beauty, and an instagram dream. Everywhere you look is something that needs to be photographed – ornate detailing, tiled floors and walls, buddhas and carvings. It’s incredible.

The temple is just outside of the capital, George Town, in the Air Itam area. You can reach it by local bus, the hop on hop off tourist buses, or taxi. We opted for the latter to make the best use of our time and get there as quickly as possible. If you’re accessing the temple from the street then you could quite easily miss the entrance, it’s a little dark passageway which looks like it leads nowhere, through stalls selling cheap bits and pieces, fake clothes and bags, and up a number of stairs. Once we got through this bit we saw that there’s an upper entrance to the temple grounds with a car park, where, in retrospect, the taxi driver could have dropped us. Never mind – all those steps are good for you, and certainly lead to a sense of achievement!

The construction of the temple started in 1890, although further development and building work continues to this day. The temple and connecting areas are now very heavily commercialised, with shops selling trinkets and souvenirs at every opportunity and around every corner (we found this very surprising).Although the temple is free to enter, there are nominal fees to enter certain parts of the development, but these are only a couple of pound each and well worth it.

It probably took us around 90 minutes to get around all areas of the temple; which included a slow amble, stopping off to take lots of pictures, sheltering from a couple of rain showers and climbing all the steps to the highest points possible to make the most of the views below.

The 7 story main pagoda has Chinese, Thai, and Burmese influenced architecture. This was completed in 1930.

Kek Lok Si temple 7 stories

This 99ft bronze statue of Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy, was built in 2002. A pagoda has since been built around and over the statue, and there is currently scaffold and some work happening around it.

The whole site is a riot of colour, with bright decorations, flowers and gardens.

There are buddhas everywhere! Big, small, printed on tiles – they’re all over the place!

This really was one of the highlights of our entire trip, and certainly is not be missed if you ever visit Penang.

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

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Teachings of Islam at Masjid Kapitan Keling in Penang

I had planned this post as a standalone to my other Malaysia trip posts as soon as I left the Kapitan Keling mosque in Penang and, in view of the bombing in Manchester, which has now been claimed by Muslim terrorists, today seems the right time to write it.

I love religious architecture; the grand scale, the intricate detail, the commitment to beauty. As I mentioned in my previous Malaysia post, the temples were one of the things I couldn’t wait to visit on our trip. I’m fascinated with churches, despite being a firm atheist, and will always seek out grand religious buildings whenever we’re on a trip.

Yet I’ve never been in a mosque.

On one of our visits to George Town, capital of Penang Island, we walked past the Kapitan Keling mosque – a stark, white building in the middle of the city, with it’s strong arches, rounded domes, and towering minaret.

Masjid Kapitan Keling outside

We took some pictures from the outside and were spotted by a volunteer in the foyer, who invited me in. I was given a scarf to cover my head (I was already dressed conservatively, with my legs and shoulders covered because of the possibility of visiting religious sites, but people who were dressed in strappy tops and shorts were cordially invited in and given clothes to cover themselves) and the young female volunteer began to tell me about the history of the mosque, and more about the Muslim faith.

I was struck by the simplicity of the inside of the mosque. In contrast to churches, and the Buddhist and Thai temples we had visited earlier in our trip, there were no physical depictions of Allah, no decorations or ostentatious shrines.

My guide explained to me that Allah’s physical appearance was never described anywhere in the Koran and so there are no imaginations of what he looks like anywhere – not just in a mosque but in every day life. Also, it is against the religion of Islam for any person or animal be represented in a mosque, part of which is that it can lead to idolatry, and also that there is no distraction during the praying process. Praying is a direct connection between the individual and Allah.

She explained to me about the pre-prayer washing process, which has to be done in a particular order, and that prayer water is inhaled into the nose and mouth for healing and purity reasons. She explained to me about the call to prayer, and prayer times – I incorrectly thought a prayer time had to be adhered to exactly, but she told me that as long as prayer is taken between the first call to prayer time and before the next call to prayer then that’s acceptable. She pointed out the segregated women’s prayer area, showed me the Koran, and read the Islamic prayer which is said to Allah 5 times each day.

It was incredibly enlightening, calming and interesting.

When I left the mosque she gave me some leaflets to take away and, because I’d been gone for a while, the husband joked that I’d been radicalised which is just the kind of sense of humour we have but not quite so funny in view of recent events.

Leaflets about Islam

When we got back to the hotel I sat and read the leaflets (more inappropriate radicalisation jokes!) which are designed to dispel some of the myths, rumours and negative press that Islam gets across the world.

Two quotes stand out to me:

“Have you ever wondered why a nun can be covered from head to toe and she’s respected for devoting herself to God, but when a Muslim woman covers, she’s viewed as “oppressed”? Or why a Jew can grow a beard and he’s just practising his faith, and when a Muslim does that, he’s an “extremist”?”

And this:

“Would you send your car to a butcher for repair, or a sick child to a florist? Of course not. A butcher is not qualified to repair a car, nor a florist qualified to treat the sick. Likewise, people without Islamic knowledge are not qualified to inform others about Islam. So why is it that people are willing to accept information about Islam from those that do not have the required knowledge?”

I’m not here to preach or change people’s minds, or even to share the content of the leaflets, but the way they approach common misconceptions was definitely an interesting read, and something I believe a lot of people could benefit from reading (EDL and Britain First members, I’m looking at you).

Whenever there’s a terror attack, the level of vitriol towards the Muslim community rises, and it’s so often misplaced – aimed at innocent people who simply believe in a religion and a God who is there for them; in the same way as a Christian or Catholic may believe in religion and God. We don’t turn against Christians when a Christian fundamentalist commits a murderous crime. We don’t see the religions of criminals reported in the news – unless they’re Muslim.

Crimes committed by Muslims in the name of Islam are anything but what they profess to be. They are extremist individuals who have a twisted view of “their” religion and the world at large, and try to justify a thirst for blood and an anger against a perceived threat in the name of a God who would deplore such actions.

Apologies if there are any inaccuracies in my writings about the mosque, but that’s the information as I recall it.

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

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5 things I thought on our first day in Malaysia

It’s been almost a week since we left Malaysia, and I haven’t got round to sorting my photos <<bad blogger>> I will be writing lots of posts about what we got up to soon, but in the mean time here were some of my initial reactions after 15 hours of travelling!

Thank God we’ve made it!
When I came across the deal for our trip, I knew it was an amazing offer and not worth not going. I also figured that part of the reason the offer price was so good is because the flights were with Malaysia Airlines who are still trying to (re)build their customer base. Mention them to most people (certainly the people I know) and the reaction is “good luck with the plane not disappearing”. MH370 is still firmly in people’s minds, and no-one’s more than the husband. He was obsessed with the case when it happened and I knew how he’d react at the prospect of flying with them. So I gave him the hard sell on the holiday, the weather, the amazing things we’d see, the food we’d eat. I didn’t tell him anything about the flights until he asked me, and by then he was already hooked on the idea of the trip.

I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t part of me that was ever so slightly nervous about something happening, and we certainly both joked that if the plane was going to go missing then hopefully it would be on our way back after we’d had a great time, but then I rationalised it by how many flights are operated every single day by Malaysia Airlines without incident and thankfully the husband saw it that way too.

And, do you know what? They were amazing. Legroom, comfort, food and service were all brilliant, and I’d have no hesitation in recommending them. KL airport, pictured right above, was pretty cool too!

Does anyone actually have a driving licence?
Our taxi transfer from the airport to the hotel was pretty hairy, and it was a sign of things to come. Lane discipline is almost none existent, driving bumper to bumper is the norm, and throw in some crazy moped drivers and you feel like you need to hold onto your seat! There are so many mopeds on the road and personal safety seems far down the list of considerations – we saw people riding mopeds with tiny babies on their laps, people wearing no helmets, 3 adults squashed on one moped, people carrying oversized items like big pieces of wood – and no-one bats an eyelid. Although cars are right hand drive and they drive on the left hand side of the road – just like here in the UK – NO WAY would I consider hiring anything on wheels and taking my chances. It was crazy!

This is going to be an ugly holiday for me
You know when you go to a hot country and you get off the plane and the heat envelops you like a warm hug (especially if the temperatures have been less than great at home). Imagine that warm hug being delivered by someone in a wet shirt, leaving you all clammy and damp. That’s what it felt like when we got to Penang. We knew that the humidity levels would be high but it was like nowhere I’ve ever experienced. The only way to cope was keep my hair scraped off my face and tissues to hand to mop my heavily perspiring brow.

Me at Penang Hill

Me at the top of Penang Hill – check out those frizzy flyaway hairs!

Even minimal make up just fell off within 10 minutes of leaving the hotel room! Kuala Lumpur was more manageable, but I still avoided photos as I was looking less than my best!

It’s a lot greener than I expected
Because of the year round hot temperatures, I think I expected the landscape to be a lot more parched and barren. Quite the opposite in fact, it was incredibly green. Our hotel room balcony in Penang overlooked a hill of forest, and everywhere we went flowers flourished.

Clockwise, from top left – view from Penang Hill, flowers at Kek Lok Si temple, view from Kek Lok Si temple up to Penang Hill

We soon realised why, on our first night, when the rain came. It was like someone had turned on a tap and, with only seconds warning, the streets were coursing with rain water. So yeah, the plants get all the nourishment they need!

It’s perfectly acceptable to eat curry for breakfast
We arrived at our hotel just as the breakfast buffet was coming to an end so, being the greedy foodie that I am, I had a little look around to see what was on offer ready for the next day. The hotel obviously needs to cater for visitors from across the world, so the food choices reflected that. Croissants, bread for toast, fresh fruit, porridge, sausages and baked beans sat alongside fried rice, noodles and spicy curry dishes. I love spicy food and can often be heard saying I’d eat it at anytime of day, so I wasn’t going to miss out on a legitimate opportunity! I had a little taster of local cuisine most mornings, and it was delish!

Ooh, so many memories just from writing this short post!

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

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My trip to Malaysia – a précis!

I’m back from my South East Asia adventures, in Malaysia!

Malaysia flag

Miss me? No? Didn’t even realise I was gone? Awkward!!

Malaysia was, as expected, pretty epic. We crammed in a whole heap of stuff during our visit, and I have a whole heap of photos and blog posts to write about things we did but, until then, here are some facts and highlights of our hol!

  • Our trip was for 9 days / 8 nights, during which time we flew 21,870 miles on 4 different flights.
  • Stayed in Batu Ferringhi on Penang Island, and Kuala Lumpur on the mainland, also visiting George Town and Air Itam in Penang, and Gombok just outside KL.
  • “Lived” in 2 hotels, one on the 14th floor and the other on the 25th floor
  • Had an amazing meal for just 80 pence
  • Spent more on a glass of wine than 2 skirts from the market
  • Paddled in the sea
  • Took a ride in a trike covered in fairy lights blasting out “Staying Alive” by the BeeGees
  • Visited 5 temples, 1 mosque, 2 caves and 2 towers
  • Took a funicular railway to 833 metres above sea level and looked down on the city below
  • Ate Chinese, Malaysian and Indian food from places that you wouldn’t touch with a barge pole in the UK, but were some of the tastiest food ever!
  • Walked 120km, climbed up hundreds of steps, went to the 86th floor of the tallest twin towers in the world, and stood 421 metres above ground level on a glass floor in the KL tower (not all in one day!)
  • Got punched by a monkey (more on that in a future post!)

I hope everyone is doing well – let me know what’s been going on with you!

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

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2 months today I’ll be on my way to Malaysia

When we booked our trip to Malaysia last year it was THE most exciting thing on the horizon and I was beside myself with joy that we’d be travelling East, doing a twin centre trip, and eating all of the food.

While it’s still massively exciting, it’s been overshadowed by the prospect of the housemove with all the associated house buying stress, house selling DIY and general overwhelming thought of having to pack up all our belongings (and we have a lot of belongings) and move them all to a new place.

So, I’m ashamed to say, the trip has taken something of a backseat in my mind.

Imagine then, the coincidental surprise and joy when Hannah, from Hannah International (a blog I follow) posted that she’d just got back from Kuala Lumpur and shared some great photos and experiences.

Pop on over to Hannah’s blog to have a look.

This has inspired me and, with just two months to go, it’s time to start thinking about our trip more seriously, planning a loose itinerary and generally getting into a giddy frame of mind!

We’re flying from Heathrow to Kuala Lumpur (a headache inducing 13 hour flight) and then getting a connecting flight to the island of Penang which is where we’ll spend our first 5 days. We’re staying in Batu Ferringhi, which is at the North of the island and home to great night hawker streetfood markets (so much excitement at this prospect!) but getting around is easy and cheap by bus and taxi. Whilst there  we want to spend some time in Georgetown (the capital), get the funicular up Penang Hill, maybe hire jet skis and eat, eat, EAT!

Of course it will be good to have some downtime too, chilling by the hotel pool, paddling in the sea and generally relaxing.

On the morning of the 6th day we get a flight back to Kuala Lumpur where we’ll spend 3 and a half days. I foresee lots of wondering, oohing and aahing. I’m excited by the mix of old and new, especially on the architecture front, and the mosques and temples are high on the list (not from a religious point of view, purely aesthetic). I now definitely want to get a train to the Batu caves that Hannah mentioned in her blog (even though I wasn’t aware of them prior to that). Obviously the architecture will be a big draw with a trip to the top of the Petronas Twin Towers (day and night, if possible), Thean Hou temple, Sri Maha Mariamman Temple, Chan See Shu Yuen temple, Jamek Mosque, Chinatown, Skybar, the colonial railway station and Little India.

So. Much. Stuff.

Excitement levels are currently supersonic!

Let me know your travel plans – imminent, future, or bucket list. I’d love to know!

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

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Fuerteventura – Hotel Elba Sara and the Cat Cafe

I’m flabbergasted that it’s only been 4 weeks since I was soaking up the sun in Fuerteventura. It seems like such a long time ago, and almost like it never happened, to be honest. To prove that it did I thought I’d share a few pics!

When we arrived at our booked hotel, we were told that there wasn’t a room available for us due to water damage (the island had experienced some unusually heavy rains. I found out that, because heavy rain is so rare, many of the buildings aren’t fully waterproofed, simply because there is no need.) Panic immediately subsided when the receptionist told us we’d be moved to another hotel in the resort – a better class hotel than we had booked – at no extra cost. Result! They called us a taxi, and off we went to Hotel Elba Sara.

hotel-elba-sara-fuerteventura

hotel-elba-sara-fuerteventura-lobby

hotel-elba-sara-fuerteventura-downstairs

hotel-elba-sara-fuerteventura-pool-and-bar

(images taken from hotel website)

It was, undoubtedly, a very nice hotel but it was just so big! This isn’t the kind of hotel we would usually go for at all, because with a lot of rooms comes a lot of people using the pool/bar/restaurant. That’s not to say it wasn’t lovely, it was, but it wouldn’t be my choice. It was also much further out of the resort than the hotel we’d booked. Having said that, we were only there for 4 days so didn’t have much intention of getting out and about anyway, and with all inclusive running from breakfast time until midnight we were happy to soak up the surroundings and enjoy some chill time.

Mid 20s temperatures and blue skies aren’t to be sniffed at in November!

The hotel grounds were lovely, lots of bright flowers and a lazy river running through the gardens.

We’d noticed quite a few cats wandering around the hotel grounds, and had both commented it was unusual as generally you would expect animals to be kept away from the public. They were all very clean and well kept, very tame and loved to be fussed. Then we can across this. cat-cafe-hotel-elba-sara

It says “We are a small charity, run entirely by volunteers and have been working in Fuerteventura since 1995.Our aim is to humanely manage the homeless cat population. Each cat you see with the left ear tip missing has been sterilised.

We have installed this cat café so visitors can feed the cats here. Please put cat food and biscuits in the bowls provided and not on the surrounding ground or on the base of the café as this attracts the ants and flies. We rely on the visitors to feed the cats and to keep the area clean, a dirty cat café would reflect badly on the cats.

We depend entirely on volunteers and public donations to carry out our work.

Please help us to help the cats of Fuerteventura. Thank you from all of us at “Twinkle” and the puss cats”.

Isn’t that just adorable?! I love that the hotel encourages this instead of shooing the animals away. It shows compassion and understanding.

Here are some pics of the kitties, who were all extremely well behaved and liked being fussed (I think I’d be well behaved and like fuss if I could live in year round sunshine with free food, too!)

Find out more about Twinkle Trust Animal Aid and cat cafes here.

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

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The Travel Tag

I was thinking just the other day how I haven’t done a Q&A tag post in ages, and then the lovely Tina from Tea is for Tina tagged me in this one. You can read Tina’s answers here.

If it’s that easy to influence the future then please could someone give me a million pounds? Ta!

Anyway, onto the questions, and my responses!

You are leaving tomorrow to start a life in a new country, where would you go?

I think it would have to be the US. There’s no language barrier and the country is so big and varied that you could holiday and travel there and see so much. Internal flights are pretty cheap and as convenient as catching a bus. I’d base myself in the Los Angeles area for the great climate, and plan visits to New York, Dallas, Nashville, Niagra Falls and Miami, and a return to San Francisco, as a matter of priority.

You can take someone for a weekend away to the place you had the best holidays ever, where would that be and who would you take to go with you?

It would probably be the West Hollywood neighbourhood of Los Angeles, with the husband. We’ve been there 4 times and had some amazing experiences. Even though we’ve done it all before, every single time has been fabulous, and would be a pleasure to recreate.

This would be my schedule:

Saturday – We’d stay at the Mondrian on Sunset, as usual, and have breakfast at Mel’s Drive-In (which is the coolest 50s American diner ever, check out the photos!), go to Griffiths Observatory for the planetarium show and the views, spend the afternoon by the hotel pool, have early evening sushi at Katana (the first place I ever tried sushi, and it was amazing!) and Happy Hour frozen margaritas at Cabo Cantina then shower and change before heading down to Sunset Strip for drinks at the Whisky a Go Go, maybe catch a band, then grab a booth at The Rainbow and eat one of their amazing pizzas.

Sunday – bottomless mimosas and a breakfast burrito at The Saddle Ranch, then bus down to Santa Monica, wander round the pier and go on the big wheel, hire bikes and cycle to Venice Beach, look around all the stalls and talk to the crazy people, back to Santa Monica for a bit of shopping and some late lunch, then back to We-Ho to play rock music on the jukebox at the Rainbow, maybe get another photo with Ron Jeremy and then finish the night with burgers and milkshakes in Mel’s.

(all photos by me or the husband between 2010 and 2012)

God that’s made me miss LA!

You can get married wherever you want to, your budget is limitless, what is your choice?

We got married on a beach in Mauritius which was pretty damn special, and I wouldn’t change that in any way.

mauritius-beach-wedding

I’d quite like to do a renewal of vows in Las Vegas though, officiated by Elvis!

las-vegas-elvis-wedding

During your travels you can bring back home one animal as a pet, which one would you pick?

A panda. No doubt. They’re so cute and playful and cuddly. And naughty – watch this video to see my point!

I don’t know why I don’t have one as a pet already.

You can get back in time and relive one family trip, which one?

A week in Greece with my Dad. I blogged about it here. Things were pretty fraught between us after my parents’ divorce and the holiday not only fixed our Dad and daughter relationship but strengthened it no end. Plus the location and food and climate was just so idyllic and beautiful – I’ve actually been back 3 times since.

What is the first thing you would pack for a one year travel around the world?

My passport! Duh!

What would your fantasy 100th birthday destination be, and why?

I don’t want to live to 100. Sorry to be miserable, but it would be too sad going somewhere and not being able to do everything it had to offer.

During your travel you can learn one sport to become a pro, what would that be?

I’m not a sporty person at all and don’t really crave to be, but it would be nice to be able to surf. Or maybe snowboard.

I lack the coordination to ever be able to do either!

Plus surfing is so wet, and snowboarding is so cold.

Does drinking sangria until I fall over count as a sport?

me-drinking-sangria

Now it’s your turn! I tag anyone who wants to get involved! Specifically Danni Jane at A Beautiful Thing, Hailey at The Undateable Girl’s Diary, Ellen at What Ellen Wrote and Emmalene from A Brummie Home and Abroad because they all love travel.

But if you’re reading this and want to complete the questions yourself then please do so! Make sure you leave the link to your answers in the comments, so I can be nosy!

Here are the questions:

  • You are leaving tomorrow to start a life in a new country, where would you go?
  • You can take someone for a weekend away to the place you had the best holidays ever, where would that be and who would you take to go with you?
  • You can get married wherever you want to, your budget is limitless, what is your choice?
  • During your travels you can bring back home one animal as a pet, which one would you pick?
  • You can get back in time and relive one family trip, which one?
  • What is the first thing you would pack for a one year travel around the world?
  • What would your fantasy 100th birthday destination be, and why?
  • During your travel you can learn one sport to become a pro, what would that be?

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

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My first…wedding anniversary

Another first of another month!

This month the husband and I will have been married for 8 whole years. Wowsers! We have a way to go to catch up with Chris and Charlotte, who I posted about yesterday, but it’s pretty good going for an unmarriable handful (me) and a previously engaged twice commitment-phobe (him!)

There are two things that stick out in my mind about our first wedding anniversary. The first is that my Dad actually said “I don’t know how you’ve made it to a year” with the reasoning that I am the afore-mentioned unmarriable handful. I mean, he had a point. But still!

The second thing is that we went to Marseille

Based in the South of France, Marseilles has an enviable climate and a very Mediterranean feel. We totally fell in love with the place. It’s small enough to get around quickly with a great public transport system, lots of pretty buildings and great architecture, harbours, beaches and we got door to door in 6 hours. We declared it our new go-to weekend break.

Unfortunately, after we got back, Ryanair ceased the Birmingham to Marseille flight route and we haven’t been back since.

My top tips for visiting Marseille:

  • Pre-plan your airport transfer. Stupidly I didn’t, thinking it would be cheap enough to grab a cab on arrival. All the drivers wanted between 60 and 70 euros; no way! So we jumped on a bus, me blagging the husband that I knew exactly where we were going, when actually I had no idea (if I’d ‘fessed up he’d have panicked and just thrown money at a taxi). Between a printed map and some pigeon English to the very French bus driver we established he was only going as far as the main bus station. So from there we jumped in a cab to our apartment; which still ended up costing us 20 euros for what would have been a 5 minute walk, had we known where we were going.
  • Jump on an open top bus tour. This is something I recommend wherever you go on a city break, as it gives you a really good feel for a city and you can then decide which bits you want to revisit. The audio guides are usually pretty interesting too for some history. If the weather’s good try and sit upstairs for the best views.
  • Do consider going for longer than a couple of days. Ours was just a flying weekend visit but there are lots of beaches with watersports and activities in Marseille, so you could easily have a mix of city and beach break.
  • Get familiar with the underground metro system. There are only 3 lines (from memory) so it’s easy to use, very cheap and very convenient with little to no crowding and comfortable air conditioned trains.

On that note, here are a few pics! I have less than I would like, because 8 years ago phone cameras were pretty naff and I didn’t blog or live my life on instagram – if I went back now I’d be snapping everything!

Have you ever been to Marseille?

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

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When Britain Bites… (Twit of the Day)

When I was in Greece (I know, I know, I’ll talk about something else soon, honest!) I only got bitten 3 times during the whole week, and even then they didn’t cause me any bother at all.

On Tuesday night I got bit in my own bed a total of 10 times! In one night! By one lone ranger insect!

I know it was a lone ranger because I both spotted it and heard it. It started in the lounge and must have followed me to bed (stalker). I could hear it bouncing off the walls and buzzing around but I naively thought you don’t get mosquitoes in England (I’ve since been advised that you do). So when the husband told me there was a mosquito buzzing around, I poo-pooed him as one may brush off a silly child and went to sleep.

Now who feels silly? I’m my own twit of the day!

A twit for not trying to catch the blighter. A twit for thinking I wouldn’t be bitten. And a twit for being so uncovered in bed. I even have a bite on my right bum cheek!

What’s worse is that they’re the itchy type and they’re swelling. I don’t need any help with my bum cheeks getting bigger, thank you very much!

Itch

We were on holiday a few years ago (in Greece again, actually) and it was incredibly hot so I slept butt naked on top of the sheets. I woke up one morning to find not one but three mozzie bites right in my bum crack!! One must have flown in there and bounced around trying to bite his way out. It was pretty uncomfortable, and it’s not really the done thing to be walking around scratching the depths of your arse in public. And antihistamine cream down there isn’t particularly nice either…

Have you got any funny bite stories?

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

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