Category: Travel-tastic

Packing for a (non) spring city break in France

When I booked our trip to Lyon, I had visions of wandering cobbled streets in maxi dresses and sandals and sitting at riverside cafes sipping cold wine.

The weather has other ideas.

Despite being May on Sunday, Lyon seems to be suffering with same crap weather affliction as the UK. I’ve trawled multiple forecast websites to find something more favourable, but all of them seem to be suggesting cool evenings and showers.

Arse.

In a confusing state of mind though, in the past two days it’s improved slightly, with the temperatures creeping upwards. Not one to miss any opportunity to make the most of the sunshine, this now means I have to pack for two types of weather, just in case. As I don’t have two lots of luggage allowance (damn you Flybe) I’m going to have to get creative.

Love trips hate packing

I’ve come up with a list of jeans, boots, maxi dresses, tops, maxi skirts, leggings, scarves, a hat, sunglasses, hi tops, sandals, a leather jacket and a denim jacket.

That’s pretty much every eventuality covered!

Now all I need to do is persuade the husband he doesn’t need a 50% share of the luggage space…

I’ll probably be sharing some pictures via Instagram whilst I’m away (free wifi dependant, obvs) so if you want to see what I’m seeing then give me a follow.

Thanks, as always, for reading ! x

Nature photo challenge – day 7

I’m going to cheat a little bit here, with two photographs. Ok, technically three. They are from the same destination though, and I really couldn’t choose between them as they all give me all the feels, so ner.

Both of them were taken at my favourite holiday destination on Mainland Greece. Stoupa is a small coastal resort at the base of the Tygetos mountains on the Mani peninsula and is quite possibly my favourite place on earth. I first went there about 15 years ago with my Dad, and returned many years later with my husband. I didn’t expect him to like it as it’s so quiet, but he was immediately besotted with it’s quaint charm, slow pace of life and amazing food. So much so that we went twice within 6 weeks!

The sunsets there are stunning. The contrast of the sky against the dark coastal rocks is just gorgeous.

There’s no better way to start an evening in Stoupa than sitting in a bar with a cocktail and watching the sun descend; turning the sky amazing shades of yellow, orange, red, indigo, violet and inky blue, before ending in the blackest of blacks due to lack of light pollution. During one trip the moon which followed was blood red for the whole week, which was eerie and fascinating and exciting, all at the same time.

This second picture was taken on the coastal path as we walked from Stoupa to neighbouring village Aghios Nikolaos.

Stoupa to Aghios Nikolaos

The blue of the sky, the darker sea glistening under the sun and crashing in white foamy peaks against the rocks and the cool sea breeze is the epitome of being alive. It’s like an instagram filter has been placed over your eyes and brought everything into super HD quality; the blues, the greens, the sandy path, the dusty pebbles, the black rocks, the pale mountain peaks. Along the path is the occasional house with white washed walls and tumbling pink bougainvillea. It makes me feel so relaxed yet so alert, all at once. Magical.

And that’s it! The end of the 7 day photo challenge. Thank you so much to Terri-Louise at TouLou89 for nominating me, I’ve really enjoyed it. So many memories, happy thoughts and things I’d forgotten.

For my final nomination, I invite anyone who’s reading and would like to get involved. Do let me know in the comments if you take part so I can check out your posts!

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

Nature photo challenge – day 4

The blue lagoon in Iceland is a bit of a headscrew, because it looks almost too artificial to be real. The water is the colour of Lenor fabric softener, it’s that blue. The contrast of the black volcanic rocks and the white sky on the day we were there almost looked like one of those photographs which have been changed to black and white, and just one colour element has been left.Blue Lagoon Iceland

Unfortunately we didn’t get to go in the lagoon, because we were with my Mother-in-Law and it’s not her thing. But it was amazing to wander round, see the steam evaporating from the naturally warm water into the cold February sky, and generally marvel at how frickin’ ace nature can be.

This trip was 6 years ago now (wowsers!) so has never featured on the blog, but I might do a retrospective post at some point.

I should also give photo credit to the husband who took the picture, but as I was there and we’re married, it belongs to me by default.

The rules for the 7-day nature photo challenge are simple. Just post your favourite nature photo each day and nominate another blogger everyday, for the next 7 days.

I’ve been nominated by Tou89Lou – pop on over and check her out!

Today I nominate Tamara Prokopchuk as she’s been out of the blogging loop for a while and this might give her some posting inspiration!

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

Nature photo challenge – day 2

Day 2 of the nature photo challenge takes us to North Wales, which is my favourite place in the UK. This photograph is taken at Swallow Falls, just outside Betws-y-Coed. The falls  blow me away every time I visit; the power of the water rushing through the valley is immense. The whole area is so green and lush.

Swallow Falls Betws y Coed

We spent a weekend in Betws-y-Coed last year, you can read about it here and here.

The rules for the 7-day nature photo challenge are simple. Just post your favourite nature photo each day and nominate another blogger everyday, for the next 7 days.

I was nominated by the lovely Tou89Lou – pop over and have a look at her blog.

Today I nominate Hailey at The Undateable Girl’s Diary. Hailey lived in San Francisco for a year, so I’m sure she has heaps of amazing photos to share!

Nature photo challenge – day 1

I’ve been nominated for a photo challenge, which is pretty exciting! I love looking back at photographs and how they can evoke a memory.

The rules for the 7-day nature photo challenge are simple. Just post your favourite nature photo each day and nominate another blogger everyday, for the next 7 days.

I’ve been nominated by Tou89Lou – pop on over and check her out!

So, on with my first photo.

Chamarel Coloured Earth Mauritius

This was taken in Mauritius. We took a day tour around the island, and part of the trip was the seven colours at Chamarel Coloured Earth. This is a naturally occurring phenomenon which is a result of minerals in the earth. There are shades of green and blue, as well as the red and orange you can clearly see on this pic.

We got married in Mauritius, just the two of us, on the beach. You can read more about it here and here

I nominate the lovely Tina from teaisfortina. She’s a real sweetie and you should check out her blog too!

The 5 most pressing destinations on my travel bucket list

Like many people I have a list of “must see” places as long as my arm, and the desire to see as many of them as possible is ever present!

Travel quote

I tend to take the opportunity to travel as it presents itself – perhaps there’s a good deal, or a cheap flight, for example. But there are some places that have my head and heart and remain ever present, no matter where else I may go meanwhile.

Santorini

Santorini

This has been on my list for a long time, at least the 11 years the husband and I have been together. We bonded over a love of castles and travel during the time we were “seeing each other” and deciding whether to throw our eggs into the relationship basket, and we used to look at pictures of Santorini and talk about wandering through white washed streets and watching golden sunsets. We’re currently right on the verge of booking it for this year, but we’re holding out for a chance we might get to go to our very favourite getaway from it all resort on mainland Greece, so maybe it will slip through our fingers until next year.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong

I crave to go East so much, but the husband isn’t very keen. One of these days maybe I’ll take off Shirley Valentine style and tour Asia alone. Except I won’t. Anyway, Hong Kong. I have some Virgin airmiles that were due to expire, so I had a mooch around the Virgin Atlantic website and was surprised to see how relatively cheap it is to get to Hong Kong. So I looked into it further and it just looks amazing. Then I spoke to my Dad who confirmed that it is amazing. Cosmopolitan, lots to see, great food and of course the Eastern culture. So this one is high on the list and, if I get my way, we’ll go there next year.

Amsterdam

Amsterdam

Another place that has always kind of interested me, again my interest was piqued when I noticed some very cheap flights. The city looks so pretty with the canals and the architecture and the parks, and I really want to go. In December and January they have a festival of lights which looks incredible, so I might tell suggest to the husband that we ditch the oodles of Christmas presents we usually buy for each other and use the money for a long weekend in Amsterdam instead.

India – The Golden Triangle and Goa

Golden Triangle 2

India is a dream destination for me; the history, the colours, the culture and the flavours. I’d go there in a heartbeat. Again the husband is reticent. He worries about getting a bad stomach and a lot of unwanted attention (if you read my throwback post on Marrakech you’ll know what I mean – when you look very different to the locals, as he does with blonde hair and tattoos, people tend to stare and sometimes touch! Not in a bad way, but he doesn’t like it). As much as I would like to go to Goa, with it’s street markets, warm seas and whites sandy beaches, my first choice would be the Golden Triangle tour of Jaipur, Agra and Delhi. Seeing the Taj Mahal would be overwhelming, and the Pink Palace and Amber Fort would be so amazing. Of course it would make sense to add a few relaxing days in Goa on at the end…2 birds in one!

Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik

I went to Croatia about 9 years ago and was struck with the friendliness of the people, the beautiful weather, the flora and fauna and the visual history that’s a reminder of the Yugoslavian war, with abandoned buildings and bullet marks. Dubrovnik just looks amazing, with it’s medieval city walls and amazing architecture. Perfect for a city break or a pre-cursor to a longer trip taking in the coastline and national parks, it’s right up there on my list.

Where in the world is on your must do list?

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

My trip to Lanzarote

As I said in Monday’s post I really didn’t do a lot on my mini break! But I thought I’d share some highlights and some pics with you.

Our hotel
We booked into an all inclusive resort called BlueBay. It was only 15 minutes from the airport, which was ideal after a 4 hour flight. The hotel was bright and airy, very clean, with a lovely pool area, decked pool bar, low rise whitewashed apartment blocks and beautiful gardens – immaculate trees, flowers and cactuses everywhere!

Blue Bay Lanzarote entrance

Blue Bay Lanzarote pool are

 

Our rooms were actually apartments; a spacious open plan lounge, kitchen and dining area with a table and chairs, big sofa and sliding doors to a big balcony, and then a separate bedroom with a dining table and sliding wardrobe and a separate bathroom with walk in shower. Food is always something of a concern in a larger hotel, when catering for the masses, and even more so in an all inclusive resort, but there was no need to worry. Everything was fresh and tasty, well cooked, lots of choice and variation. The staff were, without exception, incredibly friendly. It was a good choice.

The resort
We opted for Costa Teguise, on the east coast, due to proximity to the airport. The resort was a 20 (ish) minute walk away from the hotel, or less than 3 euros in a taxi. We used a taxi a couple of times and then on the last day the husband and I walked along the coastal path there and back, which was picturesque but very very windy!

Costa Teguise has no history as such, having been built purely for tourism purposes in the 1980s. There are some tourist shops, bars, low rise villas and a backdrop of volcanic mountains behind. The windy weather makes the bay a haven for windsurfers; there must have been about 50 of them, some fairly far out to sea and getting up some great speeds!

My Mom’s birthday
The reason for the trip was to celebrate my Mom’s 60th birthday. We decorated the room with balloons and banners and spent a relaxed day at the hotel enjoying the sunshine and drinking sangria. I’d bought her a Pandora charm as a reminder of the holiday, a small silver passport.

Pandora passort charm

For dinner we went into Costa Teguise, to a restaurant called El Maestro. I’d selected them from TripAdvisor reviews and emailed in advance to book a table and explain that it was a special birthday. The restaurant offered me a birthday cake, in my choice of flavour with a personalised iced message – so trusting as they didn’t take any payment details in advance! They lit candles and came out singing happy birthday, which was a nice touch.

Mom's 60th birthday meal

The restaurant was beautiful, the service excellent and the food exquisite – garlic mushrooms to start followed by chateaubriand with potatoes and the lightest fluffiest birthday cake for dessert. The restaurant even boxed up the rest for us to takeaway (which we ate on the balcony with cocktails the following afternoon!)

I’d be happy not only to go back to Lanzarote, but to the same hotel, which is an unusual thing for me to say! But knowing that there’s a tried and tested bolthole in the sun we could escape to, just to get away for a few days of R&R during the cold winter months, is great. And of course there’s lots to see and do on the island too.

Sitting in the airport waiting to fly home, in the outdoor bar which has a view over the volcanic landscape (how cool is that?!) I could quite happily have stayed another couple of days…

Arrecife airport outdoor terrace

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

5 things I go through after I’ve been on holiday

A week ago I was in Lanzarote. I already had a drink in my hand and was sitting by the pool.

Now I’m at work and cold. Pah.

Welcome to reality

(image from The Beijinger)

Here are 5 things I always go through after I’ve been away from home.

Denial
It’s not over yet. It’s not over til I get home. It’s not over until it’s bed time. I’m not going to bed, because then it will be over. I DON’T WANT IT TO BE OVER!!!

Alcohol withdrawal
What do you mean I can’t have a glass of wine with lunch?

Hunger
Why do I have to wait until lunchtime to eat? Why am I only having one course for dinner? WHERE’S MY DESSERT???

Tiredness
Why is my alarm going off? When can I have an afternoon nap? Why aren’t siestas compulsory?

Memory loss
End of first day/half day/hour back at work – have I ever even been away?

Already counting down to the next one!

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

Holiday vs travel

I love travel. Not travelling. There’s a distinct difference between the two, not least the length and breadth of the trip! I say this, as I know there are travel purists who think that you’re only a traveller if you take a backpack, a dog-eared map and sleep in hostels. Staying in a hotel doesn’t count.

To me, travel is seeing things, experiencing new cultures, eating local food, soaking up atmosphere and language and local customs, visiting must see sights, taking photos and creating memories. It’s ok to bring shampoo and many pairs of shoes. There isn’t a pre-requisite that you should only spend £3 a day on meals and travel cross country on the floor of a train, as far as I’m concerned. There’s a lot of snobbery around “travelling”.

Travel is amazing in a mind blowing, eye opening, life affirming, head expanding, wow kind of way. Even if you do have 2 showers a day and eat at nice restaurants while you’re doing it.

But sometimes it’s ok to just have a holiday. To do little more than eat, sleep, drink, lounge, read, laugh, snooze, wander and repeat.

Passports

I’ve just had a lovely holiday in Lanzarote. Didn’t see any of the island, but that’s ok. We spent quality family time, got some sunshine, my Mom had a great birthday, and I feel relaxed.

At least I did until a 3 hour flight delay on the way home (thanks, French air traffic control, you swines). And some unexpected health news from my mother in law. And my sister’s boyfriend being attacked by 3 men in the street, while she was with him.

Real life sucks.

But that’s the thing about real life. You have to return to it sooner or later, whether you’ve been away for an extended holiday, a week, a few days, or even just a weekend.

Welcome home to me!

Days out: Glastonbury

One of the things I dislike about winter is not being able to get out and about. Sure you can still do stuff, but it’s not much fun when it’s freezing cold with the threat of rain or snow and your extremities feel like they’re going to drop off.

The husband and I have been craving a change of scene and some fresh air, so with the promise of a dry and bright Saturday, we headed off to Glastonbury.

I’ve never been to Glastonbury before, and only know of it due to the music festival. I’d heard that it was hippy and mystical but knew nothing else about it. A quick Tripadvisor search told us that Glastonbury Tor and Glastobury Abbey were must sees.

Off we went down the motorway, getting super excited as the car temperature gauge crept ever higher, at one point reaching the heady heights of 10 degrees! It started to drop as we neared our destination, and was no more than 6 degrees and overcast as we parked up in Glastonbury and prepared to climb the Tor.

Glastonbury Tor is a bloody big hill, 525ft high, steeped in history and legend. At the top is what’s left of St Michael’s tower, dating back to the 15th century. Stuff like that blows my mind. It’s just so old!

national-trust-glastonbury-tor

There seemed to be multiple approaches to the Tor, and we settled on the one we were told was a gentle approach.

glastonbury-tor-the-gentle-approach

Ha! Either someone was having us on, or I’d hate to see the none gentle approach! Despite the helpful addition of a well trodden path and man made steps, the ascent was challenging at times (remember I’m a non healthy, non exercising, non flexible person). Calves burned. Cheeks burned. Skin flushed from pink to purple. There were multiple stops, huffs and puffs as we powered on through. But we made it!

The views from the top are 360 degrees – apparently you can see 3 counties. It was pretty cool, but still just a view of countryside (I appreciate this makes me a heathen). Maybe because it was cloudy and dull, maybe because we were so high that the wind was howling and I was afraid of falling off and tumbling down the hill, or maybe because I had such bad earache from the blowing gale that I couldn’t properly concentrate, but it wasn’t worth staying up there for very long.

view-from-glastonbury-tor

So I snapped some piccies, marvelled (and not in a good way) at the man who had carried a babe in arms which was howling through it’s pink blanket, wondered why on earth there were names and initials carved into the stone of the historical St Michael’s church (seriously, who does that?!) and headed back down.

Feeling exhilarated and proud of ourselves we walked towards the town to check out the Abbey.

Glastonbury Abbey in it’s current guise dates back to the 1530s, and again is steeped in history. It’s the final burial place of King Arthur (like, wow!) For just £7.60 each (including the optional gift aid donation) we wandered around at leisure looking at the ruins, the history, the grand floorplan, the grounds, the flowers and the museum. It was magnificent. So much history.

The size and scale of the ruins is amazing, and trying to picture it in it’s full glory is mindblowing in itself. The ruins that are still standing are majestic. To think they were built all those years ago, without machinery, scaffolding or architects is fantastic.

The level of detailed carving and sculpture, purely for decorative purposes, must have been such a long process.

Here’s an impression of what it would have looked like before it was ruined.

glastonbury-abbey-artist-impression

Glastonbury town is surprisingly small, but very quirky. Outside of the main street there isn’t really much to see or do, it just kind of drifts off into ordinary nothingness! There are lots of crystal shops, stores selling books about witchcraft and the occult, hippy clothes shops and jewellery shops, with bright frontages, candles, mirrors and fun names.

Through this archway was a little courtyard with some quaint bookstores and a café.

glastonbury-experience

Such a pretty approach and shop.

This wooden face carving was a bit eerie!

glastonbury-wooden-carving

The sculptures were lovely.

See the guy in the blue fleece on the bottom right photo? He was randomly doing some form of tai-chi on his own in the middle of the courtyard. The kind of thing you’d expect in a place like this. Then he stopped and got his mobile phone out! Checking your emails isn’t the height of zen!

After marvelling at all the colours and craziness, we headed home; contended and happy to have had such a great day.

Thanks, as always, for reading!