Tag: winter sun

Travel plans for 2019

Travel plans 2019 - hand holding small globe

I’m the kind of person who is pretty much always a year ahead with travel plans, because there are so many places I want to see. It’s rare to start a new year with no clue of where we’re going – the bones are usually in place and I’m already thinking ahead to the following year. When your “to visit” list is long and your annual leave is short (in comparison), it’s inevitable you’ll think ahead.

This year was quite the exception

With the shambles that is Brexit I’ve felt wary of European travel. Neither the husband or I had any concrete “let’s do this” feelings as a result. The original front runner was our favourite place in Greece, but with rumours that Thomas Cook airlines are in some trouble, which is our only way to get there, that seemed a bit risky.

Also, as it’s my Mother in Law’s 80th birthday in June, I thought we should plan a trip with her. There’s nothing we could buy her that she doesn’t already have, and memories are so much more valuable than stuff. I know that in years to come we’ll look back happily on time together exploring a new destination. And of course we’ll have a great time while we’re there!

So, without further ado, here’s what we decided on.

March – 5 days in Lanzarote

Not a “to visit” list destination but the thought of a few days in the sun while the UK is struggling to make it’s way into Spring was very appealing! Food, drink, sleep, reading books, seafront walks and sunshine; what’s not to like? We’re going to head out into the island for the day too and visit Timanfaya National Park to see the volcanic landscape.

Travel plans 2019 Timanfaya National Park
Image from https://www.hellocanaryislands.com/

Late May – Bergen, Norway

Technically June, as we arrive at Bergen airport just after midnight on the 1st for 3 days of exploring with my Mother in Law. She mentioned to me many years ago that she would love to visit the Fjords, but was resigned to the fact she never would because the friends she goes on holiday with wouldn’t be interested. Step in the husband with her 80th birthday present! Bergen looks very pretty, with coloured wooden houses surrounding the old harbour, and a funicular railway up to Mount Floyen from where you can view the whole city below.

Travel plans 2019 - Bergen coloured houses

We’ll take the Bergen railway, considered to be one of the most beautiful and picturesque train journeys in the world, connecting with the Flam railway which holds the same accolade. We’ll do a couple of fjord cruises (details yet to be finalised) and probably get very confused by the midnight sun! I have to say that Norway has never been on my agenda. But once I started investigating it looks absolutely beautiful so I’m really looking forward to this.

September – New York baby!

Well, this one came completely out of the blue. Not that we haven’t talked about it – New York is on everyone’s list, surely? It’s just never quite made it to the top, for me, because of the cost, and the vast amount of stuff to see in a short space of time. You see, I always thought of New York as being a city break. Maybe 3-4 nights, running around like a loon, feeling the pressure from jet lag and perhaps not quite doing it justice in one trip.

But then, an email from Jack’s Flight Club advertising return Virgin flights for under £300 (not a typo) and a quick Airbnb search offering up an apartment in Greenwich Village at a very reasonable cost started the rudiments of a plan. The husband has been before and always said he’d love to go back. He wanted a slightly longer trip instead of a just a quick break. So we settled on 6 nights/7 days and that was that! I sent him a text about the flight offer at around 10.30am. By 8pm that same day we were booked!

Travel plans 2019 New York skyline
Image from TripAdvisor

We’ll do all the tourist stuff, obvs. It’s been 20 years since the husband was there, so he’ll benefit from a refresher!! Those extra couple of days will allow us the time to just hang out, eat (I’m excited for a reuben sandwich at Katz’s deli, which is right in our neighbourhood), chill, and soak up the atmosphere. Preferable to just running round like headless chickens ticking off places we need to see.

Oh, and it’s my first ever foray into the world of Airbnb, which I think could be travel-changing!

So there you have it!

Our planned and booked travels for the year 2019. None of which I would have predicted if you’d asked me this time last year. But all of which I’m super chuffed with.

Hoping to sneak in a couple of UK visits too. Every year I talk about Cornwall. So, if we get another amazing summer like last year, that may be a long weekend contender.

And then it’s time to start thinking about 2020!

Have you finalised any travel plans for 2019 yet? I’d love to hear from you! Let me know in the comments.

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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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

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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!

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This time in 7 weeks…

…I’ll be on my jolly holidays!

It’s my Mom’s 60th birthday mid March, so we’ve booked a short break to Lanzarote.

Who wants to spend money on a party for everyone else to enjoy when you can spend it on relaxing in the sun, paddling in the sea, and drinking cocktails?

We fly out very first thing on the Wednesday morning and come back Sunday afternoon. Perfect.

Choice of destinations is more limited at this time of year due to climate, and we don’t want to travel long haul, so the Canary Islands are perfect. I’ve been to Fuerteventura in March and the days were actually quite hot, so hoping to get a bit of a suntan. It will just be nice not to have to wrap up from the elements, feel the warmth on our faces and sit outside reading books and watching the world go by.

We’re going to an all inclusive resort so the temptation to do nothing will be strong, but I’d like to get a feel for the island, so we’ll probably go on a day trip whilst we’re there, probably to the volcanic national park, and of course a wander to the resort, seafront and harbour will be a must.

Costa Teguise beach

Costa Teguise town

BlueBay Lanzarote

Timanfaya national park

If you’ve been to Lanzarote and have any tips or must sees, please let me know.

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

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