30 December, 2016

Happy New Year!

I always think that the end of the year is quite an emotional time. It's a poignant moment to look back at the last 12 months and remember all the good times. I've had some wonderful travel adventures during 2016 and am already planning my trips for the new year.

To all of you who are avid travellers like me - happy new year, and happy new travels when they come! Let's hope 2017 is a happy and healthy one for us all xx

23 December, 2016

Merry Christmas!

It's that time of year everyone.....Christmas is upon us, and I'm sure many of you are getting ready to finish up at work - if you haven't already! I want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas when it comes. Take time to relax and chill out, and if you're travelling over the festive period - ENJOY IT!

To all of you who dip in and read my blog - thank you for your support. 


16 December, 2016

Prepare to celebrate Burns Night!

Yes, yes.....I know it's not until January, but if you want to be part of one of the biggest Burns Night celebrations, then you might want to grab some tickets to the festival I'm featuring today!
The Big Burns Supper, The world's biggest Burns Night celebration is a 10 day festival which runs in Dumfries from the 20-29th January 2017. 

This is where Scotland's infamous poet, Robert Burns, spent his final years, and is the sixth year of Scotland's landmark Burns Night event. It features cabaret, comedy, music and entertainment as the town of Dumfries goes bonkers for nine days of winter magic! 

One of the most popular parts of the proceedings, The Carnival, will make a return on Sunday 22nd of January. Thousands of people will line the streets of Dumfries, and The Festival has been working with volunteers from across Dumfries, to get people involved in creating floats, masks, and lanterns.

If you'd like more information, then head to www.bigburnssupper.com for more details on all the events taking place during the festival.

09 December, 2016

Travelling in the Christmas spirit!

Travelling can be pretty stressful at times, especially if you have to negotiate your way through a busy airport. So how about an idea that takes the stress out of it all? Well for the 18th consecutive year, the covered space between the terminals at Munich Airport has been transformed into a winter wonderland. There are more than 40 stands, situated amid 450 real Christmas trees, offering seasonal treats and local handicrafts. 

The highlight of the market is the huge ice rink - skating is free of charge, and rental skates are available for a small fee. There are also a variety of acts to keep visitors entertained every day from 11am until 9pm including live musical acts helping to create a festive atmosphere.

I think it's a fantastic idea, and something that should be replicated around the world to help everyone get in the mood for fun! The Christmas and Winter Market will close on December the 30th. For the full programme of this year's market click here.

02 December, 2016

Chill out in southern Spain

Sometimes you just want to get away from it all - and where better to do that than at a place called the "Chillout Hotel"! Their website calls it 'an oasis of peace and relaxation', and it's certainly that.
It's situated just 8km from the town of Tarifa towards Cadiz, on Costa de la Luz on the southern coast of Spain. The area is known as one of the world's most popular destinations for wind sports, because of the unique wind conditions in this area. 

The hotel is set in beautiful gardens, and is only a five minute walk from Casas de Porro beach. There are plenty of places you can relax and enjoy the surroundings, but my favourite is the beautiful Balinese-style terrace. 

The hotel prices are very competitive for what you get, and breakfast is included in the price. While the rooms are functional they have everything you need including air conditioning. The bar and restaurant are both good value, and a top tip for you...the mojitos are incredible!

If you want to get out and about, Tarifa's impressive beaches are just 10 minutes away, and the hotel is ideally located for surfing and water-skiing. In Tarifa itself, there are several historic landmarks to see from the well-preserved castle to churches and medieval walls. For more information, visit the official website here.

25 November, 2016

Perfect day out: Yorkshire Sculpture Park

If you're looking for something different to do outdoors, then the Yorkshire Sculpture Park is well worth a try. In a world where days out can be so expensive, especially for families, this is also free!

It's an open-air gallery in West Yorkshire, showing work by both British and international artists.
It was opened in 1977, and was the UK's first sculpture park. 

It has a changing exhibition programme, rather than a permanent display so you can go time and time again and see different works of art. 

If you're going to spend the whole day here, then you're going to need to eat! Picnics are allowed in the park, but there is also a restaurant, with great views, and a cafe. Both have indoor and outdoor seating so no matter what the weather, you're catered for.

 It's a great day out, and just a little bit different. Top tip: If you can, visit on a weekday - it's lovely to wander around without crowds and enjoy the peace and quiet! For more information, visit the official website here.

18 November, 2016

Flashback Friday: Perfection in the Maldives

Many people talk about holiday destinations being 'heaven on earth', and for me - that description is just perfect for the Maldives. These wonderful coral islands are completely idyllic, and somewhere that I would love to return to. From the moment I stepped onto the sea plane to get to my resort, I knew I was going to have the time of my life. 

There are so many islands to choose from and I took a long time to decide which one was right for me. Veligandu Island Resort was the one for me - great food; fabulous accommodation, picture perfect beaches, and wonderful staff. Why not revisit my original post to read more on one of the best places to honeymoon - Perfection in the Maldives.

11 November, 2016

Put your mobile phone down!

One of the things I love about travelling is feeling like I'm escaping the day to day stresses of life. For me, part of that is putting my phone in a drawer and forgetting about the outside world. For others, it's about constantly putting photos on social media, and showing all your friends and family the fabulous places you're visiting.

A recent survey commissioned by WorldSIM has revealed that 31% of travellers still don't use their phone when they travel abroad - perhaps because they're worried about returning home to a monster mobile phone bill because of international roaming charges.

That means that a whopping 69% of people do use their phone while travelling. These days it's very rare to see people without a phone in their hand - but when you're on your hols, I find it a bit sad. I do upload the odd photo, and also use my phone to research places when I'm on my travels. However there's a big wide world out there - when you're on your next trip see if you can put that phone away and look around instead of looking at a screen. I challenge you! 

04 November, 2016

Travel Photo Friday: Bolivia Salt flats

This photo is of the Bolivia Salt Flats, or Salar de Uyuni, and might be one of the most beautiful places on Earth. Travellers flock to South America to see them, and it's no surprise - they're a real natural wonder. They were part of a prehistoric salt lake, and the awe-inspiring vast salt desert that's left if simply stunning. 

Due to the lack of perspective caused by the flatness and whiteness you can take great photos - just do an internet search for Bolivia salt flats and you'll see what I mean! 

28 October, 2016

Halloween horrors

For some people Halloween is just as exciting a holiday as Christmas. I have many friends who put just as much effort into their scary costumes in October as they do when they're putting their tree up in December! There are various well known events around the world, such as the famous parade in New York, but I decided to have a look at some of the coolest (or creepiest!) places to celebrate this spooky holiday.

How about travelling to Transylvania? The country of Romania not only has stunning Gothic architecture but the impressive Bran Castle was said to be home of Vlad the Impaler, the inspiration for Bram Stoker's Dracula. The castle is open to the public, and they do special Halloween tours!

Long beach California may not strike you as the most spooky place, but the cruise liner Queen Mary that docks here is. This is one of the most unique places to celebrate on Halloween. So-called 'Dark Harbor' starts on October the 1st and runs for a month, offering terrifying experiences for visitors! There are rides; live shows, and mazes haunted by spirits - many inspired by the actual ghosts that are said to haunt the ship. This is not suitable for young children!

Finally a three day celebration called Day of the Dead begins on October the 31st each year. It's a celebration that happens in many Catholic countries, but only in Mexico is it celebrated wildly with colourful parties. Plenty of ideas for you to travel and celebrate Halloween at the same time if that's your thing!

21 October, 2016

Ha Long Bay - A must in Vietnam

If you're planning to visit Vietnam then one place that should be on your list is Halong Bay, which translates as 'where the dragon descends into the sea'. If you've never heard of it then I'm sure you'll have seen pictures of it, because it's one of the most visited and photographed places in the north of Vietnam - and you can see why below.

There are almost two thousand towering limestone pillars and small islets in the bay, which became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1994. It's spectacularly beautiful and is a must if you're in Vietnam. Halong City itself is full of high-rises, so give it a miss - the best way to see the bay is to do a tour - some tours include sleeping on board within the bay.

Halong Bay attracts visitors all year round, with peak season between late May and early August, but to avoid the crowds many people visit in November. Others skip the main bay and head for Cat Ba Island where you can take a trip to Lan Ha Bay which is just as beautiful but not as busy.

Personally though, I think sometimes you just have to accept the most beautiful places in the world will be busy when you visit, so bear with the crowds and soak up the stunning views in this piece of paradise. Isn't the world an amazing place?

14 October, 2016

Friday's Lightbulb: Wroclaw

This week I'm featuring the largest city in western Poland that was once described as "the holy blossom of Europe, a beautiful gem among cities". One of the reasons I chose Wroclaw is that it is the 2016 European Capital of Culture.

The city is located on the Odra river; and with its 12 islands and more than 100 bridges, it almost looks like a city on water. This is Poland's fourth largest city, and has a lively cultural centre, which many major festivals taking place throughout the year.

 Wroclaw is bursting at the seams with beautiful cafes, excellent restaurants, and plenty of things to do, and simply walking around a city that many have named the 'Venice of Poland' is a very pleasant way to spend the day.

While cities like Vienna, Prague are perhaps more famous, Wroclaw holds its own with its not too distant neighbours, and it's easy to see why it's rapidly catching the attention of travellers.

07 October, 2016

A night under the stars

I've featured several places on my blog that I know I would be scared to go to, but today takes the biscuit! Before I go any further, take a look at the photo below and look closely!

Yes, you may have spotted the transparent capsules which are hanging from the top of a mountain in the Sacred Valey of Peru. Skylodge Adventure Suites offer you the chance to sleep in a hanging bedroom that let's you appreciate the amazing views of this magical valley. 

You've got to work for it though (and this is where my vertigo kicks in!) - you either have to climb 400 metres of Via Ferreta or hike an intrepid trail through ziplines.  There are three capsule suites with a capacity of 8 people. They have a 300 degree view of the valley and each suite comes complete with four beds; a dining area, and private bathroom.

Those of you who are brave enough to spend a night here can not only soak up fabulous views, but the package includes breakfast and a gourmet dinner with wine. I spent a night under the stars in Peru on a trek, and know how fabulous the sky is to watch so being that little bit closer to the stars must be fantastic.

A true once in a lifetime experience, and if you want more information on these incredible capsules with a view, click here.

30 September, 2016

Peru by rail

Peru is a fantastic country full of beautiful scenery; fabulous food, and wonderful people, and starting in May 2017 there is a new journey you can take which sounds fabulous. Many people enjoy the scenery by trekking through the Andes, but if that's not for you how does a luxury train ride sound?

Luxury rail and hotel company Belmod has announced that the Belmond Andean Explorer will launch next spring, and will travel along the Peruvian Andes from Cusco (pictured above) to the beautiful Lake Titicaca.

This is one of the highest rail routes in the world, and the train will accommodate 68 guests who can chose from double; twin and bunk cabins, each with its own ensuite.  The train will have two dining cars, an observation car with an open-air deck and a lounge car.

Having travelled parts of this route by foot on route I can't recommend it highly enough, and I may consider it myself - it might be nice to do it in luxury this time rather than tents!
For more information see belmond.com

23 September, 2016

Travel Photo Friday: Lake Taupo

If you're having a stressful day then I'm sure one look at the scene below may calm you down! This photo comes courtesy of Scot Brown, who took in on a recent trip to New Zealand. This is Great Lake Taupo in the North Island, which is a staggering 159 metres deep. 

There are many fabulous facts about the Lake but my favourite is that it's the largest freshwater lake in Australasia and is roughly the size of Singapore - unbelievable isn't it! A beautiful photo and thanks to Scot for the contribution. 

16 September, 2016

The wonder of Yosemite

This post comes courtesy of Gemma Thompson who provided me with these spectacular photos taken on a recent trip to America, when she was overwhelmed by a visit to the beautiful Yosemite National Park.

As you may already be aware, Yosemite is best known for its waterfalls and Gemma captured these brilliantly. It's not all about the waterfalls though - as the park covers almost one thousand two hundred square miles; there are also deep valleys, and huge meadows.

Gemma said she believes the park should go down as one of the wonders of the world, and I agree! The photo below reminds me of a scene out of Jurassic Park with that huge waterfall - it's absolutely stunning.

Before Gemma kindly donated her photographs, I recently wrote a post on America's parks - if you want to read more, click here.

09 September, 2016

Winter in Rome

One of my favourite things about travelling - and one of the reasons I started this blog - is planning. I know some people prefer it their trips to be planned for them and use travel agents, but I love doing it all myself!

I think part of the reason for this is that I love the anticipation of my next trip! If I start planning it early, I get even more excited about it. This week I was sitting in the house on a rainy day and decided to cheer myself up by booking a trip to Rome in February!

I've been once before but it was a brief trip with work, so I'm looking forward to discovering it properly this time round - and planning it down to the finest details! If you have any top tips for the stunning city of Rome, then I'd love to hear them. Please feel free to get in touch on my contact page.

02 September, 2016

Looking for your dream job?

If you've got itchy feet and are looking for a new opportunity at work, then you might want to read on. If you like stargazing, then you should definitely read on! Arctic SnowHotel has a vacancy for someone whose task is to scan the sky all night long in Lapland! Aurora borealis are one of the biggest attractions in that part of the world, and the main part of this role is to stay awake and observe the sky and if the northern lights appear, you wake the visitors.

 Last season, more than two hundred people applied for the post, and two of them got their dream job.  All you need is a good grasp of English, and be able to spot the difference between a cloud and the aurora borealis.

Arctic SnowHotel is in the tiny Finnish village of Lehtojärvi, and was build for the first time in 2008. Since then it has emerged every winter season, with construction work starting in late Octover when ice blocks are lifted up from the nearby lake. The speciality of this hotel are the glass-roofed iglus, where you can watch the northern lights from the comfort of your warm bed.
For more information, click here.

26 August, 2016

The average British Holidaymaker

When you go on your travels do you book independently, or go for a package deal? Personally I prefer the freedom of booking flights and accommodation myself and more often than not I have found it cheaper to do it that way too.

Many people still book through a travel agent or online package deal though, as I found out from new research from Nationwide FlexPlus. They conducted a poll to mark the 175th anniversary of the first packaged holiday, and it threw up some interesting facts. Did you know that the average Brit spends 10% of their annual salary on their holiday?

It's no surprise that we all get very excited about holidays, but 6% of Brits are so keen to go that they start packing a fortnight before they're due to leave. I don't miss my home comforts too much when I'm away, but many people do - 1 in 10 admitted they take tea bags with them!

One final fact I liked was that nearly a third of Brits will have a holiday romance and one in 20 will marry as a result. Good news for any singletons out there - get your holiday booked and you never know, Shirley Valentine may not be fictional after all!

19 August, 2016

Friday's Lightbulb: Latvia

Latvia is my featured destination today. I chose this destination because earlier this year, Latvians marked the 25th anniversary of a Soviet crackdown on pro-independence protesters. Twenty five years ago, they built barricades across the country to defend against Soviet attempts to quash the Baltic nation's quest for independence.

It may have taken the country a huge part of that time to shrug off the chains of Communism, but it's a beautiful place and is starting to shine. Riga, pictured above, is its cosmopolitan capital, but aside from that it's a country full of unspoilt parkland.

Latvia's national parks boast fantastic hiking trails, and if you visit in spring you can see huge numbers of wild cherry trees in blossom. If city life is more your thing then Riga boats one of the finest collections of Art Nouveau buildings in the world - in fact incredibly, they account for a third of the properties in the city centre!

When to visit depends on what you're looking for. The summer months are perfect for lazing on the beach, while Christmas time can be great fun if you fancy activities such as bobsledding!

12 August, 2016

Travel Photo Friday: Picture Perfect

I'm sure you've all heard the phrase picture perfect and, although I say it myself, I think this photo sums up the saying perfectly! On a fabulous day in Barbados, I got up to go to the beach and read my book. Strangely there was no one else on the beach, which can happen in the East of the island, but is quite unusual for the West coast.

I was lying there very happily on my sun lounger; turned my head to the side, and this was my view. I had to get the camera quickly in case someone came into the shot but luckily I snapped it in time - my picture perfect holiday shot!

05 August, 2016

Summer of perfection

How to sum up 80 days or summer hols (in no particular order) - no socks or shoes; no straighteners; no hairdryer; no make up; barely a cloud in the sky; only a couple of spots of rain; lots of friends; great food; fabulous wine; lots of champagne; laughter with my best mate; love & hugs with hubby; reminiscing with Dad; life in a country with no terror threats; the joy of floating in a rubber ring in the sea like a kid; remembering to enjoy the simple things in life; realising you don't need much to be happy; reading 14 books and enjoying every one of them; manicures and pedicures; taking time to miss those who are no longer with us but still provide us with great memories; remembering what life is all about and trying to hold onto the idea that life is for living - especially when you're lucky enough to return to a job that you love. 

There is too much sadness in the world - get out there and live people...you only get one shot at it. Life is not a dress rehearsal x