29 July, 2016

Friday's Lightbulb: Palau

I have to admit when I was researching new destinations to suggest to you I had never even heard of Palau, but if you're into diving or snorkelling you may well already be aware of it, as it's one of the best places in the world to do just that.

Palau is an archipelago of more than 500 islands in the western Pacific Ocean, and 100% of its marine territory has been turned into a sanctuary to try to protect what has been labelled a 'Serengeti' on the sea. It's home to some of the healthiest reefs on the planet, and Palau's Blue Corner is amongst the world's top dive sites.

This is a remote and untamed part of the world, but there were also some ferocious battles here during World War two - and you can see submerged ships and fighter planes in the lagoons.

Top tip: Palau enjoys a warm climate all year round, and while rain is more frequent between July and October, there is still a lot of sunshine.

22 July, 2016

Travel gripes

Travelling is one of my favourite things in the entire world, and this blog is usually full of positive things about discovering the world. However the process of getting to your final destination is not always fun. My reason for saying that? Airports….and a few travel gripes about them.

Queuing is sometimes said to be a British trait, and I can’t think of a place where you will spend more time in several different queues than at airports. There is the queue for check-in. If you’ve checked in online, then you may still have one at the bag drop. Hand luggage only? Well fast forward to the queue at security. Once you’ve passed through there, you’ll find another one at the gate - why do people insist on queueing to get on the flight - you’ve got a seat, just wait until your row is called….the plane will not leave without you!

Security is paramount these days, with so many scary things going on in the world, and I don’t have a problem going through the process if it means we’ll all travel more safely. What I do take issue with is that security person we’ve all come across who clearly feels more important than the rest. On a recent flight I had one lady in security put a tray in front of me for my hand luggage case - fine. She then said I needed to put my handbag in another one - fine. However I think the 3rd tray for my shoes; a 4th tray for my liquids, and a 5th tray for my laptop was a little excessive. As a result of that she created another queue at the security belt as I waited for my 5 trays to come through. Overkill? I think so!

My final gripe of the day is my biggest bug bear of all, and it takes place when collecting luggage at your destination. Whenever possible I fly with hand luggage only - there is nothing more satisfying than just walking out of the airport knowing you can start your holiday there and then without the tiresome wait for bags. I do appreciate though, that there are times when travelling with a case is necessary, and this is where my complaint comes in. When standing by the luggage carousel…now think about it people…..the yellow line is there for a reason. If you stand one inch from the carousel, no one else can see past you, and then everyone creeps forward. If you stand back behind the line - WE CAN ALL SEE OUR BAGS COMING! I’d love to install an electric fence, to shock those who stand beyond the line - an extreme measure, but for the rest of you laughing when you’re reading this and thinking it drives you mad too, not a bad idea either right?

What drives you nuts when you’re travelling? If you have something you’d like to add to the list, then feel free to add it in the comments section below! Rant over - back to the joys of travel!

15 July, 2016

Travel Photo Friday: Company at sunset

On a recent trip to the Caribbean I was sitting on my balcony enjoying the sunset with a cheeky rum sundowner, when I got some company in the form of this little chap in the photo below. He sat quite patiently while I went to get him some bread, and posed quite nicely for me while I took this photo!

It was one of those moments where you have to be quick with the camera in case your subject matter decides he's had enough to eat for the night and flies off - thankfully on this occasion he stuck around for just enough time!

08 July, 2016

Thailand at its best: Rayavadee, Krabi

If you've never been to Thailand before, then picture a lush country with white sand beaches and emerald waters. Today I'm featuring a fabulous hotel which is set on the edge of Krabi's National Marine Park at the heart of the stunning Phranang Peninsula.

Courtesy of Rayavadee, Krabi
Inspired by a southern Thai village, the Rayavadee resort has won awards for its architecture. There are 96 two-storey pavilions and 5 luxurious villas, all dotted through tropical gardens and coconut groves. 
Courtesy of Rayavadee, Krabi
There are several restaurants to choose from, with everything from elegant dining to casual beachside fare. As for things to do, there is a fabulous spa at the resort which also offers a full range of excursions to places on Krabi itself, as well as the area's outlying islands. 
Courtesy of Rayavadee, Krabi
The beaches here are stunning and there are three incredible ones just a few steps away. Phi Phi island can also be reached by speedboat in only 35 minutes, and the reefs around here are fabulous for snorkelling. 

Courtesy of Rayavadee, Krabi
The nearest airport is Krabi international, well served by daily flights from Bangkok, and only a 25 minute drive from the resort. If you're looking for a beautiful hotel in a spectacular location, with great staff and service, I might have found the perfect place for you!

01 July, 2016

European Union referendum implications

I refused to use the term 'brexit' at the top of this article - is it really to much for people to say British exit rather than use a stupid phrase like that? Anyway, that aside there has been a lot of scaremongering in both the build-up to the referendum and since the result was announced.

One of the main questions for me was - how will it affect travel around Europe for those of us who love spending our time off there? Long term, there will no doubt be big changes, but in the short term, the fact sterling has dropped to its lowest level for years means we'll feel the pinch that little bit more.

Cheap flights have been one of the biggest benefits of membership of the European Union, and since 1994 EU airlines have been free to fly between any two points in Europe. That meant companies such as Ryanair have flourished, and fares have dropped to around 50% of what they were in the 1990s. The referendum result means British airlines such as easyJet could have their freedom curtailed, but hopefully with London such an aviation hub, something can be negotiated to keep our freedom of the skies.

Using our phones abroad could cost more. Excessive roaming charges are going to be cut in the EU, and hopefully the UK government will maintain that going forward. There's likely to be no rush for a new non-EU passport - these are likely to be phased in when your documents are up for renewal.

European Health Insurance cards (or EHICs) mean we have the same entitlement to public health case on the same basis as locals in EU countries. Before the EU, the UK had several agreements with many European nations and hopefully similar deals will be made with EU members. If not, expect travel insurance to increase.

All in all there are many unknowns about Britain's exit from the EU, but expect two years or so of speculation, and more scaremongering as we step into the unknown!