Travel Health & Wellbeing

Holidays are all about making memories and experiences. Don’t let your experience be an illness or injury that can ruin your holiday. Follow these travel tips to stay healthy while abroad and make the most of your holiday.

  1. Check the smartraveller  website: this website has all the information you need on travel warnings including political, environmental and health risks for your particular destination as well as travel tips and vaccination requirements for your destination.
  2. Consult your GP before booking travel if you are pregnant or have pre existing medical conditions which could pose a risk while travelling (eg heart conditions, cancer).
  3. Check the immunisation requirements for the country/countries that you are travelling to. Some Asian, African and South American countries require Hepatitis A/B vaccinations plus Typhoid and Cholera and a round of anti Malaria medication.. Vaccinations generally need to be taken 6-8 weeks prior to travel in order to be effective.
  4. Take out travel insurance for yourself and your family, so that in the unfortunate event that you require medical treatment abroad, your travel insurance covers it and you don’t bring a hefty overseas medical bill back home as a souvenir. Remember that travel insurance generally does not cover pre-existing conditions.
  5. Ensure you carry a sufficient supply plus prescriptions for any medication that you are taking. This includes prescription medication, travel sickness tablets, antibiotic, contact lenses, insulin, ventilators for asthmatics, high blood pressure medication, painkillers etc. As a precautionary measure-also pack: bandages and antiseptic cream, aeroguard, sunscreen, hydralyte sachets, immodium, cold & flu tablets, paracetamol, tissues and antacid.
  6. When travelling on long haul flights, ensure that you drink lots of water, get up and do leg exercises/walk up and down the aisles frequently, eat lightly and healthily and try to get plenty of rest the day before the flight and on the flight.
  7. Drink bottled or boiled water and avoid salads, raw fish, rare or under cooked meat, iced beverages and fruit that may have been washed in tap water in Asian, South American and African countries. Eat food that has been fully cooked and in restaurants where there is high turnover.
  8. Ensure you apply sunscreen, wear a hat and carry plenty of bottled water when travelling in hot countries. Avoid extensive sun exposure in the middle of the day to avoid heat stroke or dehydration. Try to book tours in air conditioned coaches in extra hot countries. If you do happen to get sunburned, apply aloe vera oil to your burnt skin.
  9. At night, avoid going off the beaten track and into deserted areas alone. Do not accept drinks from “friendly” strangers. Do not pet any stray animals such as dogs or monkeys. 
  10. Wear lightweight long pants and a light long sleeved shirt to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes in Malaria and Dengue Fever prevalent areas.
  11. Ensure you pack plenty of warm/waterproof clothing when  travelling in Winter, particularly to North America and Europe. Thermals are a great idea as they are lightweight and warm.
  12. If you are prone to travel sickness, take travel sickness tablets at least 30 minutes before departure. My favourite brand is Kwells-for someone who is as prone to motion sickness as I am, I felt fine even in the most treacherous of boat trips to Rotnest Island and the Great Barrier Reef. Plus, unlike other travel sickness brands such as travelcalm, they do not have any side effects such as drowsiness, so I did not miss out on anything!
  13. Be careful where you swim as tainted water can also cause illness. Additionally, in areas such as tropical North Queensland, only swim in netted areas particularly during the Summer to avoid being stung by a Stinger, shark or crocodile attacks! Consider wearing a Stinger suit if you choose to go outside of these areas.
  14. Avoid contact with wild animals; as these can spread disease such as Rabies, Avian Flu & Swine Flu.

Now you are all set!  Have a safe and healthy trip!

Favourite Holiday Destination: The Amalfi Coast

The Amalfi Coast conjurs up images of crystal blue waters against a rugged mountain backdrop with citrus trees, flowers and olive groves dotting the beautiful coastal villages of Sorrento, Positano, Capri and Amalfi. The ocean is so vast and the ambience so peaceful that you can unwind and recharge from the hustle and bustle of city life which will seem so far away. These beautiful coastal villages are famous for Limoncello, delicious, freshly cooked seafood and great scenery. Like to hear more? See below for our first had experience and tips for the Amalfi Coast!

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Getting there: The Amalfi Coast is reachable from both Nalamfi-coast-mapaples and Rome, with Naples being closer.  We travelled to the Amalfi Coast from Naples and there are three options for getting there:

  1. The ferry: Cost: Approx EUR 12 per person 1 way to Sorrento. This is by far the preferred option, reaching Sorrento, the gateway to the Amalfi Coast in 35 minutes, as well as avoiding the pick pocket ridden train from Circumvenstia. There are roughly four daily ferries between Naples and Sorrento during the Summer months  and they depart from Port Belverdere.
  2. Train from Circumvesuviana: Trains depart every half hour from Stazione Napoli Centrale on Piazza Garibaldi and the journey takes between 45 minutes to 1.25 hours and costs EUR 4. It is nortorious for pick pockets so watch your belongings
  3. Coach from Naples to Sorrento: Coaches depart from Naples International Airport and cost EUR 10 per person 1 way, with the journey taking approximately 1.25 hours.

Below is a guide of our handpicked favourite spots in The Amalfi Coast

Capri:

Perhaps the heart of the Amalfi Coast and therefore the busiest place, Capri has plenty to offer a wide range of tourists. With its panoramic views, coastline dotted with outdoor cafes, unique historic sites, beautiful flora and designer shoes and handbags plus unique souvenirs such as limoncello and colourful homewares for shopaholics, Capri has so much to offer visitors. Why make the most of it and not book a tour. various tour options are available, to suit your travel style, including the Full Day sightseeing tour, which takes you to all the key sites of Capri in an air conditioned coach and includes lunch. Capri Walking Tour are also available, as are private boat tours of the grottos. You could also do a cruise from Sorrento.

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Things to do:

Grande Marina: This is literally the “main port” where ferries depart and arrive to and from Capri to other parts of the Amalfi coast. Private boat tours of the Amalfi Coast are available here, as is the bus which takes you to the several key attractions around the island, including Piccolo Marina, the historic centre of Anacapri and the Gardens of Augustus. There are also several shops featuring designer shoes and handbags as well as local specialities such as limoncello, homewares made out of shells.

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Funicular: Be sure to take the funicular to Anacapri for breathtaking, panoramic views of Capri. There is a bus from the Marina Grande (which costs around EUR 1.80 per person one way) which takes you to Ana Capri where you can enjoy a cable car ride and the breathtaking views of the island. The cable car trip costs EUR 8.00 for an adult return ticket. There is a nice bar where you can sit and enjoy a cold beverage while you enjoy the view.

Take a Private boat tour where you can explore the rugged caves of the blue and green grottos.

Another must see is the Gardens of Augustus, which were established by German industrialist Friedrich Alfred Krupp in the 20th century, in order to build his mansion. The gardens were initially named after him and were renamed the Gardens of Augustus in 1918. There are spectacular coastal views from the gardens, which feature terraces and flora such as dahlias, geraniums and brooms. The gardens are featured in the walking tour and can also be accessed via the bus.

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Piazza Umberto is Capri Town Centre, with speciality boutiques featuring jewellery, paintings, designer shoes and souvenir shops featuring the region’s famous limoncello, shell crafted goods and colourful homewares. There are several restaurants, bars and cafes for you to enjoy a tasty meal or cold beverage.

Marina Picolla: Literally the “Small port”, this pretty little oasis on the south east side of Capri, overlooking the Faraglioni sea.

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You can also do an Italian cooking class in Capri and impress your friends back home with your authentic Italian cooking !

Sorrento:

Sorrento is the gateway to the Amalfi Coast and once there, other towns such as Amalfi, Positano and Capri can easily be accessed by ferry. Although only a 35 minute ferry ride away from the crowded, chaotic city that is Naples, Sorrento is a beautiful Italian coastal town, with quaint little cafes and restaurants and citrus trees lining the streets and along the waterfront and hundreds of little shops selling an eclectic mix of things ranging from the region’s famous Limoncello, to different types of pasta, olive oils, wines and sauces, beachwear, jewellery  and shells.

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Where to stay: There are several options in Sorrento, including hotels, serviced appartments and Bed and Breakfasts. We stayed in a Bed and Breakfast and the advantage of this, in particular, in a country like Italy, is that you get the personalised touch and get to experience Italian hospitality. We stayed at Parque Verte Bed and Breakfast, a delightful family run Bed and Breakfast run by Fransesca and Luigi with spacious, light and bright rooms with additional amenities such as kitchen facilities. Fransesca was warm and friendly and always willing to help and give us information. The breakfast is very generous-includes a serving of fresh fruit (fresh figs at breakfast made my morning!), the option of a hot breakfast eg bacon & eggs, pastries, and delicious coffee. It is a 25 minute walk from the port and about a 10-15 minute walk from the city centre.

Eating out:

Sorrento city centre has delightful cafes, pizzeries, trattorias and gelaterias, so there is no shortage of excellent food in Sorrento. Eating out is inexpensive, with pizzas costing EUR 5 and peronis costing EUR 2. There are several lovely restaurants on Via Giulliani, including L’Antica Trattoria, which offers a 3 course set lunch menu for EUR 19 per person in a lovely garden setting. Their entree of zucchini flowers was delicious, as  was their main course of sea bass there canoli is delicious and beautifully presented. Next door to this restaurant is another restaurant which has extremely good, friendly service and does a lovely spaghetti with mussels. In the town centre is also a restaurant called Itali.co Sorrento and The Palms Sorrento and The Palms Sorrento has a lovely setting with amazing views. Along the waterfront in Via San Cesareo Sorrento are several small seafood restaurants, selling delicious, fresh and reasonably priced seafood.

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Things to do: Sorrento has lots of shops and markets, with regional specialities including Limoncello, colourful pasta, olive oil, brightly colourful, summer clothing, footwear and kitchenware. This coastal town is great for exploring and you can descend to the bottom and explore the picturesque coastal village of Campania. Tasso Piazza has several shops, restaurants and cafes. You can also take a walk down to the marina.

What are you waiting for! Click here to book your Amalfi Coast holiday now!

 

Featured Destination: Your 2 week guide to Sydney by a local expert

Does the idea of escaping the  the miserable Northern Winter and head to Paradise aka Sydney: land of golden sandy beaches, amazing scenery, delicious food, unique wildlife and great weather entice you?  Whilst you may not get your traditional cold Christmas, why not try the “hot Christmas” experience as something different? Make your co workers jealous when you come back to work with a suntan. So pack your summer gear and the sunscreen and let us plan a truly amazing experience for you and your family, partner and friends.

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Day 1: Sydney Icons: By these I mean the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney Opera House, the Rocks Market and Botanical Gardens which are located in Circular Quay. These can easily be accessed via trains which stop at Circular Quay station, or alternatively, Circular Quay is a pleasant 10 minute walk from Wynyard station. Enjoy spectacular views of Sydney Harbour, Try to go on a weekend, when the Rocks Markets are open and feature everything from exquisite pictures of Sydney, to jewellery featuring Australian opals and precious gems, handmade soaps and candles and delicious handmade Australian produce including jams, chutneys, nougat, cakes and handmade chocolates. So pick up some souvenirs for your mates back home! Perhaps enjoy a cocktail or a cold drink at the Cruise Bar where you can have a refreshing beverage whilst enjoying Sydney’s spectacular views. Or pop into the Guylian Cafe near the Opera House for a delicious coffee, followed by a relaxing stroll through Sydney’s gorgeous Botannical Gardens. Enjoy a sumptious dinner at one of the Waterfront restaurants such as the Italian Village and perhaps end the day with a spectacular performance at the Opera House such as a musical or ballet. If you happen to be in Sydney in the last weekend of July, you can catch Sydney Coffee Festival in the Circular Quay/Rocks area and sample amazing coffees.

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Day 2: More City Sights:

Enjoy a day at Darling Harbour and King Street Wharf. If you have young children, they will enjoy Tumbalong Park. There are always plenty of activities at Darling Harbour as well as Sydney Aquarium and Maritime museum. The aquarium is a must see, with a vast range of aquatic life and the maritime museum depicts a fascinating chronology of Sydney’s maritime and role in WW1 & WW2. If you feel like shopping, the Queen Victoria Building and Sydney Westfield Tower is a 15 minute walk away. There is no shortage of delicious food in Darling Harbour/King Street Wharf Barangaroo. You can also venture to Chinatown and the Chinese Gardens and enjoy authentic Asian food in Chinatown. Perhaps enjoy a cocktail at The Loft and a sumptious meal at Nick’s Seafood, George’s Meditteranean Bar & Grill  for some tasty Meditteranean food, Kobe Jones for high end, beautifully presented Japanese food or Tetsuya’s for a Michelin Star Japanese special treat.

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Day 3: Sydney’s Famous Bondi Beach:

Bondi Beach is the famous beach in Sydney and can be accessed by taking the train to Bondi Junction, followed by a bus to Bondi Beach. Enjoy golden sand and crystal blue waters.

Day 4: Taronga Zoo:

Taronga Zoo is an enormous zoo featuring a vast range of animals, ranging from Australian marsupials to animals like Giraffes and tigers found on African Safaris with stunning glimpses of Sydney harbour in the background. A great day out for the family.

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Day 5: Manly & North Head:

Whilst Bondi Beach might be famous, as a Sydney Sider, I personally think the beaches in Sydney’s North are prettier (and less crowded). Manly Beach is the “hub” of the Northern Beaches and can be accessed by the famous ferry from Circular Quay or by buses from either Wynyard or Chatswood. Manly in itself is a great day out, with many restaurants and cafes to enjoy delicious seafood, cold beverages and ice cream as well as golden sandy beaches and crystal clear waters. When in Manly, you can take a walk down to Shelley Beach, a small cove at the end of Manly Beach. I would also highly recommend going up to North Head for panoramic views of Sydney Harbour from this unique vantage point in Manly.

Day 6: The Blue Mountains:

Take a break from the city and the beaches and do something a bit different. You can perhaps do the Blue Mountains over 2 days if you wish and include a few more activities and go at a more leisurely pace. To get there, you can take the train to Katoomba, hire a car, or perhaps book a tour to the Blue Mountains, to get the most out of your trip and save you the hassle of worrying about transport. When you are there, take in the Breathtaking views at the Three Sisters and the intricate ancient patterns at the Jenolan caves. Then head into Leura for lunch at one of the fabulous cafes and browse the antique shops.

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Day 7: Koala Park:

Whilst Taronga Zoo is fabulous, for a more natural, less touristy experience of Australia’s wildlife, why not go to Koala Park? A beautiful sanctuary specializing in native Australian wildlife, you can feed koalas and kangaroos and even mingle with the kangaroos in their natural habitat.

Day 8: The Hunter Valley

Another thing Australia is famous for is its wines, with the nearest wine region to Sydney being the Hunter Valley-a foodie haven, not only featuring fine wines, but also delicious cheeses, olives, chocolates, marinades and cafes. Unless you plan to drive, I would recommend booking a tour to the Hunter Valley as it is not easily accessible by public transport and it can be challenging to cover a large amount of wineries without driving. Its a great day out. Start off with a delicious breakfast at Restaurant Cuvee (Champagne breakfast available!) and explore the wineries, as well as the chocolates, Smoke House, Olive Grove and Cheese factory. Enjoy wine tasting at each winery and have a break for lunch at Nanna Kerrs. Pick up a couple of bottles to enjoy for the rest of your trip, or perhaps as gifts for family and friends. Great scenery, great food & great wine = a great day out!

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Day 9: Northern Beaches:

As I mentioned earlier, whilst Bondi is lovely, Sydney’s Northern beaches are prettier and less crowded (no bias, of course!). If you happen to be in Sydney over the Christmas/New Year period, make sure you have the “Australian Christmas” experience of Boxing Day/New Year’s Day on the beach. Nothing beats a barbie on the beach! Bring the chicken skewers, snags, throw a shrimp on the barbie! Enjoy long stretches of golden sandy beaches, crystal clear waters and enjoy a barbie and a few beers! Some of my favourite spots include Palm Beach (where the famous Australian soap “Home & Away” is set), Whale Beach, Freshwater Beach and Curl Curl Beach.

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Day 10: Harbour Bridge Climb & Sydney Tower Eye:

The Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb is another “must do” in Sydney and is a fully guided walk with safety equipment over Sydney’s iconic harbour bridge, with spectacular harbour bridge views. Note that the harbour bridge is closed on New Year’s eve. Sydney Tower Eye is a unique dining experience with panoramic views of Sydney Harbour. Perhaps combine this with any city sites you may have missed earlier. If you happen to be in Sydney over the Christmas/New Year period, don’t miss Carols in the Domain or Tumbalong Park-a huge event featuring celebrity singers, live nativity displays and processions and a truly festive atmosphere. Similarly, for NYE, grab a spot in Bradfield Park, Lavendar Park or Blues Point Reserve and sit back and watch the world of Sydney go by as you enjoy a few chilled beers as the sun sets a couple of hours before the fireworks set off. Sydney is famous for its firework display, so make sure you head over early to grab a great vantage point! For a special and unique evening, book a dinner at a harbourside restaurant well in advance for a spectacular evening to remember forever.

Day 11: Sydney Fish Markets:

Australia has a fantastic range of seafood, with Sydney being no exception. Sydney’s freshest fish can be found at Sydney fish markets, which features some famous seafood restaurants including Doyles, where you can enjoy Sydney’s freshest seafood as well as divine scenery. Perhaps bring a bottle of your Hunter Valley wine to enjoy with your seafood!

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Day 12: Reptile Park:

Australian Reptile Park is a hands on zoo, located in the Central Coast, about an hour from Sydney and home to exotic reptiles. A great day out for the family, including live shows, exhibits & behind the scenes tours. Learn about the Tasmanian Devil Breeding Program and conservation works around snake and spider venom. The reptile park can be accessed via the Gosford exit off the M1. Alternatively, the nearest train station is Gosford and coaches/tours can be taken there.

Day 13:  Whale Watching

Enjoy a whale watching cruise with a barbecue lunch and listen to full commentary. The cruise departs from King Street Wharf and passes through famous Sydney landmarks including The Opera House, Fort Denison and Manly Heads before entering the Pacific Ocean. The best time to go is between May and November, when as many as 15,000 humpback whales migrate between Antartica and the Great Barrier Reef.

Day 14: Sydney Olympic Park:

Visit  the iconic Sydney Olympic Park, where the 2000 Olympics were hosted. Have a swim in the famous Acquatic Centre and explore the stadiums where famous matches and concerts are held. You can also view the Athletes Village-where the athletes stayed during the Olympics.

 

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Hopefully by now the images of golden sandy beaches, crystal clear waters, diverse wildlife and delicious food are so irresistible that you are planning your trip now! Perhaps you can incorporate a visit to another Australian city such as Melbourne, or even one of the Pacific Islands such as New Zealand to round off your trip. Happy Holidays!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oktoberfest!

16 days of beer tents, pints, folk music and festivities around Germany characterises Oktoberfest. As the name implies, this festival runs up to the first Sunday in October and is a celebration of the reunification of Germany, dating back around 200 years and is celebrated by more than 6 million people worldwide.  The festival originated in Munich and involves the consumption of large quantities of beer, as well as several attractions including rides, sidestalls and games, as well as a large selection of traditional Bavarian foods, including Hendi (roast chicken), Sauerktrat (Cabbage), Brezen (pretzels), Scheweinbraten (roast pork) and Kasepaztrie (cheese noodles).

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Before the festival officially commences, parades are held with traditional marksmen clubs, beer tent waitresses and landlords, with some locals wearing traditional costumes.

The story of the entry of restauranteurs and breweries into Oktoberfest dates back to 1887 when the then manager, Hans Steyrer first marched from his meadow to he Tegernseer Landstrasse with his staff, a brass band and a load of beer. In its current form, the parade has been going on since 1935, led by Munchner Kindl, followed by the Lord mayor of Munich in the Schottenhammel family carriage since 1950.

Following the parade of restauranteurs and breweries onto the festival grounds, at exactly 12:00, the Lord Mayor opens the first beer barrel in  in the Schottenhammel tent and the Oktoberfest declared officially open. Twelve gunshots are then fired on the stairs of Ruhmeshalle, signalling the restauranteurs to start serving beer, with the first beer traditionally being served to the Bavarian Prime-minister. This particular parade has been a highlight of the festival since 1950 and on the first festival Sunday, 8000 participants march the parade in traditional costumes.

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Only beers brewed in Munich and deemed “pure” can be served at Munich Oktoberfests, with 6 breweries conforming to this criteria.

Sounds exciting! Click here to book your Oktoberfest experience! Don’t miss out!

 

How to have an authentic food experience in Barcelona

Looking for something different to the standard fare served at your typical hotel buffet breakfast? Barcelona is a foodie haven, so why not eat your way around Barcelona? Land of churros, olives, olive oil, tapas and paella!

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Start off at Las Ramblas where you can step into one of the many cafes for a coffee and a couple of the many different delicious pastries that can be found in Spanish cafes and bakeries.  Feel like a healthy breakfast? Stroll down to Las Ramblas where there is an abundance of fresh fruit, juices and smoothies, so stock up on fresh fruit and some juices! A large selection of fresh breads, cheeses (including Spain’s famous manchego cheese), as well as cured meats can be found there if you prefer something more substantial.

La Boqueria Markets; Las Ramblas
La Boqueria Markets; Las Ramblas

For lunch, there are several small tapas bars within La Boqueria where you can feast on tapas dishes such as croquettes, sardines, mackerel, meatballs, Spanish Omelette and tortillas. Spain, and Barcelona in particular, have fantastic seafood, so for a unique, seafood/alfresco dining experience, why not head over to Barcelonetta beach for lunch and feast on a sumptious seafood lunch at one of the many beachside cafes or restaurants. Many of them do 3 course specials for around EUR 30 (including drinks) which is very reasonably priced. Enjoy freshly cooked seafood and sip either sangria, Spanish wine or perhaps a freshly squeezed juice as you take in the gorgeous scenery.  When in Spain, you must try Sangria, a famous Spanish cocktail, with various versions, but the base consists of red wine, lemonade and topped with pieces of apple and orange. A chilled glass goes down like a treat after walking around in the hot Spanish sun.

Main course of grilled salmon fillet at Sal Cafe
Main course of grilled salmon fillet at Sal Cafe

For dinner, you may want to continue with the alfresco dining/seafood experience, or perhaps save it for another day and head back into town where you can enjoy paella, tapas or other Catalan dishes at one of the many restaurants in Barcelona’s city centre. Served in a cast iron pan, Paella is a Spanish rice dish which originated in Valencia and has several variants including meat and seafood and includes vegetables and herbs such as tomatoes, onion and peppers. It is delicious and steaming hot, however, bear in mind that one pan is usually enough for 2 people, unless you are extremely hungry!

Bomba paella; traditional Valencia style seafood paella
Bomba paella; traditional Valencia style seafood paella

There are several Turkish restaurants too, if you would like something a bit different. Don’t forget to round it off with a delicious Spanish dessert such as crema catalan (a Spanish version of creme brulee), churrros served with hot, thick chocolate sauce, or gelato.

Bon appetit!

 

Featured destination: Santander

Reasons why we love Santander:

  1. Scenery: If you are after a city break with museums & architecture, then Santander is not the place for you. But what it does have is amazing scenery. I highly recommend walking around the peninsula to Matelanas where the coastal views are amazing. On the way, there is a lovely rose garden which is worth a visit. And you can always stop off for a cool drink or a gelato on the way! It is also a hidden gem, so despite its beauty, it is not too crowded or touristy and the beaches are very clean. 13490869_10153476335082130_5573615737088819137_o (1)
  2. Its only a 2 hour flight from London: Who would have thought that this hidden gem with golden, sandy beaches was a mere two hours away from the grey, drizzly, concrete jungle that is London. Making it perfect for a quick weekend getaway. Ryan Air flies there from Stansted at 6:50pm on Fridays-a perfect time to start your weekend away. 13498039_10153476305052130_5525081612071964628_o
  3. Santander is also perfect for a weekend getaway as it is a relatively small city which is very easy to navigate and get around. Buses frequently run along the main road right to the peninsulas, but you could walk to the heart of the beach from the city centre in 30 minutes, along the main road. The airport is also only 15 minutes from the city centre, allowing you to have more time at the beach rather than trekking to the airport. The Cathedral and La Boqueria markets can also be easily reached by walking down the main road. 13482910_10153474893497130_3232712808773994585_o
  4. The FOOD! You definitely won’t go hungry here! You are spoiled for choice, with several cafes, restaurants, tapas bars and gelato places, particularly in the city centre. Seafood is excellent-sardines, langostines, mackeral, deep fried calamari, sizzling garlic prawns and Spanish seafood stew are “must tries”.  There is a wide range of Spanish omelettes at most tapas bars and cafes. Spanish olives and olive oils are also delicious. This can all be washed down with a few refreshing glasses of sangria!  13483317_10153476298522130_8857726210681001064_oI personally recommend La Cania near Platas de Magdelenas; they have an excellent selection of tapas dishes, including grilled mackeral and a delicious tuna stew in a spicy tomato sauce. The service is also good-with the waitress taking the time to explain the menu in English. Another one which I would recommend (which is also recommended on Trip Advisor!) is El Parc. Situated directly on the beach, make the most of alfresco dining-with a view. The menu is very reasonably priced, the service excellent and the food, amazing. They have delicious freshly squeezed juices, which are very refreshing on a hot day, as well as a broad selection of tapas, main dishes, salads and desserts. They are also open for breakfast, so why not enjoy breakfast at the beach! They are open from 8am-11pm which makes it extra convenient. With Summer being here and the days extra long, you can then walk off all the food with a nice evening stroll along the beach!13422375_10153474892592130_8025899276303383739_o
  5. I am guessing you are enticed by the food and gorgeous scenery and planning your trip to Santander now!

 

Travel trip of the day

Did you know…many airlines let you check in online at the time of booking? If you hold an EU passport, save yourself time and last minute online chekc ins the night before your trip, not to mention airport queues by checking in online at the time of booking. You will need to upload your passport and will receive your boarding passes upon doing so. Simply print them off and bring them along with your overnight bag and you’ll be on your way before you know it!

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Amsterdam: the perfect mini break for your bank holiday weekend!

The weather is warming up and there’s a bank holiday around the corner! Why not book a mini break to Amsterdam? Here are some reasons why Amsterdam is the perfect weekend getaway:

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  1. Its less than one hour’s flight out of London. When you have limited time, such as a long weekend, the last thing you want is a lengthy journey. Amsterdam is a 55 minute flight out of London, making it the perfect place for your bank holiday long weekend. IMG_4051[1]
  2. There are frequent services from a range of airlines out of all airports in London. Don’t want to trek all the way over to Heathrow? On a limited budget? No problem! There’s plenty of flights out of Stansted, London City and Gatwick from a range of airlines, including Ryan Air, Easy Jet and FlyBe. I flew to Amsterdam on FlyBe out of London City and it was a completely seamless trip-with London City Airport being 15 minutes away from home, followed by a mere 55 minute flight. So easy! Click here to book your flight now! IMG_4019[1]
  3. Tulips galore! One of the highlights of a European Spring are the tulips! Do not miss these, they are truly spectacular and the colours of the blossoms in Kuekenhoff are mind blowing and like Aladdin’s magic carpet. It is a truly unique experience and something Holland is famous for. IMG_4125[1]
  4. Enjoy a canal cruise in the evening: What better way to spend an evening than to enjoy a canal cruise as the sun sets? Special occasion such as a birthday or anniversary? Why not book a dinner or cocktail cruise to celebrate? I did the dinner cruise last year with my family and it includes a delicious, traditional Dutch 3 course meal with wines. The cocktail cruise is good too-I did that for my birthday this year and you get two cocktails, a snack platter and unlimited drinks as your boat gently winds itself through Amsterdam’s canals. 11921828_10153708262198083_4750875145965985188_o
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  5. Art and culture: If art and culture are your thing, there are plenty of museums and art galleries in Amsterdam, including the Rijks and Van Gogh museum. The Van Gogh museum is interesting and depicts hundreds of paintings in different styles, reflecting his different stages of life and battle with mental illness. The Rijks museum has a range of exhibitions, featuring Dutch history, including navy, the Dutch royal family, the history of fashion, Dutch influence in Indonesia and South Africa. IMG_4195[1]
  6. Public transport and connectivity makes it easy to explore this city. Trams, buses and trains run frequently and are inexpensive. Schipol airport is about 20 minutes from the city centre and is easily accessible by public transport. Buses operate from Schipol airport to Kuekenhoff and it is about a 1 hour journey
  7. Dutch food: Try the delicious Dutch cheeses such as Danish fetta and Edam. There are many speciality cheese shops around Amsterdam. You should also try Danish pastries, profejjes (miniature Dutch pancakes, served with fresh berries and dusted with icing sugar) and Dutch pancakes. Herring is also a delicacy unique to Holland and rostis-a meat and potato bake is a popular main course in Germanic countries and Holland. There are also lots of fresh fruits, berries and juices available-a delicious and fresh treat. 11923276_10153706963248083_8081958270519945091_oIMG_4174[1]
  8. Got a stag or hen’s party weekend? Amsterdam’s famous red light district is the perfect place for it!
  9. Cycling! Cycles are symbolic of Amsterdam. Why not rent a bicycle and explore Amsterdam by bike?  IMG_0863 (1)
  10. Its the home of Anne Frank! The now famous Jewish born German girl who kept a diary of her time in hiding during WW2 before being persecuted in a concentration camp. The Anne Frank museum is a must see! Be sure to book well in advance as queues can be up to 2 hours long!

Whisked away by Whisky!

We planned our trip according to the weather forecast available on our i-phones, which indicated that Thursday and Friday would have the best weather and would therefore be the best days for our daytrips to Dalkey and Belfast. Wednesday was deemed a good day for walking around the city of Dublin.

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Compared to other European cities, the architecture is a little non descript. We were given the tip that the famous chocolate in Dublin is Butlers chocolate and, like Lindt, they have a cafe-cum-store in the city, which is where we went for our morning coffee before exploring the city. I would highly recommend bringing their chocolates back as souvenirs for family and friends-in true Irish style, they have a whisky flavoured chocolate! Anyway, after that, we headed to St Patricks Cathedral, the famous Cathedral in Dublin.  The building dates from 1220 and it was built in honor of Ireland’s patron Saint Patrick and was raised to Cathedral status in 1229. There is an entrance fee of EUR 6.00 to enter.

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Afterwards, we went to the Jameson Distillery, Ireland’s famous whisky brewery, and did a tour of the brewery which had a very interesting and interactive demonstration of the distilling process for whisky. I would highly recommend booking the tour-it costs around EUR 16 per person, but to get the most out of the experience, it is well worth it.

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We were able to sample 3 different types of whisky-from Scotland, Ireland and American whisky and at the end of it, we received a certificate for Whisky appreciation! We also received a complimentary drink, which was either a whisky, or for those who preferred something lighter-such as ourselves-a ginger beer.

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Dinner was close by, at Dublin’s oldest pub, called the Brazen Head, established in 1198. It was tiny and had a very quaint and cozy atmosphere and was famous for its large range of lagers. This was then followed by a walk along the river towards Ballsbridge, which was quite pretty, with all the city lights.

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Looking forward to our daytrip to Dalkey the next day!