Disneyland by coach

A few years ago I took my son on a trip to Disneyland Paris for New Year. It was a lovely trip but, as any parent will tell you, you must be prepared for a coach trip with a child. 

Even though this trip was a while ago I am planning to take the trip again to see in 2019. This time my son is a lot older, but my sister’s children will be coming along too, and they are very young.  So, this post is a reminder to myself of what it is actually like to take a coach trip to Paris with children.

A 10-hour journey, with a few stops along the way and a ferry crossing, the drive to Paris may be a long one but is cheaper than taking a plane so it’s the method of transportation that suits me best. As an adult, the travelling time can fly by with a couple of films, coffee’s and toilet breaks but as a child, sitting on a coach for 10 hours can seem like torture, even if you’re on the way to Disney.

There are a few ways to keep the children entertained and keep the noise down to a minimum so as not to disturb other passengers:

  1. Starting with the most obvious; tablets, video games, and portable DVD players are all items that can come in handy when on a long journey. However, it’s good to create some form of a plan so that the children are not stuck on these all day.
  2. Decide when snack times and lunch will be and make sure they put all systems down whilst eating.
  3. Take a book and have 15 minutes reading time. Perhaps do this to encourage nap time.
  4. Travel board games still exist so invest in a few and have a game.
  5. If you’re travelling with more family members, swap the seating after each stop, this way each journey will seem slightly different and bring on different conversations.
  6. Let the children bring a couple of their favourite small toys.
  7. Pens, pencil crayons, and colouring books can be fun.
  8. Other activity books with their favourite characters make their imagination flow so buying a couple of these may take their mind off the journey for a little while.
  9. Other than activities, remember to bring all of the essential items such as dummies, spare clothes, blankets and a cushion – sometimes we forget the most obvious things and everything becomes more difficult.

These options are brilliant for on the way there, but it’s on the way back that can be the most tiring. The excitement has gone and you’re on your way home, so the journey feels 10 times longer! It is at this point things become difficult and frustrating, but as long as the children have their new toys with them, they haven’t overindulged on sweets and you have worn them out, hopefully, they will sleep for most of the journey – wishful thinking.

 

The Living Room Traveller

I read many travel blogs and it seems that those who travel around the globe, writing interesting posts have it made. They are living my dream.

More than travelling itself I like to learn about new places and about the tourism industry, which is why I have a degree in tourism. Landscapes, the business of tourism and the cultures all interest me and it amazes me how different we all are even though we share one planet. Of course, if I knew how I could travel with my family I would do it. Instead, I read books, watch programmes and documentaries, take a trip; using Google maps, and when I have the money I plan an actual trip based on what I learned.

This post looks at what I have learned recently about some places that I would like to visit.

Make sure you don’t judge a place from one source, the issue is that a destination can be shown in both a positive and negative light and likes/dislikes are subjective so make sure you think about what’s right for you.

Hong Kong

Inspiration:  http://www.channel4.com/programmes/travel-man-48-hours-in/episode-guide/

I have enjoyed watching the majority of this series and it would be quite a fun challenge to visit somewhere for 48hrs and cram everything in. The episode I am focusing on is the Hong Kong (Christmas special!).

My first thought when watching this show was ‘why Hong Kong for Christmas?’ Well, even after watching the show, I was still not sure. The show mainly discussed food, some attractions and randomly a tailor.

One thing that interested me was the hotel they were lucky enough to stay in (WAY out of my budget) the technology is interesting and gives you a peek into the future.

Whilst discussing the food Richard Ayoade & Jon Hamm were joined by a food blogger, who took them to many places to try local cuisine. Stinky tofu was not for me, but then again I am a picky eater, I could probably try the snake soup though. However it’s not the food that attracted me, it was the images of the architecture, which seems varied. The peak tram may be a good starting point for viewing buildings even though it looked a little scary, the view from The Peak Sky Terrace 428 seemed worth a look.

Another stop was Tian Tan Buddha, which looks marvellous sitting at 34 metres high, this bronze Buddha looks over the Chinese people and would be a must-see for me. Located on Lantau Island it seems to me it would be worth a trip.

After watching this I did a little research of my own and found some facts that interested me and discovered some attractions that were not featured.

So, Hong Kong consists of a mainland peninsula but also 230 islands, was founded in 1842 and its capital is Victoria City.

Currently undergoing maintenance until February 1st Ngong Ping 360 is a cable car ride, which starts from Tung Chung to the Ngong Ping village. Here you will find shops and restaurants and the Walking with Buddha experience. If this isn’t for you then you could head to Lantau Island, the largest of Hong Kong’s islands. This is the home of the ‘big buddha’ as well as Po Lin Monastery which is known as ‘the Buddhist World in the South’. Both inside and out this monastery is vibrant and from what I have read seems to be peaceful with scents of flowers.

If these places don’t take your fancy you could always nip to Disneyland.

The ICEHOTEL in Sweden

Inspiration: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08qf7xy

Wow! I would imagine this is on many people’s bucket list. This is an amazing place and it is so sad to think that it will eventually melt and have to be reconstructed and designed a year later. Never the less this year’s design featured a large ice elephant (watching you when you sleep), this looked like a lot of hard work and was constructed brilliantly.

The good news is since 2016 there is also a permanent ICEHOTEL 365 experience which is home to an ice bar and gallery. How does this stay cool in the summer? There are solar panels that cool the structure during the colder months.

Even though these amazing buildings are experience enough, if you are staying in Sweden for a couple of days you will probably want to make the most of it, by visiting as many places as possible. Here are a few things I’d love to experience if I get to visit:

Snowdog

The snow dog ride would make this amazing holiday complete with a team of Alaskan huskies taking me on a tour through the snowy landscape. To make this experience even better many excursions include a stop for a traditional lunch.

Sami Siida

A true adventure to discover the Sami culture through the open-air museum. There is also a reindeer encounter that can be enjoyed, which I would love to experience. After reading many reviews it would appear the only issue with the visit is the small cafe and expensive food sold, therefore many people suggest eating before visiting.

Now all that’s left to do is actually get myself to these places. If you have any travel documentary recommendations, I am all ears!

The Sicily Plan

After researching a few options for our honeymoon this year, we have finally settled on Sicily. It’s beaches, history and culture are all appealing and I am looking forward to the visit. However, I want to make the most of being there, so this post is basically our itinerary.

We are in Sicily for nights and we are well aware what honeymoons are meant for, but you have to take a few breaks and make the most of visiting a new place. With this in mind, I am looking for about 3 activities and a few restaurants that provide food for extremely fussy eaters!

The Attractions

There are many attractions in Sicily but we are looking for places to go near to where we are staying, here are the trips on the top of our list:

Mount Etna

etna-2979915_1280

Image Source

As Europe’s tallest active volcano, this is a must-see on our stay in Sicily. From our accommodation, there are many tour companies who offer excursions to Catania, the ancient city destroyed by earthquakes and Etna’s eruptions. From here tours to the volcano itself or local walking tours can be booked to explore the city.

As we would only have one day to explore I think we will book a private tour and hope that we can view the volcano and take some time to look around the city before heading back to our hotel.

Godfather Walking Tour

Savoca is located about 45 minutes from our accommodation when in Sicily, so we are the perfect distance to attend a Godfather walking tour. As part of the tour we would visit the unchanged Bar Vitelli, we can take in the view from the square (ideal as this was the location of the wedding scene), and as we explore the filming locations we will also discover the history of the Sicilian Mafia.

Having looked around this is the company I would prefrebly like to book with is https://www.viator.com/

Wine Tasting

two-types-of-wine-1761613_1280

There are a number of wine tasting tours available including one with Etna included or with Godfather tour. As we are not big wine drinkers the tours probably aren’t at the top of my list but it would still be a relaxing experience and something nice to do during our honeymoon.

There is the option of a 6-hour tasting… this seems a little extensive for me, so maybe a shorter one will be better. It would seem that the best option for our trip would be a local tour along with food and a tasting – two birds one stone!

I have chosen three activities that are varied rather than doing the same type of thing three times in one week! Now all that’s left to do is get married.

If you have any suggestions of places to visit whilst in Sicily, I’d love to hear about them.

Where for a honeymoon?

As the wedding bells draw nearer thoughts are turning to the honeymoon. As a parent, I already feel the guilt creeping in, as I think of traveling without the little man. But, you only have one honeymoon…

Therefore I am braving it and going with just my husband. Taking a plane and leaving the country without my little lad worries me ever so slightly, but I don’t really fancy a honeymoon in the UK, plus I haven’t been away from the UK for over a year.

When looking for the best honeymoon spot I decided not to use the word ‘honeymoon’ when searching, I found this brought with it a much higher holiday cost. Therefore we searched for luxury holidays or premium holidays. It’s worth mentioning here that we are not millionaires so when I say luxury I mean a holiday that costs no more than £3,000 for two, with at least breakfast included.

If I had no budget then I’d travel to New York, California and then meet the rest of the family in Florida, but right now that’s not going to happen.

On this budget, we knew it would be best to stay in Europe, plus I don’t really like leaving my son and I wouldn’t want to go to the US without him.

Our main issue was that we are two very different people, who look for differing things in a holiday. I like exploring and the hubby (to be) likes relaxing on the beach. With this in mind here are the places we considered:

Spain

Malaga

Spain has a lot to offer and meets our criteria of history and beaches, but I have been here quite a few times. Although there still a few places I’d like to visit, and they would be good for a honeymoon:

Andalusia

Bordering the coast of Southern Spain sits Andalusia, which is home to an array of scenery making it a popular filming location. Andalusia is made up of eight provinces, with Seville as the capital.

Seville is full of history and is very picturesque. The ornate Alcázar castle complex is an amazing piece of architecture, well it would have to be as it is a part-time home of the Spanish royal family.

Malaga is also part of Andalusia and is home to some fantastic beaches. We stopped here as part of our cruise and unexpectedly I  really liked it here, we spent the day relaxing on the beach – which was lovely and the sunbeds weren’t too expensive either. Before we boarded the ship we took to the shops, which were modern and inviting, we also stopped at an ice cream parlor – which was great and sold a good selection (I can’t remember its name). I would definitely like to stay for longer in Malaga but not for my honeymoon.

I am sure there is much more to be seen here but as I have briefly visited these destinations, this is all I can discuss.

Prague

prague-1119791_1280

For some reason I really want to visit Prague, I don’t know why because I haven’t heard many people talk about it and I don’t remember it being heavily advertised but it has always stood out to me. Images of this destination show breathtaking sites that encompass the region’s history and culture.

Prague Castle, which overlooks the city is on the top o my list to explore. Within the castle complex, there is much to see from the cathedral to the Golden Lane. Moving away from the Castle to Old Town with its colourful buildings and churches I would be very happy sitting with a coffee and watching the world go by.

As we wed in May the weather here should be perfect during the time we’re looking, so that is another tick for Pague. But there is one issue – there are no beaches 😦 so my partner is a no go. Although I could try and tempt him with the pivo, a fine beer!

South of France

Villefranche

Such a lovely place offering everything we’re looking for, but we’ve already been here a couple of times before. Plus, you would think that our budget wouldn’t get us much here, but you’d be surprised. As well as the high-end luxury for 20,000+ per week, there are also plenty of less expensive accommodation. We wouldn’t be looking to stay in a villa of our own but a nice hotel or apartment which cuts the cost quite considerably.

We also don’t mind a short journey to the affluent areas of St Tropez, Cannes and St Jean Cap Ferrat and of course Monaco.

Sicily

So, we decided on Sicily, a place with glorious scenery, beaches and plenty of places to visit.

The hotel we have chosen is on the beach, perfect for relaxing, and the attractions are easy to reach (we’re hoping).

Now all that’s left to do is a bit of research into where we’ll visit and eat whilst we’re there. Another post I think…