Do Bali The Right Way

Considering Bali is such a little island in comparison to some, you might not think that there’s much to see or do there. If this is how you’re thinking, then boy are you wrong about Bali.

It’s not all about the obvious beaches and temples that you’ll be able to find around pretty much every single corner. It’s about the rich culture, the amazing food, the nightlife, the happy people… our list could go on. So many people head to Bali and spend their days on the beach, by the pool, or just wondering around the streets. But if you want to do it the right way, you’re going to have to dive headfirst into what Bali has to offer you. It’s not expensive to do so, and the memories you’re going to be able to make in return will be far more worth it. So, if you’re planning a trip there, or perhaps you have one booked at the minute, then this is the article for you. Have a read on to find out more!

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The Things To Watch Out For

 

We don’t want to seem as though we’re starting this article off a bit negative, because that definitely isn’t our intention. But if you want to do Bali the right way, you need to know the things that you’ve got to watch out for. You wouldn’t believe the amount of tourists that head to Bali each year and find themselves caught out because they weren’t prepared. So, not to sound like the Mom here, but sunscreen is essential. Bali can be quite a cloudy country, but the sun comes out quicker than it went in. So, just because the sun is in for a few minutes and out for a few, it can be easy to think you won’t get burnt. A lot of the time it is just crazily sunny, and the heat from the sun is so intense that you’ll be running for the sea. So, even if you think you don’t burn easily, take a high factor sunscreen… because it will burn you. You’re around 8 degrees from the equator, which means the sun’s intensity is so strong. The amount of people you see walking around looking like a lobster is rather amusing.. .until you become that lobster! Hydrate plenty as well. It is such a humid country, and the power of the sun burning your skin makes the sweat more than you would like to. Even at night time, the humidity is high enough to leave you walking around uncomfortably warm, so always have a bottle of water with you.


The second warning is the taxies. They will try and charge you an absolute fortune if you go with the wrong type of taxi. The only taxis you can trust is the private drivers that work with the hotel you’re staying at, or a company called Bluebird taxis. There’s lots of them, but there’s also lots of fakes. Some cars will be blue and say Bluebiro on them, or Bluetaxi group. Those are the ones that will take you miles out of the way just to charge you a fortune, and won’t even have a meter. Always take your time to find a proper Bluebird taxi, they’ll also have their website on the side of the taxi. Get in any other, and you’ll be paying up to 5x more than you should be doing!

The Things To Do

It was only right to start by giving you a few words of warning because we promise you that not knowing both of them could ruin your holiday. There are a few more other warnings to be had, which can be found here. But, let’s move on to the good side of things, the things that you’re going to be able to do when you’re there. One thing we think you should do is have a little practice on a scooter in your home country, and get yourself an international driver’s license. Renting a scooter is one of the best ways to see Bali, and one of the coolest things you can do. But the roads are manic, so you need your practice before you even enter the country! Scooter or no scooter, you have to visit some of the iconic sights, and they involve the temples. Tanah lot at sunset, or Uluwatu temple, is one of the most incredible views you will have. It’s peaceful, tranquil, and just so mesmerising to see such beautiful temples with the backdrop of the sun setting. If you head to Ubud, Campuhan Ridge Walk is also a great thing for you to do. Go early morning and it won’t be too hot, but the views will still be incredible. Learning how to surf is also a must. The lessons are so cheap, and you get a good few hours in the ocean trying to learn. Whether you do or not is no problem, it’s so much fun to try!

The Locations To Stay

Pretty much every location that you’ll stay in Bali is going to beautiful, and you’ll have a different experience everywhere you go. If you head to Ubud, it might be full of tourists, but it is somewhat calmer than Kuta and Seminyak. In either locations, you can find luxury villas in Bali that will give you the ultimate experience of relaxation that the country should give you overall. You’ll be happy to know that you don’t actually have to spend much on accommodation either. Our advice would be to book your flights and accommodation separately. You could then spend a few nights in Kuta, a few in Seminyak, a few in Uluwatu, and a few in Ubud. That way you’ll be having the ultimate Bali experience, and experiencing luxury accommodation all over!

Experience The Culture

Finally, really try and immerse yourself in the culture, because we promise it is so rich. The main religion in Bali is Hindu, and what a beautiful religion it is. You’ll find small offerings outside pretty much every shop, inside every private driver car, and offering stands outside most bigger shops and buildings. You’ll also learn that although the people don’t have much, they’re ever so happy. It’s good to take some time to learn about the culture, the religion, and the way of life if you want the true Bali experience.

Is There A Perfect Season To Travel?

Travelling can be done at any time, but a lot of people opt for a summer holiday, taking them to warmer climates (if you live in the UK), although there’s plenty to see and do in winter too.

According to a survey by Slater and Gordon that asked 2,000 members of the British public when they prefer to travel, 56% of them opted for summer sun. Although, there are plenty of places to enjoy a snowy or festive holiday as winter rolls in…

Exploring the Winter Landscape of Europe

For a winter getaway in Europe, the Alps are at the top of the list from large resorts like Zermatt in Switzerland to smaller ones such as St Anton in Austria, there’s plenty of snowy landscapes to choose from.

These destinations offer amazing backdrops and plenty of history. As well as fun for all with differing levels of ski slopes and instructors available it can be the perfect family holiday, and you will make the most incredible memories.

After a day on the slopes, you can expect some amazing apres and night-time entertainment. If you travel to Zermatt take to Pollux Bar or Papa Caesar – for great bars and social hours. If travelling with a family then a warm hot chocolate and a festive film may be on the cards.

It seems that one of the main reasons we don’t travel in winter is due to safety worries, apparently, 58% of people surveyed said winter travel made them more concerned about their safety. This is understandable if you plan to travel to cooler climates but reading safety notes and planning ahead to ensure the right gear is packed should reduce any risk of an accident. Alternatively, travelling somewhere for a peaceful scenic holiday or for some festive fun is also an option.

Festivities Across The Pond

The most obvious winter getaway in America would be New York, with amazing shopping opportunities, over the top decorations, and much more it is a winter wonderland. Although this seems to be a lot of people’s idea of a perfect destination there are plenty of other options like Detroit, where you will experience a light extravaganza on the ultimate road trip. Or if you are looking to meet Father Christmas in a totally different wat then head to Newport Beach where you will find a boat parade filled with lights.

Not looking for a Christmas escape? Then visit Utah in January where you can enjoy a glimpse of the Sundance Film Festival. Or head to Washington D.C. and head to the museums to learn some American history and take in some culture.

There’s plenty to do and see in the winter too, so don’t stay indoors watching film, after film, make your own story and explore the world. But, no matter where winter takes you make sure you stay safe with these tips:

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Getting Around in Sicily – Taormina

Visiting a new place can sometimes be daunting and if you only have a week you have to find your way around quickly. Here are some tips on doing just that, as well as lessons learned from our last trip away.

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If you have read my previous posts you will know that my latest trip was to Sicily, where we enjoyed a week-long honeymoon. It is a fabulous place but the first day seems to always be spent finding your bearings.

Obviously, we did some research before we left but this was mainly on what was nearby such as the beaches and how far we were from Savoca (The Godfather Tour) – very touristy I know!

In hindsight, the research we should have been doing was looking at public transport options. Instead, we paid for a bus to the main town of Taormina, when there was a cable car directly opposite our hotel. This would have saved us some money and also provided us with many more culinary options.

This got me thinking about all of the ways to find out about the public transport systems:

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  1. The most obvious – take to the internet, although sometimes the timetables can be rather confusing, also some places don’t keep to a strick timetable.
  2. Ask the receptionist at the hotel, they can be very knowledgeable and may also have a timetable.
  3. When you arrive locate the nearest bus stop or alternative transportation methods and way up time differences and prices before committing.

Although saving money and time is great, I did enjoy the bus journey as we went to places we didn’t know about and got to hop on and hop off to discover new areas that were unexpected.

 

Grand Hotel Mazzarò Sea Palace

Located in the centre of a cove with a private beach this is a fabulous place to stay and relax when in Sicily.

The Hotel

From the front of the hotel, you would not know that a beach is hidden at its rear. The driveway is steep, although the steps leading to the reception are not too bad. Upon entry to the hotel, you are greeted by friendly staff who are happy to assist.

If your room is not ready, guests are directed to the ground floor where a marble and seating bar area awaits. The decor is stunningly beautiful and put me at ease when it comes to cleanliness.

Marble Bar

The large doors provide a sneak peak of the beachfront and outdoor seating area. Once outside the staircase is hidden by a circular wall which leads to the beach. One at the edge of the beach white and grey sunbeds make you instantly want to simply chill out.

Before stepping foot on the sand and choosing your sunbed the lifeguards hurry over to place your towels down and prepare your parasol. Once you are ready a bartender is there waiting to take your drinks order, and food if you are hungry and don’t mind spending 20EUROS on a burger.

Sunbeds

The beach is a key feature at this hotel as it can be seen from the room balconies and heard as you relax in bed, this provides the perfect tranquil environment. The rooms themselves are clean and fresh with white bed linen and a marble bathroom.

Hotel Balcony

My favourite thing about the service was the turn down when you arrive from an evening out to your pajamas folded neatly at the end of the bed, slippers by the side, and throw cushions in their hiding place. Oh, and sweets on the bed!

The location of the hotel is great too, just seconds from the cable cars that lead to Taormina and seconds from bus services. Plus, there are plenty of restaurants around in case you just don’t feel like heading into the main shopping town.

This hotel is a brilliant place to stay and the most relaxing place I have been. Perfect for a honeymoon or just a getaway as a couple.

Why Sicily was the Perfect Honeymoon Spot

When searching for a honeymoon location many choose exotic locations, where couples in the brochure are walking along a beach hand-in-hand as the sunsets behind them. Not us…

We wanted to find somewhere that met my need for history and my now husbands need for sunshine and the beach. That’s when we decided on Sicily and what a great decision that turned out to be.

The Landscape

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The landscape was romantic, made up of rugged hills and towns that tell a story just from the views. The winding roads that lead to hidden towns can be scary when on a bus but provide the most breathtaking views.

The Cuisine

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It’s not just the landscape but the cuisine is delicious offering freshly prepared meals, warm ciabatta, and breadsticks. Occasionally, we would also receive lemon sorbet which I really enjoyed.

Going out for an evening meal is more of an experience, taking a seat outside of a quaint restaurant and eating a meal by candlelight this is the perfect place for a couple on their honeymoon, or partake in some people watching!

The Location

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When arriving at the hotel we felt extremely grateful to be met by such amazing scenery, from the balcony of our room we could see the beach and the cove which or hotel was nestled in.

From the hotel, it was a 30-second walk to the bus stop or cable car that takes you straight into the main town of Taormina; this is where we would head to in the evening for our meal and drinks and the shops are open until approximately 10pm meaning there was no need to shop during the daytime. This left more time for relaxing and enjoying the sunshine, or attractions nearby.

We have been back for 5 days and we are missing it already, would love to go back and experience this amazing place with the rest of the family. Such a relaxing atmosphere and plenty to enjoy.

The Best Passenger Planes

This post is slightly different to any others I have created on here, but if you have read our about us section you will know that I like to learn about the tourism industry and that doesn’t stop at people and places.

Aviation has obviously played a huge part in the evolution of travel and over recent years whenever I have taken a flight I have noticed subtle differences. Whether that’s a long-haul flight’s entertainment or the food.

I am no expert when it comes to planes but I do find them interesting and want to learn more.

Concorde

Let’s start with perhaps the most iconic passenger plane from 1976, it could take you from the UK to New York was less than 4 hours and the price was sky high at £4,350 one-way!

Although popular for a long while the plane was expensive to run and when demand decreased after the fatal crash, was finally retired.

There are plenty of places you can view the Concorde, I went to MAN, not sure if it is still there but you can still see prototypes and production aircraft in many places across the UK.

Airbus A380

This double-decker plane has four engines and is the largest PAX airliner. The upper deck is as long as the fuselage and holds 330 passengers. The first flight was in 2005 and the plane is mainly used by Emirate, Lufthansa, and Singapore Airlines

Boeing 747

The Boeing 747 was produced in February 1969 and cost $24, million to create. On average the plane will hold 366 passengers and flies at 40 knots.

Boeing 787

The first flight was in December 2009 and the plane holds 359 passengers. Flying at 488 knots this plane costs $224, million to build.

 

Airbus A350

On first glance, you may think this is a Boeing 787 and that’s a simple mistake to make as they have many similarities. However, the A350 has been designed to hold more passengers and offers wider windows to take in the scenery.

 

 

The Hen Weekend

A while ago I created a post about my perfect hen weekend and last weekend it came along and it was a great surprise.

As my maid of honour, my sister and my other bridesmaid’s had the task of preparing my hen weekend, and that’s difficult due to my fussy nature. But, it was great and I am very happy with how it turned out.

car journey

 

On Friday after work, I headed off deeper into North Wales, and instantly I knew where we were off to. If you have read previous posts you will know that I do like many places in North Wales, especially the Llyn peninsular. This is due to the fact that the only holiday’s I had as a child was to Porthmadog and I have some great family memories there. And, that’s exactly where we were heading, to Greenacres in Porthmadog.

 

Greenacres is a Haven holiday park located just off Black Rock Sands beach. When we arrived we were pleased to find that our caravan for the weekend was very close to the beach and overlooking the sand dunes, so we had a lovely view. My sister and friends had gone to a lot of effort to make food, and stock up on drink as well as decorate the accommodation.

The night started well but went by quickly and soon became a blur, as we walked to the beach to listen to the waves and enjoy the fresh air.

The next morning we had other guests arriving and the sun was shining which I was extremely grateful for. We had to make the most of the sunshine so headed to the beach where we had Prosecco and played rounders! There is an ice cream van that drives up and down the beach in warm weather selling refreshments and ice cream so there’s little need to head back to the caravan.

jellyfish

 

 

Later in the afternoon, we went for a walk along the beach where there were several jellyfish guarding the shoreline, so we made sure we had some sandals on – this is a regular thing here so bear this in mind when visiting.

 

 

In the evening we went for a lovely meal at Ty mwg beer and brisket smokehouse. This restaurant has picturesque views and there’s also a campsite for campers and tourers. Once we had finished the meal we back to the accommodation for a bit of Prosecco ping pong before grabbing our change and going to the arcade! It’s not just for children.

After another night that turned into a blur, we woke up to a full English and rain 😦 But not for long as the sun came out and we enjoyed ice cream from Cadwalders in Criccieth. Located approximately 15 minutes from Porthmadog, Criccieth is a lovely beach town with a castle overlooking the sea.

Criccieth

Once we had taken some silly pictures and made the most of the sunshine (again)!

Borth y Gest

 

 

We stopped at Borth-y-Gest, a small fishing village. Taking a walk through the trees and grass to the small beach we had some fantastic picture opportunities.

 

 

 

That evening back at the caravan a good clear up and pamper night was in order before a delicious Indian take away from Passage to India.

Not your typical hen weekend, but one that was just right for me, good friends, delicious food, and sunshine.

The World at Your Fingertips

Recently I just moved into my own home and have noticed that my interior style is very minimalistic, so I have decided that I need to bring a little culture to the place. 

Most people have an idea of what their ideal decor would look like including the furniture, colour pallet, and layout. But why not take a while to research some different styles that you may not have seen before?

The world is full of individuals whose styles vary and culture, history, local trends, economics, and sociology all play a roll in our choices. For this reason every country, and in some cases region will have its own sense of style broadening our interior options, and nowadays we don’t have to even travel to be inspired (although that would be ideal) we can just research these styles using books, the internet, social media, and interior magazines.

Here are some styles that caught my eye:

Moroccan Style

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When travelling to Marrakech I noticed a lot of the interiors and exteriors used patterned tiles for decoration, this would be a relatively simple way of incorporating a different style in my home but as we are DIYing it could take a while.

Alternatively taking inspiration from the red city of Morocco we could incorporate this paint in our interiors. Perhaps this would look nice as presented in the above image pairing the paint with tiling.

Scandinavian Style

I recently came across this blog –  http://www.myscandinavianhome.com/ and felt very inspired by the fresh finish of and well-polished style. This is something I aspire to have in my home but realise it will take a while to get this point.

The Scandinavian style seems to use white as a base point along with quirky shaped furniture and the odd pop of colour. This is the style I’d like for my kitchen and dining room.

The French Way

Having been to France a few times you would think I would have taken some images of places I have stayed but it would appear not. The French style I refer to is the Parisian style with large antique mirrors and rustic shabby chic furniture, I imagine this style would sit well in my bedroom.

Large chandelier’s and a fabric covered chair would look good in the hallway when entering the home.

Brazilian Interiors

I think that Brazilian interiors resemble a ski chalet for the summertime using polished smooth wood or stone with colourfully patterned furniture to accompany. The lack of paint and wallpaper brings the outdoors in and is a lovely feel when the sunshine is out.

This style would work well in a living room especially one with large windows that let in lots of natural light.

I am sure there are many more styles but these are the ones that really stand out to me. If you have any styles that stand out let me know because I am in search of inspiration.

Discovering Craft Chocolate

Travelling the world is a dream of mine and chocolate is one of my favourite treats, so why wouldn’t I want to mix the two? This magical idea come to mind during Easter when I was tucking into my regular chocolate eggs and wondered what other types of chocolate were out there and where could I get my hands on them.

Recently I discovered craft chocolate bars, which are on the rise in the UK you will be pleased to know. This luxury chocolate is a completely new experience that differs from the chocolate you may find in the local shop. The product is created from only the finest ingredients and is more of an art form than a mass-produced product. So, where in the world can you find some of the best craft chocolate?

Craft Chocolate in Switzerland

Okay, this may be the most obvious place to start but for good reason, this really is some of the most delicious. From Geneva to Zurich you could easily do a tour of chocolatiers here, discovering the history of the process.

What is nice about Switzerland is that there is a long history of crafting chocolate and many families still own their original businesses today. The earliest story I have heard of is of the Favarger family who began making chocolate in 1826, now they present the process from their location on Quai des Bergues in Geneva.

If you are not in Geneva then perhaps Zurich is a simpler stop for you with 170 years of chocolate making history, there’s a lot of chocolate to be enjoyed. Here you can taste this delicate chocolate in luxury surrounded by chandeliers and tapestries at Peclard.

Switzerland isn’t the only place with a history all chocolate lovers will enjoy, heading to Belgium there’s much more to be discovered.

Craft Chocolate in Belgium

More specifically, we are focusing on Brussels and the old part of the city, The Sablon neighbourhood. This area is a haven for art, chocolate, and antiques, many of the most famous chocolatiers have visited to taste the most popular brands: Godiva, Wittamer, and Marcolini to name a few.

But Europe isn’t the only place that craft chocolate can be indulged, let’s head somewhere that offers a slightly different chocolate experience.

Craft Chocolate in Vietnam

The UK isn’t the only place seeing a rise in craft chocolate, Vietnam has also seen an increase in demand. In 2011 two men from France created the brand Marou, these chocolate bars mix fruit, tobacco, spices and many more flavours to create the unusual tasting chocolate bars. Although this brand can be purchased internationally there’s nothing like a stop onsite at café Maison Marou.

Craft Chocolate in the USA

Over the last 10 years, there has been an increase in small chocolatiers have begun redefining the chocolate industry in America, with small businesses revisiting their roots and turning to craft chocolate across America.

The most intriguing craft chocolate bars I have heard of from the USA is about Patric, based in Utah. The story here is an interesting read and the chocolate is made from scratch and is available in a variety of flavours. This is a good choice for lovers of organic food and those who shop Fair Trade.

This is only one example of the many, many chocolatiers that can be found in America, so travelling here and spending months touring the chocolate seen would be my dream.

Craft Chocolate in the UK

Finally, we mentioned earlier that there is an uplift in craft chocolate in the UK, but where exactly can we find it?

Known as bean-to-bar chocolate makers these artists bring the best cacao to the UK to produce the finest chocolate bars, and here is where you can taste this meticulously made chocolate:

Willie’s Cacao – a well-known craft chocolate producer, sourcing their beans from Africa, Asia, and America he has a lot to offer.

Duffy’s – since 2008 this brand has been producing small batches of bars, sourcing their beans across the globe and supporting the makers and growers of the cacao.

Chocolate Tree – with two locations in the UK, one being a chocolate factory this company offers the chance to taste the chocolate onsite and experience the flavours.

This is a definite future holiday for me. Well, 4 holidays, and some domestic travel. I have only had the chance to taste craft chocolate in France in the lovely Cap d’Antibes and think it is worth a taste.

Australia’s Most Unforgettable Adventures

Australia is a gigantic country with so many things to see and experiences to try out on land and at sea, which can make it tough for the average traveller to narrow down their itinerary and ensure that they pack in as much of the good stuff as possible.

If you’re the adventurous type, let us help you out by showing you some of the most unforgettable adventures you can have in Australia:

Exploring the Great Barrier Reef

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One of the Natural Wonders of the World, the Great Barrier Reef is an amazing attraction. So large it can be seen from space, you could easily spend your whole holiday exploring the reef, checking out the tropical fish, befriending any dolphins you come across and learning how to dive, but then you wouldn’t get to experience these other fine adventures, right?

Camp on Cockatoo Island

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Image from Flickr: Nicki Mannix

Cockatoo Island is located slap bang in the middle of Sydney Harbour, so it’s pretty easy to get to. Actually, it was the place where convicts would be placed in the past at one point, and later it was used as a place to repair ships damaged in World war II. Its history, which is very evident on the island, gives it a unique and slightly eerie atmosphere, which is perfect for telling tales around the campfire, and the views out around Sydney Harbour are pretty special too. If you do plan to camp, the Outdoor Supacentre is the best place to get yourself kitted out in Australia, and it’s a good idea to get your camping equipment over there. Why? Because the baggage charges could be quite high unless you’re going right back to basics.

Skydive Over Byron Bay

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Byron Bay in New South Wales is arguably one of the most beautiful beaches in Australia. It is also one of the best places to surf, watch whales and snorkel, which you should do off Julian Rocks for the best experience, so camping there with Skydive.com makes a huge amount of sense. The exhilaration you feel will be like nothing else you’ve ever experienced!

White Water Rafting Along Franklin River

If you’re into your watersports and you want to try something that will give you a challenge and get your adrenaline pumping, you can’t beat a white water rafting adventure down the challenging Franklin River. Strap yourself in – it’ll be a bumpy ride.

Explore Nature at Karijini National Park

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Image from Flickr: Tehani Schroeder

Karijini National Park is one of the most incredible natural spaces on the planet – and Australia is home to a lot of them- what makes it so special is the fact that you get to visit a lot of remote stretched like Hancock Gorge (providing you have a guide) and the fact that you can swim, abseil and even sail over a waterfall when you’re done watching the wildlife do what they do in a totally natural environment.

Try out any of these unforgettable Australian adventures, and you won’t be disappointed – they will make your holiday even more special.