Wednesday, 30 June 2010
Well I've booked it and heading home to see the family and get a break from the heat here!
Wanted to go In August so I could catch a show at the Edinburgh festival, but needs must and I'll miss it by a week!
Already planned in my head where I'm going, what restaurants I'll be visiting, my nan loves Chinese, but I'm hoping to tempt her into coming to my favourite Mongolian restuarant, aptly named Khublai Khan, it's a wonderful restaurant.
Then my sister has booked me for an evening at the Witchery and possibly a cocktail or 2 along George Street.
If it's toastie (a long shot I know) then I'll spend the day with my niece at the Botanical Gardens and head to Stockbridge to have a nosey through the charity shops, or maybe head up to Princess Street Gardens as it's been ages since I've just walked through there.
Getting excited now,as it's been almost 2 years since I've been back and I'm looking forward to catching up with everyone.
Then, cheeky I know, I'm heading to the Metro (Newcastle) for a spot of retail therapy and maybe lunch along the quayside.
Not very exotic I know, but it is a culture difference for me!!
Friday, 18 June 2010
A few years back we planned an American Road Trip which would include LA - Vegas -
We landed in LA and picked up our rental car, a standard saloon that was to be our transport for 3 girls and a whole load of camping gear – yes people, the plan was to camp around the West Coast!
Having only arrived with our back packs and sleeping bags, we made our first stop at Space Camp to pick up our third traveler, we spent the first night here in the cabins and spent a bit of time just soaking up the atmosphere of a new place!
The second day in LA was as it should be – POOL PARTY, we’d been invited to one of the other camp leaders parent’s home for a party, real 90210 stuff! When we got there, the house was just enormous and you could see the
The house had a massive den where others where watching movies and feasting on pop corn and it’s where most of us just crashed, it was really chilled out and a great start to the holiday.
We had to say goodbye to new found friends and head to Target to pick up supplies, Tent, camp stove, gas, plates, cutlery, cool boxes, food, essentials etc, packed up the car and waved good bye to LA.
Next stop Vegas baby yeah!
We drove through the Nevada desert in our fabulously air conditioned car and stopped at Taco bell (one thing I would say, road trips don’t always account for those of us who enjoy healthy eating, I was in the middle on my Aerobics instruction course and don’t enjoy fast food, but needs must!) we got out the car and the heat hits you like a punch from a heavyweight! It was over 100 degrees, hot as hell!
We left Taco Bell behind us and drove the rest of the way to Vegas – what a fantastic place to visit – the closest I got to a casino was a Grosvenor Casino, but this was just amazing. We found a travel lodge and an American couple who wanted to go half on a big room – save cash, so there was 5 of us in this suite, which was actually really very nice. We all got ready and headed out to hit the strip, WOW, we watched the Bellagio fountains, wandered through some of the big casinos, had a chair massage, which was lovely and of course had a little flutter, we’d budgeted what we were going to spend on that night and I braved the Black Jack table and won a couple of hundred dollars in my sitting! The drinks were flowing and we were euphoric, collecting my winnings we walked through the casinos again (as many are connected and its all a/c which is a delight, we were passing the craps table and some Texans required us lovely ladies to throw the dice for them – it’s like something from a movie!
We got back to our hotel around 5am (you lose all track of time in the casinos) got some sleep and then up and out to Starbucks for brekkie!
With the car packed, coffers a bit fuller and smiles on faces, we left the hazy desert behind and started our long journey to
We took the road back to LA and from there headed north, we drove up to Sequoia National Park, where we had our first camp, we got the tent up and made some smores and having my first experience on making sure you’re food is all packed away completely to avoid attracting bears!!! BEARS!! I’m all for nature, but sometimes I like to just enjoy it on the TV – bears are one of those things I’m not keen on meeting in the flesh! We were all camped up and were inside the facilities brushing our teeth when all we can hear is some guy outside, banging some pots together screaming ‘there’s a bear in the camp’ sweet mother of all things holy, I got the fright of my life, imagining some huge beast waiting outside the door to eat us! The panic passed and we all went back to our tents. Honestly, no, I didn’t sleep that night, shadows, noises, my overactive imagination – I slept in the car the next day!
In the morning we spent some time exploring the National Park, which is just beautiful and time passes too quickly and we were back in the car and heading up towards Yosemite, where we past the night undisturbed!
Driving back up north past
Heading on up to
The car rental company were amazing, we stayed in
We took ourselves up the Olympic National Park, again, like all the parks we went to, they are breathtaking the things you see there!
In the morning, a little worse for wear we went out to Pike’s Place market for some lunch and it would be rude to be in
The rest of the trip was spent travelling through Washington and Montana, a short stay in Glacier National Park, visiting friends, and catching up and drinking copious amounts of Captain Morgan’s, then the dreaded drive down to Minneapolis to fly home and then end of our road trip!
An amazing time, some scary, some breathtaking, but everything memorable and well worth doing!
I know accidents can happen, but this isn't some spilt milk here and seeking compensation just won't clear up the ocean nor retract the damage already done!
I was watching some of the interview yesterday with the BP CEO and I know the man is in a difficult situation, but when you are in charge of something so massively important, there should always be back up plans already in place - risk assessments are carried out in normal offices on a day to day basis, were they in place here? Doesn't look like it!
I need to read more into it, but it still doesn't change the fact that as I type it's still spewing oil out and it's not looking like it's going to be stopped for at least another month!!
Monday, 14 June 2010
We ventured to
Having looked through the internet for more information on the place, it just seemed like a magical place to go. We actually booked our hotel within the castle grounds (Best Western Le Donjon Les Ramparts) and it was like being in a fairytale.
We got off the plane and were met by glorious sunshine (which I wasn’t expecting, I’d packed for normal spring weather) so I was out looking for a change of wardrobe as soon as we got there.
We got to our hotel to drop off our luggage and settle in and the suite was just beautiful, split level with a large lounge area, up a few stairs to the bedroom area and a lovely big bathroom. Coming out of the room you walked across a courtyard, filled with flowers and looking like a picture postcard!
We took ourselves out on an expedition to see what the place was about, there are lots of touristy shops inside the grounds where you can buy souvenirs etc, and there are restaurants inside the Cite which are just sensational, the food is top quality and in some cases, when you’re tucking into the Cassoulet, you feel like you could be living in the times of King Arthur!
We spent a day just exploring the grounds and taking lots of photos, it’s a photographers dream with all the nooks and crannies to play around with!
The whole trip was excellent, the scenery, the food, the hotel – just a great and very romantic place to visit.
Thursday, 10 June 2010
When we visited Phuket a few years ago, we stayed in
A speed boat ride out to Coral Island, where we went snorkeling.
A boat trip out to Phang Nga -
A weekend stopover in Kho Phi Phi where we took a long tail boat out for some more snorkeling and had a picnic on a deserted island. We stayed right on the beach in huts, very well equipped and had a night out in the beach hut bars!
A night out at Simon cabaret (this is an excellent show!)
A night out watching an authentic Thai Boxing match
Most days we would get a tuk tuk to
There are also some great little bars in Karon to enjoy a Mai Thai or three and have a game of Jenga with the bar staff, or like us maybe just relaxing by the pool with a cocktail in hand (remember to drink plenty of water as well!!)
In the evenings we would head into Patong which is only a short tuk tuk ride from Karon and is a lively environment – with a multitude of bars and clubs etc.
On one occasion during our holiday, we’d arranged for a taxi through our reception at the hotel, the driver picked us up and took us all over Phuket, including local temples, jewellery manufacturers and the cashew nut factory for a tour.
No doubt the cab driver is on some kind of commission from bringing you along, but it was a good day out and for only approx GBP10.00!
During our holiday we also drove down to Prom Thep cape to watch the sunset, it's really most dramatic and something you'll remember forever, tourists and locals alike gather at the point to watch it.
We also took a day out to go shopping in Phuket town – amazingly cheap and lots to choose from. Although the sizing makes one feel a bit on the big size as the Thai women are a lot smaller than a robust Scottish lass!
One tip though, got some weird looks on the plane home, my sister had just given birth and I got a large ‘cuddly toy’ for my new niece… trying to travel through Bangkok with a big stuffed teddy is not the best look!
I have some wonderful memories from my visit to
Wednesday, 9 June 2010
Cyprus is a great place to come to if there is a large crowd and especially with kids. We had a crowd come over for a reunion and used www.illiadasvillas.com The villas are all based on a private road with about 9 (3 bed) villas on it, giving you a bit of privacy at the end of the day, but still all close enough together to have a great time with family and friends. There is also a restaurant on site as well which was really handy!
We used this as a base and met up with everyone, ventured to Costas Taverna for the usual Meze, had an evening in the Stone House Inn (the restaurant on site) there was also some live music on as well, which the mums and dads loved. We took everyone down to Coral Bay for an evening with dinner at the Coral King restaurant and then onto the Coral Sunset bar for some drinks and watched a bit of cricket!
Lunches were usually Sense Cafe at the foot of the Pegia/Coral Bay Hill or at Andria's on the Coral Bay strip.
It's a great place for the kids as well, there is a Paintball and Skate park in Yeroskipou, a Waterpark for the kids (& big kids), Go Karting, Mini golf in Coral Bay, there is a new driving green for all ages really, water sports, horse riding, ten pin bowling, pool, give them a football, let them loose on the beach! They'll have a great time!
The weather, especially June through to end of September is hot as you can see http://www.myworldwebcams.com/cyprus/paphos_cyprus_webcam.html July and August is crazy hot - but if the kids are in the sea and pool all day, running up your ice cream bill, they'll love it!
Easter time is still lovely weather - it's not busy (I'm talking about Paphos) but there are still things to do. (You might get some rain, not uncommon for April time).
Flights are always a bit more expensive at School holiday time, I know many properties will be a lot cheaper in April. But I think if you look to book early, you might still benefit from special offers people have had on for the recession these last couple of years. I know quite a few places that have slashed their prices by about 35% to make it easier for people to come across. Can't see that kind of discount continuing forever, so get in quick.
Personally - I'd say that May/June time is a perfect time to come to
Tuesday, 8 June 2010
Itinerary for a good road trip.
We backpacked though
We didn't book any hotels, we just found places when we got off the train, real fly by the seat of your pants traveling!
We flew into Rome where we then proceeded to jump on a train to the Termini Station and then walked to our hostel (the only place I prebooked before arriving), which was an apartment split into 3 dorm rooms, each with 6 beds in, we were sharing with a couple of Swedish girls and a German couple, it was all very civilized (was a bit worried previously as had no experience of hostels) but this place was lovely.
We unpacked, got changed and hit the streets of
The next day we went walkabout for some breakfast, croissants and a latte, sustenance for the day of exploring ahead. We paid for out tickets on the hop on hop off bus which costs around GBP15.00 and you can get to all the main tourist sites at your own pace (http://www.viator.com/tours/Rome/Rome-Hop-on-Hop-off-Double-Decker-Bus-Tour/d511-3523ROMOPEN#additional).
We spent the day exploring the Colosseum, Campidoglio, visiting the Fontana Di Trevi, Villa Borghese and ending our trip that day at Piazza Venezia, where we took ourselves off for a slice of pizza! We’d already decided to use our 24 hour pass the next morning to go to the
The next day we went to Termini and jumped on a train to our next destination –
The afternoon we arrived we took ourselves out again to a local deli and bought a medley of food and some wine and fresh bread and had ourselves a feast! Then the site seeing began over the next 2 and a half days with Santa Maria Novella Basilica, Palazzo Vecchio, Uffizi, Ponte Vecchio, Palazzo Pitti, Baptistery and cathedral.
From Florence we took ourselves to Pisa for the afternoon to go and see the Leaning tower of Pisa (naturally!), another thing I have to say about Italy is that the train stations are pure works of art – they are incredible to look at! I digress, we disembarked the train at
We went back to
So dropped off the backpacks, showered and out for dinner in Venice, it is actually a bit pricey in Venice for us budget back packers, but we thought what the heck and found a fabulous little restaurant and had a pasta feast, then strolled back to the hostel, knackered! The next day we spent walking the streets of
The time had come to leave Venice and head to fair Verona, it’s about an hour and half in the train, sounds stupid and extremely dangerous now I think back on it, but when you get off the train, there are usually people milling about offering their business cards and brochures for accommodation and that’s how we happened upon this lovely little house with 2 hosts who rented out rooms, it was a gorgeous place, very arty and our room was just amazing and with our own bathroom. So we dropped the bags, had a nap, showered, changed and hit
In the morning we were provided with breakfast by our hosts and we ventured out again to go see Juliet’s balcony and also the Arena di Verona (mini colosseum) and then went to see Ponte Pietra and that was all we had time for as we needed to get to the train station for the last journey –
It takes around 2 hours to get to Milan from Verona and if we had been lucky with our accommodation till then, it was all about to come crashing down as we went to the youth hostel in Milan, it was truly horrendous and filthy. So bad in fact that we slept there that night (had to, nowhere else to go) in dorms, huge dorms, and neither of us used the bathroom once, you just couldn’t! We got up and out as early as we could, I checked my bank balance and had enough to pay for a decent hotel which we gladly did, had a shower, a long one, started to feel human again and happy to be in Milan and out we went, headed to the Duomo, did a bit of shopping, to be honest we didn’t do very much in Milan (I was to return a few months later for a football match and did the whole tourist thing then, but that’s for another time!
We flew out of
A great road trip, memories that will last a lifetime. (But no going back to that Milan Hostel!!)