travel

Flashback Friday – Copenhagen, Denmark

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Back in early December, I went on a Christmas city break. I went to Copenhagen with my friend, Tor for three nights. We flew from London Gatwick. We booked flights and hotel separate, not as a package.

The flight is lovely and short (less than 2 hours) and we had an early afternoon flight. We made the decision to buy the Copenhagen card before we went (it’s the best buy for there – all travel, and one entry to all the massive attractions included), so we picked that up from the airport and got the train to our hotel.

We stayed in a basic hotel (to save money). The first night we got a taxi to the meat district and had dinner and a wonder. We decided on an early night as we had a lot to pack in the next few days.

My neighbour is actually Danish, so he recommended a bakery to me – I NEEDED to have Danish pastries whilst in Denmark. It was called Lagkagehuset, it is a chain but I loved the pastries and decent coffee. I ended up having one every morning!

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We headed straight for the Canal Tours Copenhagen, and got on a boat without no queue. It was raining at this point, and super cold, but the boat was enclosed with a roof. We did a whole circle trip and got off where we started, and there was our first Christmas market! There we tried our first Glogg wine – Danish version of mulled wine. We also found we was quite in the centre at this point, so popped into a shop called Royal Copenhagen – Danish celebs do up Christmas tables!

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Also on Tors to do list was Royal Smushie Café, which happened to be next door! So we had lunch. We tried the famous Danish open sandwiches. (exactly as you expect – a sandwich open). It was pretty in there, and busy!

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After that, was the moment we had been waiting for – Tivoli Gardens! It was getting a bit darker, but had stopped raining. The main entrance led you onto The Gardens – the prettiest part with lots of photo ops including sleighs, all the shops were wooden sheds and you could smell glogg wine or hot chocolate, it was pure Christmas! Another bucket list item completed for both of us. We also chose to do one ride, and because it was so cold, it wasn’t a roller coaster, and we are big kids – it was the The Flying Trunk, A journey in a trunk through Hans Christian Andersen’s famous fairy tales. It was cute, but a bit expensive!

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We went and had a hot drink in Cakenhagen (great name!), as it was just icy rain at that point. we felt like we had done what we wanted do, and was just cold now, so we left. We cut through the Food Hall (not that special) and walked back to the hotel.

The next day we woke up to sun! So breakfast at the bakery, and straight to Nyhavn – we both loved this place (its the cliché picture which is always shown of Denmark with the pretty coloured houses along the canal). There was another Christmas market there, we saw father Christmas or Julemanden in Danish (Christmas man). Its really not to be missed if you do visit. After this we looked at the Copenhagen Card to see what else we could get into. We got the bus to H.C. Andersen Fairy-Tale House – honestly I’m glad we didn’t pay for this. It was basically empty and we did it in less than fifteen minutes. Bit of a shame as he is such a huge important author.

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After that we walked to another Christmas market, and had (in my personal experience) the best mulled wine ever! We sat in the stall/shed, there was Christmas songs playing, the drink was lovely and warming and we was slightly tipsy. It was great! We also met Father Christmas and had a picture.

After we walked to have lunch at a Illum’s Boglihus which is a department store (my neighbour recommend for decent open sandwich). After that, on Tor’s to do list was La Glace, which is the oldest in Denmark. There was a queue outside! once inside, we had a hard time choosing, the menu was quite big. I had the Karen Blixen, which was a chocolate / coffee combo one and we both had The Glace tea.

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After our sugar shot, we had another small wonder (it was now dark) and then began the walk / bus trek back to the hotel to pack. It was poruing down on the last morning so we got a taxi to airport, We had a nice flight time back, so a shop round the airport (was surprisingly big and lots of shops), and another pastry for me!

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Overall, I think we managed a lot in our city break, it’s a very manageable town (very flat and no hills – bonus!), things are walking distance, but at points the weather was just too cold and rainy, so buses was used. I really liked Copenhagan and the Danish were very friendly. I would like to go back and see another part of Denmark, possibly in warmer months.

If you have any questions, let me know!

travel

Flashback Friday – Berkshire, UK

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Back in late November, three friends and I stayed in a cabin in Berkshire for two nights. The company is called The Dream Lodge Group. The original cabin was found on Wowcher, but I think we ended up booking direct, which was good as was offered a very cheap upgrade! We ended up staying in a La Grande Casa with a hot tub.

We arrived Saturday afternoon and left late Monday morning. The weather wasn’t great, but we didn’t care as we was just there to hibernate for two days!

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We did a food shop on the way – we bought goodies, prosecco, dinners and breakfast foods. We also came prepared – I bought Cards against humanity with me, another friend bought DVD’s (the cabin supplies a DVD player and a few DVDs), a speaker for music – we was set!

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The cabin was lovely, really nicely decorated and laid out. Lots of space for four of us – two bedrooms with double beds and two bathrooms. Plenty of seating – bar stools in the kitchen, dining table for six, and two sofas!

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Outside on the decking which wrapped around half of the cabin, was the hot tub (it did feel like it needed a roof, or some side enclosures), was another set of table and chairs, and a mini outdoor kitchen with a place for a mini BBQ!

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The staff were nice, the actual grounds (on this particular site) aren’t still 100% completed but we rang them with a small issue and they was there in minutes. They helped unload the car and take the cases to the cabin (it was less than a minute walk!), we had a box of chocolates left for us (they had ran out of prosecco).

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The hot tub was lovely, a really big sized one with temperature and lights you could control.

Another highlight was the bath in the main bedroom, we wish we had bought some Lush goodies to fully appreciate it! Next time, we will!

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Overall, it was a really nice cabin, the finishes felt high end and it felt new. We would definitely stay again with The Dream Lodge Group, maybe at a different location. I feel like Forest Holidays have monopolised the cabin holidays recently (but they are expensive!) so maybe look up this company to see if there is one near you to travel to?!

http://www.thedreamlodgegroup.co.uk/

It’s not much of a post, but just wanted to highlight this company if anyone was looking into / researching for a cabin break next year, and hoping the photos help!

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Outings

Brooklands Hotel, Weybridge

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Last weekend I had a lovely start to the week! We had booked a Sunday Group Getaway at the Brooklands Hotel, for £110 each (based on 4 sharing). For that price: One night accommodation in a two bedroom suite, one treatment each (we all had the back massage), use of the spa facilities, use of bathrobes and slippers, afternoon tea, breakfast and a 2pm late check out.  I think it was such a good deal, and we booked it over six weeks ago.

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We arrived just after check in (about 3.30pm), and the room was ready. The room was huge, one of the biggest I’ve ever stayed in! One bedroom had a double bed, the other two singles, each had a big bathroom, there was a desk/office area, a living room area with sofa and TV, and a big table with six chairs plus our own huge decking area outside with table and chairs – which overlooked the racetrack!

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Our treatment was actually booked on the first day, so we all rushed down to the spa and had our twenty five minute back massage each (massages are always so nice and relaxing right?). The spa part was unusually busy, so all the chairs and beds were taken and the hot tub was full. We also wasn’t feeling the sauna and steam room (unusually placed in the changing room). So we headed back to our huge room, and just sat in our robes and slippers and chilled on the deck. We had bought our own prosecco, snacks and small bites to eat. Also to note – there is no pool here.

The hotel is actually next to/inside Mercedes Benz world, so I had great fun watching people drive and race around the track. That ended at 6pm, so it wasn’t at all noisy in the evening, it was very peaceful and relaxing.

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We had a very late night, also random point, the bed was so soft, like sleeping on a marshmallow (bit too soft for all of us).

The next day we had breakfast (the lovely thing was it was served until 11!), there was a whole mini room of food on offer! One side was full English (mmm fried bread!) and the other was continental, there was juices too, and we had hot drinks to the table. It was very tasty, and the restaurant wasn’t too busy.

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We also had decided we was getting a go in the hot tub before we left, so we changed and headed back to the spa. It was delightfully empty and quiet up there. We think everyone had left for room check out but as we had the late one, we was all good! So we claimed a round comfy bed, and chilled for a bit. The hot tub is outside but underneath a ceiling/awning and watched the cars (all Mercedes) and then got into the hot tub. So luxurious  on a Monday morning/afternoon and I had no Monday blues that week!

We spent a while here, ( so much nicer and calmer without loads of people) I did want to go to The Meditation Room (it was a twenty minute slot, but had to be pre-booked). So back to the room, (the showers was also very nice and powerful!) and changed. Packed and ready for afternoon tea.

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The restaurant was basically empty, but they took a while to bring the drinks and food out. It was nice, but I’ve had a lot better. The top tier of cakes etc, they were all too sweet and none of us managed to try everything. My favourite was the chocolate and caramel shortcake, but after that I had enough sugar.

Overall we had a great time, the room was amazing, the Monday at the spa part was great, the deal was definitely worth doing and we all wished it had been a two night stay. They do have other deals on at the moment, so for a treat for you and friends, I would recommend it!

 

 

 

travel

Day Trip to Bosnia-Herzegovina

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Whilst on our latest holiday to Dubrvonik, we talked about tours and trips. I suggested looking on the Viator website, as I had used them twice before for a tour.

So on a lazy morning, we both used the apartment’s wifi and browsed. I was keen on Montenegro but the fiancé wanted Bosnia-Herzegovina, as I had chose the destination and the apartment, I thought I had better compromise somewhere! So we booked one up (also as I had a new email address I was registered as a new customer so got a 10% off promo code!).

The tour we chose was described as “Pair Bosnia-Herzegovina’s beautiful outdoor scenery with its historic monuments on this 10-hour excursion including a visit to Mostar and Kravice Waterfalls. Cross the Croatian border and stop to admire the splendor of these 80-foot (25-meter) cascades. Then head to Mostar for a guided walking tour of the Old Town, famous ‘Stari Most’ (bridge), and much more. Extra value for all our clients is free entrance ticket to Turkish house in Mostar, the most visited museum in this city.”

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We decided on this one as it was a small group rather than a huge bus.

It was a very early start, we got picked up outside a local hotel at 7.10am! The minibus did the usual of driving around hotels and picking people up. Once we was on our way, the friendly guide gave us facts about Croatia and the towns we passed. We seemed to drive along the main road which curved the coast, so it was very scenic.

In total we did six border crossings! You leave Croatia, then go into Bosnia-Herzegovina and then there is a strip of land 22km long which is then Croatia again, then back to Bosnia-Herzegovina. The tour guide takes your passports and gets off the bus to the little office. I was quite hoping for a stamp, but they didn’t do one!

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Once we was safely in Bosnia-Herzegovina, there was a short stop of 15 minutes then we was on our way to the Kravice waterfalls. I am going to admit here, you need more time allocated here then the town. This is a natural beauty and was so nice to sit and admire. I would have liked to have gone for a quick dip, but I felt so rushed! It was a long steep walk down, with lots of stairs and it was so hot already (and it was still the morning!).

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So we did have a walk round and down as far as we could go, so we sat there and cooled off in the shade, took a few photos. Then it was the hard slog back up! In total, I think we was off and on the bus for about an hour and fifteen. Then we was on our way to Mostar. Again passing towns and the tour guide giving us information and facts.

Once we was in Mostar, the bus parked in a car park and another tour guide collected us. She was local, and said was a walking tour about an hour, and would also include the trip to Turkish house. I was slightly concerned as she said people dress up as tourists but they are actually pickpockets! She said they wouldn’t do it whilst with her, but watch ourselves on the way back.

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We walked by the local church and down the streets, where some buildings still showed huge damage from the war in the 90’s. We then went to old town, where the streets were narrow, very busy and cobbled. There was restaurants, stalls and shops but we didn’t pause much as she was walking and talking along the way.

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We then got to the Stari Most bridge, Prince Charles re-opened it after some destruction and its now a UNESCO site. Lots of local men now jump from the top (they have to be physically fit and tested) and ask for money before jumping. It’s also now a stop on the Red bull cliff diving competition. We continued on, walking to the Turkish House – what they mean by this, is the house was a traditional Turkish family home and had been left to look around. We had to take our shoes off, as the carpets were old and hand sewn. So the tour guide talked again about tradition’s, and showed us a few things.

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There was a few minutes more walk, and then the tour was done – and we had our own free time, I think it was about an hour and a half. We had a fifteen minute walk back to the bus in that time. So me and my partner went to a restaurant, and had a sit down. We both had a iced coffee and a baklava (the slice was huge!). We then wondered back the same way we came, through the markets and over the bridge. It really was so hot that day, definitely hotter than Croatia! So we walked back to the car park and waited for the cool air conditioned bus.

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We then started the same drive back – with the three border crossings, and back to Croatia. As we was the third pick up, we was the third drop off. We didn’t get back into the room until about 6.50pm. I was so shattered!

I liked the tour, it wasn’t my favourite that I’ve done, it was definitely interesting to see another country whilst already visiting a new one! I didn’t think i would ever expect to tick that country off my list too! I wouldn’t return to Bosnia-Herzegovina, as it’s not my type of holiday. Have you done a day trip / tour on a holiday? Where did you go?

 

 

 

travel

My First AirBnB

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On my last trip which was to Dubrovnik, Croatia. I was looking on my usual – booking.com and found there wasn’t that many hotels. (and also as it got nearer to the holiday, prices increased a lot!)

In Dubrovnik, it was a lot of apartments, villas etc to rent/stay in. Once I thought about it, this trip I didn’t want to stay in a hotel. I didn’t want to be restricted with their breakfast times, and be fighting for a sunbed. I wanted to buy local food and drink, and be on our own time and our own space.

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In the end I did book one, but it was a bedroom/bathroom with a shared kitchen. In all honesty, I booked it for the view from the balcony!

But it kept bugging me that I didn’t like it, so I browsed AirBnB for a while. I’m sure I looked at what felt like hundreds of properties, but it got quite fun and addictive. But I already had my flight booked, so my dates were set, it was just 2 of us and I knew my budget, so I could easily filter through them.

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In the end, I booked one. I signed up to the website, and you have to make a small profile and upload a photo of yourself. There is a nightly fee plus a cleaning charge which is then added at the end, so make sure you check the final amount before booking!

I’m not going to lie, I was a little daunted at handing all my money over to a stranger for a room! The money went out quite quickly too, and I had visions of there being not an actual room! But I knew it was a big company, I had email confirmation and a profile with a confirmed booking, so I was going to create hell if it was fictional!

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I messaged the owner asking about how far it was from the airport, and she replied with the time and also an offer for someone to pick us up (for a fee). We discussed it, and as we had a late flight, we didn’t want a normal taxi to be driving around for ages getting lost, so we did go with her suggestion.

I also had my name on a sign for when we arrived (I’ve always wanted that for some reason! Anyone else?!). The driver (her friend?cousin? I don’t know!), was friendly and polite and had a nice clean Audi. When we got there, he let us in and that was it. There was a laminated sheet with her name and number and which bus to get.

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I would have liked to met the owner, as we didn’t know where the bus stop was, where everything was kept, what to do with bins etc, or leave keys on last day! She did text me on the last day saying sorry she didn’t get to meet us, so I’m not sure if other AirBnBs you do meet them at some point?

It was cute though, it was a studio apartment, with a kitchen, bathroom and a big balcony. The balcony has table and chairs, a swinging seat and some plants. You did have to walk up about 11 steps as she was on the first floor (this was mentioned in the advert for the place which is nice for future guests). She said it had recently been decorated, and it looked and felt clean and new. The photos was true to what it looked like.

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Once the holiday/stay was over, (I didn’t realise this), but she left me feedback as a guest on my profile, and then I left a review on her place. I guess its like eBay – everyone can learn from each other then!

I did really like the AirBnB, the process was easy and I would definitely use it again! How about you – have you used it? Found any amazing places to stay?

travel

Flashback Friday – Dubrovnik, Croatia

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I’ve just recently returned from a five night trip to Dubrovnik. Croatia has been on my list for several years now, and finally I can tick it off the list!

Its a small country, about four million people live there, and it lies all along a coast alongside the Adriatic Sea (for geography wise – on the world map, think of the sea to the right of Italy).

It’s a pretty place with lots of views, I also learnt its very hilly, steep and tons and tons of steps, I felt like I got a 5 day workout!!

Whilst there, we went to the Old Town Dubrovnik, this is really cool and no tourist should exclude this off the visit list. It’s a high walled town, so no cars, lots of narrow walkways, cobbled pathways, (more) millions of stairs, hotels, restaurants and people live there. At the back is the harbour, and it’s also a famous filming location. Game of Thrones films the Kings Landing and various other parts there, (there was plenty of walking tours you could do, but we opted not to). It felt so historic, and modern at the same time, and you could spend hours just walking and looking around.

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I am glad we didn’t book a stay there though – one for not having to carry a case around and finding it, but two the views probably wouldn’t be as good.

We also paid for the return trip on the cable cars, which (obviously!) gives you great views. You can see old town and Lokrum.

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Another day, after a lazy morning we took the boat to Lokrum, which is described as     a beautiful, forested island full of holm oaks, black ash, pines and olive trees, only a 10-minute ferry ride from Dubrovnik’s Old Harbour”. I did learn whilst there it was inhabited by monks for years and they put a curse on it?! I’m not a very outdoorsy person, and I didn’t particularly want to hike in the baking hot sun for hours! But we did a little walk, found a nice spot to rest, saw the tame bunnies and peacocks, walked round the botanical gardens and had lunch etc.

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We also did a 12 hour day trip to Bosnia and Herzegovina – which I will do another blog post about.

Another day we popped to the local beach, which was Sunset Beach, I wanted to rent a cabana, but they was all gone! We didn’t stay long, as it was busy and it was super hot, and we don’t sunbathe. I also found a bar in a local hotel – which was very cool as it was a cave bar! They found the cave during the construction of the hotel and decided to keep it as a feature. So we had a cocktail and a look round.

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We also did the usual of buying some food, taking it back to the room, eating and drinking on the balcony. I managed to read a whole book. We sat out of an evening and listened to the bars from a few levels down by the beach and looked at the stars. It really was needed, and I could have done with another day!

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Overall, I really did enjoy Dubrovnik, it felt like a city break as there was the built up tourist area (old town) but also a proper summer holiday, as the weather was so nice, the vibe was chilled, I felt completely safe and unpressured. There was lots of tours to do, I was eyeing up a boat tour of the elafiti islands or a wine tour day!

Only thing is – it’s not as cheap as I think we think it is! Before I went, I spoke to someone and he said when he first went years ago it was mega cheap and great value, but now they’ve got wise and increased prices. We literally spent every penny we had (and used our cards for uber/tour!).

 

walt disney world

Caring for Giants Tour, Animal Kingdom

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On my last trip I ticked off another backstage tour at Walt Disney World. This was the Caring for Giants tour. I actually booked and paid for all us 5 adults a Christmas present!

The tour is described on the Disney website as “Get a closer look at the majestic African elephants at Disney’s Animal Kingdom park—and learn what it takes to care for them”.

This is definitely one of the cheaper tours priced at $30 each (prices correct as of June 2018), and a short one at 1 hour long. the groups are quite small, maybe twelve people. It also runs approx. ten times a day, so it’s easier to get a spot when booking. We was also told the money from the tour, went to the charities and conservation funds that Animal Kingdom support.

You check in just by Kilamanjaro Safaris, given a lanyard with a name tag (which is made from recycled elephant poo!) and are taken backstage straight away to a waiting minivan. This then drives you round the property to the back of the safari. You are not allowed to take any photo’s at this point, and the driver is friendly and chatty, and was asking questions.

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Once out of the van, you walk up a new looking ramp to where the tour will take place. Once at the top, and by the fence, you are allowed to take photos. You are now at the elephant place on the ride – So essentially it feels like you are still on Kilamanjaro Safaris – you even see the trucks going past!

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There are two cast members with you, they talk about the elephants, the ones that are in the park at the moment, including baby Stella, where they stay, what they eat etc., and always ask if anyone has questions. The second cast member was from South Africa and worked for years on a national park, she had lots of funny stories about elephants and used her past job to talk about her current role at Disney.

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You are also given the opportunity to have a photo with the elephants in the background – these are taken by the CM’s.

Overall I did like the tour, it wasn’t one of my favourite’s as is so short! But it’s always nice to go backstage and learn more about how everything works. I would recommend if you was a big fan of Animal Kingdom and/or elephants as you do get much better photo ops than from the truck.

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