30 by 30 – What a ride!

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Well folks, pop the bottles, get out the streamers – it’s official (ok it was official about six months ago) I’ve done it – I’ve travelled to 30 different countries before my 30th birthday!!

When I set the goal five years ago it was in part a pipe dream and in part a way to continually give myself a goal to work towards that was purely fun related, not health, not career – just fun.

And shit I’ve had so much fun achieving it along the way. From seeing great sites like the Taj Mahal or Eiffel tower to being extreme like paragliding in Austria and… and… ok who am I kidding I’m NOT extreme.

Anyway it’s been amazing, and it’s not over… not by a long shot.

So what’s next? What’s my next goal, my next plan? I’m taking suggestions. Seriously – I want you to help me decide what I should do next… Do I double it before I’m 40? Aim to see all countries in the world? I’m game.

Anyway as you ponder, scroll down for my final list of 30 countries in alphabetical order. Looking at each name brings back so many exceptional memories and I’m itching to make some more.

30 by 30

(My world scratch map – the gold countries I haven’t been to… it’s on my wall and I look at it longingly everyday)

 

1 America 16 Lichtenstein
2 Australia 17 Malaysia
3 Austria 18 Mexico
4 Cambodia 19 Monaco
5 China 20 Montenegro
6 Croatia 21 Netherlands
7 England 22 Scotland
8 France 23 Singapore
9 Germany 24 Spain
10 Greece 25 Switzerland
11 India 26 Thailand
12 Ireland 27 Turkey
13 Italy 28 UAE (Dubai)
14 Fiji 29 Vatican
15 Japan 30 Vietnam

Pilgrim without a plan

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To say I’ve been M.I.A on the blog front is an understatement – it’s been months since I posted… not ok.

Why have I made you all suffer through my radio silence? Missing out on the brilliance that is my writing? I can put it down to one thing – lack of travel depression… LTD for short.

The LTD struggle has been real – worse than ever before. And the reason is this: I’m a pilgrim without a plan.

I landed back in NZ after achieving my 30 by 30 plan with nothing new on the horizon… just a mortgage to pay and a 9 to 5 job.

Not knowing what I’m doing next, where or when I’m going has been a beating to my soul… But let’s be honest, as far as problems go, this is as first world as it gets, so I’m packing away my LTD and getting back on the keyboard to give you guys more tips and tales from my pilgrimages. You’re welcome.

Stay tuned over the coming weeks as I will have a celebratory article about reaching my initial 30 by 30 plan… I WILL come up with a new plan… maybe with your help and I have some crazy tales from Malaysia and India to share with you. There are terror threats, Malaysia Airlines flights and human poo. You want to read this stuff.

Taj

(Oh and here’s a tease of some of the cool stuff I got to see in India – more about this soon)

Hoi An – A Pleasant Surprise

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Surprises – they can be good and bad.

You come home to find your house burgled… bad surprise. You come home to find a present from your loved one… good surprise.

Hoi An Street

Our arrival to Hoi An was more like the latter… a surprise gift given to us on our journey through Vietnam.

This UNESCO World Heritage site has managed to capture and embody the charming elements of Vietnam’s diverse history. It has been a trade port and home to Japanese, French, Chinese and many other cultures – as such it really is a mixed bag of beauty, from cobbled streets to wooden bridges and vibrant colours of lanterns.

Lanterns

Oh and yes Hoi An is the place where you can get custom made clothing quickly and cheaply. There are stalls upon stalls of tailors who will literally take your measurements one day and have a suit/dress/jacket (WHATEVER YOU WANT) ready for you by the next day.

Charming town and great shopping? You can see why it’s a great surprise…. Get there. Now.

Planning your pilgrimage:


Walk the River

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  • Running through the centre of town is the river. During the day it’s a hive of activity with fisherman, travellers and locals alike. At night it really comes alive. Local kids sell candles in little containers that you float down the river for luck. Lanterns light up the streets. It’s bustling and a great vibe.
  • Please remember too (a local reminded us of this on our trip) the tourist dollar is their way to live, so yes they may seem intense when trying to sell you something but they have lived in poverty for too long. Buy their candle and float it down the river. It’s their livelihood.

Jack Trans Eco Tour – BMW Buffalo Cart

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  • This was by far the most interesting and fantastic thing we did in Vietnam
  • Jack Tran hires local guides, and uses local families to make his tours a true Vietnam experience.
  • As we rode along in a cart drawn by a buffalo, our tour host openly told us of how her family had gone from complete despair to a happy life with the help of the tourist dollar.
  • Bufalo tour 3The Buffalo took us to a farmers house – he had also struggled for years, not making enough money (or rice for that matter) to feed his family. To make matters worse while tending to his rice fields one day he stood on a live grenade which blew off his foot.
  • His daughter ran a day care out of his home, and the little Vietnamese kids were adorable. Our host told us that as a child she called white people ‘hello people’ as that’s what we say when we see them.
    Buffalo tour2
  • What stood out for me on this tour was not the ride on the buffalo (yep you get to ride that bad boy) or the delicious rice the farmer cooked for us, or the beautiful scenery of Hoi An’s farm land… it was witnessing first hand how resilient the Vietnamese are and how despite their trials and tribulations they are still welcoming, smiling and happy. I love them.

Eat at Bale Well

Bale Well

  • Have you ever had the food sweats? Or been so full that you thought you might explode? Well you will experience this at Bale Well and all for under $10.
  • Bale Well is the Vietnamese answer to a smorgasbord. You sit down and the friendly staff feed you, and feed you, and when you thought you couldn’t fit in anymore they feed you again.
  • Salad, spring rolls, rice pancakes, 1000 types of meat (slight exaggeration) oh yes and ice cream for desert.
  • It’s beyond insane and you must do it if you go to Hoi An.

Thuan Tinh Island Food Tour

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  • This is the number one rated activity on Trip Advisor for Hoi An and deservedly so.
  • The tour takes you through the entire meal creation process from purchasing your food at the market, to cooking, to eating. The recipes are simple enough, for those like me who have no idea what they’re doing, but the class teaches you about authentic Vietnamese ingredients, keeping those real foodies happy.
  • Above all that you get to take a little trip in a woven basket boat (see pic) and you get a small insight into local life on your walk from the river to the venue, stopping at local homes to learn about grinding rice.
    Food tour 1

Shopping 

  • Ok shopaholics, sorry it took me so long to get here… Shopping in Hoi An.
  • Tip one: Before you go take pictures of what clothes you want the tailor to make.
  • Tip two: Make this your FIRST activity in Hoi An so to give the tailors as much time as possible to make your clothes.
  • Tip three: Cheaper options are in the market, there are stalls upon stalls of tailors in here and it’s quite intense. You can shop around, and there are some who don’t know what they’re doing. We used ‘Cloth Shop Number Forty One’… they really were on point.
  • Tip four: Be prepared for it not to be perfect – they do pretty well, but there might be a few bits that aren’t 100%.

  • SO there you have it. Hoi An in all it’s glory. There are also beaches, incredible beaches nearby that we never made it to, so the entertainment possibilities are endless. Happy travels 🙂

South East Asia – The place travellers dreams are made of

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With beers for under $1, food that your taste buds thank you for and something new to marvel at around every corner – South East Asia is the destination travellers dreams are made of.

After our travels around Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand last year I fell head over heels with the region. Someone told me before I left “you’ll love it, it gets under your skin” – that’s on point.

It may be third world, it may be hot and it may be manic but South East Asia is endearing. It’s my destination of choice and we will definitely be going back.

So on that note for the next month or two I’m dedicating Pilgrim with a Plan to South East Asia, and below is a bit of an overview as to why it should be on your list!

Why plan your South East Asia pilgrimage:


The people are welcoming

SEA people

(Kids in Cambodia – I know I’ve used this photo before, but I can’t help but use it again, so cute)

After travelling through Europe, S.E.A was a whole new kettle of fish, particularly in regards to the welcoming nature of the people.

In our experience the people are genuinely willing to help you, feed you, serve you or just have a yarn. Yes their economy is largely reliant on the tourist dollar and yes that helps, but there’s an unrivalled willingness to open their doors to you in a very genuine way. They want you there, they want to find out more about you AND let you understand more about them.


Getting off the beaten track is easy (and affordable)

Cambodia

(Remote floating village in Siem Reap – we didn’t go in rainy season… hence not floating)

One of the biggest catch phrases in the travel world is “getting off the beaten track”. Problem is it usually costs you two days travel and a whole lot of your budget to get off said track… not in South East Asia. Never have I visited countries where it’s so easy to get away from the tourist hot spots and into the eye opening every day lives of the people.

Take the above pic for example, this was taken at a floating village in Siem Reap. I think the locals could count on one hand how many times they’d seen a white person. The beauty of it all? It took us one hour and perhaps $20 to get out there. It was hands down the best part of my trip and I will write more about it in an upcoming blog post.


It’s cheap

Cheap food

(The man with a bottomless pit for a stomach is beaten)

Everything is dirt cheap in South East Asia, buying a beer for 20c is normal and paying $20 each for a room for a night will get you luxury, like free massage and cocktail on arrival type luxury.

A great example is the meal you can see in the pic above. This meal broke Eamon, just look at his face. It was a smorgasbord of epic proportions… the cost? Under $10.


The food is unbelievable

SEA food

(One of our best meals in Cambodia)

On that note, the food may be cheap, but it’s next level incredible. I’m salivating just looking at the above picture.

The thing with food in South East Asia is not just the taste – it’s the colours, the textures and the scents that make it what it is. They have the most incredible way of pulling together a meal that excites so many of your senses and whether you pay $1 on the side of the road or $10 in a restaurant your taste buds will thank you for it.


It suprises you

SEA suprise

(Truck tipped over in Cambodia while people ravage through the contents strewn on the roadside)

Just when you think you can’t see anything stranger you turn a new corner and something more bizarre smacks you in the face (hopefully not literally, but don’t rule it out).

South East Asia is wild, wierd and wonderful. It will shock, suprise and amaze you. Go with it. It makes for a great story back home.


The service is amazing

SEA service

(Standard welcome in any hotel in Nam)

You know when you go home and see your parents after a really long time and they’re super glad to see you and will do anything to make you feel comfortable? That’s the feeling you get every time you arrive at a hotel in South East Asia.

They’re welcoming, they make animals out of your towels and they’ll help you in any way they can, whether that’s booking a trip, making you a drink or just telling you about life in their world.

It’s fantastic.


If that hasn’t convinced you to put South East Asia on your ‘must-do’ list, well you’re a tough crowd, but as promised the next few months will be dedicated to my South East Asia experience.

Prepare for wanderlust travellers!

Humans of the world

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Part of the attraction of travel for me is meeting new people and experiencing new cultures.

You could call me nosy (many have) or you could call me curious, curious to see how others live, what puts a smile on their face and what their struggles are.

Over the years I’ve captured some pretty ace photos of people I’ve met around the world from street performers to children in remote villages of Cambodia, and as the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Here’s a collection for your enjoyment:

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Jolly Germans playing a tune in a beer hall.

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A street performer makes sweet beats on makeshift drums in London.

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How the guards at Buckingham Palace can stay still for so long is beyond me.

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A train station in Tokyo, so many people but in orderly lines, organised chaos…

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A friendly lass pours me a Suntory Premium Malt at the museum in Kyoto.

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A belly dancer for the crowds enjoyment in Dubai.

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An amazing group of souls I met on my sail Croatia trip when travelling alone.

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There’s some trick to these involving a fake arm and a plank – regardless it’s amazing.

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The jolly gents who entertained the crowd waiting for buses after the ANZAC services at Gallipoli.

 

 

 

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A street performer and I in London.

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An army of dumpling makers at a Michelin Star restaurant in Hong Kong.

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This beautiful being poured us beer in Hanoi (at 20c a glass) for hours.

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This lovely lady has been affected by agent orange (check out her right hand). She and others affected now make and sell art to help them get by.

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Not a playstation in sight yet the kids are still having fun in Vietnam… Intriguing.

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Eamon with a hat seller in Hanoi – look at her face, she was bemused by us.

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Street vendors in Hanoi trying to keep cool.

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The cutest kids ever in a daycare in Hoi An. Love their different expressions.

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A Hoi An farmer showing us how they cook (note his foot – blown off by a land mine in his rice fields).

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Vietnam road safety 101: Don’t worry about a helmet for the child, just pop her in between mum and dad!

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A puppet DJ on the banks of the Thames in London.

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Children with gangster as moves performing in London.

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Amazing performers at a circus in Cambodia.

Mr Fisher taught us about absenth

Mr Fisher who taught us about Absinthe in Austria.




 

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And finally these adorably hilarious kids from a remote village in Cambodia – excited by seeing us white folk roaming their streets. Too cute!

Turn up, have fun, see sites – Tour Led Travel

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Travelling alone? Don’t really know where to start? Or just want to meet new like minded friends? I have the travel solution for you – tours!

There are so many benefits of joining a tour, including the fact they organise everything for you, you just have to turn up, have fun and see sites.

I’ve loved every tour I’ve done and as corny as it sounds, have met some life long friends.

Here’s a wee comparison of various tour companies I’ve used.

Planning your Pilgrimage:


Contiki

Contiki

Yes I’ve done Contiki, and I had a ball. I was about 22. Two friends and I booked a the European Escapade – 25 days, visiting 10 countries.

Pros:

√  You get a taster of a bunch of places – helping you decide where you might like to explore further.

√  You get to see so much with little personal planning effort.

√  It’s fun, I mean a bus full of 18-35 year olds = great time.

√  We were lucky and had a fantastic group who didn’t just want to get wasted all the time, so we had a ball.

Cons:

√  You are with the same 30 odd people for 25 days on a bus, if you don’t like them you’re going to have an average time.

√  You are on a bus with air con for 25 days – you will get sick with what’s known as the ‘Contiki Cough’… it’s inevitable.

√  You really do whip through places, I mean two nights in Rome, come on.


Travel talk

Where you sleep at Gallipoli… packed in like sardines. Beaut view though.

I took a tour with these guys to Gallipoli for ANZAC day.

This company is predominantly used by expats living in London so if you are just travelling the area and not living there you may struggle to find others doing the same.

Pros:

√  Easy to deal with, well organised

Cons:

√  The tour guide was BEYOND a creep, he cracked on to every single girl on the tour, it was inappropriate.


Intrepid Travel

Intrepid

I can’t speak highly enough of Intrepid travel, the Intrepid team (from the office staff to guides) are extremely helpful and the tour is right up my ally – organised but not so much that you have to schedule in a toilet break.

I jumped on an eight day tour from Rome to Amalfi (Italy) with these guys and had a ball.

Pros:

√  It’s not as prescriptive as Contiki, sure you are on a tour but that’s more to ensure you have someone to show you the way, someone to have dinner with at night, company if you want it. You can also spend a lot of time alone (if you want) which I love.

√  The tour guides are generally from the area or have extensive knowledge of the area, adding another element to the tour.

√  You take public transport to get around (aka no private coaches like Contiki) which is fun and shows you how to do it for when you’re on your own.

√  I found my group to be very like minded, mostly independent females who loved travel.

√  They only have 10 people max in a group, so you make some great friends.

Cons:

√  I was the youngest in my group by far (at 26), which was a pro and a con. I like an older crowd so it was fine for me but it could be a con for you.

√  The whole thing was a little laid back, a little more communication/organisation may have been appreciated but didn’t ruin the tour by any means.


Sail Croatia

Sail Croatia

I was apprehensive about doing Sail Croatia as I was a little fatter back then, lacked confidence and didn’t want to get drunk everyday on a boat with skinny tarts (that’s how I envisaged Sail Croatia).

What I ended up with was a group of the most fantastic people I’ve ever come across, mainly folk older than I and we had a ball!

We did end up drinking every day, but in a civilised (ok kind of civilised) way, and it was just beyond amazing.

Best part of the whole thing? You’re on a boat for a week, you don’t have to move your bags for a whole week. When you travel for extended periods, moving every few days, you’ll understand how incredible that is.

Now I can’t remember the exact tour group I booked with but it’s fairly irrelevant – look for the one that goes to the islands you want to go to (Hvar is a must) and for the length of time you want to go for.

If you don’t want to party but want a good time, here are my tips:

√  Book at the start of the season, the earlier the better as it is less likely to be a bunch of young annoying assholes.

√  Let the tour group know you want to have a relaxing time not a party time.

Also what you need to know:

√  You start a tab on the boat for your drinks which is semi dangerous as you have no idea how much you’re spending, but it’s fairly reasonably priced.

√  Take loads of books/load up your e-reader, there is plenty of sail time where you have nothing to do but sunbathe and read (it’s the good life).

√  On that note prepare to do nothing – it was a real change of pace for me, but it was fantastic.

√  Take a backpack – for day trips on the islands

√  Don’t be a dick – you’re on a boat with these people for a week.


Those were my tour experiences. I’ve done a bunch of day tours in various locations too and generally enjoyed them for the same reasons. While I love planning, taking a break from that and letting someone do it for you has it’s merits.

Have fun – and if you have any further questions please do get in touch.

 

Buildings of Italy

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Buildings aren’t always the number one choice for holiday photos. Maybe it’s because it’s hard to get a really good selfie with a building… who knows.

Fortunately for all of us I’m not one to take a selfie, I am however one for a good building photo, especially in Italy.

The array of buildings in Italy most certainly contribute to the countries charm, and they vary greatly depending on which part of the country you are in.

So as a gift for your eyes I’ve collated some of my fave building shots. You’re welcome…

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1 Year and 3 Countries to go

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Well here we are folks, I’m about to mark my 29th birthday giving me one year to complete my goal of visiting 30 countries by the time I’m 30.

I have some plans in the pipeline to achieve this, but I won’t spoil the surprise – just keep tuned in to Pilgrim With A Plan to see where I end up.

In the mean time I thought I’d take a trip down memory lane, looking at my snaps from all the countries I’ve visited thus far and for your enjoyment I’ve included fun fact about each country.

My Pilgrimages so far:


1

America

America

The United States National Anthem is the only anthem in the world that doesn’t have the name of the country in it.

Pic: My mumma, sister and I at Disneyland, every 7-year-olds dream!!

2

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Australia

If you visited one new beach in Australia every day, it would take over 27 years to see them all.

Pic: Yes that’s me as a child holding a Koala… I know cute right?

3

Austria

Austria

The sewing machine was invented in 1818 by an Austrian.

 

4

Cambodia

Cambodia

The birth rate in Cambodia is three times higher than the death rate.

 

5

China

China

The number one hobby in China is stamp collecting.

 

6

Croatia

Croatia

The necktie was invented in Croatia.

 

7

England

England

The English drink more tea per capita than any other country in the world.

8

Fiji beach

Fiji

Fiji has 28 airports, but only four of them have paved runways.

 

9

France

France

France is the most visited country in the world.

 

10

Germany

Germany

Gummy bears were invented by a German.

 

11

Greece

Greece

Greece has one of the lowest divorce rates in the EU.

 

12

 Ireland

Ireland

Dublin boasts one pub for every 100 people.

13

Italy

Italy

The famous children’s story,  Pinocchio,  was written by an Italian.

 

14

Japan

Japan

Sometimes the trains are so crowded railway staff are employed to cram passengers inside.

 

15

LichtensteinThe entire country of Liechtenstein can be rented for $70,000 a day. Snoop Dogg tried to do it once for a music video – but he didn’t give them enough notice.

16

MexicoChihuahua dogs get their name from a Mexican state.

17

monaco

Monaco

Monaco has more policemen per person than any other country in the world. Crime is not a problem.

 

18

Montenegro

Montenegro

According to studies Montenegro is fast emerging as one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world today.

 

19

Amsterdam

Netherlands

70% of the world’s bacon comes from Netherlands.

 

20

Scotland

Scotland

Scotland includes over 790 islands. These include groups called Orkney, Shetland and the Hebrides.

 

21

Spain

Spain

Spain produces 44% of the world’s olive oil.

 

22

Switzerland

Switzerland

In Switzerland, it is illegal to keep just one guinea pig. You got to have them in pairs.

 

23

Thailand

Thailand

One-tenth of all animal species on Earth live in Thailand.

 

24

Turkey

Turkey

The Turkish introduced coffee into Europe.

25

Dubai

UAE (Dubai)

There are ATMs in Dubai that dispense gold bars.

 

26

Vatican

Vatican

The Vatican has its own mail system – with its own Post Office and stamps and many Romans use its services since it is much quicker than the routine Italian postal system.

 

27

Vietnam

Vietnam

Vietnam is the largest exporter of cashews in the world, and the second largest exporter of rice.

 

 

There you have it – don’t say I never teach you anything!

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Capri – Living the dream

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Some days in life are just significantly better than others. For me, going to Capri was one of those days.

With the clear blue waters of the Med underneath you and coastal Italian landscape around you it really does feel like a dream. Even more so now as I write about this from my 40 sq/m apartment in Auckland. Sigh.

Capri from above      Capri looking up

So what is it about this island that makes it so dreamlike…

  • Maybe it’s that it’s a play ground for the rich and famous, so for a moment you can walk around feeling a little more well-to-do than you really are.
  • Maybe it’s the Italian homes perched into the sides of mountains with gardens of colours cascading down the mountains.
  • Maybe (and my bet is on this) it’s because it is singularly the most beautiful place to just walk. Imagine if Miranda Kerr and Ryan Gosling created a baby… that’s the level of beauty this island holds. It is literally the cobbled pathways, arches, views of the med as far as the eye can see, and colour, endless colour from the flowers, from the buildings, from the food.

I’m getting goosys just writing this, Capri is for me the pinnacle of sensory delight and I will never forget how the heat of the sun felt as I lost myself taking in the sight, or the smell of fresh ocean air mixed with a bloody good cabonara, or the moment of longing when I had to leave.

Capri1       Capri flowers

Long sigh. Get there now and send me a postcard would you?

Planning your Pilgrimage:


 How to get to Capri:

Getting to Capri

√  I hired a boat and driver from Sorrento with a group of my travel buddies – this was an awesome option as your trip is customisable, you leave when you want and come back when you want, stopping on the way… you guessed it – where you want.

√  If you don’t have a group to go with, don’t fret, there are plenty of other day tours you can book, just google or ask your friendly hotel people.


To blue grotto or not to blue grotto… that is the question:

The blue grotto is a “must-do” around the Island because of it’s beautiful blue water in a ‘majestic’ cave… However I didn’t blue grotto and here’s why;

√  They charge you an exorbitant amount to go in there.

√  Once they’ve got their cash you can only go in for a matter of minutes.

√  It’s so overrun with tourists that your small time spent in there is swarmed by others.


Watch out for:

√  Sanitary pads in the water – not joking. The cruise ships (illegally??) dump their waste into the ocean, my med dip on the way to the island was short lived in fear of being hit by floating crap (literally).


To do:

Walk capri

√  Once on the island my suggestion is to just walk. Literally follow your nose and get lost. Every path is gorgeous, every look out point will have you struggling to tear yourself away.

So it’s as simple as that. No tours necessary, pop your guidebook away. Just walk.

 

 


So off you go, give your senses a present and enjoy all that is great about Capri.

Travel makes me fun – Driving the dunes in Dubai

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My favourite part of travelling is you can reinvent yourself. Take being ‘extreme’ for example. I’m not extreme, I don’t even go on roller coaster rides for gods sake. Travelling Nic? She’s extreme.

And driving the dunes in Dubai, well that is extreme.

cars on sand

 

What the shit are you on about you may ask? Well take a 4-wheel drive vehicle, a driver who gets kicks out of seeing you shit yourself, and massive sand dunes. Add sliding sideways, and speeding down said dunes and you have yourself an extreme night in Dubai.

And it’s wicked.

 

As for the rest of Dubai, It’s got the tallest building in the world, it’s the most expensive city in the Middle East and cops drive around in Lamborghini’s.

It’s a place to go to be reminded how little cash you actually have.

Dubai Lambodubai from above 2

Planning your pilgrimage:


 Safari tour (Driving the Dunes):

belly dancerRiding a Camel Dubai

√  I went on the Sundowner tour with Arabian Safari Dubai http://www.arabiansafaridubai.com/desertsafari.html

√  The tour is super tourist tacky but SO fun. They take you way out into the desert and on the way out is when you get to drive the dunes. It is intense, kind of scary but really safe (all vehicles have roll cages) so just embrace it.

√  Once at the location you get to ride a camel, smoke sheisha, eat great local cuisine, watch a belly dancer and get henna. It’s excellent.

√  They were professional, on time and even did my airport transfer as part of the package.


Burj Khalifa:

Burj 1 Dubai from above

 

√  Tallest building in Dubai – a must do just to see the extent of the development in Dubai.


Light shows:

Dubai Light Show 1 IMG_1089

In a place of opulence it shouldn’t be surprising that there are two light shows you should check out.

√  The first is at the Dubai mall and they have water shooting up, lights flashing, all to music. Beyond impressive.

√  Also worth a look is the light show at Wafi Mall. They project images on the exterior walls of the mall, when I was there it was all wild animal related. Completely bizarre – completely worth seeing.


Shopping:

mall1

icerink in mall    snowplanet in mall

√  Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates are must do’s – even if you don’t want to shop, they are worth a look (think ice-skating rinks and snow parks in the mall).


Atlantis the Palm:

Atlantis 1Atlantis 2

Atlantis 3

 

√  This place is cool, it has the best Aquarium I’ve ever been to (and I don’t give a shit about fish).

√  It also has an amazing swimming area with rivers/pools etc. – I’d just got a tattoo so I couldn’t swim (IDIOT) but if I go back I’m getting in that water, god knows you need to in that heat.

 


Red Bus Tour:

√  I’m in two minds as whether to recommend this… on one hand it’s a great way to see a lot of Dubai, on the other hand they literally ONLY point out malls and buildings as that’s all there is to point out in Dubai – your choice here.


Remember:

√  Dubai has strict laws about the sale of alcohol – so don’t be surprised if you cant buy a drink at a restaurant.

√  As a woman you should dress modestly. They are fairly accepting of other cultures however try to cover up as best you can.


 

Now is a great time to visit Dubai, there is so much happening there and there’s a real buzz in the air. Happy travels 🙂