Oman has been voted 8th in the Lonely Planet’s best in Travel for 2017 – It’s a destination not to missed!
When telling people I was travelling to Oman, I generally had the response of ‘where is that?’ It is a fairly unique destination which made me love it even more! My biggest regret, would be that I only spent 2 days here over the weekend, which really wasn’t enough to experience everything Oman has to offer.
To answer the question, Oman is right on the edge of the Arabian Peninsula. I don’t like to compare countries, but Oman really reminded me of Dubai and Marrakesh mixed together! The design of the buildings, patterns & colours really reminded me of Marrakesh. The beaches, people & food offerings really reminded me of Dubai.
The people are really what makes Oman special. Everyone I know who has visited says the same thing, I felt so welcome and safe from the second we arrived. Another thing to note, is how clean and neat it is there, It is the cleanest country I have ever been too! Everywhere we went there was a cleaner or a gardener, trimming the trees or washing the floor. Even the roads were spotless! It is the little things like that, which adds to the countries beauty.
The Luxury Resort: We stayed in the Shang-ri-la Barr Al Jissah, which is absolutely stunning. There are 3 hotels making up the resort which are the Al Bandar, Al Husn & Al Waha. We stayed in a pool view room with a balcony in the Al Bandar. The Al Husn was definitely my favourite, I felt like an Arabian Princess strolling through a palace!
Shangrila Barr Al Jissah: http://bit.ly/2kkSSwA
The Endless Beaches: You will have direct access to the most beautiful views from the minute you arrive. The Mountains rise all around the resort, making for the perfect backdrop!
The Turtles: Each night we would head to Turtle Beach to try and catch a glimpse of the Turtles hatching, we sadly didn’t get to see any but we spoke to lots of guests who were lucky enough to see them. They have a Turtle Care Project at the resort too, they even have their very own Turtle Ranger (What a great job!)
Omani Food: There is so much choice! I opted for Asian Tapas on the terrace for the first night. I had Crab & Potato Samosas with Peanut Oil & Mixed seafood paella. The second night I decided to dine in Bait Al Bar along the beach. I opted for fish again, I had the Seafood Platter (Lobster, Sea Bream, Kingfish, Squid, Vegetables & Lemon Butter!) Try and book these when you arrive, as we struggled for a reservation on the first night. The menu’s are all loaded online on this link > http://bit.ly/2jj9R54 Have a good look at the menu’s before you arrive so you can pre-budget & pick your favourites!
The Tea: I must admit, I didn’t like the taste of Arabic Tea but I LOVED the Arabic Tea Pots!
The Grand Mosque: The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is Islamic architecture at its best! I obsessed over the Islamic Geometric Patterns and Mosaic Tiles.
Oh these tiles!
Who gets excited to fly home? Not me, that is for sure! Unless these are the views….Keep your eyes peeled around 2 hours into your flight home, you will fly over these snowy mountains in Iran. Breathtaking!
There is so much more to do, I just didn’t have the time. Camping in the dessert is still top of my list. I guess it gives me another reason to go back! 😉
I am pleased to say I have experienced the Arabian magic in 2017!
Post in collaboration with Barr Al Jissah & Luxuria Lifestyle…Love for Arabian patterns all my own 😉
Hilton Sa Torre, Majorca is little piece of heaven in the Mediterranean, you won’t ever want to leave! It is located just 15 minutes away from Palma Airport, making it a perfect weekend escape to relax and unwind in the luxury of the Majorcan countryside.
5 Reasons to visit Hilton Sa Torre Majorca:
1. Experience the Luxury location: This Hilton is like no other Hilton in the world! It’s located in a beautifully restored Finca, it’s truly unique in every way, with a 14th century chapel on site and an iconic Majorcan windmill, everywhere you look is picture perfect. This is our second visit to this stunning hotel, it certainly won’t be the last!
2. Romance: This hotel oozes romance! It is quiet, peaceful and perfect for couples to spend quality time together. Ditch your phones/tablets and laptops and enjoy the stunning surroundings. Take a stroll around the magical hotel grounds, or wander towards the town of Llucmajor. You can also hop in a cab to Palma, the capital city for around 20 Euros.
3. Treat yourself in the Spa: The use of the spa is included in your stay, take advantage of the facilities and treat yourself! They offer lots of different treatment options, or you can just enjoy the sauna, steam room, indoor pool and gym.
4. 5* Food: They have 3 restaurants, The Pool Bar (They have the BEST pizza!) Sa Clastra & the Arxiduc restuarant. The Arxiduc is a firm favourite, as you can dine outside on the patio and enjoy fresh, local tapas. The menu is carefully created and updated every season by the on-site chefs to ensure the best food is on offer.
5. The Service Button: I’ll save the best until last! This button is the best invention EVER! If you are feeling super relaxed (or just being lazy) you can press a button for service at your sunbed…It doesn’t get much better than that right?!
Milan Airport (BGY) is around 80km away from Lake Garda, the train is by far the cheapest option to arrive into the Lakes, costing us 7 Euros each. Generally there is one change either in Breschia or Treviglio if you are heading towards Desenzano Del Garda. We chose to stay in Desenzano due to the transport links, making it really easy to use the trains to travel around Italy.
I booked our train tickets on my mobile using Go Euro (link: http://bit.ly/2en6xl2) The site is so easy to use, really mobile friendly, meaning as soon as you make a booking online you can download your tickets save them to your iBooks which allows the ticket inspector to scan your ticket straight from your phone using the QR code – It is as simple as that! It is much easier and cheaper than paying for your tickets from the kiosk, I can’t recommend it enough! Some of the tickets we booked minutes before the train was due to arrive using the app.
We arrived at the Hotel Bonotto, which is located in Desenzano Del Garda. We booked a lake view room and the view from the balcony was worth every penny. We didnt think we could get a better view, we were in for a big suprise, the real show stopper is when you go for breakfast as there is a panoramic view over the lake, it is such a beautiful peaceful setting!
The hotel was in a perfect location, it’s a 1 minute walk to the lake, 2 minute walk to the town, 2 minute walk to the harbour and 10 minute walk to the train station. (approx. 8.50 Euros in a taxi to the train station if you have heavy bags!)
We had a little wander into the town and we found the cutest little pizza place called Al Fattore, located in the main town of Desenzano. It was super cheap too, only 28 Euros for 2 pizza’s and a bottle of wine, which was a surprise for a popular tourist town.
Day II: Verona & Venice.
We did some research over dinner & decided to head to Verona in the morning, it is only 20 minutes away on the train also it only cost 3.60 Euros per ticket – Result! We caught the 09:00am train, meaning we arrived into Verona by 09:20. Verona Purto Nouva is the main station in the City, only a 15 – 20 minute walk straight down Corso Porta Nuova into Verona. We walked directly to the Piazza, which is absolutely beautiful, even on a rainy day!
Then we headed into Castelvecchio Castle, which has beauty around every corner. Then we wandered around the Piazza’s including Piazza Bra & Piazza Dei Signori. Then we headed to Torre dei Lamberti, The Basilica, Santa Maria Antica & Arco Dei Gavi – Lovely morning spent wandering around the city!
Day II Afternoon
We walked back to Verona station to head for Venice, again we booked on the Go Euro app for 8 Euros each & is approx. a 1.5 hour train journey and we arrived into Venice for 3pm.
WOW what a STUNNING train journey, Venice station is right on the Grand Canal, pulling into the station was pretty impressive…….
This is our second time visiting Venice, the first time was back in 2014 when my Fiancée proposed in a restaurant called Riviera which is towards the end of the Grand Canal, it is a beautiful peaceful spot, which is sometimes hard to come across in such a busy city. The food in Riviera is unbelievable, the views are even better! More pics and menus can be found here: http://bit.ly/2dFGJC2
Gondola Rides: There is always time for a Gondola Ride! They are around 80 Euros for 40 minutes – Which is completely worth it in my eyes, as you get views like this! You can either prebook them beforehand, or flag down a Gondola man when you are in the City (They are round most corners, in their amazing stripy t-shirts and matching hats!)
Piazza St. Mark’s square is beautiful, BUT super busy. We tend to sprint through to get to the beautiful views over the Grand Canal at the water’s edge! There are plenty of bars and restaurants in the square, but they are really busy and the most expensive in Venice. You are much better walking through the square, towards the canal and take a stroll across the water front to find a much quieter, cheaper and much prettier spot to enjoy a refreshment break!
We love to slowly wander around, finding quiet little spots to admire the view with less people. With that in mind, we started a mission to find another favourite restaurant of ours, which is Luna Sentada. Luna Sentada is pretty hard to locate, as it is in a lovely quiet location, down a narrow side path. Both of our phones had lost signal meaning we couldn’t use google maps we had no choice but to get lost! The exact way how we found it last time!! We very nearly gave up as it was getting later and later, however at 6pm, we turned a corner which we both really recognised…..We both laughed and couldnt believe our eyes, we had been searching for ages, but sure enough when we turned that corner, there it was! Luna Sentada & 5000 wine bar. Two wines please!
If I give you one tip for Venice, it is to purposely get yourself lost, walk off the main streets & down the many side streets, where hidden gems await! ‘Take it all in, explore, adventure, turn corners and appreciate the most beautiful city in the world.’
Day II Evening:We caught the train from Venice back to our hotel in Desenzano del Garda. We caught the last train at 7:30pm from Venice (be sure to check Go Euro’s train timetable for the last train during your trip)
Desenzano: Lake Garda
Day III Morning: We went for breakfast in the Hotel Bonotto at 7:00am to catch the sunrise. (WOW) I would really recommend an early morning rise to catch these stunning views. We took a stroll around the lake as a final goodbye before we needed to leave for our flight at 10am. It didnt take long to find cute little spots along the way!
Have you explored Italy by train? Let me know below! What are your top tips?
The Skyscanner app is great, you can search for all UK flights on any dates, it will give you the cheapest fare option, cheapest airport, cheapest date, cheapest destination – They literally compare everything for you, saving so much time in finding a great value fare!
How do you search the worlds flights month by month? It’s easy! Simply select ‘whole month’ in the departures section. You can also search for the whole world, there is no need to enter a destination! You can type ‘UK’ in the from box and then add ‘everywhere’ in the destination box. If you are flexible with when/where you travel, It really helps to find the best price and start planning your getaway around the airline fares.
I have previously booked a flight to Sri Lanka for £320 flying with Virgin & Fly Dubai using the above technique. Milan for £32, Norway over the Bank Holiday weekend for £52. (I usually aim to book Bank Holiday dates around 4/5 months in advance, that tends to be the best priced fares!) Barcelona for £30, Dublin for £7 & Paris for £22 – Cheap fares are there to be had!
I have so many more #SkyscannerRoulettes left to play….Where too next?!
HIT LIST: Sweden, Iceland, Austria, Montenegro, Copenhagen & Italian cities – I’m aiming for all for under £40. Wish me luck!
Budapest was a whirlwind weekend adventure, full of great food, unforgettable sights, a few kooky characters and of course, amazing Hungarian wine!
…Kooky became my new favourite word in Budapest, but I’m pretty sure I was using it in completely the wrong context after looking up the dictionary meaning online…..When I say Kooky, I mean ‘unique, quirky, vibrant & different.’ Although the online meaning is ‘strange, eccentric & scary’ – That wasn’t my idea of kooky!
We arrived into Budapest airport at 11am on 24th August 2016, we were instantly greeted by an illegal taxi driver in the main arrivals hall, hoping to take us to our hotel in Pest for 40 Euros….Luckily, I knew straight away the amount he had quoted was double the estimated amount, therefore we politely declined and headed to the official taxi rank outside. The queue took around 15 minutes, however it is much cheaper and safer, to await the official taxi company. Try and estimate your route online before you head to your destination, to ensure you aren’t being ripped off by taxi companies. It always pays to be in the know!
We reached our hotel within around 20 minutes from the airport, at a cost of 6,500 HUF (approx. £18) you can use Euros or Hungarian Forint in Budapest, generally everything is priced in both, however I would always recommend spending the local currency, you normally get a much better exchange rate this way.
The Boscolo Hotel
WOW – This hotel is STUNNING!
I just wanted to take a picture of everything as soon as we got inside. I have never seen anything like it on my travels, the entrance is a work of art, its contemporary design mixes with the historical architecture and creates such a mesmerizing first impression…
The Boscolo is also home to the New York Cafe – ‘The most beautiful cafe in the world.
We were super lucky, as we were staying in the Boscolo on a B&B basis, we had our breakfast included at the New York Cafe every day.
…Everyone starts there day with Champagne right?!
The Boscolo is in a great location, it is around a 12 minute walk away from St. Stephens Basilica, or you can take the bus! There is a bus stop directly outside the Boscolo, making it a great option for easy transport links.
We generally love walking and finding our own little hideaways away from the crowds when we visit cities, but this time we absolutely LOVED the open top buses, we had a fantastic time being chauffeured around Budapest, it has opened up a whole new world to us! We even managed to get a sun tan (ahem….or….erm….a burnt nose) in the process! We would use the bus to drop us off at the main attractions, then enjoy a walk around the area to find quiet little hidden spots. It is really affordable too, on average around 20 Euros for a 2-day ticket.
We hopped on our favourite little bus and headed towards the Basilica to find somewhere for dinner, friends had recommended a few restaurants to us which were all around the Basilica area, so we thought that would be a good place to start! We jumped on the bus which took around 9 minutes, with some lovely views along the route.
Then, we stumbled across the annual Junibor Wine Festival. We totally didn’t know this was happening in Budapest over the weekend, therefore we were super pleased to find this little gem! In future, we will always check for kooky little events like this, as it was one of the best nights we have ever experienced on a city break.
It is so in-expensive too. We spent £30 which lasted us 2 evenings (we got a little bit over-excited when we arrived and bought 10,000 HUF in wine tokens….WAY too many!)
Good News! It is back for 2017…
Aug 25, 2017 – Aug 28, 2017 More Information here:
Budapest is split into two cities, divided by the River Danube: Buda & Pest.
Pest is very flat, which is super easy to walk around, on the other side in Buda it is pretty hilly, with some really steep parts (where the bus comes in use) there are some stunning views from Buda, overlooking Pest.
We headed straight to the Castle District first of all, which is absolutely beautiful. We caught the bus to the top, we were wowed from the second we saw the beautiful view.
There is so much to explore inside the Palace too, we spent a good 3 hours taking a look around, finding all of the secret spots where it was less crowded to take in the beautiful views.
You can grab some lunch/coffee/ice-cream whilst inside too. It is also incredibly friendly for guests with pushchairs/wheelchairs. There is lift access to the top of the Palace, there is also an escalator inside too, to take you to the top. (Who would of thought it!?)
We started at the bottom in the Castle and explored our way to the top.
Then, we walked back down via Matthias Church, which is still located on Castle Hill right at the top, just outside of the main Buda Castle.
Walking back down took around 30 minutes……I don’t think it should of taken that long, we got a little bit lost (oops) Getting lost in such a beautiful city though is never bad, we found some really cute little side streets to explore!
They have music & wine festivals at certain times of the year around the Castle, plus you can hire Segway’s to ride around Castle District if you want to save your legs some work!
For more information on Buda Castle & the Castle district, see this link:
Parliament is breathtaking, more amazing views this time over-looking Buda!
Walking from Parliament, we headed towards the Danube River, to see the memorial along the promenade. It is so moving, even to this day there are visitors dropping fresh flowers in memory of all of the people who lost their lives.
Dinner & Drinks – Innio Wine Bar
I would highly reccomend Innio Wine Bar, even if you are just after a quick pit stop for a drink. (They know their wines!) They are located by St Stephens Basilica.
We ate at Innio, enjoying the 5-course taster menu, with additional wine pairing.
The service was brilliant – Food even better. Easily one of the best restaurants we have ever been too, at a fraction of the price! It cost us 26,100 HUF for our meal, which is around £75 each. Definitely a must do for a night of great food and wine!
A trip to Budapest would’t be complete without a pit stop in the Donut Library!
If you stay near the Boscolo, you will walk past this little gem when you head towards the Basilica. It is on your right hand side….
St Stephens Basilica
The surrounding areas of St Stephens Basilica was one of our favourite places to hang out, night or day!
There is a paddling pool to dip your toes in to cool off just behind the Basilica, plus on a Sunday there is a market around the area to enjoy too, selling all sorts of souveniers.
It is a really vibrant city in the evening, we found some really cool bars and cafes along the way towards the Basilica.
Be sure to check to see if you have any ruin bars near to where you are staying, they are the perfect spot to meet some new people and socialise, plus, some of the drinks prices are as low as 340 HUF (0.90p) for a glass of house wine – Always a winner!