A Travellerspoint blog

Glastonbury

The festival of all festivals...

I have been going to V Fest for the past few years and my friends and I finally decided it was time to make the leap and go; it was time for Glastonbury. Having tried and failed the year before I was so surprised this year that not only did I get a ticket but all of my friends did - not one person was left out! This made it all the more exciting....

Due to the festival falling on one of my friend's 30th birthday's she wanted to camp in Tangerine Fields. This is a campsite in which you pay extra (between £100 - £150 depending on how many and what tent) and what this includes is a short walk from the car park to campsite, own showers and toilets, own bar, a hairdressing tent and the best part of all...the tents are already pitched up! From going to V for years I know the worst part was the walk and then after that fighting for a good spot and the hassle of not only putting the tent up, but then also taking it down at the end when you are tired and want to get home, so this was a huge plus for me. I did have my reservations about going in this campsite as I thought we would loose the feel for Glastonbury and would not be getting the "full experience" but I can honestly say after staying there it was such a good decision and I could not see myself wanting to do it any other way. The luxury of having a shower half way through the week was brilliant and the walk was literally five minutes from the car. To get to the actual festival main areas in took about twenty minutes, which was fine as on the way there it is all down hill so an easy walk and goes quick and on the way back despite there being a hill we usually had enough alcohol or excitement to make it seem like nothing. It is definitely something that I would recommend.

One thing that completely threw me about Glastonbury is the overall size of the place. We got given a map and when I first opened it out I was in complete and utter shock...it is HUGE!! It was both a blessing and a curse as it was amazing that there was so much to see yet no way we were going to be able to do all of that in the time that we were there. I would take a guess that we managed to complete around 40/50% of it at most and that felt like we had seen and done a lot. The Park had to be my favourite place as it was just so cool and funky and, of course, the famous Glastonbury sign is there! (Do not do what I did and decide that you do not need to get a photo with it the first time you see it because you will be coming back as I said that and we never ended up going back and was devastated I did not get that shot!)

Another cool place was The Stone Circle. This is a place where you tend to go after dark and everyone makes fires and sings and just has fun in what is basically a big field. The atmosphere there is awesome - it really is the sort of hippy vibe where everyone loves each other! My friend turned thirty whilst we were in there and we started singing and before long hundreds of people had joined in - what a way to welcome your birthday in!

The fact that there are clubs in a festival says a lot for the size of it. We walked through The Dance Village one night and there was so much going on you just did not know which direction to look in. It was so much fun and it was enough just to see it, never mind get involved in it also! The best club for me had to be Arcadia. A huge robotic spider with dancers hanging off of it and fire blazing...it really is nothing you have ever seen before.

Generally, the atmosphere of Glastonbury is one that cannot be faulted. As I mentioned I have been to V several times and also Leeds Fest, but nothing matches this. In V you get groups of rowdy lads who love creating mosh pits and throwing their piss around and fighting all over the place, but you got none of it here. There was just the general feeling that everyone wanted to have fun and just got on with it.

The mud. Ohhh that mud. It really is as bad as they make it out to be. Once it has rained there is NO escaping it and I spent most of the time between stages and acts concentrating very hard on not falling over (which thankfully I didn't). There was some very bad weather on the Friday (the first day that the acts come on) and at one point when I was watching Rudimental the lightening was so bad it hit a stage and everything went onto lock down. I was standing in the rain drenched through and cold with nowhere to go for shelter trying to stay upright - I truly felt miserable at that point! But you just have to get over it and make the most of it. Some acts did get cut short because of the storm which was a shame but I eventually dried out and my beloved Paolo made it on and it was a great night (we made it to the front for Paolo Nutini and it was unreal!!!).

The toilets are not as bad as you think they are going to be. Do not get me wrong they are vile and not nice but you always hear such horror stories about them and I can confirm it is a lot of exaggerating. What do you expect at a festival? My tip - do not look down. My second tip - if you drop anything, tough. It is gone (you do not want to be known like that poor soul who got dubbed "poo girl" after falling down one of the long drops trying to retrieve her camera).

Glastonbury was everything I expected and so much more. Something I feel anyone who likes music needs to go to at least once in their life (and who doesn't like music, right?) Put it on your bucket list now!

Posted by LaurenF3 08:45 Archived in England Tagged music glastonbury Comments (0)

Mexico

Riviera Maya

Finally!! I have finally been able to get away on a holiday. It feels like it has been such a long time since I last went anywhere. It took us some time for us to decide on somewhere we both wanted to go (I fancied Sri Lanka and he wanted USA...), but Mexico it was. We booked it at the beginning of the year so waiting for this holiday to come around has felt like a life time!

We went all out on this holiday and ended up doing a 5* all inclusive hotel, called the Grand Bahia Principe. It was so big, huge! It was basically three hotels rolled into one. We got access to golf buggies that would take us around to different parts because it was so big you couldn't always walk it. We also had an extra added upgrade to our stay which was called The Hacienda. With this we got access to an exclusive breakfast and lunch restaurant, exclusive swimming pool and part of the beach. We got our mini-bar topped up daily and a private reception. On top of all that, we also got a robe and slippers (which we used a lot more than you would expect in that heat!)

With going in September we thought the weather would be ideal - our rep at Thomas Cook who booked it for us did not make us aware that this was prime storm/hurricane weather. In the days leading up to the holiday the weather was reported as rain all day every day. It was quite depressing! I was contemplating changing the clothes I had packed to suit the bad weather! The day we arrived, although it was warm, it was overcast and miserable, which later resulted in rain and thunder. This lasted until the next evening and then luckily after that the sun made an appearance! We were pretty lucky with the weather after that, only had a couple of miserable days until the last one which was stormy, but by this point I was glad of a change in temperature. The weather was very hot!

The bad thing about this weather is that it brought out all of the mosquitoes. I am not one to get bitten and Adam says he is not normally either. I got a couple of bites nothing bad but more than normal. Adam on the other hand got eaten alive! No amount of repellent could keep those bad boys away, so get the strongest one possible if you are going!

How could one go all the way to Mexico and not visit Chichen Itza - one of the seven wonders of the New World right on the doorstep. We took an organised trip as it is around two hours away and cannot be done in a costly fashion if you were to try and do it yourself. With the trip lunch was included and we also got to go through more rural, real Mexico (rather than the built up tourist areas we had seen so far). We went to a Mayan village. Through going here you could see how little the Mayan's really have. They lived in huts with no windows and very basic amenities. Occasionally you did see a satellite disc on a roof top so they do have some access to television and electricity, but from what I learnt a lot of the villages choose not to have any and live by natural means. What is truly applaudable is the fact that, despite having so little, everyone truly was happy and friendly and nice. Could not do enough for you type of attitude. I guess it is true when they say less is more!

Chichen Itza itself was amazing. There was over 450 ruins in the area and we got to see a fair few. Some are as they were found whereas some have been restored back to the original. Obviously, the main most famous pyramid has been restored and looks brilliant. We tried the whole clapping thing and it was so cool! (Look it up on YouTube if you do not know what I am referring to!) Our guide taught us a lot and definitely wanted us to believe that the Mayans were aliens. Very interesting stuff. The only problem with it was that it was a sun trap, there was nowhere to hide!

On our tour we got taken to a shop to buy things that were "authentic" and "real" - basically they were costly. We were advised it was much better to get your souvenirs there than at the place itself, which I did, but regretted. They choice there was so much better and a lot cheaper. The guide had told us all of there stuff was imported from China, but you could watch the people on the side carving and painting, making everything themselves, as you walked past so I felt bad that I had given in earlier. Definitely wait and get your stuff there if you were to go!

The other thing we did was to go swimming in a cenote. A cenote is a big sink hole (it goes down over 150feet!) It is fresh water that has a lot of fish swimming around in it. We went in and it was amazing. So refreshing! You could jump as well a bit higher up, which I eventually did! It was really one of the best things that we did.

I would definitely recommend Mexico as a place to go - just try and get out more. I admit I was a little lazy and just spent a lot of time relaxing, but there is so much more to see and do so get out there!

Posted by LaurenF3 04:30 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

Brussels

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

After a very early morning flight we arrived in Brussels Charleroi airport. First thoughts - so cold! This airport is not Brussels main one and, therefore, further out. But, after some research, we found it was a lot cheaper to fly here and get a shuttle bus, rather than flying direct to the more central one. Due to us saving some money on the flights, we decided to increase our accommodation budget. We ended up getting a good deal at the Renaissance Hotel, part of the Marriot chain, paying £112 each for 3 nights. It is a beautiful hotel and rather posh - we did feel quite out of place in it! To be fair, as nice as the hotel was, we could have got somewhere cheaper that was still nice and probably a lot closer to the things we wanted to see and do. School boy error on our behalf.

Thanks to the trusty [i]Lonely Planet[i] book my friend had borrowed to us, we had a general idea of the things we wanted to do. Seeing as we could not check in till 3pm (it was only 11am when we reached the hotel!) we set of in search of the centre of Brussels.

One main thing that has to be seen in Brussels is the Grand Place. It was about a twenty minute walk away from our hotel. We knew straight away when we had reached it because we could see the tall buildings with gold on the front of them. You can walk into the centre of the square, which is pretty big. There is currently a huge Christmas tree there, as well as a nativity scene in the centre complete with live sheep! We did walk through the square when the square was all lit up and it was a lot prettier and very festive. On our second night, by sheer luck, we walked through the square whilst there was some music on. We quickly realised that the buildings were being lit up in different colours at different times to match the music. Adam and I were truly mesmerised and stood there watching for quite some time. It was quite magical! I would definitely recommend going around then to see the Grand Place. Next to this is also a chocolate factory that we visited. It was quite interesting and did not take up too much of the day - plus you got to sample lots of chocolate!!

There are two statues in Brussels that I was keen to see; Manneken Pis and Jeanneke Pis. On the first day we went in search of the most famous one, Manneken Pis. We used the map until we started seeing the signs directing us to it. All of a sudden these signs stopped and we were a little baffled, until we realised we were there. The statue was a lot smaller than what I was expecting. It is of a little boy that is urinating and it does have quite a reputation - the Belgians love it and you see replicas everywhere! We also walked past it the next day by sheer coincidence and it had been dressed up in a Santa outfit that had a little hole cut out for it's penis. It was very funny looking and I was glad we had seen it again!

The true mission was trying to find the second one, Jeanneke Pis - the female version of the urinating boy. We did look for it on the first day but gave up after we had walked around the same area for over twenty minutes. On our last day we had ran out of things to do, so decided to try again to find it, which we eventually did. It was rather hidden and down a small alleyway. Not all that great or as funny as the first one, but I was still happy we eventually found it!

One of the best things about Brussels at this time of year has to be the Christmas Markets. There are a few stalls around Grand Place, but for the full Christmas experience you need to head to St. Catherines. The market here is huge with loads of different stands selling all sorts of things. There was also a big fair and an outdoor ice-rink (we were so cold and out legs hurting that we ended up not going on!). It was good fun to walk around and we spent an afternoon in a man made bar watching the festivities. Well worth visiting!

One big mistake was made by us. We decided we wanted to go to the Atomium. After walking a few miles already to get to St. Catherines, Adam concluded we were looking at around another two miles - so off we went. What a trek! It was horrible - my legs were already hurting from the previous days adventures and it was so much further than what we had expected. It took hours. We barely spoke to each other the majority of the journey as we just kept our heads down and kept ploughing on. The building is huge and it was miles before we could even see it - then we still had to get to it! A few hours later we finally got there and I did enjoy it. The view from the top was amazing - you could see most of Brussels and throughout the rest there were some interesting displays. The structure of the building itself was very cool. It is worth a visit just make sure you get a taxi! Safe to say we did not walk back...

My highlight - had to be the waffles! Oh my they were so good! The best one that I had has got to be one I got from a place called "Australia" that was covered in melted white chocolate, seriously tasty. The Belgians are certainly known for their waffles for a good reason.

My lowlight - Not necessarily a low point exactly, but I did find that by the third and final day we had ran out of things to do. Perhaps two days would have been enough time?

It was overall an enjoyable trip and one that has definitely left me in a Christmassy mood :)

Posted by LaurenF3 08:40 Archived in Belgium Tagged brussels Comments (0)

Too, too long

Gosh it feels like forever since I have been able to write on here...too long! Meaning, of course, that I have not been off exploring in far too long! But, fear not, my next trip is planned.

I am going all European and heading to the capital of Belgium...Brussels!!

The Christmas Markets are the main attraction for me, especially now Christmas is getting so close! There are a few other things I have read up about that I would not mind checking out....does anyone have any suggestions?

Full review to follow!!

Posted by LaurenF3 01:26 Comments (0)

Thailand

Bangkok

Final stop....Bangkok!

It was definitely a nice treat to fly instead of getting on a very long bus journey. It saved us a whole day and only cost around £50 to fly from Phuket to Bangkok.

Got to the hotel and unpacked, chilled out for a little bit then forced ourselves to get up make a plan for our short amount of time there then set off on our final leg of the adventure...

We got on a local bus to go to Wat Pho (a.k.a. the Reclining Budha). On the trip we went through the streets on Bangkok and it was such a change! You can certainly tell it is the capital - it was so busy! Each pavement was so busy that you could not see the floor...thousands of people everywhere and lots of different markets stalls. It was mental but seriously cool too. The Budha was really cool, a lot different from the last one which made me glad we had chosen to get and see that one. The area it was in was so different, I actually felt like I was in USA!

We just so happened to be in Bangkok during Songkran, which is the Thai New Year. It was pure coincidence as we had no idea when we booked it but I am really glad it fell onto that weekend. During Songkran the locals (and the tourists!) all join in in a massive water fight. I did not realise beforehand how involved they get in it, but it is crazy! We would be walking down the street and a truck would drive past with the back full of both kids and adults with huge buckets of water that they threw at everyone and anyone. We went to Kho San Road on the main night of the celebrations, so the road was cut off and a huge party and water fight took place. It is safe to say we got soaked. There was some local celebrities that everyone was going mad over walking down the main street (they were something to do with the government and tourism and very popular - although we had no idea who they were) and they came over to us to ask us questions, it was all filmed so I was on Thai TV!

The next day we got up early and went to Chatakan Market. We had been told it was big but I had no idea it would be like that. It was ten times bigger than any market I have ever been to - at least. We saw a bag in a shop earlier on and decided to go back to get it - it took nearly an hour for us to find the shop again. It was such a maze. The only thing that I did not like was the "pet" section. Lots of animals, mainly puppies, in tiny cages looking like they were dying, it wasn't nice. We easily spent our remaining money on souvenirs and presents.

We had tea in China Town. I have been to a few China Towns before but this one has to be my favourite. The food was amazing and very cheap. Plus the atmosphere was unreal. And it was mainly outside - so we just sat at a little table on a random pavement eating wantons and noodles. Really good experience.

Our final day in Bangkok (and in Thailand) was one that we took a while to decide what to do. I was torn because I really wanted to go and see the tigers and Tiger Temple. I was torn because of all the rumors you hear about how they are all drugged up, but at the same time who doesn't want to get their picture taken with a huge tiger? It was also not the cheapest trip, but after some deliberation we decided it was not something that we wanted to regret not doing - so we got some money out and booked the trip. The most annoying part was that you couldn't do a trip that took you just to the temple, you had to do a full day and a lot of other things that we were particularly wanting to do.

The first stop on the trip was the floating markets in Karachinabari, which to be fair was really cool. It was so different to anything I have seen before, which made it worth while. Next we went to the bridge over the River Kwai (for those of you who don't know there is a film named The Bridge Over The River Kwai and it is set there) We also stopped for lunch. Then finally we got to go (after another two hour bus ride) to Tiger Temple.

Once we got off the bus we were immediately told that we would not be allowed inside because of what we were wearing. Beforehand, we were only told that we could not wear bright colours but had not been told anything about being completely covered up. There was, of course, a shop there where you could buy clothes from but they weren't cheap and I didn't even have my card with me. A girl that was on the trip with us kindly borrowed me a spare blouse she had with her. I put that on and pulled my dress down to make a long skirt and got told I could go in. Clare and I made a deal - I would go in for the first half hour, come out and swap clothes with her, then she could go in for the second. Once I finally got in I had to run to get near the main area. I saw one tiger and got a random girl to take my picture with it, which resulted in one of my head only, and one of the tiger only. Oh, and a near-by tree. Great. I saw another one and got a guy to take it for me and, although it wasn't great, you got the idea. Conscious of the time I asked a woman that worked there where the rest of the tigers were, who replied with "Oh, it all finished at three, they have all gone now" (We did not arrive to the place until three!). She mentioned that there would be two more making their way past in the next five mins, but that would be it. I was worried Clare would miss out so ran all the way back, only to get there and for them to tell us it was too late for her to go in, and I was not allowed to re-enter. Basically, it was a bad experience and I did get really annoyed. To top it all off once we got back our plans to go for a drink on one of the skyscrapers roof-top bars got called off as a big rain storm came in - so we ended up in McDonald's! I do feel though that the tigers that I saw were not drugged, as they seemed very awake and with it, if not a little fierce.

Even though it was our last day in Thailand and it had not gone to plan, we were able to do so much in the two and a half weeks that we were there and so much could have gone wrong, so really it wasn't ruined. It was just a shame.

I had such a brilliant time in Thailand, doing so many things that you could not do anywhere else and ticking a lot of boxes on the old bucket list. I am already looking forward to the next trip back - there's still so much more to do there!

Posted by LaurenF3 13:42 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

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