A Travellerspoint blog

Mexico...again!

I recently got the chance to go back to Mexico for a second time. This time it was for a friend’s wedding, so we had quite a different experience! As I have been before I will keep it brief, but a few things I want to talk about that differ from our last experience!

One main thing that was different for us this time that I want to mention is the hotel that we were staying in. We stayed in El Dorado and Sensimar Seaside Suites in Riviera Maya. As mentioned, we were in Mexico for a wedding, so the hotel was not optional, but we were not disappointed with this hotel – it was amazing! My partner and I have stayed in several all-inclusive hotels over the past years, but this was by far hands-down the best one yet. The main thing that made it so much better was the food. Most all-inclusive hotels consist of buffet-style restaurants with the same meals (a few exceptions, granted) churned out each day and a couple of Al-A-Carte restaurants. But in Sensimar, each restaurant was Al-A-Carte bar a few and the food in each one was phenomenal. We did not have one bad meal – it was fantastic! Even the breakfast and lunch was ideal. Really made our holiday even better!

On this holiday we also went to the famous Coco Bongos night club & show. It was quite an experience! I was not too sure what to expect with hearing various things but it really was such good fun. The best way to describe it would be a mix between a full-on, crazy night club and a west-end show. It was all kinds of mental, but in a good way! The trip was organised by our hotel so we had an organised bus there and back so everything was all easy. A great night had by all!

The final difference on this holiday to Mexico was, of course, the fact that one of friends got married! It was a fantastic day, great beach-front setting with a lovely atmosphere. It was really beautiful and I was so happy we were able to make it there to be at the wedding.

Posted by LaurenF3 03:50 Archived in Mexico Tagged wedding mexico holiday sun coco bongos sensimar Comments (0)

Dubai

Despite going with work for a few days last December, this was my first visit to Dubai and to any part of the Middle East, so I was really looking forward to this trip. It had been arranged for my friend Jess’ hen do due to her twin sister, Gemma, living in Dubai, so we had a jam-packed week, which was great as we got so much done in such a short amount of time!

Our first morning after arriving late the night before we woke to glorious weather – ideal when we had left a miserable, cold UK behind! We made breakfast and enjoyed this on the balcony before going for a stroll around the Dubai Marina (we stayed at Lotus Apartments - http://www.lotushoteldubai.com/ - which overlooked the Marina). We managed to get an hour or so in by the pool before we had to get ready to go out for a meal. We went to a place called Pier 7 – a building along the Marina with 7 different bars and restaurants in it. We went to a restaurant within Pier 7 calls Asia Asia. It was some of the best food I have ever had. We ordered a selection of different things between a few of us (actually, we ordered far too much but hey ho) and it was just divine. On a Tuesday night in Dubai it is Ladies’ Night, so all women get 3 free drinks in each place (7x3=21…21 free drinks!) which is just great. We stayed at Pier 7 until we were out and then went on to a club on the Palm called Mahiki. This was a really cool, underground club with a tropical/Hawaiian theme and thanks to Gemma we had more free drinks.

The next morning we headed down to the beach front to have breakfast at a lovely place called Pots, Pans and Boards - http://potspansandboards.ae/ - it was so nice to be able to sit outside and have breakfast! Following this, we headed back and got ready as at 1pm we were getting picked up to go on a Desert Safari. This involved us getting picked up in 2 massive 4x4s and driving out to the desert. Once we got there we went Dune Bashing, which was absolutely brilliant! Dune bashing means driving at increasing and decreasing speeds over sand dunes. As the surface of the sand keeps shifting, it takes a special skill and a special type of car to navigate the terrain. Due to the nature of the desert, we did not know what was coming next, be it a fall or a swift left, it was great fun.

After the Dune Bashing you get dropped off at a complex in the middle of the desert and spend the rest of the day here. There are all sorts of activities you can do including camel rides, henna tattoos, shishas, sand surfing and so on. The trip itself is cheap but they do push you for extras when you are there so if going it is definitely best to take some extra money – you will need more than you think! In the evening you get a BBQ and traditional dancing shows, which included belly dancing and knife throwing. It was a great day and really fun to be out in the middle of nowhere experiencing traditional things.

The next morning a few of us headed to the Dubai Mall as we were going up the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa. We had pre-booked our tickets for this (I 100% recommend you do this as the slots do sell out) which meant we could walk straight through and up we went. I think my ears popped twice if not more on the way up and once you left the lift you see why – it was so high! I have been up some tall buildings in my time, but this was something else. It was great to be able to see so much as it was a clear day – we could even see The World islands that are currently being created.

Following this, we went to the Marina and got on a yacht that we had rented for the afternoon. I was expecting something small and average but no – it was a 22-man yacht, massive! We had a driver and 2 men serving us drink and cooking us food on a BBQ whilst we got drunk and danced around. At one point I was sitting on the front of the yacht sipping prosecco, I felt like a Kardashian! This was a great experience and we got to see so many good sights of Dubai from a new angle. It was definitely my favorite part of the holiday. After the yacht, we had a quick turn around and went to a club called SoHo Gardens which was very cool – they even had a pool!

On the Friday we went to brunch at the Atlantis. The Atlantis is a world-famous hotel which is just huge and very impressive to look at. Inside, it is just as impressive and I was really glad we got to see some of it. I had heard a lot about these brunches in Dubai before so was keen to go. Basically, you pay a set price (which is not cheap, close to £100) and then you get unlimited food and drink for about 4 hours. The food is out of this world, with so much to chose from, from sushi to a Sunday dinner! The drinks options are amazing too – you can pick up a watermelon full of cocktail or go to the rum bar for a Mojito, the options really are endless. There are games too and you can even get set up at an easel and create a masterpiece. It was such a fun day, but it ruined me for the evening and I definitely did not make it out!

On the Saturday we finally had some chill time so headed to the beach for the day. You had to pay to have a bed on the beach but it was so worth it. We spent a good few hours here, including having lunch at one of the beach-front restaurants, and could get served drinks without moving from your sunbed – perfect. Following this, we went for a meal at a restaurant called Serafina - http://serafinadubai.com/ - the best part being the fact that we were overlooking the fountains in front of the Burj Khalifa. Every half an hour they did a show including lighting up the Burj which was really great to see. After this we went to a club called Urban which was out in the middle of nowhere and had great views of the city. Again, it was Ladies’ Night so between 11 and 1 drinks were free and it is safe to say we took full advantage of this!

Sunday was our last day in Dubai. It was one of those days where we were not flying until midnight so we paid to keep on our room for a little longer and went by the pool for the first half of the day. We got showered and ready, checked out, then walked along the beach front where we went for a meal at a restaurant called PF Changs - https://www.pfchangs.com/ - this restaurant is known for its Dynamo Prawns so we had to try them and they were amazing! After taking our time we eventually headed to the airport and back home.

Since being back people have asked me a lot about how strict Dubai is and what it is like drinking out there and I always say it is not as bad as you think! As long as you are not drunk and disorderly on the street you will be fine – just a bit of common sense and respect and I am sure there will be no issues. Dubai was a great experience and I really hope I get to see some more of the Middle East in the future.

Posted by LaurenF3 12:12 Archived in United Arab Emirates Tagged desert sun dubai heat Comments (0)

Barmouth

After our few days break in the Lakes we had planned to head to Barmouth to stay in Adam’s parent’s caravan. As Barmouth is Adam’s favourite place in the world (he hasn’t been far, bless him ?) he was very excited for 5/6 days there and I too was looking forward to it.

Before going there, however, we did a couple of stop offs. We were up early in the morning and headed to Snowdonia. Adam had won 2 x vouchers in a raffle for Surf Snowdonia and we were going to use them. Despite having been to Australia I had never before tried my hand at surfing so I was excited to see how I got on. As a beginner, we had a twenty-minute class first to learn the basics and to be told what we needed to do and then off we went into the water. It is the first place of its kind with man-made waves and the concept is great. You are not waiting around between each wave but have enough time to get back into place before it comes. My first few attempts were a little hit-and-miss, with one brilliant attempt ending in me riding Adam instead of the wave! But it did get easier and I did manage to get up and actually ride the board twice! It was really good fun and I would definitely recommend trying this!

After the surfing, we did another activity - this one I had been keen to try for a while – Zip World! I had wanted to go here since it opened and finally we were going to do it. It only took about 30/40 minutes to get from Surf Snowdonia so it worked out well. Once we were all kitted up we first did a smaller zip-wire, which I actually found scarier as you are just dangling over nothing whilst they get you set up, but fun none-the-less! After this you get into the back of a truck and head up to the top one, which takes about 15 minutes. As you are getting closer you start to realise just how high it is! It does not look as high from the bottom and the finish point from the top looks very far away. When we got to the top we had a delay as due to a really strong head wind they had to add a lot of extra weight to people, which they had ran out of. Because we had to sit and wait around for a little bit I did start to get a little bit scared but before long we were strapped in and set off. The wire goes right over the lagoon which is such a lovely colour. It goes so fast – my cheeks were all over the place! And then before you know it you are at the bottom and safe and having a great adrenaline rush. It was great and I am really glad that I have done it, however, at £70 a go I don’t think I would do it again!

When we got into Barmouth we headed straight to the chippy. I had been craving one for a while but held off knowing how much better they are in Barmouth. We did not go to our favourite one as we came into Barmouth a different route and although okay, it was not amazing meaning the next day we just had to have another one from The Mermaid, which is truly the best chippy ever!

We went to a pub called The Last Inn as I have been wanting to go there over the past four years of us visiting Barmouth but have never made it there. The Last Inn is a 15th century pub which is pretty much built into a cave/the side of a mountain and which still has a lot of its original features. It is a really cool, unique place and if in the back of the restaurant you do feel like you are sitting in a cave, complete with only candlelight. It is a very busy place and in the summer, you struggle to get a table so if you want food you are definitely best to book.

We went for a lovely walk up the mountain behind the campsite. From up there, the views are brilliant and make the rather steep trek well worth it. The route is not the clearest and we did not end up where we planned to, but it was very nice all the same.

Just up from the campsite is a new bar called The Norbar. Adam’s parents had raved about this since it opened and I had not yet had a chance to go. We went on the Saturday night for food, drinks and live music. The place is gorgeous and has been done out very well. The music and atmosphere was fantastic and the food lovely too. Well worth a visit!

Despite having been to Barmouth lots of times over the past few years I am still finding new things to do and see when we go. Adam and I do love going here and I am sure we will continue to visit lots of times over the coming years!

Posted by LaurenF3 12:41 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged holiday sights travelling siteseeing barmouth Comments (0)

Lake District

The Lake District is somewhere that I have always wanted to go but for some reason always felt like it was too far away so had not yet bothered. Also, I am very much into going abroad as often as possible so when Adam and I decided to do a UK holiday this year it had to be the Lake District.

We had planned it quite some time in advance so it felt like a long time coming but eventually we packed up the car and off we went. We were staying a ten-minute drive away from the town centre of Windermere (so we were very well located) in a lodge on a farm. Getting to the lodge was a little bit of a mission up quite a few back lanes only wide enough for 1 car (every time we went anywhere we would pray that no one came the other way!) but once there we were very happy that we had booked it. The lodge was located on High Barrans Farm and there were about 5/6 lodges in the same place which all seemed relatively new. The location was great as it was very quiet – just what we wanted for our chilled few days. The lodge inside was very nice and well decorated and much more spacious inside than how it looked from the photos – I was impressed and happy with our choice.

We had wanted a chilled couple of days and I had envisioned going for long walks with picnics etc – this did not really happen! On our first evening, we went into Windermere and had a stroll around then a nice meal in a local pub, which was ideal. The second day was the day for our walk. I had tried to search for a walk in the weeks leading up to our trip but there were so many options and we weren’t sure how far we wanted to do so we had not planned this yet. A lot of the websites and blogs I had read advised going to the tourist information centre which was not far from us so we headed there – only to find we could not park anywhere! Adam ended up dropping me off and driving around when I went in. What I expected from the tourist information and what I got were very different, it was basically just a shop. Maps for walks were available but you had to pay and thinking I was just popping in for some advice I had not taken my purse. Also, it seemed that most walks started from the centre and with having the car and nowhere to park this was not really an option. In the end, we went back to the lodge and went on a walk from there. We just went with it and ended up doing around 3 / 4 miles before the rain started. Once it started it did not stop! We could see a pub in the distance so headed there whilst we waited for it to ease off, which it did not! Eventually we gave in and walked back in the rain, it is safe to say we were soak by the time we got back. We spent the evening in the lodge watching films which was nice, but the great walk with fantastic views and a lovely picnic did not quite pan out as expected.

The next day we went exploring a bit more of the Lakes. We visited both Kendal (which I was so happy about as I have always loved Kendal mint cake – I bought loads!) and Ambleside, both of which were really nice. We then went back into Windermere and went for a boat ride on Lake Windermere. The lake is gorgeous and it was really nice to get out on it. There are such great views from here! For our last evening, we went to a local Thai restaurant which was brilliant, we even bumped into someone we knew, what are the chances!

As much as I had a nice, chilled few days and as much as the Lakes are truly beautiful, I must admit I was a little underwhelmed at my stay there. Maybe it is because I had overdone it in my head but I thought I was going to be amazed and awed but I did not find that to be the case. I enjoyed my time but I do not think I would be heading back in a rush. If anything, I was a little bored!

Posted by LaurenF3 07:20 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged lakes views lake holiday district Comments (0)

Singapore

After more travelling and more flights, we eventually made it to Singapore. It is not that I was not exciting about Singapore, but I was so focused on Bali that it had taken a back seat. So, when we got there and explored the city, I was so pleasantly surprised by what a great place it is!

As we did not have many days in Singapore and quite a lot to see, the first thing we did was book a hop-on hop-off bus. We used this to go around the city, taking it all in, and got off at the famous Raffles hotel. Here, we couldn’t not have a Singapore Sling – this was where they were invented after all! It was lovely but so expensive that we only had one and moved on.

We visited China Town on our first evening, going to the biggest Hawker Centre in Singapore (food market type place). Here, we ordered a selection of Dim Sum meals and all shared – it was lovely! China Town was very cool but a very busy place. We walked to the Quay after this, got an ice cream and sat on the bridge – it was a great atmosphere with loads of people around and everyone having a good time.

On our second day, we had planned to get up early and go to the Botanical Gardens but Milz was not feeling too well so we had a bit of a lie in until she was ready to get up and go. We went to Little India and walked around here – the temples were beautiful and so unique – then walked a way out of the city until we got to Platform 1049, a Harry Potter themed bar! It was very cool here and we got to dress up, make our drinks light up and all sorts.

We got the Skytrain to the Arab centre which was again very nice. There were so many nice buildings around with lots to see. We went to a street called Haji Lane which was small but so cute, lots of little shops and restaurants. We had food here before going back to get ready and then headed straight back out again as we were heading to the Night Safari in Singapore Zoo. This was a really good experience as we have been to several zoos in the past but never at night. Walking around in the dark and seeing different animals that come out at night was brilliant and this is something I would highly recommend.

The next day we went to the Marina as we were moving hotels for our last night. We were treating ourselves to a night of luxury and staying at the Marina Bay Sands hotel (seriously, if you are not aware of it, look it up!) It was obviously an expensive hotel but we decided to do it for one night, however, we did get stung a little as tax gets added on after. So, despite paying a lot of money for the hotel in advance, we ended up having to pay more when we got there. Saying that, it was so worth it. The hotel is insane! It is just absolutely massive and grand, unlike anywhere I have ever stayed before that‘s for sure. We were really lucky as well in that our room had a view of the Garden’s by the Bay trees and it was just beautiful.

We visited the Cloud Forest and Flower Dome, basically two massive greenhouses full of wonderful flowers and trees etc. The Cloud Forest has a waterfall and you can walk all the way around the top, it is great. At night, we went to see the Gardens by the Bay light show, which was fantastic. They really are a sight that just needs to be seen! We had our tea then had drinks in our hotel for our last night!

The next morning, we made full use of the hotel by going up to the infinity pool at the top. The views from up there are insane and make for some great photos. Once checked out, we went for food and had a final Singapore Sling before making our way to the airport.

I really had not been expecting to enjoy Singapore so much but it really was one of the best cities I have been to. It was also the cleanest and felt the safest too. Really somewhere that I would recommend visiting!

Posted by LaurenF3 08:49 Tagged singapore holiday sightseeing travelling Comments (0)

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