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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)

Bali

It felt like such a long, long time from booking our flights to actually going, but the last four weeks in the lead up to this holiday just flew by and before I knew it we were in Manchester airport on our way! The journey was very long but three flights and a taxi ride later we were pulling up at our first hotel. At this destination, we met with Kelly – a friend of ours who had been travelling for 6 months already and who we were spending the next 2 weeks with! Kelly is really the reason why this trip happened so shout out to her!

By the time we got there the first night was pretty much over so we popped to the shop for some beers and just chilled out having a catch up. The local beer is called Bingtang which is nice but they also do Bingtang Radler which is just gorgeous!

When we woke up on our first morning in paradise….it was raining! (Typically, it was a heat wave at home ☹) When it finally cleared up we went to a place called The Nook for some food, which was brilliant - very healthy too! In the afternoon, we headed to Potato Head Beach Club – a perfect day for this as it was Kelly’s birthday. This is a place I was very keen to go to as I had heard so much about it, and it was great! It was very idyllic with big sun beds and a pool overlooking the sea. It took a while to get a bed as you had to put your name down on a list but thankfully for us not many people waited the whole time so we got there a lot quicker than we should have. Once on the bed, we ordered some cocktails and they were kind to bring Kelly something and sing her happy birthday, it was great. Once the sun had set we headed out and went to a nearby restaurant for tea. I tried Nasi Goreng, a famous Indonesian dish and it was gorgeous! After this we headed to La Planche which was a bar on the beach will lots of bean bags everywhere and pretty lights. We got a little carried away here and did not realise we had got so many drinks – the bill came to 2,800,000 Indonesian Rupiah without us realising how much we had spent! (Not nearly as bad as it sounds). It was a great night and a perfect first day in Bali.

The next morning there were a few sore heads so we changed our original plan and just chilled out by the pool. Around midday we got a taxi and headed to Ubud, our second destination, which took about an hour and a half. By the time we got there and checked in etc it was early evening, so we went out for food and then chilled in our room whilst planning our time in Ubud. There was a lot that we wanted to do so this was a necessity! The place we were staying in Ubud were these traditional bungalows which were just fantastic!

The next day we went to get our breakfast which was included and were told okay, it will be here soon and go back to our room. About 15 minutes later we were brought breakfast to our bungalow which we had on our little terrace, amazing!

This day was the day I finally got to do something I had wanted to do for a long time…I went white water rafting! We did it through the middle of a rainforest/jungle area and it was just fantastic. Our guide was great and even let us get out and swim with the current – I felt like I was in The Jungle Book. It was a great experience and one of the best things I have ever done. After this we chilled out by the pool, did some shopping on the main street then had an early tea/night as we had to be up super early the next day…

We had to get up at 1.30am for our next adventure – we were going trekking up an active volcano called Mount Batur. The idea was that we got picked up at 2am and made our way to the base of the volcano (about an hour away). From here, we would start the trek up the mountain with our own guide and by the time we reached the top the sun was starting to rise. It took about two and a half hours to get to the top and it was quite a tough climb but so satisfying when we finally reached the top. Unfortunately, it was very cloudy at the summit so our view of the sunrise was quite limited. It was also so cold up there! We did not stay at the top too long, just long enough for breakfast and a hot drink and then started to make our way down. Coming down was a completely different journey – now that the sun was up we had views, which were amazing! There was so much to see and I couldn’t believe that we had walked past it all just an hour before! Once we got to the bottom we asked our driver to take us to some hot springs which were nearby and it was such a treat to do this – well needed after our trek.

We spent some time by the pool after this as it was one of the hottest days we had then in the afternoon Milz and I went to Monkey Forrest whilst the others stayed by the pool. We were unsure about going as we had not had any rabies vaccines but decided to go and see. It was great to see all the monkeys around but they were a little intimidating so we did not spend long here and went exploring for a little while as the others were getting ready. We found a street full of vegan cafes and restaurants which was very cool and then went and found the cat café that we had heard about. I love cats so it was great being in there! We went out for tea and a couple of drinks after this to finish off a great day.

Again, we had our breakfast on the terrace and spent most of the day by the pool as we were so tired from the previous day. In the afternoon we went to see the rice fields which was such a fantastic sight and one you would definitely associate with Bali when you see it! We went back into the town and had tea and I just so happened to bump into someone I knew from home, Katie. We have a pretty chilled night as we had to be up early the next day to leave for Gili T.

On our 7th day we left early to make our way over to Gili T. This involved a taxi which took about an hour and a half then a boat which was about the same length of time. The boat was small, cramped, hot and the sea rough and choppy so it was not too fun but eventually we got their and after dragging our suitcases across the beach and down several dirt roads we made it to our place. This time, we decided to go all out and booked a private villa which even had its own pool! It was gorgeous and still so reasonably priced. The villa was also very well located – pretty much smack bang in the middle of the island so we could go left to one side and beach or right to the other and we were also provided with our own bicycles which we ended up using quite often to get around. For our lunch, we headed left back towards where we got off the boat and had lunch at a lovely restaurant on the beach. We went back to the villa to chill for a bit then headed to the other side of the island, known as sunset beach. From here you can see the sun setting (duh!) but also this is where you can get your famous snaps on the swings looking out to the sea. I was quite surprised when we got there as I was expecting there to be one swing with a queue to get on it but it turns out every beach front place had the same idea so there were swings all along the beach and therefore no queues. We got our photos (which look great but getting up and down was a bit of a mission!) and headed back.

Later that night we headed back towards the sunset beach and had quite a shock – it was completely deserted! It was honestly like a ghost town – no people around and nowhere was open. Typically, we had all got dressed up as this was going to be our big night on the island but it was not to be. We walked along the front for a while until we came across a security guard who advised us that it was the end of Ramadan/Eid and everything was shut! (This was due to be the case for the next three nights…which is exactly how long we were there) We finally came to a hotel that was still open where we had tea (it was almost 10pm by this time) and then gave up, calling it a night and heading back to the villa.

The next day we went snorkelling near the other 2 Gili islands and actually managed to swim with giant turtles – it was amazing! We saw one right down on the sea bed and were happy with that but the guy with us took us to another place and we saw one that was actually swimming and we went right by it, what a sight! We finally got a bit drunk that evening with drinks in the villa (we bought alcohol earlier in the day knowing everything would be closed again) and played games, it was quite a fun night but we did run out of alcohol and there was nowhere to go to get more!
After Gili T, we headed back to the mainland (the boat was even worse this time around!) and on to the airport and to our next destination….Singapore!

Posted by LaurenF3 08:08 Archived in Indonesia Tagged bali sun sight travelling seeing Comments (0)

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