Top Travels I Want to Do

We all have those lists, things we wish we could do tomorrow but work, funds and well general life stop us. This is my top 10. Some have crept onto this list in the last 6 months, some I have been dreaming of for years and others, well, these are dreams…

1) Visit Antarctica: I mean who doesn’t want to do this – penguins, wales, stars, ice burgs! I’ve had a guide book for about 3 years now, maybe even longer. If I ever get married this is the only destination I want for my honeymoon.

2) Go interrailing: or at least see a lot more of Europe, it’s on my door step and I feel like I have just not seen enough of it. There is so much history there, so much culture, and I have only seen such a small fraction of it.

3) Trek Machu Pichu: it’s old, it’s beautiful and there are LLAMAS. I mean come on, llamas, who doesn’t want to see these guys with an epic back drop.

4) Road Trip Canada: Two months, a campervan, wildlife, who could say no! Yes I have been planning this is my head for a while now… stupid work, stupid funds.

5) Head back to Cape Town for Robben Island: I was gutted that I couldn’t go when we were there so it’s definitely on the list of places I want to see now. The history of South Africa has fascinated me. I just can’t get over how this happened, and how it really was not that long ago.

6) See the Northern Lights: they just seem so magical, and I want to stay in one of the glass igloos! “the skies awake so I’m awake” – I just want to be able to say this to The Boy!!

7) Visit Switzerland: It just looks gorgeous! literally ever part of it looks amazing.

8) Be a giant child at Disney Land or World for my birthday: who says just because you’re an adult you can’t do these things!

9) Lake Bled: okay, let’s be honest here this is because of Instagram! I’ve seen so many photos that just make it look like the most romantic place!

10) The World, with my backpack and my boy……

This list could go on so much!

What are the places you dream of going? Do you chase the sun, or happy to have all the layers on? Is it just more, or does work get in the way of all the fun?

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Safari with Chasin’ Africa

In mid-April, my family and I went to the Kruger National Park in South Africa. Safari has been something I have always wanted to do. I love elephants, to the point that I shake when I see them. I get so nervous and excited all at once. I think they are just the most majestic animal, so wise and massive and if you look into their eyes you can see into their souls… okay, I digressed a little then. OBSESSED is the word you are looking for. But basically, I’ve always wanted to see them in the wild, so a safari has always been one of the top things I want to do.

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The Kruger National Park is situated in the most North East of South Africa, bordering Mozambique’s national park, Limpopo. They have a partial fence between the two, most of it has been taken down to encourage natural migration of the animals. It is 19,485km², making it the largest game reserve in South Africa. It was originally established in 1898 by Paul Kruger, the President of Transvaal as the Sabie Game Reserve. Later in 1927, it merged with Shinwedzi Game Reserve, and became the Kruger National Park.

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We were collected from our lodge by Donald, who is one of the owners of Chasin’ Africa at 5.20am – an early start but 100% worth it. They get you in before the gates open so the park is quieter and you don’t have to queue to do all of the fun paper work. Something you don’t really think about when on safari, but everyone has to go through the same gates and have the same checks which can take a while to do. We were off and through the gates by 5.50am. Only 10 minutes before the rest of the crowd, but this really was our own fault as we weren’t the fastest at leaving the lodge, ooops! Either way though, we were in! We were also incredibly lucky in the fact that there was nine of us, the exact number that fit in their trucks! So it felt more like a private tour. We were also provided with blankets to snuggle under as it was a little chilly (okay not UK chilly but still!) that early in the morning which was great.

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Donald was AMAZING! I must admit, I was mostly interested in the mammals that live in the park – elephants, cheetahs, lions etc but he got us looking at all the birds, the plants and the bugs. All these animals and foliage help make up a remarkable eco system. It’s easy to forget that even the smallest of creatures make a massive difference to the Kruger. It also helped that when we didn’t recognise a bird he put it in context by using the Lion King – red-billed hornbill aka Zazu! It was just brilliant that he knew the best way to get people to take note of the smaller, but just as important, animals. From then on, we looked at so many different birds – fish eagle, lilac breasted roller, saddle billed stork. It was great to see so many different animals up close, that otherwise I would never have known about. His knowledge and professionalism definitely made the trip, it just made those stretches where we didn’t see much just as great as when we save the wildlife. I’ve learnt so much from him and loved every second of it. Though gutted we didn’t get to ask any questions that stumped him, next time!

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The skill of Donald also meant we got to see the Big Five in one day. An old hunting term referring to those animals most dangerous to hunt ie they kill the hunters – Lions, Rhinos, Elephants, Leopards and Cape Buffalo. It was pure magic seeing them all. Obviously, elephants were my favourite, they always were going to be, but seeing the others (and the cubs of the lions and buffalo) was extraordinary. I never really believed we would see them all. Apparently if you drove every road in the Kruger and could see 500m either side of the road you would still only see 5% of park! Isn’t that just crazy!! You then realise how fortunate you are to see ANY animals.

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The lunch available in the park is fairly average – sandwiches, pies etc, almost what you were expect in an airport. I advise you take your own, and DO NOT forget water! Super important! And mozzy spray for the sunrise and sunset part of your dive, you don’t want to be eat alive. Would take away from the joys of the Kruger if you are scratching the whole time.

We were out in the park for 12 hours! Initially supposed to be dropped back off at our accommodation at 4.30pm but Donald gave us more time so that we could we a Leopard and Lion cubs right at the end. We ended up leaving at 6.30pm!!

Hopefully I will one day be returning to the Kruger and if I do I will definitely be booking another trip with Chasin’ Africa, and I really think you should to.

Have you been to the Kruger before? Would you love to? What would be your favourite animal to see?

 

What to pack in your hand luggage…

The great debate – what do you really need on a plane. If I am going just to Europe I have everything, my clothes, my camera, books etc but this is because they tend to be city breaks so I don’t check anything in. But I am talking long-haul flights where you have your clothes and sun cream all packed away in your check-in luggage.

Essentials –

Backpack – obviously to hold the items in, and I find it easier if there isn’t enough space over head or worse you can’t get out of your seat, you can fit it under the seat in front.

Passport – can’t really go anywhere with out this now can you!

Purse – you will need those cards and cash for the airport shopping, whether it’s food or those duty-free treats.

In-flight Entertainment –

Kindle – I always have my kindle with me, I don’t always use it but it’s great as it’s so light and gives me so many more options than just one heavy book!

Noise Cancelling Earphones – these are the best investment you will ever make!! Just trust me they drown it all out – engine noise, children, your other half whittling on at you…

Tablet – whether it’s an iPad or Samsung or something else, they are great. You can download your own programs so you aren’t stuck with the airlines choice. You can use it as a note book, I write blogs sometimes and other times use it for last minute research notes on the place we are going.

Phone and CHARGER – let be honest you wouldn’t leave without the phone. But it’s more the charger not to forget. A lot of airlines now have a place you can pop your phone in so you are full of juice for when you land.

Little Extras –

Sunglasses – saves you having to look for these in your case when it’s glorious sunshine when you land.

Camera – same logic as the sunnies plus you shouldn’t leave your valuables in your check-in bags.

Moisturiser – whether its face or hands it nice to refresh your self and stops your skin felling so tight. Plus it smells nice which will make you feel better after that 10 hour flight.

Toothbrush and Toothpaste – because no one likes fury teeth!

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So there you go my little essentials that I try to remember to take on all long-haul flights!

What times do you take? Is there one thing you can’t live without?

Cape Town – My Top Things To Do 

At the beginning of April I was lucky enough to go to Cape Town! We were there for five days and everyday was JAM BACKED! It was hard to pick a few top things but here they are…

Table Mountain 

There are lots of different routes for you to choose from, depending on how long you wish to take and your fitness pick accordingly . We took the Platteklip Gorge route, right around the corner from the cable cars. It’s hard work, but the views you get make it worth it. In total it took us about 2 hrs. We range in fitness but I would say we are all average or above. We never rushed and did take loads of water breaks! That’s one thing you need to make sure you have lots of- WATER. This hike is said to be the one that gets the most sunshine! Try to avoid doing it in the midday sun (something we failed at!). Take your time up at the top, the views are incredible. There is a place you can get more water, food and ice cream. Plus all the other facilities you need after a long walk. There is also a gondola you can take up and down. We had planned to take it down but some one had set four fires along the mountain so it was closed. For some crazy reason we decided rather than waiting we would walk back down. Something my legs regretted for the next four days! Try to pick your timings when you go up – you’ll want a clear day though this can sometimes be unpredictable. If you are in Cape Town for a few days try to stay flexible  so you can pick the best time to climb up.

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Boulders Beach 

Penguins, penguins and MORE penguins! What is not to love. It costs R65 to get in, but this can be used at any of the 3 entrances so you get to see as many penguins as you want. The first gate we went through went onto the beach. Here you can actually, paddle/swim with the penguins. But remember these are wild animals. They will bite and they do get stressed. Try to keep a safe distance and NEVER cut off a penguin from his buddy. It’s not fair on them, they are only little! Also, whatever you take with you make sure you take away, think plastic bags/bottles and wrappers. It’s hard when you get excited to remember these things but it’s better for everyone if you do. The second entrance we went into takes you along the boardwalk. It takes you right up to the beach where (during April) you can see the baby penguins as well as ones sitting on their eggs. It’s an amazing site! You’ll see nature at it’s best. I loved just watching them all. I could have stayed for hours but the entrances close at 5pm during April and varies throughout the year so make sure you get your timings right.

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V&A Waterfront 

So we actually ended up here for the day as our tour for Robben Island was cancelled due to poor visibility . Apparently this is quiet common. Something you should remember when you book your tickets. We were all gutted that we couldn’t go but it means we will be back! But as we couldn’t make it we did Jerry 1, which is only small but still moving. This is actually the original site where people were taken before they were taken to Robben Island. It’s full of letters and people’s requests to see loved ones on the island. Really powerful stuff.

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The waterfront has a fair amount to do. We started with breakfast at the V&A Food Market. Literally heaven. Has something for everyone and seating where you can all reconvene when you’ve picked your food! Plus it’s cheap! A win win in my world! I personally loved the coffee from the Coffee Power Station. And if you bring your reusable cup coffee only costs R20!

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Just behind this is the Water Shed – a huge hall filled with craft bits. There was some lovely stuff here from cushions to clothing to jewellery. You’ll definitely be able pick up some nice items for people or something for yourself of course.

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If you enjoy your rugby the Springbok Experience is a must! You start with fun games where you try to get on the team (remember those sore legs from our hike… This did not help). But we had fun looking silly and laughing the whole time. You then move on to learn about the history of the sport in South Africa. With the Apartheid being such a prominent part of the sports history it’s incredibly interesting to see the changes it went through. The most moving part is South Africa beating the New Zealand favourites in the 1995 World Cup and the handing over of the cup by President Mandela to Peinaar, the Springbok captain. The embrace and smiles reverberated through all of South Africa. An incredibly moving piece of history. Oh and if you’re an adult you get a free beer with your ticket to have down on the Water front she you’re done.

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If your lucky or bold enough like my sister and brother-in-law were try to get up to the rooftop bar at the top of the Silo Hotel. The views are incredible! The perfect place for an afternoon drink in the sun.

Wine Region – Franschhoek and Paarl

This is the perfect day out … wine and (hopefully) sunshine. There are so many different vineyards you can choose from. As we had locals taking us round, we let them pick as they definitely know what they are doing. We started at the Haute Cabrière vineyard in Franschhoek, where for about £3 you get a tour, wine tasting for 4 wines (red, whites and sparkling!) And you get so see them open a bottle in the old French style, Sabrage, they cut the top off with a sword. It’s great. Plus the view is pretty spectacular.

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Once you are done here head into the town. It’s fill of small shops and there is a great little coffee shop, The Hoek, where I would recommend you get an afrogatto from. It’s incredibly refreshing after all the wine. Plus gives you a little boost to carry on.

A little further out is the Spice Route in Paarl. A vineyard with so much more… They pride themselves on having other small independent business all in one place, where neither two are the same! Here you can do more wine tasting, beer tasting at CBC brewer or even ice cream tasting!

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I would love to go back soon, I feel like we only scratched the surface of this amazing city. Have you been to Cape Town? What was your favourite thing or things to do? 

Trinity College, The University of Dublin

Conveniently Trinity College is all of about 10 minutes from my flat (the advantage of living so central!). I spend a lot of time just wondering though, I just love the grounds. But when you go, do remember though that this is someone’s place of learning – do try not to get in their way when you are taking pictures, it’s just not fair on them!

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Trinity was established in 1592, and currently ranked 88th in the world. It’s got a long history, you can just sense it as you walk through the door. The first “site” you will see is the Campanile of Trinity College. It was donated by the Archbishop of Armagh and completed in 1853. It stands at nearly 100-foot-tall, with the four figures at the bottom represent Divinity, Law, Medicine, and Science. If you study there don’t walk under it when the bells ring, superstition says you will fail your exams!

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The “Sfera con Sfera” or ‘Pomodoro sphere’ as it is known locally was donated by Arnaldo Pomodoro and made in 1983. It is located in front of the Berkeley Library. There are similar structures in New York, Berkeley, Tehran and Rome. In 2008, it went through a massive conservation project to get it back to the lovely shin of when it was first constructed!

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The Book of Kells is the most famous medieval manuscript and is located in the heart of Trinity Collage! And it’s well worth the visit, if you book online costs €13 each, €11 on the door. Though it may be more expensive to book online, I recommend if you are going in high season. It can sell out fast and you don’t want to miss out. The book of Kells consists of four Gospels, getting it’s name from the Monastery of Kells in County Meath. It is thought it was written around 800 AD. It has moved to Trinity College in 1661.

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The main chamber of the Old Library is the Long Room and is probably my favourite place in Dublin. You can just loose yourself in there. It’s nearly 65m long and holds around 200,000 of the oldest books in the Library. It really is one of the most impressive buildings I have set foot in. I would love to just read one of those books. There are marble busts that line the Long Room, depicting some of the greatest male philosophers and writers. How many do you know? Also when you first enter don’t miss one of the few remaining copies of the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic.

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Have you been? What was your favourite part of Trinity? Do you study there? What’s it like?

 

I’m BACK – and I’ve made PLANS!

I’m not going to go into why I stop posted, I just did. But I’ve taken a step back and reminded myself why I enjoyed doing this so much! My first post is on 2018’s plans! I am so excited, and I hope to share my experiences with you all.

2018’s trips started a bit rocky thanks to the “Beast from the East” which forced Dublin airport to close and my trip to Budapest to be cancelled. I’m no longer dwelling on that as it’s made me become more focused on all the other things I have planned.

March:

Ireland – Galway and the Cliffs of Moher

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Image: www.cliffsofmoher.ie

England – London (though technically this is where the families are, I have planned a “touristy” trip to do all the things I miss!)

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Image: mine 🙂

April:

South Africa – Cape Town, Kruger, Johannesburg

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Image: my dad’s!

May:

Italy – Rome, Ancona

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Image: www.cntraveler.com

June:

Denmark – Copenhagen (MAYBE!)

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Image: @lyoung_ Instagram

July:

London – LoveBox (festival!)

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Image: loveboxfestival.com

August:

Austria – Vienna

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Image: www.wien.info/

Hungary – Budapest, Sziget (festival!)

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Image: budapest.com

September:

Ireland – Electric Picnic (festival!)

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Image: flourandflavour.wordpress

 

It’s now looking like a rather packed year, and I wonder why I am strapped for cash this month when I look at how much I’ve booked! But life is for the living, and

I CAN NOT WAIT!

Do you have any tips for these places? Where to eat? What to see… or not see! I want to hear all about it!

Pink Gin Jam Crumble Slices

Last week I made Pink Jam which naturally led to this recipe! I mean, how did you not see that coming, Gin Jam Crumble… doesn’t that just sound yummy and moreish. Plus, once you have made the jam this recipe is super easy. I would almost say a child could make it, but as this will still contain alcohol I advice you don’t let them do it!

Ingredients

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375g Plain Flour

1tsp Baking Powder

Pinch Salt

Pinch Freshly Grated Nutmeg

225g Caster Sugar

250g Unsalted Butter

1 Large Egg

Zest of 1 Lemon

200g Rolled (porridge) Oats

250g Pink Gin Jam

 

Method 

Preheat your oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas Mark 4. Line a 30cm baking tray.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and sugar and mix until combined. Add the cold butter, egg and lemon zest and whisk until the mixture resembles crumbly breadcrumbs.

Pour half of the mixture into the baking tray. Using a large spoon (or your very clean hands!) push the dough flat, and into the corners, ensure that it is evenly spread out.

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Pour over approximately 250g Pink Jam and spread over the dough. Again make sure you get those edges!

Back to the remaining dough; add your oats and stir through. Crumble over the jam.

Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until golden and firm to touch.

Leave to completley cool in the tray. Cut into 12 pieces (or smaller if you want snack size/sharing). ENJOY!!!!

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These keep for up to 7 days in an air tight container!