Life’s a Beach

Searching for paradise?

Check out these 4 amazing beach destinations… you’ll want to book flights immediately!

1. Monkey Beach – Penang, Malaysia
Trek through luscious jungle to the beautiful and secluded Monkey Beach. Located in Penang National Park, it is peaceful, unspoilt and home to cheeky, crab-eating Macaques.

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2. Sairee Beach – Koh Tao, Thailand
Sairee Beach is the perfect spot to sunbathe, swim and watch the sun go down. At night, it really comes to life, with beach bars selling buckets of alcohol, tourists dancing on the sand, and fire throwers lighting up the shoreline.

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3. Whitehaven Beach – Queensland, Australia
Float about in the warm, shallow waters of Whitehaven Beach, as sting rays swim by leisurely. Beautiful patterns in the soft white sand and sea make this a completely unique and stunning place to visit.

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4. Ipanema Beach – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Crisp in the hot, Brazilian sunshine as you sip a can of beer and feast on huge, juicy chunks of watermelon. A social hub, Ipanema Beach offers fantastic views of the Dois Irmãos mountains and Vidigal favela.

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You really can never have too much beach!

x Morts x

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A guide to: Sorrento

The beautiful town of Sorrento, in Italy, provides the perfect balance between sight-seeing and relaxation. Set just back from the dramatic cliff edge, the town is bursting with character and vitality.

You’ll be greeted by tonnes of little cafes and restaurants, dotted along the winding, cobbled streets. The locals are friendly and welcoming, and the food is so fresh and delicious, you’ll never want to leave!

You can sit for hours watching the world go by – quite literally, as the seats are almost always side-by-side, facing the passing crowds – enjoying the sunshine, atmosphere and a cocktail, beer or the local speciality, limoncello. The lemons in Sorrento are the biggest I’ve ever seen and they taste AMAZING.

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Gorgeous pastas, pizzas, bruschetta and ice-cream all follow a day lying by the pool or sunbathing on the jetties below the cliffs. At night, the town really comes to life though. The streets are packed with little stalls selling holiday knick-knacks and locals dressed in their finery, socialising, eating and shopping.

The archaeological sites of Herculaneum and Pompeii provide a perfect few days of exploration and education about the ancient civilisation of the Romans. If you haven’t got time for both, I would recommend Herculaneum. It is only a 45 minute train journey from Sorrento and is a much more compact site. It’s likely to take you a few hours to look around compared with a few days needed for the vast site of Pompeii. Go nice and early to avoid the crowds!

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Frequent boat trips are also available to the lovely island of Capri and nearby towns like Ravello and Positano. Or, of course, to the city of Naples. I would definitely recommend visiting Positano. It’s a really pretty place, with plenty of idyllic lunch spots and impressive architecture. As the boat draws close, you’ll see the iconic, brightly-coloured houses built up the hillside. The most memorable thing for me though was the magnificent Amalfi Cathedral.

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Happy exploring! 🙂

x Morts x

Daughters of the Dragon

I have recently finished reading Daughters of the Dragon, by William Andrews, and I honestly can’t remember the last time I was so affected by a story.

I knew nothing about the atrocities that took place in Korea and China during World War II, nothing about the hundreds of young Korean and Chinese girls that were taken from their homes and forced to work as sex slaves, or “comfort women”.

Imperial Japan ruled over Korea from 1910 until the end of World War II, and during its occupation Japanese soldiers abused thousands of innocent young girls. This is a fact the Japanese government are still refusing to acknowledge fully.

I was shocked and horrified as I followed Jae-hee’s tale. Although a fictional story, the elements of truth behind it were almost unbearable. The graphic description of daily rape and beatings left me stunned. It tugged at my heartstrings, it repulsed me… and it was certainly difficult to forget. I found myself desperately wishing for the girls in the story to find a way to escape. I wanted to reach into the book and pull them to safety.

I also felt inspired by Jae-hee’s courage and determination, her desire to live. She is resourceful and clever, and soon learns how she can play the Japanese soldiers. The love between Jae-hee and her sister, Soo-hee, manages to transport us away from the brutal reality for a few precious moments.

After finding myself so emotionally affected by just one girl’s story, and a fictional story at that, the enormity of the situation began to sink in. It is difficult to fathom that so many girls were treated so mercilessly, left physically and mentally scarred, or simply left for dead.

It is hard to believe that human beings inflicted such pain and humiliation on others. It’s appalling that the girls were then made to feel ashamed after the war was over. The stigma attached to being a comfort woman meant that they could never lead a normal life again.

As the Japanese soldiers were retreating, thousands of comfort women were slaughtered like cattle. It was an attempt to hide the truth from the world.  Even now, those that did survive are awaiting an official apology. Many still march on the Japanese embassy in Seoul, every Wednesday, in protest. Will they ever find peace?

x Morts x

 

A taste of Barcelona

Barcelona is one of my favourite cities in the world.

I love the contrast of vibrant, modern culture and beautiful, historic buildings. It is such a pretty city, with winding, cobbled streets and impressive architecture.

There’s something for everyone, whether you like an active holiday or relaxing holiday. I know lots of friends that had been back several times and I’d like to do the same. I feel like I barely scratched the surface!

I visited Barcelona in September and it was still beautifully sunny. I’d planned the trip for my sister’s hen do and it was the perfect send off for her, as well as farewell to the summer.

The best way to see the city is a bike tour. I booked private group tour with Fat Tire Tours, which was a brilliant introduction to Barcelona. We cycled through the city centre, the park and alongside the beachfront. It was so much fun! As it’s quite a big city, it would have been way too far to do this on foot.

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Food is always a high priority on my list. Make sure you pop into one of the gorgeous little cafés, delicatessens or bakeries to sample Catalan delights like fresh baguettes stuffed with Parma ham, pesto and cheese. I’d definitely recommend pizzas too, freshly baked in huge pizza ovens and topped with plenty of mozzarella, goats cheese, ham and cherry tomatoes. Of course, you must try at least one paella whilst in Barcelona too!

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You can’t go to Barcelona without visiting Gaudi’s infamous basilica, La Sagrada Familia. Make sure you book a basilica tour in advance though, as spaces fill up incredibly quickly! We weren’t able to go up the tower as it was fully booked, so it’s definitely on my list for next time I visit!

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Make sure you check out these other tourist spots too!

Barcelona Cathedral:

It is a stunning piece of Gothic architecture, with dramatic turrets and gargoyles on the roof. It’s well worth stopping for a photo, or popping inside too if you have time!

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Museu d’Historia de Barcelona:

We were amazed to discover there’s a roman underground city in Barcelona. You could easily spend a few hours looking around the ruins of Barcino. It’s located in the Gothic quarter (along with the Cathedral).

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Parc de la Ciutadella:

We visited this park whilst on our cycling tour and it was such a pretty place! There is an impressive fountain and a lake where you can hire little rowing boats to go out in.

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Park Güell:

This public park was also designed by Gaudi. We only explored the free area of the park but it was still worth the visit! The winding, mosaic seating was really impressive, with vivid colours and beautiful patterns. The view from the top of Carmel Hill was pretty good too. To get to the park, take the metro (Green line) from Las Ramblas to Lesseps. It only takes around 30 minutes.

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Font Magica (Magic Fountain):

We only visited the fountain during the day but I wish we’d gone back one evening too. I’ve heard the light display there is awesome!

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Barceloneta Beach:

The city scape merges into the seaside with this man-made beach, lined with ice cream parlours selling the most scrumptious sorbets!

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Bon viatge!

x Morts x