Girly getaway: Tenerife

I love a weekend away with my girls but we’re always strapped for cash and limited on holiday days from work.

We found that Tenerife is the perfect option for an affordable mini-break.

We went for a long weekend mid-May. As is it low season then, it meant cheap flights and accommodation as well as beautiful sunshine… the perfect combination!

I highly recommend staying at the Regency Country Club. There are a variety of apartments available, from one-bed to four-bed. The rooms were really clean and the service was very good too. We were given a glass of fizz each on arrival which was a nice touch.

The complex itself is only about a 15 minute taxi drive from Playa de las Americas. There is a stunning infinity pool looking out on the sea, with plenty of sunbeds to choose from. There’s also a gym and a crazy golf course on-site.

What to do in Tenerife?

1. Hit the beach:

We spent a day sunbathing on the beach at Playa de Troya which was lovely, but the island has plenty of other beaches to choose from. We had fantastic food and cocktails at Monkey Beach Club, just on the seafront. Apparently it is transformed into an amazing club at night – something I only learned once I was back in the UK!

2. Book a beach club:

I definitely recommend booking a beach club for the day. You can sit and relax on huge sun loungers, with live DJ sets playing and delicious cocktails and food to chose from. Sometimes it’s nice to avoid the sand and just go for a dip in the pool instead!

We went to Kaluna Beach Club and happily soaked up the sun for hours there. We enjoyed strawberry daiquiris, nachos, olives and houmous. You can sit in the pool and look out onto the beach below.

It’s good to book in advance if you’re going in a group, as the beach clubs get busy even in the low season.

3. Sunset Yoga:

Yoga was a really lovely group activity. We booked this in advance too, simply e-mailing a girl that runs a yoga class every week.

This Sunset Yoga  class takes place in La Caleta, just along the coast from Los Cristianos. Everyone assembles on a circular stone platform, right next to the sea. With the sound of the waves and fresh sea breeze, it was the perfect way to relax and watch the sun go down.

[For further information on Sunset Yoga go to:  https://www.myguidetenerife.com/events/sunset-yoga-overlooking-the-ocean]

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4. Go out-out:

A night out in Playa de las Americas is inevitable.

I’ll warn you now, the bars are fairly tacky with cheesy pop music blaring out… but you have to experience it at least once. Most tourists start the night in bars like Linekers and The Anchor and then head on to one of the clubs in the area. It’s not for the fainthearted!

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Life is always better in flip flops! =)

x Morts x

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Rio by night: Favela Funk

If you’re ever in Rio, I definitely recommend going to the Favela Funk Party.

It takes place every Sunday night, in a nightclub called Castelo das Pedras. It’s located in Jacarepaguá, a suburb home to a mix of affluent neighbourhoods and some of the biggest slums in Rio.

It’s the best place to go to experience local music and dancing. Most hostels arrange trips to the party, and you go in convoy on mini buses.

The nightclub consists of two floors; the first floor is a huge dance floor with a stage at the front and the second floor is home to the bar, toilets and a balcony area. As soon as you enter the club, your eardrums will be hit with the rhythmic drums of the Funk Carioca – a type of Brazilian dance music that originated in the favelas.

The dance floor is a sea of bodies. At the start of the night it is mostly locals dancing, but, as the night goes on, tourists get braver (and more drunk) and soon infiltrate the crowd. Flushed faces and wiggling, shaking bodies. You can feel the heat radiating off of the lights and neighbouring dancers.

The Brazilian girls are fascinating to watch; moving with purpose and confidence. They are fierce, vigorous, inspiring, and certainly the best twerkers I’ve ever seen!

By the end of the night, you’ll be dishevelled, exhausted and giddy. And hungry after dancing like a lunatic! There’s plenty of accommodating food stalls, selling piping hot chicken sticks… the Brazilian equivalent of a kebab.

Happy twerking! 😉

x Morts x

[Photo credit: Chris Westgarth – http://oddsockodd.blogspot.co.uk/%5D

Spanish Fashion: Oliva Market

My boyfriend, Jonny, and I recently spent a long weekend in Spain. We were visiting friends that moved there last October.

They live in a gorgeous, remote area of the Valencian Community. By train, it is just over an hour from Valencia itself.

The nearest town (with a train station) is Gandia which is a 15 minute drive from their villa. The villa sits high on the mountainside and can only be reached  by an incredibly steep, winding road. The views are breath-taking as you climb higher and higher up the mountain.

The nearest town (without a train station) is Oliva, a traditional Valencian town that is still being developed and brought into the 21st century.

It is here I experienced my first Spanish market.

I thought it was Italy that was famous for its beautiful leather shoes, but I was amazed by the style and variety in Spain. And by the price!

There were rows and rows of pretty flip flops, sandals and wedges. What I loved most is how unique each pair was… so different from anything I’ve seen in the shops back home. Once I tried some on, I realised how comfy they were too. Lovely padded soles and real leather… for only €15 per pair!

My friend Jane and I spent ages trying on different sandals and I couldn’t resist buying two pairs. To be honest… I would have bought so much more if I was restricted by hand luggage!

Happily swinging our bags of shoes, we continued on, into the hustle and bustle of the market. We realised we’d only got a few stalls in as we’d been so distracted by shoes!

As well as shoes, there were stalls selling leather handbags and wallets, woven beach bags, bikinis, dresses  and loose summer trousers. For most stalls, they had a little curtained off section to try clothes on. For others, we just tried the summer trousers on over what we were wearing.

When I wanted to try a top on, though, the stall owner guided me to a white van! Sliding the door behind me, I quickly got changed inside the van. When I pulled the door open again, the stall owner was holding a small mirror up for me to have a look.

What I found interesting is the Spanish women’s love of shoulder pads! The top I bought, a beautiful floral pattern, had shoulder pads sewn in. I am still undecided whether to remove them or just go with the Spanish look!

It was the quality and value for money that struck me most about this market. I wish I had had more luggage space so I could have bought more not only for me, but for my friends.

The trousers I bought were only €3 each.. such an incredible bargain!

So, if you are ever in Spain and have the opportunity to visit a local market… you absolutely should! And make sure you pack light so you have room for your purchases.

If you’re ever in Oliva, the market is on every Friday.

Happy shopping!

x Morts x

A guide to: Luang Prabang

On the banks of the Mekong River sits the sleepy town of Luang Prabang. Here you’ll find sweet little guest houses, homely hostels and welcoming locals. The entire town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is home to former royal palaces and many beautiful temples.

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There are always stands selling fresh fruit smoothies during the day and delicious street food at night. The street food is some of the best I’ve ever tasted. The smell alone is enough to make your mouth water. Huge steaming bowls of noodles, rice and vegetables are laid out like a buffet. There are rows and rows of speared fish and chicken, cooked over makeshift BBQ’s, and even whole pigs heads! You can pay by the plate which allows you to try a bit of each of the local delicacies.

The night market in the centre of town is wonderful. There are stalls selling colourful paintings, traditional garments, jewellery and toys. It still remains my favourite night market, out of all the places I have visited in South East Asia. I bought some exquisite elephant-print trousers to take home with me – the most comfortable trousers I have ever worn!

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You won’t find late-night bars and restaurants in Luang Prabang. Instead, the tourist tradition is to head to the local bowling alley – a short tuk tuk ride away. This is the only place that is still serving alcohol at night and so it has become the social hub for backpackers.

There’s plenty to do and see during the day. For a proper tour of the town, rent bikes and cycle your way around. If you’re lucky, you may catch a glimpse of the monks walking around the grounds of Wat Xieng Thong, or ‘Golden City Temple’. It’s a breath-taking place, especially when the sun is shining down upon it.

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Two places you definitely have to visit in Luang Prabang are:

  1. Kuang Si Falls:

This spectacular three tier waterfall may be a 45 minute tuk tuk drive away, but it certainly won’t disappoint. The most popular tourist spot in Luang Prabang, it’s not only the main cascade that people love but also the turquoise pools that it feeds. These pools have formed down the hillside and are the perfect place to go for a swim. Make sure you obey the signs though as some of the pools are sacred. It’s such a beautiful and tranquil place you won’t want to leave. There is also a bear sanctuary at the falls, run by the charity Free the Bears. Here you can see bears that have been rescued from cruel hunters.

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  1. Phu Si Hill:

In the centre of town there are steps that lead up to the top of Phu Si Hill. This is the place to go for the best sunset in Laos. The views are stunning, of the surrounding mountains and meandering rivers. From here you can see the point at which the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers meet. There are temples en route to the top, with Wat Chom Si at the highest peak.

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If I had had more time, I would have loved to see the Buddha statues in Vientiane and explore the beautiful islands of Si Phan Don (commonly know as ‘4000 islands of the Mekong’). I would recommend looking these up too if you’re heading to Laos!

x Morts x

A guide to: Vang Vieng

Out of all of the countries I have visited on my travels, Laos is definitely one of my favourite and, by far, the most relaxing. Embrace the laidback lifestyle, live on “Laos time” and leave your worries behind. The more time you spend in Laos, the more you will get used to the slow pace of life.

Nestled between mountains, Vang Vieng is a luscious and beautiful little town, an idyllic haven where you can easily lose all sense of time. It is packed with bars, all teeming with tourists. Simply take your pick and watch the sun set with a Beerlaos in hand. This local beer is light and fresh, the perfect thirst-quenching device after a day in the hot sun.

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In pretty much every bar, restaurant and hostel, you will find Family Guy or Friends being aired on TVs in the communal areas. This bizarre tradition has clearly come about due to the constant stream of tourists visiting Vang Vieng.

A favourite bar of mine was Fat Monkey’s. It’s a great little spot overlooking the river and you can always count on being involved in a game of beer-pong with other travellers. Start your night here and then head to Gary’s Irish bar, a popular, rowdy place packed with backpackers. There are plenty of other little bars en route to Gary’s so you’ll never be parched, I promise you that! Finish the night at the Full Moon bar. This is the one place that stays open late in Vang Vieng and is also the only venue with a dance floor.

As for the inevitable end-of-night-feast, there’s little food stands on the streets selling huge pork baguettes and crepes stuffed with banana and Nutella. The food costs next to nothing and the generous portions will leave you stuffed and satisfied.

There are two things you must do whilst in Vang Vieng:

  1. Tubing:

Float down the river in a convoy of rubber rings, waving to the locals and drinking beer as you take in the stunning scenery. Although the riverside bars have been shut down, due to numerous alcohol-fueled accidents, it is still a hilarious day out and you can take a few beers along for the ride instead. Beware of shallow parts of the river, where you can easily scrap your bum if you aren’t paying attention!

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  1. Cave exploring:

There are plenty of different caves to explore in Vang Vieng, including Tham Sang (Elephant Cave) and Tham Nam (Water Cave). A favourite of mine was Tham Pu Kham. It’s a popular tourist spot and for good reason. Impressive stalagmite and stalactite formations can be found inside and a beautiful Blue Lagoon at the bottom. Tham Pu Kham is set high in the limestone mountains. It’s a pretty steep climb to the top, over tree roots and boulders, so be careful if you’re wearing flip-flops! A swim in the crystal clear lagoon is the perfect way to cool off after the steep climb back down and there’s also little wooden huts on the river bank if you need to escape the sun or sit and dry off.

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Happy exploring!

x Morts x

 

Copenhagen on a budget…

I went to Copenhagen in November last year and it’s a beautiful city, but one of the most expensive I’ve ever visited.

Here’s some tips on how to survive Copenhagen on a budget:

 

Duty free alcohol:

My friends and I bought a bottle of duty free vodka at the airport which was much cheaper than buying it in Copenhagen. Pre-drinking in your apartment or hotel will save you so much money if you plan on going on a night out.

Supermarket essentials:

Pop to your nearest supermarket to stock up on essentials. Even just eating breakfast in your apartment will save you loads of money.

Travel card:

If you’re staying in Copenhagen for a few days it’s well worth buying a travel card. There are different options, from 1-day travel up to 72-hour travel. Travel cards work out much cheaper than paying for individual bus or train journeys, and you’ll be needing both methods of transport if you want to explore Copenhagen properly.

Paper Island:

Make sure you go to Paper Island to eat. There’s a huge warehouse, just across the bridge from Nyhavn, packed with food and drink vendors. This ‘street food’ is a great option for a cheap lunch or dinner… well much cheaper than the restaurants in Copenhagen anyway! There are tonnes of cuisines to choose from too. It’s a really fun, quirky place to visit and a great way to escape the cold on a winter’s day.

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Alternative Christiana:

Freetown Christiania is a really interesting place to visit but also free to wander around so the perfect activity when travelling on a budget. Here a small community of people have decided to live independently from the rest of the city, in a Utopian commune. It is covered in colourful graffiti but be careful taking photos as it is forbidden on the main street, Pusher Street.

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Boat trips:

Boat trips along the canal, and around the harbour, are reasonably priced and are a great way to relax and see the sights. Most tours start or finish at Nyhavn, so you can also get the iconic Copenhagen harbour snapshot.

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If you’re going to splash out on one thing, then make it the Tivoli Gardens. It is the most magical and enchanting place I have ever been to. Honestly. As the no.1 fan of Christmas, being greeted by a sea of warm fairy lights was heaven for me! It is a beautiful old theme park with rides, candyfloss stands, pubs and tonnes of Christmas trees. Make sure you stay to watch the light display across the pond. It’s set to the music of swan lake and will not disappoint!

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x Morts x

 

 

The truth about Lindos

If you’re holidaying in Lindos, just be prepared for how hilly it is!

The town is a sea of beautiful white buildings, housing narrow winding streets with shops and restaurants spilling out onto them. It sits beneath the impressive acropolis, an archaeological site which stands in stark contrast to the modern world infiltrating it.

Most of the large hotel complexes are dotted along the coastline, a short taxi ride away from the acropolis. However, there are some lovely places up on the hillside which are only a short walk from town.

A short walk… but a steep and knackering one!

There is one main slope you have to walk down to get into the heart of the town. I often saw tourists stopping halfway down the hill to buy essential refreshments, like cold drinks and ice creams, and parents abandoning buggies and hoisting their kids onto their shoulders. Even in the cooler evening air I was out of breath most nights… admittedly after a huge 3-course dinner!

Most tourists flock to Lindos for the beautiful beaches and St Paul’s Bay is stunning, it’s true. But again it is at the bottom of the steep hill so make sure you plan your hill climb wisely… we attempted the walk in the midday heat and it was exhausting!

I don’t want to put you off going to Lindos though, because it’s a beautiful and interesting place to visit. There are tonnes of rooftop restaurants to choose from, offering a welcome breeze and stunning views across the town.

Also… the best taramasalata I’ve ever tasted!

There are plenty of day trips to go on as well as beaches to crisp on. My main tip is to use public transport instead of going on the tour trips offered. The tours are not only expensive, but leave you with barely any time to look around the destinations you’re visiting as they have so many hotel pickups to do and often stop off at places like olive oil farms en route.

Tour companies will tell you the local buses are crowded and take ages but we heard from fellow holidaymakers that this isn’t true at all. Going by public transport will give you much more freedom and time to explore, whether you’re visiting Rhodes Town or taking a boat to one of the islands.

x Morts x

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