10 EXPERIENCES TO HAVE IN BALI, INDONESIA.

Tuesday, 7 April 2020

If like me you are daydreaming about the days you'll get to travel again, then why not start planning your trips for 2021? Although I would advise against actually booking anything yet because of the current situation, unless it's through booking.com and it comes with free cancellation. So in January I finally got round to visiting Bali, and it was just as I expected it to be - hot, vibrant and full of tourists. I had a great time and we had a perfect mix of relaxation, adventure and cheap cocktails. I spent 9 days in the area - staying in Ubud, Gili Trawangan and Seminyak. If you're a first time visiter to Bali, these are some experiences I recommend.

tea with gi bali guide

1. Mount Batur sunrise hike.  



If waking up at 2am is out of the question then skip to the next point, but it's definitely worth it! We got picked up and then had a 2 hour drive to the start of the hike. The climb is 1717m and takes around 2 hours to reach the top. In terms of difficulty I would say 6/10, I think I found the way down harder as there were so many small rocks and I fell on my bum within 5 minutes of our descend *face palm*. The view is 100% worth it though. 




2. Take part in a Balinese cooking class. 



One of my favourite parts about travelling is eating, of course. So I thought it would be fun to sign up for a cooking class with a Balinese family. Our hosts were lovely and there was only 5 of us in the group (two friends and me, and a couple from Singapore) which made it more of a personal experience. We made 8 traditional dishes, sampling them as we went along and then they were placed in a buffet style for us to eat later. The samples were so filling that I struggled to finish my plate afterwards, but I still ended up eating dessert after obvs.

Balinese cooking class - £14.79

bali cooking class

3. Bali swings and coffee tasting. 



You'll find there are a number of 'Bali Swing' activities around the area, differentiating in price. RealBaliSwing being the most expensive. Our driver took us to 'Intan Sari Luwak Coffee & Bali Swing Bukit' which cost us a fraction of the price, and there were also some extra nests for photo spots. We also got to sample 15 different coffees and herbal teas. There's a coffee in Bali called 'Luwak coffee' which essentially, is coffee made out of the droppings of the animal.

bali swings

4. Relax in a flower bath. 



My lovely best friend Daniella booked this for me as a Christmas gift and ahhhh it was heaven. You get to soak in a warm bath full of flowers for 45 minutes. The lady was also in there for 5 minutes trying to take the perfect Instagram photo for me, and she kept insisting on taking more lol. You can do this on your own with a book like I did, or with your partner.

Flower bath at the Udaya Resort & Spa - £35 (approx)

bali flower bath

5. Hop over to the Gili Islands. 



So the whole idea of us travelling to the Gili Islands was to see the underwater statues, but we were so hungover the day after that we only managed a bicycle ride around Gili Trawangan and some snorkling. Even that made me feel a bit queasy.

We stayed at Mad Monkey's on Gili T and we had our own private Tipi, and the communal showers were pretty modern. The atmosphere at the hostel was great and hosted pool parties too. Only difficulty was that the clubs and bars are on the other side of the island, which you either have to get to by foot (40 minutes), by bicycle or on a horse and carriage.

TIP: The Gili Islands consist of 3 main islands - Gili Trawangan is the most popular amongst backpackers and people looking for a bit more atmosphere, whereas Gili Air is better for a relaxing stay or a family holiday. Gili Meno is where you'll find the famous underwater statues but you can also hop from another island to get here. 

Transfers to and from Gili Islands - prices starting from £20 one way depending on speed of boat you choose. 

gili t

6. Visit the monkey forest.



If you're from Gibraltar then this probably won't impress you that much because we've got over a 100 macaques roaming around on the rock, but it was still a cute experience. You can find over 1000 monkeys here and the entry fee is around £4.

ubud monkey forest


7. Swim at Banyumala Twin Waterfalls. 



If you've got a driver in Bali then they'll probably suggest this 'lesser known' waterfall which is further up north. It wasn't too busy although you might be slightly out of breath when you're making your way back up to the carpark. Whilst you're here you can stop by the Handara Gate which is a 20 minute drive from here, and is where everyone takes the iconic photo below.

TIP: Don't let the photo fool you, the water effect is achieved by the camera man holding a mirror below the camera lens - it still looks awesome though! You can also expect to queue up for a photo here, luckily when we arrived at 9:30am there weren't many people there, but when we drove passed later in the afternoon there were at least 20 people waiting in line. 


handara gate

8. Go Temple hopping.



If you're not very religious, then I suggest picking a few you really want to see and stick to those, or else you'll be paying for entry fee every time you enter and you can end up wasting a lot of your day driving from place to place. I'd suggest visiting Pura Tirta Empul Temple and Ulun Danu Bratan. At Pura Tirta you can 'get purified' in the water, so if you plan on doing this make sure you pack a change of clothing!

TIP: I'd definitely recommend hiring a driver, it will save you a lot of money on taxis as you can usually hire a personal driver for 10 hours for around £40 a day for the whole car. We were recommended Dessy and the service was great. 



9. Watch the sunset at the Campuhan Ridge Walk.



The signage for this place isn't very clear, so when you follow google maps you might still have to ask a local nearby how to start the walk. We kind of left it too late and we were only arriving as the sun was already setting, so make sure to check when sunset is so you're not stuck in the jungle in the dark! We were also sweating buckets because the jumpsuits we bought from the market weren't exactly very breathable, so our photos didn't quite turn out as planned.

campuhan ridge walk

10. Eat in a warung. 


Warung translates to a family owned business or restaurant, and is where you will find authentic balinese food when you want a break from all the instagrammable acai bowls. Some of the best ones we visited were Warung Mendez, Warung Bintang and Warung Puspa. You'll find meals here range from £2 - £10.

warung ubud


Have you ever experienced any of these activities in Bali? Or do you have any others you enjoyed on your trip? 


G


tea with gi bali travel guide





AN ONLINE BIRTHDAY GIFT GUIDE FOR THE YEAR.

Monday, 30 March 2020

Over the last few weeks, I've had 6 friends' birthdays take place. In between me travelling and everyone self-isolating due to the coronavirus, we haven't actually got to celebrate any of them *sad times*. Luckily thanks to the internet, it's still easy to FT and say happy birthday or create a IG story post for them - who doesn't love being tagged in embarrassing old photos? It also means you don't have to physically see your friends or family to send them a present. Here are some gift ideas for any birthdays you have coming up! 

Browns Rosa Mer Collection - gifted



Under £20



The Sims 4  - the fact we all have a lot more time on our hands now means that we can get away with wasting several hours playing this. The game is currently at 75% off (£8.74), and if your friend already plays The Sims, why not buy them an expansion pack? 

Personal Growth Book - everyone has different tastes when it comes to reading, but pretty much everyone can benefit from reading a self-help or personal growth book. Some popular ones include 'Get Sh*t Done by Jeffrey Gitomer' 'you are a badass by Jen Sincero' and 'The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle'. 

Under £50



Eyeshadow Palette - my sister is the easiest person to buy for because she's very into her make-up, so every year I just buy her a new palette. The Morphe palettes are good quality for money, as you get 50 high pigmented colours in it for £24. 

An 'out out' outfit - if you know this person (and their style) pretty well, why not order one or a few items for their next night out? and we all know it's going to be a big one after the world finally defeats this virus. 

Under £100 



Event tickets - sadly the likelihood of attending any events over the next few months is slim, but a lot of artists are announcing tours for 2021 (a.k.a Harry Styles), so that is a safer bet. Even better if you can find something that you're both a fan of, so you can treat yourself too! 

Over £100



Jewellery - if you're looking to splurge a bit more, you can never go wrong with a pair of earrings (just make sure they have their ears pierced first). I very kindly received a pair of aquamarine and diamond stud earrings (£150) from Browns jewellery and I can't wait for the day to come that I can get dressed up to wear them. They are crafted from 9ct white gold and I love how the aquamarine gemstone shines in the light, without looking too blue. 

Air-pods - so I didn't actually know these were that expensive, I thought they cost £70! Turns out they start at £159. I wasn't that bothered about these because I have wireless headphones for the gym, but I borrowed my boyfriend's and well,  I now want a pair of my own *hint hint*. 

G



40 THINGS TO DO WHILST YOU ARE IN QUARANTINE.

Tuesday, 10 March 2020

As some of you know, or many of you because we all know how fast rumours  news spreads in Gibraltar, I have spent the last 14 days in quarantine in my bedroom to see if I developed any corona-esque symptoms. I think if you handed me a paper with 100 shades of blue I could probably tell you which one is the same colour as my walls because I've spent so many hours looking at them. I was in this position because last month I was travelling around Vietnam, and on my flight home my 2 hour layover in Bangkok, Thailand landed me a ticket to self-isolation for being on the 'high risk countries' list. Vietnam has had a total number of 20 cases of coronavirus and Thailand has had 43, but let's not talk about how those of us with no symptoms have had to be quarantined meanwhile passengers from UK (273 cases) and Spain (430 cases) have come in and out as they please. 

Anyway, it wasn't the end of the world. I felt like I was in a VIP prison - I had unlimited Wi-Fi, home cooked food brought to my door, unlimited phone calls and wine, which doesn't sound as lonely as I made my friends have a drink with me via FaceTime. I know there are others who are currently in quarantine (thanks to the frequent updates on social media), so if you're worried about going insane or finally sick of watching Netflix, I'm here with 40 things to do to keep yourself occupied.



NOTE: I wrote this blog post before Gibraltar went on semi-lockdown, so I have added a further 20 things to do in self-isolation/quarantine. I know being indoors sucks. A lot of my joy comes from having trips, festivals and social activities to look forward to, but this is not the time to be selfish. ⁣⁣You know what sucks more than cancelling holidays and not being able to go out partying? Losing people you love. Missing out on stuff for a few weeks or months is nothing in the grand scheme of things, especially if it will help slow down the spread of the virus. I also know a lot of people depend on routine and social activities to help with mental health, so that's why I've compiled this list. Just think about how great it will feel to celebrate once all of this is behind us.

40 things to do whilst you are in quarantine


1. Binge watch a TV series - I finally finished Power, and then my mum suggested I watch Toy Boy para 'practica tu espaƱol anda'. 

2. Go through your drawers and find letters, diaries and other stuff you wrote when you were younger, and cringe all over again. 

3. Download tik-tok, learn tik tok dances and then send them to your friends for their entertainment. 

4. Make a playlist of all the songs you're going to dance to when you're out of quarantine. 

5. Organise your wardrobe - find stuff you want to give away and stuff you want to bin. 

6.  Find out how long you can hold a plank for. 

7. Try not to think about how much fun everyone else is having in other countries where they're still allowed to go out, I suggest avoiding Instagram stories from the hours of 8pm-3am on a Friday night. 

8. Face Time people you haven't caught up with in a while, wine is optional. 

9. Come up with a new gym routine. 

10. Then make a new gym playlist. 

11. Think about what you want to get out of the rest of the year. 

12. Write a love letter, and then throw it in the bin when you realise how embarrassing and mushy you sound. 

13. Download The Sims. 

14. Go online shopping for all the significant events or nights out you're going to have once you are released from captivity to the outside world. 

15. Find a new recipe you can make once you have the luxury of going to the kitchen. 

16. Unsubscribe to the annoying emails you get. Unroll.me makes this pretty easy to do. 

17. Plan what you're going to go as for Halloween - it's never too early right?

18. Plan your future holidays. There's nothing I love more than creating a new google doc itinerary, ooft. 

19. Sleep in. You don't have anything important to wake up for anyway.

20. Think about how whilst you're lying in bed eating snacks and watching trash TV, some people still have to go to work.

21. Look at houses on RightMove in random places around the world that you know you'll never be able to afford.

22. Make a 'future' Pinterest board full of clothes, hairstyles, furniture or whatever you want to purchase once the world returns to normal.

23. Listen to albums you used to listen to in your teenage years, it's an instant mood booster.  Currently listening to All Time Low and I'm air guitaring around my room.

24. Wish everyone on your Facebook a happy birthday, now that you have the time to.

25. If like me you find quizzes and trivia amusing, head to Sporcle

26. Have a movie night with your friends via Netflix Party - whatever you're watching will be synced and there's a pop up chat on the side to discuss.

27. Learn a language - now you don't have the excuse that you don't have enough time (I must have redowloaded Duolingo 3 times).

28. Get your friends together on Skype, put some music on and play some drinking games as if you're heading out after, but instead you're going to collapse in bed.

29. Watch all 236 episodes of Friends, by the time you're done this will hopefully all be behind us.

30. Call your grandparents.

31. Fill up a 1.5 litre bottle of water every morning and make sure you've drank it by the end of the day.

32. Take 10 minutes a day to stretch or do yoga poses, or you'll be walking like Quasimodo once you can go outside again, trust me.

33. Find out if you could be the next Taylor Swift by attempting to write a song.

34. Try and learn a new skill online - Photoshop, coding, SEO etc.

35. Read some self-development books, here's 25 of the best.

36. Help where you can - if your country still isn't on total lockdown, help the elderly with their shopping or volunteer where you can.

37. Keep a gratitude journal. Since the beginning of the year I've been writing a highlight of everyday and it helps to focus on the positive or the little joys.

38. Have a family games night. If you don't have any board games download the Heads Up app.

39. Go through your camera roll and delete all your useless photos and screenshots.

40. Try and limit your talk about the virus, unless it's breaking news. Hearing all the negativity, panic and rumours surrounding the virus on social media will just make things and your mental health worse. Stay safe and informed, but don't let it control your life.


G



5 MUST HAVE EXPERIENCES WHEN TRAVELLING THE NORTH ISLAND IN NZ.

Sunday, 8 March 2020

New Zealand had been high on my list for a long time, although being from Gibraltar means that it isn't the easiest or cheapest place to get to. But after doing a working holiday in Australia, planning a trip to the neighbouring country suddenly seemed a lot more doable. I spent 10 days travelling around the North Island of New Zealand with the help of skip bus. Stopping in Auckland, Rotorua, Taupo and finally the capital, Wellington. These were my favourite 'must do' experiences. 

teawithgi tongariro crossing

1. Hobbiton Movie Set (Rotorua)



Probably the most visited attraction in the whole of New Zealand, is the Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit movie set. The attraction is in Matamata but there are tours running from Auckland and Rotorua and tickets are priced at $84NZD (£40). This includes transfers to the site and a guided tour around The Shire. Between us, I've only ever seen the first LODR movie so me and my friends just watched the trailers to the rest of the franchise films the night before.

hobbiton movie set

2. White Water Rafting (Rotorua)



This was super fun aside from the 2 minutes I got stuck in a rapid and my life flashed before my eyes. I'd never gone rafting before so I wasn't quite sure what to expect, apart from there was a high chance of us falling into water, in January. The team at Kaitiaki Adventures were so much fun and full of energy and it definitely added to the whole experience. We got to slide down the world's highest commercially wafter 7m waterfall, and none of us fell out of the raft! (the same can't be said for everyone).

rafting

3. Tongariro Alpine Crossing (Taupo)



Doing this trek first made Mount Batur in Bali seem like a walk in the park. This trek isn't for everyone, it's challenging and cold but the views are amazing. We made the stupid mistake of only bringing a t-shirt and jumper and forgot to factor in that the top of the mountain was going to be significantly colder. We were walking so fast to warm ourselves up that the 0 degrees temperature didn't hit us as hard. The track is 19.4km long and takes around 6 hours to complete. The best time to visit is between November and April, otherwise you'll need alpine skills to combat the snow, ice and sub-zero temperatures (definitely not for me). 

Even if you're not the fittest, you are given plenty of time to complete the hike at your own pace, as you're picked up at 5am. Just make sure you bring at least 1.5 litres of water, layers, a ham sandwich (never has the reward of a ham sandwich tasted so good) and waterproofs. 

tongariro alpine crossing


4. Bungy Jumping (Taupo)



Some people go on holiday to relax by the pool or get a massage done, and others voluntarily throw themselves off a cliff. I don't know if I would have been able to do it if the jump was over ground, instead it was over Waikato River. It's a 47m jump which you can do by yourself or tandem, and although their website states that you can 'touch the water with your fingers' I was dunked like a doughnut. As you can imagine the video was quite entertaining for my friends and family to watch. I think the scariest part was actually jumping off the edge, I felt like Wendy when she's made to walk the plank in Peter Pan but then once that's over you kind of want to get up there and do it again. The Taupo Bungy costs $185NZD. 

taupo bungy

5. Eat ice cream (Auckland) 



I'm not talking about a regular scoop of ice-cream - this is a unique, overpriced and gluttonous experience. Giapo's serves a range of unique ice-cream flavours and there's a variety of ways to have it. Including on a weird octopus chocolate cone, a set of lips and on a 'selfie' cone. There's usually a queue for this place, as once you're in you're talked through the process and get to sample all 12 flavours before you choose which one you'd like to go for. I chose the 'hokey pokey' flavour which is unique to NZ (vanilla ice cream with honeycomb pieces) and had it 'a little bit melted'. 

giapo ice cream auckland



Which of these activities would be up your street? If you've been to New Zealand, what were some of your favourite things to do?

G


what to do north island new zealand

PUTTING YOURSELF FIRST - MY SELF-CARE ADVICE.

Monday, 2 March 2020

[This post was written in collaboration with Bathrooms Direct Yorkshire who provide modern bathroom accessories and all other bathroom fittings at affordable prices.] 


I've been travelling around for two months and I'm finally back home, and it feels so good to just be able to do nothing and not feel guilty about it. This generation is so obsessed with being constantly busy, when all it does is wear us out and empty our pockets. I'm currently in self-isolation for two weeks because I had travelled to Vietnam (no symptoms, don't worry) so I've definitely had to think of creative ways to keep myself occupied or entertained. Here are a couple of ways I'm working on myself lately. 

tea with gi


1. Take a day to do whatever you want without feeling guilty about it. 


I spent yesterday in bed watching Power for 6 hours, eating a bag of twirl bites and learning Tik Tok dances on Youtube. If this was my life everyday then yes it would be worrying, but it was a Sunday and sometimes you just need a day to do nothing productive and just give your body what it needs or craves, and on this particular day it was an excessive amount of chocolate. I can now go a few days without eating it and all will be good. 


2. Get a skincare routine (or don't). 


I know every self-care article tells you to go run a bubble bath and put on a face mask, but that isn't everyones ideal way to relax. Personally, I have a lot more fun using those floss sticks to floss between by braces or cleaning my ears. 


3. Use your hands. 


I always find writing in my journal therapeutic. If writing isn't your thing then drawing, painting, colouring. Anything that allows your brain to work in a different way than it does when you're just scrolling through Instagram or Twitter. 

4. Have a highlight of the day.


I started this last year and it's so nice to look back on, but it also allows you to find a moment of joy in even the most insignificant days. I have a note on my phone titled '365 days of happiness' and just as it sounds, every day I write a line on what the highlight of the day has been. Even if it's something as small as having a really nice coffee at breakfast. 

5. Learn to say no. 

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, being busy isn't always the best thing for us. That also means learning to say no to plans that you're not really interested in, or saying no to catching up with people who don't interest you at all or bring negative energy. It doesn't make you mean, it just means valuing your time and choosing to spend time with people who uplift and inspire you. 


6. Disconnect. 


It might not be as easy to go on a holiday or climb a mountain but just taking sometime to disconnect from social media and just be present does a world of good. Go to the beach, go on a walk or find some good trekking spots in your area. 


G








GIVING YOUR BEDROOM A SPRING UPDATE.

Saturday, 29 February 2020

[this is a collaborative post but all words and opinions are my own]


I've always been one of those people who feel the need to move furniture around in my bedroom every couple of months, because it seems to bring me a new sense of motivation for work and life - anyone else? with spring being just a month away, most people will start get into 'spring cleaning' and revamping their personal space. Here are some ways you can give your room a fresh look without breaking the bank.

Image Source


1. Get some wall art. 


Back in the day my room was covered with Justin Bieber and One Direction posters that I'd pull out of magazines, at 25 that isn't really acceptable anymore is it? One of my favourite websites for finding high quality prints for your house is desenio, and they'll cost you a quarter of the price of finding a wall art in a store.

2. Get a new carpet. 


Depending what kind of flooring you have in your house, this can be easier said than done. If you've got carpet floors these can sometimes need updating more often as they can start to fade. Cream carpets are always nice but if you drink a lot of red wine it's always a risky choice isn't it?


3. Make a working space. 


Right now I'm writing this blog post sat in bed, because I've got too much stuff on my table at the moment to sit my laptop down. If you're also a blogger, or study or generally do any work from home then create a space in your room where you can sit down and do this. Get some nice stationery, some motivating quotes on the wall and a desk planner and you'll actually be looking forward to sitting down and working.

4. Get new bedding. 


One of my favourite parts of moving into a new place is buying new bedding (especially at university). For the time being, I'm staying put so it just means buying new bedding for the season. Primark always has a variety of options at very affordable prices. 

5. Add some life into it. 


I always find having a house plant or flowers just makes a room look more homely and well, fresh. You don't need to overdo it especially if you don't think looking after plants or flowers is for you, as having a room full of dead flowers will have the opposite effect. If that's the case just get a fake plant, no one will know the difference but you!


What are some ways you give your room an update?

G




BEING THE BEST VERSION OF YOURSELF IN 2020.

Thursday, 27 February 2020

[this post is written in collaboration with NiaWigs but all words and opinions are my own.]


So in 2019 I read my fair share of self-help books - how to be a badass, how to attract the things you want in life and just generally how to do you. I've just spent the last two months travelling through New Zealand and South East Asia and it's involved a lot of time on planes, trains and buses to (over)think about life. I wouldn't say travelling has made me 'find myself' but it has made me wonder what I can do this year to be the best version of myself. 

tea with gi


1. Compete against yourself. 


There's no point trying to match the success of your friends or people in the same industry as you. It's easy to become complacent in life so it's always good to push yourself that little bit further whether it's with your fitness goals, career or personal growth. 

2. Just start. 


Sometimes it takes me so much energy to start writing a blog post. I make myself a coffee, walk around the house a bit, get distracted and start texting people on Whatsapp and then end up saying 'it's too late I'll do it tomorrow' when to be honest if I just open a new blog post and start writing it's easy to get into the flow of things. 

The same goes for starting anything, a marathon, joining the gym, writing a book or learning to play an instrument. We spend so much energy thinking about doing these things and everything that can go wrong when the best thing to do really is just start

3. Have something that is yours. 


I think as we get older we start questioning what our 'purpose' is in life right? Most of us end up working for someone else and it can be hard to feel fulfilled in life. That's why I like having my little space on the internet, it's something that is mine and that I can work on and that has also given me a lot of wonderful opportunities. I think having a side hustle however big or small is a great way to have a sense of purpose and to put your energy into. For other people, having something that is yours can be more literal - like having babies

4. Learn to accept yourself. 


No matter what age you are, we're always going to have insecurities, regrets, things that we would like to change about ourselves and things we wish we could do. Instead of spending time dwelling on the negatives, it's important to look at the things you have achieved, and your own qualities. I've accepted I'm never going to look like all the fitness bloggers I see on my feed, and I'm ok with that. 

5. But it's never too late to reinvent yourself. 


I never thought I'd see the day I got rid of my red hair but last year I took the plunge and stripped my hair and went lighter. If you don't want to commit to a drastic haircut or change of colour then take a page out of Kylie Jenner's book and use a wig. NiaWigs provide a range of high quality wigs for all types of hair, including lace front wigs

6. Have a vision. 


This is where I'm going to bring a little thing called the law of attraction into this, and well a bit of planning. I basically wrote down everything I wanted to achieve in life and how I was going to get there. As well as what qualities I think the best version of myself would have (probably to be a bit less messy). I know people who go one step further and make a 'vision board' by drawing things too but it's all up to you. Then vision yourself having these things. That's basically how the law of attraction works and there's a ton of articles and youtube videos on manifesting the life you want. 



HOW TO SPEND 48 HOURS IN MIJAS, SPAIN.

Friday, 7 February 2020

[this blog post is written in collaboration with Clickstay but all words and opinions are my own.]

Growing up in Gibraltar meant that taking a summer holiday to Spain was the norm several times a year as we are literally a stones throw away from the Spanish border. The great thing about travelling up the coast is that each town or city has it's own unique character and even though I was never that far from home it still allowed for that feeling of escapism and fun (and hotel buffets). One place I spent a lot of weekends in was Mijas. Mijas is located on the Costa Del Sol, around 1hr 20 minutes drive from Gibraltar or 35 minutes from Malaga Airport. It's quite a quaint little town filled with white houses, beaches and great tapas. If you're planning a vacation to Andalusia, here's my guide on spending a weekend in Mijas, Spain.

mijas


Where to stay 


Mijas is one of the Costa Del Sol's more relaxing towns, so why not take full advantage of that and stay in a villa. Clickstay offers a large variety of Villas in Mijas and there's a good selection whether you're travelling with your friends, family or partner. I prefer this kind of accommodation if you're travelling in a group, as it means you can take advantage of the outdoor space and have BBQs, wine nights or even a game of Monopoly.

Photo Credit

What to do 

1. Walk around the Old Town (Pueblo).

If you're looking for a few photo ops then this is the place to go. The old town is full of white houses, flower pots, cobblestones and the Plaza de Torros. Which is also a great place to grab a cerveza (beer) and some tapas. 

2. Visit the Aquamijas water park. 

When I was younger this would always be one of the highlights of my summer. Whether you're travelling with kids or just fancy some water fun yourself (you're never really too old for this are you?) it's a great day out option and after spending a couple of days in the Spanish heat, throwing yourself in pools is exactly what you'll want. The park is open from June until late September and they have discounted tickets for children.  

3. Visit the 'museum of miniatures'. 

As the name suggests, the Museo de Miniaturas is full of hundreds of miniature items picked up by the hypnotist and magician Juan Elegido Millan. One of the most interesting pieces is a painting of the Seven Wonders of the World, on a toothpick, yes a toothpick

4. Take a day trip to Gibraltar. 


Since you're already that close to it, why not tick another country off your bucket list? Gibraltar is a British overseas territory situated on the most southern tip of Europe. It is separated from Spain by a border so make sure you remember your passport! You'll find people here speak English and Spanish, and you'll be able to find a mix of cuisines and influences here. Here's a complete list of things to do in Gibraltar

5. Visit the Castillo de Colomares

Another great photo spot, the Castillo (castle) was built in the 80s and is a ode to Christopher Columbus. 

6. Take an evening walk through the 'Paseo Maritimo' 

One of my favourite things about Spain is that the atmosphere usually doesn't die down anywhere until midnight, even on weekdays. Most Spanish families will have dinner at 9pm, and you will still see children out and playing at this time too around the restaurants. The paseo maritimo (promenade walk) is usually filled with little shops that stay open late, ice cream stalls, restaurants and chiringuitos (beach bar).  

What to eat

I couldn't write a post without sharing some of my favourite Spanish meals (or tapas) with you guys. So here they are

Patatas Bravas - fried potatoes that are covered in a slightly spicy tomato based sauce.

Berejenas en Miel - aubergine/eggplant that are cut into chips, fried and then drizzled in honey. 

Croquetas - croquettes are small round breadcrumbed rolls that come with different fillings. My favourite being ham or spinach. 

Tortilla de Patata - basically a very thick omelette, with potatoes mixed in too. 

Ensaladilla Rusa - a cold potato based salad that is mixed with mayo, tuna, olives and peas. 


Have you ever been to Spain before? What parts have you visited?







HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OF ONE DAY IN AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND.

Friday, 17 January 2020

I've done my fair share of city breaks, and what I've learnt is most of the time you can pretty much see everything you want to see in the space of one or two days. Today marks my last day in New Zealand after travelling around the North Island for 9 days. When planning this trip I couldn't leave out Auckland and Wellington, but knew I wanted to spend most of my time in NZ doing some more adventurous stuff and on top of mountains and stuff. Here's my guide to spending one day in Auckland, and where to stay.

mount eden auckland

Getting to Auckland 

Auckland doesn't have an underground train system, but it does have a shuttle that runs 24 hours from Auckland airport to get you to your accommodation (or close to it). The SkyBus costs $17 and I believe has two or three departures every hour. The bus also has free wi-fi!

Where To Stay | Queen Street Backpackers 


This backpackers is located right in the centre of the city so you won't need to catch any public transport to get to anywhere you want to go (other than the airport). The hostel provides complimentary breakfast (toast, spreads and cereal) and the rooms were clean. It does get a bit noisy at night because it's close to the clubs, so they also provide earplugs for that if you're a light sleeper! 

Breakfast - No1 Pancake 


You'll find this place on most eating guides for Auckland, as it's good and cheap! They serve a range of savoury and sweet pancake options that are all under $10, so it's a great option if you're on a budget.

Auckland Sky Tower

I mean personally this isn't the most impressive thing to see so you'll probably look at it for two minutes and get on with your day. However, if you've got money to spend and looking for a more thrill seeking experience, you can actually walk along the outside of the tower for $150 (and lean over the edge if you want to). If you want something every scarier, you can try the SkyJump, which is probably as scary as it sounds. 

auckland sky tower


Climb up Mount Eden 

Mount Eden is a dormant volcano (phew) and also the highest natural point in Auckland, which means you can get some pretty cool views of the city. The walk to the top from the city takes 30 - 45 minutes, so its a pretty easy hike up and will prepare you for the bigger ones yet to come if you're travelling more of New Zealand. 

Auckland Domain 

If you don't fancy walking back down, you can get a OuterLink bus from Mount Eden to the Domain. This is the oldest park in Auckland and if you want to get some picturesque photos then head to the Wintergardens which has a glasshouse full of tropical plants.
  

Lunch - Better Burger 

New Zealand's answer to Five Guys. I was disappointed they didn't have mayonnaise because, who doesn't have chips with mayo?!

better burger

Free Walking Tour

I always do these the first day I get to a city because it's a great way to get your bearings, learn a bit more about the city and get some insider knowledge and tips on what to do and the best places to eat.  We went with Auckland Free Walking Tours and they do two tours daily at 10am and 2pm and the tour runs for around 2.5 hours. Essentially they're free but you tip them whatever you think the tour was worth at the end! 


Have an ice-cream at Giapo's 

We were probably in here for 45 minutes so you definitely need to set some time aside for this! There's usually queues out the door for this place but it was pretty short when we went at 4pm. When you enter one of the staff members will take you through the different ways you can have your ice-cream served (there are some very extra cone designs available) and get to sample all 8 flavours before deciding. I went with New Zealand's famous hokey pokey ice cream which is vanilla ice-cream with honeycomb bits, and had it 'slightly melted'. Prices start at $8 so you will be paying slightly more than if you were to just get a scoop up the road. 

hokey pokey ice cream

Dinner - Satya Soul Indian Restaurant

This place is relatively cheap without compromising on taste (or portion size). It's also a BYO establishment so you can bring a bottle of wine along with you and start your pre drinks early if you plan on heading out after. 

Frenzi Pub Crawl 

If you're looking for cheap deal drinks then I recommend this pub crawl that takes place every Thursday. For $10 you get entry to four nightclubs in Auckland as well as a complimentary drink in each. They also have drink deals for people on the pub crawl so you can get a basic & mixer for $5. 

Have you ever been to Auckland? What were your highlights?

G



auckland itinerary tea with gi


TRAVELLING THE EAST COAST WITH GREYHOUND AUSTRALIA.

Wednesday, 8 January 2020

I'm currently sat in the common room at my hostel in Sydney after taking a 13 hour overnight coach from Byron Bay. Since I've still got a good 5 hours until I can check-in, I thought it would be a good time to pour a cup of coffee and start writing about my trip so far. If you follow me on this blog or on my socials, you'll probably know I spent 10 months living in Brisbane, and last week set off on a two week east coast trip from Cairns down to Sydney. I've been very lucky to be able to collaborate with Greyhound Australia who got me across the country in one piece. If you're currently planning your east coast trip and looking for tips, things to do and where to stay, look no further. 

tea with gi australia east coast


Transport 



So the easiest way to travel around the east coast of Australia (and some of Northern Territory) is with the Greyhound coach service. I flew from Brisbane to Cairns and then over 8 coach trips have made my way down to Sydney. I was gifted a 15 day Whimit pass which gave me unlimited travel on their coaches within 15 days, in any direction. I was very lucky to have two seats to myself 90% of the time. The longest trip I did was 13 hours and I expected it to be a lot worse to be honest! The coach departed at 7:30pm and I tried to stay awake until 11pm and then sleep overnight just as I would on a bed. With the help of my melatonin tablets, my neck cradle pillow and eye mask it was quite a smooth journey. The coaches are air conditioned, have free Wi-Fi (admittedly a bit on the slow side) and the seats are spacious. If you're going to be making a lot of stops on your trip I'd definitely recommend getting a Whitmit pass as it works out more cost effective than buying individual trips.

greyhound australia

The Route



To make things easier, here's a map of the main stops Greyhound makes. Don't let the closeness in dots trick you, as some journeys will still be 9 hours! My journey took me from Cairns - Townsville (Magnetic Island) - Airlie Beach - Agnes Water - Hervey Bay - Noosa (different trip) - Byron Bay - Sydney.

Photo Credit



CAIRNS



Where to Stay: Gilligan's Hotel and Resort 


Can you believe I went to one of Australia's biggest party hostels and didn't party? In between my flight being 4 hours delayed and arriving to Cairns at 11pm, and then my sea sickness dilemma the day after I think I was pretty satisfied with just having a good rest and a cup of tea. I had my own private deluxe room and I was surprised by how modern it was. Gilligan's offers shared dorms but if you're travelling in a couple or fancy your space then booking into a private room means you get your privacy but also all the social aspects of a hostel. If you are planning on partying then Gilligans nightclub is two steps from the hostel, and there are also a ton of other activities going on in the hostel every day. 

Free Breakfast ✔️
Free Wi-Fi ✔️
Free Shuttle from airport ✔️

* I received a complimentary stay at Gilligan's Resort for review.


greyhound australia


Where to Eat: 


Breakfast at Caffeind - try the chilli eggs or homemade banana and walnut bread which comes with caramelised banana, coconut gelato and coconut caramel sauce.

Lunch at Gilligan's - they offer $5 meals (and they're big portions too).

Dinner at Moku Bar & Grill - for some insta-worthy plates and a varied selection of seafood and meat. It's located in the Novotel Cairns Oasis Resort so the views are pretty good too.

What to Do:


Great Barrier Reef Dive - There are tons of companies offering trips out to the Great Barrier Reef and they can range from $150 - $400. If you're paying to go out there then I 100% recommend doing a dive, as you won't see half as much if you must go snorkelling. I booked mine through Visit Cairns and they have a variety of tours on their website for all budgets.

So story time, I'm not usually someone who gets seasick, but man this had to be the worst 3 hour boat journey of my life (and I did the blue lagoon ferry trip in Malta when I was hangover and running on two hours sleep). I'm not sure if it was the waves, or that my stomach was feeling a bit fragile that morning but I threw up a total of 5 times on the day, not fun. That aside, the scuba diving was an insane experience. Breathing through a tube underwater takes some getting used to and your ears can get a bit painful as you descend but 100% worth it. Make sure you do some research into the area the boat goes to, as some will be 'prettier' than others.

Daintree Rainforest - The Daintree rainforest is the oldest rainforest in the world, and it's only 2 hours away from Cairns. I recommend booking a day tour like this Daintree Wilderness tour which will guide you through all the different environments in the rainforest, includes a tropical lunch and a cruise along the river.

great barrier reef dive

Practical Advice:

  • If you are planning on scuba diving, make sure you're not planning on flying for 48 hours after. As the pressure could mess with your little ears! 


TOWNSVILLE (MAGNETIC ISLAND)



Where to Stay:  Bungalow Bay Koala Village 


If you have spent the weekend partying it up in Cairns, then Magnetic Island is the perfect place to unwind. I slept in a Bungalow and I had the nicest day just chilling on a hammock by the pool reading, getting to know the animals and waking up to two Wallaby's outside my door in the morning. Bungalow Bay has its own wildlife sanctuary so you don't have to go far to cuddle a koala! My Bungalow came with a double bed, a fan, a fridge and tea and coffee making facilities. There's a communal kitchen, bathrooms and a pool on site.
Free Wi-Fi
 in reception area ✔️

* I received a complimentary stay at Bungalow Bay for review.


bungalow bay

Where to Eat: 


Breakfast at The Early Bird - filled with all your usual healthy goodies, avocado toast, acai bowls and power smoothies.

Lunch at Cafe Nourish - like the name suggests, this cafe is filled with clean meals and has plenty of vegan options.

Dinner at Sandi's - located along the beach so it's a great place to watch the sunset. Good seafood!

What to Do:


Wildlife tour - Bungalow Bay offers daily wildlife tours where you get the chance to learn about Australia's animals and get to cuddle a koala (the one I met was called Pebbles, cute). I also learnt that Wombats can kill Dingos with their butts, pretty awesome.

Hire a Topless car - I don't have a drivers license so couldn't do this myself, but you'll see these little cars scattered around the island. They're definitely the quickest and most stylish way to get around the island!

koala tea with gi


Practical Advice:

  • Where the Greyhound coach drops you off, you will find the ferry terminal in Townsville to Magnetic Island. If you buy your ticket online in advance you will save $4. 


AIRLIE BEACH



Where to Stay: Base Backpackers


So Base was my first shared dorm experience on this trip, and what are the chances that after booking into a 6 bed room, I was the only one in it. My first thought was, omg I'm going to spend Christmas Day alone. Luckily I met a lovely bunch of people in the pool area and spent most of my 3 days with them there. The beds were comfy, clean and there were large lockers provided in each room. The room also had an en-suite bathroom, so no long walks to the shower with all your toiletries. If you're looking to make friends on your trip, this is the hostel for you.

Lockers in room ✔️
Free Wi-Fi ✔️

Where to Eat: 


Breakfast at Cafe One 3 - great coffee and range of breakfast options

Lunch at Bohemian Raw Cafe - I was craving an acai bowl and walked 15 minutes up hill in the heat to get to this place, but it was worth it!

Dinner at Boaty's - this pub belongs to Base backpackers and they offer an $18 meal deal which gets you a meal and an alcoholic drink!

What to Do:

Sail the Whitsundays - the main reason people stop at Airlie is to get the boat to Whitsundays from the port. The most common trip for backpackers is to do a 1 or 2 night tour and you spend most of your time on the boat dancing and drinking. Since I was doing this trip by myself I didn't want to take the risk of being sat in the corner of the boat by myself with a drink and throwing up over the boat. So instead I went for the half day tour to Whitehaven beach and admittedly it was a bit rushed, I could have stayed there for a good 5 hours and we only got 1 and a half on the beach.

Lagoon - from what I heard it isn't really recommended to go swimming in the sea, but Airlie do have a lagoon in the town that's free to go swimming at.

whitehaven beach



Practical Advice:


  • If you're looking to see the iconic Whitsundays 'swirls' of sand and sea then make sure you book on to the full-day tour, as you won't have time to see it on a half-day tour *cries*.


AGNES WATER



Where to Stay: Backpackers at 1770 


For some bizarre reason, I thought it would be ok to arrive in Agnes Water at 6am, head to the beach all day and then get the next bus at 9pm to Hervey Bay. Luckily my brain realised that that would be an awful idea, especially since it was raining during the morning. So I booked a bed for the day and it was great to catch up on sleep and chat with other travellers. There was definitely a very friendly 'hippy' vibe here and everyone was so welcoming. The hostel offered breakfast and dinner for $5 each, cooked by one of the people staying there.

Lockers in room ✔️
Free Wi-Fi in reception (500mb per day) ✔️

backpackers at 1770


What to Do:

Surf - the beach at 1770 is pretty good if you want to try your hand at surfing. The hostel I stayed at allowed you to rent a surfboard for $15 which is a pretty good deal.

Skydive - I didn't quite pluck up the courage to do this (or have the money for it) but Agnes Water is a great place to skydive as you'll get views of the Fraser Coast and the Great Barrier Reef. You can get a skydiving deal for $299.

Practical Advice:


  • Agnes Water (1770) is a more chilled out spot. I wouldn't recommend spending more than 1 night here unless you really need to replenish your body and just do nothing for a couple of days.


HERVEY BAY (FRASER ISLAND)



Where to Stay: Flashpackers Hervey Bay


This was the part of the trip I was dreading because my bus got in at 1am, and I was already imagining the difficulty of getting into my bunk bed and doing the sheets in darkness and as silent as I could. I ended up getting to the hostel at 2:30am because the only taxi company in Hervey Bay took an hour and a half to come pick me up, even though I pre-booked it. Anyway, once I got to the hostel everything went smoothly. There was an envelope waiting for me in the postbox with the key and instructions, and even though I got a top bunk I managed. I practically spent no money here as breakfast was free and in the evening one of the staff members informed me they were having a free 'sausage sizzle'.

Lockers in room ✔️
Free Breakfast ✔️
Free Wi-Fi ✔️
Free Greyhound pick-up and drop-off ✔️

* I received a complimentary night stay at Flashpacker's for review.

flashpackers hervey bay


What to Do:

Fraser Island - again the main reason people go to Harvey Bay is to access Fraser Island. I was pressed for time so only did a day tour, and whilst most backpackers do a 2 night trip and end up meeting lots of other young folk and drinking. I ended up in a small coach with a family of 10 Slovenians with 6 loud children. I did meet a very friendly elderly couple though who shared a few interesting stories with me. The skies were pretty grey but Lake McKenzie was still beautiful.

lake mckenzie fraser island


Practical Advice:


  • If possible try and plan your trip so your greyhound arrives into Hervey Bay before 11pm. My bus got in at 1am and I was left waiting at the stop in the dark for an hour and a half for my taxi to arrive even though I had pre booked it. The reviews seemed to say they had had similar experiences. Sadly this is the only taxi company in Hervey Bay so you don't have much choice but to wait. 


BYRON BAY 




Where to Stay: Backpackers Inn on the Beach


This was probably the best hostel location wise, as the main beach was literally attached to the back of the hostel. We stayed in a 4 bed shared dorm and the bathrooms and showers were just one door down from us. The hostel is a 5-10 minute walk from all the shops and cafes in Byron and also has its own restaurant, pool area and volleyball court.

Lockers in room ✔️
Free Wi-Fi ✔️

Where to Eat: 


Breakfast at Safya Cafe -
good coffee, good avocado toast, what else do you need?

Lunch at Orgasmic cafe - I can confirm, their hummus plate with pita bread was orgasmic.

Dinner at Elixiba - as you can expect in Byron, it is filled with vegan and GF cafe options. The whole menu in Elixiba is plant based. Me and my friend shared the coco-mari tacos and the raw enchiladas and they did not disappoint.

elixiba byron

What to Do:

Byron Bay Lighthouse - my dumb self thought we could walk from Byron Bay up to the Lighthouse, which would have probably taken us 2 and a half hours. Luckily one of us drove up and then we walked around the area and down to the edge of the cliffs. It does give some great views of Byron.

byron bay lighthouse


Nimbin - Nimbin is the 'green' capital of Australia, if you get my drift. It's filled with colourful shops, cookies, little boutique stores and a lot of hemp coffee shops. We went with Happy Coach which cost us $55. We had a couple of stops along the way and lunch was included, our guide Princess Fiona was fab and provided all of the happy tunes on the coach tide.

nimbin


Practical Advice:


  • When having cookies, always listen to what the chef recommends. 


SYDNEY 



Where to Stay: Asylum Seekers Backpackers 

When finding somewhere to stay in Sydney for 5 nights, I expected to pay anything starting from $200, even in hostels. After a bit of searching the world wide web, I came across Asylum Hostels and we paid a total of $160 each for 5 nights. The hostel is small and in a heritage building, so you really get a home away from home feeling. The staff are friendly and you get used to seeing the same faces at breakfast every morning. The hostel is on the more peaceful side, and they have 3 dogs on the premises (one being a rescue dog) and they encourage guests to take them for a walk if you want to. The hostel is a 2 minute walk from Kings Cross train station, and Coles and Woolworths are also a stones throw away. The room with a fan got quite hot, so if they have availability in the air conditioned room, go for this!  

Lockers in room ✔️
Free Wi-Fi ✔️
Free Breakfast  ✔️

Where to Eat: 

Breakfast at Oracle - we had originally planned to go to Joseph Hyde but ended up here instead. They're both located on a narrow alley way on Llankelly Place so you've got a couple of options there. I had eggs Benedict whilst my friend had the overloaded croissant with scrambled eggs and bacon.

Lunch at Speedos Cafe - make sure to stop here when you're in the Bondi area. Their menu is very instagram-able and it took me a good 10 minutes to decide between the caramelised banana and chia pancakes, the blue bliss bowl and the pitaya chia pot. In the end I went with the latter and it was delicious.

speedos cafe bondi beach


Dinner at Hotel CBD Bar - Australia hasn't got many signature dishes of it's own, but it does pride itself on making a good meat pie. So I opted for the meat pie with mashed potatoes and mushroom gravy and it was sooo goood.

What to Do:

Free walking tour of Sydney - whenever I travel to any new city I always check to see if they offer any free walking tours, as they're a great way to get your bearings and learn a bit of history behind the landmarks that you're looking at (and burn off all the extra calories you've been eating). The I'm Free tour takes you from Town Hall all the way to Circular Quay, and our guide Aida made the tour interesting and entertaining. Note the tour is free but you are expected to tip something.

Coogee to Bondi walk - we ended up doing this on the hottest day on our trip, which was great for our tanning and jumping into the water at Bondi. Not so great when you're walking for an hour and a half up and down hills and steps. It was a very pleasant walk and there are a few other nice beaches to stop off along the way, and some will be less crowded than Bondi!

tea with gi bondi


The Rocks markets - on the weekends The Rocks puts on a market full of independent stores and food stalls. Me and Caia got lovely matching necklaces there.

Mrs Macquarie's for best view of Opera House and Sydney Bridge - to get here you walk through the botanical gardens, and when we got there we were sat on a bench looking at the view thinking, wow we're actually in Sydney. If you'd like to get in the photo, they will look very small in the background so just walk round towards the Opera House and you'll get some good, less crowded photo spots.

The Grounds of Alexandria - another instagram spot for you ladies. The cafe here is in a sort of observatory filled with pretty plants and flowers.

Manly - a lot of people say they prefer this beach to Bondi as it tends to be a lot less crowded. You can catch the ferry from Circular Quay and it will cost you around $10.

Visit the free museums - both the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Art Gallery are free to enter and so are most of the exhibitions. They're also within a 20 minute walk of each other.

tea with gi sydney opera house

Practical Advice:


  • You can use your debit or credit card to tap on and off when using the public transport in Sydney (trains and buses). Just make sure you use the same card throughout the day as after a certain amount it will cap off, so the rest of your trips will be 'free'. I believe the amount is $16 on weekdays and $3 on Sundays. 
  • If you're getting the train to the airport, you can pay half the price by getting the train 1 stop earlier to Mascot, and then take a bus from there to the airport. 

I've also got travel guides for Brisbane, Melbourne and Surfers Paradise (Gold Coast). I also recommend stopping by Noosa, we spent a weekend there and the vibe was great. If you have any questions for any of these places just drop me a message or email! 

G



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[Disclaimer: I received complimentary travel with Greyhound Australia and some of my accommodation was also covered, but my words and opinions are my own.]
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