Exploring Island Life in Boa Vista, Cape Verde

Our trip to Cape Verde was a year ago now so I thought it was about time I finally wrote about it seeing as it’s one of the places I get asked about most often.  A lot of people have either never heard of this small collection of islands dotted just off the coast of West Africa or they don’t know much about the destination.  In all honesty I didn’t know much about the islands either and was under the impression that it was just a relaxing holiday destination with large all inclusive resort hotels and not much else to do.

Me being me, I obviously looked into what there is to do on the island because there’s only so long I can sit on the beach or around the pool before getting bored and I always like to get out and explore somewhere new.  Boa Vista literally translates as “good view” in Portuguese so it only seemed fitting that we venture outside the resort in search of these good views.

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Where to stay in the Big Sur

A Big Sur Escape at The Blue Dolphin Inn, Cambria

Although our American trip was almost a year ago now, we had such a brilliant time that I still have so much to write about even so long after.  I still haven’t written about all the amazing sights on our road trip through the Big Sur, I’ve not told you about everything there is to see in Vegas even if you don’t like gambling, and I’ve still not shared the details of our funky campervan adventures, so I thought it was about time the blog got back onto the USA.

One of my favourite parts of the adventure was our road trip along the stunning Big Sur coastline so I thought I’d start off by sharing one of the best places to stay along this part of the Pacific Coast Highway.

We had spent the previous night in Carmel-by-the-Sea, one of the prettiest little towns in California.  There is so much to see and do through the Big Sur, from national parks and magical waterfalls to famous bridges and sandy beaches, plus more viewpoints along the coastline than I can mention in one blog post, each with a more gorgeous view than the last.  We knew it was going to be a long day and wanted to take it slow so we would have time to fit everything in, so we decided to spend the next night in Cambria, a little beachfront town at the southern end of the Big Sur.  The Blue Dolphin Inn was right on the seafront broadwalk, just steps away from the sand of Moonstone Beach, and I loved the idea of going to sleep and waking up to the sound of the waves.

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Sensimar Marmaris Imperial

All-Inclusive Luxury at Sensimar Marmaris Imperial

If you know me at all you will know that all-inclusive package holidays just aren’t my thing.  While the idea of my pasty skin turning a lovely summery bronze is very much welcome, the thought of lying still on a beach for days, eating the same repetitive buffet food all week and not seeing more than the walls of the resort for the entire trip, makes me shudder.

But when Mr Ayla pretty much begged me for a relaxing summer holiday this year without all the constant sightseeing, the tiresome walking for hours and the endless research and explorations, I kind of felt like I should indulge him for a change. Trust me when I say this doesn’t happen often. 

Of course I still put in hours of research – because I’m not just going to go to any old place – and despite my initial horror at a break that involved nothing more than slapping on some sun cream every day, I eventually came across the Sensimar Marmaris Imperial Hotel.  This picture perfect hillside resort along the Turkish coast jumped straight out at me as somewhere that looked like it would suit us both.  There were sun beds galore and food and drink on tap for the Mr, while still looking beautifully traditional for me with the most beautiful views (obviously I have to consider my Instagram pics when I book any trip) and a nearby town for exploring for when my feet got fidgety as they no doubt would.

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Where to stay in Los Angeles

A Chic Beachfront Stay at the Shore Hotel, Santa Monica

Los Angeles was the last stop on our American adventure and I couldn’t think of a better way to finish our trip in style than with a stay at the luxuriously glamorous Shore Hotel in Santa Monica.  Although this part of town is a fair bit pricier than central LA and Hollywood, Santa Monica is a whole lot classier and prettier, with a chilled out beach vibe, miles of sandy beaches, the bright blue sea, and a host of sophisticated restaurants and bars.

We had driven from the sunny blue skies of the Big Sur coast but almost as soon as we made it to Los Angeles, in typical fashion, it started to rain.  Isn’t LA supposed to have year round sunshine?! Apparently not for us.  It seemed that we weren’t going to get our chance to frolic on the miles of gorgeous sandy beaches.  No watching surfers catching some waves or seeing the pumped up bodies working out at Muscle Beach.  But it was still a beautiful part of California and a little bit of rain has never stopped us from doing anything!

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Carmel California

Carmel-by-the-Sea: The Prettiest Little Town in California

Having lived in London my whole life I’ve always been a city girl, craving the flurry of people and the buzz of city life.  Never have I imagined myself living anywhere quiet or calm, away from the tall skyscrapers, the hum of traffic and the fast-paced way of life.  Not until I visited Carmel-by-the-Sea.

Surrounded by the seaside town of Monterey Bay, the mountainous wineries and one of the most beautiful coastlines I’ve ever seen, this picturesque village on the coast of California is charm personified.  The pretty streets, quaint cottages and ocean views made me feel as if we’d driven straight into the pages of a story book and its quirky laws and restrictions – such as no postal addresses, high heels or fast food restaurants – just make this town even more quirky and endearing.

Being such a pretty town it was only right that we also stay in the prettiest of accommodations and the Colonial Terrace was just that.  As soon as we arrived, the first thing I noticed was the glittering blue sea just a 2 minute walk from the doorstep.  A difficult feature not to notice when the waves and white sand are calling you towards them, but first we went to check in and unwind in the comfort of our room.

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A weekend in Brighton

A Valentine’s Weekend in Brighton

Apart from family trips when I was little, as well as the odd night out in my slightly wilder days of partying and actually being able to cope with a hangover, Brighton is somewhere that I haven’t really seen in years.  So when my mum gave us a Segway experience voucher for Christmas, we decided to spend Valentine’s weekend trying out this new adventure near Brighton and then spending the rest of the weekend exploring the city.

After an afternoon of fun whizzing our way through the woods on our Segways, with me desperately trying to avoid tree trunks while attempting to keep up with Mr Ayla, we made our way down to the seaside.  Thankfully we didn’t have too much mud to wash off ourselves before heading out for dinner where, for once, I didn’t take a single photo of our food.  Shock horror I know!  But it was Valentine’s weekend and we just wanted to enjoy our meal for a change.  (I think Mr Ayla was rather happy that he was able to eat his food while it was still hot without all my photo taking!) 

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sunset in jersey

Dreaming of a Romantic Escape to Jersey

With full time jobs, mortgages and all those other sorts of responsibilities that grown ups have to deal with, it can sometimes be hard to find enough time to jet off to all these different destinations that we’d love to.  But I’m not the sort of person who lets a few tedious responsibilities get in my way and so I try to make the most of every single holiday and weekend that I have.  We take full advantage of every bank holiday weekend as they’re perfect for taking a short weekend break somewhere a bit closer to home.

We’ve discovered some gorgeous places on these weekends, all within easy reach of our doorstep.  Trips to Bath, the Cotswolds, Oxford and most recently Cornwall, where it was often hard to imagine that we were still in the UK with the picturesque coastline and bright blue sea.

The Channel Islands are somewhere that I’d love to explore on one of these short breaks.  Jersey is only a quick one hour flight from London and yet it looks like it should be somewhere far more exotic. I’ve been eager to take a trip there recently, so when Visit Jersey asked me to put together my own little idea of the perfect romantic break, I thought it would be a great excuse to start planning our trip.

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Bedruthan Steps Cornwall

Exploring North Cornwall’s Beautiful Coastline

When I think of a relaxing beach trip, I automatically think of some far off exotic destination with white sandy beaches and a deep blue sea, palm trees swaying in the cool breeze and a cocktail in my hand (there’s always a cocktail).  The main thought though is that it’s far away from home.

This daydream is never, ever, set anywhere in the UK because, well, because it’s England where most of the beaches are full of pebbles and the sky is more likely to be grey and cloudy rather than bright blue.  I also usually picture myself soaking up the sun’s rays on the beach, so getting drizzled on by the UK’s wet rain isn’t exactly an idyllic fantasy.

So imagine how stunned I was when we arrived in Cornwall to find some of the most gorgeous beaches that I would never have imagined were only a few hours drive from our home in London.

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Holiday in Gibraltar

Reminiscing in Gibraltar

Five years had gone by since we last visited Gibraltar, somewhere extremely close to my whole family’s heart, and on our relaxing trip back last month, we realised how much it has changed in that time.  Modern complexes, plush hotels and fancy restaurants have been built up, turning what was once a quiet and unheard of place into a tourist haven. But despite the changes, as soon as we stepped off the plane I felt like I had come home.

After asking the friendly airport security for a stamp in our passports (because passport stamps are extremely important to us travellers!), we walked across the airport runway – one of the only runways in the world that cars and pedestrians can cross.  We made our way to our hotel knowing exactly which direction to take like we’d never even left. I recognised the flats where our family used to live, Casemates Square where we went for drinks at night, and the restaurants we used to eat at on the marina.

As we walked along the water towards our hotel, I remembered wandering along here 8 years ago, hand in hand with my new husband.

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Catalan Bay Gibraltar

Can Travel Bloggers Have “Normal” Holidays?

Before I even started writing a travel blog, I always loved trips that involved jam-packed itineraries, fascinating tours and delicious foodie finds. I thrive on exploring new places, learning about different cultures and seeing new things, and writing this blog has only made me even more consumed when it comes to planning trips. But our recent break to Gibraltar included none of this. This was the first time I was going away with family since I started blogging, but this trip wasn’t going to be a blogging one; it was to celebrate my mum’s birthday and to unwind in a place that is close to all our hearts.

But, unable to shake my typical blogger ways, the obsessive trip planner in me started to panic a few days before we left. We had absolutely nothing planned and I really do mean nothing. I hadn’t organised a single tour because we’d pretty much seen all of Gibraltar already and I hadn’t even scouted out any new restaurants to try. What on earth were we going to do for 4 whole days?!

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