A Babymoon in Bermuda…

If you are planning a babymoon in Bermuda then look no further. Not only is it a beautiful destination, it’s only 6.5 hours flight from the UK, a couple of hours from the U.S and more importantly it’s Zika free.
Bermuda is a melting pot of culture; it’s a British Overseas Territory so there are plenty of British quirks to be spotted. From red post boxes to driving on the left hand side of the road they are easy to spot. What’s more there are British style pubs, serving up plenty of British grub. Along with Caribbean and American influences it’s a unique place to visit.
A string of islands connected by bridges, 181 to be precise there is plenty to explore. Bermuda is perfect if you want a laid back trip or an active holiday. Read on for more on a babymoon in Bermuda…

 

Beaches:
As it’s your babymoon you may be looking to get in as much relaxation time as possible before baby arrives, especially if it’s your first. You’ve chosen the right place, as Bermuda’s beaches are beautiful. Warwick Long Bay is one of Bermuda’s famous pink sand beaches. Tobacco Bay is unbelievable for snorkelling, while Horseshoe Bay is perfect for finding a sheltered spot if it’s a bit breezy. On my last visit in November, the beaches were empty and the temperature was a nice 23 degrees. Paddle boarding is a great watersport to do while you are pregnant and Bermuda’s clear waters are perfect for gliding over while catching some rays.

 

Gibbs Hill Lighthouse:
For panoramic views climb the 185 steps to the top. Built in 1846 it is the oldest cast iron lighthouse in the world and one of only two still standing. With views of Hamilton and the South Shore it’s a good way to blow away the cobwebs on a blustery day. If you are not feeling so energetic The Dining Room located in what was the lighthouse keepers cottage at the base serves lunch and dinner. Double check the website as opening hours are varied during the week.

 

Crystal Caves:
For something completely different visit the Crystal and Fantasy Caves. Admire the clear waters of the underground lake in the Crystal Cave from the floating walkways. The stalactite formations are incredible, discovered by two boys playing cricket in 1907; the caves are millions of years old. It’s worth noting that it’s pretty warm in these underground beauties, so dress accordingly and wear rubber-soled shoes. Located in the parish of Hamilton, there are daily tours and tickets can be purchased for one cave or both.

 

Bermuda Railway Trail:
The disused railway trail is a great way to explore. Cycle or walk along the 18 miles through tropical woodland and past turquoise waters. The trail is very well signposted and there are information boards dotted along the route describing the history of the railway. Here’s a little bit more information and images from my bike ride: Biking the Bermuda Railway Trail…

 

Hamilton:
Overlooking the water, capital of Bermuda is a picture perfect town full of pastel coloured buildings. On Front Street you’ll find restaurants, bars and shops, including the good old English store Marks and Spencer. There’s plenty of history to discover too, taking a walking tour or a self-guided tour is a great way to get immersed in the local culture. There are also food tours, although not cheap it looks like a cool thing to do. Sample and learn all about local cuisine while exploring the streets of Hamilton.

 

Getting about:
Tourists aren’t able to hire cars in Bermuda but there are plenty of other options to get around. Twizys are a really fun mode of transport, Current Vehicles rent out the tiny two man electric cars from their branches at the Hamilton Princess, Fairmont Southampton and The Loren at Pink Beach.  Buses are another good option for exploring, pastel pink in colour you can’t miss them. There are eleven routes covering the whole of the island, the main bus station is in Hamilton. Pay on the bus with cash, you’ll need the exact fair or use tickets, tokens or a day pass. These can be purchased at the bus and ferry terminals in Hamilton, information centres, some post offices and hotels. Day passes can also be used on the ferries so may be worth combining for a day out. This brings me onto the ferry service, running from Front Street in Hamilton there are four routes that make a nice alternative to exploring by road. Scooters are another option although if you are heavily pregnant than you might not feel that comfortable on one of these! Taxis are readily available throughout the island and easily picked up from hotels.

 

When to visit:
May to October is the best time of the year to go for beach weather, having said that I visited in November and spent time on the beach. It felt a little chilly when the sun went in and cooler in the evenings but there was still plenty of sunshine. November to February is generally a cooler time of the year with rainy days, the temperature can reach 17 – 18 degrees but you may need warmer clothes on damp days. April and early May is springtime in Bermuda and whilst it may not be warm enough to swim in the sea, if you are from the UK it will feel a lot warmer and sunnier than at home. Pack some light jumpers and jackets along with summer clothes and you’ll be fine. April and May are also cheaper months to visit in terms of accommodation.

 

Useful things to know:
  • The Bermudian Dollar is fixed to the U.S Dollar, which can also be spent in Bermuda.
  • Bermuda has the same voltage as America and Canada. If you are travelling from the UK or Europe pack a two-pronged plug adaptor.
  • Remember to pack your pregnancy notes and double check that your travel insurance covers medical problems during pregnancy.
  • Flight socks are a good idea to wear onboard an aircraft during pregnancy.

 

A babymoon in Bermuda is the perfect choice to get a bit of sunshine and relaxation in before your new arrival makes an appearance and being Zika free will give you a worry free holiday to remember.
For more information on pregnancy related travel I have a blog post all about it here: Planning a baby moon and flying during pregnancy…
Are you planning a babymoon? Any questions? Let me know in the comments below…

 

 

 

 

 

What to do with four days in Iceland…

Iceland is such an incredible country it is hard to know where to start. I spent four days exploring and can safely say that it is a good amount of time to fit in a lot of adventures. For the Northern Lights, January to March is a good time to go. Although be prepared for an arctic chill plus only a few hours of daylight. I visited in January, sunrise was at 11am and sunset around 4pm. It is strange adjusting to very dark mornings.  The opposite can be said for the summer in Iceland, the daylight hours go the complete opposite way with the midnight sun making an appearance. This means pretty much twenty-four hours of daylight and warmer weather.
If you are planning a trip to Iceland here is my four-day itinerary…

 

From the airport Flybus operate services to Reykjavík in conjunction with all arriving and departing flights. Bus services go via the BSI bus terminal, and onto Reykjavík. (Pay for Flybus Plus to be dropped right outside your accommodation.) The journey takes about 45 minutes, pre book before you go or pay at the airport. It was a really fluid service plus there is WIFI on the buses.
You might be interested to know that the restaurant at the bus terminal sells not only burgers but also sheep heads.  A traditional Icelandic dish which dates back to a time when people made use of every part of the animal. Not one I tried while I was out there, but very interesting to learn about Iceland’s culture.

 

Day 1
We stayed in the centre of Reykjavík at Loft Hostel, located on one of the main streets it was perfect and in walking distance of shops, restaurants, funky bars and the city’s main attractions.
A visit to Hallgrimskirkja church is a must; the impressive concrete structure was designed to look like volcanic basalt. Inside it houses an organ with 5727 pipes. For a small fee take the lift 74.5 metres to the top for beautiful panoramic views of Iceland.
If you are visiting in winter you will definitely need to warm up. Icelanders are into coffee in a big way so there are plenty of coffee shops dotted around to escape in from the cold. My favourite was Kaffi Brennslan, they had a delicious chocolate cake.  Most of the coffee shops turn into restaurants and bars at night too with a quirky little place on most corners to choose from.
After you’ve warmed up take a stroll to the harbour. The famous Sun Voyager statue is a worth a look at and the mountainous backdrop is stunning.
If you are hoping to see the northern lights book a trip early on in your stay, that way you can increase your chances of seeing them. Many tour companies offer a free trip if you don’t spot them the first time around. Use Icelandic Met Office to check the Aurora forecast. On our first full evening there we went on a Northern lights hunt with Iceland Travel. With clear skies and a dark night we were very lucky to see the Aurora Borealis dancing and gliding in the dark sky. A super jeep tour meant a smaller group and we could go where coaches couldn’t, boy did those Land Rovers plough through the snow! After an awesome evening we even got see the lights again from the roof terrace of the hostel shining brightly above Reykjavík.  For tips on capturing the Northern Lights on camera head here: Northern Lights Photography Tips.

 

 

Day 2
You can’t come to Iceland without seeing the Golden Circle. Matt and I decided to go on an organized tour, we had initially thought about hiring a car but were pleased we didn’t as due to a lot of snow the road conditions were pretty harsh and the Icelanders definitely have the skills to drive on their roads!
We chose a small group tour with Sterna Travel, the first stop was Þingvellir national park the sight of Iceland’s Viking parliament; here you can walk between shifting tectonic plates. Next up was the Geysir hot spring area; hot steam rises from bubbling geothermal water, and the famous geyser Strokkur is here. Pushing out hot plumes of water every few minutes it is very exciting and addictive to watch. The thundering falls of Gullfoss was one of my favourite stops of the day; this icy beauty was definitely worth getting cold for.  As well as stopping at the main sights the tour also included a visit to a geothermal pool, Gamla Lagoon. As I’m pregnant I didn’t get to go in but Matt thoroughly enjoyed the 40°c dip with a beer for company!
For dinner we chose Islenski Barinn, a cosy restaurant with a quirky interior. I had halibut which was delicious. They had some interesting specialties on the menu, the Icelandic people like some weird stuff! Fermented shark, puffin and minke whale. We didn’t try any of these, as we weren’t sure if they were just a tourist fad. For dessert we had Skyr, an Icelandic speciality and very similar to Greek yogurt.

 

Day 3
We were up early for an adventure to the south coastagain with Sterna Travel. I was so excited to see Eyjafjallajökull, the volcano that erupted in 2010 cancelling over 100,000 flights all over the world.  Next was the mighty Skógafoss one of Iceland’s biggest waterfalls, it has a 200ft drop and legend has it that there is buried treasure in the cave behind, unfortunately it was too cold that day for me to find out! We stopped for lunch at Reynisfjara beach near Vik. Black sand and basalt sea stacks make this a striking place for photos. My favourite stop on this trip was at Mýrdalsjökull, the most beautiful glacier. Having time to explore the base of this gigantic beauty was awe-inspiring. Deep blues and thickly patterned ice, topped off with snow-covered mountains high above, it was an epic spot. The last stop of the day was Seljalandsfoss waterfall, you can walk behind it, but it was so cold the staircase leading to the path was completely encased in ice. I was more than happy to just admire it from the front anyway!
We rounded up the evening back in Reykjavík with a very tasty lamb stew. Iceland is well-known for its lamb so it only seemed right to warm up with this dish after a very chilly but awesome day.

 

Day 4
Our final morning was spent relaxing over a leisurely breakfast after two busy days of sightseeing followed by souvenir shopping. A Lopapeysa or Icelandic sweater made with Icelandic sheep wool is the thing to buy here. However, at £100 – £150 they were way out of my budget. I did however stumble across some very cool vintage charity shops on Laugavuger, the main shopping street.  Inside I found a few jumpers for £30, sadly they didn’t fit! This was followed by more coffee drinking and cake munching to keep warm. You can buy all sorts of weird and wonderful souvenirs; my favourite ones were glass tea light holders with volcanic ash from Eyjafjallajökull and lava rock ornaments. I did go into a Christmas shop and buy a Christmas decoration, as if you saw my blog back in December on all things Christmassy you will know that I love collecting decorations from my travels.  A little Icelandic elf, I thought it would be a great reminder of our trip.
I loved everything about Iceland, it has such a trendy, cool vibe, the locals are super friendly and I even loved the cold.  For me it added to the whole experience. My one tip would be to pack a lot of thermals and layers if you go during the winter, you will definitely need them.

 

 

Emily…

I’ve been a bit quiet on the blog lately, that’s because three weeks ago I had my baby girl…Emily Louise was born on 19th April at 6.13pm weighing 6lb 1oz. The last three weeks have been a lovely whirlwind, Matt and I are now getting to grips with looking after a little person and the lack of sleep that comes with it! We are completely head over heels in love with her, all the sleepless nights are totally worth it, she is such a cutie and just melts my heart! From a travel point of view, I definitely won’t be stopping; I am looking forward to travelling with Emily and showing her new countries. I’m sure travelling with a baby will be a completely different experience, but I’m looking forward to the challenge and can’t wait to get her passport. We found out I was pregnant while on a road trip in California last August, so she’s well travelled already without even knowing it! The last trip we took was a ‘babymoon’ to Iceland when I was 6 months pregnant, it was an exciting adventure, northern lights spotting, glacier walking and incredible scenery that I couldn’t stop taking photos of! It was a great last trip before I got too pregnant to fly and a really different experience. Travel plans so far for this year include a trip to Cornwall in the summer, two weeks exploring the Puglian region of Italy in August and hopefully a trip to California in early 2017. We are looking forward to making lots more plans once we get this parenting lark nailed. I’m really looking forward to making new memories with our mini adventurer in tow….

Review: Loft Hostel Reykjavik, Iceland…

If you are on a budget then Loft Hostel is a little gem, especially as Iceland can be quite expensive.  The location is brilliant, right in the centre of Reykjavík with shops, bars and restaurants all on the doorstep as well as being within walking distance of the harbour and all the main sights.  The bar, reception and communal area are all up on the top floor of the building along with a roof terrace overlooking the city, great for drinks in the summer.  We saw the Northern Lights from here one night, which was awesome!  Wooden cladded floors, funky lighting and brightly painted walls give a Scandinavian feel.  The whole place is kept really clean and tidy, a nice bar area with happy hour everyday from 4pm to 8pm attracts not only those staying at the hostel but locals too.  There’s plenty of seating with comfy sofas and cosy corners and a small kitchen.  We didn’t use it but it was perfect for filling up my water bottle!  Breakfast was roughly around £8 with a selection of cereals, toast, bagels, meats, cheeses, yogurt and fruit, plus tea, coffee and juice made for a great start to the day.  We had a private en-suite room; it was clean, tidy and came with towels.  We didn’t have the most exciting view out of the window but then we weren’t there to sit in our room anyway so it didn’t really bother us.  The hostel has excellent free WiFi and really helpful, friendly staff; we booked both our Golden Circle and south coast trips with the help of the reception staff.
I’ve mentioned before that I’ve not always been a hostel dweller, the first time I stayed in one was in New Zealand where I discovered you can get private en-suite rooms which can be just as good, if not better than some budget hotels I’ve stayed in.  Loft is definitely one of my favourites, with a laid back vibe and plenty of interesting people to chat to it’s definitely a good way to travel.
One thing to mention is that Friday and Saturday nights in Reykjavík can apparently get quite noisy as Icelandic people like to party!  Reading some reviews on Trip Advisor and other travel bloggers reviews the noise is mentioned so it might be something to bear in mind if you are staying here over a weekend and are planning on sleeping and not partying.  Loft’s website also mentions this and offers earplugs to help with sleeping!  We stayed there Monday to Friday and didn’t experience any noise whatsoever from the street or from other hostel goers.
It is worth joining up to Hostelling International when you book, you save 10% on HI accommodation worldwide, including Loft.
If you are planning a trip to Iceland check out my four day itinerary and Northern Lights adventure

 

 

Planning a Babymoon & Flying During Pregnancy…

If you are pregnant and planning a babymoon the best time to go away is in the second trimester, hopefully by this point morning sickness will have settled down and your energy levels will have picked back up. It is so nice, if you get the chance to make the most of being a two before baby makes an appearance. I flew to Iceland with my husband for a mini break when I was 26 weeks pregnant. For me this was the perfect time as I wasn’t too big and after having felt so exhausted during the first trimester this had all gone away and I felt ‘normal’ with lots of energy!
Looking for ideas on where to head? The Telegraph has a great article: 10 idyllic and off-beat destinations for the perfect babymoon and BabyMoon Travel have lots of destination suggestions along with useful tips.
First things first check the airline you are flying with as they often have different regulations regarding pregnancy. With British Airways for example you can fly up to the end of 36th week if expecting one baby, if twins or more its the end of the 32nd week. They recommend carrying a letter from your doctor or midwife to say you are fit to fly and have an uncomplicated pregnancy. Head here for more information on this: BA – Flying when you’re pregnant. On the other hand with EasyJet as long as you have had no complications you can fly up to the end of week 35 for single pregnancies and week 32 if expecting twins or more: Flying with easyJet during pregnancy.
Having booked your flight make sure you check-in online and choose your seat, you can pay for some seats if you fancy a bit of extra legroom, but remember you can’t sit in emergency exit seats if you are pregnant. Pick an aisle seat to make it easier to get out to use the bathroom. This is always my choice and even though I work for an airline something I get worried about in advance, especially now being pregnant; I hate the thought of being stuck in a window seat and desperately needing to get out to go to the toilet about five times in a row! Having said that, when we flew to Iceland with EasyJet we paid extra for front bulkhead seats and I picked a middle and window seat as I knew there would be room for me to get past the person sat on the aisle. These seats are brilliant as you get to bring an extra piece of hand luggage as well as being entitled to speedy boarding. Well worth the money!

 

Here are a few tips to help plan your babymoon:
  •  If you can plan to travel during the second trimester.
  • Remember to pack your pregnancy notes and vitamins.
  • Check out local hospitals/doctors in the area you will be staying.
  • Make sure you are covered for anything pregnancy related on your travel insurance.
  • Do you need vaccinations?
  • There are a few foods you can’t eat during pregnancy so it might be worth bearing in mind depending on your destination.

 

Tips for flying:
  •  If like me you need to keep hunger at bay by eating little and often pack plenty of snacks for the journey!
  • It may sound obvious but get up and move around during the flight to keep your circulation going and to give your legs a good old stretch.
  • Ask for an aisle seat to make it easier to get out to use the bathroom and for leg stretching.
  • Stay hydrated; I always buy tons of water in the terminal because I’m obsessed with staying hydrated! Coconut water is a good one too.
  • Pack a nice hand cream and lip moisturiser like Vaseline or Carmex as flying can really dry your skin out.
  • Wear comfy clothes. Leggings and layers are my preferred choice of clothing right now. Comfort is the key, especially on a longhaul; I like to wear a couple of thin layers, as like most Mums to be I get hot very easily!

 

Any babymoon and pregnancy tips of your own?  Please add them in the comments below…