On 25th May 2015 I attended a fantastic wedding in London, the ceremony took place in Westminster followed by a beautiful reception at The Dorchester. Guests were transported between venues on an old London bus and arrived to a glittering welcome of champagne and canapés. I’d not been to London for a very long time and loved being back in this beautiful city. Getting to visit The Dorchester was so exciting and definitely not an everyday occurrence, so I just had to share it! The food was divine and was complemented with impeccable service. The menu went something like this…To start: oven baked tomato puff pastry, herb oil and goats’ cheese. The main: pressed shoulder of lamb, black olive jus, mashed potato. Dessert: chocolate caramel tart, salted caramel ice cream and honeycomb….
*Updated in Feb 2020
If you are spending time on the east coast of Australia then you must visit Sydney. Seeing the Opera House and Harbour Bridge in person is amazing. But not just that, there so many sights and experiences to be had in this beautiful part of the world. Staying with friends it was great to be shown around this iconic city by locals and thanks to their recommendations here are my top five things to do in Sydney:
1. A Friday night in Sydney…
Arriving on a Friday night I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate than with drinks at the Opera Bar. Situated right by the Opera House the outdoor seating has the most fabulous views of Sydney Harbour. What a way to spend our first evening; sparkling wine in hand, gazing at the wondrous view. After drinks we had a stroll around the outside of the Opera House, I still couldn’t quite believe I was there! Next a short walk around Circular Quay bought us to an area of the city called The Rocks for dinner. Liv and Jamie chose The Glenmore; if you are ever in Sydney I would really recommend this place for a meal or just a drink at the rooftop bar. It was buzzing and the views of the Opera House and harbour in the distance are beautiful.
2. Meet the Australian wildlife…
Apart from seeing Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge another big tick off of my Australia to do list was to see the native animals. A visit to the Koala Park in West Pennant Hills was just the job. The park was fairly small but this was a plus point as it wasn’t very busy. The stars of the park are of course the koalas and with regular talks you can meet and get up close to these sleepy creatures. The park also has a gated off area with kangaroos inside, here you can wander around and hand feed them. Little did I know at this point in my trip that I would be seeing kangaroos all the way up the east coast. Being from the UK this was such a novelty and the excitement of seeing them especially in the wild never actually wore off!
3. Bondi to Coogee on foot…
While in Sydney I really wanted to visit the famous Bondi Beach. A great way to explore this lovely coastline is by walking from Bondi to Coogee. Before the walk we stopped for brunch at Bondi Massive Café, a funky little coffee shop in the town centre. I had the very tasty Avocado Smash: feta, tomatoes, avocado and mint salad on sourdough. The Aussies certainly do make good healthy food. All fuelled up it was time to go. The 6km walk follows the coastline and takes you right past Tamarama, Bronte and Clovelly beaches, so you can stop for a swim or a snorkel on the way. I loved that the walk was dotted with water fountains and toilets. It was a hot day so being able to refill my water bottle was perfect. It is a fairly easy walk, although there are a few steps in places. I got star struck at seeing some of the lifeguards who feature in the TV show Bondi Rescue patrolling the beaches! Once at Coogee you can either get a bus, taxi or walk back again…we chose a taxi!
4. Fish and chips…
An evening visit to Manly for fish, chips, ice cream and a stroll along the beach sounds like something quite British; but it was far from it. The climate for one is obviously a lot warmer and two, don’t get me wrong, I love good old traditional British fish and chips but Mongers in Manly (there is also one in Byron Bay and Bondi) gave traditional fish and chips a great modern twist. I had flathead with chips washed down with a local 4 Pines beer. Afterwards we had a stroll along the pine tree-lined beachfront with an ice cream and watched surfers catching waves as the sunset. A walk along the quirky side streets with a bit of window-shopping finished the evening off nicely.
5. Sydney Harbour tall ships cruise…
One of my best trips was a tall ships cruise on Sydney Harbour. Setting sail early evening meant that we cruised out past the Opera House just as the sun was setting. The views of the bridge and harbour from the water are incredible. After powering out, we slowly drifted back under sail and watched as the sunset and the twinkling lights of the city began to illuminate the night sky.I got pretty emotional at the sight of the Opera House as the sun went down and the stars came out, it was such a beautiful sight. We paid extra for an all-inclusive bar, which was fantastic. This was topped off with some delicious finger food of oysters, prawns, sushi, duck wraps and many other exciting trays that did a circuit around the boat. A musician singing and playing a guitar set the tone perfectly. It was such a special evening to share with my husband and friends who we had not seen for about a year and a half and is a memory I will treasure for a long time. I thoroughly recommend this trip, seeing Sydney Harbour from the water gives such a different view of the city; I loved it!
With only 24 hours to spend in Nice, in the south of France I wanted to make the most of it. This doesn’t sound like a lot of time but you can definitely cram a lot of exploring in! Arriving in the evening meant checking in at the hotel and heading straight out to explore the nightlife. With the airport located conveniently close to the town it didn’t take too long to find ourselves in the old town in a very cool bar with a beer in hand. Wayne’s bar was rammed with locals, and with live music playing it was definitely the right choice of venue. Although, we enjoyed it a little too much and ended up staying out slightly longer than planned. This meant sore heads all round in the morning and slightly more money spent than had been intended! None the less we dragged ourselves up early, ravenous for a typical French breakfast. Coffee and croissants in a lovely café was the perfect antidote. All perked up and ready for the day ahead we strolled to the train station, the plan was to spend the day in Monte Carlo. I was really looking forward to the train journey along the coastline, but once at the station we discovered there had been a landslide and no trains were running! Feeling a little disappointed we went back to the town centre and decided having only explored Nice’s nightlife that the rest of this lovely Mediterranean area was waiting to be uncovered. Strolling along the bustling Promenade des Anglais, with the sea shimmering and the sun shining we headed towards the cliffs near the harbour. Climbing the steps up to the clifftop revealed fantastic views over the coastline, old town and the port on the opposite side. You could even see snow-capped mountains further inland. Known as Parc du Château this cliff top park has a man-made waterfall called Cascade Donjon and lovely gardens, perfect for a picnic with beautiful views of the ocean. Next stop was a visit to the food and flower market in the old town. It’s a great place to pick up fresh bread, meats and cheeses. The Corsican cheese I bought was a particular favourite. There were also lots of lavender products, soaps and oils to purchase. After checking out the market, it was time to get lost in the tiny side streets. This is one of my favourite things to do in European cities; the buildings and beautiful architecture were a real highlight of the trip for me. Continuing further we stumbled across a wonderful bakery and bought some scrummy fresh pastries. With a huge variety of restaurants to choose from for lunch and being in France I felt it was only right to go for Moules – frites with a glass of white wine. After lunch it was time for a bike ride, Velo Bleu rental bicycles can be found all over the town and from €1 a day you can help yourself to one of these beauties. We cycled along the promenade stopping for ice cream along the way. A quick coffee outside in the sun along with a bit of people watching ended our glorious day in France. Back at the airport I bought a bottle of red wine as a souvenir of a perfect 24 hours on the French Riviera. Cheers!
I am currently staying in Bermuda at the Fairmont Hotel in Southampton. It is a beautiful hotel with stunning views of the island. Sunday is a great day to be here as in the morning breakfast turns into brunch. I love food, so this is the perfect Sunday morning for me! With views of the ocean and more food than you can imagine it is a real treat. Breakfast and brunch are both buffet style, so you can help yourself. It’s a tough choice knowing where to start, there is an omelette station, with a chef who will cook your omelette to order, A smoothie station which I love as you can request whatever you would like in your smoothie – I chose mixed berry, yum! There are waffles, bagels, fruit, cereals, a huge selection of pastries and cakes and cooked options such as eggs benedict and bacon. Yes, this morning I was in heaven! Moving onto brunch, if you have enough room after all that there is a wonderful selection of meats, with ham and beef carved for you, salads, fish cakes, macaroni cheese…the list is endless. I just had to share this as if you ever visit Bermuda, even if you don’t stay at this hotel you should definitely visit for breakfast or brunch, you will not be disappointed!
Things to do in Cancun:
Nightclubs and food
Cancun as a holiday destination has the best of both worlds, partying and ultimate relaxation. I recently spent three nights there and only sampled a small slice of what it has to offer. Lets start with the nightlife, even if you are not into partying the night away you have to experience it just once while you are there! Coco Bongo is a nightclub with a difference and famous for its exciting shows, Superman, the Matrix characters and Austin Powers all make an appearance throughout the night; suspended from the ceiling or flying high above the audience. There are a range of different tickets most drinks are included all night are included with most of them. A little pricey but well worth it as it’s a great night out. Señor Frogs, a favourite bar of mine serves tasty food and cocktails in exciting glasses which you can take with you. Ok, it’s a slightly tacky holiday souvenir that you will probably pack in your case and then wonder why you bought it home, but definitely fun all the same! Their branding is funky and if you are with a group of friends, the bar staff come around to your table and play party tricks with you!! Maybe not so fun if you are with your better half but it is still an entertaining place to go for a drink. Being in Mexico, of course you should eat Mexican food, but for something a little bit different I really recommend the Japanese restaurant Mikado at the CasaMagna Marriott hotel. It’s a great place to go with a group of friends, book one of the tables where the Teppanyaki chef cooks your food right in front of you. Flames, hearts made from rice and an onion train are just a few of the entertaining tricks that appear whilst your meal is prepared!
Relaxing in Cancun
If you just want to relax then aside from the nightlife you are without a doubt in the right place. The beach along the hotel strip is lovely, although the rip currents can be quite dangerous so I wouldn’t recommend swimming there. Also as the title ‘hotel strip’ suggests you are surrounded by hotels. Isla Mujeres is the perfect escape, I love this place! The beaches are a lot quieter, the water is calmer and getting there couldn’t be easier. From the hotel strip you can jump on a bus, let the driver know that you want to stop a Playa Tortugas and from there you can catch a boat. The company is called Ultramar and ferries run all day with the last one leaving Isla Mujeres at 1730. Once there if you fancy exploring you can hire a golf buggy for the day, it’s a great way to explore the island and a fun mode of transport. Check out the turtle sanctuary and the Mayan Temple at the southern end of the island. The main town is also nice to explore, with small side streets and brightly coloured buildings. If all the exploring gets too much then head to one of the beaches, the one at the northern end is my favourite. It has calm crystal clear waters and a great bar called Charlie’s, I had an amazing Red Snapper salad here for £3.50 and a beer for 50p at the time of writing! Next door is Chi Chi’s, a cool little bar with swings attached to it, sit on them while you sip your beer!
Another great trip to do in Cancun is to swim with Whale Sharks, June to September is the time to do this. It’s not cheap but it is a once in a lifetime opportunity, something I may think about next time I go. With so much to do around Cancun and everything being so easily accessible everyone should visit! On that note I am already planning my next visit out there….A trip to Tulum is definitely on the cards. This beautiful place is two hours on a bus from Cancun, you can stay in huts right on the beach and there are Mayan ruins to explore, again right on the beach front. Watch this space….