Archive | December, 2013
December 18, 2013

Visit the Snowdonia National Park from Liverpool

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Snowdonia is, perhaps, one of the most famous places in Great Britain. The Snowdonia National Park takes its name from Snowdon; Wales’ highest mountain which reaches 1,085m tall. In 1951, the region was one of the first three areas in the UK to be named as a national park. The park itself covers 823 square miles, and is easily accessible from Liverpool, making it an ideal day trip.

For those either living in or visiting Liverpool, taking a day’s excursion to Snowdonia National Park is well worth it. Whether using your own vehicle or hiring one, it takes under two hours to reach the park from Merseyside. There are a large variety of activities to enjoy, including the popular train ride to Mount Snowdon’s summit, and on fine days, the national park is a wonderful place to explore.

One of the favourite activities in Snowdonia National Park is mountain walking, and there are 1,479 miles of public footpaths meandering through the park. Whilst a lot of hikers concentrate on Mount Snowdon itself, the large crowds make exploring other regions of the park extremely attractive if you don’t want to be surrounded by numerous tourists. Some of the lower mountains, such as Mynydd Drws-y-Coed and Pen Llithirg y Wrach, offer spectacular views of the park and relative isolation from the crowds. An alternative to walking is cycling, and with 164 miles of public bridleways throughout the park too, there’s the perfect excuse to enjoy some horse riding.

For wildlife lovers, visiting Snowdonia National Park offers the chance to spot some of the UK’s rarest creatures. There are numerous wildlife centres which can be visited, and hides that you can sit quietly in whilst awaiting a rare glimpse of something special. Known inhabitants of Snowdonia National Park are the feral goat, polecats and otters. In addition, several rare birds, including the red kite, osprey, merlin, raven and peregrine, can also sometimes be seen.

In addition to towering mountains, Snowdonia National Park offers the chance to descend into the subterranean world. At Go Below Underground Adventures, you’ll find an adrenaline-filled ride as you abseil, zip-line, travel on boats and even scramble beneath a waterfall, all whilst being underground. The deepest accessible point of Snowdonia can also be found here. Meanwhile, for something special, you should visit the Sygun Copper Mine at Beddgelert. This mine was abandoned in 1903 and offers visitors the chance to experience mining through the Victorian’s eyes. It’s a stunning mine system, with copper, silver and gold veins ready for exploring. In addition, you’ll be able to find stalagmites and stalactites here.

If venturing below the surface makes you a little uneasy, then a trip down one of Snowdonia’s many waterways might be the ideal alternative. White-water rafting has become a popular pastime for those wanting an adventure, and the National White Water Centre near Bala offers an exciting day out. The activities take place on the dam-released river of Tryweryn, meaning that there are always great rapids to enjoy. In addition to white water rafting, the centre offers canyoning and tandem kayaking.

The Snowdonia National Park is one of Britain’s most extraordinary places to visit, and regardless of whether you want to enjoy a railway ride to Snowdon’s summit or indulge in something a little more active, there’s plenty on offer. With the park being so close to Liverpool, it makes an ideal location for a day out. And, you may just find that you love it so much, you return time and time again to explore everything the park and beautiful scenery has to offer.

photo credit: erwlas via photopin cc

December 15, 2013

Places to Honeymoon in Australia

Hayman

Hayman

Australia is the perfect dream destination to take a honeymoon. It’s just different enough from the United States/UK that it’s exciting, but there is still a decent level of service (no roughing it or hassles with “surprise” charges or needing to haggle over every little thing)

When to go

Visiting Australia in Spring or Fall is ideal. Their winter (UK/US summer) can get a little cold. Their summer can get crazy hot and/or overrun by local tourists on summer break in December/Jan.

City Break Honeymoon in Sydney

If you’re city people, Sydney offers a great combination of fine dining opportunities, shopping, nice hotels (e.g. they have a Four Seasons), and what are probably the WORLD’s BEST city beaches i.e., Bondi and Coogee.

Another plus for Sydney is that you can get a direct flight from the US (via either LA or Dallas) so no need to take an additional domestic flight within Australia.

Melbourne – An Alternative City Destination.

Melbourne is more arty and bohemian than Sydney. It doesn’t have the city beaches that Sydney has or the glorious harbor but it has a great cafe scene and a vibrant theater scene.

The weather can be pretty unpredictable in Melbourne but some people just prefer the vibe to Sydney.

There are Melbourne people and there are Sydney people. If you like the East Coast of the US or LA, you are probably a Sydney person. If you prefer places like San Francisco, Portland, Seattle etc then you are probably a Melbourne person.

You can also fly direct to Melbourne from the US or UK (via Asia).

Beaches and Islands

Although the West Coast of Australia is beautiful, if you’re only in Australia for less than a month it probably makes sense to stick to the East Coast. The best honeymoon worthy destinations on the East Coast are found on the offshore islands. There are places that have an American level of service if that’s what you’re looking for e.g Hayman island. There are also plenty of activities available, including opportunities to snorkel or dive the Great Barrier Reef.

If you happen to have sailing skills and your new spouse isn’t prone to seasickness, you could also look at chartering a sailing boat. That’s how fellow bloggers Wanderlusters got around the Whitsundays in luxury!

What about everywhere else?

The key to a great honeymoon is to plan well (e.g., get the weather right) and not to over do it by trying to squeeze in too many destinations. It’s supposed to be about the two of you more than planning an epic, full-on “touring” type trip :)

Australia has some other cool attractions like the wine regions, Uluru (Ayers Rock), and the island/state of Tasmania off the south coast. However since getting to Australia is already a long flight, we’d recommend picking one or two of the options given and sticking to those if you want to have a relaxing honeymoon after your wedding. We’d also recommend delaying the honeymoon until the season is right for visiting Australia if your wedding is in US/UK summer i.e., AU winter. This will also give you a bit more time to enjoy researching and planning your honeymoon vs the stress of trying to plan a wedding and a honeymoon at the same time.

photo credit: Sarah_Ackerman via photopin cc

December 1, 2013

How to Have a Relaxing Beach Holiday – 6 Tips

Playa-Paraiso-Beach

Playa-Paraiso-Beach

We are beach people. Over the time we’ve been taking beach holidays we’ve learned a lot about what makes a good beach holiday when you’re looking for short, relaxing break. Here are our tips:

1. Go during the right season.

There is nothing worse than being stuck indoors during a beach holiday and unable to swim due to torrential rain and the big surf that tends to come with that. Some destinations, like Hawaii, are much choppier than, grayer, and rougher during their wet season. The wet season may be summer or winter, depending on the destination. It’s not just rain you need to be concerned about in the off-season. You can also have problems with excessive wind, scary surf, and yucky colored water, even if the destination is normally beautiful, calm and serene.

2. If you like somewhere, repeat it.

We took the exact same trip from Christchurch to Kuala Lumpur and then onto the Perhentian Islands two years in a row. We even stayed at the same place at the Perhentians both times (although we varied the hotels we stayed at in Kuala Lumpur). Not having to figure out the logistics of somewhere new is great if you don’t have the time to plan a trip to somewhere new and exotic.

3. Take some rainy day entertainment.

Load up your phone with podcasts and load up your kindle with books. Even if you’re traveling in the dry season you might end up with a day stuck inside. There’s often very little to do at beach destinations apart from the beach or other outdoor activities, wifi might be patchy or non-existent on remote islands, and your accommodation might not have a TV. If you’re taking kids, bring some entertainment for them. If you’re traveling with friends, bring a pack of cards or whatever you and your friends like to do. Check out these ideas for family card games.

4. Direct flights and easy airport to beach connections.

We’re currently down in Mexico. We took a direct flight from Washington DC to Cancun, and then a bus at the airport took us directly to our destination of Playa Del Carmen in just under an hour. It was super easy! To make it even easier, we stayed at an airport hotel at BWI (Baltimore-Washington International) the night before our departure, so we could even sleep in.

Especially for your return, you don’t want to undo all that calmness and relaxation by taking a monster trip home. Look for destinations you can fly to from your home airport. For example, Europeans can fly from Greece direct from Manchester, with only a 20 minute transfer to the beach. Londoners can fly direct to our favorite European destination, Sardinia, without having to fly through Rome or anywhere else on mainland Italy. Americans can get to Cancun direct from a variety of cities and the flight time from the East Coast is just over 3 hours. From the West Coast, Hawaii makes so much sense with lots of cheap flights from cities like Portland and Seattle. These are the types of trips that make great short breaks. If you have two weeks or close to it, then don’t be scared off from a long flight, if it’s direct. Back when AirAsia serviced Christchurch, we were able to fly non stop to Kuala Lumpur. It was 12 hours not not much more stressful than a 4 hour direct flight and it didn’t feel like it took too big of a chunk out of our vacation time.

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5. BYO sunblock and mosquito repellent etc.

Sunblock is over twice the price here in Mexico as it is in the US, even at the local Wal-Mart. It can be harder than you might expect to find those types of essentials when you’re on a beach vacation. If you’re staying at cheaper lodging, it can also pay to bring your own towels as you typically won’t be give enough towels. If you have room in your luggage, it might even pay to bring your own sheets. We are not particularly fussy about bedding but the sheets we’ve had in Mexico have been by far the worst we’ve ever slept in. They feel like you’re sleeping in one of those polyster shirts people wear to 70s-themed parties.

6. Leave your fights at home.

You’ll typically be in close quarters on a beach vacation. It’s supposed to be romantic. Take a time out on any life issues you’re trying to sort out with your traveling companion, and let stuff go that you’d usually nag each other about.


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