Hand Luggage – What’s a must take?

Every time I travel I take a select few items in hand luggage that don’t ever change, whether it be a work trip, city break or just a holiday with Luce. These items always come, it doesn’t matter if it is a beach, city or adventure break I will have these items with me in my bag.

I got the idea for this short blog piece from some of the people I follow on twitter and I will be adding another post on what I travel with in terms of camera gear as I know that it is something I look for when travelling, or some advice on what setup might be my next choice depending on the type of trip and location. That is a format I have seen a lot of people post what their “essentials” are and so will share mine in the future.

When you read “highlife” magazine on British airways flights it shows you a “celebrity or person of interest” and what they take with them. I really liked this format so this is my version along with some justification as to why they are included:

Hand luggage

So when you look at the items I have it looks pretty tech heavy, which I agree with totally but that allows me to capture or share my experiences whether I am in a field in the back end of Scotland or an idyllic island paradise in the Maldives. Not to mention in the modern age it means that i have all the tools to adapt to most situations, be it a flight delay or some time to kill exploring a new destination.

Staring top left and working down:

  1. Power banks: When you travel with a lot of tech and travel often these are an absolute must, I usually travel with two of them which means I can fully charge my phone and another device at the same time, or just my phone three times from 0%. I have found from personal experience that Anker have a great range of products and suit my needs perfectly, not to mention a long guarantee on them which suits me perfectly.  Anker Powerbanks
  2. Portable Wi-Fi: So this Huawei mifi unit is a great piece of kit, small and easy to use which is ideal when travelling a lot. It means when landing in a foreign country I just need to find a PAYG sim card and I am always accessible, more importantly I can always find information on locations. It has also proven priceless on some windfarms I have visited for work as it’s a different network to my other phones so I have some connectivity for work. Portable Mi-Fi 
  3. Syncwire multi USB adapter: This has lightened my packing significantly! It means I have one adapter for plugging in 4 USB devices, comes with a US and EU adapter and works with all USB devices, no more hunting around in hotel rooms for more than one plug which can be accessible. Syncwire
  4. Olympus TG4 Tough camera: This camera not only has great specs but can take a beating and keep working which when you are travelling and working is very important. Amazon link to TG4
  5. Joby Gorilla pod: This hard-working piece of kit is not only durable but perfect for shooting at night  without having to worry about professional tripods Joby – Gorillapod
  6. The Anker waterproof speaker: incredibly diverse speaker and functions in any weather which was the main reason for purchase for me. Any speaker that has decent quality and can survive a flash flood is a winner in my book, whether it be on a beach in S.E Asia or taking on an unexpected shower during British “Summertime”!  Anker – Speakers
  7. SIGG water bottle: No matter where you go having a water bottle is crucial and SIGG are the best at providing these. They get beaten and dented but keep on going. In the fight against plastic pollution this should now be an essential for anyone who travels regularly, not to mention retains temperature whether its hot or cold so useful for all climates. Sigg water bottles
  8. Sony MDXR Wireless headphones: Good wireless headphones for a reasonable price, the main reason for wireless for me is so that there is no untangling of wires to listen to your music, getting caught up on bag straps or having to throw a jacket on if it starts to rain. These or equivalents should serve you well
  9. Note Book: Simply for all those moments you need to write something down quickly, be it a translation to get you back to your hotel, the name of a dish you have just tried or a favorite restaurant. Selection from Paperchase
  10. Mechanical Pencil: Writes in any weather, lead is easily replaceable and don’t have to worry about ink exploding in my pocket or bag.
  11. Oakley sunglasses: Personal preference on these and will depend on destination for most, as i do a fair amount of driving for work, its more being prepared for those moments of sun that are unexpected. These would be my next pair
  12. Microsoft surface pro4: This is a new addition this year but i don’t think i could go back to a normal laptop now having had one of these. Powerful, versatile, great for photo editing, capturing ideas, organising files, killing time and all in a very smart-looking, lightweight compact package. Microsoft Store
  13. Compression cubes: Another new addition but once you have used them for packing and organising you realise how much easier these simple travel tasks become. Good for compartmentalizing your bags especially for trips with multiple stop overs. Compression Cubes
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What bag to use for city breaks?

I see this sort of question pop up alot on my timeline and news feeds over various social media platforms and have tried an awful lot myself, from small duffel bags, rucksacks, small roller cases and then after some research and review reading i found something i thought would fit the sort of short term travel i do for work as well as mine and Luce’s love for short city breaks to go off and explore new places.

So what were my criteria?

  • Must be able to be carry-on luggage on ALL airlines: If i couldn’t take it as cabin baggage it instantly was culled from the list
  • Lightweight: There is no point having a short break bag or case that you cant carry for a reasonable distance without your shoulders giving in
  • Waterproof: I have tried bag covers in the past and if you are going out expecting rain they are fine but for accessibility and those occasions you are caught off guard then waterproofing is a must!
  • Pockets and compartments: I like to be able to organize my luggage for short breaks so those things i need easy access too are quick and hassle free to reach and those that are “just in case” items are stowed away accordingly
  • Needs to be look the part no matter the destination: I wanted a bag that would look great in a hostel room or travel lodge as well as in a Ritz Carlton or Banyan Tree

So what have i gone for as my go-to bag for short city breaks?

So my choice for city breaks or business trips in terms of the best performing bag I have been able to see and try is something that was born on kickstarter and has since grown and grown in terms of stockists and designs.

 Ladies and Gentlemen let me present you the Arcido Novoya.

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I found this bag after reading some twitter reviews from some travel bloggers I read regularly and decided that what they were saying suited my needs perfectly and was therefore worth the investment to purchase as my go to short break bag.

So as I explained earlier in my requirements from a short break bag this bag had to tick all of the boxes and even though I wouldn’t say it was perfect on every level it did have a positive score on every level.

 Capacity: The bag is the absolute limit of cabin baggage allowed by budget airlines therefore allowing me to be able to use it to any short break needed.

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Appearance: I have had so many comments about how smart this bag looks and it works on all scales

Waterproof: Material for the outer coating is water proof and therefore no need for a separate rainproof cover

Compartments: Large main compartment, zip compartment, front compartment for removal laptop sleeve and small items

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Comfort: Thick padded straps on the shoulder and back mean it is comfortable to carry even when full

Functionality: Can be a carry on bag or backpack, has a removable laptop sleeve which is adjustable and has enough compartments for all my tech when travelling. Opening like a suitcase also means very easy to pack and access when needed rather than a traditional “stuff” approach for a backpack

Why does it work so well?

For me this case works so well as it means that when I travel for work I don’t need to worry about having 2 bags to cover my laptop and work gear and a change of clothes, it handles both functions with ease as well as being able to handle enough clothes for a weeks villa break in Europe with room to spare (thanks to compression cubes and packing light that is!)

Does it have any downsides?

I wouldn’t want to carry ALL of my stuff around a city for a weekend in it, and therefore can be a little bulky if you want it to act as a day sack as well as your hand luggage.

How durable is it?

I have been using it very regularly for almost a year and it is still going strong, the material is hard wearing so still looks like a new product

How much is it and where can I get it from?

It retails at the price of : £90 – £149

Purchase from the following:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Arcido-Backpack-removable-Compartment-Documents/dp/B01M0XAIRB/ref=dp_ob_title_ld 

Similar products/designs:

FAROE

THE ARCIDO BAG

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Business Travel – Perk or Pain?

As part of my job I travel on a very regular basis, at least once every few weeks but more often than not once a week due to the size and locations of the business that employ me.

As I am away so regularly I often get asked whether or not I enjoy the travel or has the novelty of travelling for work worn off. I am luck in the fact that I enjoy travel and the whole experience of going from place to place, whether it be by car, train or plane. But even with my love of travel, sometimes I do find myself asking the question as to whether or not it is worth the constant living out of a bag, long days and broken routine of my usual “home life”. So the big question is:

“Is business travel a nice break from mundane office life or is it a necessary part of the job and something that grows old very quickly”

So the more I look at the question the more I get different thoughts and feelings, for example, when people ask me where I am off to this week and they hear my response they are usually jealous of the locations I am going to and the fact that I am not having to pay for the pleasure of seeing these places due to the company expense account taking the hit on flights and hotels etc. What they don’t seem to grasp that just because we have an office near Legoland in Billund doesn’t mean that my work trip is one day work one day running around creating masterpieces of my own in the kingdom of the small plastic blocks. Usually I am flying in a morning, then drive straight to the office, day filled with meetings and then all I want to do when I get to the hotel for the evening is drink a nice cold local beer, grab some dinner and then go to bed!

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There are a few places that I have been lucky enough to go and explore but only due to visiting multiple times and local team members insisting we go out for team meals etc to celebrate some project successes.

The other main misconception about business travel is that the office is going to be in a convenient city location with easy access to all the main attractions and public transport etc. The only office I can think of that this is the case is actually Hamburg which is incredibly easy to get too and the public transport makes getting out and about to see the city very cheap and easy.

That being said some of the locations I go to are in the middle of nowhere but the reward for that being some stunning scenic views and getting to explore some culture that isn’t a major tourist destination.

So after re-reading this I am thinking that there must be some more positives to the work travel?! I think the break from the office is an underrated benefit that many more people could make use of as it does recharge enthusiasm for work, create networks and make communication with global teams more productive due to the “personal” face you can give to the people you have been speaking to on conference calls all your time in the job. I also enjoy the “Journey” to these places, the interaction between people along the way. Airports fascinate me, I could spend all day in them just people watching and seeing the full spectrum of emotions that people openly share in this one confined environment. It creates a good environment to work and think for me and that again increases my productivity as there are few interruption’s and I can focus on the tasks I need to complete.

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So when it comes down to it, I think it is a personal decision on whether or not the disruption of being away from loved ones and a routine at home really worth the long days and fleeting views of new cities/places and living out of a bag. For me I have a “go bag” that I rely on for making that side of things very easy, I use the same bag for 2 day trips as I would for 7 day holidays, it fits in hand luggage on all airlines and is incredibly versatile – My bag of choice

So that leaves the disruption – I think that for me it will always be swings and roundabouts as I enjoy my time at home and getting into a routine where I can enjoy cooking in my kitchen and not having to worry about getting VAT receipts for everything to claim them back, the freedom of a wardrobe of clothes to choose from and the familiar nature of knowing your surroundings.  But that being said, if I didn’t travel I think I would last more than a few months in my job as my frustrations with some aspects would grow and my enthusiasm would start to die a slow and painful death!

Everyone is different but the travel side of my job keeps me grounded and even though I would maybe reduce the amount I do I wouldn’t want to remove it altogether.

Hope you enjoyed my ramblings and more to come soon.

WFP

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The Amalfi Coast – Villa life

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So why the Amalfi coast?

Well after thinking long and hard about what we wanted for a holiday, we decided we wanted a holiday that was a bit closer to home than one of our longer haul jaunts, that combined with my father in laws 70th Birthday narrowed down the choices to a few places, however he has always wanted to see the Amalfi coast and that was the deal clincher.

After some research into hotel prices and looking through more villa catalogues than i can remember we came across a property with James Villa’s which seemed perfect for what we were after.

Destination: Amalfi Coast (Italy)

Population: 1.092 million

Flight Time: 2 hrs 15 minutes from LGW

Airline: British Airways (Other options – AirItalia, Norwegian Air, EasyJet)

Currency: Euro (approx 1.2 to the £ at time of writing)

Things you should know about the Amalfi coast before you go:

  • The driving is not for the faint hearted, its organised chaos in some of the busier towns, the only common factor seems to be that it works!
  • One beep of a car horn is to let people know you are there, two beeps is for thank you
  • Shops close up in the early afternoon – our supermarket was closed from 13:30-16:30 every day and then opened again in the evening
  • Parking along the coastal road is horrendous, the bigger tourist attractions such as Positano should be visited first thing in the morning and be prepared for upto a 2 mile walk to and from your hire car. Other alternatives are parking in Sorrento and getting a ferry round the coast – removes the parking equation and also the very bendy and sometimes heart stopping coast road.
  • Avoid summer months as this is peak season and the traffic will be horrendous, multiple coach tours and cruise liners will dominate all the “to do” places along the coast.
  • When booking  a villa holiday always be aware that most are Saturday-Saturday rentals and you will have to leave the villa fairly early so take this into account when planning flights. (Baggage at Naples airport can only be checked in 2 hours before departure)

We chose to fly with British Airways mainly due to flight times and the fact it earned us some more air miles which will cover our flights for a city break later in the year, the flight from Gatwick was on time and an easy flight time into Naples airport. Once we had landed the process was very easy in terms of immigration (all automated) we whizzed straight through and went off in search of our hire car. There are two options for collecting a hire car at Naples airport. 1) wait for the courtesy shuttle bus to ferry you to the hire car terminal, 2) Walk for 5 minutes following the sign posts and quite often beat the crowds.

We chose the later and after a few administration hiccups managed to take ownership of our hire car for the week. Without further delay we were off and making the hour and a half journey to Santa Agata Sui de Golfi to pick up the keys for our villa. The journey was easy, the distances covered aren’t that big but the road layout, traffic and speed limits means it can take some time getting to  your destination, however with an array of things to see en route such as the towering presence of Vesuvius, Olive and fruit groves as far as the eye can see, stunning coastal vistas and a view of the isle of Capri.

As this was our first trip to the Amalfi coast we had done some research and spoken to some friends about what options for excursions and sites were available but were also aware that the main aim of this holiday was for all four of us to relax after a busy start to the year. With that in mind we decided to compromise and do a mixture of exploring and relaxing.

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When it comes to the four of us none of us are really the type of people who like being stuck in huge throngs of tourists plodding along slowly not really experiencing all a destination has to offer. That being said we agreed to try our luck along the tourist route of the Amalfi coast and try and find our own slice of magic along this stunning coastline. We set off towards Positano (slightly unprepared if i am honest) the roads were winding, the sun was shining and the coastal vistas were incredible until we turned the final bend and started on the long road towards Positano central.

For 4 miles either side of the coastal picturesque Positano the parking and traffic chaos begins, any space possible is utilized whether it is a marked space or not, small fiats of different generations squeezed into spaces not quite big enough, parking sensors wouldnt help you here as we saw a number of cars just using bumpers as their parking aides, just a friendly nudge here or there to get into that prized space. Needless to say we didnt find anywhere to park, so we stopped at the very far edge of the parking, took some photo’s looking back across the town and carried on along the coastal route. We passed through Praiano with the same problems as Positano, on we drove, our progressed marred by the increasing number of coach tours along the route causing bottle necks at every tight turn and tunnel. If this was now at the very start of the summer i cant even imagine what the “peak” season must look like on this road.

Two hours of driving and traffic later we swept into the town of Amalfi. We were scrambling to beat the traffic in as we had spotted a couple of parking spaces in a car park on the drive down and after the disappointment of the previous two towns we didn’t want to miss out on this one. A nervous and frantic 5 minutes later we nabbed a car parking space and wandered off to find some lunch after a very frustrating and hot two and a half hours.

Lunch down by the marina was very pleasant (once the restaurant had turned down Italy’s answer to Jay-Z blaring out of every speaker). After a pizza and a refreshing well deserved Peroni watching some very burnt tourists taking a boat out, we headed off into the town to try and soak in some history and culture (well i think that was the idea, i was focused on some lemon gelato…..). Amalfi as a town couldnt be more Italian if it tried, narrow streets, shops and restaurants crammed into any space possible, Limoncello stores outnumbering anything else, mopeds and Piaggio’s flying across the cobbles, horns beeping and hand gestures flying between their passengers.

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After a few hours of wandering the streets, seeing the Duomo and sampling the local coffee and Gelato (Winner!) we headed back to the car to start our journey back to the villa. We made it back in good time and noticed that the number of coaches was considerably less in the afternoon so that information has been banked for a future visit.

The other major outing we had was to Sorrento, just 12Km from our villa it was much easier to park and allowed us some time to wander the quaint cobbled streets, looking at linen clothing, Limoncello products, ceramics, taverna’s and the obligatory tourist tat shops that have popped up in all the major towns along this iconic route. We had a drink and a snack watching the world go by in a lovely piazza (one of many to choose from) with every small side street being the portal to yet more side streets and less tourists (perfect!) It was worth a visit and in future i would recommend basing yourself from Sorrento if you didnt choose a villa due to the ferry links to Naples, Capri and Positano, therefore allowing you to travel and explore without the stress of crazy italian driving and parking! It is also a short and inexpensive train journey from Pompei and Vesuvius.

In between these trips and a small jaunt around the local area from the villa we spent most of our days sunbathing, reading by the pool or trying not to be overly competitive at table tennis. Throw in some snacks and cold beverages (scandalously cheap from the local supermarket!) and it was a pretty perfect week, i mean who could get bored of this view……..

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So bearing in mind we had an outdoor kitchen, BBQ, Pizza oven and indoor kitchen we did do a lot of cooking ourselves however as it was a treat for Luce’s dad’s birthday we said we would take them out for a meal, the local contact who showed us the villa and gave us the keys recommended three restaurants which he could arrange a pickup and drop off service for dinner. We chose the one closest too us and it was an absolute gem of a find. We were expecting a taxi to turn up at the villa gates to pick us up but much to our suprise a man jumped out of his car wearing a long green apron of the restaurant we were going to for dinner!

After the short drive to the restaurant (10 minutes max) he pulled up outside the restaurant, helped us with the doors and then walked us into the restaurant, as we walked into Lo Stuzzichino we were greeted like old friends by the manager/owner and other staff members and our “driver” showed us to our table before fetching the menu’s and some drinks to start.

The menu was diverse and authentic italian, the wine list was fantastic and at a reasonable price range, the staff made good recommendations and were polite and friendly even those not serving us made good-natured comments accompanied by beaming smiles.

We asked about the history of the restaurant in between courses and were told the whole story including that “mama and papa” still worked the kitchen and pass even now. Not to miss an opportunity to get involved with the friendly spirit of the restaurant i cheekily requested a selfie with the couple on our way out!

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It is places like this that really make holidays for me and Luce, just good honest people and delicious food, not trying to be anything other than a family friendly business that relies on people having a good time and leaving very full!

We ended up coming back for one other dinner and a lunch before we left back for the airport. Needless to say when we come back to the area to explore further we will definitely be stopping here again.

Well that it is it for now, i hope you have enjoyed my ramblings and feel free to ask any questions if you have any!

WFP

 

 

 

 

 

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Abu Dhabi -Fly and Flop: chasing the sun

So it has been a while since I put “pen to paper” on any sort of travel blog website or even just to record  general holidays and I have found recently that it is something that I have really missed, its creative, thought provoking and most importantly lets me share my experiences. Now, the last time I wrote a blog was a holiday to  Vietnam and an awful lot has happened since then so the quick version of which is the following: New job, a few holidays, brother got married in Mauritius, engaged whilst scuba diving in Thailand to Luce with friends in tow to help with the surprise,  a few stag do’s, a few holidays and then the happiest day of my life in November 2015, Marrying Luce on the stunning Island of Grenada in the Caribbean, Honeymoon in Mustique, a trip to a bucketlist destination for me and Luce and a few mini breaks and here we are!

I will try and write up blogs for everywhere in that time to catch up but for now let’s start with the present.

I am now travelling a lot with work within Europe so will write a piece on Euro business travel at some point just to share some more experiences, but for now I am sitting in the Sheraton Hotel Abu Dhabi writing this on somewhat of a surprise break as we have a couple of big family holidays coming up this year and didn’t plan on having anymore for the 2 of us. However, fate smiled kindly on us and due to some unexpected funds planned a last minute short break to the sun to recharge dwindling batteries and fill up our Vitamin D levels as, let’s be honest, the UK outside of summer doesn’t really  help on that front!

As soon as we realised there was some funds available we both agreed we needed a “fly and flop” break and decided that Sun was the key factor for us both rather than a cultural experience or ticking off another city from the “Bucketlist”. With the holiday type selected we started the research for winter sun breaks and looking at possibilities that wouldn’t break the bank…..

(Tip 1 – January is a great time to book holidays in general thanks to airline  sales and many big hotel groups looking to offer discounts due to last minute availability and a slow month ahead)

With so many websites now offering cheap deals from everything to UK staycations to dream trips it is hard to find something right for you, however stay vigilant and start looking with a few specific criteria and the number of choices soon limits itself. However don’t be fooled by the likes of secret escapes, very chic and voyage privee, they are all good sites but don’t always offer the cheapest alternative.  This trip worked out cheaper when booked separately and using Avios website to earn extra points (check out head for points for great ideas on how to earn more loyalty points and make the most of them) as well as booking through booking.com and expedia for the flights.

Being flexible with dates and flights also  helps reduce costs further, we made the most of a sale on Etihad flights and booking.com having some great January members deals on to book the trip on a budget that was in our range and also meeting our criteria.

(Tip 2 – always check Avios/quidco websites to see if you can get “extras” for booking trips online – this will help you in the future for funding trips)

So finally we come to the whole point of this blog – the travel/country/resort so here goes:

Destination: Abu Dhabi (UAE)

Population:  2.784 million (UAE national population: 536,741. Non-nationals: 2,247,749.)

Flight Time: 6hrs 45 minutes from LHR

Currency: Dirhams (approx 4.1 to the £ at time of writing)

 

Some points to remember when booking a trip to the UAE:

  • Public displays of affection are seriously frowned upon
  • Group selfies at religious sites are not appreciated and signage should be followed when visiting these sites
  • These are “Dry” countries, Alcohol will cost you a lot in hotels so don’t be shocked when 2 beers costs you £15-£20 and suddenly your “cheap” break to the sun costs you serious money!
  • Women need to make sure they dress respectfully when leaving resorts – check with the resort if your not sure, they are generally more than happy to help/advise.

We chose to fly with Etihad airways due to the flight times being most convenient for us and the costs were marginal with other airlines, other options include Qatar airlines, Emirates, British Airways ( all were fairly regular flights from London)

What can I say about our experience so far – Etihad airline check in procedures was longer than 24 hours, very simple, needed only the core information and the website was precise and easy to use. When we arrived at the airport the baggage drop experience however left a little to be desired, all the staff were polite and generally informative, however for 06:30am, the organisation was bedlam, we were dropping off a single bag and for this it took 25 minutes to finish queuing before a member of staff efficiently checked it through in a matter of seconds, the issue seemed to be a lack of staff and general morning chaos so not a major black mark against them but a minor annoyance all the same time.

The rest of the airport experience was as expected and fairly uneventful, check in was efficient and on time, when boarding the plane the crew were courteous and very helpful and we departed pretty much on time. The inflight meal service was a good menu, service was quick and went smoothly without too many people dashing back and forth from a crew point of view, however for a 6+ hour flight the crew only offered refreshments twice with the carts and a single tray of waters was offered that I saw. Now don’t get me wrong I don’t expect drinks runs every 30 minutes from the crew but before the second food service a full drinks offering would have presented the cabin crew a lot less memory headaches remembering orders for an entire plane!

The only other slight niggle I had was the selection of movies on the flight which seemed very low on entertainment value, this may be due to the current crop of movie releases though so again not a black mark I would hold against them!

(Tip 3 – Airport Taxi’s – we looked into booking one of these in advance of our holiday and were quoted anywhere between £40-£50 for a private hotel transfer to the hotel. After doing some research the rate per KM plus starting rate shown on the official Abu Dhabi tourism website showed that it was cheaper to just land and get an airport taxi -this was the case and we managed to pick one up for the bargain price of £20 to our hotel on the corniche)

Once we arrived at the hotel after a 30 minute taxi ride we set about checking in and exploring the hotel – it was about 21:00 by the time we started to explore the hotel and it was generally quiet, we checked out the main bar and restaurants to get out bearings and then had an earlyish night following the full day of travel.

The next morning we went down to breakfast and were pleasantly surprised by the selection on offer as well as the main restaurant not being as busy as we had thought at the time we ventured down, it seemed that the majority of guests at the hotel were late risers so getting down to pick up the prime sun lounger spots wasn’t an issue either (Well on our first day anyway – this changed later in the week)

The first day was spent exploring locally and making the most of the sun when it came out, the only distraction to the peace was the red bull air race planes practicing all day which might be an issue to some as it is very loud and can become an annoyance!

Day 2 we woke up too find large banks of cloud and not ideal sun lounging conditions, this meant a slight rethink to our daily plans, we decided to make the most of the overcast conditions and take a taxi to the Grand Mosque. Our concierge informed us that this would cost us 70Dirhams each way and we should book onto a full day tour which included a Grand Mosque visit as well as the Date market and other local attractions for a mere 140Dirhams each. We stood our ground and booked a taxi for our original plan.

What can I say about the Grand Mosque, it was breath taking at times and the craftsmanship down the very smallest details was just incredible, from the bright white finish on the walls and domes to the coloured stained glass which just captured the whole experience exsquisitley. The only minor annoyance of the entire experience came from some of the larger tour groups failing to follow the instructions around visiting respectfully, this included, group selfies, unwanted public displays of affection and parents being unable to control their children who are running allover religious significant sites as if they were play grounds.

Overall there isn’t much justice that words will do the Mosque so  I will let pictures do the talking for me and highly recommend a visit to anyone when they are visiting the UAE.

When looking for hotels for this trip I trawled through lots of reviews about the hotels and generally my experience is that most places are nowhere near as bad as trip advisor says! The reviews all said the Sheraton is old fashioned and dated, but we found it to be clean, comfortable and perfect for what we wanted from the break!

We weren’t looking for an expensive modern hotel with every detail covered, we wanted good service, clean and comfy rooms and the freedom to get the most from our break and the Sheraton provided that. The club room offering is a winner for any couples who aren’t bothered by lots of food on Holiday and don’t want to spend a fortune on drinks or extra food outside of the bought package. The 2 hours of free drinks from 18:00-20:00 pays for itself within the first night and also gives a good opportunity to meet other guests if that’s what you want!  The location is also ideal for walking along the Corniche on a nice evening  or stepping out to do some shopping, whilst also not being such a large hotel that you don’t get your own space!

Overall I would have to say this trip has met all expectations and also shown that its worth spending slightly more to get guaranteed winter sun somewhere outside Europe for the darker, more depressing months of the year!

I look forward to writing more soon and catching you up on some more destinations!

WFP

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Picking up where i left off

It has been a long time since i blogged about anything, i used to actively use travelblog when i was travelling a lot and before i settled down with my now wife.

Recently i have been travelling a lot more for work purposes rather than personal holidays but it has re-ignited that spark i once had for describing experiences and giving friendly advice on places, whether you are there for a day or 6 months there is always something for you to learn or pass onto someone else.  It could be an airport taxi scam, a favourite street food vendor or the most elusive to most travellers/travel bloggers – the “secret spot”.

This to some will be a white powder beach with nothing but a hammock, a cold beer and a stunning sunset with no crowds to spoil the tranquility, to others it will be a trendy boutique hotel in a city that everyone thought they knew all the best places to stay and eat, or it could just be a small village off the beaten path where you can while away your days in the peace and quiet of some stunning scenery.

So, what can you expect from this blog?

Well i hope to mainly post about places i have been in the past, holidays, travel gear that i use and have found to be very useful, places i dream of going, even down to things like dive sites in specific countries and what you can expect to get from those experiences.

Well this is only a reintroduction so i am going to keep it short but needless to say i am excited to get this started and really hope that anyone who decides to read this gains some value from it and also that you enjoy what you read.

I appreciate any feedback, comments, questions or remarks that people may have so please feel free to get in touch using the contact page!

Safe Travels and take it easy!

Wetfootprints (AKA – Andrew)

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