Discover Gothenburg, Sweden

When you can’t decide where to go… sometimes it’s best to leave it to the Skyscanner Gods. Filtering by date and price order, the decision was made for us to go to Gothenburg in Sweden for my twin sister’s hen do!

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From our short 4 day trip, here’s my top 5 things to do when visiting the city:

CRUISE ALONG THE GOTA ALV RIVER ON A PADDAN BOAT TOUR

A boat tour is always a good idea to see any city from a different perspective. Our tour guide was called Max – a stocky ginger Swedish man with a pot belly and beard. As we cruised along he pointed out key buildings and bridges and made more than a few jokes. Our boat was long with no cover (so remember to dress for the elements) and he said that when the tides are high people have to lie down on the floor to avoid hitting their heads on the low bridges!

This cost around 190 SEK (£15) per person, and lasted just under an hour.

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GET LOST IN THE BOTANICAL GARDENS OF PALMHUSET AT TRÄDGÅRDSFÖRENINGEN

Our visit was in April, and although it was bright sunshine the temperature still felt icy outside! This made the warm Palm house at Trädgårdsföreningen all the more appealing! Inspired by the Crystal Palace in London, it opened its doors to visitors in 1878. Separated in to 5 sections, the further you walked in to the middle, the warmer and tropical the atmosphere becomes. All it’s missing now is some butterflies!

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EAT CINNAMON BUNS IN HAGA

If you’re visiting Gothenburg, then the area of Haga is an absolute MUST. A short walk from the city centre, it’s pedestrian streets are lined with cute independent shops and cafes. Don’t forget to pop in to Café Husaren for one of their famous cinnamon buns, or feast on one of these delicious marshmallow-topped cupcakes! (if you know the name of these please comment below!)

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TAKE A TRIP TO THE GOTHENBURG ARCHIPELAGO

Unfortunately, we only had time to visit Brännö – an island in the Southern Göteborg Archipelago, but this was my favourite place on our visit.  We took a 45 minute journey on the number 11 tram from the Central tram station down to Saltholmen to catch the ferry across. Completely unspoilt and incredibly clean, we took a sunny walk across the island to explore. It was super cute, with lovely little houses, and you can easily walk from one side of the island to the other!

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As someone who tends to gravitate towards warmer climates, Sweden was a pleasant surprise and I would definitely recommend Gothenburg! The streets are clean, the people friendly and the seafood unreal.

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Follow me on @shore_to_surface for more adventures! Next stop Malta.

Lucky Trip Review

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My First Lucky Trip:

As soon as I heard about the Lucky Trip App I was straight on my phone downloading it… and what a great idea it turned out to be… I have just returned from my first Lucky Trip to Lisbon!

Booking confirmation came through straight away, and they will even check you in to your flight for you! (although I beat them to this and used the booking reference to do this ahead of time). Although we chose the cheapest accommodation option on the app, we found the room to be clean, spacious and great value for money, in the heart of Lisbon – a perfect combination which would have normally taken hours to find scrolling through various accommodation websites.

In a nutshell this beautifully simple, user-friendly app will search Booking.com and Easyjet to combine the best flights and accommodation (along with optional added activity ideas) to create your next holiday, all at the touch of a button!

Our trip came about from a gift voucher. I was a bit dubious to buy a voucher from an app I had never used, but it was quick, easy and they even sent me a physical plastic card voucher in the post a few days later.

Once you’ve downloaded the app, you can choose from a selection of different filters to help build a personalised trip to best suit your budget, dates and other preferences (including your closest airport) although if you’re lucky enough to have no commitments, the only compulsory filters are budget and number of travellers. Choosing less filters also means you often get to see the cheapest deals around!

Once you have set your filters and clicked on the BIG pink button, your screen will look something like this example:

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From here you can swipe on the individual images to choose between around 2-3 options for accommodation in the middle panel and activities on the bottom panel. Depending on how extravagant you’d like your stay to be this then pushes the price of the holiday up or down.

One great thing about the app is it can be as spontaneous or not as you like. For example you can actually select exact dates, and even change the flight times, although again this will sometimes push the price up or down.

You also have the option to save the trips you like the look of, as a way to compare using the heart in the bottom left-hand corner. This is a great feature, especially if you’re as indecisive as me!

I also noticed that if you keep clicking on the pink button to show new trips, eventually the options will come around full circle so you’ll start to see the same ones more than once.

In conclusion Lucky Trip is like Tinder for travellers, except instead of swiping past 300 mediocre options before landing on your (still questionable) dream man, you get to enjoy a great selection of interesting and beautiful travel options, with lots of potential! Now that’s something we can all commit to!

 

 

Visiting the Gellert Thermal Spa, Budapest

One of the most famous thermal spa baths in Europe, Gellert opened in 1918, and boasts 10 pools in varying temperatures and sizes, indoor and outdoor.

The water comes from springs underground, which are rich in minerals including sodium and magnesium, which are said to aid a number of conditions. Here you can see a full list of benefits, however I just loved the way it seemed to make you float easier, which makes it very relaxing.

It cost just €15 each for a full day pass which includes access to all the pools, sauna, steam room and a locker to keep your valuables in.

If you leave you cannot return on the same ticket, which means that if you’re a hungry person like me it’s worth considering taking some cheeky snacks for the day to keep you going! We bought chicken Caesar salads in their café, which cost roughly €12 each (almost as much as the day itself!) but it was nice to eat whilst overlooking the balcony on to the main swimming pool.

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I heard you have to wear a swimming cap, but this is only compulsory in the main swimming pool! I didn’t realise this, and ended up paying for one of their caps then doing laps of the pool just to get my money’s worth from it! It wasn’t expensive, and you do get to keep it, but I’ll never use it again! (especially as it has the Spa name on the side).

Lockers vs Cabins:
When researching this spa I saw a lot of discussion online as to whether you should get a locker or a cabin.

Lockers are the standard tall locker you’d find at any gym. They give you wristbands that act as locks to keep all your belongings safe.

Cabins are basically little changing rooms with locks on them that you can change in then leave all your things inside. Basically an oversized locker with a bench to sit on.

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We went in with the intention of paying a little more for a cabin so we had somewhere to change, but somehow we got our wires crossed and we ended up with lockers instead! (oops). However, I’d actually say that in the end this was a good mistake, as we walked through where the cabins were and they did not look or smell very clean!! Also the lockers have little changing rooms next to them anyway if you need them, and they were very clean (plus we saved money to spend on food!). The only disadvantage to the lockers is that they’re upstairs, so it’s a bit further to walk if you want to nip up and grab something from your bag.

Overall a wonderful day out, and definitely worth the visit! The architecture and tiles on the wall were so beautiful! and with the hottest pool at 40 degrees celcius, it’s the best bath you’ll ever have!

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Top things to do in Budapest

I’ll be honest, Gemma and I booked Budapest completely on a whim – this wasn’t on my top 10 next places to go, nor did I have a clue what I wanted to do when we arrived. The cost of flights and hotel (including baggage) came to £160 each for 4 days, so a lovely excuse to have a break from England and explore new lands whilst not breaking the bank.
From our short trip, here are my top things to go see and do if time is of the essence:

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Got any questions? Don’t hesitate to leave a comment or find me on Instagram: @shore_to_surface

Where to travel based on your star sign ☆

Unsure where to book your next holiday?  Let the stars guide you on your travels…

AQUARIUS
(January 20 – February 18)

The Volunteering Holiday

Aquarians are great problem solvers, who like coming up with progressive new ideas. They love helping others, and are said to be shy with deep thoughts.  Because of this, a humanitarian group holiday, where you can focus your energy to help make a difference could be the trip for you! From ocean conservation to building schools (and everything in-between) there’s something for everyone!
Check out these inspiring websites for your next trip:
⍟ Volunteering HQ
⍟ Gap 360
⍟ The Orangutang Project

PISCES
(February 19 – March 20)

The Relaxing Beach Holiday

Flip flops at the ready…True to their water sign, those born under the sign of Pisces are natural born swimmers who love the ocean and everything it has to offer. As a Pisces you’re also likely to be a day dreamer, so why not escape reality with a relaxing beach holiday! A great chance to unwind with your own thoughts. If you prefer white sand beaches think Mexico, Bali or Australia; and for the clearest blue oceans look towards Greece, Italy and Cyprus.

ARIES
(March 21 – April 19)

The Fitness Escape

This fire sign is determined, courageous and impulsive, so a holiday where you can challenge yourself physically should tick your boxes. Lucky for you, activity and wellness holidays are on the rise, with people looking to kickstart a healthier, more active lifestyle in some of the most beautiful places in the world!
Here’s just a handful of possibilities:

Muay Thai Boxing
Xtreme Fitness Bootcamps, Thailand
Yoga and surfing at the Pineapple House, Bali
Canoeing and abseiling, Corsica, France

TAURUS
(April 20 – May 20)

The Tasty Break

Those born under the sign of Taurus feel the need to be surrounded by love and beauty. With a true appreciation for the finer things in life, Taureans enjoy the sensory experiences of touch and taste. With this in mind, a luxury foodie holiday may be the right choice for you.
Here’s some beautiful locations with flavours to satisfy the foodies:

Cooking classes in Lisbon
Asian food and culinary tours
Breakfast at Mudra café in Bali 

GEMINI
(May 21 – June 20)

The Cultural City Break

Super sociable and always ready for adventure. Geminis are naturally curious and love discovering new things. You’re also likely to enjoy reading, so grab your Lonely Planet travel guide and set off on a cultural city break to Europe! Look to Easyjet, British Airways and lastminute.com for some of the best affordable deals on the market.
I personally love the BA holiday finder tool: britishairways.com

CANCER
(June 21 – July 22)

The Family Getaway

Family orientated and sentimental, if born under the sign of Cancer you often form decisions based on emotions. Holidays are the perfect time to create memories with loved ones, so why not treat yourself to a family holiday, where you can relax and experience new things together. Alternatively, take a trip down memory lane to a favourite childhood holiday destination!
Cameras at the ready! it’s time to make memories with…
The PANASONIC Lumix TZ200/ZS200, a compact DSLR for high quality imagery on the go.
The GoPro HERO 6, for underwater and adventure shots.
(or of course your trusty phone with a waterproof case!)

LEO
(July 23 – August 22)

The Insta-worthy holiday

Leos are creative, passionate souls who have a zest for life. They love living lavish, and the attention that comes with this, so a holiday that shows them living their best life to their Instagram followers is perfect. Look to Dubai for beautiful temples and perfect man-made beaches, or Ibiza for a guaranteed good time surrounded by friends.

VIRGO
(August 23 – September 22)

The Yoga and Wellness Escape

Often shy, hardworking and practical, Virgos love animals and plants. With this in mind, somewhere where they can enjoy nature would suit them down to the ground. A wellness or yoga retreat where they can be closer to nature and enjoy healthy organic foods would satisfy their inner hippie!
Look to Bali for beautiful architecture that brings the outside in:
Como Shambhala Estate, Ubud
The Yoga Barn, Ubud
Pelan Pelan, Canggu

LIBRA
(September 23 – October 22)

The Walking or Cycling Trip

The Zodiac sign of balance. They love being outdoors, and appreciate beautiful surroundings. They also hate to do things alone, so as a Libra you might like a couple’s cycling or walking holiday. Here you can take in the scenery alongside a friend or partner.
Check out these European cycling holidays for inspiration:
Headwater
Wheel 2 Wheel
Freedom Treks

SCORPIO
(October 23 – November 21)

The Spontaneous Adventure

Brave, passionate and assertive, the Scorpio personality goes hand in hand with a spontaneous escape! Look to cheap and cheerful voucher sites like Wowcher, who often offer pot-luck style short breaks, as well as Apps such as Lucky Trip for one click holiday inspiration. Just don’t forget to book the time off work first!

SAGITTARIUS
(November 22 – December 21)

The trekking Holiday

The natural explorer, those under the sign of Sagittarius love the idea of freedom and new experiences. They also love being outdoors, so a trekking holiday that takes them off the beat and track could be the ideal holiday.
Look to Patagonia, Borneo or Nepal for a trekking holiday of a lifetime.

CAPRICORN
(December 22 – January 19)

The Ultimate Camping Trail

Those born under the sign of Capricorn love making plans, but unlike their spontaneous Scorpio counterparts, they also have a significant amount of self-control.  This is an advantage, because it means they are fantastic at saving up enough money for a long, well planned out adventure. Capricorns would suit a self-guided camping trip across Canada or California.
For campervan hire see:
Canadian Affair
Karma Campervans
Wicked Campers

My 2018 Travels In Retrospect

2018 was all about the 3 Cs for me: Cyprus Corfu Croatia

As I look back at 2018 I feel lucky. Lucky that I am blessed not only with a great friend who I can make big travel plans with, but also now a boyfriend who loves exploring (almost) as much as me. Thanks to you both, and a handful of other special people (you know who you are), for putting up with all my Instagram tags, constant screen shots and midnight messages with links to cheap flights in random places!

2017 was a big travel year for me: Vietnam, Sweden, Corfu, Lefkada, Bali, Gili Trawangan, Gili Air, Thailand (North & islands), Laos and Cambodia.

When I arrived back in the UK after 3 months of travelling around South East Asia I had no job and no money, which meant 2018 needed to be more toned down! Plus we were expecting the arrival of my baby niece Freya!

Here’s a quick summary of travel in 2018:
(I’ll be sure to write more detailed posts on these 3 stunning locations another day.)

Cyprus
A short 4 day trip in off-peak season.
I still had holiday days left to take at the end of the year, and I wasn’t prepared to waste them on days sat around the house, but equally craved the sunshine on my skin, so the 4 hour flight was every bit worth the short stay!
Off peak also meant beautiful flowers, deserted beaches and coastal spring walks!

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Corfu
This year I took my annual pilgrimage to Corfu in July with my friend Gemma. We didn’t hire a car, so set about exploring beaches by bus and boat. We also met up with Christiana, her boyfriend Cian and her cousin Nadine. My favourite day was hiring a boat along the North-east coastline and paddle boarding on my favourite Corfiot beach Kerasia.

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Somewhere in the sea, Corfu

Croatia
Such an adventure!
Medulin>Pula>Brijuni Island>Zadar>Brac>Starigrad>Split
Luc planned a route which took us down from Pula to Split in 2 weeks, and even included 4 days on a yacht sailing around the islands!
One of my favourite days was our boat trip to the island of Brijuni, which was both beautiful and weird in equal measure: Zebras, beaches, a golf course and a mini train all on a small island of 33.9 km². That evening we also went to the opening concert for Outlook Festival in the Pula arena.. what a day!

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Starigrad, Croatia

Here’s to a 2019 filled with new adventures!

Happy new year everyone!

MY Top Beaches of All Time!

Throughout life there are just a handful of times where you stop, look around and think “Wow this is amazing I’m so lucky.”

Most of my special moments have been on beaches, so I’d like to share my top 4 of all time! (In no particular order)…

1 – Coral Beach, Gili Trawangan, Indonesia

A long stretch of white sand covered in pieces of pretty coral.. hence the name. Genuinely one of the best days of my life – this place is magic!

Come the afternoon and the tide moves out revealing a huge array of sea creatures and plants left behind in the little pools of water, including different kinds of star fish and sea cucumbers!

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2 – Kerasia Beach, Corfu, Greece

One of my old favourites, it may not be covered in white sand but this is a Mediterranean beach at it’s finest with large white stones and beautifully clear, calm waters: perfect for paddle boarding and long summer swims.

Eucalyptus trees line the beach (beware of the wasps) where I used to sit and draw as a child.

I also can’t recommend Taverna Kerasia more, serving unwavering delicious Greek meals, including fresh fish. I love their stuffed Kalamari with Greek salad, or the Kerasia salad – full of fresh, tasty seafood.

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3 – Playa Paraiso, Tulum, Mexico

An Instagram shot just waiting to happen – Tulum was so beautiful! not the calmest waters but the sand was white and clean. Don’t leave without a coconut water or mango smoothie in hand!

To read more about our adventures in Mexico click here

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4 – Papaya Playa, Tulum, Mexico

I wanted to choose a top 3, but couldn’t choose between my two favourite beaches in Tulum!

This beach is quieter than Playa Paraiso, and home to the dreamy Papaya Playa Beach Club, where we had lunch overlooking the blue ocean.

If you walk a bit further away from the beach club you can find cheaper sunbeds.

To read more about our adventures in Mexico click here

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Share your own special beach moments below…
& follow me on @shore_to_surface