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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spa photospa writing

river photoriver writing

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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!

50023921_1969091513385137_7370986181489590272_nFamagusta, Cyprus

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

Christmas in Mexico – Yes you MexiCAN!

I’d played with the idea of spending Christmas somewhere sunny for some time, so when a friend suggested we pack up and go away for the holidays I grabbed for my passport faster than you could say MOJITO!

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After doing a search on Google for the best places to spend a sunny Christmas near the UK the usual suspects cropped up … i.e The Canary Islands, Egypt, Morroco and Cape Verde, but we wanted something more special than this – away from the standard package poolside holiday, which is why we decided on Mexico.

We had 2 weeks to explore, so chose the area of Quintana Roo.

Here’s a map of our route:

Cancun > Tulum > Playa Del Carmen > Cozumel > Isla Mujeres > Cancun

mexico route

For this blog I have decided to share my diary from the trip, this way you can see all the little details 😊 (if you find it too wordy don’t forget you can use Ctrl F to search key words in the post)

We flew from Heathrow to Cancun airport via Paris with Air France. The Paris connections lounge, with it’s over priced macaroons and salmon pasta dishes looked just as I remembered it, but this time those comfy orange seats were looking a little worse for wear.

Having previously flown with Air France to Brazil my expectations weren’t high, but these past experiences were quickly overshadowed by the friendly crew on board and the ice cream snacks!

CANCUN 18TH-20TH DECEMBER
Accommodation: Mezcal Hostel

Day 1:

Landing in Cancun was a tired blur. It didn’t feel like Mexico at all, in fact it’s how I imagine it might feel landing somewhere beachy in America, or perhaps Hawaii. Everyone around us were American tourists, and even the taxi drivers outside had the US twang.

Our hostel was pretty nice. In a dorm for 6 people, but it was spacious and clean with our own bathroom. In our room we had 3 boys and 3 girls.

We got a couple of drinks from the local OXXO corner shop and went to bed to recover when our room mates went out.

Day 2:
Main aim = find the beach!

Before coming to Mexico I don’t think we fully understood the scale of the map when booking accommodation (this became apparent in more than one place) so after expecting to be able to walk to the beach, instead we took the R1 bus down to the hotel zone where the best beach was said to be.

It was a windy day but the beach was beautiful with clean white sand stretching for miles along the coast.

Now here’s one thing you should know about Cancun and the hotel zone.. the hotels are HUGE and all inclusive. When it came to around lunch time our stomachs started calling for tacos! We did what you would normally do on the beach and decided to head to the nearest restaurant or snack bar… except there wasn’t one..

As we walked along the long stretch of beach past all the all-inclusive hotels it became apparent that unless you’ve paid the all-inclusive price to stay in the hotel you are not welcome. Eventually we found this hotel called Oasis Grand (Oasis loves you) which looked amazing. There was an aerobics class going on next to the pool. We sat down at this restaurant initially as there were prices on a sign, so we thought we could pay here, but apparently that wasn’t the case. We came out honest to the waiter and admitted we didn’t actually stay there.. and after him looking a bit shifty around him agreed that we could eat there if we gave him tips to do so. This worked out quite nicely, as we got to order what we wanted for a good price. I got chicken and salad – average meal but tasted nice. Taking advantage of our new found all-inclusive status Christiana also managed to wangle us some smoothies for the beach.

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Got back to the hostel and decided very last minute to join the group night out. It cost us $50 USD for the night. We didn’t have the chance to lower this by opting out of anything, but soon realised why when the first club Mandala was all you can drink at your table, with no actual bar to buy drinks from. A mix of people from the hostel came along, including an Australian girl called Nicola (a free spirit with bundles of energy, who kind of reminded me of Phoebe from friends) and a few girls who were working as promoters for the hostel. There was a stage at the front, with a funny DJ who reminded me of Radio 1’s Westwood. Spring break vibes really came in to play when it was announced a wet t-shirt competition was about to take place! An hour later, still with no wet t-shirts in sight we moved on to the next place without the group. This was called La Vaquita, and honestly I probably wouldn’t recommend it. We bumped in to the 2 weirdest boys, who put on some kind of bizarre dance routine.. turns out they weren’t joking. We got a taxi home.

TULUM 20TH – 24TH DECEMBER
Accommodation: Amarcito Corazon Hotel Y Hostel

Day 3:
We got an ADO bus from Cancun down to Tulum, and I must say it was probably the comfiest coach I’ve ever been on!

Our new hostel is nicer than the last one, but very quiet socially. They don’t have an alcohol license, so everyone goes out and when we first arrived there were barely any guests staying. There’s a kitchen on the roof with a little pool, but we never actually used it our whole stay.

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The guests in our room are interesting.. there’s an old man (maybe 70 years old) who doesn’t really say a lot, and came down to explore Tulum. There’s also an American guy who loves to dance and has started making YouTube videos.

Days 4-6:

The next night we went to a nearby hostel that had a bar called Che to meet people and go out. They have their own bar and it’s pretty busy. We met some Australians – 2 girls and 2 boys, along with a boy from New York called Ross with dark hair (think f.r.i.e.n.d.s) We went in a taxi to what was advertised as a beach party, but really it was just a bar on the opposite side to the beach in a garden.. so after a couple of very over priced vodka lime sodas it was back to Tulum.. where we found our dancing room mate having decided to put on his own show for the streets (no surprises there).

The beaches in Tulum are literally the BEST, although all the affordable accommodation is in town (along with the nightlife thank goodness) so in the day some people rent bikes and cycle down to the beach. We chose to ride down in a taxi instead. There’s white sand and some really nice beach cafes where I’d recommend mango smoothies! There’s an Instagram photo op at every turn. The main beach was Playa Maya I believe.

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Oh and we visited the Mayan ruins at the end of the beach.. it was nice but I think a bit wasted on me, as I enjoyed the plants and animals around it more than the actual ruins.

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In true Christmas spirit we built 2 sandmen called Olaf and Frederiko.

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On the last day in Tulum we went to a different beach and sat at the Papaya Playa project hotel. This was amazing! I’d love to stay there one day..

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Oh I also forgot to mention that we also visited Grande Cenote – a kind of underground sink hole (lake) where we snorkelled. The water was cold but really nice and clean.

PLAYA DEL CARMEN 24TH-28TH DECEMBER
Accommodation: Iris Studios and apartments

Day 7 –

It took a lot to drag us away from the incredible Tulum, but we jumped on a collectivo bus which took us to Playa Del Carmen. Collectivos are great.. you just jump in these little mini buses and they are super cheap.

Playa was where we were going to be spending Christmas so we splashed out on a nice apartment for the occasion.. although the purple décor was not something to be desired, but it did make us laugh. Had a quick dip in the pool on the roof while the room was being sorted. We set out our Christmas decorations and presents ready for Christmas day and headed out.

Playa del carmen is super touristy, with a long street of shops, bars and restaurants called Fifth avenue. It kind of reminded me of one of the Canary islands, but it’s a great place to meet people.

Christmas eve we went to Parrot (a club next to the beach) which was super fun, and they had fire dancers and glow in the dark paint etc too.. we met a couple of Americans called Ethan and Jacob from Florida. We also bumped in to Nicola and the French boy from our first hostel whilst in Playa del Carmen.
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Day 8 : Christmas Day:

On Christmas day, feeling very worse for wear from the unlimited drinks the previous night and having come home at 6am, we had to get up early to catch a boat to Cozumel island for a snorkelling trip!! The weather was also looking ropey, and the boat ride wasn’t fun.

Luckily we found refuge in a diving hostel when we arrived, and also got the chance to visit a church, which was nice on Christmas day.

The snorkelling was fun, and I saw lots of nice fish. (Christiana also only remembered the glow in the dark paint once we’d jumped in the water)

Day 9 : Boxing day:

The next day we met more nice Americans – a brother and sister David and Jennifer and their friend Matthew. Their family has a house in Cancun and they come down every year over Christmas. We ended up back at Parrot.

The next day we met back up with them, and went back out. This time we went to a beautiful hotel rooftop bar called Hotel Thompson.

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(This photo was taken from Google)

We heard there was going to be a new years eve party there in a few days, which would have been amazing to go to!!

ISLA MUJERES 28TH-30TH DECEMBER
Accommodation: Hotel Sueno Maya

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Days 10-11
In the morning we set off from Playa Del Carmen to Isla Mujeres. This closely followed Tulum as my second favourite place we visited in Mexico.

We had our own HUGE apartment, with a double bed each. The nicest beach was Playa Norte, which we were lucky enough to be walking distance from. Here we sunbathed every day and enjoyed more Mexican tacos and quesadillas.

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Definitely don’t think we had enough time to explore this island.

We found another busy hostel called Poc-na. It’s actually a shame we weren’t able to stay there as they had lots of benefits, like free Spanish classes, yoga and cheap golf buggy hire. We took advantage of their cheap drinks however.

We did a yoga class overlooking the sea on a wooden platform one morning and it was beautiful. The teacher has the best job in the world – teaching yoga next to the beach and singing in the evenings.

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The next day we set out to hire a golf buggy and explore the island. The weather was overcast, so it turned out to be the best day to do this. Sadly there were no golf carts left on the island to hire! But luckily enough some German girls heard we didn’t have one and said we could join them on theirs.

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We went to a turtle sanctuary, an abandoned house and a beach for lunch.

On the way back I bought myself a beautiful shell from a little girl on the side of the road.

There’s lots of street art and paintings on Isla Mujeres.

CANCUN 30TH-31ST DECEMBER
Accommodation: Kukulcan Hostel and friends

Days 12-13:

Travelled back to Cancun on the boat and made our way to our final hostel before going home…

The hostel was what can only be described as disgusting, and I’d tell everyone to stay well clear of it – super dirty and smelly. We spent as little time there as possible, and I got up at 7am the next day to pack up and head out.

The weather wasn’t great which I think put us both in a bad mood looking for somewhere to spend our last day. This soon perked up, and so did our luck when we managed to find a hotel which would let us buy a day pass (the Cancun all-inclusive problem for people who aren’t all-inclusive) we had their breakfast buffet, used their shower and ate some lunch before heading back to the hostel to wait for our taxi to the airport.

Travelled home via Paris again, but this time actually had to leave the airport and go to another one before catching the long flight to London.

We spent what would have been UK new year in the airport waiting for our flight. We wore red underwear to signify a loving year ahead, and ate 12 grapes at what would have been midnight. This is meant to signify the 12 months of the new year, so luckily all 12 of my grapes were sweet!! And it was 12 sweet months ahead for me!

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As always if you have any questions about my trip or would like to stay in touch for further travel posts, you can find me on Instagram @shore_to_surface