Inside: Carnival in Venice

It’s already February and am yet to travel. *gasp*

Where to, to start another year of globetrotting? Back to Italy! Where specifically? To Venice for their carnival! :D

First time in Italy. First time to visit Venice. :)

First time in Italy. First time to visit Venice. :)

The first time I travelled to Italy was 2 years ago. I travelled solo for a week and visited Rome, Florence then Venice. The most popular route. Typical? I guess. But for a reason most definitely! I keep telling my other friends who seem to shun touristy things that touristy places/ things are the way they are for a reason and it’d be a shame to skip them just to avoid the crowd.  Anyways, since I had been couchsurfing my way around bella Italia – and met many wonderful people and got to see places I grew up studying and dreaming of- … I wanted a break from staying at other people’s place and and to just be on my own and to treat myself I guess, so I booked for a room by the Rialto bridge  in Venice. It was perfect!

Sunset in Venice

Sunset in Venice

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I like how Venice is really just any other city except for the fact that it has canals instead of roads. Vaporettos instead of buses. Water ambulance, fire boat, etc. Awesome! I wasn’t really aware of Venice’s masquerades back then but seeing all of the masks by the streets, I figured, buy one and come back to Venice to actually use it in the festival season.

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And that’s what I exactly did last week! :D

With travel buddies, Shalinee and Jessica

With travel buddies, Shalinee and Jessica

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Venetian Carnival is an annual fest held in – as the name suggests – Venice. It is celebrated until before the start of Lent, 40 days before Easter. Here are pictures taken during the last Venice Carnival.

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The cons of visiting a place during a feast is the seriously huge crowd of people!

The downside of visiting a place during a feast is the seriously huge crowd of people!

P1100441Venice. Expensive. Touristy. Crowded. Still, it was a truly fun experience! We’re even thinking of going back to another carnival wearing a full costume. Should be fun! ;)

Best done with friends. If you wanna go there for romantic purposes, better go off season to avoid the throng of visitors – or at least to not have as many of them there.

*If looking for accommodations and you realize that Venice’s hotels are out of your budget range, look for a place to stay at in Venice Mestre. It’s in the mainland and much cheaper. And besides, it’s just 15mins away by bus. :)

AAU Trip to Rome

Second attempt at making a video out of the pictures of a trip. This one’s with my workmates in London as we embarked on a whirlwind overnight trip to the eternal city of Rome. First flight in, last flight out. If I’m with people who are up for all of my crazy ideas… these are the sort of things that would ensue! lol

Enjoy watching! :D

 

Dublin on a Rainy Day

You’re staying in one of the great value Travelodges in Dublin, looking forward to exploring all the city has to offer, and the heavens have opened. Don’t be dismayed – there’s no reason why you can’t still enjoy Dublin to the full. Take a look at some of our favourite rainy day activities in this vibrant city:

National Aquatic Centre

 At Europe’s largest indoor water park, AquaZone, it doesn’t matter what the weather is like outside. With high octane rides, the lazy river and a wave pool, you’ll have a blast whatever the weather.

The Ski Centre

 Dublin’s Indoor Ski Centre is a great place to learn to ski, brush up on existing skills and have fun on the slopes. Nearby is the Children’s Museum and Rainforest Adventure Golf, so there’s enough activities in the immediate area to keep you out of the rain all day.

Butlers Chocolate Experience

 Discover what happens in a working chocolate factory on this great interactive tour. With plenty of chocolate tasting opportunities along the way, this tour is a huge hit with chocoholics. Perhaps you’d prefer to pop into the Butlers Chocolate Café in Wicklow Street instead? Imagine a café dedicated to all things chocolate. Packed to the rafters with decadent delights from hot chocolate in a tantalising array of flavours, to signature sundaes or perhaps a slice of the Butlers Chocolate Temptation Cake.

 Traditional Irish Music and Dance

 Why not spend the evening discovering the traditional music and dance of Ireland? With everything from traditional Irish dancing to the acclaimed ‘Celtic Nights’ show and much more besides, there’s bound to be something that will keep you singing, dancing and laughing until the early hours. The Irish are famous for their hospitality and sense of fun after all.

Whatever the weather, rain or shine, you’re sure to have an amazing holiday in Ireland’s enchanting capital city.

Bucketlist 101

We all have a travel bucketlist – a list of places we’d love to go to and visit at one point in our lifetime.

I realized that the more I go out there to see more of the world, the longer my list becomes instead!

This travelbug, once you get it… it’s hard to get it out of your system!

Where to next??? :D

Where to next??? :D

I’ve tried making a list of dream destinations. It’s actually hard as I didn’t want to be biased on any one continent.

One almost always has a map in their room if they're crazy about travels - almost! ;)

One almost always has a map in their room if they’re crazy about travels – almost! ;)

 

Do I write the name of the city or of a specific building or monument in there? Rome vs. Trevi Fountain, Colosseo, Pantheon, etc.

Do I specify any activity or just the name of the place? Ride a gondola in Venice vs. (just) Venice

Anyways, I sort of made it! Yay! Haha Have a look and tell how many you’ve places you’ve visited in this list! Just click on any of the pictures in this post. ;)

Going crazy over tomatoes in Spain!

Going crazy over tomatoes in Spain!

 

Sunset over Portugal :)

Sunset over Portugal :)

 

Where is your next destination?
Related posts:
Where Have You Been in 2013?
Travel Wish List for 2013!
2012: Exploring Europe
Must See Travel Movies
Songs and Travels: My Travel Playlist!

Where Have You Been in 2013?

It’s that time of the year where people are making lists (again) of the year that was and which will be followed closely with what they want for the coming year. Kinda mandatory for bloggers I guess. haha Before the year started, I listed 12 places I wanted to visit and in the end, I had been to 10 of those. Not bad if I may say so. Add the fact that I ended up travelling  instead to some countries I didn’t consider. :D And since part of the fun in travelling includes planning for them and reminiscing about the trips themselves… I’m happily sharing my 2013 in travels! ;)

Morocco

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It’s my first time to set foot in Africa and was I excited! Morocco was a different kind of beauty from what I’m used to (South East Asia’s lush green forests and crystal blue waters). It’s a rugged, harsh and stark kind of beauty. Differest, yes, but still beautiful!

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From Marrakech’s UNESCO-World-heritage-site-old-medina, to the snow-topped covered mountains of High Atlas to the sandy coastline of Essaouira, Morroco seems to have it all. Too bad the Sahara dessert is a 5hours drive away from Marrakech according to our guide that’s why we weren’t able to go. A good excuse to come back for sure!

Philippines

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To say I’m excited to go on a trip back home since relocating to London is an understatement! My bags were packed and ready to go a month before my trip! haha
Sea. Sand. Sun. Sky. Family. Friends. Amazing food. = Home = ♥

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Travelled all over the islands coz I’ve got friends with me who were in the country for the first time. Went to my usual faves: Boracay, Cebu, Bohol and Palawan. Did tons of stuff like swam with whalesharks, island hopped, trekked, went on a firefly tour and much more! It is definitely more fun in the Philippines!

Hong Kong

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It’s my nth time in this small but very dynamic city! I LOVE the foods here! There’s this really affordable Michelin rated dimsum place in Kowloon (and they now have a branch in HK island) that you gotta try! The place is called Tim Ho Wan. ♥

 Macau

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From old temples to humongous casinos.. this is Asia’s own version of Vegas and what a city of contradiction and mix of Portuguese and Chinese heritage it is!

 Singapore

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Singapore is South East Asia’s melting pot of culture. They have Chinatown, Little India, and Arab Street. This mix also manifests itself in their food and it’s really good! They say the country is a foodie’s paradise and I couldn’t help but agree! Aside from that, they’ve got some pretty cool buildings like the Marina Bay Sands Hotel and Gardens by the Bay (pictured above).

So many friends to see and visit in such a relatively small country! See you guys in March!♥

So many friends to see and visit in such a relatively small country! See you guys again in March!♥

Malaysia

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First time to visit Malaysia. Had so much fun that I’ll visit again in a few months! :D

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Must do: picture in front of the iconic Petronas Towers (with high school mates, JC and James)

Slovakia

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After my 5weeks trip in Asia, I was knackered! I had to have a vacation to get over my vacation. haha First stop was Slovakia’s Bratislava. Admittedly, the only thing I’ve heard from others is that 1. You’ll see all that there’s to see in a day and that 2. It’s a cheap (financially speaking) city.

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Well, we saw a lot but we did kinda finished quickly and yes, lodgings were indeed much cheaper there! Food was cheaper too. My cousin and I would get tempted whenever they’d write “traditional dishes” on the menu (goulash, etc) hehe

Hungary

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Friends have been saying that Hungary’s Budapest is one of their favourite cities. Well, if awesome parties, numerous thermal baths, colourful history and beautiful architecture won’t do it for you, I dunno what would (maybe uhmm… good looking guys with amazing abs there? It was summer when I visited and they’d somehow walk around with their shirts off or with open buttons -_- haha)

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I ♥ Budapest!

Switzerland

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Chocolates. Watches. (Very expensive) train rides. Gorgeous scenery. It could only mean I’m in Switzerland!

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I kept telling friends that I found Italy’s Amalfi Coast to be the most beautiful scenery I’ve seen so far in Europe. I can’t say it with such conviction after seeing Lauterbrunnen (aka as Valley of the 72 waterfalls). The Swiss Alps is just something else!

Portugal

Quick stop in Portugal's Lisboa and Sintra with my travel buddy, Jess, enroute to Spain. Food here was the cheapest I've had so far in Europe and is very good! We did quite a lot of walking and the city had many hills so do wear comfy shoes. ;)

Quick stop in Portugal’s Lisboa and Sintra with my travel buddy, Jess, enroute to Spain. Food here was the cheapest I’ve had so far in Europe and is very good! We did quite a lot of walking and the city had many hills so do wear comfy shoes. ;)

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Daytrip to Sintra, a UNESCO world heritage site, then a jaunt to Cabo da Roca – westernmost point of mainland Europe. :)

Spain

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La Tomatina in Buñol, Spain is the world’s largest food fight celebrated every last Wednesday of August. Around 40 metric tons of tomatoes are thrown against each other! I got hit in the eye by an unsquished tomato (against the rules!). It hurts! T_T Wallowed in pain for a minute or ten – til I got everything out of my eye, then back to the food fight! haha

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With my very own Spanish guide, Jessica!♥

Italy

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View of the Pantheon from the inside looking out into the piazza.

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Posing in front of Fontana di Trevi with my workmates. It’s difficult when you have people who are so easy to invite and convince to go along with my silly ideas (ie: an overnight trip to Rome!) because it’s really gonna happen! :D

France

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Le Mont St Michel.♥

My fave group of people after CS Manila, CS Paris. Such a fun loving group!

My fave group of people after CS Manila, CS Paris. Such a fun loving group!

Greece

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A bucket list destination for me and many of my friends. Had such a wonderful time in Santorini. It’s best to come around late September-early October: not as many tourists and prices would have gone down by then. Pictured above: Oia sunset

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Amidst the ruins in Athens

Iceland

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Iceland is a country full of natural beauty. Winter meant aurora borealis while summer would be time for the midnight sun. Would love to go back and see more in the summer! Must do in Iceland: visit and swim in the Blue Lagoon. You won’t regret it!

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A short trip in this beautiful country with girl friends to celebrate my birthday. :D

2 013, you have been more than kind to me. To those who I’ve travelled with, to friends who took the time to meet me while I was on the road, to new friends and to those who’ve made a positive impact, and to those who were just always there for me no matter what… thank you so much guys for making the year that had just passed by a colourful and memorable one indeed!♥

See you all in 2014! Where do you plan to travel this year? People do say dream big since sky’s the limit! :D

Related posts:
Travel Wish List for 2013!
2012: Exploring Europe
Must See Travel Movies
Songs and Travels: My Travel Playlist!

Birmingham: The Gateway to the West Midlands

Staying in Birmingham certainly has its perks – centrally located in the heart of England, there’s many places in its vicinity that are easily accessible when using this Midlands metropolis as a base. Click here for some fabulous hotel deals in the city and plan your itinerary to include central Birmingham activities as well as venturing further afield to see what else the West Midlands has on offer.

An exterior view of the new Library of Birmingham and its outdoor roof terrace garden at Centenary Square

Picture courtesy of telegraph.co.uk

When the sun is shining, it’s all the more reason to explore as much as possible and the sheer volume of attractions and things to do in and around Birmingham is quite impressive. Whether you’re visiting with family or it’s a strictly grown up affair, the possibilities are endless.

Castles are a great addition to any West Midlands break, with Warwick and Kenilworth Castles being within easy access of the city. Throughout the summer, there’s a full programme of events to keep youngsters busy while the heritage and history of these majestic fortifications is enough to enthral adults for an afternoon. With a season full of jousts and tournaments, a trip to Kenilworth Castle is well worth it for your fill of medieval thrills.

The Black Country Living Museum is less than half an hour away from the city, in the heart of Dudley town, and takes visitors back to the Industrial Revolution, in which the West Midlands were exceedingly important. Set over 26 acres, the museum will engross you in years of urban heritage that has been flawlessly rebuilt in this dedicated space.

Black Country Living Museum. pic courtesy of visitbirmingham.com

Museums are rife in and around Birmingham, perfect if you’re up for a day of culture and history. While young children may resent you a little for traipsing them around museums, if you’re travelling without kids, visiting museums can be a great way to while away the hours – particularly if the weather outside is a little drab. From the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter, the Pen Museum and Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery in the city centre, to the fab Midland Air Museum and Coventry Transport Museum in, you guessed it, Coventry, there’s plenty to keep the inquisitive minds occupied.

If thrills are more your thing, Birmingham is just a short distance away from the awesome Alton Towers which will keep even the most mature of people screaming with delight. A brief hour on the road and you will arrive at this fantastic theme park, set in the middle of lush countryside. While Thorpe Park competes with the park to be the UK’s number one theme park for thrills, Alton Towers has it all. From fast-paced adrenaline rides including Rita, 13, Oblivion, Nemesis and Air to gentle strolls around the beautiful gardens, there’s something for everyone. Plus, grab an online deal or special offer and you can save plenty on entrance fees.

Alton Tower’s The Smiler. pic courtesy of dailymail.co.uk

If you choose to stay in the city of Birmingham, spend an evening at the Electric Cinema – the oldest working cinema in the UK and now showing an eclectic mix of art-house and mainstream films. Located on Station Street, in the heart of the city and just around the corner from the Bull Ring Shopping Centre, upcoming movie delights include Scarface, Blackfish and Otway the Movie.

Start planning your Birmingham trip, today. ;)

 

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Gorgeous Gambia

If you’re looking for a holiday destination with a touch of the exotic, where the sands shimmer under the blazing sun, the beaches are fringed with lush greenery and the shores sparkle like scattered diamonds, look no further than the Gambia.

Pic courtesy of thomascook.com

Holidays in Gambia are a little bit unusual, and that’s exactly why they’re so special. They also tick plenty of holiday boxes. If you’re after lashings of sun, sea and sand, you’ll find that in abundance in this beautiful corner of West Africa. It’s got vibrant beach resorts, lovely sunbathing spots, welcoming hotels and an attentive service that’s cheery and personable.

The Gambia has a fascinating heritage too, which you can explore through numerous tours and museums. On the subject of tours, you can’t beat a boat trip along the Gambian River. Kick back and relax as you drift leisurely along the country’s namesake, looking out for amazing animals like monkeys, crocodiles and exotic birds.

Pic courtesy of thomascook.com

The culture here is a blend of various influences, given its diverse history. There are various throw-backs to the British, following their occupation in the 18th and 19th centuries, along with various other cultures that are evident in the cuisine as well as the local architecture, adding an intriguing blend to this culturally diverse and heritage-rich country.

If you’re after a holiday with a difference, which comes with plenty of traditional beach necessities yet offers plenty of fascinating sites and sounds to explore, a holiday in the Gambia could be just the ticket.

Pic courtesy of thomascook.com

Find out more about holidays in Gambia online at thomascook.com, the world’s best-known name in travel, to search for the latest deals and to gain inspiration on various travel factors including the best time to visit, where to stay, and what to do when you get there. The Gambia is a beautiful holiday destination that’s well worth a visit – when will you tick Gambia off your ‘must-go’ list? ;)

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