It was a good few months ago now that we went on our sneaky Easter minibreak escape to Montenegro and I’m ashamed that I haven’t had a chance to publish a travel post about it yet! So, before we go on our summer holiday (2 weeks and counting!) I thought it only fair to give our trip a little write up and share our photographs seeing as it was so stunning.

The first question most people asked us when we mentioned where we were going was.. well.. why Montenegro? It’s a fair question. Up to this point we are the only people we know out of all of our friends and extended family that have ever been! Scores of people seem to flood to Croatia these days, so I find the lack of the same enthusiasm for it’s neighbour odd, as Montenegro shares a similar vibe, climate and even looks similar! Plus, it’s still a pretty undiscovered gem, so perfect for a quiet, secret escape!

Our holiday

As it was a quick ‘let’s get out of here’ last minute holiday affair, we decided to go inexpensive and simple. Out of season (early April) the climate in Montenegro looked good and we found a great value all inclusive deal at a five star hotel in the holiday beach resort of Budva. All inclusive is not usually something we would go for our main holiday because we like to cook for ourselves and eat out in different places, but for the type of super relaxing short break we wanted we decided to go for it.

The hotel was called the Iberostar Bellevue and it was absolutely stunning. I was blown away when we first got there. Mainly because I’ve never seen a beachfront hotel over looking the sea which is also surrounded by spectacular mountains on the other side! The landscape was just something that you would never see in your normal Spain/ Portugal holidays and I couldn’t get over it! I was super happy to take loads of gorgeous photos with the stunning backdrop. Our room was fine, perfectly comfortable and functional with a lovely big balcony and a sea view which we weren’t expecting and was a lovely surprise. We could actually hear the sound of the waves at night which was amazing.

The Iberostar Belleview hotel

The weather we had was mixed. A bit of rain on the first two days so we took the opportunity to explore the local historic town of Budva and the montain city of Kotor to get some culture and sightseeing in. Due to it being out of season, Budva was a bit dead with a lot of shops and restaurants closed, but Kotor was much more lively and seemed to have a lot of tourists visiting despite the weather. Budva would definitely be worth a day trip particularly the old town to see the historic architecture, and the harbour which had some pretty pricey looking sun seekers! There were also some nice craft shops and cute restaurants.

Budva harbour

Budva old town

The city of Kotor was about an hour bus ride away and it was a whole other level of beautiful! If I had visualised a perfect, quaint Eastern European town then this was it. You can climb up some mountains at the back towards a church and get a load of this crazy stunning view.

The holiday was perfect for what we wanted, a ‘do-nothing’, relaxing break with a bit of sunshine.

 

I would thoroughly recommend considering Montenegro for your next holiday. It’s got great summer weather, beautiful safe beaches and stunning landscapes. Kotor is a stunning historic city and well worth a visit, as it’s a pretty small country most of it is accessible with a short car or bus journey. Although it was a bit quiet when we were there, you could tell that they were gearing up for a busy summer season so there would be no shortage of things to do there.

Have you been to Montenegro? Would you consider it?

 

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So, here’s the next installment of my ‘Thailand Diaries’ series – our trip to the jungle! It seems like such a long time ago since we got back it’s really lovely to look through all the photos again and relive the memories!

We decided to visit Khao Sok on a bit of a whim. It’s not really on what you would consider the main tourist routes and not that many people have heard of it. However, we got the idea from our Lonely Planet ‘Ultimate Travel Book’ (which details some of the most beautiful places in the world) – and once we’d looked it up online we were sold! We knew we had to go, it was truly stunning.

We thought it was going to be a bit of a headache to get to and it certainly wasn’t as well connected as the other more ‘mainstream’ places we went to – but it definitely wasn’t as difficult as we envisaged. Khao Sok National Park is reachable by minibus from both Krabi and Phuket if you want to fly in (a few hours drive) or from Surat Thani which is the main rail station in the area. We caught the overnight sleeper train from Bangkok which is 14 hours and really not as bad as it sounds! We paid a little extra (£30 each at the most!) to have First Class which gets you a private lockable cabin and pretty comfortable beds. The train leaves Bangkok in the evening and you wake up in Surat Thani early morning! We found it remarkably simple.  TIP: don’t make the mistake of leaving train bookings too late. Thailand rail are yet to get on board with an online booking system so you need to pay a travel agency in Bangkok to physically get them from the station for you in advanced, and you pick them up when you arrive. We used 12Go Asia who were fantastic and efficient from start to finish.

Anyway, we turned up at Surat Thani station at 5am on Christmas Day slightly concerned we had no onward travel booked and imagining we may have to wait a while for the first bus of the day. We needn’t had worried! Even at that time the station was packed with locals offering taxis, mini vans services and breakfast. We only had to pay 150 baht for the 1hr30 drive to the national park.

Once we had actually got there we needed to locate our hotel – ‘Our Jungle House’, which was located right next to the national park entrance and it pretty well hidden! It was worth the trek to find it though. This beautiful, secluded hotel is right in the heart of the jungle and it’s made up of a series of beautiful rustic treehouse rooms and a quaint wooden building with a restaurant and bar. In the day it was tranquil and relaxing and at night it wasn’t! It was so amazing to be so close to the wildlife and hear the monkeys running about on our roof!!

During our short two nights in the National Park we went on two trips and enjoyed a delicious Thai ‘Christmas buffet’ which was served at the hotel! The rest of the time we went on a few (short) self guided hikes and just soaked up the true wonder of nature. After the madness of Bangkok, Khao Sok is the perfect antidote. The first trip we went on was on Christmas day which was a short excursion to a natural hot springs in the hills. It is popular with both local people and tourists, but luckily the tour operators at our hotel pre-empted this and took us earlier in the day which meant that we missed the hoards and had the place virtually to ourselves.

On Boxing Day we went into the national park on a day trip to the famous Cheow Lan Lake. If you’ve every seen any wildlife or tourism documentaries about Thailand; this lake will be in it. It was absolutely breath-taking and one of the highlights of our trip. Most of the trip was spent relaxing and swimming by the lake, but it also included an hours wildlife spotting hike and a trip to the limestone caves. I’ve always thought of myself as a beach person but this lake was probably more beautiful than any beach I’ve ever seen. The water was like glass and the backdrop was simply amazing. We were lucky enough to have brilliant sunshine that day – but during our afternoon we saw a 30 second rainstorm! It was incredible, literally passed over us in less than an minute and then it was gone.


For more information on where we stayed you can click here. I loved Our Jungle House but if we were ever to go back to Khao Sok I would LOVE to stay on one of the floating bungalows you can rent on the lake. Imagine waking up to that view each day! We had an incredible experience in the jungle, so different from any other holiday we have ever been on! We would have loved to have stayed longer, but I can’t say that we are particularly natural intrepid explorers! We never ventured far on our hikes for fear of getting lost! There are A LOT of creepy crawlies in the jungle so be sure to take some spray and watch out for the mosquitos.  Next time, we move on to the blissful beaches of the South!

Hi everyone! We are absolutely loving life here in Thailand on our honeymoon. It is a truly special country and we are loving every minute. I thought I would share a few of our experiences with you, as we go along and also when we return. I know when planning this trip I enjoyed reading blog posts about certain trips/ experiences and recommendations to get a feel for them before booking, so I hope others will find it helpful.

Our first stop of the trip was the northern city of Chiang Mai which is famous for its culture, elephants and food! We decided we wanted to do a cookery class to learn some traditional Thai recipes and we came across the Thai Farm Cooking School on trip advisor. What stood out to me (other than the abundance of 5 star reviews!) was that the tour took you out of the city to the school’s organic farm where you would pick your own ingredients for the dishes and cook them in a quite and tranquil setting. We went ahead and booked it.

What a fantastic day it was! I would thoroughly recommend this excursion to anyone visiting Chiang Mai. Everything about it from the organisation of the pick ups, the teachers, the food and the equipment was perfection and extremely professional. This is a cooking school which has been running smoothly for years you can tell.

Our day started with an 8.30am pick up from our hostel and a minivan ride with our group of about 8 people to the local market. We were introduced to our teacher ‘Wass’ and she gave us a tour of the market; explaining the different spices, vegetables and rices which we may not have seen before. After this insightful stop-off we drove about 40 mins out of the city to the Thai Farm Cooking School.

The farm itself was really beautiful, set in the lush Thai countryside and very quiet. The had several group cooking stations set up for the different groups but they were far enough away from each other that it felt as though it were a private lesson. Everything we could have possibly needed was there ready for us. Once we arrived we had a tour of the farm where Wass explained the different Thai herbs and spices that they grow and what we would use them for. Then it was down to the cooking!

One of the things I loved so much about the experience was how organised it was and how easy they made it for you. All the ingredients we needed for each dish we pre-portioned for us so that we could just get on with the cooking and the eating! The last thing you want to be doing on holiday is peeling potatoes right??! Wass was so knowledgable and went at the right pace for the group. We were whipping up some delicious Thai food in no time!

The menu changes daily but we had the opportunity to make Tom Yum soup, vegetable spring rolls, stir fry chicken with cashew nuts, papaya salad and red/yellow/green curry (our choice) with either chicken on tofu. All the dishes have the option to cook a vegetarian version. After you’ve made your dishes your group (about 8 people) all sit down together and eat them! They were so delicious!

My favourite dish of the day was the desert we made at the end – Mango Sticky Rice. Doesn’t sound like much of a desert I know but I’m addicted to it out here! The rice is sweetened using coconut milk, sugar and coloured with a natural colour (we used a flower) and it tastes devine!


If you are visiting Chiang Mai and thinking about doing a cooking class I would thoroughly recommend the Thai Farm Cooking School and give it 5 stars. The whole days experience was great from start to finish and it’s really well set up so that it feels authentic and not like a tourist treadmill at all. And at £30pp for an entire day’s schedule plus all that food it’s really good value! At the end you will recieve a little printed recipe book with the instructions for everything that you made which I thought was a really nice touch. One tip – go hungry!! Not a single person on our course could finish everything they made!

You can check out the Thai Farm Cooking School for yourself here.

Until next time,


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Good morning!

Today’s post is a bit of a personal update. You may know if you follow me on Twitter/insta that I have been on the countdown for quite some time now! Today is the day Paul and I head off on our long awaited honeymoon! I cannot wait.

When we got married in June we took the decision which many couples who already live together take; instead of registering for gifts we asked for money towards our honeymoon fund. We were extremely lucky and the generous gifts from our family and friends enabled us to book our dream three week holiday travelling around Thailand! We decided to wait until Christmas because a) we knew we’d be desperate for a holiday by now and b) it’s much better weather in Thailand at the moment rather than in the summer.

It’s not going to be your normal luxury honeymoon in a beach resort. We love travel and roughing it a bit is all part of it for us. We wanted to cram as much as humanly possible into three weeks so we spent less on nice accommodations and more on experiences and getting to different places. In three weeks we are visiting Chiang Mai and the north, Bangkok, spending a few nights in the jungle and then the last week island hopping on the west coast. I can’t wait to blog about our experiences and what we get up to!

Blogging wise: I have a few posts scheduled over the coming weeks and I hope to do a few more as I go with updates about the trip, but I’m going to make a conscious effort to stay away from technology where possible and focus all my attention on my lovely hubby!

Love from,

When planning a longer than average trip or perhaps a gap year it’s really important to make sure you take not only the right things with you but also the right amount of things. Trust me – you really, really don’t want to take the kitchen sink with you and you will regret lugging around tons of stuff you won’t need. Equally, you don’t want to under pack either. When I was planning my gap year I was at a loss as to what I’d actually need and how much of everything to take. How can you possibly pack everything you would need for several months in one 70litre backpack? Here’s a few tips for anyone in the same position:

❤️ Think carefully about where you are going. This is number one on the list because it’s the most important. There is no generic formula for what to take because the world is such a diverse place and what you may need could vary a lot. In my experience, places like south east Asia are hot, sticky and very casual – pack your shorts and crop tops and leave your heels and hair straighteners at home. You probably won’t need a jumper but you will need a shawl to cover up when visiting the temples. In Australia, however, you might need an extra layer in Melbourne (it’s not always baking hot). Think about where you’re going, the climate, the culture and pack accordingly.

NB I would never recommend taking hair dryers/ straighteners or any of that sort of thing because they are so heavy and take up a lot of room. Having beachy, natural hair is all part of it right?!

❤️ Also – think about what you’ll be doing. New Zealand – high chance you’ll be trekking through those mountains (walking shoes recommended). Singapore – gents, if you want to hit the clubs you’ll need some closed in shoes and a shirt, those baggy vests won’t cut it! In Mauritius you may need a bikini, in Antarctica you may not. You get the idea. There are some things that just require certain equipment or clothing so it’s worth pre-planning a little bit so you make sure you have what you need.

❤️ Get everything out, lay it on the bed, then halve it. TRUST ME you will thank me later. You will only need half of what you anticipate; probably less. Something I always over pack is shoes; taking several pairs of cute sandals for different outfits. When I get there I only ever wear my trusty pair of flipflops, so this year that’s all I’m taking! I know it’s tempting to take all your beachwear but realistically you just don’t need it and you’ll regret it when all your worldly belongings are on your back.

❤️ Pack clothes last. Because you will underestimate how much space other, more essential things, will take up first. Shampoo, for example, is bulky. Same with sunscreen, hiking boots, camera equipment etc. Clothes can be squashed in at the top and can be rolled or folded to fit any gaps.

❤️ Don’t take anything that requires ironing. Just don’t.

❤️ Keep the valuables to a mimimum but, if you can’t live without something then take it. If your life is going to be miserable without your iPhone/ tablet / beats headphones etc then take them; just be careful with them. Don’t force yourself to leave all technology or material possessions behind if that’s just not you. I’m just saying maybe its sensible to leave your Rolex at home in this occasion.

❤️ Remember – they will have stuff there! Unless you are going to the wilderness or perhaps space then you will be able to pick up essentials like toiletries and clothing in the places you’re going. If yo are going away for 6 months please don’t take 6 months worth of your favourite shampoo from the UK. In some places the local shops may even sell items cheaper than what the would cost at home, so do your research. Heads up – this is not the case for Australia, they’re branded goods are super expensive.

I hope these tips will be helpful to anyone packing for a long trip. I will be heeding my own advice next week when Paul and I pack everything for a 3 week holiday in one 60 litre pack between us!

Let me know what you think!

Love,

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