Looking for a hotel in Lima to get your Peru trip started :)? There are lots of good hotels in Lima nowadays and the choice can be quite overwhelming. To filter out already the majority of hotels, focus on two areas only: Miraflores and Barranco. I personally would always choose Miraflores as I lived there for 7 months some years ago and it’s probably the best area for tourists. Though Barranco is becoming quite hip and has some great options to stay also.
Inkari Hotel Miraflores
The last time I went to Miraflores I opted to stay in the Inkari Hotel Miraflores which is a beautiful 4-star hotel located a two-minute-walk from the Parque Central de Miraflores. I loved the design of the rooms which looked very elegant and reminded me a bit of the hotel rooms in old movies from the 40s.
My favourite part of the room was the bathroom though which had a little jacuzzi that would change colours. I totally loved it and desperately needed it after our long trip of travelling through Peru up to Bolivia and back by bus.
Miraflores was the last stop of the first five months of our world trip which went through the Americas. So the only stuff I did in this last week of the trip was meeting my old uni friends in Miraflores (read here why I have uni friends there), going surfing everyday, eating and drinking out and going to the SPA :) Awesome holiday!
The Inkari Hotel Miraflores is perfect for all these activities. All shops and cafes are just about 5 to 20 minutes walking distance away from the hotel and you can walk to the beach in under 30 minutes (including descending down to the sea level). There are lots of taxis around which cuts down the journey to around 5 minutes to get to the bars and restaurants and 10 minutes to get to the surfer beach. Barranco, the other area worth visiting, is also just around 10 minutes away by taxi.
Have you been to Lima? Where did you stay and what did you enjoy most?
Every year during the summer months the SEA LIFE London Aquarium opens up its door late at night for the SEA LIFE After Dark event for adult fish enthusiasts. I had been to the SEA LIFE aquarium in Brighton which I really loved. I probably spent around 4 hours there starring down the fishies like a little maniac haha. So I couldn’t wait to finally visit the London Aquarium as well. Just to put things into perspective: I LOVE scuba diving and snorkeling. I once even had a goldfish tank in front of which I happily spent extended periods of time watching the goldfish go about their business (and yes, they are not the smartest..).
So last weekend the day had come to visit the London Aquarium. Upon arrival at the SEA LIFE After Dark event you are welcomed with a glass of Prosecco. Some people might need to take a big sip right away as you will be heading straight over to the glass walkway with sharks swimming just beneath your feet. I went with a friend of mine to the event who – while sipping her Prosecco on top of the shark tank – also discovered her enthusiasm about marine life. Yeey :)
We then spent the rest of the evening strolling through the various sections of the London Aquarium and discovering the different tanks and species. There were lots of places to sit down (event right in front of the tanks) and you could purchase more drinks at either of the two pop-up bars. Enjoying a glass of wine and catching up while being surrounded by stingrays, turtles, crocodiles and jellyfish really is an awesome way to spend the evening :)
The SEA LIFE After Dark event starts at 6.45 pm and ends at 10.30 pm with the last admission at 9 pm. It’s adults only so there is finally a way to visit the London Aquarium without kids running around or piling up in front of the tanks.. There are still tickets available for this summer. Check out SEA LIFE’s website here to book them in advance.
Photos: Sorry about the bad quality… I forgot my camera and it turns out my phone does not have the best lens for dark lighting conditions.
To the animal rights activists amongst you: Yes, some tanks look borderline too small as it’s usually the case with zoos and aquariums :( The Brighton SEA LIFE has bigger tanks. Yet SEA LIFE does a lot of good behind the scenes in terms of conservation efforts. Besides educating visitors about marine and freshwater wildlife, SEA Life also runs breeding programmes. Also, some of SEA LIFE’s aquariums rescue and release injured animals such as seals and turtles. Read more about it here and here.
If you happen to have a month off and fancy seeing a bit more of the US, check out out the four weeks US trip that I did :) I know, when do you ever have four weeks off?! No probs, just cut down on the first few days in LA or skip the long weekend in New York at the end of the trip.
Four Weeks US Road Trip
Before I headed into our US road trip adventure I had only been to New York, Miami and Chicago. I had already wanted to see a bit more of the US for quite while but given the states are not really that close to Europe there was a bit more planning involved. Whilst it’s easy to head over for a week of holiday to LA or for a long weekend to New York, you don’t really ‘use up’ your vacation days to visit Austin or Sedona only, right? But as part of a bigger road trip, driving a few extra miles gives you the chance to see so much more without taking a lot more days off your annual leave.
I had so many places in mind that it was such a challenge to find the perfect balance of packing your road trip full of destinations and still have a relaxed time off. That said, staying just for the night in one place and then continue the next day driving for hours and hours did NOT seem like a relaxed trip. So we made sure that we generally had at least a couple of nights or even 3 nights per stop :) And this is our itinerary:
Day 1 -4: Los Angeles
I’m sure I don’t need to elaborate much on LA, do I? Just think Hollywood, Disneyland, Malibu & Venice Beach, amazing restaurants, clubs, bars, shopping… you get the idea :) Time to sunbathe and mentally prepare for your three weeks of road trip adventure!
Day 5 – 7: San Francisco
San Francisco is such a beautiful city with gorgeous architecture, great restaurants and coffee shops, the world famous cable car and of course the Golden Gate Bridge. Make sure you drive over the bridge as you will have an amazing view from the other side of it.
Day: 8 – 11: Mammoth Lakes
Mammoth Lakes is the perfect playground for nature lovers! There are literally hikes for everyone from short and easy hikes to much more challenging ones. And each of them goes through the breathtaking beauty of nature.
Day 11 -12: Yosemite National Park
If you liked Mammoth Lakes, you will be in for a treat! Yosemite National Park has its own stunning nature and landscapes that will make you want to stop every few minutes to enjoy the view! If you are short on time you could head to Yosemite in the morning and continue your journey to Las Vegas in the late afternoon – this is what we did. Make sure to have lots of coffee as you don’t want to head to bed immediately after arriving in Vegas.
Day 12 – 15: Las Vegas
Arrive before 11 pm and get changed to head out in time for a night out :) Save the next day for lying on the pool and watching a show at night. On the last day have a last dip into the pool and leave Las Vegas to arrive at Grand Canyon a couple of hours before sunset.
Day 15: Grand Canyon
A great stop to pass by without a sleepover. Do stay until sunset though as it is incredibly beautiful to watch! They also have a stargazing programme. Check their website here to find out when it’s on.
Pagosa Springs a lovely little town with hot springs. It’s a great stop to relax after hiking in Sedona. You might want to head out and visit the Mesa Verde National Park for a day trip if you haven’t stopped there on the way from Sedona to Pagosa Springs.
Day 20: Albuquerque
Albuquerque makes a great stop while driving from Pagosa Springs to Austin. Have some coffee and a snack, switch drivers and continue the road trip adventure :)
Day 21 – 22: Austin
Austin is the city of live music and it’s easy to see why. When you are walking along the various bars you will hear live music from literally every one of them. Take your pick :) Before you head out for the night, go and watch the bats waking up around sunset. I have never seen that many bats in my life!
Day 23 – 25: New Orleans
New Orleans has a famous old quarter, the French Quarter. Here you will find stunning architecture, amazing drinks & live music, haunted bars and lots of voodoo shops. No surprise that there are lots of spooky walking tours. And once you are back from your tour you might be just in time to join in for some live music in the street and people dancing to it.
Day 26 – 30: New York
Fly out to New York! New York is one of my favourite cities in the world :) There will be plenty of cultural activities, amazing restaurants, hidden cocktail bars, quaint coffee shops, impressive architecture and LOADS of shopping waiting for you!
Click through my HopBucket gallery above to see the highlights of the road trip :)
Have you tried HopBucket? It’s a free travel app that let’s you create photo travel stories within minutes. You can share your story with fellow travelers using a simple link. You can also share it with your readers by embedding your gallery on your blog (like mine above). What I love most about HopBucket is that it creates a location map from your photos it so much easier for people to visualise your trip :) Try HopBucket yourself here.
Have you done a road trip in the US? Let me know in the comments :)
Have you ever wanted to live in a cute little hippie beach town, go surfing during sunrise and do yoga during sunset?
Just head over to Sayulita in Mexico!
Sayulita: Hippie, yoga addict & surfer paradise
Sayulita is located around an hour by car from Puerto Vallarta on the Pacific side of Mexico. A Mexican friend of mine (whose wedding we attended in Puerto Vallarta) recommended that town and OMG, thank you, SOFIA! The moment we arrived in Sayulita I instantly fell in love with the place and was wondering why on earth would my friend (born in Puero Vallarta) trade paradise for London?!
Hidden surf spots around Sayulita
We were so lucky with the AirBnB that we rented which was located just 15 mins walk from the bech and came with two cute dogs. The landlord was quite a hippe and went surfing every morning for sunrise :) And that doesn’t mean that he got up at sunrise. No, he got up BEFORE sunrise so that he would be sitting on his board waiting for the perfect line up while the sun was rising. On top of that he went to a hidden surf spot in Punta Mita rather than to surf in Sayulita, so he would only see a handful of other surfers in the water :)
The perfect sunrise surf in Punta Mita..
When I joined him one morning and was lying down on my board soaking in the beautiful ambiance, I saw huge turtles coming by to say hi, birds flying in super close distance not even taking notice of me… and then the sunrise. It was so so so beautiful. There was this huge red ball at the horizon, slowly rising up from the water. I don’t even have words to desribe how gorgeous everything was.I was so happy I could have cried. The moment was just so perfect. I felt entirely calm and at peace surrounded by incredibly beautiful nature.
So, yes, make sure you get in a few sunrise surfing sessions :) Literally just ask around ‘in the water’ in Sayulita to get to know the best and hidden spots. Someone will eventually tell you if you are nice :) The locals were super friendly and quite fun. Sayulita is such a small town that at the weekend at night you will bump into a number of surfers that you have met while surfing during the day.
Hippie Life & Surfing in Sayulita – Holiday Schedule:
5 am/6 am
Early rise (mostly because of the rooster living next doors) and go surfing (either for sunrise at that hidden surf spot or around 8 am in Sayulita)
11.00 am /12.00 pm
Come home and have lunch, take a shower and have a little nap
1 pm / 2 pm
Head to town for cappuccino with my kindle // or go to the SPA or the beach for a massage // or take the dogs out and hang out with them on the beach.
4 pm / 5 pm
Go out for another surfing session or, if waves aren’t good, have a Margarita in one of the beach bars. Watch the sunset on the beach :)
Head home to get changed and walk back into town for dinner :) We mostly had fajitas and tacos in one of the restaurants near the plaza de armas.
This was the schedule for almost three weeks. I totally loved it :) So if you guys are searching for a good surfer town in Mexico, Sayulita may just be the one you are looking for! The surf is quite good in Punta Mita as well as on the beach in Sayulita – you have to go in when its not super packed. That’s quite easy though: Just relax on the beach and as soon as it’s a bit less crowded, walk over to one of the various surfboard rental places on the beach, get your board and paddle out :) :)
And here are more photos of Sayulita so you know exactly what to expect :)
And last but not least, the cutest dogs ever: Mexican Xoloitzcuintli :)
The perfect honeymoon in Mexico
For the honeymoon people wanting to stay around the area, check out this amazing hotel where some friends of mine stayed. It’s literally paradise on earth – the below photo shows your own private beach… :)
Ireland had been on my travel bucket list for ages. A few weeks ago, we finally made it over there for a wedding in Kenmare. I was told that Ireland looks like a mini New Zealand in terms of nature and stunning scenery – and yup, that seems about right! At least for the area around Kenmare I can say that it is extremely beautiful :)
We flew in to Cork where we picked up the rental car to drive up to Kenmare. This was the first time I drove on the left lane – ever! The way from Cork to Kenmare was super straightforward indeed with mostly highways for miles. The ‘fun’ started the next day when we decided to drive along the Ring of Berra with its super narrow, tiny little, non-paved roads around the mountains (more on that later).
We took an early morning flight from London and arrived in our lovely bed & breakfast cottage around noon and then had a couple of hours to relax before heading to the wedding. The landlady of the cottage was so sweet, she even drove us to the wedding venue herself. In fact every single Irish person we met was super friendly. And I don’t mean fake-friendly. They seemed genuinely extremely lovely and welcoming :)
The view from our cottage was amazing (photo above) and everything looks just so idyllic. Love it!
The wedding was lots of fun! The first day was a rather traditional Irish wedding and the second day was Indian themed (Irish & Indian wedding). The official photos are not out yet so here a little preview of my Saree :)
The Indian themed wedding celebration started in the evening on the second day so we had around 5 hours of sightseeing before the party. While the other guests were still sleeping off their hangover we were already on the road, more specifically on the tiny little narrow roads which are just so lovely for someone who is NOT used to drive on the left lane!
But the trip was definitely worth it. Unbelievable how the landscape kept on changing during our little round trip along the Ring of Beara. We started in Kenmare and then went past Tuosist, Lauragh, Eyeries, Castletown-Bearhaven and then back again to Kenmare to get ready for wedding day number 2.
If I remember correctly, the round trip took us around 4 hours. We were not the slowest drivers (I grew up in Germany after all…) and only had little breaks here and there for taking photos and having coffee.
There are lots more things to do along the Ring of Beara and I think it would also be lovely to stay somewhere in a Bed & Breakfast along the way. So if you are planning to do the Ring the Beara, also consider these stops that we didn’t get the chance to explore: Allihies & Dursey Island, Adrigole & Glengarriff, The Sheen Valley. Check out this Ring of Beara website to plan your trip and read this fun post from Shannon who did the trip a while back.
Last but not least, do bring clothes for rainy weather and also bring a jacket. It may look super lovely, warm and sunny in the morning and bang, rain and chilly in the afternoon. Always be prepared :)
Whoosh, time flies! It’s already been more than a couple of weeks ago that we went for cocktails to the GONG bar in The Shard. If you are looking for a beautiful bar with amazing cocktails and an incredible view of London, this is the perfect cocktail bar for you!
I love going to the Shard as it’s one of the closest really good cocktail bars to my home. It literally takes me 15 mins to walk there (well, assuming I’m not wearing heels haha). The cocktails at GONG bar are at the 52nd (!) floor of the Shard which gives you the most amazing view of London.
The minute you enter the Shard building you see super pretty decor, like the flowers below :) I love it that so many hotels, restaurants and shops decorate with flowers in spring. Makes me like this season even more!
Perfect Cocktails and …
The mixologists at GONG bar are truly amazing and happy to mix you pretty much any cocktail you’d like – even if not on the menu. But rather than going for your usual one, try one of GONG bar’s signature cocktails. Some cocktails sound rather peculiar and are served in a quirky glass or jar (once I ordered a cocktail that was served in what looked like a mini shoe!) but all of them are really delicious. If you are a fan of the speakeasy-type of cocktails, you will love the cocktails at GONG bar :)
… Perfect View!
If you don’t manage to get a table next to the window, just walk over to their bar sections and enjoy your cocktail next to the window there. The view of London is superb! I actually think there is no better view of London than this, the view from the Shard is also much better than the one from Samba Sushi or Duck & Waffles.
And if you are after dinner rather than Cocktails, check out the TING restaurant at the Shard here.
How to get to Gong bar?
The Shard is located just off London Bridge and impossible to miss – it’s the largest building in the UK after all.. Once you are in the lobby, take the elevator up to GONG bar :) For reservations and more information about GONG bar, check out their website here.
Did I mention that London is one of my favourite cities in Europe? There are so many things to do in London that even you will never get tired of this city – even by living here :). If you just have a short holiday in London, it can be quite overwhelming with so many attractions to choose from.. Here a little help :)
Top Things to Do Along the River In London
1. Tower Bridge
My absolute top place along the river in London is the Tower Bridge. I instantly fell in love with its architecture the first time I came in London around 10 years ago. I now live super close to Tower Bridge and often come down to sit in one of the pretty cafes that are south of the bridge on the river.
2. Tower of London
The Tower of London is one of the most important historical sites in London. It was built in the 11th century and was mainly used as protection and as a prison. It also served as a place of execution with Anne Boleyn being one of the most famous people who were executed in the Tower of London. Nowadays the Crown Jewels are kept in the Tower of London and it is a museum.
3. The Shard
The Gong bar in The Shard is one of my favourite cocktail places in London. Not only do they have serve amazing cocktails, you also have the most perfect view of London at night. With almost 310 m in height, The Shard is the tallest building the UK and the fourth tallest building in Europe. Apart from cocktail bars, there are also great restaurants for dinner and afternoon tea – all with a perfect view of the river. If you are just coming for the view, go straight up to the 68th floor for The View From The Shard.
4. London Eye
Apart from taking a helicopter tour of London and The View From The Shard, there is no better way to see London from above than the London Eye – a 135 m tall ferris wheel. One rotation takes around 30 mins and gives you a breathtaking, 360° view of London – it’s not surprising that the London Eye is one of the most popular attractions in London. There are even capsules that can be rented for private events and romantic occasions (with champagne!).
5. Tate Modern
Tate Modern is one of London’s top museums and the perfect treat for lovers of modern art. The museum is home to the national collection of British art from 1900 to the present day as well as to international contemporary art. Even if you don’t have a full day to spend at Tate Modern, with no general admission charge the museum is worth visiting even for just a short visit.
6. Shakespeare’s Globe
Shakespeare’s Globe is a must-see for fans of classic literature and theatre. The building was constructed circa 230 m from the site of the original Globe Theatre, the Elizabethan playhouse associated with Shakespeare built in 1599. There are regular performances and exhibitions, so make sure to check what’s on and book your tickets.
7. Borough Market & Maltby Street Market
Borough Market and Maltby Market are street food markets located in Borough/London Bridge and Bermondsey, respectively. Whilst Borough Market has been very popular for a while with lots of international visitors nowadays, Maltby Street Market is a more ‘secret’ food market. It’s a bit smaller than Borough Market and therefore has a more cosy ambiance. There are also lovely wine and tapas bars as well as breweries :)
8. Boat Tours Along the River
There are plenty of boat tours along the river Thames. From sightseeing tours to high speed rides on the Thames, there is definitely a boat tour for everyone :). My favourite cruises along the river are the afternoon tea cruise and the jazz dinner cruise. Before you book your tickets for the Thames cruises or sightseeing tours, have a look online for special discounts and deals. Online retailers such as Discount London, for instance, have lots of tickets at reduced prices and packages if you plan to visit two or more of London’s main attractions. For almost any attraction in London, booking online will save you money and queuing (!) time.
9. Walking Tour Along the River
As I live in just under 10 mins walking distance from Tower Bridge, I frequently go for Sunday walks along the river. Walking from Tower Bridge to South Bank takes around 30 mins and is super pleasant. You will pass by plenty of cafes and restaurants with beautiful views. If the weather is good enough, you can just grab a coffee to go and find a lovely little spot outside overlooking the river. In summer there are also lots of activities and performances around South Bank, so make sure you pass by and have a pint in the sun :)
And last but not least….
10. HMS Belfast
Quite a popular tourist attraction and a must-see for people interested in the history of the WW2: The HMS Belfast is a museum ship that is located between London Bridge and Tower Bridge. The ship was originally a light cruiser built for the Royal Navy. Nowadays it serves as a museum that enables visitors to explore what life was like during the war at sea. Tickets are £14.50 per person.
What are your favourite places along the river? Let me know in the comments :)
This post is in collaboration with Discount London. Discount London has a huge selection of tickets to major attractions and experiences at reduced prices. To check out their deals, have look at Discount London‘s website here.
Woosh, the last few weeks just flew by! I can’t believe it’s already three weeks ago that I went skiing in France for a long weekend! It was actually the first time I went to France instead of to Austria or Switzerland for skiing! Turned out that the neighbours of good friends of ours have a chalet in Les Menuires (Trois Vallees), so we thought it’d be fun to fly over for a long weekend :) And it was so much fun! The chalet was really beautiful and the weather was amazing! Down in the valley in the sun you could just wear a t-shirt – that kind of weather!
We flew in to Geneva on a Wednesday night and then drove to the chalet in Les Menuires where we arrived super late at night. I think it was around 3 am that we finally hit the bed! The next morning we were woken up by birds and sunshine – how much I missed this (it usually doesn’t happen often in London..)!. And as the weather was so amazing and it was already getting a bit late to go up skiing, we decided to spend the day in the sun on the terrace :) We had coffee and got out the sun beds. It was so beautiful and the only thing you heard was the sound of the birds. That’s it. So peaceful :)
A few coffees later I realised that the spot was also perfect to shoot some photos of my new watch! I’m excited to team up with JORD, a US label that is known for its luxury handmade and all-natural wooden watches. They have so many pretty watches that it took me forever to choose which one to get! In the end I went for the Koa and Rose Gold watch :)
And this is the giveaway! The lucky winner will get a $180 JORD gift card to spend online! It’s super easy to enter: just click HERE, fill out your name & email and choose your favourite watch :) The giveaway will stay open for two weeks until 30th April.
If you don’t want to wait that long, just use this JORD voucher code to get 15% off: ‘cfjord15′. And fyi, JORD ships worldwide for free :)
After the fun photo shoot in the sun we got ready and headed out for dinner. We finally went skiing on the second day! Val Thorens and the Three Valleys are really lots of fun. Read more about it here.
Did you know that France is not only amazing for summer trips but also for winter? And I don’t mean just Paris (though Paris is simply always a great idea!). I am referring to France’s beautiful spots for winter sports :)
I mostly go skiing in Austria and Switzerland but this time we’ventured’ out to the Trois Vallees in France. It’s quite easy to get to from London by flying to Geneva in Switzerland and then renting a car to drive up to Les Menuires in the Three Valleys which takes around two to three hours. We arrived super late at night..
DAY ONE – THURSDAY
We arrived late on Wednesday evening or rather Thursday morning (2am!) and actually planned to go skiing the next morning. When we woke up around 11am though, the weather was just so amazing and sunny that we decided to enjoy the sun on the terrace and take it easy. So we had a lovely breakfast and then just relaxed in the sun with some coffee :)
There are amazing restaurants close by Les Menuires (10 min drive from our chalet) with super yummy French food. There are even Michelin star restaurants which are perfect for an evening when you are not entirely exhausted from a long day of skiing:) On Thursday night, we decided to go to La Ferme de la Choumette in Saint-Martin-de-Belleville which has a lovely rustic interior and is perfect for cold winter days! The food is also super yummy!
DAY TWO – FRIDAY
Yeey, finally the first day of skiing! I woke up super early, even before sunrise. The moon was still up and it was so entirely quiet and peaceful. Totally needed a break from the hectic London lifestyle!
We drove down to the skiing lift which opened around 9 am and were up on the slopes skiing by 9.30 am. The weather was super sunny yet the snow was a bit slushy depending on which slopes you took. I didn’t mind that much though as I hadn’t been skiing for such a long time! So I loved it anyway! We spent the whole day skiing from early morning till late in the afternoon – I guess we did this to make up for the lazy Thursday when we stayed in the chalet. We had a few coffee breaks though and also a stop at Folie Douce for a little while.
In the evening we decided to cook at home and then curl up in front of the fire and play a board game :)
DAY THREE – SATURDAY
The Saturday was a bit foggy and it was snowing half the time. Also it was much colder than the day before. At least that meant that the skiing conditions would be perfect the next day (they were!). We went skiing until around 4 pm and then headed back to the chalet. At least that way we had time to relax and get ready for going out for dinner later. We opted for a Michelin restaurant, Le Montagnard. Super yummy food :)
LAST DAY – SUNDAY
As expected, the skiing conditions were PERFECT. At it was the last day of skiing and we had to head back to the airport in the afternoon, our skiing day started super early and we were on the slopes by 9am :) We went skiing for 4 hours with just one mini break to get some water. At some point we unintentionally ended up off the slopes and had to show off our (not-really-existing) free riding skills haha. When we thought we had made it back to the slopes we realised that there was a 1.5m jump still between us and ‘civilisation’… Ha! My knies felt like pudding afterwards and Michael’s thighs were quiet dead too but it was so much fun!
We headed back to the airport in Switzerland to make our flight home to London in the early evening on Sunday. Do you see? A long weekend skiing in France is a great idea for a short skiing trip :) The next time though, we will go skiing the FIRST day already though rather than being lazy bums!