1. Thursday, May 15, 2014

    Up, Upper and Away!
Sampling Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class: Tips and Tricks for the Ultimate Slick
Fussy: (Definition) - Paying great or excessive attention to personal tastes and appearance; fastidious.
Now imagine ‘this’ in human form. Brown hair, 5 ‘7, bit of a travel addict? Got it in one. When it comes to flying I’m fussy with a capital ‘F’ – partly due a grand old concoction of anxiety, a bad experience and then some really great experience to boot. To ensure that I have one of those ‘really bloody good’ in-air jaunts I do everything I can to make damn sure the odds swing in my favour - I warned you, I’m a stubborn mare!
So, how can you do this? Get your sniffer dog on and source the best seat on your flight in the genius Seat Guru, of course! Secondly suss out your budget - which cabin are you likely to be flying in? And most importantly, fly with the best airline within your means. Now I’ve flown with British Airways more times than I’ve had hot dinners – mainly as we’ve got a Gold card within the family and after flying with Emirates, Air Asia X and easyJet within the last year, I knew it was about time I smacked on the red lippy and turned crimson.

The Seats
Virgin’s Upper Class sits on par with other airlines Business Class services, offering a fully flat bed and great personal service to match. On the nifty Airbus A340, which took us to Hong Kong and then on to Sydney, there were 45 Upper Class seats decked in dark brown, sultry leather. 
Tip? Looking for a little more privacy? Within the Upper cabin the seats lie in a 1-1-1 ratio. Two of the seats face each other, the other – flying solo, is sectioned off by a barrier. These seats are perfect for those who are choosing to fly alone, or prefer to have a quieter flight. However if you’re flying as a couple or family, switch over to the opposing side to sit within conversational distance. Perfecto! 

Red zone = where I’d class as the most private seats in the cabin (makeshift Photoshop style!)

The other side of the cabin - perfect suites for couples and families
Sitting within the ‘solo’ row on three occasions, I actually had the best experience for me, ie- the quietest, sitting in the middle of the cabin in seat 9A. Not only does this distance your suite from all three of the toilets (one at the front, two at the back) but it also gives you a little bit of breathing space from the bar – which was actually packed out on one of our flights. In short it means you get the best of both worlds when you’re looking for a cheeky beverage, or some much needed shut eye - (result).
The seats were by far the most comfortable I’ve experienced on a flight, feeling more like the sofas you’d have in your lounge at home rather than where you’d usually park your backside on a flight. The pouf at the end of the seat was absolutely perfect for those of my height (mid/tall female) but not so sure how it’d fair for those taller than 6 foot.
Check out my Vine below to get a birds eye view of an Upper Class suite… click on the image below to get it fired up!


The bed – Snooze, and you won’t lose
Unlike other business class services, the Virgin Atlantic bed actually flips back onto itself to reveal it’s 180 degree alter ego, rather than just sliding down to the footrest…
The great: Remember those nights where you’d sit there for hours failing to sleep and as a ‘get of our jail’/last ditch attempt you’d flip the pillow? Fresh, cold and not so stale- you feel like a new woman! Imagine this on a 13 hour flight, and it’s practically a god send.
The ‘not quite so’ great: The leather arm chair Virgin Atlantic have dreamt up is perfect for a flight. Flip the seats on to each other and you reveal a not-quite-so plush back. The flight attendants are on hand to make your bed up for you, providing a nifty portable mattress and a duvet but compared to the seat itself, it’s not quite as homely.
I actually slept for a record seven hours on the flight home from Hong Kong, which by far trumps my previous all time high of five hours that I managed to swag on the way back from Cape Town, in BA’s First cabin. Proof is in the pudding, y’all!

My bed for the night, complete with Cosmo (and chocolate!)
The food
My appetite shrinks to that of a three year old child when at altitude, so usually I keep grazing to a minimum. I did try the roast chicken with green pea mash on the way out (not for me I’m afraid, but it was of a good quality for a plane meal) and I had my new all time favourite flight breakfast on two different routes - the maple syrup waffle. I’m obsessed, I’ll never look at a flight breakfast in the same way again! (Past rating: Big chore. New rating: Waffle whore!)

Roast chicken, green pea mash, and vegetables (al dente!)
 
The best breakfast in the air - a strong coffee and sticky waffles
Feeling peckish throughout the flight? I ended up nibbling on a bar of Green and Blacks/bag of Tyrrell’s crisps on one flight, and a bag of pick n’ mix on another. The Virgin staff were more than happy to help you out - and most of them completely empathised with my sweet tooth!
The end result?
Itchy feet: Inevitable. Personally one of the only things I genuinely don’t enjoy about a holiday is the journey itself, but the Upper experience has become a complete game changer for me (not so great for my boss/bank balance, great for the upcoming holidays I want to plan!). As a notoriously bad sleeper on night flights I was ridiculously impressed with how much shut eye I managed to wangle, and the bar’s a great area to socialise with other passengers on your flight too.
Sustenance over style doesn’t exist in the land of V - they’re all about providing the best experience for their passengers, within the snazziest of environments. Cheers for a fantastic flight, Virgin!










Disclaimer: I paid for a full price economy ticket to Sydney, where I was then upgraded on three occasions as press. As stated above, I’m an opinionated swine so all of the above is of my honest opinion. If I’m not keen on something you can’t sway me for anything!

    Up, Upper and Away!

    Sampling Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class: Tips and Tricks for the Ultimate Slick

    Fussy: (Definition) - Paying great or excessive attention to personal tastes and appearance; fastidious.

    Now imagine ‘this’ in human form. Brown hair, 5 ‘7, bit of a travel addict? Got it in one. When it comes to flying I’m fussy with a capital ‘F’ – partly due a grand old concoction of anxiety, a bad experience and then some really great experience to boot. To ensure that I have one of those ‘really bloody good’ in-air jaunts I do everything I can to make damn sure the odds swing in my favour - I warned you, I’m a stubborn mare!

    So, how can you do this? Get your sniffer dog on and source the best seat on your flight in the genius Seat Guru, of course! Secondly suss out your budget - which cabin are you likely to be flying in? And most importantly, fly with the best airline within your means. Now I’ve flown with British Airways more times than I’ve had hot dinners – mainly as we’ve got a Gold card within the family and after flying with Emirates, Air Asia X and easyJet within the last year, I knew it was about time I smacked on the red lippy and turned crimson.

    The Seats

    Virgin’s Upper Class sits on par with other airlines Business Class services, offering a fully flat bed and great personal service to match. On the nifty Airbus A340, which took us to Hong Kong and then on to Sydney, there were 45 Upper Class seats decked in dark brown, sultry leather.

    Tip? Looking for a little more privacy? Within the Upper cabin the seats lie in a 1-1-1 ratio. Two of the seats face each other, the other – flying solo, is sectioned off by a barrier. These seats are perfect for those who are choosing to fly alone, or prefer to have a quieter flight. However if you’re flying as a couple or family, switch over to the opposing side to sit within conversational distance. Perfecto!

    Red zone = where I’d class as the most private seats in the cabin (makeshift Photoshop style!)

    The other side of the cabin - perfect suites for couples and families

    Sitting within the ‘solo’ row on three occasions, I actually had the best experience for me, ie- the quietest, sitting in the middle of the cabin in seat 9A. Not only does this distance your suite from all three of the toilets (one at the front, two at the back) but it also gives you a little bit of breathing space from the bar – which was actually packed out on one of our flights. In short it means you get the best of both worlds when you’re looking for a cheeky beverage, or some much needed shut eye - (result).

    The seats were by far the most comfortable I’ve experienced on a flight, feeling more like the sofas you’d have in your lounge at home rather than where you’d usually park your backside on a flight. The pouf at the end of the seat was absolutely perfect for those of my height (mid/tall female) but not so sure how it’d fair for those taller than 6 foot.

    Check out my Vine below to get a birds eye view of an Upper Class suite… click on the image below to get it fired up!

    The bed – Snooze, and you won’t lose

    Unlike other business class services, the Virgin Atlantic bed actually flips back onto itself to reveal it’s 180 degree alter ego, rather than just sliding down to the footrest…

    The great: Remember those nights where you’d sit there for hours failing to sleep and as a ‘get of our jail’/last ditch attempt you’d flip the pillow? Fresh, cold and not so stale- you feel like a new woman! Imagine this on a 13 hour flight, and it’s practically a god send.

    The ‘not quite so’ great: The leather arm chair Virgin Atlantic have dreamt up is perfect for a flight. Flip the seats on to each other and you reveal a not-quite-so plush back. The flight attendants are on hand to make your bed up for you, providing a nifty portable mattress and a duvet but compared to the seat itself, it’s not quite as homely.

    I actually slept for a record seven hours on the flight home from Hong Kong, which by far trumps my previous all time high of five hours that I managed to swag on the way back from Cape Town, in BA’s First cabin. Proof is in the pudding, y’all!

    My bed for the night, complete with Cosmo (and chocolate!)

    The food

    My appetite shrinks to that of a three year old child when at altitude, so usually I keep grazing to a minimum. I did try the roast chicken with green pea mash on the way out (not for me I’m afraid, but it was of a good quality for a plane meal) and I had my new all time favourite flight breakfast on two different routes - the maple syrup waffle. I’m obsessed, I’ll never look at a flight breakfast in the same way again! (Past rating: Big chore. New rating: Waffle whore!)

    Roast chicken, green pea mash, and vegetables (al dente!)

     

    The best breakfast in the air - a strong coffee and sticky waffles

    Feeling peckish throughout the flight? I ended up nibbling on a bar of Green and Blacks/bag of Tyrrell’s crisps on one flight, and a bag of pick n’ mix on another. The Virgin staff were more than happy to help you out - and most of them completely empathised with my sweet tooth!

    The end result?

    Itchy feet: Inevitable. Personally one of the only things I genuinely don’t enjoy about a holiday is the journey itself, but the Upper experience has become a complete game changer for me (not so great for my boss/bank balance, great for the upcoming holidays I want to plan!). As a notoriously bad sleeper on night flights I was ridiculously impressed with how much shut eye I managed to wangle, and the bar’s a great area to socialise with other passengers on your flight too.

    Sustenance over style doesn’t exist in the land of V - they’re all about providing the best experience for their passengers, within the snazziest of environments. Cheers for a fantastic flight, Virgin!

    Disclaimer: I paid for a full price economy ticket to Sydney, where I was then upgraded on three occasions as press. As stated above, I’m an opinionated swine so all of the above is of my honest opinion. If I’m not keen on something you can’t sway me for anything!

    Posted on: 15th May 2014 - 0 notesReblog

  2. Thursday, April 24, 2014

    Discovering the Whitsundays - Hamilton Island
In ten days we’d raked up over 24 hours of airtime. Eaten two dinners, two breakfasts and a lunch at altitude, with minimal seasoning. Slept in one airbed (cheers Virgin!) and sat upright whilst attempting to grab 40 winks (groan). Short winded it ain’t (can you fly any further than Sydney from the UK? TBC) - but after plucking our dream itinerary out of thin air, we always knew it was going to be worth it. 
We’re halfway through our killer trip now, and we’re having the BEST time. Hamilton Island served as our longest stop off of the trip, at 5 days/4 nights (we’re not really ‘settlers’…) and as our go-between to the ever so ‘Great’ Barrier Reef, we’d always been extra excited about *this bit*. The main thing which spurred us on to embark on this mad mission was the reef, so we always wanted to go ‘all out’. Boy oh boy, did we do that…
Hamilton Island
We settled on Hamilton Island due to it’s flexibility. Both Virgin Australia and Jetstar fly there directly from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane with flight times which hover between the 1-3 hour mark - which is a snip in Aussie travel times. Want to head to Cairns? ‘Oh, it’s just 5 or so hours there and then back from Sydney, madam’ - which in relation to UK flight mathematics accounts to flying to the Middle East, and then back again. MISSION. You don’t really get a sense of the size of Australia ’til you’re actually here - and frankly choosing to ditch off the standard Cairns for Hamilton was a good call. Travel brainiac, 1 - the standard stereotype, nil. 
The airport’s tiny - and by tiny I mean, one room. Two desks. A small little cafe, which sells packaged bakery goods and a vending machines worth of Coke and Gatorade. The hotels are all within a five minute transfer from the airport, so from runway to hotel room we’re talking half hour, tops. Unheard of.

The hotel
We stayed in the Reef View Hotel, which is one of three major hotels on the island. Claiming to be a four star joint (try three, at best) - the Reef is the only eyesore on the island, standing at 18 stories tall over the pretty Catseye Beach. The Beach Resort is the islands middle ground (an ‘actual’ four star) whilst qualia serves as the islands piece of luxury, and is by a run away mile rated as one of the top hotels in Australia - swish with a capital S!
Like prize donuts, we’d decided to fly to Hamilton Island over Easter Weekend (oops). By the time we’d started looking at hotels, the Beach Resort was fully booked - half of the place was cornered off due to refurbishment, and qualia retails at over $990 a night, without board (erm, think we’ll pass on that one, thanks).
To be fair to the Reef, it did what it said on the tin. It was on the island. We got a free buffet breakfast, and we were a five minute bed-to-sunbed flop away from the beach. Can’t really complain.
We had a Garden View room, with two mega comfy queen beds and enough space to swing multiple cats. We were plonked on level 3 so the view didn’t live up to much, but once we’d left the hotel we saw what all the fuss was about…

The activities
We’d both budgeted to spend a large portion of our spending money on activities galore in the Barrier Reef, so we booked up a load - and sensibly decided to tally up the costs later. After all, we came all this way for *this* - so why skimp? (Cue: scare at check in at *THAT* cost. Sheesh)
Over the five days, we…
Parasailed - We spent ten minutes getting all high and mighty over our new favourite place. SO, MUCH, FUN.
Sunset Cruise - Bit of a given - we drank red wine and soared through the islands on a Catarmaran as the sun went down. Cheers!
Turtle Deep Sea Snorkel - We swam next to turtles. Can’t complain!!
Whitehaven/Chalkies Beach Cruise - We spent five hours visiting an array of islands, hopping between different parts of the Barrier Reef. Whitehaven has been rated as one of the top beaches in the world - so couldn’t miss out on that one!
Zoo’ed it up - David cuddled a koala. I avoided my Hep B jabs last year, and have been riddled with fear ever since - cuddling anything with claws? Thanks, but I’ll pass (sob).
Trekked - We decided that trekking 6km+ up and down hills, in 30c heat was a good idea. Luckily we both have a strong sense of preservation (or David does, I just moaned and wanted to turn around) - but once we hit Passage Peak, we saw what all the fuss was about. Will never forget those 360 degree views of this incredible space.
Sunbathed - Caught some rays on Catseye Beach. Standard. (And burnt. Little kids - put on your sunscreen like your mummy always tells you to, yeah? You’ll only end up go crispy, and ageing before your time)
Hired a Golf Buggy - There are three ways to get around the island. One involves using your legs (boring), getting a shuttle (even more boring) and thirdly - grabbing a Golf Buggy and whizzing around the island. ERM, yes please! We grabbed our buggy on Day 1 and paid for 24 hours with our new best friend. It was AWESOME. We got to see parts of the island we’d have never accomplished on foot, like a random swamp (?) and houses that’d make Angelina and Brad blush.
Watched sunrise, and sunset - We got up early and went to bed early - what can we say? Our first morning, we set our alarms for 5:50am, grabbed buggy and whooshed up to One Tree Hill, the ultimate view point. Definitely one of those ‘Mastercard’ moments! 

Did we enjoy it?
You’d have to be a cave dwelling hermit not to enjoy a hefty slice of Hamilton. Weirdly, the Marina area of the island feels a little American - think the Bahamas in the Caribbean, but the rest of the island is pretty peaceful with gorgeous little hideaways. If you’re all ‘bout the beach - I’d forget it, camp on Whitehaven. However, if you’re about the boat trips and the water sports (and flying to a place which won’t account for a trillion layovers) then hit up Hamilton. 

I’m not going to lie and say going to Hamilton isn’t expensive. My activities cost $320 alone, and with flights (after mess ups, $550 in and out - oucchhhhh) and accommodation (£85 a night, each) you’re talking about a lot of money. But was it worth it? YES. The likelihood of me visiting Australia again anytime before I secure my free London Travel Card at the age of 6-0 is slim to none, and so the chances of me seeing the Reef in good condition? Even slimer. This wasn’t something I was prepared to miss out on. I got my stubborn mule on, and made it my mission. And as we flew out of Hamilton onto our next adventure- Melbourne, I already have the fondest memories of a place incredibly dear to me. Cheers for the laughs, Hammy.

    Discovering the Whitsundays - Hamilton Island

    In ten days we’d raked up over 24 hours of airtime. Eaten two dinners, two breakfasts and a lunch at altitude, with minimal seasoning. Slept in one airbed (cheers Virgin!) and sat upright whilst attempting to grab 40 winks (groan). Short winded it ain’t (can you fly any further than Sydney from the UK? TBC) - but after plucking our dream itinerary out of thin air, we always knew it was going to be worth it. 

    We’re halfway through our killer trip now, and we’re having the BEST time. Hamilton Island served as our longest stop off of the trip, at 5 days/4 nights (we’re not really ‘settlers’…) and as our go-between to the ever so ‘Great’ Barrier Reef, we’d always been extra excited about *this bit*. The main thing which spurred us on to embark on this mad mission was the reef, so we always wanted to go ‘all out’. Boy oh boy, did we do that…

    Hamilton Island

    We settled on Hamilton Island due to it’s flexibility. Both Virgin Australia and Jetstar fly there directly from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane with flight times which hover between the 1-3 hour mark - which is a snip in Aussie travel times. Want to head to Cairns? ‘Oh, it’s just 5 or so hours there and then back from Sydney, madam’ - which in relation to UK flight mathematics accounts to flying to the Middle East, and then back again. MISSION. You don’t really get a sense of the size of Australia ’til you’re actually here - and frankly choosing to ditch off the standard Cairns for Hamilton was a good call. Travel brainiac, 1 - the standard stereotype, nil. 

    The airport’s tiny - and by tiny I mean, one room. Two desks. A small little cafe, which sells packaged bakery goods and a vending machines worth of Coke and Gatorade. The hotels are all within a five minute transfer from the airport, so from runway to hotel room we’re talking half hour, tops. Unheard of.

    The hotel

    We stayed in the Reef View Hotel, which is one of three major hotels on the island. Claiming to be a four star joint (try three, at best) - the Reef is the only eyesore on the island, standing at 18 stories tall over the pretty Catseye Beach. The Beach Resort is the islands middle ground (an ‘actual’ four star) whilst qualia serves as the islands piece of luxury, and is by a run away mile rated as one of the top hotels in Australia - swish with a capital S!

    Like prize donuts, we’d decided to fly to Hamilton Island over Easter Weekend (oops). By the time we’d started looking at hotels, the Beach Resort was fully booked - half of the place was cornered off due to refurbishment, and qualia retails at over $990 a night, without board (erm, think we’ll pass on that one, thanks).

    To be fair to the Reef, it did what it said on the tin. It was on the island. We got a free buffet breakfast, and we were a five minute bed-to-sunbed flop away from the beach. Can’t really complain.

    We had a Garden View room, with two mega comfy queen beds and enough space to swing multiple cats. We were plonked on level 3 so the view didn’t live up to much, but once we’d left the hotel we saw what all the fuss was about…

    The activities

    We’d both budgeted to spend a large portion of our spending money on activities galore in the Barrier Reef, so we booked up a load - and sensibly decided to tally up the costs later. After all, we came all this way for *this* - so why skimp? (Cue: scare at check in at *THAT* cost. Sheesh)

    Over the five days, we…

    Parasailed - We spent ten minutes getting all high and mighty over our new favourite place. SO, MUCH, FUN.

    Sunset Cruise - Bit of a given - we drank red wine and soared through the islands on a Catarmaran as the sun went down. Cheers!

    Turtle Deep Sea Snorkel - We swam next to turtles. Can’t complain!!

    Whitehaven/Chalkies Beach Cruise - We spent five hours visiting an array of islands, hopping between different parts of the Barrier Reef. Whitehaven has been rated as one of the top beaches in the world - so couldn’t miss out on that one!

    Zoo’ed it up - David cuddled a koala. I avoided my Hep B jabs last year, and have been riddled with fear ever since - cuddling anything with claws? Thanks, but I’ll pass (sob).

    Trekked - We decided that trekking 6km+ up and down hills, in 30c heat was a good idea. Luckily we both have a strong sense of preservation (or David does, I just moaned and wanted to turn around) - but once we hit Passage Peak, we saw what all the fuss was about. Will never forget those 360 degree views of this incredible space.

    Sunbathed - Caught some rays on Catseye Beach. Standard. (And burnt. Little kids - put on your sunscreen like your mummy always tells you to, yeah? You’ll only end up go crispy, and ageing before your time)

    Hired a Golf Buggy - There are three ways to get around the island. One involves using your legs (boring), getting a shuttle (even more boring) and thirdly - grabbing a Golf Buggy and whizzing around the island. ERM, yes please! We grabbed our buggy on Day 1 and paid for 24 hours with our new best friend. It was AWESOME. We got to see parts of the island we’d have never accomplished on foot, like a random swamp (?) and houses that’d make Angelina and Brad blush.

    Watched sunrise, and sunset - We got up early and went to bed early - what can we say? Our first morning, we set our alarms for 5:50am, grabbed buggy and whooshed up to One Tree Hill, the ultimate view point. Definitely one of those ‘Mastercard’ moments! 

    Did we enjoy it?

    You’d have to be a cave dwelling hermit not to enjoy a hefty slice of Hamilton. Weirdly, the Marina area of the island feels a little American - think the Bahamas in the Caribbean, but the rest of the island is pretty peaceful with gorgeous little hideaways. If you’re all ‘bout the beach - I’d forget it, camp on Whitehaven. However, if you’re about the boat trips and the water sports (and flying to a place which won’t account for a trillion layovers) then hit up Hamilton. 

    I’m not going to lie and say going to Hamilton isn’t expensive. My activities cost $320 alone, and with flights (after mess ups, $550 in and out - oucchhhhh) and accommodation (£85 a night, each) you’re talking about a lot of money. But was it worth it? YES. The likelihood of me visiting Australia again anytime before I secure my free London Travel Card at the age of 6-0 is slim to none, and so the chances of me seeing the Reef in good condition? Even slimer. This wasn’t something I was prepared to miss out on. I got my stubborn mule on, and made it my mission. And as we flew out of Hamilton onto our next adventure- Melbourne, I already have the fondest memories of a place incredibly dear to me. Cheers for the laughs, Hammy.

    Posted on: 24th April 2014 - 1 noteReblog

  3. Saturday, April 5, 2014

    It’s coming!

24 hours of travel, stop offs in Asia and aeroplane meals aplenty – a trip from the UK to Australia is a bit of a marathon to say the least. Nobody in their right mind actually enjoys being cramped on a plane, eating cardboard and feeling stale after a case of dry ‘plane breath’, but like every other traveller I thrive off new adventures and love going as far away from home as possible. That’s where this trip comes in to play.

Australia has always felt a little bit out of my league; with over 10,500 miles to cover the thought that I could just ‘nip around the corner’ whilst working full time seemed ridiculous. Needless to say three weeks of leave was signed off from work and with the two Easter and a May bank holiday to play with, this dream started to seem a bit more real.

The itinerary:

Hong Kong: 12th-14th, Shangri La Kowloon
Sydney: 15th-18th, Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel
Hamilton Island: 18th-22nd, Reef View Hotel
Melbourne: 22nd-24th, Sofitel Melbourne
Great Ocean Road: 3 days of cruising down the highway!
Adelaide 27th:, Majestic Roof Garden Hotel
Sydney 28th: Airport stay!
Hong Kong 29th-2nd May: Hotel Icon and Disney’s Hollywood Hotel

Think Google Maps has made perfectly clear that our internal flights within Oz were dominated by flight availability and price. Ha.
I’m a stickler for detail when it comes to big trips, and each and every hotel has been analysed to death. We’ve picked out some fantastic activities we’re going to try out in Sydney and the Great Barrier Reef, and I’ve found a few fantastic restaurants that my taste buds are ridiculously eager to try (told you!). The hot shopping joints have been recorded and I’m almost considering packing more than a single day in advance. It’s actually happening, y’all!

From Friday, I’m going to be out the office for 25 days - which actually scares me half to death. It’s weird to think I won’t have any attachments or responsibilities for that long! Australia, here I come!
As I’m 100% social media obsessed, you’ll be able to follow my journey by instagram and Twitter at @exploredujour.

    It’s coming!

    24 hours of travel, stop offs in Asia and aeroplane meals aplenty – a trip from the UK to Australia is a bit of a marathon to say the least. Nobody in their right mind actually enjoys being cramped on a plane, eating cardboard and feeling stale after a case of dry ‘plane breath’, but like every other traveller I thrive off new adventures and love going as far away from home as possible. That’s where this trip comes in to play.

    Australia has always felt a little bit out of my league; with over 10,500 miles to cover the thought that I could just ‘nip around the corner’ whilst working full time seemed ridiculous. Needless to say three weeks of leave was signed off from work and with the two Easter and a May bank holiday to play with, this dream started to seem a bit more real.

    The itinerary:

    Hong Kong: 12th-14th, Shangri La Kowloon

    Sydney: 15th-18th, Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel

    Hamilton Island: 18th-22nd, Reef View Hotel

    Melbourne: 22nd-24th, Sofitel Melbourne

    Great Ocean Road: 3 days of cruising down the highway!

    Adelaide 27th:, Majestic Roof Garden Hotel

    Sydney 28th: Airport stay!

    Hong Kong 29th-2nd May: Hotel Icon and Disney’s Hollywood Hotel

    Think Google Maps has made perfectly clear that our internal flights within Oz were dominated by flight availability and price. Ha.

    I’m a stickler for detail when it comes to big trips, and each and every hotel has been analysed to death. We’ve picked out some fantastic activities we’re going to try out in Sydney and the Great Barrier Reef, and I’ve found a few fantastic restaurants that my taste buds are ridiculously eager to try (told you!). The hot shopping joints have been recorded and I’m almost considering packing more than a single day in advance. It’s actually happening, y’all!

    From Friday, I’m going to be out the office for 25 days - which actually scares me half to death. It’s weird to think I won’t have any attachments or responsibilities for that long! Australia, here I come!

    As I’m 100% social media obsessed, you’ll be able to follow my journey by instagram and Twitter at @exploredujour.

    Posted on: 5th April 2014 - 0 notesReblog

  4. Sunday, February 16, 2014

    Snoozing in Style- Flying First with British Airways
One of the best moments in life, ever? Getting out of one of those plastic, bendy tunnels from the airport, and stepping onto a plane - ready to take your next adventure. Being a travel obsessive has its advantages, one of them being that you get satisfaction out of the simplest of things - the other being the actual journey itself. I love flying and thrive off the thought of getting to my end destination - but one thing I do hate is a night flight. Boo, hiss, boo.
I’ve become a bit of a terror on the airways, and over the last few years have morphed into one of those dreaded ‘non-sleepers’. You’re a member of our club if you: leave the TV on for hours after it turns dark. You try and make as little noise as possible, but snacking is frankly the only way you can distract yourself from feeling bloody exhausted. You’ll toss and turn constantly, trying to get comfortable in ‘your bed’…. (and yep, I’m one of those. Hands up, I’m guilty!)
Over the last twelve months I’ve taken at least five night flights, all in economy – and have been rattled with post-flying-brain for hours after landing (you know: that horrible taste in your mouth, lack of food, dreariness? Me all over.). In First though? Not a problem!

Aisle to yourself? Yes please…
Over the years I’ve flown in each and every cabin on the BA fleet – from Euro/World Traveller through to First, back in summer 2012 on a family holiday to St Lucia. We decided to revisit the high life and fly in style on the way back from our Christmas break in Cape Town, and low and behold I’d managed to blag seat 1A (to non-aviation geeks: the best seat on the plane! Eeek!). Check out my dream digs on the Vine below!

Currently (as of Feb ’14), approximately half of the British Airways LDN-CPT routes are being flown in the old First fleet, whereas half are flying snazzed up in the new. The Vine you can see above is that of an old First class fleet. Was it an issue? Heck, no. The old British Airways First cabin feels like your best mates living room – inviting, yet warm and snug. Seat 1A was going to be my throne for 12 hours, and it felt GREAT.
Tip: Flying ‘old’ First too? Ask the cabin crew for an AVIOS points redemption card. Fill out your details, and you’ll be rewarded with 50,000 points per seat, per journey (dependent on length of flight). We blagged 200,000 points between us for ‘the inconvenience’, which is enough for two of us to fly in Club World to Las Vegas. Result!

Seated in 1A, I’d felt like the cat who had got the cream. Coming from somebody who suffers from claustrophobia, it can feel reasonably scary when you first sit down on a flight, and it can take me a while to feel comfortable within my surroundings. The great thing about the BA seats is that they feel private, and the standard ‘will anybody see my sleeping face’ scenario can get struck off the worry list. The seat next to me, 1K was broken, so I had the nose of the plane to myself.
Downside of this?: As a family of four, we like to be seated close together – if anything just so we all have a bit of company on a flight (Cape Town- London, 12 hours! It can get pretty lonely!) and on this flight, upon check in, only 1 of our chosen ‘checked in’ seats was honoured – mine. The rest of my family were moved; two in front of the galley (a little noisy) and one – behind me. Completely understand that this particular flight was hosted on an older plane, but when there are only 16 seats in a cabin, surely they should all be up and running, or at least be unavailable to pre-book beforehand? Sounds like a small issue – but for the price, we expected more.
Food: I’ve had some absolutely fantastic meals in Business and First with British Airways (their steak - amazing!), and some not so good. Unfortunately this was one of the latter, the leek and potato soup we had as a starter wasn’t comparable to say a standard ‘Covent Garden’ packet soup, and my duck breast was delicious- but the sauce, a little overwhelming.



Not fancying any of the deserts, I did cheekily ask the air hostess for a snack from the ‘Club Kitchen’ (ie- a snack cupboard for those flying in Club, stacked with crisps, chocolates and everything a girl could ever want on a flight) and surprisingly, I was actually given a box of chocolates to snack on instead. These little touches made the flight great, even if the food in this instance was not as good as we’ve had on previous occasions.
 
My box of chocolates and the pyjamas I changed into afterwards…
The ‘First’ Experience: Although we’d come across a few little hiccups with the seats and the food, there’s no denying that the First experience is bloody good. Within five minutes of sitting down in your luxury pad you’re presented with a glass of champagne, a pair of First pyjamas (amazing!) and an Aromatherapy wash bag – which set you up for the entire flight. I hate having make up on my face when I’m asleep, and I was able to take it all off with the gear inside the bag. Loved the face cream!
Want to snooze? Call the air host, and within no time at all they’ve made up your bed, and are offering you a late night snack. Want to watch a film? The TV screen bends around for a perfect midnight watch…
And the bed? A life saver. I slept for 5 of 12 hours on this night flight, which is by a long shot my new all time record. I’m not sure I’ll ever be satisfied with a half an hour’s kip ever again! Cheers BA for a good flight (and most importantly, some precious snoozing time!)

    Snoozing in Style- Flying First with British Airways

    One of the best moments in life, ever? Getting out of one of those plastic, bendy tunnels from the airport, and stepping onto a plane - ready to take your next adventure. Being a travel obsessive has its advantages, one of them being that you get satisfaction out of the simplest of things - the other being the actual journey itself. I love flying and thrive off the thought of getting to my end destination - but one thing I do hate is a night flight. Boo, hiss, boo.

    I’ve become a bit of a terror on the airways, and over the last few years have morphed into one of those dreaded ‘non-sleepers’. You’re a member of our club if you: leave the TV on for hours after it turns dark. You try and make as little noise as possible, but snacking is frankly the only way you can distract yourself from feeling bloody exhausted. You’ll toss and turn constantly, trying to get comfortable in ‘your bed’…. (and yep, I’m one of those. Hands up, I’m guilty!)

    Over the last twelve months I’ve taken at least five night flights, all in economy – and have been rattled with post-flying-brain for hours after landing (you know: that horrible taste in your mouth, lack of food, dreariness? Me all over.). In First though? Not a problem!

    Aisle to yourself? Yes please…

    Over the years I’ve flown in each and every cabin on the BA fleet – from Euro/World Traveller through to First, back in summer 2012 on a family holiday to St Lucia. We decided to revisit the high life and fly in style on the way back from our Christmas break in Cape Town, and low and behold I’d managed to blag seat 1A (to non-aviation geeks: the best seat on the plane! Eeek!). Check out my dream digs on the Vine below!

    Currently (as of Feb ’14), approximately half of the British Airways LDN-CPT routes are being flown in the old First fleet, whereas half are flying snazzed up in the new. The Vine you can see above is that of an old First class fleet. Was it an issue? Heck, no. The old British Airways First cabin feels like your best mates living room – inviting, yet warm and snug. Seat 1A was going to be my throne for 12 hours, and it felt GREAT.

    Tip: Flying ‘old’ First too? Ask the cabin crew for an AVIOS points redemption card. Fill out your details, and you’ll be rewarded with 50,000 points per seat, per journey (dependent on length of flight). We blagged 200,000 points between us for ‘the inconvenience’, which is enough for two of us to fly in Club World to Las Vegas. Result!

    Seated in 1A, I’d felt like the cat who had got the cream. Coming from somebody who suffers from claustrophobia, it can feel reasonably scary when you first sit down on a flight, and it can take me a while to feel comfortable within my surroundings. The great thing about the BA seats is that they feel private, and the standard ‘will anybody see my sleeping face’ scenario can get struck off the worry list. The seat next to me, 1K was broken, so I had the nose of the plane to myself.

    Downside of this?: As a family of four, we like to be seated close together – if anything just so we all have a bit of company on a flight (Cape Town- London, 12 hours! It can get pretty lonely!) and on this flight, upon check in, only 1 of our chosen ‘checked in’ seats was honoured – mine. The rest of my family were moved; two in front of the galley (a little noisy) and one – behind me. Completely understand that this particular flight was hosted on an older plane, but when there are only 16 seats in a cabin, surely they should all be up and running, or at least be unavailable to pre-book beforehand? Sounds like a small issue – but for the price, we expected more.

    Food: I’ve had some absolutely fantastic meals in Business and First with British Airways (their steak - amazing!), and some not so good. Unfortunately this was one of the latter, the leek and potato soup we had as a starter wasn’t comparable to say a standard ‘Covent Garden’ packet soup, and my duck breast was delicious- but the sauce, a little overwhelming.

    Not fancying any of the deserts, I did cheekily ask the air hostess for a snack from the ‘Club Kitchen’ (ie- a snack cupboard for those flying in Club, stacked with crisps, chocolates and everything a girl could ever want on a flight) and surprisingly, I was actually given a box of chocolates to snack on instead. These little touches made the flight great, even if the food in this instance was not as good as we’ve had on previous occasions.

     

    My box of chocolates and the pyjamas I changed into afterwards…

    The ‘First’ Experience: Although we’d come across a few little hiccups with the seats and the food, there’s no denying that the First experience is bloody good. Within five minutes of sitting down in your luxury pad you’re presented with a glass of champagne, a pair of First pyjamas (amazing!) and an Aromatherapy wash bag – which set you up for the entire flight. I hate having make up on my face when I’m asleep, and I was able to take it all off with the gear inside the bag. Loved the face cream!

    Want to snooze? Call the air host, and within no time at all they’ve made up your bed, and are offering you a late night snack. Want to watch a film? The TV screen bends around for a perfect midnight watch…

    And the bed? A life saver. I slept for 5 of 12 hours on this night flight, which is by a long shot my new all time record. I’m not sure I’ll ever be satisfied with a half an hour’s kip ever again! Cheers BA for a good flight (and most importantly, some precious snoozing time!)

    Posted on: 16th February 2014 - 0 notesReblog

  5. Tuesday, February 4, 2014

    Driving Along the Garden Route: Is it for You?
I’ve always been one of those ‘wind in your hair’, sunglasses at the ready travel types, so in short – road trips suit me. They’re pretty casual and anything that has ‘laid back travel’ written all over it is me hands down.
Back in 2009, my family and I whizzed up Highway 1 and took over California and Nevada for three weeks. It was bloody amazing and without a doubt it was that trip that got me into this whole ‘travel malarkey’ and forced a ridiculous geographical itch to take over my everyday life. Since then, I’ve wanted to get back in a car and actually ‘see places’ properly, behind a window screen, with a ridiculous amount of stop offs (snaps and snacks – required) but until recently it hadn’t popped back up on my radar. UNTIL NOW!

The road tripper’s back! Whippersnapper Laura, Santa Barbara - 2009
The Garden Route is world renowned as being one of the best drives, ever. And as natural progression from the West Coast of the US, South Africa is probably the closest it gets. I loved that one, so I’d love this one too – right? Right?!
Get your pitch forks at the ready, you’ll love the Garden Route if…
You’re one of those people who goes away ‘to get a change of scene’
If like most of the general public one of the reasons you travel is to shake things up (me!) then the Garden Route is perfect as the landscape transforms constantly, and if you got bored looking out of the window it’d be practically illegal. One second – rocky, cutesy coastal sea route. The next, alpine trees galore – and thereafter, rolling hills a la Austria style. Basically, there’s more landscape variety than you can shake a stick at and compared to Cali there’s more to see behind the wheel.

You’re snap happy
Every family member has a resident photographer, and to satisfy said snapper they need ample ‘photography genius’ moments so they can wind their neck in. SLR carriers, you’re a given to love this route. iPhone obsessors, same applies. Just look at these bad boys! Prepare to have your socks well-and-truly blown off. 

Canada, is that you?

Green galore!


Niceeee…
Food is your life
… so technically I’m talking to the whole world here, right? South African food is nothing short of incredible, and over the course of two weeks we didn’t have one bad meal. Not one! It’s a miracle! One of the best restaurants we’ve ever eaten at – La Petit Ferme, is located just off the Garden Route in the beautiful Franchhoek. If you’re going to this part of the world, please promise me you’ll visit? (It’d be a crime against knives and forks everywhere if you didn’t…)


This happened. Along with iced coffee for good measure. Cue: instant food heaven
You’d hate the Garden Route if…
You’re a holiday hibernator…
Some people like to just sit and see, in one place. All week.  By a pool, with a book. If relaxation is key then this drive probably isn’t for you, seeing as though it’s 750+ miles long (and you’re sort of guaranteed a numb bum at some point…)
You’re scared/don’t like animals. Pick one!
The wildlife in South Africa is MINDBLOWING. You’re driving down the road and hey up – there’s a baboon, or you’re working your way around private reserves and suddenly, you’re playing ‘spot the giraffe’ #classic. You can’t escape from the little blighters, even if you wanted to (but in all seriousness, why would you want to?! It’s so much fun!!). If you’re a general wildlife hater, then stay clear. It wouldn’t be good for them, or you!


See, they’re even in Cape Town! (Ha. ha.)
You hate on nice landscape, as apparently ‘it’s boring’
Not too sure how you could get bored of this but apparently, you can! If you’re just down for beaches and palm trees, then go to LA and hit Hollywood. There’s more glitz and glam for you there! But if you’re after something a bit more cultural, easy on the eye and just god damn spectacular, then the South African scenery is your cup of tea, big time.
Tell the Difference: Garden Route vs Highway One, ding ding!



Can you tell the difference between the two drives above? Reckon the only dead cert giveaway is the infamous lingering mist (top - SA, bottom- California) but there’s no doubting that parts of both drives are very similar. I’m going to come out and say it –if you love cities, then Highway One is your bag. With LA and San Francisco on its radar, not forgetting Monterrey, which is pretty sizeable too- Highway One is full to the brim of big, big places. The Garden Route just doesn’t have that. We started off in Port Elizabeth (so so) and ended in Cape Town (off the chain!) but in between, we only came across average sized towns - the biggest being Plettenberg Bay and Knysna and other little villages (Swellendam) and this is the by far the easiest way to compare both drives. Small and cute vs big and brash.

Got some serious love for Cape Town! (Shown: Cape Grace/Table Mountain)
Like big cities, the bright lights and beautiful, rocky coastlines? Then you’re more American than Paris Hilton. Like big beaches, but also taken aback by stunning scenery and really good food? South Africa is probably more you.


Noetzie beach, Knysna
Personally, I loved both. There’s by far more variety in the location, activities and scenery in South Africa (safari one week, abseiling down Table Mountain the next?!) but there’s just something about America which makes it extra special.
Alas, no decision has been made. Both drives = amazing. DO THEM. Add them to your bucket list. Now!
We’ll be heading along our next big road trip in April - along the Great Ocean Road in Australia. Updates inevitable. Be there, or be square!

    Driving Along the Garden Route: Is it for You?

    I’ve always been one of those ‘wind in your hair’, sunglasses at the ready travel types, so in short – road trips suit me. They’re pretty casual and anything that has ‘laid back travel’ written all over it is me hands down.

    Back in 2009, my family and I whizzed up Highway 1 and took over California and Nevada for three weeks. It was bloody amazing and without a doubt it was that trip that got me into this whole ‘travel malarkey’ and forced a ridiculous geographical itch to take over my everyday life. Since then, I’ve wanted to get back in a car and actually ‘see places’ properly, behind a window screen, with a ridiculous amount of stop offs (snaps and snacks – required) but until recently it hadn’t popped back up on my radar. UNTIL NOW!

    The road tripper’s back! Whippersnapper Laura, Santa Barbara - 2009

    The Garden Route is world renowned as being one of the best drives, ever. And as natural progression from the West Coast of the US, South Africa is probably the closest it gets. I loved that one, so I’d love this one too – right? Right?!

    Get your pitch forks at the ready, you’ll love the Garden Route if…

    You’re one of those people who goes away ‘to get a change of scene’

    If like most of the general public one of the reasons you travel is to shake things up (me!) then the Garden Route is perfect as the landscape transforms constantly, and if you got bored looking out of the window it’d be practically illegal. One second – rocky, cutesy coastal sea route. The next, alpine trees galore – and thereafter, rolling hills a la Austria style. Basically, there’s more landscape variety than you can shake a stick at and compared to Cali there’s more to see behind the wheel.

    You’re snap happy

    Every family member has a resident photographer, and to satisfy said snapper they need ample ‘photography genius’ moments so they can wind their neck in. SLR carriers, you’re a given to love this route. iPhone obsessors, same applies. Just look at these bad boys! Prepare to have your socks well-and-truly blown off

    Canada, is that you?

    Green galore!

    Niceeee…

    Food is your life

    … so technically I’m talking to the whole world here, right? South African food is nothing short of incredible, and over the course of two weeks we didn’t have one bad meal. Not one! It’s a miracle! One of the best restaurants we’ve ever eaten at – La Petit Ferme, is located just off the Garden Route in the beautiful Franchhoek. If you’re going to this part of the world, please promise me you’ll visit? (It’d be a crime against knives and forks everywhere if you didn’t…)

    This happened. Along with iced coffee for good measure. Cue: instant food heaven

    You’d hate the Garden Route if…

    You’re a holiday hibernator…

    Some people like to just sit and see, in one place. All week.  By a pool, with a book. If relaxation is key then this drive probably isn’t for you, seeing as though it’s 750+ miles long (and you’re sort of guaranteed a numb bum at some point…)

    You’re scared/don’t like animals. Pick one!

    The wildlife in South Africa is MINDBLOWING. You’re driving down the road and hey up – there’s a baboon, or you’re working your way around private reserves and suddenly, you’re playing ‘spot the giraffe’ #classic. You can’t escape from the little blighters, even if you wanted to (but in all seriousness, why would you want to?! It’s so much fun!!). If you’re a general wildlife hater, then stay clear. It wouldn’t be good for them, or you!

    See, they’re even in Cape Town! (Ha. ha.)

    You hate on nice landscape, as apparently ‘it’s boring’

    Not too sure how you could get bored of this but apparently, you can! If you’re just down for beaches and palm trees, then go to LA and hit Hollywood. There’s more glitz and glam for you there! But if you’re after something a bit more cultural, easy on the eye and just god damn spectacular, then the South African scenery is your cup of tea, big time.

    Tell the Difference: Garden Route vs Highway One, ding ding!

    Can you tell the difference between the two drives above? Reckon the only dead cert giveaway is the infamous lingering mist (top - SA, bottom- California) but there’s no doubting that parts of both drives are very similar. I’m going to come out and say it –if you love cities, then Highway One is your bag. With LA and San Francisco on its radar, not forgetting Monterrey, which is pretty sizeable too- Highway One is full to the brim of big, big places. The Garden Route just doesn’t have that. We started off in Port Elizabeth (so so) and ended in Cape Town (off the chain!) but in between, we only came across average sized towns - the biggest being Plettenberg Bay and Knysna and other little villages (Swellendam) and this is the by far the easiest way to compare both drives. Small and cute vs big and brash.

    Got some serious love for Cape Town! (Shown: Cape Grace/Table Mountain)

    Like big cities, the bright lights and beautiful, rocky coastlines? Then you’re more American than Paris Hilton. Like big beaches, but also taken aback by stunning scenery and really good food? South Africa is probably more you.

    Noetzie beach, Knysna

    Personally, I loved both. There’s by far more variety in the location, activities and scenery in South Africa (safari one week, abseiling down Table Mountain the next?!) but there’s just something about America which makes it extra special.

    Alas, no decision has been made. Both drives = amazing. DO THEM. Add them to your bucket list. Now!

    We’ll be heading along our next big road trip in April - along the Great Ocean Road in Australia. Updates inevitable. Be there, or be square!

    Posted on: 4th February 2014 - 0 notesReblog

  6. Theme by Matt Malone
  1. Who Am I?

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    Follow the adventures of Laura, a twenty three year old Social Media Exec from London, as she explores the world and its beauty - piece by piece.

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