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Explore Your World

We live in a beautiful world that sometimes we don’t get to see enough of.

We have the noose of Annual Leave and holiday days to deal with. The tips and tricks I share are based on making the most out of your precious annual leave by writing travel tips to places with this in mind.

Top tricks to get the most time for the minimal days off! Only recommending the best spots to visit and recommending only the places/ restaurants and stops that are worth it.

Home or away, I will tell you my top spots!

Things to do:

Reviews of restaurants, things to do, places to visit and sights to see. I hope to reduce your time spent researching and provide you with places worth your time.

Brunch, lunch, dinner? I’ve got you covered!

Travel

Make the most of the precious days you have off my using my easy guides to destinations to make your life stress free.

I will always be honest and open with all of my opinions to ensure that when you read a review you are getting the honest information to inform your decisions.

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Healthy Options in Amsterdam | Travel

Healthy In Amsterdam

IAMSTERDAM

From the second you step off the train at Amsterdam Centraal you are thrust into the middle of the tram and cycle highway in the hustle and bustle of Europe’s eclectic cities.

Each of the little alleyways leading to a new corner to explore.

It can be a little daunting when you first arrive in Amsterdam as it is highly catered for tourists and you may end up in the equivalent of pizza hut in a crap part of town just because you don’t recognise the chain.

On my last trip I searched high and low to find the creme de la creme of what Amsterdam has to offer for the more health conscious traveller.

Here we go…

First: Coffee

Screaming beans

Hartenstraat 12, 1016 CB Amsterdam, Netherlands

healthy in amsterdam, screaming beans

Amsterdam has a plethora of amazing coffee shops but Screaming Beans really hits that caffeine spot.
Its a cute little spot to grab your morning fix while taking in the city. If you are a serious coffee lover you can also purchase their beans to take home to make your own cup of Wake Up!

Head First 

Westerstraat 150, 1015 MP Amsterdam, Netherlands

headfirst, amsterdam, health in amsterdam

Get on down to Headfirst for a wonderful coffee experience. They offer two different roasts for differing coffee palettes.

With a fine selection of freshly made food and cakes which appeal to those who follow more specific diets or Raw, Gluten Free and Alternative.

Their flat white was divine – a true blessing when you need a little perk in your day.

Friendly and helpful staff.

healthy in amsterdam

Second: Food

Dr Blend 

Herenstraat 23 1015 BZ Amsterdam

This is DEFINITELY for the HEALTH CONSCIOUS

My wonderful followers on Instagram recommended Dr Blend.

If you are in Amsterdam on business – I would highly recommend this is where you stop in to make sure you stay on top of you health goals.

Even if you’re not on a strict plan – when living out of a hotel it can be hard to get those necessary greens in your system therefore its worth having a health cafe on the radar to make sure you keep on top!

 healthy in amsterdam

Their menu has every kind of juice from Green to Fruity and will help you wake up to a really healthy start to the day.

The staff are delightful and are really keen to meet any dietary need. For those who are allergic to wheat Dr.Blend uses rye bread so you can enjoy some traditional dutch sandwiches

Their Dr Green Metal is a sure fire way to boost your body alkalinity and make sure you are starting the day as you intend to go on.

If you are staying in Amsterdam for an extended period of time and fancy doing a detox – check out their range on their website. If you have overdone it and your body needs a break this is the perfect way to re-balance. Just because you’re not at home don’t let those standards slip.

healthy in amsterdam

Bagel & Beans 

Various locations

You will find this chain popping up all over the city. The reason I have called it out is because they have gluten free and wheat free bagels. This means if you’re in a rush and need to grab a quick bite to eat but are panicking due to allergies – then run on into one of these and choose a savvy snack to take with you

The Hoxton Hotel 

Herengracht 255, 1016 BJ Amsterdam, Netherlands

healthy in amsterdam, hoxton hotel, amsterdam

For home away from home.

If you travel a lot for work sometimes you just want a little bit of familiarity… well the Hoxton Hotel has it for you.
Immediately after you walk in… the decor, sights, smells and service has a Shoreditch vibe to it which immediately brings you home.

The Hoxton Hotel has a cute bar to catch up with friends, a restaurant with delicious classics and also hosts events for you to attend.
This is great if you are in this city alone and want to meet new people. You should make an effort to get yourself out there and enjoy new things. There is nothing worse than sitting in a hotel room by yourself. The events cover a plethora of activities from yoga to vodka infusing so the perfect excuse to burn some calories and make some friends!

p.s. When you go to the restaurant there is a photo booth upstairs! Needless to say I was in there like swimwear!

healthy in amsterdam

Third: Workout

Well you have a very obvious two options here:

Get a bike
Walk

This city has the most amazing architecture, hidden alleys, cool shops and local spots so get out there an explore. Don’t get a tram card and use those legs!

healthy in amsterdam, hoxton hotel, amsterdam, cyntra in the city, cyncity

The city is run by bikes so if you are staying here for a while make sure you rent or buy a bike

For renting bikes check out: http://www.iamsterdam.com/en/visiting/plan-your-trip/getting-around/rental/bike-hire

If you are staying in Amsterdam for a long term project or trip then sign up to F45 or VondelGym 

Fourth: Accommodation

healthy in amsterdam, hoxton hotel, amsterdam, cyntra in the city, cyncity

Again, The Hoxton Hotel ticks all the boxes for me

If you live in Amsterdam and have an recommendations please comment below! I will definitely check it out!

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Sand-Boarding Experience | Sydney

      What are you doing this weekend? Fancy Sand Boarding?

Whether you live in Sydney or just visiting, there are a plethora of outdoor activities you can do. From bush walks to coastal trails, The Blue Mountains or wine in the Hunter. But, if you fancy something a little bit different – why not try Sand Boarding?

Sand-Boarding

It was a friends birthday, who has lived in Sydney for years, and I wanted to treat her to a special day out. I wracked my brains to try and find an experience she hasn’t done before and something that would break the mould than the standard brunch or dinner.

I started to look about and got out the old map (by that I mean google maps). I zoomed in and looked around. Palm beach – done that, Hunter – a couple of times, Newcastle – potentially and then all of a sudden I saw this stretch of sand… bingo.

Port Stephens 4WD Tours

Port Stephens is a 2.5-hour drive north of Sydney and around one-hour north of Newcastle. If you leave early in the morning, you can find the perfect brunch/ lunch spot on the way to break up the time.

Stockton Sand Dunes provides the incredible location for Sand Boarding. At 32 km in length and up to 1 km wide in places, it is the largest moving sand dunes in the Southern Hemisphere!

I booked my friend and I on to this tour: Sand Boarding 

Getting there

You will need a car. Very easy to find once you arrive. You cannot miss the sand dunes and parking is free. Drive down right to where you get the bus. You will see camels and then you know you are in the right place.

Really simple – walk up, sign in and off you go!

What to wear?

Active wear. Leggings, t-shirt and sunnies. I would recommend where long trousers not shorts.

Where plenty of suncream and bring water. You are out in an almost desert with a little shaded area which you will have to share with other tourists,

But I have never sand boarded before?

No worries, is just like snow boarding but a lot warmer!

Also, if you can’t stand up – you can still have loads of fun sitting on the sand board and cruising down the dunes.

Honestly, I felt like I was a kid again!

What else can you do there?

Wine and Beer Tasting

Make a day of it and visit Murrays Brewery for Wine and Beer Tasting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lunch at Shoal Bay

Head to Shoal Bay for a dip and to wash the sand off before having a bite to eat at The Country Club

Then walk off lunch and head up Tomaree Mountain for some spectacular views

Make the most of your weekends and try something different!

Wanna find more options for your weekend? Check out: Tasmania In Two Days

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Tasmania in Two Days | Travel Australia

Stress Free Guide to Tasmania | Hobart + Surroundings

Yep, you read that right… a trip to Tasmania in TWO DAYS!

People often exclaim to me ‘how do you get so many days off/ travel to so many places/ you never seem to work…but the thing is… I do. Many people are hesitant to travel to new destinations fearing that they neither have the time nor want to prioritise their treasured annual leave on certain destinations. But I am here to share with you how I make the most of my annual leave and precious free time to use it to its extent.

Wanna know more…? Keep reading.

Tasmania

Tasmania is on the doorstep to mainland Australia and if you live or are travelling here – it is well worth the visit!

Historically rich, and exceptionally beautiful, it is the perfect weekend get away for those looking for some peaceful tranquility after a busy week in the office.

What to visit in two days?

Fly into Hobart on the Friday night after work in order you are able to rise early for the first part of your two days in Tassie!

Salamanca markets

I would highly recommend staying in West/ South Hobart and renting a car from the airport.

Day 1: Salamanca Markets

The Salamanca Markets (Saturday) are the perfect opening to your weekend in Tasmania. Fly into Hobart the night before and find a hotel/ air bnb in this part of town and rise early for these wonderful local market.

Salamanca markets

Go hungry, there is plenty to try, and be sure to queue up for the incredible coffee that is served in and amongst the stalls.

If you happen to come across the salmon sausage van…these sausages will change your life!

  • Food
  • Coffee
  • Local produce 

Day 1: Bruny Island

When you have topped up with the nourishing market treats and have woken up the engine with delicious local coffee… hop into a rental car and head South to your next stop Bruny Island.

Tasmania Bruny Island Travel Tips

Absolutely stunning and mesmerising in its peacefulness. Bruny island is a short ferry ride away to a gorgeous island rich in nature, vineyards and artisanal outlets.

Stop for local cheese tastings, vineyards and coffee as you head to the most southernly lookouts across the Ocean and the most incredible lighthouse where you can see the miles into the great blue.

Bruny Island Travel Tips

On your way back North of the island make sure to stop to re-nourish and refuel at Bruny Wine and Cider which serve incredible meals (alongside wine tasting) as you head back towards the Ferry.

Day 1: Mount Wellington Sunset

Time the sunset correctly to give yourself enough time to head from Bruny Island back to Mouth Wellington to watch the incredible Sunset from the highest point of the Mountain.

Be sure to take a jumper… it is windy!!

Hobart

That is the end of Day 1. Once back in Hobart you are spoilt for great restaurants and places to eat. One of my favs to visit is Franks’s – excellent cocktails and an absolutely DIVINE menu!

Cyntra Charlesworth

Day 2: Mona 

Mona

Set your alarm early to head out and grab some brunch. We headed to the Salamanca Wharf Cafe to load up on local salmon and eggs before jumping in the car to head to Mona Museum.

MONA – Museum of Old and New Art is a mostly-underground art museum with a playful vibe & a wine bar on the Moorila Winery grounds.

Mona

Their website describes Mona as Mona: a museum, or something. In Tasmania, or somewhere. Catch the ferry. Drink beer. Eat cheese. Talk crap about art. You’ll love it.

And that is pretty much all I am going to share… but let me tell you something… if you do not go… YOU HAVE MISSED OUT.

Port Arthur

If you are dedicating yourself to do Tasmania in one weekend then this is your opportunity to do Mona and Port Arthur in a day.

Bangor Estate
Bangor Estate, Port Arthur

You will need a car and dedication!

Set the sat nav for Port Arthur which is at the very South of Tassie. To make the drive a more fun trip there are some excellent Vineyards (Bangor Shed was a personal Fav) and Chocolate Factories on the way.

Port Arthur

Once you arrive at Port Arthur, take your time to do the tours, boat ride and explore the historically relevant Port at this southernly point of Tassie.

Tasmania in two days!

So there you have it! How to make the most of the laid back Aussie state without taking too much time out of your annual leave!

Things to remember:

Do’s

  • Get a flight out Friday afternoon to make the most of your first evening and day
  • Rent a car from the airport
  • Chat to the locals – Tazzie’s are super friendly and great with advice
  • Its colder down there – so pack warmer clothes! Its like British weather there
  • Leave your busy schedule and fast paced lifestyle behind and come with an open mind to relax and take in the views

Don’t

  • Try and do the whole island – its huge
  • Uber isn’t really as popular as in mainland – so plan ahead

For More Stress-Free Travel Guides Click Here: Travel

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Bali in 12 days? | Explore Indonesia

In short, YES.

My Guide To Bali + The Gili’s

Bali, one of the most popular destinations for our Aussie and Kiwi counterparts is starting to make headlines here in the UK. A paradise island, which offers all the wonder and mystery of Southeast Asia culture intertwined with modern influences.

Many of us who are limited to the usual 28 days annual leave, may see Indonesia, as a destination that would only be available to someone who is traveling. However, I have created this stress-free guide to getting some of the highlights of Bali and surrounding islands in just 12 days. Timed right – you could include bank holidays – ensuring that your precious annual leave is still intact for other explorations.

Indonesia, Bali and the islands have so much to offer that you could spend weeks here – but I have created a small succinct trip to indulge your wanderlust but leave you wanting more.

Gravity Hotel Bali Cyncity Cyntra Charlesworth

I can’t cover everything but here are my top places if you escape the city to Paradise for 12 days.

Indonesia in 12 days

  • 2 days Bali
  • 2 days Gili Air
  • 3 days Gili T
  • 2 days Nusa Lembongan
  • 2 days Bali

How to get there from the UK?

You can get there in about 18 hours and pretty stress-free if you use the right travel company. I went BA via Qatar Airways and true to form it was stress-free, great service and reasonable.

What to wear?

Click here for my list of what to pack for Bali & the Islands


Bali: Uluwatu

Uluwatu is the perfect location to start your expedition to Bali. It is often hard to decide where you want to base yourself, as there are so many places to choose from. Away from the popular and often overcrowded areas of Seminyak and Kuta; Uluwatu is a Paradise to begin your trip. Well known for its waves and cliff side views – I could not have asked for a more beautiful place to start.

You can easily get to wherever you want to visit via a driver. Ubud is an hour away by taxi, Seminyak is 40 mins and you can easily get to other destinations.

Gravity Hotel Bali Cyncity Cyntra Charlesworth

Amazing surf and tranquillity – this is the ideal location to ease into your trip and forget the Jet Lag.

Where I visited:

Ubud

Monkey temple

Zen hideaway Swing

Getting there:

An easy transfer from the airport. It is about 45minutes from Ngurah Rai International Airport

Where to stay:

Gravity

This eco-boutique resort is one of Bali’s best-kept secrets, offering a stunning hilltop resort with the most beautiful sea views and although we only got to enjoy two nights here, it was one of my favourite hotels of the trip.

The location is peaceful and tranquil. The view from the infinity pool is breathtaking. The staff are kind, sweet and helpful and the facilities are great. By the pool, there are bar areas serving up cocktails, juices and ice cold fruit infused water all day long.

The rooms are beautiful. They have a canopy style bed and gorgeous outdoor bathrooms. The breakfast is wonderful with options to suit all. My favourite hotel on my trip to Bali.


Gili Air Travel Bali Cyncity Cyntra Charlesworth

Gili Air

Gili Air Travel Bali Cyncity Cyntra Charlesworth

Where I visited:

Coffee and thyme – Most mornings you would find me here sipping on excellent coffee washed down with their incredible menu – an absolute must (plus wifi)

Watch a Sunrise

Pachamama – Organic cafe nestled just off the main walkway around the outskirts of the island

Scallywags – for supper

Gili Air Cooking School – book in for an Indonesian immersive cooking lesson with the wonderful team.

Yoga – Start or end the day with a sea view yoga class at Mandala Blue

Gili Air Travel Bali Cyncity Cyntra Charlesworth

Where to stay:

Stay at Coco Lodge for the best view of the sunrise

Ardi Beltza Bungalows – Amazing staff and close to the end of the night Reggae bars and north side of the island

Getting There

Boat prices vary but when we booked it was around 7500000 IDR. This took us Bali – Gili Air – Gili T – Nusa Lembongan – Bali

Gili Air Travel Bali Cyncity Cyntra Charlesworth

Little Tips

Everything is walkable or get a bike

There are better swings around the island rather than the Instagram favourite you may need to queue for

Top of the boat to any destination as it gets dark and muggy below


Gili T

Underwater Statue Gili Meno Cyntra Charlesworth Cyncity

What I did:

Boat trip to go Snorkelling, see the Turtles, Underwater statue and Coral reefs

Sunset Horse Riding at 5 pm along the beach

Yoga

Favourite Eats:

The Banyan Tree brunch is an absolute must when on the island – especially if you have been to a beach party the day before.

Casa Vintage – Head to the rooftop cafe to reset, unwind and have a delicious smoothie or bite to eat

Gili T CynCity Cyntra Charlesworth Travelling Gilis

Where to stay:

Wilson’s

A beautiful lodging slightly off the beaten track right on the beach. Gili T doesn’t have a bedtime, therefore, it was nice to escape the hustle and retreat back to this divine boutique hotel.

The rooms are exquisite with outdoor bathrooms. The beds are incredible and perfect to catch up on snoozes from all the activities in the day.

The staff are welcoming and go above and beyond every day with a smile.

Their breakfast (which is included) is one of the best I had in Indonesia – served with fruit, coffee, and even Eggs Benedict.

Guide To Bali

Gili T CynCity Cyntra Charlesworth Travelling Gilis


Nusa Lembongan

Green Gardens Nusa Lembongan Cyncity Cyntra Charlesworth

What I did:

Rented a scooter to explore Nusa Lembongan and neighbouring Nusa Ceningan (which is connected by a bridge)

Head to the Blue Lagoon and Mangrove Forest

Book a boat trip to Manta Point through Big Fish Diving and even head to one of their educational talks or yoga events on their onsite hostel

Go Surfing

Nusa Lembongan Cyncity Cyntra Charlesworth

Favourite Eats:

The Deck – for all breakfast, lunch and fabulous cocktails.

Ketut Warung – the BEST Thai in Indo – it is notoriously hard to find but if you can this hidden gem you are in for one treat. Known well by locals and dive masters – be prepared for the best food and to meet amazing people.

Green Gardens brunch is one of the best and leaves you feeling totally nourished for your days ahead

Lemongrass Bar for dinner and live music

Green Gardens Nusa Lembongan Cyncity Cyntra Charlesworth

Where to stay:

There are a variety of options depending on your time and vibe on the island.

When you arrive on the boat you have sea view villas for luxury or if you head inland more cottage style relax vibes for those who want some R&R on this beautiful island.

I stayed at Lembongan Villas which has one of the most incredible views right from their infinity pool. Beautiful villas spread up the cliffs to give you the best views of the ocean. Incredible staff and the perfect place to relax after a long day exploring.

Guide To Bali


Seminyak

KU DE TA bali cyncity cyntra charlesworth Guide To Bali

Where to stay:

Vila Kay’s Raja – Beautiful Villas just a short way out of the hustle of Seminyak. Each villa comes with its own indoor pool – perfect for a dip after a long day in the busy centre.

Seminyak places to stay cyncity cyntra charlesworth

The beds are perfection and each room comes with a shower and a bath. There is a wide variety to choose for breakfast, which is delivered straight to your room in the morning.

Where to eat:

KU DE TA bali cyncity cyntra charlesworth Guide To Bali

Ku de ta – A perfect spot for lunch. There is a variety of healthful and delicious items on the menu while taking in the ocean view. Let the soundtrack ease you into the day while taking in the views. I highly recommend their cerviche!

Potato Head – Head here for the beach club vibe. Amazing views of the sunset, epic late night parties and excellent supper.

Going out:

By far my favourite night on Bali main island started at Motel Mexicola and finished at La Favéla.

The vibe in Mexicola is fun – with drinks in hand while dancing on the tables it is the perfect way to begin your evening. The Spanish influence will have your body moving and the energy is incredible. You can also stop here for supper – just ask one of the staff to find you a table and sit back and enjoy some Mexican treats.

Guide To Bali


Things to remember:

Do’s

  • Be respectful at all times.
  • Bring a torch – this is invaluable on Gili’s.
  • Bring first aid kit, toothpaste, and toiletries for the islands – it is expensive otherwise.
  • Get a massage – I really did not get enough.
  • Do try all the activities
  • DO TAKE EAR PLUGS. This is a land of dogs barking and cockerels… that trust me…not not rise with the sun.
  • Do barter – you can do it – do it with a smile and be fair.
  • Leave your Western, Busy Schedule, Fast paced lifestyle and creature comforts behind and come with an open mind.

Don’t

  • Get angry. Like most Asian countries you must save face and never lose your cool. If a situation gets difficult just smile and walks away.
  • Spirits… buy a litre of spirit at duty-free and just stick to the beers.
  • Do not be afraid to sit and enjoy the wonderful welcomeness of these people and how they are willing to share the food from their table, the drinks from their kitchen and question you about your life.

Indulge and Love Every Moment


bali swing Abigail Charlesworth Cyntra Charlesworth Guide To Bali

bali swing

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Stress-Free Guide Colorado | What to Wear In Colorado In Winter

What to wear in Colorado

Stress-Free Guide of what to wear in Colorado:

Colorado is one of those beautiful areas in the World to visit. Surrounded by 54 snowy peaks, the Rocky mountains, are a haven for skiers, hikers and those who love the great outdoors.

The weather in Colorado is mixed, which can often make it difficult to know what to pack if you haven’t been before. With this in mind, I thought I would pull together a small list of things to bring when visiting Colorado.

what to wear in colorado


Layers

Colorado is cold but the sun does shine. You can be met with below freezing temperatures at nights, icy winds but also glorious sunshine. With this in mind – take layers. It gives you the flexibility to add and subtract as necessary to fit the temperatures throughout the day.

what to wear in colorado

I found these incredible Thermal Set from Amazon which kept the body temperature balanced and simple and stylish enough to go with most outfits.


Accessories

Hats, Scarves, Shades and Gloves. You can save space in your suitcase by varying up your accessories to transform your outfit without having to over pack.

what to wear in colorado

As it is a cold area, your suitcase will fill up quickly with coats, sweaters and ski-wear – so mix up your outfits by changing the accessories to breathe life into each new outfit.

Shades are a must with the bright sun reflecting off the snow. It may be freezing but you will still need protection.


Sweaters

Day + night – sweaters are the way forward. Bring a couple of smart and casual ones to suit.

The restaurant and bars are smart casual therefore dressing suitably for après ski is advisable.

I filled my suitcase with this white thick knits from Miss Pap and Topshop.

Pair it with jeans, leggings or chinos depending on the occasion and you’re good to go.

what to wear in colorado


Evening Wear

In Europe, you will quite often meet people on an evening out still in their ski wear. This is a no-no in Colorado.

what to wear in colorado

With beautiful restaurants and bars – people dress for dinner. Casual sweaters, nice jeans, ankle boots or heels are the appropriate attire when heading to the towns for supper and drinks. If there is not too much snow you can even wear heeled boots if you really want to dress up.


Footwear

Hiking boots: Surrounded by such beautiful trails – you will want to get out for a hike. Make sure you bring appropriate walking boots – preferably those that are waterproof in order that if you are walking through the snow you don’t get wet feet.

what to wear in colorado

Heels: When heading out to the restaurants or bars you may want to wear heels with your outfit. I took a pair of heeled ankle boots. The ground is not icy or snowy, therefore, you are not at risk of slipping over.

Boots: A simple pair of boots its ideal to take for any occasion. I took this pair from HM which go with any outfit.

Socks: You can never have enough socks here. Warm toastie socks for back at your chalet spares in case yours get wet, and then the usual you will need for the above footwear.

what to wear in colorado


I hope this guide helps packing stress free and easy when planning your trip to the Rocky’s!

Live and travel without the burden of worry

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Guide To The Philippines | Find The Secrets

 

CynCity Cyntra in the city Philippines

The Philippines

Mabuhay Philippines! …Intoxicatingly stunning, if you have the opportunity this is a land you must explore.

The Philippines is made up of over 7000 and is the largest producer of coconuts in the world. If you’re looking for your next wanderlust experience put this high up on your priorities.

Funnily enough, it is the 5th largest English speaking country in the world; so if you’re worried about a translation barrier do not fret. These are also some of the most politest people you will come across…and will refer to you as ‘sir’ or ‘maam’ (like The Queen).

CynCity Cyntra in the city Philippines

I had an incredible experience there and I thought I would share some of my favourite bits to help you when planning your trip. I can’t cover all 7,000 islands but here is my top places if you escape the city to Paradise for two weeks.

Boracay:

I have mixed reviews about Boracay. It is one of the most popular destinations in the Philippines. Loved for its white sandy beaches, nightlife and sea. However, if you are not careful you can end up in tourist trap hell. Lots of parties, tourists, crap overpriced food and in general Magaluf but south side of the equator.

However, this island does have some hidden gems…You just have to find them. You can do what we did and go off the beaten track and enjoy a real hidden treat in the more north part of the island. A slice of paradise away from the noise.

CynCity Cyntra in the city Philippines

Getting there:

Boracay is a tiny island, so you will need to get a connecting flight from Manilla to Kalibo Airport, which is located further away than Caticlan Airport. You then have to take a bus for 2 hours and then take a ferry to the island.

Where to stay: 

Bilianghay Beach Resort

We booked the Rock house. Incredible. You have your own private beach away from the noise and your room is over looking the ocean. You can order a bottle of Filipino rum when you arrive. I recommend sitting in your living room and getting over the jet lag slowly sipping with juice.

The people

People may have their negative thoughts on Boracay, but the people are just incredible. I landed on NYE and went for a stroll with my friend just outside of the hotel… we bumped into this crowd below… who invited us to drink, eat, join and be merry to celebrate the New Year.

An absolutely unforgettable moment having travelled 18 hours, 3 connecting flights, a two hour bus ride, a ferry and a taxi. This experience was unforgettable.

CynCity Cyntra in the city Philippines

Sangat: island

If you want a secluded diving holiday in the Philippines that brings mind blowing wreck diving and sumptuous reef diving to your doorstep then look no further.

CynCity Cyntra in the city Philippines

The tiny island of Sangat lies on the north of Coron Bay in Palawan and is your gateway to a Philippines diving and snorkelling adventure.

Not only that it is a paradise for some secluded time with your partner or friends to really lap up Paradise.

For all the snorkellers out there; they have their own reef abundant in gorgeous fish and live coral life.

Philippines Diving CynCity Cyntra in the city

Take a canoe and paddle around to dive the wrecks from WW2 – honestly it is incredible.

The place is run by a family who are lovely if they are on the island to meet. Get to know the staff. Enjoy the pool tables. Remember the cocktails are delicious but you will run up a tab!

Where to stay:

Sangat Island Dive Resort

There are a number of different types of rooms from your own villa to private beach chalets. I opted for the beach side chalets as waking up to the ocean every morning was incredible.

Getting there: 

There are a number of different ways to get there. We organised a fast boat with the island management as it really didn’t cost that much.

CynCity Cyntra in the city Philippines

Island hopping:

As I said there are over 7000 islands to explore; and finding the right ones may sometimes be best left up to the locals. We choose to go on a 7 day private expedition. No phones, no frills, no wifi… just pure off the beaten track experience.

CynCity Cyntra in the city Philippines

We tasted the most ‘masarap’ (delicious) food, witnessed the most incredible sunsets and stars and swap in oceans that are only imaginable if you have seen Life of Pi.

CynCity Cyntra in the city Philippines

Your chef will take you to gather fresh ingredients from the islands to cook healthy meals of seafood and whatever else you find, ensuring a constant flow of tropical treats and icy beers from the kitchen.

We slept on beaches and lived by the rise of the sun. It was one of the most memorable and humbling experiences of my life.

CynCity Cyntra in the city Philippines

The camps are on beaches with jungle trails to trek to the other wild beaches. windswept cliffs and hidden caves. The islands are encompassed by crystal blue waters, snorkelling the preserved reefs teaming with life.

Where to Book:

Tao Philippines

And make sure no matter WHAT you visit the secret Coron Lagoon.

Things to remember;

Do’s

  • Be respectful at all times – Click to read more
  • Exchange pounds to us dollars. In the more rural areas you will find it hard to find places that exchange pounds, especially if the bank is shut.
  • The ATM run out of money quickly so do always have spare cash.
  • Take plenty of mozzie spray and other first aid. It is expensive and hard to come by in the more rural parts of the islands.
  • Take all your basics – shampoo/ soap etc – it is expensive.
  • The Filipinos are by nature very friendly people. Smile. A reciprocal friendliness will get you the best friends one can ever find in the world.
  • Do not turn down food, and if you do not like it, try and hide it as much as possible. If I am able to do it when trying a Balut… you can.
  • DO TAKE EAR PLUGS. This is a land of dogs barking and cockerels… that trust me…not not rise with the sun
  • Leave your Western, Busy Schedule, Fast paced lifestyle and creature comforts behind and come with an open mind.

Don’t

  • Get angry. Like most asian countries you must save face and never lose your cool. If a situation gets difficult just smile and walk away.
  • Eat a Balut… just don’t.
  • Go to the islands marked as unsafe. Kidnapping is a real danger but totally unavoidable if you stay in the right areas.
  • Do not walk alone
  • Don’t be flashy. Leave your best bits for home.
  • Do not be afraid to sit and enjoy the wonderful welcomeness of these people and how they are willing to share the food from their table, the drinks from their kitchen and question you about your life.

Indulge and love every moment

CynCity Cyntra in the city Philippines

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Stress-Free Guide to Cuba | Havana

Guide to Havana CubaThinking about travelling to Cuba?

Here is my little guide to the places I visited.

My hints and tips. All the things I wish I knew before I went.

I hope you enjoy and if you have any further questions please don’t hesitate to ask.


Learn Spanish

This is a big one – people don’t always speak English.


Flight

First and foremost this is a biggy. There are not many flights that go directly to Cuba. This may improve over time now the country is opening up.

However, that said – make sure you get the direct flight from London. We did the split going via Spain. Not only was it like stepping back in time on the plane (no personal screens) but it is a LONG flight. It may be more expensive but trust me it’s important.

Airport

You are not going anywhere quick.

Havana airport is renowned for being one of the slowest airports in the world. It is disorganised, chaotic and slow. You will be waiting for your bags a long time. If you are travelling with a tour operator they are well versed in this delay but if you are booking your own onward travel please keep this in mind. Bring a book – there is NO 3G and NO WIFI.

Taxis

There are lots of taxis waiting and available from the airport. Don’t be scared to haggle the price. They know you have just landed. If you can get a classic car I would highly recommend.


Accommodation

This is up to you how you do this. Some things to consider… There is no beach in the city, the closest beach to Habana is about 20 minutes away, at Playa del Este. There are daily shuttles, I think for 3CUC/day.

With this in mind if you are a beach bae then I would try and book a hotel with a pool for the first couple of days to get over the jet lag before moving on to a casa.

I stayed at NH Capri La Habana

Nestled in the heart of downtown, rooftop pool, great views and in a cool area.

If you are staying in Havana for a while I would highly recommend you seek out a casa to stay in. Effectively these are B&B’s where the hosts generally look after you. They cook, clean, feed and water you. It’s an amazing way to immerse yourself in Cuban culture, meet Cubans and also help the community. This way you are helping the locals out.

Here are some great recommendations: Best Casas in Havana 


What to wear?

Key pieces:

Trainers:

I wore Adidas Superstar.Havana is a casual place but also a place you want to explore. The roads are cobbled, the streets full of life. You want a trainer that looks stylish yet is practical for allowing to you to get stuck in.

Shorts:

This is the perfect climate for shorts. The Cubans are lively and bold dressers so don’t be afraid to go with colour. It’s not widely conservative – so you can wear what you would wear at home. Females are warned though – be careful if alone – you will get attention. My American Apparel shorts were a godsend. Chic and comfy.

Tops:

Short, long, flowy – anything goes. Play with colours and be vibrant. Its hot during the day but there is a cool wind at night so bring a light sweater or scarf.

Accessories:

Think hippy and creative. This town is full of colour and art. Be part of the creativity.

Bags:

Bring bags with lots of pockets. This is still a foreign country and you are a tourist. There are a lot of opportunists in this world.

This is a cool, casual, artistic and vibrant part of the world. Like most Caribbean islands it’s full of life. In the evening for dinner its casual with a little elegance if you feel.


What to see?

Havana is a historical and political hotspot to explore.

Cuba Direct was our tour operator as we only had a limited time there. We had a bespoke private tour and saw the whole of Cuba from the comfort of an old American car. If you are short on time then a tour is the way forward otherwise have a look around when you get there.


Top Visits

Hemingway House

Old Havana

El Malecon

Havana Catedral

Plaza de la Revolucion

El Cristo de La Habana


Places to Eat

Something you will work out quite early on is that when you buy food out – its well erm ok.

Their avocados though are off the fricking chain!

The best food you will have is cooked by Cubans in their Casa’s

Here is one of the restaurants I will recommend in Havana Old Town.

Good food – peaceful atmosphere – good price.

Watch the prices in Havana Old Town – they are expensive.

Coppelia

This is a must visit Havana’s Coppelia building is one of the largest ice cream parlours in the world. Holding 1000 guests, it is located on the part of Calle 23 known as La Rampa in the Vedado district.

Fidel Castro had it built to bring Ice Cream to Cuba but also rival the Americans in Ice Cream production.

Its a weird looking building but in a really cool area where loads of Cubans hang out so it’s nice to get away from the tourist humm that will drive you nuts in Old Town Havana

La Rampa

where the Coppelia is located in a cool area.

It has the big hotels that once were booming in the 50s and also the old Mafia hotel (you cannot miss it)
It is also the home to one of the best Jazz Clubs I have been too.

Head to the British Telephone Box and head down the stairs.

YOU HAVE TO EXPERIENCED CUBAN MUSIC!

Enjoy


Keeping Healthy

Cuba is not a health hot spot in the world. A lot of the food is high carb, fried and meaty. It’s not the best place for vegetarians.

A lot of the cocktails have a spoonful of sugars added.

With this in mind think outside the box.

Havana Old Town is a nice walk away from most places – so opt for walking rather than cabs.

Try and top on veggies and fruit where possible.
You will often find vegetables come in a sauce – so in your best Spanish try and ask for them plain.

Swim, walk, run, and get active.

You don’t want to restrict your enjoyment but remember there is a Yin to every Yang – so balance it out.


Cuba is a wonderful place and will be ever changing now they are becoming open to the world.

Try and get there before it loses all its original value.


Words of warning

Do not buy cigars from anywhere other than state-run shops. You may think you’re getting a deal but you’re not they are fake and you do not know what is in them. You will meet sweet Cubans who have a friend, or know someone who can get them cheap, or will tell you about a national day where they are cheaper…unfortunately it is all lies. Sorry – but stick to the rules if you want cigars.


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Review: The Retreat Kitchen, Richmond

A Delicious Vegan Brunch Spot nestled in the heart of Richmond – The Retreat Kitchen.

The Retreat Kitchen Richmond Cyncity

The Retreat Kitchen

Nestled in the quaint streets of Richmond you will find The Retreat Kitchen. This earth loving cafe, which opened in February, is run by duo Maggie and Claire. Maggie & Claire were on a BBC programme called The Retreat with DIY SOS’s Nick Knowles (now on Netflix if you want to watch it!) hey went to Thailand for a

They went to Thailand for a 28-day detox retreat and had their lives transformed. Prior to heading to the retreat, they were both burnt out.

The girls returned with a new lease of life. They wanted to spread the vegan love back in the UK. They launched The Retreat Kitchen to bring tasty plant based dishes straight to you.

The Retreat Kitchen Richmond Cyncity

“For us a plant based diet wasn’t about giving up meat, it was about taking up eating a wider variety of vegetables and putting in the time and effort to make them stand out. ” – Maggie

The Retreat Kitchen Richmond Cyncity

Healthy Smoothies

Their menu boasts a plethora of tasty coffees, juicy juices and smoothies for every occasion. The girls recommend the Green Giant smoothie to reduce tiredness, fatigue and maintain healthy skin – exactly what you need after a long weekend.

Green Giant: Spinach, Kale, Banana, Mango, Kiwi, Apple, Spirulina, Chlorella, Wheatgrass, Barley Grass. 

The Retreat Kitchen Richmond Cyncity

Vegan Breakfast

Enough about the smoothies… let’s get down to BREAKFAST!

As you all know, Brunch is my favourite meal of the day, with that in mind, I took ordering very seriously.

To start, we tucked into an English Breakfast Muffin (Spinach, Mushroom, Avocado and Vegan Hollandaise). Having never tried Vegan hollandaise I was pleasantly surprised and somewhat bewildered how they had managed to create such a delicious alternative. Zesty and fresh, I would recommend just to try the hollandaise.

The Retreat Kitchen Richmond Cyncity

Vegan Brunch

After mange-ing our way through our v-eggs benedict, we were presented with the Brunch Plate (Scrambled tofu, homemade beans, vegan sausage, tomato, mushrooms, hash brown and Sourdough).

Hands down one of the best veggie sausages I have tasted which paired beautifully with the homemade smokey beans! Delicious.

This vibrant plate really brings food alive!

Still not 100% convinced by the scrambled tofu (however my brunch date loved them) #eggsaremyfavouritefood – this tasty Brunch really hit the spot.

The Retreat Kitchen Richmond Cyncity

Pancake Stack

BUT and this is a big BUTT if you are going to have one thing on this menu… The Fresh Fruit Berry Pancake Stack with berries, coconut yoghurt and maple syrup is THE ONE.

Presented beautifully and with a little pot of maple syrup on the side.

This pancake stack needs to be served with a PG13 sticker… as it is naughty!

Ah the indulgence and flavour, the levels melted in your mouth. The fresh coconut ice cream paired perfectly with the berries and compote.

After making the people on the next table feel very uncomfortable from my excitement at every mouthful, I wandered up to the counter to chat with the girls and peruse their array of cakes.

The Retreat Kitchen Richmond Cyncity   The Retreat Kitchen Richmond Cyncity

Tasty vegan sweet and savouries to take on the go.

The Retreat Kitchen Richmond Cyncity

After picking up a delicious Polenta and Orange Cake I decided to get one last treat… a tasty black americano.

Roasted to perfection due to the delicious beans from Old Spike Coffee. 

The perfect finish to an earth loving morning.

The Retreat Kitchen Richmond Cyncity

You can find The Retreat Kitchen at;
16 Hill Rise, Richmond TW10 6UA
Open Mon – Sun until 5pm!

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Made of Dough: Pop Up to Peckham

Made of dough Cocktails inside Pizza Made of Dough Peckham Cyntra Charlesworth Cyncity

Sexy B*tches Eat Pizza

Peckham’s Bellenden Road has opened its doors to a brand new pizza joint, Made of Dough. Originating from Pop Brixton, Made of Dough, have gone from strength to strength and have climbed up to claim the title of London Pizza Champions! With slick branding and sexy slogan – these boys are tantalising the taste buds of South Londoners one slice at a time.

Their Neopolitan-style pizzas are made with dough that is fermented over sixty hours, topped with carefully sourced produce and local meats from the local butcher, Flock and Herd. Carefully curated and deliciously made – this should definitely feature on your summer hit list.

Pizza Made of Dough Peckham Cyntra Charlesworth Cyncity

Made of Dough: Highlights from the Menu

The doors were opened last weekend and the word about the popular pizza place is spreading fast. There may be a small queue when you arrive, but you will be seated in no time, with one of their sumptuous cocktails in hand.

The menu invites you in, with small bites, sides and dips (which are a must). The Scotch Bonnet Romesco packs a punch for those who like the spice of life, while the basil aioli is perfect for dipping the leftover crusts.

But let’s face it, we are not here to talk about dips… what we knead (gettit) to know is about the Pizza!

With over 6 to choose from… here are my personal faves!

Truffle Pizza Made of Dough Peckham Cyntra Charlesworth Cyncity

Truffle

Delicious! Hands down my fav. The Burrata is decadently creamy and melts in the mouth with its freshness. The mushrooms are flavoursome but not overpowering and marry together perfectly with the truffle oil. This is a great alternative for those who fancy a change from a traditional tomato base.

Margarita Pizza Made of Dough Peckham Cyntra Charlesworth Cyncity

Margarita

Simple – just like a pizza should be. But do not mistake its simplicity for lack of flavour. The San Marzano tomatoes intertwined with the Fior di latte is mouth watering. A light drizzle of olive oil and the finish of basil – for traditionalists – this one is for you.

Serrano Pizza Made of Dough Peckham Cyntra Charlesworth Cyncity

Serrano

The fresh wild rocket is a colourful pop to the eyes while the succulent serrano ham delivers with flavour. Not overpowering like some cured meat pizzas can be – this pizza was a crowd pleaser.

sexy bitches eat Pizza Made of Dough Peckham Cyntra Charlesworth Cyncity

Sweet Tooth

Not usually a fan of a dessert, my bae Donna, dragged me straight towards the sweets, to indulge in the Motherf*cking Peanut Butter Shake. Note – the founders are not foul mouthed young men but this decadent dessert carved its name from its main ingredient: Jackpot Motherf*cking Peanut Butter.

And its motherf**cking good!

Cocktails inside Pizza Made of Dough Peckham Cyntra Charlesworth Cyncity

Atmosphere

Think dining alfresco with a hint of Soho House and a side order of chill – this is the perfect spot for friends, family or date night.

The cocktails are a must – these boys really know their stuff – with Amalfi inspired bellinis, fruity twists on Espresso Martinis and a classic favourite Aperol Spritz.

If you like your wine see if one of the founders, Ed, is in the joint – he will be able to talk you through their wine list with expertise. If you like your red – try the Chaval.

Cocktails Pizza Made of Dough Peckham Cyntra Charlesworth Cyncity

 

Final Thoughts

All in all – a 10/10 experience to be enjoyed by all. If you happen to be nearby at lunchtime, you can get a margarita special for just £5! Also, every Monday is half price on all bottles – #winner.

Note: If you’re gluten free – there are plenty of sides to choose from however there is no option available currently.