KwaZulu Natal – sun, sand, sea and safari

by Lesley-Ann on June 4, 2015

Like most people, my trips to South Africa have been limited to the usual suspects: Cape Town, Winelands, the Garden Route and on safari in Kruger and Madikwe. I’d never contemplated a holiday to KwaZulu Natal. I think in my mind I’d written if off as place just for history and war buffs and I’m not sure a very, very long film with Michael Caine depicting the Anglo-Zulu war did it any favours – I’ve never yet got to the end of it! But, I have to admit, on a recent visit to the area I was more than pleasantly surprised by what I found. Read more

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It’s great in the Cape

by Lesley-Ann on May 7, 2015

Known as the Mother City, mother-nature certainly excelled herself when she created Cape Town. With the dramatic Table Mountain as its backdrop and bordering the rugged Atlantic Coast, Cape Town is certainly a stunner. But, it’s not just its in your face beauty that appeals. Cape Town offers South African charm in spades, successfully balanced with a cool and upbeat side; outstandingly good restaurants; hip boutique hotels; and a vibrant cultural scene. And it doesn’t stop there. What makes Cape Town so special is that within an hour’s drive of the famous Victoria and Albert Waterfront, you have access to shell strewn beaches, wildlife, adrenalin sports and the stunningly beautiful Winelands.

The only problem I find with Cape Town is that there’s so much to see and do, people often really don’t give the place enough time and leave wishing they’d stayed longer. Trust me, you’ll go to Cape Town once and will immediately start planning a return trip even before you’ve left.

Here are some of my suggestions of things to do and the best spots to explore: Read more

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Picture Perfect Porto

by Lesley-Ann on April 16, 2015

It’s funny, Porto seldom figures on most people’s mental hit list of city breaks but it really should. To me it’s probably one of the most delighting cities in Europe with its friendly vibe and unique personality so often lacking in many of the more homogenised Euro-towns.  And, with Easyjet starting new flights to the city from Manchester in May, there’s no better time to plan your visit. Read more

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Stirring up the senses in Sri Lanka

by Lesley-Ann on March 5, 2015

Often referred to as ‘India Lite’, travelling round Sri Lanka is certainly less of an assault on the senses than India: You encounter less of the noise and chaos, you get less hassle from the locals and you certainly cover less distances to see the major sites. But, one thing Sri Lanka is definitely not lite on is the sheer variety of things to see and do. Here, on this little tear drop shaped island in the Indian Ocean, you’ll find some of Asia’s most fascinating Buddhist temples, 8 UNESCO World Heritage sites, historic hill towns with architectural reminders of the British colonial era, an abundance of wildlife, verdant tea plantations and beautiful beaches that wrap around the island.

Sri Lanka has fond memories for me as it was the first big adventure Julian and I took together nearly 20 years ago. The country was different then. Accommodation was basic and, due to the Sinhalese-Tamil conflict, the north and eastern parts of the country were out of bounds. Now, 5 years after the end of the bloody 25-year civil war, the island is fully open and it has some of the best places to stay in the region from contemporary seaside retreats to boutique B&Bs, immaculately restored colonial-style hotels and wonderful private villas (perfect for families) strung out along the coast.

Here are some of my highlights you don’t want to miss on a trip to Sri Lanka: Read more

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A decade after our first visit to Oman, Julian and I returned with trepidation – was the country we loved so much for its authentic Arabian charm still the same or had it adopted the fast paced glitzy lifestyle of its neighbours like the UAE or Qatar? Let’s face it, if Oman was Dubai, 10 years would have seen the place go for broke with a building extravaganza leaving it unrecognisable.  But I’m glad to report that, although there has definitely been development (especially in the capital Muscat), the Sultan (Qaboos Bin Said) thankfully has a leisurely approach to tourism and is more concerned with culture rather than getting into the Record Books for the tallest building. In Oman we still delighted in the heady mix of rich history, traditional Arabian culture and spectacular scenery which we were seduced by first time round.

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