As many of you may know visiting sights in Europe, and I’m sure in other parts of the world also, you are often greeted with a line long enough to make you question every single one of your life choices that has lead you to this specific point in time.
Let me set the scene for you, it’s a lovely summers mid-morning in Paris, you’ve had a reasonably early wake up and breakfast – after all you were planning a visit to the catacombs today and you knew that was often notoriously busy there- you’ve had a straight forward trip on the underground, you’re striding up the stairs from the underground, see a rather large group of people standing and you think it’s pretty bad but manageable, then you realise that oh sweet Jesus the line snakes almost entirely around the block and that small line was the priority entry line. No matter, no matter I’m sure once they let the first people in it’ll be a breeze, we’ll stand here and see how fast the line moves.
In short the answer to that is slowly, very slowly.
For the people who may not know much about the history of the catacombs (much like me before I went, the extent of my knowledge was I knew they existed and there were skeletons) let me give you a bit of history. Around the 15th century there were underground gypsum, limestone and chalk quarries under the city of Paris, which were eventually abandoned. This would become the site for the catacombs in time as the Saint-Innocents Cemetery was closed in 1780 due to concerns about public safety and over time the limestone quarries housed the large majority of the bones from central Paris. Today when you visit only 200 people are permitted into the site at a time which is why the line proves to be so long. You can expect temperatures to be very cool and dark, obviously as you’re underground. It can be a bit claustrophobic walking down small tunnels and maybe unsettling for some with walls filled with thousands and thousands of human bones but if I can do it – and I don’t particularly enjoy being trapped underground – then I’m sure you will be fine also.
One thing I learnt from this experience was ALWAYS, always if you can buy an advance ticket to all of the big sights in Europe. We were pretty lucky with all of the lines we had to wait in to see the sights but this line well and truly made up for all of the others.
Secondly everyone is just as committed as you are to lining up for hours on end. In the four and a half hours stood in lines didn’t see a single person leave the line. The length of the line and the commitment of people from all over the world to wait for hours in line to go down to the catacombs should be an indication of how important this sight is to see in Paris.
So my final advice. Buy a ticket online in advance, stand in a significantly shorter line than I did and go and explore. A visit to the catacombs in my opinion is well worth it and in fact I’d say it was my favourite place I visited in Paris this visit.
P.S while we are speaking about tips on lines in Paris if you want to visit the Louvre and why wouldn’t you really, try to avoid entering via the iconic pyramid. I confess going through the pyramid does make you feel like you’re Robert Langdon in The DaVinci Code but I can also tell you will be waiting in line possibly (read highly likely) hours longer than those entering through the other entrances. I stumbled upon my entrance by pure accident when getting off the metro but I was happily surprised that the line I waited in was significantly quicker than the last time I had visited Paris. If you take the underground to the Louvre you can enter almost directly from the station itself by going through a shopping centre known as carousel du Louvre, buy your ticket at a souvenir shop and stand in line to go through metal detectors and voila you are in.
Thailand enjoys a plethora of amazing island destinations (in addition to the mainland of course) so it’s no wonder us adventurers are often trying to fit as much as possible into the time we have before moving on to the next equally exciting destination. In this post I will try to guide you in the right direction to make sure you experience everything the wonderful Phi Phi and surrounding area has to offer – and I’ll let you in on a little secret, there is a lot on offer!
For those of you who mix up your Koh Phangan’s with your Koh Samui’s and the thought of Koh Tao, Koh Lipe and Koh Phi Phi leave you befuddled – and let me assure you it happens to all of us no matter how much we think we know – then first let me give you a little bit more information about the locality of the wonderful Koh Phi Phi.
Koh Phi Phi is in the south of Thailand as the large majority of the islands are. The Phi Phi islands are ideally located between Phuket and the mainland making it an easy destination to get to as there is ferry access from both east and west which only takes approximately 90 minutes.
If you’re up for day trips out on the water while spending time in Thailand then a base at Phi Phi provides a great place to start. From here you can take trips to many wonderful destinations, including the exquisite Maya Bay. Maya Bay for those who may not know is the location of THE BEACH from the movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio by the same name – The Beach. This one is well worth the trip. There are many different operators that offer day trips to view this stunning beach so do not fear you won’t miss out and al boats heading this way offer a very similar service meaning you don’t have the worry of comparing each operator. That’s a win in my books. If I were to give you one bit of advice about doing this activity would be to try and head there in the early morning so as to avoid the huge amounts of tourists trying to do the exact same thing. Going early also has the benefit of ample beach and swimming space and some very nice photos.
If it’s the legendary Thai nightlife you are after then you can also get a taste of that here. While the beach parties and full moon parties that occur on Phi Phi may not quite live up to the same expectations as the parties in Koh Phangan I can assure you they still pack quite a punch. Even in Phi Phi there are regular beach parties, full moon parties and every kind of bar in between. In the town of Phi Phi there is a hub of nightlife activity, bars with drinks specials and the infamous party bucket stands line the streets. For a more relaxed night however head to the banana bar and its rooftop cinema. Here you can have a delicious meal, a refreshing cocktail and then settle in and watch that evenings movie. Don’t worry about which movie it is, it’s all about the experience.
Looking for the best spot to watch the sun go down? Well, this one I can confidently tell you exactly where you need to be. The best sunset I had the pleasure of watching was here in the Phi Phi islands. I must warn you though, it is quite a hike. I consider myself to be a person who knows a lot about their own body but I did not know a person could sweat so much in the high humidity on the walk up what seems like a never-ending staircase to the viewpoint. Do not let this deter you though! You’ll join a group of people all with the same aim as you and likely all having the same hard time as you so forget about that and relax while you watch the sun go down. The view is truly a worthwhile and breathtaking one.
Phi Phi for me encompasses the perfect mix of relaxed island vibes as well as providing all the party needs ones heart could ever desire. Spend your days beach side, spend your days having blissful aromatic massages, spend your days out adventuring the neighbouring islands (monkey island is close by), spend your days doing some retail therapy or spend your days enjoying beach party after beach party. Whatever your style I can guarantee you will be able to find something for you in Phi Phi to satisfy your holiday needs.
I hope I’ve given you some help and ideas planning your time on Phi Phi. Now get out there and book that ticket!
Morocco is a country that you can find in north-western Africa just across the sea from Gibraltar and Spain. Morocco is a country unlike any other I have ever had the pleasure of visiting and let me tell you it is well worth your time.
Here are my top seven must have experiences in Morocco, I hope you enjoy!
Visit Hassan II Mosque
Hassan II Mosque is located in the north of Morocco in the city of Casablanca. To say that the mosque is grand and beautiful would be a total injustice. I have seen a multitude of buildings filled with history, feats of architectural genius and pure beauty but I was completely in awe of this mosque. This one is truly a you must see it to believe it kind of deal – words and photos, while we can try, cannot do it justice.
There are many things however, which set this mosque apart from others – aside from the sheer size of the building. The first may be its unique location set alongside the Atlantic ocean and it is said that there is an area within the mosque that consists of glass floors so one can pray directly above the water. This however I cannot confirm for you as it is said to be mainly reserved for royalty and ultimately off limits to visitors on tours of the mosque but I did find this an interesting piece of information regardless. Another fact about this mosque that makes it unique is that is has a sliding roof which opens on occasions of importance and at times when the mosque may be crowded to allow for air movement.
Spend a night camping in the desert
Camping in the Merzouga Desert – which is a section of the Sahara Desert that as you may well know extends throughout northern Africa – was by far one of the best experiences I have had in my entire life and I can safely say is perhaps my fondest memory of Morocco.
There is nothing quite like riding a camel out into what seems like the ever-ongoing sand dunes as the sun sets to find your little village of tents where you will camp for the night. This one is definitely one of those experiences where someone telling you cannot do it justice, you must experience it for yourself!
Visit a souk
You will find no shortage of souks in this vibrant country so you are in luck. A souk is also known as the marketplace or bazaar and you will find these in every major city and in most cases in every main centre of even the small towns.
Get lost in the medina of Fes
This one is actually quite easy to do regardless of whether or not it is your aim. I had never experienced anything like the tiny maze-like pathways between buildings in the medina of Fes and I’m not sure I will ever get to again. For those of you who may not know the medina refers to the oldest part of the city which is in the large majority of the time walled off, this would have been as a precaution from attacks on the city in times gone by.
Fes is the oldest of the imperial cities of Morocco and accordingly there is a great deal of history and secret spots to be found in the medina of Fes. You will find this out for yourself in no time as you pass through the hustle and bustle of the markets and continue on your way to the leather tannery that produces some of the finest quality leather that I have ever seen and had the privilege of wearing.
Go to the beach
It may not be the obvious choice for those making their way to Morocco to head to the beach but the cities and towns found beachside were in my opinion a lot slower paced and provided a perfect opportunity to escape the craziness of the cities.
There are beaches to suit every individual taste in Morocco, whether it’s lounging in the sun, surfing or you simply like to take in nature there will be a beach for you. Essaouria was very relaxed in comparison to the other cities I experienced in Morocco and here there were a number of kite surfers. If it is sun bathing and lounging you would prefer I would suggest heading to a beach in Agadir area and if surfing is more you then places such as Mazagan and Taghazout are where you should head.
Experience the hustle and bustle of Marrakech
Marrakech, where to start. Once you’ve stepped foot within this busy city it would bring you no surprise that Marrakech is home to just shy of one million people.
If you are wondering where the best place to experience the hustle and bustle that Marrakech has to offer you need not look any further than the square of Djemaa el-Fna and the surrounding marketplace and souk. The square is home to snake charmers, monkey handlers, a man with an awful lot of false teeth, more leather than you could imagine, lamps, tea sets, at night-time a sea of restaurants set up shop and an endless amount of people. Marrakech for me encapsulates Morocco in a number of ways and yet somehow manages to take everything that you have experienced in Morocco to the next level.
Drink mint tea with a local
I think anyone who has spent time in Morocco could tell you that you will drink mint tea. You will drink a lot of mint tea. It is often given upon arrival at your destination as a welcome drink as well as before and after meals and all the other times in between for that matter. Whether it is sharing a mint tea with your guide in the desert or sharing your tea in the company of your homestay hosts I’m sure you will learn something new about Moroccan culture and traditions.
So that’s it, I hope you’ve enjoyed reading through this list and by all means if you are travelling to Morocco there are so many more experiences than these to have, it is a vast country with so much to do!
Road tripping through Australia has almost become a rite of passage, it is no longer reserved for grey nomads and their caravans and European backpackers working their way around the country, every man and their dog now takes the time to explore our vast country – and rightly so! We live in a beautiful corner of the world. The road trip that I intend to share with you is the Coral Coast.
For those who don’t know the Coral Coast is a section of coast stretching north of Perth in Western Australia and extending all the way to Exmouth. Starting from Perth I’ll take you on an adventure of some of my favourite spots.
The destinations on this road trip included the capital of Western Australia, Perth, Geraldton, Denham, Carnarvon, Coral Bay and Exmouth. I’ve given an honourable mention to Kalbarri, while we did not stay there overnight it remains one of my favourite spots in Western Australia.
Ok so onto the road we go, first up Perth!
Perth and the surrounding area are very different to that of any of the other capital cities of Australia that I’ve been to. I’m not much of a city person and the laid-back and casual nature of this city made it all the more enjoyable. While I sadly didn’t get to spend as much time in Perth as I would have liked it is definitely a city that I will be visiting again in the near future.
If you’re after good food and wine then treat yourself with a trip to the Swan Valley which is just a 20 minute drive to the east of the city. Here you will find endless vineyards with open cellar door tastings as well as locations selling fresh local produce and restaurants alike. Why not take a day trip and take in as much as the area has to offer.
When you’ve got some time to spare in the Perth area do yourself a favour and head to the south of the city to Fremantle. In Fremantle you will find the well-known Fremantle markets, markets which is home to boutique stores selling everything from hand crafted goods, clothing, homewares as well as a wonderful collection of food stalls. While in this part of the city you might as well walk a few minutes from the markets to the old Fremantle prison. This is an incredibly interesting place to look around! They run a variety of different tours during the day so head in and take a peak around.
Tip: go to the Fremantle Markets hungry, there are so many great food stalls. You can thank me later!
Today our final destination in Geraldton, which is around a four hour drive north of Perth. This may seem like a daunting distance to tackle in the first few days but there are quite a few places of interest along the way so don’t despair. The Pinnacles’ desert is one such place and would be my primary suggestion for a place to take a break. In addition to this about halfway into your trip to Geraldton the coastal towns of Cervantes or Jurien Bay (or both) are worth a visit.
Geraldton itself is one of the larger places that you will visit on this trip. While Geraldton might not be the location with the prettiest beach or the biggest range of activities it still packs a punch. It is however, home to the HMAS Sydney II Memorial as well as having a good local history museum, the Museum of Geraldton. Both of these are well worth having a bit of a look, with the view of the ocean from the memorial showing quite a good lookout and the museum being located in a beautiful part of town.
After another long journey we get to see the wonderful township of Kalbarri. Kalbarri is a wonderful destination that could well deserve a full week because there are simply that many things to do and see. With ocean lookouts to the south and the Kalbarri national park on the other side you are surrounded by things to do. I would wholeheartedly suggest going to each and every little lookout, nook and cranny, it will be well worth your time.
From Kalbarri it is quite a drive to Denham but once you make it you will be happy you made the effort, Sharks Bay is a beautiful part of the world. Denham and Monkey Mia are the main centres of Sharks Bay. Denham the main township and Monkey Mia is where the famous Monkey Mia Dolphins are found.
If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous and/or simply just have a 4×4 off road vehicle a trip into the Francois Peron National Park which is located within the boundaries of the Sharks Bay World Heritage area. Honourable mention of places to check out in this area are the big and little lagoon and the amazing shelly beach!
Tip: find your way to the aquarium just outside of Denham and take a tour around. There is also a restaurant here and take my word, it is worth stopping in also, the meals were delicious!
Monkey Mia is only a fifteen minute (give or take a few minutes) drive from Denham and it is here that the hundreds flock to see the beautiful dolphins that Monkey Mia has become known for. If you are planning on seeing the dolphins – and why wouldn’t you while you’re there – it might be helpful for you to know that there are usually three feedings throughout the morning and these are unscheduled, whenever the dolphins come into the bay this is when the feedings occur.
Carnarvon I’ll admit was mainly just a stopover point so there wouldn’t be a huge drive. It is interesting to note however there is a pretty significant history associated with this area.
The One Mile Jetty is exactly as it sounds – a one mile jetty. It is actually quite worth the walk out there, especially during different tides.
Coral Bay. Wow. This place was something else. Any activity you could ever want you can probably do in Coral Bay. Snorkelling, diving, glass bottomed boat coral viewing, ATV sand dune driving, you name it they probably have it. It is a very unique town in the sense that it feels like you are entering one big resort rather than a town. On a side note for those who may be interested – I certainly found it interesting – the people who live and work in Coral Bay all live in homes which belong to the companies and businesses that they work for.
Here at Coral Bay you can enjoy snorkelling right of the beach but for the more adventurous you can snorkel and dive with manta rays. Now I’m not sure about you but that’s not something I would get the opportunity to do every day.
Tip: spend at least 3 nights, that gives you enough time to do an activity or two each day but also time to relax on the oh so relaxing main beach during the day.
A bit like Coral Bay in the sense that there are so many different things to do here.
Those of you who may know me, would know that while I enjoy it, swimming, snorkelling and diving are definitely not strong points for me, which is a shame because Exmouth is one place where you can do all three. The big drawcard for Exmouth is the annual movement of Whale Sharks in the area.
While in Exmouth I stayed at the Exmouth Escape Resort and I would highly recommend this to anyone else. The rooms were nice and new and modern and provided everything needed and more!
One last suggestion of things to see would be everything in the Cape Range National Park. Grab any brochure from your accommodation and I’m sure there will be a map of the most amazing places. Make sure you stop at Yardie Creek gorge, Turquoise Bay and Oyster Stacks.
Pro tip: try to avoid times during the year that it isn’t too hot, 40+ degree days do not make exploring the many beaches along the coast enjoyable, burnt to a crisp before you know it!
P.s. Watch out on the roads for goats, sheep, Eagles, goanna, and for the love of god don’t try to make friends with an emu!
I hope I have inspired you to explore West Australia’s Coral Coast or at the very least piqued your interest. Thanks for reading and happy adventuring!
While we’re talking about Spain, why not mention Ibiza too. Only a quick post this time so enjoy the read!
On a recent trip throughout Spain’s entirety I was lucky to see some amazing things, charming small towns, major cities, beaches, mountains, the lot. One of these amazing things was Ibiza. Notorious party island for the young and dumb right? Wrong. So very wrong.
I travelled to Ibiza during the peak of the summer party season and quite frankly I expected to find only the party scene and because of this reason alone Ibiza wasn’t one of my top travel list, but regardless it is not in my nature to pass up an opportunity so off to Ibiza I went. For those who have been there and know better, how very narrow minded of me I know. Throughout this piece I will let you in on some of the things that made my Ibiza experience all the more worthwhile.
Ibiza has much more to offer and I’m glad that I ventured out of the hotel and saw more than my own familiar four walls. So I did as I normally do when I first arrive in a new destination, I took a walk. The hotel I was staying at was in the centre of Ibiza city only a block of so from the port and only a short trip to some of the major hotspots such as Pacha nightclub, so I was very lucky to have such a great location. The city centre is full of quirky little restaurants and bars, so you will never be short of choices and like most parts of Spain the food is phenomenal. Another thing that I found in Ibiza that I was definitely all for was some serious shopping, I’ll admit I may have spent far too much time and money for that matter in clothing stores in Ibiza.
If there is one thing throughout all of this that I can talk you into doing, let it be this. Take a trip to the west side of the island at sunset. Not only will you be able to witness some legendary icons such as Cafe del Mar and Cafe Mambo on the ‘sunset strip’ but witnessing the sunset from this part of the island is in itself an icon. Stop at a supermarket, buy a few beverages (or not, to each your own) and go and find yourself a nice spot to enjoy the sun going down. Even though this was one of the most chilled out nights without any big fancy plans, it remains one of my favourite memories from this trip.
I will admit however, I do fall into the young and occasionally party hungry category and so when in Ibiza right? I took my chance to see Steve Aoki, David Guetta, Nervo, Nicky Romero, Diplo, R3hab, the list goes on. We were in Ibiza after all and what would a visit to Ibiza be without way too many hours spent at some of the best nightclubs in the world. Ushuaia and Pacha, wow, I’ll never be the same again. Side note on going clubbing in Ibiza, be prepared to have a few drinks at a bar early in the night, the prices of simple drinks in nightclubs will definitely hurt your hip pocket!
I can safely say I was genuinely surprised by what I found in Ibiza and it surely reminded me of the simple fact that you cannot judge a book by its cover, you cannot make assumptions.
Keep adventuring, take a chance, you never know what you might find.
Take a peek at this piece I wrote for Travelicious on an area of Northern Spain! Bilbao and San Sebastian? Do yourself a favor and have a read, or better yet jump on a plane and experience all the wonders of Basque Country yourself.