The eternal city of Rome (Pictorial)

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St Pauls Cathedral

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Vatican city

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On the way to the Colosseum

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THE Colosseum

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The Roman Forum

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Trevi fountain at night

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Night life!

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Pantheon

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Inside the Pantheon

 

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The famous Trevi fountain

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Change of guards outside Quirinal Palace

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Quirinal Palace

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The natural wonder called Plitvice Lakes

This nature’s wonderland called Plitvicka jezera in Croatian is a UNESCO world heritage site and rightly so. This breathtaking nature’s work of art needs to be protected!

We actually did not know that this place existed up until about 3 years back when one of our friends mentioned about it. He had said that it is amazingly beautiful and is a must see. So after being on our bucket list for the past 3 years, we finally ‘planned’ a ‘last minute trip’ to Croatia 🙂 haha I know you cant really plan a last minute trip but with me & Vin it always has to be a spontaneous decision about where and when we are headed to a new destination…

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After some research on price comparison sites, with our flight & hotel bookings done we flew out to Croatia from Gatwick early on a Thursday morning. I hate early morning flights as that means waking up early but it works out so well for us as we get almost an entire day to explore our new destination without wasting any time on travel.

So we arrived at Zagreb airport and hired a car from City rent a car and drove to Plitvice lakes which took around 3 hours with a stop for lunch. I will write about road trip in detail in another post. We had booked a room for one night in Hotel Jezero-http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Hotel_Review-g303827-d317295-Reviews-Hotel_Jezero-Plitvice_Lakes_National_Park_Central_Croatia.html

The hotel was located inside the national park and was right by the entrance to the lakes which was excellent as we could just walk 5 minutes and reach the entrance gate or the ticket booth. Also an added advantage was that if you stay at one of the 3 hotels inside the park you can buy a one day ticket and use it on 2 consecutive days. The cost for a one day ticket was 110 kuna & a two day ticket was 180 kuna so staying in the park hotel saved us some cash!

Hotel Jezero

Hotel Jezero

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The park was broadly divided into 2 sections – upper lakes & lower lakes. There are 16 lakes all in one place and at different levels and they overflow into each other creating beautiful waterfalls when they flow into the lower ones. As we had arrived at the park at around 3 pm, we decided we would do the upper lakes in the evening as we had around 4 hours until the park closed at 8 pm. We had to take the buggy ride to the top most lake from where we started our trek walking down one level at a time.

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As we continued walking on the wooden walkways created to blend in with the natural surroundings we were mesmerized by the breathtaking beauty that surrounded us. The water was crystal clear and the colour kept changing from blue to green to turquoise!

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IMG_8856We trekked the lower lakes the next day morning and it again took around 4 hours as we just couldn’t control the urge to take loads of pictures! Who wouldn’t, when everything around you was so very beautiful! It was like I was transported to another world where nature was the center of attention- greenery, waterfalls, fishes and ducks swimming in the turquoise water created a scenery like no other that I had seen before!

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IMG_8441It is quite warm there during august and you need to carry a few bottles of water and some snacks with you as it can be quite tiring…we finished the lower lakes and had to wait almost an hour for the ferry to take us back  to the main station point. The ferry point had restaurants and other facilities so you can have an ice-cream and chill out after a long trek around the park.

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This was such a satisfying and unique experience. Nature at its best!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Focus

Here are a few shots for this weeks ‘The Daily Post’ photo challenge ‘Focus’. I love creating pictures with varied focus as it gives so much more depth to the actual subject in the image.

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To see other entries to this challenge, visit:

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/08/23/weekly-photo-challenge-focus/?blogsub=confirming#blog_subscription-3

 

 

Golden sand, Turquoise water, Blue sky…Paradise!

A dream came true last October when we booked our Holiday to the Maldives. It was our anniversary and I wanted to surprise Vin with an out of this world vacation that would leave us with memories forever! So after a lot of researching and reading reviews I settled on LUX* Maldives- http://www.luxresorts.com/en/hotel-maldives/luxmaldives

We flew to Male from Heathrow where we were greeted by the resort representative and transferred to their waiting lounge by bus. The lounge was cozy and well-appointed with drinks and snacks. After a wait of around 40 minutes for other passengers to turn up we settled in the sea plane which would fly us to our resort in the South Ari Atoll. When on the sea plane I couldn’t stop myself from looking out even for a second as the views were so mesmerizing! The sea plane ride lasted for around 40 minutes and we crossed many small islands dotted along the Indian ocean before reaching our destination -the Dhidhoofinolhu island.

The LUX waiting lounge and the lovely views from the Sea Plan

The LUX waiting lounge for the sea plane transfer

The views and the arrival jetty @ LUX*

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We arrived on the beautiful island and were warmly greeted by the resort staff and were taken to our beach villa by our guest relationship manager. Yes, there is a GRM for each of the guest that arrive here! We absolutely loved the beach villa which had huge sliding doors opening up to the beach so you literally had the beach at your doorstep! Wow, as I am writing this I want to go again 🙂 We also had an outdoor bathroom which I found really amusing. Took me a while to get used to it to be honest but hey! that is the USP of a Maldivian vacation.

The Beach Villa

The Beach Villa

The room was well appointment with everything you can think of as a necessity and we also got 2 bottles of water which was complimentary. I think was a good touch as many resorts in the Maldives charge a few dollars for each bottle of water. To add to it the bottles were replenished twice a day! Thanks to this we didn’t have to think about paying for water or dinner as we went for the half board plan. We hardly ate more than a sandwich for lunch anyway as the breakfast choice was excellent and we usually never felt hungry until almost evening…

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Some hints on the things you can do when on the island:

  • Lie on the beach loungers There are beach loungers scattered all over the island which you can use to chill out on the beach. Take in the sound of the waves and the fresh cool breeze of the ocean. It does get really hot so don’t forget the sun block if you don’t want to get roasted!

The nights are even more beautiful – imagine sipping a drink by the beach or for that matter on a deck on the beach 🙂

  • Walk or Ride a bike around the island and take a buggy ride from one end of the island to the other- The island has bikes that you can just pick up at a particular spot which is a great way to explore the island. Trust me it was such a relaxing experience to ride the bike a midst all the greenery and sound of the birds chirping. They had these little bottles of drinks hidden away in various spots of the island which was a nice touch…especially when you are tired and thirsty! And when we were lazy, we used the buggy which keeps shuttling from one end of the island to the other.

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  • Snorkeling/ Scuba diving- This was our first time snorkeling and it was such a fantastic experience. We hired snorkeling gear for free and enjoyed chasing fish in the blue lagoon surrounding the island. The resort doesn’t have a house reef like some others do but the variety of fish in the lagoon was huge and we enjoyed it nevertheless. I wish I had a waterproof camera to capture the beautiful underwater sights! So if you fancy snorkeling or scuba diving in the nearby reefs, they also do a boat trip which takes to the reef for some extra charge. There is also a PADI diving school where you can take diving courses and if you are comfortable, go on a diving tour. We did take a beginners diving lesson along the lagoon but we didn’t think we were ready yet for the actual reef diving- next time!

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  • Watch Manta Ray & Shark feeding- The resort has got a timetable of activities that happen on the island and they have manta ray & shark feeding in the evenings. We watched both of different days and it is just amazing to see these creatures up close. The baby sharks were quite big actually!

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  • Must see- Gorgeous sunset & sunrise. The resort has 2 infinity pools and they are the best way to enjoy the sunset. We spent an evening each in both the pools and what a fabulous sight it was! I felt the gorgeous pinks, purples and reds just drain away all the stress from mind and felt refreshed & rejuvenated. Although we would wake up late each day, we decided on waking up early one day just to enjoy the sunrise whilst we were there. I must admit it was hard but well worth it! If you are in a water villa (like we were for 3 nights) I would highly recommend watching the sunrise.
Sunset

Sunset

View of the sunrise from the Water villa

View of the sunrise from the Water villa

 

  • Enjoy the Scrumptious Food and the divine mocktails- LUX has some restaurants that cooks up some delicious food. The restaurants are scattered around the island and we had Indian, Italian, Japanese, Asian, Cafes, bars and pizza joints! So you really do have a massive task of choosing which one to try 🙂 We tried most of them except for the Japanese restaurant. The food was lip smacking and we were never disappointed. Two of the restaurants offered breakfast and the variety was amazing- Continental, Asian- you name it, they have go it! I must add that I enjoyed the mocktails a lot…a perfect balance of being a thirst quencher and taste. A life savior in the tropical heat!

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The Island map

The Island map

 

  • Get a relaxing massage in the LUX Me Spa- we went for a couples full body massage and I thought it was brilliant!
  • Do nothing and be one with Nature- This is best place to let go of all the worries & stress. Get away from technology (we never carried our phone with us, just checked for any messages once a day) and enjoy mother nature. We took a lot back from this trip when compared to any other and would it every year if it didn’t cost as much! lol!

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For the last 3 nights we were upgraded to a water villa complimentary by the resort. We were thrilled as we had mentioned it our GRM when we arrived that at the time of booking all the water villas were fully booked and we wanted to upgrade if there were any available. And voila! We got a free upgrade for 3 nights! We couldn’t ask for anything more as this made our holiday perfect. We enjoyed the water villa more than the beach villa as it was more private and you could just jump into the blue lagoon- talk about easy access!  The water villa was top class- we had a 4 poster bed and also had the bath ready and made up for us one morning! Luxury and indulgence at its best!

Water Villa

Water Villa

 

This was a dream that came true and how! Can you ask for more from a holiday? I don’t think so! Maldives & LUX* you rock!

Bell tent Camping in Wales

I my hubby and our friends went camping in August last year in Pembrokeshire, Wales. Yes, I am still catching up on my posts from last year! 

We did not want the hassle of putting up our own tent-part lazy & part we didn’t trust the British weather and did not want our amateur tent to fly away leaving us stranded in the rain! So we decided we would go GLAMPING=Glamorous Camping 🙂

The Bell Tent

The Bell Tent

Inside the tent

Inside the tent

The above pictures show how the tent looked from the out & inside. We had mattresses, cushions, kitchen equipment, gas stove provided to us by the company we booked the tent with. We booked the weekend getaway with www.cariadcanvas.co.uk. Our experience with them was pretty good. They provide you with a list of sites that you can have the tent put up on and all you need to do is contact the site owner for availability and pay a very nominal amount for the site.

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Cooking our own food out in the open was such a wonderful experience…we loved it!

The area around our Campsite was quaint and lovely. Below are some pictures of places around campsite..

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Food anyone??

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Personally I thought night time camping was the best. Spending time out in the open under the starry sky was just magical!

Just add to it a campfire, something to drink and a hukka 🙂 Cannot ask for more from life- Absolute Bliss!

Night view

Night view

Camp fire!

Camp fire!