With the mercury rising, this time of year tends to get our feet itching as we search for our next holiday destination. The travel and tourism sector is booming right now, with 6.4 trillion GBPbeing spent every year. Whether you’re a seasoned traveller or venturing abroad for the first time, there are plenty of popular destinations to choose from. The trouble is, though, that hearing too much about a destination and seeing your friends’ photos before you go is a little bit like hearing spoilers before you see a long-anticipated movie.
By heading to an up-and-coming destination instead, you can really feel that you’re having a personal experience. A lesser-known destination is unlikely to be overcrowded, and you will get much more value for your money whilst the local economy is still developing. These destinations are also likely to have a much more authentic feel about them unlike ‘touristy’ alternatives. We’ve compiled four of our favourite up-and-coming destinations that will leave you with plenty to tell your friends about when you return.
The Bay Islands of Honduras are already popular with holidaymakers as a diving location but the lush landscapes of the mainland are largely untouched in comparison. With its tropical rainforests, vast lagoons and jungles, you will certainly find plenty to explore. Nestled alongside the Cero Azul Meámbar National Park, you will find the volcanic Lake Yojoa. Enjoy the magical experience of walking behind the Pulhapanzak Waterfall and discover the hidden caves. You could even take a tour of the nearby coffee farm and learn to brew a tasty cup! Head to western Honduras to visit the richly historical Copán Ruins. A UNESCO heritage site, these magnificent Mayan ruins are certainly a site not to be missed.
From barren deserts to snow-capped mountains and glacial lakes, Patagonia has it all. This region of Argentina has been spared large tourist developments because its nine national parks have UNESCO World Heritage Site status. You can get back to nature and discover Los Glaciares National Park, for example – another UNESCO World Heritage Site and part of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field. Go trekking and encounter Patagonia’s wildlife or head to Puerto Madryn for whale watching. Argentina is known for its clear skies, so the vast stretches of Patagonia are perfect for stargazing.
A paradise of blue and green, Velmunden is your ticket to get up close and personal with the impressive Norwegian fjords. Admire their magnificence as you canoe or kayak your way through the islands, inlets and outlets. If you don’t have your own, Velmunden is full of a good selection of canoe rental options – so there’s no excuse!
Seoul, South Korea
Where cosmopolitan meets culture, Seoul might not be the most talked about holiday destination but it is certainly lively! We suggest you discover the traditional temples by day and tuck into the fantastic food by night, but you will never be short of things to do here. You could even take a night hike along the 18km fortress wall; perfect to view the bright lights of the metropolis below.
Which one would you like to visit the most? Comment below!
Bologna must be one of the most underrated cities in Italy. Tourists tend to overlook this city and focus more on the typical touristy areas of Italy.
I am a massive fan of Italy. I swear, I was Italian in my past life as I have a deep connection to the culture, food and language. Italy is undeniably an incredible country to visit and food for ones soul.
I always see cheap Ryanair flights, so what a better time to visit then when there is a European sale on flights to Bologna for £12.99 one way?
Lately, I have been enjoying staying in apartments and unique boutique hotels over the typical big chain hotels. I find that the apartments feel less formal and more private, more like a home away from home.
Apartment owners Federica and Francesca were very welcoming and kind. Although they do not offer breakfast, they provided us with cold traditional Italian snacks and drinks for our enjoyment.
L8 Boutique is within short walking distance to the main train station, which is important for me when I travel in Italy. I like to go on daily trips to nearby cities. Florence for example is just an hour away on the train from Bologna, which is where we went for a day trip!
Our room 208 had high ceilings, an opened plan kitchen, a gorgeous white tile bathroom and a big enough room for the two of us. Each apartment is designed uniquely, with a theme and different colour palettes and special features. I really loved the nomad vibe that ours had with lots of old fashioned suitcases, with old china stuck on the walls like at my grandmothers.
My friend Nyla and I used all of our time exploring the wobbly streets of Bologna, attending all the must-visit places including the Twin towers. We ate from all of the cute bakeries, and drank more ginseng coffee than we would like to admit
I found the views from the Tower of Asinell spectacular! If you can walk up 800 steps, you should certainly go view the world from up above, and take some cool eagle eye pictures of the city while you are at it.
L8 Boutique is not the western version of luxury. Italian luxury is very different in a sense that they prefer more old, vintage decor which holds a lot of history, unlike luxury in the Middle East for example. The bed and the high-ceilings were classically beautiful, and I loved the modern bricked shower, the whole apartment was very clean.
My only disappointment was that they have stone tile floors and no guest slippers, which wasn’t the best thing for me as I was sick and had to walk around in my boots, as I left my slippers at home!
L8 Boutique apartments are a great choice for independent travellers who don’t need to be welcomed everytime they come in, and enjoy some privacy and intimacy whilst they travel.
Sweat Social is for those babes + kens who want to get fitter whilst having a fun workout and meeting likeminded people.
When I first moved to Australia, I was keen to meet likeminded gals who are interested in fitness, wellness and rituals that took place in the beautiful and godly hours of the day – mornings and afternoons. Michelle, who is one of my now workout buddies won 2 tickets to a Sweat Social event, and kindly invited me to come along!
GC Sweatathlon was the first event I went to, and I was hooked. We had 3 back to back workouts, at 3 different locations followed by a complimentary and rewarding acai bowl. First off we had our hair braided at the braid bar, before going in for an intense HIIT training at F45, sweaty AS we then drove to a cycling studio where we did an even sweatier spinning class, we then, jelly legged walked over to a yoga studio across the road to stretch out our pumped bodies, where the shivasana never felt so good.
I loved it so much that I came to another Sweat & Reset event that they held in Brisbane. This one we had complimentary massages before our workout which was such a lovely touch! We had a ‘Primal’ workout with the guys from Science of Fitness, where they link fitness with our brains – it was super intense and repetitive movements in a HIIT style training, my friend Danielle and I were dying by the end of it!
My favourite part was yoga with Dr Laura Elliot, I really love ending my sweaty workout sessions with a yoga class, and some mindfulness. Laura is such a gorgeous yoga teacher, who incorporates a lot of yogi ethos into her classes, which makes you dive deeper and reflect during your practise – which felt so invigorating and grounding.
Every event ends with healthy yummy treats, this time Miss Bliss Cafe served us up porridge, and gorgeous nibbles which were perfect post workout.
After having attended 3 of Sweat Social events, I can honestly say they are always so fun, full of gorgeous girlies and men, some who are just starting their fitness journeys, and some who are fitness guru’s! They also make you feel like you are part of a community, and what a better way to spend a morning or afternoon than to sweat and mingle?
Kelly, who is the mastermind behind these events really knows how to make these events epic! Not only do you get a braid bar at each event, so your locks don’t get in your sweaty face, but she finds the most epic venues and fitness instructors for us to get sweaty with! I really love how creative, well-put together these events are, and I always get to connect with other females and work on my fitness goals simultaneously!
If you wanted to experience one of their events, mark Sunday 24th February 2019 in your calendar and be prepared for it to be pretty extravagant, as it is the first event of 2019 so I know it will be pretty big!
Sweat Social has also recently launched their monthly Sweat Socialite membershipsfor only $20 a month you get some amazing perks, including very generous goodie bags at end of each event, which I have been lucky enough to receive before, and I wasn’t disappointed!
If you wanted to attend something similar in London, then check out Sweat + Soundevents.
Have you ever been to a fitness event like this? What is it that you love about them the best?
Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijanare three bordering South Caucasian countries, with unique beliefs, customs and traditions. Despite the differences, there is one thing that is common for all of them – so much to see and experience, and how everyone who visits falls in love with the warmth and extraordinary hospitality of the people.
In recent years, combined tours to Georgia, Armenia and Azarbaijan have become very popular amongst travellers. The Europeans get attracted to the ancient history, original traditions and moral values of the South Caucasian nations. I would also want to encourage you to visit and plunge into this absolutely new world, admire the nature, enjoy new spices and aromas. To facilitate your trip planning we’ve gathered Top 10 must-do’s for each country:
5 things to do in Armenia
1. A must see view from of Mount Ararat.
Mount Ararat is sacred for all Armenians. And despite the fact that it is no longer part of Armenia’s territory, Armenians still hope that one day Ararat will again belong to their motherland. The best view of the mountain can be enjoyed only in Armenia. You can visit observation areas in Yerevan or travel to Khor Virap Monastery for that.
2. Degustation of cognac in the cellars.
Almost all tours that tour around Yerevan without a doubt include the degustation of cognac in the cellars of the Yerevan Brandy Factory. The quality and taste of Armenian brandy is well-known all over the world. One of the most popular brands is of course, ArArAt. Its large cellars store huge oak barrels with cognac, the aroma of oak and cognac, the atmosphere of the whole cellar and the factory are worth the visit!
3. To buy a souvenir on Vernissage.
Vernissage is the largest and most popular open air souvenir market in the very centre of the capital. If you are planning to buy national souvenirs, pictures, jewellery and so on – Vernissage is definitely the best place to do so.
4. To ride on the longest cable car “Wings of Tatev”
The longest cable car stretches in Armenia over the most picturesque gorge Vorotan. “Wings of Tatev” became the longest cable car in the world (5752 meters), and it is now recorded in the Genius Book of Records! The cable car will give you 12 unforgettable minutes of flight at an altitude of 320 meters. At the end of the flight you will see amazing medieval Tatev Monastery.
5. Explore the ancient manuscripts in Matenadaran
Matenadaran is a storage of ancient manuscripts, found and collected from all parts of historical Armenia. The collected invaluable manuscripts are an important part of history and culture of Armenia. Matenadaran stores more than 17,000 manuscripts and 100,000 archival documents.
5 things to do in Georgia
1. Have a day out in sulfur baths
The sulphur baths in Tbilisi are one of the most popular tourist sights. They have unique and interesting sight. The Abanotubani district is part of Old Tbilisi with colourful houses, narrow streets, a small waterfall and sulfur baths. It is definitely worth visiting sulfur baths, if you are in the area and going for a dip!
2. Take a walk along Batumi Boulevard
Batumi Boulevard stretches along the Black Sea coast, in the most beautiful resort town of Adjara. Batumi Boulevard was opened more than 150 years ago, and every year the boulevard is transformed to be even more and more captivating to the visitors. It is a must visit, stroll along the boulevard in the evening and enjoy the sunset, great opportunity for pictures!
3. Taste local Georgian wine in Kakheti
Your trip to Georgia won’t be complete without a glass of wine, and a view of the Alazani Valley. Kakheti is the province of winemaking and the Alazani Valley.It’s fertile land where the best grape varieties are grown for Georgian wines.
4. Visit the religious centre of Georgia
Mtskheta is not only the religious centre of Georgia, but also a beautiful city located at the meeting point of two rivers – the Kura and Aragvi. There you can see the main landmarks – the monastery of Jvari, Svetochkhovali, Samtavro and other temples which are located nearby in the city.
5. Take a photo of the cave town Uplistsikhe
The cave city is considered one of the first settlements on the territory of Georgia. According to history, the city was inhabited more than 3 thousand years ago and was a pagan centre. Uplistsikhe is a large rock with carved niches, passageways and throne room of Queen Tamara.
5 things to do in Azerbaijan
1. Enjoy tea in a tea house
Tea has a special place in the culture and life of Azerbaijanis. Leaf tea is called “black gold”, it is served in special small crystal glasses “Armuda” with traditional jam and pastries. Tea can be ordered at any cafe and restaurant, but it is best to arrange a tea party in a teahouse.
2. Admire the color show of Flame Towers
Flame Towers are the most impressive buildings in Baku. The towers are the highest skyscrapers in the capital, which can be seen from anywhere in the city. In the evening the animated show covers the Flame Towers. The buildings are illuminated with waves, flames, animations and the flag of Azerbaijan.
3. Have a sightseeing tour around the Old Town
It’s definitely worth visiting Old Baku or Icheri Sheher. The main attractions are Maiden Tower, Shirvanshah Palace, Juma Mosque, city baths and other historic houses of the Old Town.
4. Visit the burning mountain
The burning mountain looks like a scene from a fantastic movie, but it is quite real. Yanardag or the Fiery Mountain is a popular place for fans of everything mysterious. The mysterious phenomenon is very simple to be explained. The gas comes out of the ground and burns by getting in reaction with oxygen. As a result, the slopes of the mountain are constantly on fire.
5. Watch the sunset on Pink Lake
Pink Lake is one of the most beautiful places in Azerbaijan. The alge in the Masazyrgol lake turns the water into a gorgeous light pink colour, whilst the sand glistens like diamonds on the beach. Perfect spot for those Instagram worthy shots!
We hope you enjoyed these recommendations, and urge you to explore these less unexplored countries in our beautiful world. Marsha
Many people have the wrong idea about Cairo. Some see it as an ancient site, simply because this is how we tend to think of most of Egypt, and Cairo is the capital of the most ancient nation. Others imagine it as a dry town sticking up from a barren desert, which may not have been too far from the truth once upon a time but now misses the mark significantly. The reality in 2018 is that Cairo is a dynamic city that seamlessly blends the past and present. Today, you can have a comfortable, even luxurious vacation there, and still enjoy some of the ancient sites that make Egypt such an alluring destination to begin with.
Consider this a partial guide to some of the essential experiences that can make up this kind of vacation.
Luxury Hotel Booking
Modern day Cairo is actually packed with wonderful hotels, whether you’re looking for views of the Nile, attractive amenities, or full luxury packages. Some of the best luxury hotel offerings include the Four Seasons First Residence Cairo and The Gabriel, the latter of which is known for packing a little bit more flash in the form of a rooftop bar and very trendy accommodations. For a nice hotel with a view of the world’s most famous river, the Kempinski is about as good as it gets, though there are other options. Bottom line: don’t go to Cairo thinking you can’t stay in a world-class hotel, because you most certainly can.
If we’re being open and honest, no one travels to Cairo without the goal in mind of seeing Giza (unless it’s for business or some other specific purpose). Giza, where you can find the three most iconic pyramids in the world as well as the sphinx, is just across the Nile River to the west of Cairo, only a very short distance away. To some extent you can visit the area and see the sights on your own, but this is one instance when a formal tour will serve you well. You’ll be guided through the sights, you’ll have small details pointed out to you, and you’ll learn about the history of it all, and possibly some of the newer discoveries as well.
Nile River Dinner Cruise
Egyptian culture has been twisted and warped by modern interpreters for decades, if not for hundreds of years. And the Nile has certainly fallen prey to this sort of activity. In the film The Prince Of Egypt – weirdly, a whole generation’s closest tie to the ancient civilization – it is portrayed like a backyard creek. In the Bible, it comes across vaguely mystical. And in the video game “A While On The Nile,” which has gained a significant following for its placement on Irish and British gaming sites, the Nile is described as a place to be on the lookout for ancient treasures, and is animated in kind. All of these kinds of impressions obscure the fact that the Nile is a real river, and quite a striking one at that. In addition to having very beautiful areas, the sense of history attached to it makes it alluring. That’s why getting up close and personal with one of the various romantic dinner cruises that are offered from Cairo is a must during your stay. You’ll never think of the river the same way again.
Salah El-Din Citadel
We just covered the notion that Egyptian culture has been warped somewhat by modern interpretations and pop culture. Another issue with Egyptian history, however, is that we think of it almost exclusively in ancient terms. Using some of the same examples mentioned with regard to the Nile, we’ve seen a picture of ancient Egypt develop from the Bible right up through modern slot arcades online, with the entire focus typically on the age of the pharaohs, the Jewish slaves, the buried tombs, etc. Lost is the fact that what we think of as “ancient” Egypt ended thousands of years ago, and there are whole new eras of history to appreciate thereafter. Salah El-Din Citadel is a glorious example of that history, and a place that should be at the top of your list. For those who may be unaware, Salah El-Din is another way of saying Saladin, referring to the famous Syrian and Egyptian sultan who battled the Europeans in the crusades. Saladin built this citadel in the 12th century to protect a religious site during the crusades, and it is now one of the most stunning monuments in Africa.
Last but certainly not least, Cairo has also become something of a quiet foodie destination. This is something that’s been written about here and there in vague terms, but we looked through a list of must-try restaurants and frankly it was jaw-dropping. There’s Sequoia, where the outdoor views are about as picturesque as they could be; Il Piccolo Mondo, an authentic Italian place in a beautifully arranged space; About El Sid, a traditional Egyptian place built around an early-20th century aesthetic – and the list goes on. The main idea though is that this is a great city for fine dining, and that should be taken advantage of.
I love living in the city of Gold Coast, but every now and then the country calls me. I crave space, unplugging, being amongst the tree’s and filling my lungs with fresh air..
Bangalow Guesthousea gorgeous, modernised 1900’s property with stand-alone vintage cottages, as well as suites in the heart of Bangalow, a cute little town just 10 minutes away from Byron Bay.
There are dainty little houses and all of the charm of a small village which reminded me of where I lived in Wales, London. Most of the local businesses and cafes are family run. Bangalow itself has a similar vibe to Byron, just not all of the tourists.
Bangalow Guesthouse was owned by a gentleman and his wife who had 13 kids back in 1903, the spaciousness of the property is evident as soon as you arrive. After we parked on the side of our cottage, I was sent a code via email to unlock the door. We welcomed ourselves in and had complete privacy from the moment we arrived.
We were staying in one of the three private stand alone cottages, Dr Lentaigne’s Cottage just minutes away from the main house where the fully fitted kitchen and dining room and suites are.
Our cottage was so beautiful – complete with modern and luxury furnishings, a mini-kitchen with tea and coffee, en-suite with a walk-in glass shower and gorgeous details such as dried flowers, making it be a complete countryside luxury experience.
Our afternoon was spent enjoying the vast green grounds and the swing which overlooks a stream. We drank tea on our veranda in fluffy white ropes, before heading out for nearby Indian cousine.
Bedtime was so yummy – the best bed I have slept in, in a while! There is something spesh about high thread count crisp white sheets in hotels that I love so much!
It’s quite amazing how much a change of scenery and being in nature can have an impact on your overall wellbeing.
I would highly recommend staying at Bangalow Guesthouse if you are looking for a private getaway. This location is also perfect for celebrating an occasion as the facilities can accommodate wedding parties, baby showers and birthdays!
Want to stay at Bangalow Guesthouse, suites start from $165 a night, cottages are from $225 per night.
Does your body need clean nourishment, soothing massage and healing movement? Does your mind need a break from the endless technology of everyday life? Imagine the ultimate luxurious spa retreat in the comfort of your own private villa. Imagine if you could savour the mouth-watering offerings of a world class chef without leaving your property. This is all possible at Mas De La Rube, a truly stunning property on the exclusive bay of Saint Jean Cap Ferrat on the French Riviera. Owned and created by One Authentic Properties, this beautiful villa is the perfect place to renew, recharge and rejuvenate your body and mind.
Photography Mark Berenguer
Photography Mark Berenguer
Designed to give you the most luxurious and private of stays, the fully serviced Mas de La Rube rivals even the finest of hotels. This classic, timeless villa flows seamlessly from the inside out with skilfully designed indoor-outdoor dining and lounging spaces. The balmy Mediterranean air fills every crevice and each room is blessed with breathtaking views. Surrounded by glimmering cobalt waters on three of its sides and set amid fragrant tropical gardens, nature is at your door. Lofty pine trees, vibrant agapanthus and soft, rustling palms sculpt the emerald lawns and a shimmering infinity pool creates the finishing touch.
Photography Mark Berenguer
Here you can tailor every aspect of your stay and create your own, bespoke retreat to experience with your friends. Your day can start by saluting the rising sun with a silent yoga practice on the villa’s enticing lawns followed by a morning meditation. Breakfast will then be served on one of the spacious terraces, an array of fresh vegan wholefoods such as coconut and banana pancakes, chive waffles with maple and soy mushrooms and cardamom and peach quinoa porridge. Later you can indulge in a healing, holistic massage or nourishing natural spa treatment using only the finest, organic ingredients; musk rose, lemon beads, essential oils, bamboo, to name but a few. You may want to partake in Reiki healing, personal training or Jivamukti yoga, all lead by experienced practitioners.
Photography Mark Berenguer
Photography Mark Berenguer
Whether it be vegetarian, vegan or gluten free, our highly experienced chef can design and create for you a stunning menu from locally sourced ingredients. Everything from organic wine and detoxifying mocktails to rare produce and delectable Japanese cuisine can also be arranged.
Photography Mark Berenguer
If you do want to venture from this peaceful haven then as well as kilometres of beautiful coastal paths to linger on, there are some wonderful restaurants and spas nearby. These include the sumptuous La Table de Royal which has its own gluten free and vegetarian menus, the Royal Riviera wellness centre with its exclusive Marine Cosmetics and the Four Seasons Spa.
I have been on a journey for the last 7 months growing, evolving, maturing in character and resilience. Along with living my best life here in Australia, I have also been experiencing a lot of challenges, hurts and my natural human need for safety, belonging and stability has been shaken up continuously.
I came across the o2 awakening through a friend of mine in London, who did the workshop and was so moved by it, so he highly recommended that I do it too. I was very intrigued having heard what he got out of it, and wanted to experience it myself.
I would like to think that I don’t have the tendency to hide from my feelings, and have always been good at dealing with them head on. I don’t drown myself in bottles of wine, or numb myself with other distracting activities to avoid facing up to what I am dealing with. I try my best to be gentle with myself, allow myself to feel, give myself space to deal with it, and end my own suffering through meditation, journaling, being in nature, listening to Audio-books and talking to my loved ones.
When my friend told me that Helle and Lukis were doing a tour, and were down on the Gold Coast – I had to go.
My intentions for the workshop were;
I wanted to let go of my limiting beliefs, forgive everyone that has ever caused me pain, humanity for the way it has carried itself and all the suffering it has caused to animals, other humans and our planet – and most importantly to forgive myself.
My intention was to also shift energetically, so I stop the cycle of unpleasant events from keep on happening in my life. As well as release some blockages, and unlock my full potential.
No expectations, or pressure right?
As we all sat down on our mats, and got a little debrief of what is about to go down for the next couple of hours of the workshop, I felt ready, and opened to what was about to come.
Helle and Lukis have shared their own incredible stories – how they ended their own suffering and now helping the world to end theirs, one human-being at a time.
They went to explain, and as it stated on their website “We’re bringing ancient breathing techniques to the modern world to enhance physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. During our Breathwork events, we guide individuals into an altered state of consciousness to access parts of themselves that usually function outside of daily awareness. Together we unlock emotions, traumas and energy that has been suppressed so we can feel, heal and and experience true freedom from within.”
After a short break we begun the breathing experience – In and out from the mouth with no breaks.
For the first 10-15 minutes I couldn’t feel anything other than a dry mouth and my monkey brain. I carried on breathing, whilst listening to the music and Helle guiding us through our breath. As I fell deeper into breathing, my arms came out from being beside me and my wrists locked, so did my feet.
My whole body was sweating.
It was painful, but I kept breathing into it, it was as if all of my resistance had manifested itself into this spasm. It was hard to think of anything else but the pain I was feeling – physically and emotionally. When one of them came over and put their hands on my chest, I started to weep.
I weeped with sadness – as mixed messages and emotions came over me.
I felt myself being a vulnerable little girl who was so harsh on herself. Always so sensitive, yet always knew her power. I weeped as I felt relieved and safe, supported and cared for. I surrendered to the pain from this spasm that my body was having, and I found peace in those moments, as I felt a subtle feeling that everything is going to be okay. Words I have always wanted to hear from my dad.
When I cried out this sadness and fear, by seizures eased off, and I went into this peaceful, healing little nap – completely covered in sweat, and now tears too.
Healing took place during that short nap, as when I woke up, I felt so much lighter. The room seemed bigger, and my vision was 360.
It was a surreal experience, as even after we had finished, my wrists hurt and I was still trying to process what happened in that hour. Having gone deep into this state, I knew that I gave it my all, and I trusted that whatever needed to happen in that session – did.
I may have not got any major messages from my Higher Self, or this massive bulb of clarity or forgiveness for humanity – but I felt at peace. At peace knowing that all is well, and that I am safe, and always have Angles around me who assist me through life.
We can be our own healers, if only we let yourself feel things and do the work that is necessary.
I invite everyone to experience the o2 Awakening if this is something you are called to. They are having an epic 7 day retreat in Bali in September 2018, which I don’t doubt will be life-changing.
Have you ever experienced breath-work, what was your experience?