Tag Archive: Holidays

 Saint Lucia – the Caribbean Island that has it all!

I was lucky enough to be invited to Saint Lucia by Saint Lucia Tourist Board. Virgin was the airline of choice for this trip, although British Airways also fly to Saint Lucia daily from London.

The island’s international airport (Hewanorra) is in the South of the island. I love this small airport, off the plane and through passport control with luggage collected within 15 minutes!

Saint Lucia – the Caribbean Island that has it all!

Saint Lucia – the Caribbean Island that has it all!

Basic facts

  • Saint Lucia is part of the Windward Islands in the Eastern Caribbean.
  • The island is only 14 miles wide, 27 miles long meaning it is easy to explore
  • The main language spoken is English. As a result of Saint Lucia’s dual British-French Heritage, a French based Creole is also spoken.
  • Official currency is Eastern Caribbean dollar. Prices quoted are mainly in US dollar which is widely accepted. Cashpoint machines dispense EC dollars.
  • Entry requirements: no visa is required for British passport holders. A valid passport is required for at least six months from the date of departure from Saint Lucia.

Why Saint Lucia?

Scenery: the magical Piton Mountains, lush rainforests, beautiful beaches, idyllic bays and sparkling waterfalls are absolutely stunning.

Accommodation: from boutique hotels, quaint cottages and spacious villas to all-inclusive resorts, luxurious apartments and hidden sanctuaries, Saint Lucia offers unique and diverse accommodation to suit all tastes and budgets.

Saint Lucia – the Caribbean Island that has it all!

Activities: Whether you are the adventurous type or prefer a leisurely activity with your partner or want something for all the family, there is so much to choose from.

Cuisine: whether you are fine-dining, sampling the many restaurants in Rodney Bay Village or eating local food at the Friday night street parties, the cuisine, influenced by Saint Lucia’s rich heritage is delicious. The Island’s Cuisine is a unique blend of West African, European (mainly British and French) and East Indian cuisine.

People: Saint Lucians are renowned for their happiness, friendliness and welcoming nature. Wherever you go you are greeted by a smile and a hello and a chat if you have time.

Top Attractions:

  • The magical Piton Mountains, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • The Sulphur Springs, the Caribbean’s only drive-in volcano
  • Pigeon Island National Landmark
  • Tet Paul Nature Trail
  • Diamond Botanical Gardens and waterfall
  • Tree-To-Bar (a chocolate making experience) at Boucan by Hotel Chocolat

Saint Lucia – the Caribbean Island that has it all!

Adventure:

  • Zip-lining through the rainforest
  • Segway tour
  • Jeep safari tour
  • Quad-biking
  • Hiking
  • Mountain-biking
  • Horseback riding
  • Helicopter tour
  • Scuba diving
  • Snorkelling, SNUBA and Sea-trekking
  • Wind-surfing & Kite-surfing
  • Yachting
  • Flyboarding
  • Motorized watersports

Nature & Relaxation

  • Rainforest Canopy Tram Ride
  • Mud bath at the Sulphur Springs
  • Bird-watching
  • Maria Island
  • Whale, Dolphin & Turtle Watching
  • Rainforest walks and trails
  • Numerous spa options

Shopping

  • Castries Market
  • Point Seraphine, Castries (duty free)
  • La Place Carenage, Castries (duty free)
  • Baywalk Mall, Rodney Bay (duty free)
  • JQ Shopping Mall, Rodney Bay

Evening Entertainment & Dining Out

Rodney Bay Village

When the sun goes down on Saint Lucia, it’s time for liming. That’s the local expression for just hanging out – ideally with a bottle of the local Piton beer or a refreshing rum punch. The liveliest nightlife on the island can be found in the Rodney Bay Village. Here, you may wish to start the evening with a cocktail at a fantastic beach bar, before heading over the the ‘strip’ where you will find several bars and clubs. If you are feeling lucky you can round the night off at the roulette and poker tables, or on the slot machines at the Treasure Bay Casino (www.treasurebaystlucia.com). Food lovers will have their taste buds tantalised with an array of fantastic dishes from a number of great restaurants on the island. Dining range from fine dining restaurants to seafood restaurants to steakhouses to Asian restaurants and, of course, the usual fast food outlets.

 

Gros Islet – ‘Jump Up’

This rustic and sleepy fishing village comes alive at weekends with its popular Friday night Street Party. Fun, food, music. Come and meet the locals and enjoy the St Lucian hospitality.

Anse La Raye – Fish Friday

A seafood lover’s dream featuring the fisherman’s catch of the day each cooked in their own secret sauces. Stalls line the main street in this west coast village with music adding that Caribbean vibe.

 

Dennery Seafood Fiesta

Every Saturday the East coast village of Dennery comes alive, a diverse offering of seafood is served and local music such as soca (the soul of calypso) and zouk (fast jump-up carnival beat) can be heard.

 

Saint Lucia – the Caribbean Island that has it all!

Events

 

Saint Lucia Jazz & Arts Festival (May)

Since 1992 the island has hosted the most famous international Jazz festival in the Caribbean. Saint Lucia Jazz & Arts Festival not only celebrates iconic Jazz artists, but also showcases performances from top singers and musicians within RnB, Soul, Reggae, Soca and Pop. www.stluciajazz.org

 

Carnival (June/July)

Saint Lucia’s month long, heady carnival season culminates in mid-July with steel band and soca monarch competitions, a carnival queen show and two days of intense street partying. www.stluciancarnival.com

 

Chocolate Heritage Month (August)

Are you a chocolate lover? Every August Saint Lucia celebrates its chocolate heritage. The island’s long rich history in producing some of the world’s most sought-after chocolate, dates back to the 1700’s. With a number of on-island experiences, this month of festivity offers plenty of fun.

 

Wedding Symposium (September)

Saint Lucia has won the Caribbean’s most romantic destination 8 times. This event highlights just why and workshops and seminars are run to ensure that Saint Lucia stays on top of leading trends.

 

Jouen Kweyol – International Creol Day (October)

This month focuses on Saint Lucia’s fascinating mixed African and French heritage. Kweyol is the French-based local dialect spoken by over 90% of Saint Lucians. The end of the month sees the peak of celebrations on Creole Day (Jounen Kweyol) when selected communities lay on traditional creole cuisine, crafts such as pottery and basket weaving, music, dance & games.

 

Triathlon (November)

Organised by Human Race, this is the foremost triathlon in the Caribbean. The triathlon centres around the historic Pigeon Island National Landmark, featuring four distances of swimming, biking and running. Pre and post event activities include a reception party, BBQ and boat trips. www.tristlucia.com

 

Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (November)

The world’s largest transoceanic sailing event from Gran Canaria to Saint Lucia. A 2,700 nautical mile crossing takes 2-3 weeks and ends in Rodney Bay Marina, where concerts and celebrations are held to welcome the sailors. www.worldcruising.com/arc

 

 

Accommodation

 

For families:

Windjammer Landings http://www.windjammer-landing.com/

Saint James’s Club Morgan Bay http://www.morganbayresort.com/uk/index.html

Coconut Bay Beach Resort & Spa http://www.coconutbayresort.co.uk/

 

 

For couples (adult only):

Rendezvous https://www.theromanticholiday.com/

Le Sport the Body Holiday https://www.thebodyholiday.com/

Ladera http://www.ladera.com/

Sandals Grande St Lucian http://www.sandals.com/main/grande/gl-home/

 

For solo travellers:

Le Sport the Body Holiday https://www.thebodyholiday.com/

 

Luxury:

Jade Mountain http://www.jademountainstlucia.com/

The Landings http://www.landingsstlucia.com/

Cap Maison https://www.capmaison.com/

Calabash Cove Resort & Spa http://calabashcove.com/

Capella Resort & Marina by Marigot Bay http://www.capellahotels.com/saintlucia/

Sugar Beach http://www.viceroyhotelsandresorts.com/en/sugarbeach

 

 

There is a hotel for everyone in Saint Lucia and every single hotel is unique and offers something different. Luxury, boutique, active, all-inclusive, bed & breakfast, adult only, family, golf, sporting, spa, weddings. The hotels listed above are a small selection of hotels available.

To find out which hotel will suit your requirements and budget contact Your Perfect Travel, Saint Lucia Specialist, on 01279 787189 www.yourperfecttravel.co.uk email norma@yourperfecttravel.co.uk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Myanmar part 2 – Bagan and Mandalay

FishermenMyanmar

Myanmar – alluring and mysterious. In December 2015, I was fortunate to spend 14 days travelling around this wonderful country.  Here’s part 2 of my travel story…

After our day at Inle Lake (think of the iconic pictures of the fisherman, standing on one leg in their boats using cone-shaped nets), day 4 of our travels saw us taking a Taxi to Heho airport (the name made me smile!) – the smallest airport I’ve ever been to – to catch a plane to Bagan and the Su Tine San Royal Palace Hotel.

Balloons in Myanmar

Balloons in Myanmar

Beautiful temples, dramatic shapes and filigree, colours of the country…and hot air balloons everywhere.  

This place is just awesome; there is so much one could say about Bagan. It is so rustic, has so much charm and completely transports you to a different time. Everywhere you turn there are pagodas and stupors. It’s truly stunning and once again the photos don’t do it justice.  Please visit Bagan for yourself.

Fact: there are over 4000 temples in Bagan

“No matter where you  go, there’s another golden pagoda”

Day 5 and Mandalay.  I’ve wanted to visit Mandalay for so long that it was worth the effort to get there. After an hours ride in pick up truck, we were cramped into a bus for 5-hours with too many other people! It was dark by the time we arrived in Mandalay – just enough time for a beer at a local bar, a chicken kebab and bed!

“Mandalay is the wealthiest city in Myanmar, with the newest airport and the most disorganised chaos”

What a day in Mandalay! One of the wonderful things about this country is that the local people are so keen to share their knowledge which leads to wonderful local finds. With so many sights to see, and only a few days to see them all, Bebo, a local man, drove us around the city, explaining the sights and sounds. Places have so much more meaning when a local tells you the stories about them.

One of our favourites was Mahumuni Paya, a temple on top of a hill where we took an incongruous lift up to the top and escalators down and met a group of Arsenal supporters (we behaved ourselves!), is home to a 13ft tall, 2000 year-old image of Buddha. Male devotees apply gold leaf to the statue which means that there is a 6 inch layer of pure gold over it. This is the central shrine, with a golden roof and long passageways. Bare-footed, we wandered around browsing the stalls and soaking up the atmosphere.

MahumuniPaya.jpg

Next stop was the famous U Bein Bridge. Built out of 1086 poles standing in the water, and with water lapping at the planks that balance between them, the bridge is one of Myanmar’s most photographed sites. It’s not until the rainy season that you can see why it’s needed. The whole area changes from vegetable gardens into a big lake.

 

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U Bein Bridge – the 1.2-kilometre bridge was built around 1850 and is believed to be the oldest and longest teakwood bridge in the world.

After many, many photographs of the bridge and a good night’s sleep, we used our own steam to meander around the city before we would head to yet another airport. We walked along a 230ft-wide moat and well over 4 miles of crenellated (my new favourite word, it means the square cut outs that you see on the top of castles), reconstructed 26ft-high walls that form a vast square around the site of the former Mandalay citadel.

So onto our next internal flight, this time to Yangon, from where we would head to the beach and some much needed sun, sea, sand and cocktails!  Another 5-hour drive took us to Nwge Saung (pronounced We Song) beach. Crazy that a cab costs £60 when a 7-hour uncomfortable bus journey is £38. Arrived at the gorgeous Eskala 5* resort, looking like something the cat dragged in with two rucksacks and a bottle of Mandalay Rum. The look of surprise on their faces was priceless. Spent the rest of the day by the pool, drinking Hawaiian Blue Cocktails and soaking up the sun. Went for a walk into the ‘village’ in the evening and had a delicious dinner at a Burmese seafood restaurant. Back to villa for a pre-bed Mandalay rum and coke, and a game of crib whilst listening to music on the beach and watching fireworks.

Life is good and I’m looking forward to the beach…

If you would like to know more about Myanmar and other bespoke holidays that we can put together for you, please get in touch either through our website  http://my.notjusttravel.com/your-perfect-travel or call us on 01279 724239. We’re looking forward to creating Your Perfect Travel.

 

Myanmar part 2 – Bagan and Mandalay

Myanmar – Alluring and Mysterious

Myanmar – alluring and mysterious. Since it started to welcome visitors in 2012, it is a country that has experienced rapid change, yet there is still a lack of widespread infrastructure and Western comforts. This is part of it’s appeal to me.  In December 2015, I was fortunate to spend 14 days travelling around this wonderful country.  Here’s my travel story, and with so much to see, be warned, it’s in 3 parts!

 

Myanmar Meanderings – Part 1

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Kandawgyi Nature Lake https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kandawgyi_Lake

 

Driving around the car-jammed M25, en route to Heathrow airport, I let out a little wee….  not that kind! – the “weeeeee” sound that meant “we’re off!” Myanmar (formally known as Burma) has been on my hit list for a while and now I was heading there with my favourite man, for Christmas and New Year. First to Bangkok, our transit point, and then onto Yangon, the largest city in Myanmar, and it’s mix of colonial architecture, modern high-rises and gilded Buddhist pagodas.

We eventually arrived in Yangon at 9am where it took an hour to clear passport control, not because it was busy, it just takes a while as the people are so laid back. A 15km drive saw us at Hotel Esparado, where we dumped our backpacks (so incongruous, turning up at a luxury hotel with backpacks!) and took in the views from the shore of Kandawgyi nature lake. My first impression – gorgeous temples, lots of family gathering together, and the smell of incense everywhere. I love it here already.

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Commuters heading home from work

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A walk around Yangon assaulted our sensibilities. It has yet to be commercialised and so we only saw about 6 other tourists all day, making us feel like part of a well kept secret. The locals we met were so friendly, insisting on us taking their photographs and taking the time to talk.

I’d sum the city up as being high rise grandeur juxtaposed by slums. My photos don’t do the city any justice as they can’t convey the friendliness, the feeling of hustle and bustle and the smells. And the fact that I’ve never seen so many bananas!

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Shwedgaon Pagoda lit at night

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then as the sun sets, Chinese lanterns were lit in the trees along the streets – magical. By the time we got back to our hotel, the Shwedagon or Great Dagon or Golden Pagoda, the most sacred Buddhist pagoda in Myanmar, was lit up, the gold sparkling in the light. Just stunning.

Fact: The 325ft Zedi (the pointy-dome bit on top) is adorned with 27 metric tons of gold leaf, along with thousands of diamonds and other gems, and is believed to enshrine eight hairs of the Gautama Buddha as well as relics of three former Buddhas.   (Lonely Planet: Myanmar)

The next morning saw us heading off to Bogyoke airport for an Asia Wings flight to Inle Lake. On arrival we had a little hairy ride … to the wrong hotel, partly because our driver didn’t speak or read English – should have learnt Burmese before we got here. The Amata Garden Lake hotel is divine even if the Wifi is very slow and intermittent. That’s OK, we’ll be just fine having a massage, cycling, going to the floating market, and boating on this enormous lake.

After a great sleep, we caught a boat to Nyaung Shwe, the gateway to Inle Lake. It’s a very busy town, the most touristy we’ve seen so far, but traditions still prevail with the locals getting on with their daily life undisturbed by us foreigners.

“Myanmar is very different to any SE Asian country I’ve been to. Another 5-10 years and I’m sure it will be very similar”

Arriving at Inle Lake was wonderful.  After meeting our boatman Dewo, we headed out to the many villages by motor boat. Sitting in two wicker chairs plonked in the boat, moving from side to side and back and forth, added to the excitement! We saw so many fascinating sights – silk making, silver and gold designing, weaving, boat making, tool workshops. All was going swimmingly until Dewo went too fast through the mangroves and the boat engine conked out. We were a fair way from hotel and our call for help ended with us paddling most of the way back before another boat came to our rescue!  We missed the floating market and fishing village but were greeted like royalty back at the shore – with the owner of hotel bringing cold towels and so many apologies that it didn’t matter in the end. All was rectified by a wonderful cocktails on the terrace watching the sunset. Bliss.

Back on dry land and at Nyaung Shwe (the main town at Inle Lake) we hired bikes to cycle to the Yan Aung Nan Aung Hsu Taung Pye Paya (don’t ask me to pronounce it) 26ft-high sitting Buddha. It was well worth the effort. I’m really falling for this country.

Join me next month for part two of my travels

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A lacquer workshop where women make making bowls, tissue boxes, chess sets, and coasters from bamboo, then decorate them by hand. So much time and effort and the finished products are such good quality

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Wine made just outside of Inle Lake. Makes a nice change from Myanmar beer

Myanmar – Alluring and Mysterious

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