Milan, Italy

 
 
 

Contributor:
Anna

Nationality:
New Zealand

Social Links:
Instagram: @imannaroberts
Website: www.imannaroberts.com
Twitter: @imannaroberts
Facebook: @imannaroberts

Age Group:
30-40 years

Gender:
Female

Travel Style:
Casual, luxury

 

Destination: Milan - Italy. June 2017

Milan is a gorgeous cosmopolitan city in northern Italy with everything you could want; stunning facades and historical buildings, the crossroads of business and innovation, designer shopping galore (get your VAT back!) and of course, another Michelin rated restaurant with unrivaled views. Milan was the final stop of out Italian road trip, check out the vlog for a behind the scenes exclusive!

 
 Duomo

Duomo

 

First and foremost, where’s a good place to check in to? STRAF Hotel is literally 50 meters from the Milan Duomo and has stylishly designed rooms with modern amenities and breakfast to get you started for the day. Explore the inner city and tourist hot spots before sitting down to dinner at Felix Lo Basso restaurant, a one start Michelin rated restaurant that has this stunning view from the dining room, scroll down!

 
 

Tokyo, Japan - Cherry Blossom Season

 

Contributor   : Sarah
Nationality    : Australian
Instagram      @travellinglikeanaquarius
Age                :  19 - 30
Gender           : Female
Travel Style    : Casual, luxury
Destination    : Japan Tokyo / Cherry Blossom Season
Date               : 04 July 2017- Shinjuku Gyoen

Inspiration: 

As I am a flight attendant I am only on layover for 24 hours at a time! I was lucky enought to get a trip at the same time as Cherry Blossom Season. You can explore alot in 24 hours! 

I decided to travel into Tokyo since we stay in the country town of Narita. I was looking for the beautiful and inspiring Cherry BLOSSOMS! Everyone has heard about them and it was my time to adventure out and find these beautys. I wanted to see for myself what everyone else is talking about since they are so famously beautiful. 

Getting There:

Catching the Train is the quickest and easiest way to get there.
Shinjuku Gyoen has three gates: Shinjuku Gate is a ten minute walk east from the "New South Exit" of JR Shinjuku Station or a five minute walk from Shinjuku Gyoenmae Station on the Marunouchi Subway Line.

Okido Gate is also a five minute walk from Shinjukugyoenmae Station on the Marunouchi Subway Line. 

Local Knowledge

Unique facts: 

  • Largest and most popular park in Tokyo 
  • Has a combination of three different gardens. The oldest garden is a tradional landscape 
  • garden, the two other gardens are French and English in style. 
  • Cherry Blossom viewing takes place late March and early april. 
  • Cherry blossom flowers are Japan's national flower, they stand for renewal and hope. 
  • There are 200 different varieties of cherry blossoms ( So they arn't always PINK) 

Where to stay:

Honestly, Since I am a flight attendant I can not disclose my hotel accomodation, also I did not stay in Tokyo and we change hotels frequently. 

Eating:

I actually ate inside the Shinjuku train station at this "Ramen noodle" resturant. Shinjuku station is so popular and I was amused at how you could even go shopping down below. 

Favorite “Must See”:

The Cherry Blossoms of course! 

Number 1 Travel Tip: 

  • Pricing - 200 Japanese Yen for Adults, 50 for child
  • Get up earlier as it can get very busy!
  • Don't purchase a one way ticket. The crowds in the station are insanly busy.. buy a travel card. - Don't just stop at the first tree keep walking towards the back of the park. Basically dont follow the crowd ;)
  • Bring something to snack on, there is street food but its a huge park! Also pack water. 

5 Word Travel:

Tradional - Stunning - Relaxing - Calm - Peaceful 


The Palm Dubai, UAE - Sky Dive Dubai

 

Contributor    : Andrew
Nationality     : Australian
Instagram       @andrewmarty_
Age                 : 30-40
Gender           : Male
Travel Style    : Casual, luxury
Destination    : Sky Dive Dubai - The Palm Jumeirah, Dubai - United Arab Emirates.
Date               : February 14th 2014

 
 

Getting There

You will need to pre-book your skydive, especially in the busy months of the year (October to March). Fortunately in Dubai, where the weather is mostly pretty good, your chance of a successful booking is high. There can often be waits of 1-2 weeks, so it can be important to plan if you want a certain time or day.

They have a plane taking off every 30mins through the day.

SkyDive Dubai is at the base of the Palm Jumeirah, with the runway extending out into the water. This gives you the perfect location to skydive over one of the most iconic landmarks and one of the only ways you can really appreciate the "palm" shape of the reclaimed land.

The cost is AED1999.00 (USD730). This includes everything you need for the skydive as well as your video and images.

Local Knowledge

Dubai has a huge number of activities for tourists, from calm cultural experiences to adrenaline rush adventures! Whatever your preference you are sure to find something that suits.

In addition to the skydive over the Palm, there is the option with SkyDive Dubai to do training courses, tandem jumps and simulations at the Desert Campus. Licensed divers can take qualified persons on coached individual dives.

For the most part, you will be booking for a tandem dive, where a licensed instructor is strapped to you, or vice versa!

Where To Stay

SkyDive Dubai is relatively close to hotels on the Palm Jumeirah and also the JBR/Dubai Marina area. I would strongly recommend Fairmont The Palm if you are looking for a Palm hotel - it is especially good for families and has access to a private beach area. Otherwise Intercontinental Dubai Marina is also very nice and sits on the marina, with easy walking distance to mall, restaurants and The Walk promenade.

Another alternative is to look at serviced apartments such as Suhar apartments. This can be a much more affordable option and are in a great location. Buying food or eating out is easy in this area and will easily offset the cost of hotel food also.

What To Do

The operation at SkyDive Dubai is really professional. From the time you check in for your jump to the time you leave. 

There is a bit of a wait between when you are required to arrive, fill out paperwork (the standard health questionaire and liability forms). They take you through all the safety aspects of the jump with your instructor. Each jumper is assigned an instructor and a videographer - this is a great feature that most places don't offer. You will get a personalised video and photos that are taken by another professional jumper, rather than selfies taken by your tandem instructor.

The jump itself is a massive adrenaline rush. Watch the video link to get a great idea. I don't think anything describes the feeling better than the obvious anxiety in my voice and facial expressions pre-jump compared with the excitement post!

On the way up in the plane, they make sure they keep you really relaxed and the guys are great at making sure you're ready to go! There was time for my wife and I to "enjoy" the pre-jump nerves and share the moment we were about to have! I was really fortunate to have a great pair of guys as my instructor and videographer, they made conversation really easy and even during the dive, the interaction was awesome!

The feeling of "falling" out of an aeroplane is indescribable. Fear, excitement, unknown, trust.......its a completely overwhelming combination of emotions that i really cant describe. The freefall goes so fast you don't really have any time to look at anything and it was great to have a bit of fun with the videographer. Once the parachute opens, you have plenty of time to sit back and take in the views. The view over the palm, out to the Burj al Arab, the Marina area and all the way up to Downtown is breathtaking. You can easily see well beyond the city and into the uninhabited desert. It is truly the best way to view Dubai!

After the landing they ask you to wait around for just 10-15 minutes and then provide you with a copy of CD's that contain still images and a video of your jump. As you will see, the video is really well done and whilst I haven't skydived anywhere else, I haven't seen quality videos like this provided to friends who have jumped in other places around the world.

Eating

There is a small cafe at SkyDive Dubai where you can get food and drinks after your jump. There is also a bar associated with SkyDive Dubai - Zero Gravity, that is really popular for staff and jumpers. 

Not far from SkyDive Dubai is the Marina and The Walk which have a number of options for eating out. I can strongly suggest looking at Pier 7 on the Marina, which is a 7 story building, each having a different themed restaurant. A great option is Asia Asia and getting a table outside on the balcony for really great views over the Marina.

5 Word Travel:

SkyDive. Dubai. Adrenaline. Bucket list.


Kruger National Park, South Africa - Bucket-list African Safari

 

Contributor  : Andrew
Nationality   : Australian
Instagram     @andrewmarty_
Age Group   : 30-40 year
Gender         : Male
Travel Style   : Luxury, Wildlife, Leisure
Destination   : Hoyo-Hoyo Kruger National Park – South Africa

 

Inspiration:

A long-term dream had been going on a safari in the famous Kruger National Park. South Africa has a large number of National Parks and game reserves , however Kruger National is by far the most widely known. If you have ever wanted to go on safari in Africa, this is a bucketlist item!

Getting There: 

We flew to Johannesburg International Airport – from here you can either drive or catch small domestic flights. The fastest and perhaps easiest is the flight to Hoodspruit, however be warned, book these flights well in advance because there are limited seats on the smaller planes and the costs can get high! Most of the lodges have shuttles that will pick you up directly from the airport and drive you into the park and to your accommodation. Don’t pack the camera too deep in your bag though, from the time your plane starts its descent you’re a chance of spotting your first wildlife – even the airport has warthogs and cheetah! The drive from the airport to your lodge takes you through the gates and into the park and depending on where you’re staying and what time of day it is, you will almost certainly start seeing wildlife from the time you enter the gates.  I remember we got really excited and wanted to stop and photograph every zebra and buck we drove past on the way to the lodge – don’t worry, this is just an introduction!

Local Knowledge:

There are as many ways to experience Kruger National Park as there are animals within its boundaries. From day trips to luxury tours, from footed treks to bird’s eye views from helicopters. 

KNP is one of the largest parks in South Africa and stretches 360km North to South. It has 9 main gates, 21 rest camps and 15 designated safari lodges.

The Winter/dry season (June to September) is considered the preferred time to visit the park – the weather is milder and relatively dry, there’s a much lower risk of contracting malaria and the more sparse vegetation makes it easier to locate and see wildlife. 

Words of Wisdom:

Whilst you wont need spending money if youre staying at one of the lodges, if you want money for tips etc then you need to exchange or withdraw at Johannesburg.

Most places in the park have very poor phone coverage. If you are reliant on being contacable then take this into account. Hoyo-Hoyo had wifi in the common areas that allowed catching up on emails, social media or messages if you needed.

Where To Stay:

Hoyo-Hoyo Lodge genuinely exceeded our expectations. It was truly luxury in the bush. You will be welcomed by the extremely friendly staff who have usually grown up in the areas around Kruger NP. The accommodation itself is far from rough. Whilst small, the bungalows are more than adequate for the limited amount of time you end up sepnding in your room. One word of warning - the ground squirrels, whilst appearing cute, are highly effective thieves and will likely come into your rooms when you're asleep or not there and eat any food left out. They even went through our cases, chewing into anything that contained food!

The showers were outside, which provided a real “getting back to nature” feel, however it was also brutally cold if you wanted a shower before the early morning safaris in Winter.

The communal areas at the lodge are beautifully set up and overlook a waterhole that attracts a huge variety of wildlife. We found ourselves sitting for hours watching the monkeys annoy the elephants, the small gemsbock sleeping beside the deck or reading away whilst all variety of animal came by for their daily drink.

What To Do:

If you want to be certain of seeing every animal, go to a zoo. One of the greatest parts of a wildlife safari is that there are no guarantees, the animals, time of year, weather and a lot of luck determine what you will see. 

We found that some drives were incredible with a huge varierty of sightings, whilst others went for hours without seeing much at all. For that reason I would definitely recommend spending at least a couple of nights so you can go on a minimum of 4 drives.

Drives are typically done morning and evening to take advantage of the most likely times animals are active.

We probably expected it to be easier to spot things than it was – our guide, Sweety Boy, was beyond incredible. His experience and eyesight was remarkable. Sometimes it literally took minutes and getting hundreds of meters closer until people in our vehicle could see the things he spied. I understand some people like the intrigue of driving themselves around places like Kruger, however the money you spend on an experienced safari driver is worth every single Rand. His knowledge and stories as we drove made the whole experience so much more worthwhile. I would recommend trying to have the same guide for the time you are there if possible. You will genuinely get to know how they work and they will get to know what you have and haven’t seen and try to build the overall experience for you. 

We also did a guided walk through the Park. Whilst we felt safe at all times with the experienced (and armed) guide, it did have an additional element to the drives. Unfortunately we didn’t see a great deal as the area you can cover by foot compared to a car is very small. We did spend time following rhino and leopard tracks and it was definitely nice to get out and walk through such an incredible National Park.

Pack only what you need for the drives depending on the weather. It can be bitterly cold early morning and evening during the winter, so take lots of layers of clothes. 

Most things are provided by the lodge, including morning teas – ours usually consisted of traditional rusk biscuits, biltong, tea, dried fruit and nuts. Cold drinks including wine, beer and soft drinks were also supplied at each small camp stop.

Eating:

The all inclusive food at Hoyo-Hoyo was superb. They have their own chef who prepares restarant quality food from a menu that changes each day. Mostly it is a showcase of traditional South African cuisine – so ox-tail, malva pudding, boerworse and pap are all likely to be on the menu! We both love our food and I consider myself a pretty harsh critic, but the food at Hoya Hoya was excellent! They even went as far as setting up a private candlelit dinner for us on one of the nights. 

If you have any dietary requirements you will need to make this known before you arrive, because it is too far from any towns for the kitchen to change the menu last minute.

Must Do:

Goes without saying, the game drives are the highlight and the main reason to go to Kruger National Park. I think if you lived in South Africa and visiting the park was more regular, then the self-drive option would be great and more flexible – but when you are travelling and perhaps time is short and expectation high, the guided drives are the best. It has the advantage of taking care of everything for you including food, local knowledge and access to areas not permitted in public vehicles.

There is a variety of lodges that offer these services with a range of budgets. Compared to most things in South Africa, game safaris in parks like Kruger are relatively expensive. However I would certainly suggest that spending a little extra to maximize your experience is well worth it.

Must See:

The “Big Five” of African Safari animals are the lion, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros and buffalo. Seeing each of them is what everyone wants to tick off. Different areas of the park are more well known for different species. We saw lions, rhinos, elephants and buffalo. The leopard is our reason to return!

Get a reasonable book or animal guide for your drives. It is incredible just how many different animals beyond the obvious ones you will see.

5 Word Travel:

Bucketlist. Adventure. Wild. Nature. Animals.

TTHHoyo-4516.jpg

TravelTip:

These days, taking photos of your travel is a must. But for wildlife and safari drives, it becomes even more significant, because there is another variable in play – the animals! 

Everyone has their preference in terms of photography equipment and some people spend thousands on cameras and lenses for safaris. For wildlife photography, it is nice to have a camera with a zoom lens (at least 200mm) as many animals will be some distance from you. To be honest, we also use a lot of iPhone photography no matter where we go, as it is very quick and easy and can be uploaded immediately to social media etc. It was interesting to notice on our drives that some other guests had a lot of fancy equipment but didn’t have experience using it and became frustrated they couldn’t get the shots they wanted. 

Excess Baggage:

Plan and book early. Compared to most things in South Africa, game lodges can be extremely expensive, especially in peak seasons. This includes internal flights to places like Kruger NP.

The additional costs of staying at one of the many lodges will be well worth the money! The guides are excellent and will significantly improve your chances of having a successful drive.

Choose your photography equipment wisely. Go with familiar equipment, pack your chargers with universal plugs and as always back up your days work.