As you might have noticed, we’ve been busy with the blog lately. Both on the front-end and behind the scenes. The blog should be loading faster now, on both desktop and on your mobile devices.
Anyway, in case you missed Our 5 Pre-Travel Tips, be sure to check it out. In this post, we will talk more about how to prepare your travel itinerary and how to decide on where to travel and what to do when you travel.
To start off, ask yourself this question, why do you want to travel? The answer to this question may not be as simple or as straight forward as you might think. Not to over-complicate things, but this question will decide on where you will go, how much you would want to spend on your vacation, and what kind of activities you will do. So spend as much time deciding on the answer.
It could be one, or a combination of the following
- I want to spend some time away from the routine life
- I want to relax, switch off and go somewhere far
- I want to experience new things that I always wanted to do
- I want to spend my hard-earned cash on things that aren’t available locally
- I want to escape the hot weather and ‘ghbar’!
Answering the question will decide on the style of your vacation. For me, I have a busy life style here in Kuwait. Things vary between my day job, my small business and initiatives, my studies, the gym and social life responsibilities. I tend to want to travel every 3 months or so. It doesn’t have to be a long vacation, a short weekend getaway will do. But every now and then I want to have what we all call a Real Vacation. Usually it’s a combination of the following:
- I want to experience new things
- I want to relax, switch off and go somewhere far
I don’t mind allocating a big budget to do the above. The places that I usually go to are pretty far and I always do multi-destination trips, going through multiple countries. I’m very active when I travel and end up covering tons of activities in a single day, spending no more than 4 nights in a single city or country. So, I end up burning a huge chunk of my travel budget on hotels and air plane tickets.
So how do I choose my destinations?
- By checking this blog , following us on Instagram and Snapchat (@Hello965) and sending us your questions. because ‘Hello 965’ team are awesome travel consultants!
- Word of mouth – by having a big international circle of friends that tells you about destinations worth checking. This is my personal favorite, but it can only be effective when you have a huge circle of friends from various nationalities.
- online sites – such as tripadvisor, travelocity. They can be useful and give you an idea of a place, but do NOT depend on them.
- Apps – Instagram/twitter/Google plus pages on traveling, Yelp and Foursquare.
How do I look for travel tickets and prices?
- Google travel
- Direct deals announced from airlines or any 3rd party agency
You may not find the best prices at Expedia, so be sure to check the airline websites for a better prices. Tried Skiplagged couple of times and get got me the best prices that i couldn’t match anywhere else, however it does not always work.
How do I book my hotels?
Always think strategically when you book a hotel. Look at the hotel location on Google Maps and make sure it’s not too far from the places that you will spend most of your time at. AirBnB is a new concept of booking a place (House, apartment etc..). I highly recommend that you check them out, as my experience using it has always been great.
Hope this helps with your travel plans and as always, feel free to ask us for consultations!
Traveled in: August, 2014
Country Code: +57
Getting there: Flight from Buenos Aires 6 hours 15 minutes, Flight from Caracas 2 hours, Flight from Lima 2 hours 55 minutes, Flight from Panama 1 hour 40 minutes, Flight from Quito 1 hour 25 minutes, Flight from Mexico 4 hours 35 minutes, Flight from Los Angeles 9 hours 44 minutes, Flight from NYC 4 hours 35 minutes, Flight from Miami 3 hours 40 minutes, Flight from Madrid 9 hours 40 minutes, Flight from Paris 14 hours 10 minutes, Flight from Roma 14 hours 45 minutes.
Do you need a visa? If you’re a Kuwaiti national, yes you do. You can apply via Colombian Embassy in Abu Dhabi or in Egypt.
Hello965 Flight: Qatar Airways
Route: Kuwait – Qatar – Sao Paulo – Bogota
Why did I choose this route? Because I wanted to stop by Sao Paulo to see a friend. The flight is super long yes but I was okay with it because I sleep on flights usually. Another reason I took this route is because through the states (which is a shorter route) they tend to remove things in your suite case such as ‘coffee’ and others so I did not want to risk having coffee removed on my way back from Colombia.
My itinerary was as follows:
ALL used Internal flights were via: Avianca Airlines de Colombia
Currency: Colombian Pesos – they sometimes take US dollars.
2 nights in Cartagena (Cartagena De Indias)
– Hotel in Cartagena: Basiton Luxury Hotel (ps. I didn’t love the service nor the Wifi signal in the hotel, otherwise location was great!)
– Things to do in Cartagena:
- Rosario Islands
- Go on a private tour to a private island, we went to an island called Agua Azul. There another recommended one called Isla Coralina.
- Walk around the city inside the walls, and see:
- Torre Del Reloj
- Plaza De Bolivar
- Plaza De San Pedro Claver
- Plaza De La Aduana
- Santo Domingo
- Plaza Santa Teresa
- Teatro Heredia (La Merced)
- Universidad De Cartagena
- Fernandez De Madrid
- Plaza De San Diego
- Las Bovedas
- Plaza De La Trinidad
- Centro De Convenciones
- Playa De Artilleria
- I also checked out a cool Museum of Arts while walking around the city. Check it out if you’re into arts.
– Places to Eat:
- Juan Del Mar Restaurant
- La Vitrola (Local Cuisine)
- Don Juan (Pizza & Local Cuisine)
- El Gobernador
- Oh La La (French)
- Marea (Seafood)
- Mila (Dessert)
– A place that was recommended by friends but I didn’t have the time to see is: Juan Del Mar Cafe/Bar – Located on top of the wall with a very nice view. Check opening hours before you go.
2 nights in Medellin
Recommended Hotel: The Charlee
Things to do:
- Walk around Botanico Garden and have lunch there
- Check out the interactive museum
- Take the cable car all the way up to Santo Domingo Savio and walk around a bit, see the huge library on top
- Walk around Botero Plaza
- Play Golf if you’re interested
- Checkout Las Luces Square
- Drive to Guatape, but before you reach stop at the small towns on your way there. One of the towns I liked which we stopped at is called El Retiro.
- Guatape Rock
- Paraglide from the mountain in Medellin
- Volcan de Lodo El Totumo (Mud Volcano)
- Cheff Burger (Burgers)
- Crepes & Waffles
- Tinto Tintero
- La Provincia
- El Cielo
2 nights in Bogota (Bogota is the Capital of Colombia)
– Recommended Hotels: Hilton Bogota, Sofitel Bogota Victoria Regia, GHL Hotel Bioxury, Hotel Andino Royal, JW Marriott Hotel
– Things to do:
- I didn’t have the time to do a coffee tour in the cities before, but usually, the right place to go and see coffee tours from is Medellin. However, we found a very good coffee tour from Bogota. The coffee tour was in FUSA, where they take you to a coffee planation and show you the whole process from growing the plant until serving you some good Colombian coffee.
- Go to the Old Town, walk around, check out the beautiful Graffiti EVERYWHERE. I can’t get over it.
- Go to Zona T for restaurants, night life and shopping.
– Places to Eat:
- A place that almost everyone recommended me to go is Andres carne de Res. Really good food and the ultimate Colombian touristy experience. A lot of fun, Loved it!
- Casa Medina (French Cuisine)
Other recommendations in Colombia:
Santa Marta: The lost city
DONT FORGET, you could always contact us to plan your itinerary for you, and for more details on this trip, or other trips.
I can’t seem to take Cape Town out of my mind. If you haven’t been before to Cape Town, then you are reading the right post!! I’m sharing my short experience in Cape Town, and my tips.
Cape Town has a huge number of accommodation options, from super fancy to rustic backpacker type places, so you are likely to find exactly what you need. For younger people, the city centre as well as surroundings including; Camps Bay, Bantry Bay, De Waterkant, Gardens, Tamboerskloof, Clifton, Sea Point, Mouille Point, Higgovale and Orangezicht. These are either located near nightlife or the sea. Alternatively you could stay in the university area of Newlands, which is a quick drive into the centre. For those looking for something a little different or for a bit of surfing, the smaller coastal towns of Kalk Bay, Fish Hoek, Hout Bay and Llundadno might be appealing but please note these are a little more out of the way.
For a relatively comprehensive listing of Cape Town self-catering, b&bs and hotels, go to www.capestay.co.za and refer to tripadvisor for reviews.
During my visit, I stayed in a boutique hotel called: Cascades on the Promenade (you can find it on booking.com). A wonderful boutique hotel, friendly staff and great breakfast. The owner was around, he welcomed us and showed us everything in the hotel. The hotel is 10 mins drive to the waterfront. Good for either a family or a group of friends.
Otherwise, if you’re looking to stay in a villa, this could help: http://www.capevillas.com/New_Hotlists/Camps_Bay_Villas.shtml
If you’re comfortable driving on the same side of the road as in England, then I highly advise you to rent a car. A convertible car. Beautiful beautiful scenery going from one place to another.
3. Touristy stuff.
– Go up Table Mountain (either hike or use the cable car). If you’re an athlete, hike for sure!! It’s not an easy hike though, it’s kinda steep. Otherwise, cable car is your friend.
– See the penguins at Boulders Beach (warm water, rock formations and cute penguins)
– Chapmans Peak Drive (one of the most scenic drives in the world)
– V&A Waterfront (beautiful indoor/outdoor mall – great shopping and eating – located by the sea with opportunity to go on boat trips around the coast)
– Kirstenbosch Gardens (amazing botanical gardens at the foot of a mountain, they have great sunset concerts on Sunday evenings)
– Camps Bay/Clifton (prime beach real estate, such a wonderful setting to spend the day in the sun with the mountains behind you – parking is a nightmare in summer, be warned!)
– Robben Island (more history focused than anything, this is a small island off the coast where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for a long time), we took a boat to the island, and did the tour – worth visiting if you like history!
– Hermanus (coastal town, perfect for whale watching)
– Drive in your convertible to Cape of Good Hope. Drive by the sea.
4. I did it, you can do it.
A) SHARK CAGE DIVING.
We rented a private driver-guide for sharkcage diving. We did it with Shark Cage Diving Gansbaai (http://www.sharkcagediving.co.za). They arrange for your pick-up and your drop-off from and back to the hotel.
Guys, you DO NOT swim with the sharks deep in the water in this one. You dive in a cage and you’re very close to the surface. You dive with great white sharks so they’re very dangerous and this tour/dive is mainly for people with no diving licenses.
B) Helicopter Ride.
This ride was absolutely fantastic. I booked The CapeTown Scenic Flight with these guys: http://www.helicopterscapetown.co.za
5. Eating out.
Haiku restaurant is a fun place to eat out, they do Asian fusion and are famous for Asian tapas. Rick’s Cafe in the city centre is a wonderful place to go and have snacks as it has a large roof terrace with a view of the mountains – all kinds of interesting cigars are also sold there for cigar lovers. The Bombay Bicycle Club is a funky place to eat delicious grills and African food, its also in a very convenient central location. Royale Eatery on Long street is a yummy trendy hamburger place, on the top is a trendy bar/club called the Waiting Room – definitely worth checking out. Cape 2 Cuba in Kalk Bay is a bit away from the centre (on the other side of the mountain) but has delicious food and is a very interesting spot.
To find a specific restaurant or read about more dining in Cape Town, you should go to www.eatout.co.za.
On a Sunday afternoon, starting at 5 or 6 pm (more or less), go to Caprice Bar, which is a beach front bar in Camps Bay, very cool vibe, very good crowd, DJ playing soft house music and everyone chilling there while watching the sunset.
6. Final words.
Be safe!! South Africa is a wonderful place to visit; however, this paradise isn’t perfect – crime and car accidents are both a serious concern. When driving at night be extra vigilant as many other drivers do drink and drive. Avoid driving long distances after dark when possible. Always lock your car when driving and ensure valuables are not visible when stopping at traffic lights. Ensure whatever accommodation you choose has adequate security measures in place (secure parking, a safe, an alarm or physical security etc) Don’t walk around with a fancy laptop/camera etc when this isn’t necessary, the more concealed the better. As in most countries, there are good and bad areas (unless on a guided tour avoid shanty towns and poorer areas).
Salud, and enjoy Paradise! Toomzie
Let’s see. Doing Budapest, usually comes part of a package seeing Vienna, and Prague as well. I’ve done Vienna, Prague and Budapest together. This post however, will be focused on Budapest alone.
Flight: Lufthansa (Kuwait – Frankfurt International, Budapest)
– Heritage Home Apartments
Other hotel options:
– Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace Budapest
– Opera Garden Hotel & Apartments
– Lánchíd 19 Hotel
– Mamaison Residence Izabella Budapest
– Bohem Art Hotel Budapest
– Continental Hotel Zara
– Prestige Hotel Budapest
– Klassz (Hungarian, contemporary)
– Da Mario (Italian)
– Csalogány 26 (International)
– Zeller Bistro (Hungarian)
– Bors Gasztrobar (International)
– Gelarto Rosa (Ice cream)
– Farm (Hungarian Tapas)
– Macesz Huszár (Hungarian Jewish)
– Borkonyha (Eastern European)
– Iguana Bar & Grill (Tex Mex Cuisine for Brunch)
– Manna Lounge (Mediterranean-style dishes for Brunch)
– Peppers Mediterranean Grill (Hungarian and Mediterranean dishes for Brunch)
Things to see/do:
Walk across Chain Bridge.
Discover historic Castle Hill with a walking tour.
Take a Danube cruise for beautiful panoramic views of Buda and Pest.
Shop with locals or try some traditional Hungarian food at Central Market Hall.
Walk from Andrássy Avenue to Heroes’ Square and you’ll understand why Budapest is often called the Paris of the East
Checkout Váci utca street which is one of the main pedestrian thoroughfares and perhaps the most famous street of central Budapest, Hungary. It features a large number of restaurants and shops catering primarily to the tourist market.
Climb the stairs (or take the elevator) to the Basilica’s observation deck for some of the best views of Budapest.
Take a helicopter tour for a bird’s eye view of the city.
Playa de Ses Illetes – FORMENTERA
The island is surounded by crystal clear waters lapping the pink, coral-encrusted golden sand. Illetes beach is a superb place to swim, snorkel, chill out and relax.
Playa Arenales, ALICANTE
This warm-water beach is a few kilometers from Elche (Alicante) or even the city of Alicante. Although Spaniards think it had lost its charm because of the overcrowded buildings that were built for tourists, it still remains until today one of the most popular beaches in these two cities for its sandy and clean and so warm waters. In the summer months its considered to be the warmest throughout the Alicante coast. It’s also an area of consistent waves, not high though not high.
Isla Canela, HUELVA
Isla Canela is a natural island joined by a bridge to Ayamonte (Huelva), a town with pure Andalusian charm, it has become a popular tourist destination for Spanish and Portuguese holidaymakers. It shares the charms of both Andalusia and the Algarve, and is set within an area of spectacular coastal scenery, with wide, sandy beaches, sand dunes and salt marshes.
Isla Canela is easily accessible from any part of Europe as there are two airports, Seville airport
(160 kms by motorway A-49 Huelva – Seville) and Faro airport in Portugal (50 kms crossing the international bridge that unites Spain and Portugal.
Playa de Bolonia – TARIFA
Little paradise. Not busy at all, lovely white sand and you can see the coast of Morocco.
Playa de las Catedrales – RIBADEO
Beautiful, Make sure you visit at low tide! Beware though…it gets VERY busy.
La Concha Beach – SAN SEBASTIAN
The jewel of San Sebastian, La Concha beach, recently ranked in the top 15 beaches in Europe according to TripAdvisor. There is no doubt; the charm of this urban beach is unique in the world and something everyone would absolutely appreciate.
La Caleta beach – CADIZ
Flanked by two castles, beautiful water with perfect temperature, excellent public showers and bathrooms. And this is a urban beach, next to the center of Cadiz.
Cala de Sa Calobra – MAJORCA
A very small beach with crystal clear waters, A MUST.
Cala de Algaiarens – MENORCA
On the north western side of Menorca Cala Algaiarens is between Cala Morell on the west and Cala Carbó on the eastern side. Cala Algaiarens is a large wide cove split into two medium sized golden sandy beaches known as Plaja des Bot on the eastern side and Platja es Tancats on the western side. Both beaches have calm protected sea and are shallow for quite a distance. It’s a popular cove with the locals and tourists alike.
Perfect for families and kids!
Costa Blanca – BENIDORM
Known in Costa Blanca Benidorm are Poiniente Beach and Levante beach, first being quieter.
Nerja – MALAGA
Often referred to as ‘The Jewel of the Costa del Sol’. Nerja is located 53 kilometres east of Málaga on the Costa del Sol and can be reached in about 40 minutes by car from Málaga airport or about an hour and a half by bus.
Cliff-edged Costa Brava
Costa Brava extends from Barcelona to the French border! There are so many beaches. Whatever kind of beach you love the Costa Brava has it all…
Long stretches of sandy beach (Roses, Empuriabrava, L’Estartit, Pals, Platja d’Aro, Lloret de Mar, Blanes…) perfect for a morning run with the dog, a long walk in the surf or watersports (like kitesurfing, windsurfing, water-skiing…)
Maybe you prefer romantic coves, that lie hidden and protected by pine groves that grow right down to the sea, the ones you stumble upon and have all to yourself (El Canadell, Cala Pedrosa, Cala El Golfet, Els Canyers…)
Or perhaps those fishing village beaches ( Sa Tuna, Tamariu, Llafranc, Calella Costa Brava…)
PS. Have you been somewhere you think is worth mentioning as one of the best beaches in Spain? Please share with us xx