A Tour of Tulum.

A trip to the Mayan Riviera isn’t complete without at least heading on a day trip to Tulum!

Known for being a little quieter and more hipster than it’s noisy neighbors Cancun and Playa del Carmen. It’s a great place to unwind.

Getting there from Playa couldn’t be easier, go to Calle 2 just off 10th Ave and spot the Colectivos or minivans and jump on board! It cost about 80 peso for two of us and took around 40 minutes to get to the archaeological area.



From here, cross over the road and walk straight down, ignore the tour operators as all you need to do is pay the entrance fee and you’re free to wander the ruins at your own leisure. It’s 80 peso entrance fee, spot the Coati a small mammal related to racoons while you’re there!

In the ruins you can find amazing views out to sea, and loads of information regarding each building. There’s a lot to do and we spent a couple of hours here. Make sure you find the steps down to a small secluded beach where you can cool off in the blue waters of the Caribbean sea.

After a swim and a sun bathe, we walked around the rest of the archaeological park. Now from here you have two choices. Take a left and head to the other beaches where you can relax, or take a Colectivo into Tulum town from the main road.


We chose the latter as we were starving. We wandered along the main road through Tulum and spotted a few nice restaurants on a side street. This time we had enchiladas and nachos smothered in beans and cheese! Obviously washed down with a beer.


After this we wandered around and checked out some of the cute shops. Then it was time to head back to Playa, so we jumped into a Colectivo heading back up the freeway. I wish we’d spent a bit more time in Tulum, you can visit some nearby Cenotes and Coba, a Mayan temple you can climb is nearby too.



But there’s always next time! 🇲🇽

48 Hours in Luxembourg

Luxembourg! One of the smallest nations in Europe, it’s located between France, Belgium and Germany. Luxembourg had the first EU leader to marry someone of the same sex! It also has the second highest minimum wage in the world.The capital city is also called Luxembourg, and there’s a 17km long network of tunnels beneath the City that were originally built in 1644.I arrived by train from Brussels in Belgium after a fabulous journey through the Belgian countryside. Topped off by the most amazing pizza pie spinach thing at the station. Incredible. The station is actually located about a ten minute walk from the old town, but it’s a great approach as you climb up towards the fortified town.Luxembourg old town is built up on a rocky outcrop which makes it only accessible by bridges on three sides which gives it an almost mystical quality. The small gorge that runs beneath the bridges has been turned into lovely parkland with a lazy river wanding its way through.I was staying at a youth hostel down in one of these valleys called the mon hotel, it was so cute surrounded by a forest and the river Alzette running past it. I checked in and dropped my stuff off.It was a beautiful day at around 25°c in the middle of June. I wandered off in search of adventure. Honestly you wouldn’t think you were in a capital City, the cute stone houses and small bridges crossing the river made me feel like I was out in some idyllic country village.

I found an elevator with an impressive design hanging off the side of the cliff, and took it all the way to the top. As I ascended I couldn’t believe the amazing views over the countryside.At the top I took an obligatory selfie and marveled at the design of Luxembourg. I then set off to explore the streets of the town. It’s a cute place to wander around but there aren’t many ‘big sights’.However there are plenty of old interesting buildings to look at, like the notre dame cathedral and pretty squares to stop for a coffee or beer.One of the most beautiful parts of the town looks out towards their most famous bridge the Adolphe with the Musee de la Banque just peaking out from behind some trees.I think Luxembourg is one of the greenest Cities I have ever visited. I descended back down into the valley to wander around the park and enjoy the cool evening after the heat of the day.All this walking was making me hungry, so I ended up in a generic pizza place. Where I wasn’t even embarrassed about eating a large all to myself. After this I sat outside a small cafe/bar and watched the world go by with a nice cold beer.As the sun began to set I headed back in the general direction of my hostel, which took me past some cute little turrets with more amazing panoramic views. After a night cap in the hostel bar it was bed time, but I couldn’t wait to explore more of Luxembourg.The next day I woke very early before sunrise and decided to head up to the Bock, the old fortified castle walls that sit above catacombs and tunnels in the hillside. I sat there and watched the the sun peak out from the horizon. It was such a calm and peaceful moment.I followed this up by walking down to the river again and following it in the opposite direction to yesterday. This was a particularly interesting route.The old bridges and churches looked beautiful in the morning light as I looked up and spotted caves in the cliff side. The reflections in the water made for an amazing picture too!It was turning into another scorcher of a day, so after a simple breakfast of bread cheese and an apple I set out once more. This time I was going to check out the Grand Duke Jean museum of modern art that sits atop a hill opposite the town.It was a beautiful walk up past old fortifications, and once I reached the top of the hill the views back across to the City were fab.I stopped off at Fort Thungen, a reconstructed castle that was demolished after the treaty of London in 1867. This treaty demanded the demolition of the City’s fortifications due to it’s neutrality after centuries of foreign rule.It houses a museum which shows the history of Luxembourg and the City, with lots of artefacts. Make sure you head up to the rooftop to enjoy some fresh air and 360 views. Just beyond the Fort is the art museum, also known as MUDAM.This impressive building is super modern and has revolving exhibitions, check out the website to see what’s on. When I visited the installations were really cool, I spent a really good amount of time here and got a quick bite to eat in the cafe.I walked back to the City through the Parc des Trois Glands, and found myself opposite the elevator from the day before. I took the elevator back up and hung out in the Parc Kinnekswiss, sunbathing and people watching, it was a great way to spend the early afternoon.Next up I wanted to explore the underground tunnel network, so I headed to the Casemates back near my hostel. It’s 7 Euros entrance fee and you get to wander around at your own pleasure. I loved finding little rooms with windows looking out over the countryside and getting lost within the caves and crypts!That evening I treated myself to a few beers and watched some football and had an amazing veggie burger at a place called Snooze. Then went over to the Adolphe bridge to watch the sunset which was gorgeous. The walk back at night was really pretty too. I was heading back to Brussels the next day before flying back home.

Exploring alternative Rome. 

Today we decided to get out of central Rome and see some of the lesser known sights. Using our Omnia Card we took a hop on and off bus to get to the Colosseum. Seeing the Basilica of St John the Lateran on the way. 

Arriving just past the Colosseum We headed towards Via di Porta S.Sebastiano, which would take us to our first spot, the old Roman road into Rome. 

The walk was lovely, past lush green parks and through old gateways, one part of the road had no pavements but it didn’t feel dangerous. 

It was nice and relaxed and we got some drinks and ice creams along the way. We walked along Via Appia Antica which is the old Roman road and took a detour onto a grassy tree lined path which was much nicer. Imagining what it used to be like and the legions of Roman centurions who would have trampled their way through was great fun. 

Our destination was the Catacombs of San Sebastiano, located beneath the grounds of a church with the same name, there are so many underground tombs here and we couldn’t wait to explore. 

We paid the fee and were led down into the catacombs, it was seriously spooky and I felt like I was in Indiana Jones. We passed crypts and I was sure you would get lost down here if you didn’t have a guide. 

The catacombs were built by Christians during their persecution, as they were forbidden to be buried inside the walls of Rome. There are also Roman mausoleums located here from the 2nd century, these were incredible. They are in amazing condition, with 3 mausoleums each decorated with different designs. 

The crypt of St Sebastian is also located here, with a Bernini – associated bust of Sebastian in the room. He was a martyr after being killed for his Christian beliefs. 

There are lots of different catacombs dotted around this area, but we just stuck to doing one. We left the tombs into the lovely Basilica and had a look around before departing back towards the City. 

Little did we know there was more ancient road to explore! Our one regret as we managed to do most other things in Rome that we wanted to do. 

After looking at google maps we realised we could walk through the Ostiense area, a rejuvenated part of Rome that was known for it’s interesting street art. We wandered through checking out the graffiti and stopped for pizza slices. It was really tasty and totally cheap, we chose 3 slices each and devoured them. 

We carried on walking in the general direction of the apartment and on the way stopped at the old protestant cemetery. The famous poets Shelley and Keats are buried here, and it was quite a nice peaceful place to walk around. We also got the bonus of great views of the pyramid, a tomb built for Gaius Cestius, a high ranking Roman. Built between 18-12BC, I can’t get over how old some of the buildings are here! 

After this we just headed back to the apartment, stopping off for a glass of wine and getting ready to give Trastevere another go. 

This time we relaxed a bit more, not rushing to find food we had a drink at a bar where you could go upstairs and sit on a wall looking out over the street and the river. 

We carried on wandering but everywhere was pretty busy, so we ended up somewhere that had one spare table. The food was again just ok so we decided that was the end of our Trastevere meals. We finished the night off with a few drinks in a nice bar watching the world go by. 

Part time traveller, how to make it work.

One thing I’ve heard a lot over the past few years is how do I manage to have so many holidays a year. I think most people think I’m secretly rich (I wish) I have no social life (half true) or Peter is my sugardaddy (again, if only!). The truth is, with good preparation, flexibility and a real thirst for travel, you can go anywhere/do anything you like. 

  • FLEXIBILITY

I am lucky in some ways, my jobs have all been shift work, which is more flexible. For instance, I could ask to work Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday all day, but get Thursday to Sunday as my days off, then vice versa – have Monday to Thursday off and work Friday, Saturday, Sunday. I do understand that not everyone is in this position, but hey, on the flip side most people get every weekend off. 

Even without this measure of flexibility in work, flexibility with your travel destination is key. I like to use Skyscanner app for my flight needs, and I have the easyjet/ryanair apps on my phone. The best thing to do is use Skyscanner, use your local airports and select everywhere. You soon get an idea of where is cheap, and be mindful that weekend flights like Thurs/Fri to Sun/Mon will usually be more expensive…along with kids holidays etc.

My other recommendation is to think big…why go to one country/city when you could do two, or three, or more! Often the flight out to one country will be super cheap, but the return with the same airline will be much more expensive. I like to look at nearby places that are accessible from the place you’re flying to, and have flights back to your home airport. 

(Renting a car to travel through Romania)

Examples I’ve done are to fly to Sofia for dirt cheap, spent a couple of days there as it’s not a huge city, then got an overnight train (Well bus but that’s another story) to Istanbul. I also flew to Bratislava, but got a boat to Vienna and flew back from there. In Romania we flew to Cluj in the North, but spent 7 days driving through Transylvania, ending up in Bucharest and flew back from there. 

In April 2017 I’m flying out to Montenegro. I want to go to Bosnia and Serbia while I’m there but don’t want to do a round trip, flights from Sarajevo or Belgrade are expensive or unavailable so we’re flying back from Budapest for about £30. 

This is all a long winded way of saying be flexible, be adventurous and you will always find exciting opportunities for travel. 

  • PREPARATION 

This next one is also key to travelling on a budget. I have studied and studied books on travelling europe and the world and a basic understanding of geographical locations of places really helps. The main thing though is advance planning, find out when airlines release their flights for different seasons. The budget airlines usually release their flights later than long haul as people will book long haul flights earlier to pay them off etc. 

(Vang Vieng River – where infamous tubing takes place)

The earlier you manage to get your flights the cheaper they usually are. I try to book my flights first well in advance. I’ve booked flights 8 or 9 months in advance sometimes, and usually at least 6 months. For 6 weeks in SE Asia we booked our flights Jan 1st to depart October 20th. This meant we had 10 months to set aside our spends. 

This means I can allocate part of my monthly pay to the flight, then the next month maybe allocate money to the hotel. I always know then that I have months to save and book things that I maybe would otherwise struggle to afford.

  • ONCE YOU’RE THERE

Last but by no means least, is what you do when you get somewhere. Again this can take a bit of planning but things like, is there a bus from the airport rather than a taxi. In Riga it was less than 2E for a bus ticket but a taxi cost around 14E. On the flipside a taxi between 4 might be the cheaper option. 

Go for the cheaper hotels, I rarely stay in hostels but go for the low to mid range hotels. I find http://www.booking.com to be the one I go back to time and again. Not only do you soon become a genius member and reap some benefits but the reviews are usually pretty accurate. In Asia we trawled them for cockroach sightings and only ended up having one hotel that was filled with the little buggers. If travelling in larger groups apartments often work out cheaper and you can usually stock up on cheap supermarket food if there’s a kitchen. 

It’s also different depending where you go. In Europe last minute hotel deals are rare and usually the prices go up the closer to the date you get. In Asia we booked places the day before or even on the day a couple of times and it was still super cheap as they have the backpacker market to consider. 

(Package holiday to Bodrum – standing on the site of the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus)

I find that eating out and alcohol really rack up the costs of holidays. Obviously there’s nothing better than a cold beer in the afternoon on a hot day in Europe but it does soon add up. We sometimes found that a cold drink or coffee was more than a beer though! 

Sometimes it’s nice to push the boat out in restaurants, in Bratislava/Vienna and Romania we treated ourselves to a nice big meal one night but then ate in normal range places the others. In Asia we really took advantage of the street stalls and small plastic cafe type places, we couldn’t believe how cheap everything was. Sometimes a package holiday can be the best and cheapest way to get somewhere, if you check what excursions or day trips out you can do you may get to see a lot of the country you’re in. 

If you have the thirst to travel but aren’t sure where to start, I hope this has given you some good tips to get started. 

(Travelling by boat along the Danube)

Top food and dishes in south east asia.

After arriving back in the UK, I’ve been missing the SE Asian food. Even though towards the end of the 6 weeks Leia was getting tired of rice and noodles, she text me craving pad thai.

So I thought I’d put some musings about the food on here, and some things that we loved, including types of eateries and how they hold up against each other in terms of taste/price.

As we started off in Thailand we’ll look at the dishes we had there, starting with spicy basil and chilli with your choice of (mostly) chicken or pork mince and rice. I ended up having this quite a few times as it tasted so good and really hit my spicy spot. I knew it wasn’t overbearing spice do could have it without fear of feeling it the next day. The best I had was on a beach bar in Koh Samet for 80baht, the worst I had was in a restaurant in Bangkok for 125baht.

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This will be a common theme and something people who have travelled will already know. Don’t get me wrong, some street food or cheaper stuff wasn’t great, but generally the best food we had was from places I wouldn’t dream of eating in back in the UK. My Mum calls them ‘plastic cafes’ due to the plastic chairs that often dominate the space.

The second dish is pad thai, a common and consistently different dish depending where you have it. I think the worst we had was on khao san road in a bar, but one of the best was from a small cart on the same road. It’s a dish that shouldn’t go too wrong, consisting of noodles, bean sprouts, egg, sometimes tofu, sometimes meat, spring onion and peanuts. It’s so nice and the best we had was on koh samet from a little cart where we had it for brunch several days.

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There was a beautiful yellow curry with crab that we all tried on the same night, plenty of that great claw meat and just the right balance of coconut, chilli and lemongrass. This again was from the same cart in koh samet. It was a nice part of being somewhere for more than 2/3 days, we could find our favourite little place and revisit. Also watch out for expat westerners advertising each other’s businesses, we were told certain places were ‘the best’ but you soon realise they’re mates helping each other out. Fair enough if you’re happy with sub par western food but explore and take risks if you want to experience amazing flavours.

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Another dish we enjoyed was so simple, just chicken or pork fried with lots of garlic, it was great when you got crunchy and soft bits of garlic in amongst the meat. You always got rice with it too. These dishes were all regular members on menus everywhere we went.

Once we made it to Laos it was baguette time, because of it’s past as a French colony bread and cakes are everywhere. In Vang Vieng there were stalls lining the streets at night offering about 30 different filling combinations. I had hotdog, egg and cheese, diet starts tomorrow!

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There were also crepe carts next to all the baguette carts to satisfy your sweet tooth needs. Other than that we were poor at finding any typical Laos foods. Although Luang Prabang night market is filled with buffet style vendors offering a plate for a pound, you walk along and fill your plate as much or as little as you like. Bear in mind it’s only a one off and you can’t go back like a pizza hut or breakfast buffet!

They also had beautiful cake stalls selling all manner of sponges,brownies, cinnamon twists and flapjacks. It was amazing and a nice taste of home in a far off world.

Sorry Laos, we were only there for a few days so maybe we didn’t experience the traditional food.

Next up was Vietnam, in my opinion far and away the best of the bunch, they just have so much variety and it was always very fresh and full of flavour.

A few days into the trip we found a video extolling the virtues of different Vietnamese dishes, we wrote down the ones that sounded good on a piece of paper. Then when we were out and about we could point to the paper and someone would always help us in the right direction. It was fun because you almost let the person you’re asking decide what you’ll be having. It worked great and I wish we had done it more often.

One of the highlights was Tamarind crab from a little place at An Bang beach. The sweet and sour flavours were incredible and it was fun (and time consuming) tearing the crab open to find all the meat. It was a very messy dish but the sticky sauce was good enough to lick off your fingers.

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In Hanoi we had some amazing Banh Mi, a baguette filled with pork and asian salad with a spicy or not so spicy sauce. It was the best lunch ever and we got an even better one from a random cart on the outskirts of Ho Chi Minh. I think the one in Ho Chi cost about 40p! People say they lose weight in Asia, but I’m not so sure with all that bread.

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Leia wasn’t a fan of noodle soup, difficult in a nation that eats Pho (noodle soup) from am to pm. However on our list was bun mam, something we found in a market in Danang. We were laughed at for asking after Banh xeo (more on that soon) but were led to the usual plastic stools and served amazing noodles and meat with just a spoonful of broth and sauce. We were served by the smallest old lady ever, and she couldn’t stop smiling at us as we wolfed it down.

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As for Banh xeo, this is the most random dish, it’s based around an eggy type pancake with maybe shrimp or pork cooked into it. You then get a plate of greens, some kind of spicy sauce, maybe with peanuts. Finally you get rice paper which you proceed to wrap everything else up in. It was super tasty and I love anything that you can eat without cutlery. Probably some leftover Neanderthal blood, that or I’m just gross.

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I imagine everyone has tried spring rolls, but possibly not Vietnamese spring rolls, they have similar fillings but are wrapped in gooey rice paper and taste about ten times fresher than deep fried versions (which you still get in Vietnam).

There are too many dishes in Vietnam to get through, one of many reasons I’ll be back there. The final dish we loved was similar to banh xeo only instead of pancakes it was pork skewers that you wrapped up. In fact we struck lucky with a restaurant called Ba Le Well in Hoi An, where we got pancakes and pork! Along with a form of kimchi, you got platefuls of the stuff but we were too reserved to ask for more when offered.

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The pork skewer version is called Nem Nuong and came with a delicious satay type sauce.

One of the best dishes we had was from a tiny little place in Ho Chi Minh. It was just a few plastic kids chairs and a cart, we didn’t know Vietnamese so just pointed to the cart and shrugged. We soon had egg, rice, sauce, salad, tofu and some kind of processed meat square. It was literally amazing and a good example of how just sitting down somewhere and asking for the staple dish works.

It’s not all plain sailing however, and again in Ho Chi Minh we stopped at a place because we couldn’t be bothered walking anymore and it was gross, a big fat guy served us and walked away before we had even finished ordering. The first and last time anyone is Asia was rude to us in a shop or restaurant.

Cambodia was last on the trip, and everywhere had BBQ. We tried it in Phnom Penh and it was so good, you get a portable camping stove topped with a dish that has a hill in the middle of it. We were disappointed we didn’t get to take charge but the young waiter was very good. Firstly a chunk of pork fat and some butter goes on the hill and broth goes around it. This is a good thing, as the fats slide down into the broth adding flavour. You then add the various meats to the hill, we got pork, chicken, beef, fish, squid and frog. The vegetables and noodles go in the broth and you spoon bowlfuls of it out. Eating the meat as it cooks through, it’s fun, social and very tasty! Everything you want in food.

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The other thing we had in Cambodia was bugs! We did it the posh way and went to a place called Bugs Cafe in Siem Reap. Owned by a Frenchman they do posh bug dishes such as burgers, skewers, spring rolls and Mediterranean styles. We went for a platter and it was great, once you get past the fact you’re eating bugs the flavours are really good. We had tarantula donut, fire ant spring rolls, silkworm larvae and crickets in Mediterranean veg and a skewer with spider, waterbug and crickets on it. All washed down with a jug of beer, it was a fun and worthwhile experience. A very controlled way of trying bugs for the first time, and it makes a good story!

The food in Asia is so tasty, fresh, and satisfying that I couldn’t get enough of it. I think I had western food 3 times or so in the 6 weeks we were there. Even simple fried rice or noodle dishes were great and there was so much more to try. Unfortunately when on a budget it’s hard to go for the more expensive £3-4 dishes when you can get a main for 50p, but I wish we had tried some more things! Three is always next time though ;).