Exploring Europe: Acropolis of Rhodes, Lindos, Rhodes, Greece

The most famous landmark in the village of Lindos is the Acropolis. Overlooking the village, you'll be able to see for miles once you make it to the top. A long hard slog to get there, even more so when you've been to a rooftop bar the night before, you soon forget about how much your legs are aching when you are greeted by the endless views. Make sure to stop a few moments and truly take in the sights below you. I'd recommend going as early in the day if you can to avoid the crowds and the heat. We ventured up about 2pm and it was pretty busy and the sun was in full swing.

Entry to the Acropolis costs 12 euro and you can pay in care or in cash at the top. Children can enter for free. Once you're through the barrier there are more steps to climb before you get the very top. You'll find lots of donkeys in and around the area at the bottom. Although they look well looked after I don't really agree with riding the donkeys up the steep hill in the searing heat. It doesn't quite sit right with me.

Built around 300 BC, the temple of Athena Lindia grow under the Romans with more building being added. The buildings fell into disuse during the medieval times. In the 14th century they were overlaid by a massive fortress. Work is still being done today to help preserve the ancient buildings. 

Be sure to keep away from the edge as there isn't any barriers to stop you toppling off. That Instagram post isn't worth falling headfirst into the surrounding sea and rocks. 

I'd recommend a drink in Lindos By Night as the rooftop bar offers a fantastic view of the acropolis all lit up in the evening. 


Postcards from Lindos, Rhodes

Well I'm a bit behind with everything recently - just where is the time going? I feel like this year has completely flown past and I haven't kept up my new year resolution to keep on top of this blog! But I thought I'd do a little postcards from Lindos post from my trip back in September.

Our picture editor at work was getting married in Lindos on the isle of Rhodes and invited the whole team over to Greece to celebrate. So in September we all trekked to Gatwick and made the trip over to Lindos to take H&P on tour for a few days! I hadn't been to Greece since I was a kid so was excited to experience one of the islands as an adult and tick Rhodes off my list. I was expecting white-washed houses, little coves you could get lost in and history on every corner. And it was exactly what I experienced. I don't really do 'relaxing' holidays, always so keen to cram so much in so I don't feel like I've missed out as soon as I get home.  So this trip was such a welcome change and made me think maybe I should try relaxing more often!

Well relaxing during the day anyway! I don't think I went to bed before 3am for the four nights I was there. I didn't think I still had that in me. I thought that had all passed away by the time I entered my mid-twenties! Part of me is a little proud I can still do it night after night. Just about! Who knew Lindos was such a great place to party the night away... I had so much fun and don't think I stopped laughing the whole time I was there. But by the time it rolled around to Monday I was ready to come back to normal life and my own bed. I don't think any of us truly recovered from the four nights until after the following weekend. Turns out dancing all night really does take its toll...

Lindos is a great place in Rhodes, especially if you go with a big group of friends. It has the rooftop buzzing bars for those who want to party with the best of them. It has the stunning acropolis for those who love a bit of history. It has the endless winding streets of shops for those who love to pick up a souvenir or two. It has beautiful beaches for those who love nothing more than laying in the sun. It has cute little tavernas for those who love to try local food. It's a good hour from the airport which can sometimes put people off but I'd say it was well worth the trek.  This little jolly to Rhodes has made me want to explore so much more of the Greek islands - especially those much more remote, less touristy gems I've heard so much about.


Four places where you should eat if you visit Birmingham

Digbeth Dining Club
This was a suggestion from Iain on Instagram and I'm so glad we managed to fit it in. If you've ever been to one of the Street Feast locations in London then this is very similar. Digbeth remindS me a bit of Shoreditch. It's pretty gritty and full of street art but lots of hipster bars and restaurants. Boasting numerous bars and street food stalls, Digbeth Dining Club is a great place to hang out for a few hours eating some good food and enjoying some ice cold beer. My friend Jay went for some steamed buns which I can confirm were absolutely delicious. I had some sriracha smothered fried chicken strips which were delightfully mouth-tingling and very addictive. We decided to share a trio of deep fried cookie dough desserts which were just as sickly and delicious as they sound! Keep in mind there is a £2 cash charge to get in but the stall do accept card.

Wayland's Yard
This was a cracking suggestion from Emma via Twitter. Gotta love social media! Located just footsteps from the Bull Ring it's a great shout if you're staying nearby. Emma recommended the eggy crumpets which I definitely had to try as soon as I knew they existed. I loved the cool vibe of the cafe and service was so friendly. I highly recommend grabbing a cronut for the road as they were delicious!

Original Patty Men
This was a suggestion by Roisin who told me I would love it and she was 100% right! Located not too far from the Bull Ring in Digbeth under some railway arches, this burger joint offers five different types of burgers alongside some specials. I opted for the spicy Korean inspired patty with lashings of gochujang sauce. Perfect! Jay and I shared chicken chunks which were more or less giant thighs and a portion of O.D.B fries. A delicious concoction of triple cooked skin on fries topped with an addictive nice mix, house slaw, coriander, lime, sriracha mayo, crispy fried onions and chopped spring onion. They were one of the best fries I have ever had. Such a dreamy combination.

Indian Brewery Co
I read about this place on Time out and it piqued my interest because it reminded me a bit of Dishoom in London. Whilst not as good as Dishoon it was a pretty solid shout. We opted for around four dishes to share between us so we could try a bit of everything. Stand out dishes for me included the paneer roti roll and crispy chicken Bombay bites. Sadly they were in the process of moving their brewery so we couldn't try some of their special beers.

Postcards from Birmingham

Earlier this year my best friend Jay and I decided we needed a weekend away together bonding. Actually it was probably me that needed it the most as I have a tendency to become a bit needy at times... A weekend full of too many cocktails, endless eating and the chance to put the world to rights. The August bank holiday was the perfect situation. We wasn't bothered on where we went, we just wanted somewhere within two hours drive from home. I got on the case with the Travelodge website and stumbled across a hotel in Birmingham which was offering a two night stay for under £25 each. Sorted!

I had never been to Birmingham before but as a keen, obsessive Peaky Blinder's fan it was going to crop up on my radar eventually. We just so happened to be in the city the weekend the first episode of the fifth series aired. What a twist of fate!

We got up early and left Essex fuelled with a Macdonald's breakfast with the mission to finally tick off a trip to Cadbury's World at the grand age of 30. We were the only two adults visiting who didn't have an army of kids with them so it was a bit chaotic. But it was really good and worth a visit, not least because they kept handing out free bars of chocolate as you made your way round.

After we'd arrived in Birmingham we checked in and heading straight out for some burgers which pretty much set the precedent for the rest of the weekend. We didn't stop eating. Who knew Birmingham had such a great food scene? We headed to the main strip of Broad Street which reminded us far too much of our nights out in Magaluf. We wasn't drunk enough for that so we headed back to the canal which was much more civilised and found a cracking pub offering tune after tune on the dance floor.

I'm not sure I'll head back to Birmingham any time soon. It seemed pretty empty and whilst some parts were buzzing, others were completely dead which was a weird experience considering it's a city. But it's a great place to visit for a weekend if you're a keen foodie, Digbeth especially was pretty cool and reminded me as a scuffier version of Shoreditch. Kinda how Shoreditch used to be before the bankers started zoning in on it...


10 things I wish I'd known before visiting south-east Asia for the first time

Taking a trip to Malaysia was my first time I had ever been to south-east Asia. It was a massive culture shock to be somewhere so different from home. I like to think of myself as pretty well traveled despite only having been to Europe and North America but it completely took me by surprise. It was unlike anywhere I had been before. Here are ten things I wish I'd known before travelling to the region for the first time.

1. Be prepared for squat toilets
For some reason I only though squat toilets existed in China which is ridiculous. This is not the case. Now there is absolutely nothing wrong with squat toilets but it is just something I'm not quite used to. They take a hell of a lot of time to get used to when you've only ever used a western loo. All there restaurants always had a western loo but keep in mind some service stations and temples only have squat loos...

2. The toilets don't always have toilet paper
It seems to be very heavy on the old toilet situation doesn't it? But one thing I really noticed about going to the loo in Malaysia is that toilet paper is in short supply. Luckily I had already been warned about this from Michelle so always had some in my bag. I would have come unstuck a fair few times if it wasn't for her! All toilets have toilet sprayer which again was something I had never come across before. But you can use them instead of using toilet paper if you forget it.

3. Health and safety is not the same as home
We had a rather hairy time involving some fireworks and fire crackers which scared the life out of me! You could tell someone hadn't watched the firework safety video at school as a kid... Heath and safety doesn't really exist the over there and it definitely takes a while to go used to. You just have to learn to turn a blind eye!

4. Be prepared for people to ask you for pictures
I'd never been to a country where I was the minority before and one thing that really stood out for me was people asking me for my picture! One family asked me to pose with their children. Another man secretly filmed me when I was buying some food. People really did stare, especially where our friends lived as it wasn't a very touristy place so we stood out like a sore thumb. It wasn't uncomfortable and no one was rude but it took a while to get used to.

5. Drivers don't always stop at red lights
Driving in Malaysia was certainly an experience, luckily our friend was there to navigate. Everyone drives on the same side of the road as we do in the UK but that's where the similarities end! We were ok driving in Langkawi as it was pretty quiet. But on the mainland it was chaotic. No one seems to indicate, no one seems to stop at a red light and the traffic can be horrendous. The no stopping at a red light was particularly scary!

6.  Leave your shoes at the door before you enter guesthouses
I'm used to taking my shoes off at home at the door but it's never been expected of me to take them off at a guesthouse before I enter reception. It's a sign of respect in Malaysia so many will ask you to leave your shoes inside. This is why when you walk past any guesthouse you will see piles of shoes outside. If I had realised this I would have packed a pair of slippers.

7.  The sheer amount of whitening beauty products
I ran out of moisturiser while we were out there and popped to the pharmacy to pick up some more. It took me a good 15 m minutes to find something that didn't have 'whitening' or 'bleach' in the description. I couldn't quite believe the sheer amount of whitening products on sale from body lotion to deodorant. It's quite a sad sight if I'm honest and really makes you think.

8. No one wears helmets on mopeds 
No one at all wears a crash helmet on a moped, not even a six month old baby. Literally everyone drives around helmet free and it gives me a heart attack. See what I mean by heath and safety is not the same as home? Just because no one else seems to wear a helmet doesn't mean you should skip it if you decided to hire a moped.

9.  Sometimes eating western food affects you more than the local food
I love to stick to local food whenever I visit a new country but sometimes you just have a craving for food that reminds you of home. I'm talking burgers, pizza and chips. Sometimes needs must! I have no problem eating street food wherever I am despite people often warning against it. I think it's the best way to get a feel for a country. I was shocked that the times I felt a bit out of sorts - and really poorly at one point - was when I opted for the western food. So keep in mind eating western food won't necessary be better for your stomach!

10. The humidity is unlike anything I would have ever experienced before

My friend said before we went that in Malaysia you are always wet. Be it from the rain or from sweat because of the humidity. I thought he was exaggerating. But he wasn't! I wish I had been much better prepared to deal with it. Maybe taking a misting spray or lighter clothes from natural fabrics. It can get pretty intense!

Postcards from Dublin

Last month we spent a few days in Dublin for Connor's 30th birthday and we both fell in love with the Irish capital. There isn't a lot to see in Dublin but the best thing about the city in my opinion is simply wandering around, dipping in and out pubs stopping for a quick drink to soak up the atmosphere.

The city is extremely touristy, we joked that you heard more American accents on the streets then you did Irish. It's really busy and you'll spend your days dodging people especially in the Temple Bar area. It took a while for us to get used tooas all the other places we've visited in Ireland haven't really had to many tourists. The city felt very European which was a surprise and at times it didn't feel like we'd only flown over the Irish Sea.

One thing I'd 100% recommend should you find yourself in the city is book a tour at Kilmainham Gaol as it was the best thing we did. We may be biased and have a huge interest in Irish history because of my boyfriend's heritage but it was so fascinating. I thought I already knew a fair bit about the partition of Ireland and the Easter Risings but the guide was incredibly knowledgable and offered snippets of history I had no idea of. You have to book a fair few weeks in advance because it sells out very quickly. It's only around 8 Euro.

As cliche as it may be it's also worth booking a tour around the Guinness Storehouse. The self-guided tour is a lot of fun and it's fairly interactive too. You get top enjoy a free pint of the black stuff in a bar offering 360 degree views of the entire city. Keep in mind its a fairly long way to walk from Temple Bar but it's quite a nice walk to enjoy. Definitely go for at least one drink in Temple Bar, I don't think it's worth spending your whole night in there but it's definitely worth a quick tipple to say that you've done it!

We had such a fab time in Dublin that we're thinking about when we can pop back for a second round!


My top ten must see sights and places to see in Malaysia

I've been back from Malaysia for nearly six months now and still can't stop thinking about it. It was such an incredible trip and at times I can't quite believe I was able to visit such a stunning country. Travel is pretty incredible eh? I feel like we covered so much ground during our trip but there is still so much of Malaysia we still didn't get to see. But if you're planning your own trip travelling around the country, here are ten places and sights you absolutely have to put on your itinerary.

1. Take a tour of a tea plantation in Cameron Highlands
The tea plantations in Cameron Highlands were stunning. I had no idea rows upon rows of tea could be so beautiful. You'll struggle to buy tea from this area outside Malaysia as they don't make enough to export it to other countries. The towns which make up the Cameron Highlands are very touristy but it's well worth making the effort to go all that way up above sea level. Definitely make sure you book yourself on a guided tour as you'll get so much out of it. I'd recommend Eco Cameron who promote sustainable tourism and have such knowledgable guides. He really did make our trip.

2. Spend a day in Melacca
To me, Melacca was exactly how I had imagined Malaysia to look like when I had images in my head. The city is full of old colonial buildings from when the Dutch and British colonised the country.  It is quite tourist heavy so keep this in mind. The best things to do is simply wander and soak up the atmosphere. It has a fab cafe culture so you'll find lots of cute places to sit down, escape from the blistering sunshine and rehydrate before heading off on to the next site. Make sure you climb to the top of the hill to St Paul's Church for some cracking views over the city.

3. Go to the top of the Petronas Towers
No trip to any capital city is complete without a visit to the top of the tallest building right? Admission to the Petronas Towers is around £15 (depending on the exchange rate) and this includes a visit to Sky Bridge which connects the two towers together and the main observation deck on the 86th floor. Seeing KL below you really is a sight to behold.

4. Try all the street food in George Town
I don't know about you but one of my favourite things about traveling to different places is trying the local food. In fact I plan most of my holidays around food. If you're a foodie too then you're in for a treat in George Town. The city had the best food I ate in Malaysia. Make sure you pay a trip to all the hawker stalls. If you have a travelling partner share dishes so you can try twice as much.

5. See the street art in Ipoh
Much like George Town Ipoh is full of cool street art. Some of it has been created by Ernest Zacharevic who was commissioned to do the street art in George Town too. Seeing the murals does get busy so go hunting for them early on the morning to beat the crowds.

6.  Stay off the grid in The Sticks
You'll need a car in order to make it to The Sticks but the off the grid guesthouse is well worth attempting those Malaysian roads for. Located in Fraser's Hill, this guesthouse is surrounded by flowing rivers and lush forest. You won't be blessed with any WIFI signal which is a god send. Enjoy home cooked food, going down the rapids in rubber dingy, talking long leisurely walks and if you're feeling adventurous, paragliding.

7.  Visit Chinese temples
I don't know if it was because it was my first time to Asia and I'd never been to any type of temple before but I absolutely loved seeing all the Chinese temples during my trip. We went during Chinese New year so they were so packed and it gave a great insight into everyday life. I was fascinated. Everyone was so welcoming to us and took the time to give us tours and tells us all about traditions which was so kind.

8.  Do the Sky Cab in Langkawi
This isn't something I enjoyed but something that you absolutely have to do if you find yourself in Langkawi. I'm so glad I did it! The Sky Cab is the steepest cable car in the world and it definitely feels like it when you're in it. You're treated to absolutely stunning 360 degree views of the whole island and it will blow you away.

9.  Hire a car and take a road trip
The first week we were in Malaysia we took an epic road trip consisting of six different cities and towns in seven days. It was pretty intense being in a new place practically every day but it was such a fantastic way to see the country. It made you appreciate the cities even more because you knew you didn't have much time there to explore. Road users are pretty chaotic in Malaysia but they all drive on the same side of the road as us so it makes it a little easier.

10. Take a rainforest trek in Cameron Highlands
We did an organised tour with Eco Cameron for a visit to the Mossy Forest. The Mossy forest a type of environment which only exists in Cameron Highlands and Malaysia. Driving 6,666 feet above sea level to the eco-system our guide took us on a walk to explain all the different type of plants. It was so interesting and incredibly sobering to listen to what will happen to this eco-system if we fail to look after it.


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