The Best Place to Stay in Seychelles

These granitic and coral islands, around 1,100 miles from the Tanzanian coast, are wilder and less glossily perfect than the Maldives, to the north and east. But they are certainly alluring, with the attractions of surreal rock formations, lush forests and Creole heritage, as well as some of the world’s best beaches and cerulean seas.

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Aerial view of Anse Georgette, Praslin

That’s why, one week ago, we decided to come so far to celebrate our special day and to get married on a beautiful little beach in La Digue Island.

Seychelles, with its 115 islands has many options in terms of beaches and accommodations. The three largest islands and also the more developed and touristic are Mahe, Praslin and La Digue.  All of them are really beautiful, with pristine white sand beaches, turquoise waters and beautiful landscapes and the choice is yours. It depends if you like to relax and cycling around the island-easy to do in La Digue – or if you are more interested in a larger islands with a more vast choice of restaurants – Praslin or Mahe.

After visiting all of the three islands, we can probably say that Praslin is the right compromise if you don’t have enough time to explore all of them.

As some of you have heard, we were supposed to fly to Madagascar after Seychelles, keen to explore the island and to enjoy our “honeymoon” there.

Unfortunately following the current plague issue we had to change our plans and we decided to extend our stay here in Seychelles.

We believe that when you travel, especially for a long time, you need to feel comfortable in the place where you are and here in Seychelles at Cap Jean Marie Beach Villas we found a place where we feel at home.

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Cap Jean Marie Beach Villas

If you are planning a trip to Seychelles you might see that there are many options in terms of accommodation, from some very esclusive resorts to plenty of self catering guest houses. If you are looking for a beautiful place but at the same time you want to stay on budget (considering the Seychelles standard which is more European than African) your choice goes to one of the many guest houses in the island.

We are spending our days at Cap Jean Marie and we couldn’t have picked a better place. This little gem – 4 chalets- run by a local beautiful family is the perfect place to fully enjoy the Creole atmosphere.

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Sea View Chalet

When we arrived we made a mistake with our booking – sometimes when you book so many accommodations it happens – but the lady was so kind and understanding and she helped us to fix the matter straight away. We were suppose to spend only two days here but following the plague issue we suddenly had to change our plans. We are still trying to get at least some refund from the airline companies but until now we have only lost a lot of money. Booking a new flight and accommodations at the last minute with no flexibility on our dates on top of the Madagascar expenses wasn’t also a nice wedding gift. The family from Cap Jean Marie has helped us in every way possible, offering us a discount for our extra days, advising alternative trips to other less explored Seychelles islands and giving us their availability and support every single day. They have also upgraded us to the sea view chalet with a good bottle of sparkling wine in the fridge as honeymoon’s gift. The chalets have a wonderful view to the sea and you are actually with your feet on the beach.  They all have a private bathroom, living room and a full equipped kitchen where you can cook a nice meal and have a romantic dinner on your terrace. On lazy days you can order a delivery from one of the nearby restaurants and enjoy a beautiful sunset on the beach.

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Private Beach at Cap Jean Marie

Praslin has some of the finest beaches in the world -Anse Lazio, Anse Georgette- but if you feel just to wake up and walk to the beach, here you can do that. The chalets are actually on a small private beautiful beach where you can swim, read a book or get the perfect tan.

Sometimes “bad” things happen for a good reason. We hope the Madagascar issue will be sorted soon and all the people will be safe. We also can’t wait to explore that beautiful country; but now we are glad to be here, chilling on the beach, doing some work and exploring deeper this beautiful country until our next adventure: South Africa!

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Sunset at Cap Jean Marie

Australia in a Campervan East Coast

This was our first experience with a campervan. We were not familiar with camping or backpacking and it’s not a secret that we were a bit scared before starting this new experience. After four weeks travelling around Australia on board of our HiTop, driving 5331km from the Great Ocean Road to Cairns, we can confirm that there’s no better way to see Australia than traveling in a Campervan. Nothing beats the freedom of a campervan, especially in such a huge and beautiful country like Australia.

If you are wondering what is like travelling Australia with a campervan, the answer is: So Funny!

Most of the time you’ll be on the open road and these are straight, quiet and beautiful. The roads are smooth and there are plenty of places to pull over, fuel up, rest and why not, enjoy the view drinking a glass of wine and grilling some meat at one of the many free BBQ on the road. The country has really well developed facilities and the people are amazing, this make the journey easier and more enjoyable.

Coming from Santiago – Chile – we decided to fly straight to Sydney, spend a few days there and then fly to Melbourne and visit the city before picking up our campervan. You can either decide to fly to Melbourne and then drive to Sydney but we preferred to not drive or camp in the big cities.

SYDNEY (3 days)

Built around one of the most beautiful harbours in the world, Sydney is a vibrant, dynamic and accessible metropolis. We had the chance to visit the city with some local people, two friends from Italy who moved there years ago, and this made our  experience even better. We loved the city and our first impression of the country was superlative.

Its myriad attractions include three of Australia’s most emblematic sight – Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney Opera and Bondi Beach. With our friends we spent a beautiful day at Coogee Beach, probably not as famous as Bondi but definitely beautiful. Take a ferry to Manly Island and spend your day in this lovely suburb, walking on the main street-mall and relaxing on the beach. Only the view from the ferry worth the visit.

Mrs Macquarie’s Chair. Beautiful spot to see Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House.

MELBOURNE (2 days)

Stylish, arty Melbourne is a city that’s proud of its place as Australia’s cultural capital. Here only some of the top sites: Royal Botanic Gardens, Shrine of Remembrance, Eureka Skydeck and Docklands architectures.

It’s now time to pick up our campervan and start our new adventure!

View from Eureka Tower

GREAT OCEAN ROAD (2 days) 

The Great Ocean Road is definitely one of the world’s most scenic coastal drives. This road offers you spectacular views and breath-taking landscapes. It does not matter if you are a nature lover or a city dweller, you will fall in love with Great Ocean Road if you go for a drive. This is where mountains meet Ocean and the result is incredible.

DAY 1: Torquay, Lorne, Kenner River.  Overnight: Apollo Bay

DAY 2: 12 Apostles, Loch and Gorge, London Bridge. Overnight: Mornington

DAY 3: We spent the morning relaxing at Peninsula Hot Springs, Victoria’s only geothermal hot springs with pools cascading down the valley. We reached Philip Island in the afternoon, in time for the beautiful Penguin Parade (Penguin Parade + ticket). Experience the magic of little penguins returning home at sunset to one of the largest penguin colonies in Australia. Overnight: Philip Island

DAY 4: Wilson Promontory, Gippsland Lakes. Overnight: 90 Mile Beach

DAY 5: Ben Boyd National Park Overnight: Eden

DAY 6: Depot Beach and Pepply Beach, famous for kangaroos on the beach. Overnight: Pepply Beach

DAY 7: Jervis Bay Overnight: Wollongong

DAY 8: Sea Cliff Bridge, Seal Rocks. Overnight: Seal Rocks

DAY 9: Port Macquarie, Coffs Harbour. Overnight: Ballina

DAY 10: Byron Bay

DAY 11: Gold Coast + Surfer Paradise. Overnight: Noosa Heads

DAY 12: Noosa Heads + Noosa National Park. Overnight: Rainbow Beach

Noosa Heads is definitely a must see. We loved its beautiful little town centre and the National Park. Our day was spent walking in the park, trying to spot some Koalas and enjoying the breath-taking views (Noosa National Coastal Walk). After this lovely walk, was then time to relax and swim on one of the many beautiful little beaches.

Noosa Park Coastal Walk

DAY 13-14 FRASER ISLAND

The local people call it K’Gari – paradise – and not for no reason. World Heritage-listed Fraser Island is the world’s largest sand island. Land of giant dunes, ancient rainforest – the only place in the world where rainforest grows on sand – crystal clear lakes and wildlife, including dingoes.

We booked our 2 nights/3 days tour with Peterpans Adventure Travel and we fully enjoyed our experience. We started our tour from Rainbow Beach on board of our 4WD shared with other 6 people. This Tag-Along tour gives you the option to drive the vehicle, whilst following a professional driver in the leading car. You will explore Fraser island from east to west, visiting its lakes and other beautiful landscapes. This is a chance to get away from the world but if you are not ready for an adventure, this tour might not be for you. The funny part of the tour is that you cook your meals on your own among with your group. Each group – car- will be provided with a basket with all the ingredients for every meal and then..if you can’t cook, you should be lucky to be in the right group! For the two nights you will be sleeping in a tent and during the winter season it’s not so warm after the sunset. Make sure to take with you warm clothes and a pillow! You can hire your sleeping bag for $10. Lake Mckenzie was our first stop and trust me, you will doubt it is actually a lake. Here is where pure white sand meets clear blue freshwater ringed by the rainforest. Awesome!

As the sun goes down over Fraser, you start to realise why this island is so special. Stars scatter the southern skies filling you with an overwhelming sense of connection to nature. This experience is truly unparalleled to any other camping holiday. What makes this tour special is that you are allow to drive the 4WD if you want and driving the 75 Mile Beach is so exiting and peaceful at the same time. This road is the spine of the island and it’s consider a proper highway. Enjoy the drive but drive safe!

Top Sites: Lake Mckenzie, Indian Head, Maheno Shipwreck, Champagne Pool, 75 Mile Beach, Eli Creek, Lake Wabby.

DAY 15: Returning in the afternoon from the tour, we drove to Agnes Water, where we spent the night at the Horizons Kangaroos Sanctuary where you can feed and meet kangaroos.

DAY 16: Arlie Beach

DAY 17-18: WHITSUNDAYS

The Whitsunday Islands, off the Queensland coast are a real tropical paradise. Sheltered by the Great Barrier Reef, there are no crashing waves and the waters are incredible and perfect for sailing. Of the numerous breath-taking beaches, Whitehaven Beach stands out for its pure white silica sand and crystal clear water. It is for sure the top beach in the Whitsundays and possibly on of the finest in the world. There are plenty of sailing tours that allow you to visit the islands but if you are concerned about seasickness and you prefer to spend the night on land and why not – relax at a stunning resort – Ride to Paradise is the perfect tour for you. We booked this tour with Peterpans Adventure Travel and we are glad we did it. For 2 days and nights you’ll get to see all the beauty of the islands, enjoying your evenings at Paradise Cove Resort, while spending your days on board the fast boat. Two beautiful days relaxing at the resort, swimming at Whitehaven Beach and Snorkelling the world’s largest coral reef system – the Great Barrier Reef. This tour is called Ride to Paradise and actually it is. It’s a hidden gem, it’s beauty and tranquility has to be seen to be believed.  We were lucky enough to be upgraded to the Dream Villa package. If you have the chance to book this, do it, you will never forget this experience.  You still don’t believe it? Enjoy the video: Ride to Paradise Whitsundays

P.S. An extra bonus to this tour? The food! It’s simply delicious, and you know that we don’t play with food.

DAY 19: Arlie Beach

DAY 20: Skydive, Billabong Sanctuary (where you can hold a Koala). Overnight: Townsville

SKYDIVING AT 14,000FT OVER THE WHITSUNDAY ISLANDS. There had to be some way to go out with a bang, to finish this amazing travel around Australia, and to say goodbye to a country which is incredibly beautiful and we deeply loved…So what better way than to spend our last hours in Australia jumping out of a plane? Yes, we did it! We actually jumped at 14,000ft over the Whitsunday Islands. We were in Airlie Beach, probably the most beautiful location where to skydive in Australia and one of the most beautiful in the world, so we didn’t have choice. I must admit that I’m (Veronica) anxious of heights and not a fan of small planes at all, but I felt pretty safe there.  Once you reach altitude at 14,000ft it’s jump time! And honestly you don’t have much time to realise or change your mind before the jump. Three, two…and then free fall! This is the big buzz as you reach speeds over 200km/h before the parachute is deployed! Now is when you are able to really appreciate the stunning view.

It was incredible, definitely an experience of a lifetime. After the jump we have been asked if we would do it again. Our answer: other ten times! Thanks to Skydive Australia

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Sadly all good things come to an end and it was time to say goodbye to Australia, with the promise to come back very soon.

DAY 21: Driving to Cairns. Drop off the campervan. Flight in the evening.

Bye bye Australia, it’s been a real pleasure to meet you!

BEST BEACHES TO SWIM:

Jervis Bay (NSW), White’s Beach (Broken Head, NSW), Coolangatta Beach (Gold Coast, Queensland), Noosa National Park (Queensland), Whitehaven Beach (Queensland)

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ROAD TRIP USA

ROAD TRIP USA – East to West
Route66, National Parks & California
1 Dream. 2 People. 1 Car. 25 Days. 11 States. 4275 Miles.

After spending three beautiful days in the Windy City, Chicago, we started what is probably considered the world’s greatest road trip. Road 66 – The Mother Road – is the embodiment of the American Dream. When it opened in 1926, the highway became a metaphor for freedom and promoted the belief that anything was possible beyond the horizon.

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Route 66 passes through a marvellous cross-section of American scenes, from the cornfields of Illinois all the way to the golden sands and sunshine of Los Angeles, passing by such diverse environs. Whether you are motivated by an interest in history, feel a nostalgic yearning for the “good old days” Route 66 offers an unforgettable journey into America, then and now.

Day 1: London – New York

Day 2: New York – Chicago

Day 2 – 4 (3 days): Chicago. See our 3 Days in Chicago

Day 5: Chicago (IL) to St. Louis (MO)

  • Lou Mitchell’s, Gemini Giant, Springfield (IL)

Day 6: St. Louis to Springfield (MO)

  • Gateway Arch, Bourbon, Cuba (World’s largest chair), Devil’s Elbow.

Day 7: Springfield (MO) to Oklahoma City (OK)

  • Cars on Route (Galena), John Hope Franklin Park, Meadow Gold Sign/Brady Arts District (Tulsa), Pops (Arcadia)

Day 8: Oklahoma City to Tucumcari (NM)

  • Tower Station and U-Drop Inn, Cadillac Ranch, Midpoint Cafe (Halfway Route66)

Day 9: Tucumcari to Santa Fe (NM)

Day 10: Santa Fe to Durango (CO)

  • Great Sand Dunes N.P.

Day 11-12 (2 days): Durango to Page (AZ)

  • Monument Valley + Forrest Gump Point (Mexican Hat)
  • Antelope Canyon (Upper) + Horse Shoe Bend

Day 13: Page to Valle (AZ)

  • Grand Canyon N.P. (South Rim)

Day 14-15 (2 days): Valle to Las Vegas (NV)

Day 16: Las Vegas to Lonepine (CA)

  • Death Valley N.P.

CALIFORNIA

Day 17: Lonepine to Mariposa

  • Yosemite N.P.

Day 18-21 (4 days): Mariposa to San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO

  • Alcatraz Island, Pier 39/Fisherman’s Warf, Union Square, Chinatown
  • Lombard Street, Golden Gate Bridge, Baker Beach, Sausalito
  • Coit Tower, Golden Gate Park, Haight-Ashbury, Mission District

Day 22-25 (4 days): San Francisco to Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES

  • Hollywood Hills, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills/Bel Air (Celebrities Houses)
  • Santa Monica, Venice Beach
  • Downtown
  • Laguna Beach (Orange County)

Bye Bye America!!!

and also…

Restaurants Tips:
Federales (West Loop, Chicago)
Wildberry Pancakes & Cafe (Downtown, Chicago)
The Shave Duck (St Louis)
Rooster (St Louis)
Jimm’s Steakhouse (Springfield MO)
Pearl’s Crabtown (Oklahoma City)
Pow Wow (Tucumcari)
Kik66 (Tucumcari)
La Taqueria (Mission St, San Francisco)
Wanderlust Cafe (Hollywood, L.A.)

BELIZE & GUATEMALA

BELIZE & GUATEMALA

Our Trip to Central America – First Part (November 2016)

There’s nowhere in the world quite like Central America. There are so many cultures—past and present—to learn about, so much good food to taste, and so many lovely scenes to enjoy. During our trip to Belize, Guatemala, and Mexico, we had the opportunity to appreciate all these things. Between beautiful beaches and ancient ruins, this was definitely a trip of a lifetime.

Belize (Inland)

Our vacation to Central American began when we touched down in Belize. After all the usual airport shenanigans—the long security lines, grabbing our bags from the carousel, admiring our freshly-minted passport stamps—we gathered ourselves together and went to hunt down our ride.

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Flying to Belize

Teddy (Teddy Bear Shuttle), a lovely patient man picked us up from the airport, and thank goodness he did! Our journey from the airport to the hotel took a few hours but it was so pleasant and relaxing. We made a few stops on the way going to get snacks and drinks. Teddy entertained us with many stories and curiosities about that beautiful country. We were staying at Black Rock Lodge, a unique eco-lodge nestled in the dense rainforest above the Macal River in the Mayan Mountains of Belize. The whole area seemed so exotic to us that it was hard to imagine how it all could seem commonplace to the locals! I guess if you live anywhere your whole life, it seems normal. As for us, we couldn’t stop staring at everything we saw and ‘Oohing” and “Ahhing” over all the interesting things outside our windows.

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Black Rock Lodge

Black River Lodge is located on a rough road, half an hour outside of San Ignacio. This city is part of a larger area, District, named “El Cayo” that was settled by the Spanish during colonial times. San Ignacio was populated by people involved in the Mahogany production business, but today it boasts a diverse population that depends quite a bit on the tourism generated by nearby Mayan sites.

We got to stay three nights at Black Rock Lodge. (We wish we could have stayed longer!) The view was incredible. Black Rock Lodge is nestled into the Mayan Mountains, and it overlooks the Macal River. The rooms look directly into the rainforest, so we could see things like toucans right from our window. If you want, the staff helps you birdwatch so you can see all the exotic species in the yard. It’s a popular activity at the lodge. The rooms are decorated to blend in a bit with the natural surroundings. We loved to lay in the hammock outside our room, reading a book or taking a nap. There are also a lot of activities that the hotel can set you up to do, and when we arrived we already had our itinerary all set up. We will always keep Black Rock Lodge in our heart, for the magical atmosphere and the lovely staff. A special thanks to Giovanni.

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Black Rock Lodge

The first thing we did was go cave tubing and zip-lining. If you’ve ever been on a lazy river ride at a theme park, you can probably imagine what cave tubing is like. Now take away all the screaming kids and sunburnt masses and add the ambiance of the tropical forest, wildlife, and mystical-looking caves. We floated though the caves on our inner tubes, wondering at the natural rock formations and interesting sights along the way. Our day of adventure ended with Zip-Lining. We can’t explain how fun and cool it was! This video we made https://youtu.be/bc9EXEhgqlM describes it better than any words.

Guatemala

During our time in Belize we took a day excursion into Guatemala. After all, if you’re going to stay that close to a Mayan ruins site like Tikal, you can’t pass it up! On the way to Tikal we stopped at two beautiful spots for pictures and videos. We couldn’t miss those beautiful landscapes. Macanché Lake and Lake Petén Itzá.

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Macanché Lake, Guatemala

After a few hours drive, crossing the Belize-Guatemala border, adding many more stamps to our passports; we finally arrived in Tikal. Tikal was as cool as we had hoped. In the heart of the jungle, surrounded by lush vegetation, lies one of the major sites of Mayan civilization, inhabited from the 6th century B.C. to the 10th century A.D. The ceremonial centre contains superb temples and palaces, and public squares accessed by means of ramps. The Tikal National Park is probably one of the most fascinating places that we have ever seen.

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Tikal, Guatemala

Tikal Temple I is the major structure at Tikal. It’s about 150 feet high and has way too many stairs. It’s amazing to think that a city could be in use for so many years and then just get abandoned like that. Tikal was one of the most important and powerful metropolitan areas for the Maya, with strong and famous kings and extravagant streets lines with beautiful architecture. Today, of course, the buildings still stand, but all the color and finery is gone. The stones are bleached gray by wind and weather, and we could only imagine what the city must have been like in its zenith, when it was teeming with life and filled with the hopes and dreams of 90,000 people.

After losing ourselves in this fascinating mystical culture it was time to leave the Central America hinterland.

Belize (Sea)

We drove back to Belize City and we took a water taxi to CAYE CAULKER. After the shade of the caves and the dampness of the rainforest, it was nice to get out into the sunshine and enjoy the sea! The island of Caye Caulker is a little slice of paradise, about 5 miles (north to sound) and by less than 1 mile (east to west). It is a small limestone coral island off the coast of Belize, about 40 miles from the Great Blue Hole. We enjoyed the warm sand and letting the surf tickle our toes. We could probably be perfectly happy laying in a hammock on the beach at Caye Caulker forever! There are no cars on the island and the motto is “Go Slow”! The food is delicious, if you love eating fish, like us, you can get a whole, fresh lobster for a few dollars! Don’t fancy fish? Try the spicy Jerk Chicken with beans and rise. Delicious!

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Caye Caulker, Belize

Speaking of ocean, Belize has a massive reef under the surface of the deep blue sea. The Belize Barrier Reef is a World Heritage Site and is one of the most biodiverse places on the planet! You have the chance to dive or snorkel in the second largest reef in the world. We were amazed by the hundreds of different kinds of colorful fish and coral we saw while snorkeling! It was pretty incredible. We were lucky to swim with turtles and sharks! It sounds pretty gutsy, but the sharks we got close to aren’t dangerous at all. Whale sharks are gentle, and we weren’t (too) nervous to get close to them. Still, it makes us sound like real daredevils to say we swam with sharks! Thanks God we had our new GoPro, we can now relive those emotions every time we want. Watch our video on YouTube. https://youtu.be/qOc66Wnc9RE

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Snorkeling, Hol Chan Reef

After our incredible time in Belize and Guatemala, it was time to head to Mexico. Keep reading our adventures on our Mexico’s post and watch our Belize & Guatemala video below. Thank you!

P.S. “Go Slow!”

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Caye Caulker, Belize