Antigua is known for being something of a tropical heaven, full of lush forestry, friendly locals and 365 beaches – one for every day of the year.
But did you also know that this slice of Caribbean paradise is also a foodie’s haven? As an island built on sugar plantations and rum distilleries, it comes as no surprise that Antigua is full of culinary delights. The unique cuisine of Antigua is Caribbean fare with a European / American twist, and there are so many options to tickle your taste buds.
Here are just a few of our top picks of the cuisine you need to try.
Traditionally eaten at home with your family at the weekend, this salt-cured white fish is normally eaten with onions, peppers, avocado and eggs. This can also include fungi, a cornmeal dish that is an Antiguan staple. Pairing well with the strongly-seasoned fish, this meal is the perfect way to start your day.
TRY IT YOURSELF: ‘Suga Beez’ in St. Johns is known for its home-style Antiguan cuisine and a friendly welcome. With veggie options available, the locals are certainly living up to their welcoming reputation.
You can’t go to the Caribbean without experiencing the phenomenal seafood! If you are relaxing on an Antiguan beach and spot some spiral shells washed up on the shire, you have discovered conch. Similar to clams, conch meat is used in curries, chowder and many other delights.
TRY IT YOURSELF: Hemmingway’s Caribbean Café, St Johns is raved about by visitors. Try the conch fritters for a true Antiguan foodie experience.
The perfect side dish. Ducana consists of sweet potato and coconut. Wrapped in a banana leaf and steamed into a dumpling, ducana really is a flawless balance of spicy and sweet.
TRY IT YOURSELF: Locals rave about The Quay, St Johns. While this is close to where the cruise ships docks, don’t write this place off as a tourist trap – their ducana is raved about as the best on the island.
Although not strictly Antiguan, you cannot visit the Carribbean without sampling some of this classic comfort food. This Jamaican import is coated in spice and slow cooked over a fire for optimum flavour. Sample it yourself to discover just why it is so popular with the locals.
TRY IT YOURSELF: Indulge your senses at Dennis Cocktail Bar and Restaurant. Eat this delicacy on the beach as the sun goes down for an Antiguan experience like no other.
Which of these Antiguan cuisines would you like to try first? Let us know in the comments below!
Did you know that more Americans celebrate Thanksgiving every year than Christmas?
A national holiday since 1864, Thanksgiving is a day full of food, family and most importantly, giving thanks for all the positive things in your life. While it is traditional to celebrate the holiday at home with your loved ones, you can experience countless different traditions by travelling around the United States.
Here’s our top choices for where to spend your Thanksgiving break – from the traditional, to the historical, to the down-right wacky!
For a tranquil getaway, opt for some sun and take off to Hawaii. While the rest of America is wearing jumpers and scarves, you will be having a ball in Waikiki resting on a hot beach, paddling in crystal clear waters and enjoying the gentle ocean breeze. If you don’t want to miss out on the traditional meal, head to one of the beachfront restaurants for an incredible Thanksgiving buffet with your loved ones.
AFTER THE FEAST: Burn off those extra calories by taking part in Waikiki’s ‘Turkey Trot’, a 10km fun run with over 4000 participants each year. Alternatively, show off your artistic talents by taking part in one of the many Christmas themed sand-sculpture competition.
New York City, New York
New York is probably the most well-known place that you can celebrate the holiday in a traditional sense. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade is one of the most famous and is broadcast nationwide on Thanksgiving morning every year, featuring marching bands, novelty balloons and a giant turkey float. After your front-row view of the parade, take the pressure off cooking a huge meal and dine out at one of The Big Apple’s thousands of restaurants – although some fixed-price menus will be pricy, the quality of the cuisine will always be sublime.
AFTER THE FEAST: Every shop in New York will primed and ready for Black Friday the next day, so celebrate the end of the holiday in style and shop til’ you drop.
Although a small coastal town rather than a city, Plymouth is where the Thanksgiving tradition began. After watching the annual parade, spend your day at the incomparable Plimoth Plantation. Once a colonist’s village and now a living history museum, interact with Pilgrim actors and Native interpreters to learn the fascinating history of America’s biggest holiday. Join others from around the world to indulge in a traditional New England dinner, featuring native turkey, and giblet gravy. This is a once-in-a lifetime event, and tickets sell fast every year.
AFTER THE FEAST: Experience everything America’s hometown has to offer. Enjoy concerts celebrating America’s military history and rich history, or – if you have any room left – sample yet more delicious delights at the Harvest Market and New England Food Festival.
San Francisco, California
Thanksgiving is the perfect time to discover The City by the Bay. Many tourist attractions remain open over the holiday, but if you want to celebrate like a local, spend the day on the water. Our recommendation? Take in a sunset cruise around the California coastline after your meal. For an incredible alternative activity, join the ‘Indigenous People's Sunrise Gathering at Alcatraz’ in the early hours of the morning, featuring traditional dancing, singing and other performances.
AFTER THE FEAST: Make sure you stick around for the unmissable Macy’s ‘Annual Tree Lighting Festival’ in Union Square the next day. Choir performances and a special visit from Santa make for the perfect family day out.
New Orleans, Louisiana
For all-American festivities with a twist, head to the Deep South. New Orleans enjoy their own parade in the form of the Bayou Classic Thanksgiving Parade - the most alternative part of your Thanksgiving will be the cuisine. Try some New Orleans classics including deep-fried turkey and the aptly-named ‘Turducken’. Consisting of a chicken stuffed inside a duck, stuffed inside a turkey, this delicacy is a meat-lover’s paradise.
AFTER THE FEAST: Hang around in New Orleans to experience the spectacular ‘Celebration of the Oaks’ the next day. Join 165,000 others in City Park for breath-taking light displays throughout the 25-acre grounds.
Where would you love to celebrate Thanksgiving this year? Let us know in the comments below!
We all love the beginning of the winter season – nights in by a crackling fire, cosy knitwear and mug after mug of hot chocolate. However, there comes a time when we are all crying out for some well needed sunshine.
Luckily, there are plenty of locations around the world that offer opportunities to soak up the rays and starve off the winter blues.
Here’s our top picks of places to jet off to for a winter sun escape.
Dubai is a popular destination all year round. Beat the 41-degree summer heat to enjoy more comfortable temperatures in the winter months. Dubai is home to luxurious hotels, the largest shopping mall in the world, waterparks and incredible international cuisine. With countless activities for all ages, Dubai really does have something for all ages.
Malta is the perfect destination for a last minute sunny break, located just three hours by plane from the frosty UK. Enjoy this volcanic island’s famous year-round sunshine, without having to share it with hundreds of other tourists. It’s time to ditch the woolly jumpers and pack your bathing suit to spend a few days absorbing Malta’s history, indulging in freshly caught seafood and of course, soaking up some well-earned Vitamin D.
Florida is an ideal haven from the chilly winter weather – it is nicknamed the Sunshine State after all. With over 1000 miles of coastline and temperatures lower than thirty degrees, heading to Florida in the winter provides the perfect weather for exploring. Plus, the temperature of the sea will still be around 25 degrees, so go and take a dip! Theme parks, sandy beaches and vibrant cities will complete your trip – Florida really does have something for everyone.
Turkey is a great choice for winter sun – take advantage of the fact that attractions will be much quieter than in the summer months, leaving you with the best views for all your photo ops. Not to mention the fact that Turkey offers incredible value for money, so you can browse markets and bazaars for unique Christmas presents without breaking the bank. With some incredible all-inclusive offers available, you really are spoilt for choice.
Treat your special someone to the trip of a lifetime and jet off to St. Lucia. Chase away the winter blues in this Caribbean paradise. With tropical scenery, endless sandy stretches and the most phenomenal sunsets, St. Lucia is perfect for any couple looking for some quality time in the sun. How could you resist?
Where would you like to go on your winter sun escape? Let us know in the comments below!
Since 1994, International Vegan Month has been celebrated each November and demonstrates how much the plant-based movement has progressed.
There are some major cities - such as Berlin and Melbourne - that have had a stellar reputation for vegan food for years. However, demand has resulted in more and more locations around the globe embracing the diet - including some that you wouldn’t expect.
Here are just a few of the alternative locations around the world where you can indulge in plant-based delights. Cruelty-free cuisine has never tasted so good.
Los Angeles, USA
Los Angeles has the most vegan listings of any US city, and its cruelty- conscious inhabitants are leading the way with plant-based cuisine. LA has everything from high-end eateries frequented by the stars to the famous LA juice bars on every street corner. There really is something for everyone – even your meat loving friends.
Where to Eat: For the ultimate guilty pleasure, visit Donut Friend. With a huge selection of mouth-watering unique doughnuts, you will be spoiled for choice.
With around 10% of the population opting for a meat-free diet due to their Buddhist practises, Taipei is one of the most vegan-friendly destinations in Asia. Chefs are reinterpreting traditional Taiwanese cuisine with fresh, local ingredients to create the vegan fare of your wildest dreams. From pop-up eateries to gourmet cuisine, you will be spoiled for choice.
Where to Eat: Buffets are normally out of the question for vegans, but opt to visit Fruitful Food to fuel up during your trip for plant-based internationally inspired cuisine. (Note: some of the products will include dairy, but the majority of options are vegan!)
Although the eruption of vegan restaurants in Warsaw may have looked like just a food fad, their popularity means they are now a permanent feature of the city. With over 30 entirely vegan eateries, you can now sample reinterpretations of traditional Polish cuisine – all cruelty free. The vegan fare in Poland is so good that many meat eaters also frequent the establishments.
Where to Eat: Mango Vegan Street Food is situated in the heart of the city, and so is the perfect stop amongst your sightseeing. Don’t forget to try their speciality, mango sticky rice.
India is actually considered to be the birthplace of vegetarianism! Around half of India’s population follow a meat-free diet, and the rest of the country has the lowest meat consumption per head in the world. Chennai is seen to be the country’s trailblazer for cruelty-free cuisine, with local delights including rice, pulses and coconut milk.
Where to Eat: For a culinary experience to remember, dine in The Royal Vega, one of India’s first vegetarian and vegan-friendly fine dining establishments.
For a foodie break slightly closer to home, there is no better option than heading to the capital. London has over 100 plant-based establishments, so you have plenty of choice during this city adventure. London has created vegan versions of some of your favourite comfort food, from fried chicken to doner kebabs! What will you try first?
Where to Eat: Itadaki Zan is the first vegan and organic Japanese restaurant in Europe, and has been making waves on the jam-packed foodie scene. Try the tofu spring rolls and ‘kakiage’ tempura for the ultimate treat.
Have you ever tried the cuisine in any of these alternative vegan-friendly cities? Let us know in the comments below!
For us Brits, November is the month when the clocks go back, Christmas lights go up and temperatures fall into single figures. It’s no wonder we crave winter sun…
It’s also the month when the northern and southern hemisphere switches hands. Many places that were not open to tourists due to the rainy season (or humidity) are now in full swing. If you’re looking to fit in a holiday before the festive season begins, here are ten places we recommend.
First off, we have the Caribbean – all of it. November is when most Caribbean resorts open up for the tourist season but it’s not high season quite yet. Whether it’s dancing in Cuba, listening to reggae in Jamaica, or admiring the beautiful landscape of Saint Lucia, November is a great time to explore this beautiful part of the world.
Just across the Gulf, Mexico is also a great option in November. Not only is the weather amazing, but the first two days of the month are spent celebrating the Day of the Dead Festival (Dia de Muertos). It’s a public holiday and is dedicated to remembering loved ones who have passed on. Janitzio in Lake Pátzcuaro, and Xochimilco in Mexico City are the best places to join in the festivities.
3. Deep South of America
The tourist season in most of the USA begins to slow down in winter, but the Deep South is still in full swing. So whether its rodeos in Texas, music in Memphis or parties in New Orleans you’re after, now is the time to do it.
4. Hong Kong
Most of South East Asia is at its best during our winter, but Hong Kong needs a special mention. The city can sometimes get too much for tourists during the summer heat, but the winter boasts breezy days perfect for exploring this glittering metropolitan gem.
November is shoulder season of Phuket and a great time to visit before prices go up. The rainy season has just ended (though you might still experience light drizzles) and the beaches are sunny once again.
November is the start of summer season in Mauritius, with daily temperatures of 24°C. The temperature also increases gradually over the next few months, normally reaching 28°C. November is also just before the tourists start appearing in large numbers, so it’s a great time for good weather and secluded beaches.
If you’re looking for dazzling sun, but don’t want to travel to the southern hemisphere or across the Atlantic, Dubai is a great option. The Middle East is typically too hot for British holidaymakers during the summer months but when winter begins to set in, a cool breeze appears and it becomes the prefect short haul getaway.
Roughly the same distance from the UK as Dubai, Turkey is also a great winter sun destination without a long-haul flight. Whether it’s the cultured capital of Istanbul or one of the many family-friendly resorts in Antalya – it’s a great all-round winter sun destination.
9. Canary Islands
Finally, we have the always-popular Canary Islands. Set off the coast of Africa in the Atlantic Ocean, these islands are permanent inclusions in best winter sun destination lists. Whether it’s the volcanic landscape of Lanzarote, the hiking in Fuerteventura , the adventure in Gran Canaria or the all-round fun of Tenerife, the Canary Islands are always a good choice.
10. Christmas Markets
Not everyone is looking for sunshine at this time of year. City breaks to some of the Europe’s best Christmas markets are extremely popular in the later months of the year. A few of the biggest also open shop in mid-November so you can get your Christmas shopping finished before everyone else.
It’s that time of year again when the UK skies are lit up with mesmerising light shows for Guy Fawkes Night.
Like a lot of the British population, you might wish firework displays were more common throughout the year. But we see that as an excuse for a holiday. Here are seven world-famous cities that are famous for their firework displays (including somewhere in the UK).
Sydney is one of the first cities in the world to celebrate New Year’s Eve, and we witness their spectacular fireworks display every year on TV. Then on the 26th of January, Darling Harbour lights up again for Australia Day along with a boat parade. Between the spellbinding light shows and the terrific weather – January is a great time to visit this iconic city.
https://www.barrheadtravel.co.uk/holidays/worldwide-holidays/dubaiDubai never does things by half measures, and that includes its fireworks displays. Every New Year, revellers gather around the Burj Khalifa to witness the world’s tallest building light up with fireworks. Other areas of the city that light up with fireworks include Jumeirah Beach and Atlantis the Palm.
Montreal loves fireworks so much, there’s an official competition. Going strong since 1985, the Montreal International Fireworks Competition is held every summer and features synchronised music. Tickets are pricey (usually $52 to $70 plus taxes) but there are plenty of places to view them throughout the city for free.
Since its Guy Fawkes Night we can’t not mention London . While many UK cities put on their own amazing firework displays, London’s are a step above the rest. You’ll find firework displays at Crystal Palace Park, Battersea Park, Alexandra Palace and Wembley Park (to name a few).
You know what makes every fireworks display better? The silhouette of the Eiffel Tower. Every year on the 14th of July, fireworks are set off from the gardens of Trocadéro for about 30 minutes and the public are welcome to watch from the Champ de Mars.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Watching the New Year’s Eve fireworks in the UK might be a chilly affair, but in Rio de Janeiro it’s a warm and tropical experience. At the start of every New Year, thousands of people gather on the sands of Copacabana Beach for a 15-minute fireworks display.
The USA dazzles every 4th of July – but nowhere does it better than Washington D.C. Fireworks are set off from National Mall, and they are viewable from a plethora of places around DC. Including the Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, FDR Memorial and numerous rooftop bars.
Where have you witnessed an amazing fireworks display? Let us know in the comments.
The biggest of Australia’s six states, Western Australia is home to everything that makes Oz great.
It boasts a cosmopolitan capital city, stunning coral reef, an adventurous outback and great surf. But being on the other side of the country from the iconic Sydney or bustling Melbourne, it has a smaller tourist crowd and everything is a lot cheaper. Some travellers argue that Western Australia is the ‘real’ Australia.
Ready to explore this goldmine of adventure and exploration? Here’s some key information to get you started.
Where to Go
Western Australia boasts a massive and diverse landscape, and we can’t possibly list everything (that’s a blog for another day!). But below we have rounded up five key places of interest that you should definitely consider.
The capital city of Western Australia and your first port of call if you’re flying in from international shores. It has everything you would expect from a large capital city, but still has a low-key atmosphere about it. Start your day slowly with a stroll through King’s Park – one of the largest inner city parks in the world (even NYC’s Central Park doesn’t beat it). Then finish your day by hopping on the ferry to South Perth and watching the sunset over the spectacular skyline.
Australia is recognised internationally for its delicious wines and surfing waves. Margaret River is the perfect place for both. With 100 wineries it’s no surprise that it produces 15% of the country’s premium wines. Then along the coast you’ll find 40 surf sports, ranging from powerful reef breaks to fun beach waves.
Part of the Shark Bay World Heritage Site, this little bay is so lovely even dolphins like to swim into shore to check it out. Every day specially trained rangers are on hand to provide insight into the dolphins who have made this bay their home. The perfect chance to learn more about these playful creatures in their natural habitat.
The Great Barrier Reef might receive most of the attention, but the Ningaloo Reef is the world’s largest fringing coral reef. If you’re wondering what fringing coral means – it’s a coral reef that is only moments from the shore. Yep, you don’t need a boat trip to see this reef; a few strokes and you’ll be snorkelling over it.
The North West
The places we’ve mentioned already are tucked into the South West corner of Australia. But if you want adventure we recommend heading north to Broom and Kimberley. Here you’ll experience the Australian outback. Wander through the ancient gorges of Karijini National Park, witness Australia’s highest waterfall (King George Waterfalls) and admire some of the oldest aboriginal artworks on earth.
How to Get There
Perth is the transport hub for the region. Here you’ll be able to catch an international flight or a plane to another beautiful area of Australia. Like any other trip Down Under, it is the perfect opportunity to stop over somewhere exotic on the way. Abu Dhabi and Dubai are both popular options.
Western Australia is vast and if you want to explore corner to corner, we’d recommend a hire car. Word of warning though: fill up your tank as these roads are remote! Also remember to hire a 4x4 as the roads can get very rocky.
If however, you’re planning on staying in the populated Perth and South West region, you can get by on train and coach. There are plenty of hop on and hop off tickets available.
Weather and Climate
The weather is always diverse when we’re talking about somewhere the size of Western Australia. But as a general rule, the south is similar to the Mediterranean, the east is desert and north is tropical. If you’re planning to travel across the state, make sure you take a variety of clothing options (and take plenty of sunscreen).
Final tips and recommendations:
The currency here is Australian Dollars
Perth is cheaper than Sydney and Melbourne
The time zone is Western Standard Time (AWST) is GMT + 8:00.
The legal drinking age is 18
The school holidays work differently in Western Australia and the children have their long summer break during December and January.
Dramatic landscapes, diverse culture, fascinating history and salsa dancing until the early hours. Latin America is a bucket list destination for a reason.
Anyone who has ever visited the continent will recount their tales of exploring ancient ruins, tucking into delicious food, mingling with the friendly locals and admiring the local craft talent in the street markets.
If you’ve not yet made the journey to Latin America, here are 10 reasons why you should.
1. Two ancient world wonders
If your journey includes the beautiful countries of Brazil and Peru, you’ll have the opportunity to tick two World Wonders off your list.
Machu Picchu in Peru has been confusing and fascinating historians in equal measures for many years. Most believe it was constructed as an estate for the Inca emperor Pachacuti (1438–1472), though other theories exist. Today it is known as the most familiar icon of Inca civilization and how life was before Latin America was discovered.
Over in Rio de Janeiro, you’ll be greeted by the wide-arms of the Christ the Redeemer statue. Very hard to miss, it is located at the peak of the 2,300 foot Corcovado Mountain and is 20 metres high by 28 metres wide.
2. Ancient culture and history
Machu Picchu isn’t the only captivating ancient ruin. Mexico City now stands in the same location where Tenochititlan once did. Originally the capital of the Aztec empire and the largest city in the Pre-Columbian Americas, the pyramid of Templo Mayor is one of the best examples of this fascinating time period.
Another important ancient culture in Latin America is the Mayan culture. It is the only ancient culture to have developed its own writing system and is famous amongst historians for its calendars, art, architecture and astronomical system. Chichen Itza, found in the Yucatán State, is one of the best living examples of its existence.
3. The Amazon River and Rainforest
Covering more than 7,000,000 square kilometres that transcends the borders of nine different countries, the Amazon Basin is one of nature’s greatest achievements. It is estimated that 40,000 species of plants and more than 4,500 animal species live within its boundaries along with 200 local tribes.
It’s a great opportunity to get back to nature. If you want to stay in the Amazon Rainforest you can choose between rustic camps and luxury eco lodges.
The Amazon isn’t the only impressive rainforest in Latin America, however. Costa Rica might be a small size, but it is covered in a tropical forest and is home to five percent of the world’s flora and fauna.
4. World-famous waterfalls
The Amazon River isn’t the only mesmerising waterway in Latin America. Hugging the border of Argentina and Brazil lies the famous Iguazu Falls, which is considered one of the most impressive waterfall systems in the world.
Over in Venezuela, you’ll find the Angel Falls – the tallest waterfall in the world standing at a height of 3,212 feet. The waterfall is remotely located and the best way to see it is to fly over on a plane tour.
Kaieteur Falls in Guyana is another waterfall that attracts attention from travellers. It stands at only 700 feet but is considered to be one of the world’s most powerful waterfalls. You’ll see what we mean when you pay it a visit.
5. Beaches for all tastes
Pacific, Caribbean and Atlantic: the coastline of Latin America covers a lot of ocean.
Ipanema Beach in Rio is brilliant for beach sports such as football and volleyball. Máncora in Peru is popular with surfers, as is Tamarindo Beach in Costa Rica. Montañita in Ecuador is also popular with watersport fans. Shell Beach in Guyana is fantastic for wildlife spotting and outdoor enthusiasts. Manuel Antonio Beach in Costa Rica is great for adventure types who want a rainforest as a backdrop. Whether you’re looking for a romantic stroll with the perfect sunset or big waves for surfing, you’ll find it in Latin America.
6. The Andes
Make sure you fit a visit to the world’s longest continental mountain range into your trip. Which isn’t hard because The Andes stretch through Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Chile.
Many of Latin America’s largest cities are constructed on top of the Andes many plateaus. Quito, Bogotá, Arequipa, Medellín, Sucre, Mérida and La Paz can all be found up in the Andes. Also, the Altiplano plateau is the world's second-highest after the Tibetan plateau.
7. Unbeatable Wildlife
With such amazing landscapes, you can image the wildlife-spotting opportunities are second to none. The Galapagos Islands offer one of the most fascinating ecosystems on the planet. Located off the coast of Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean, their isolated location has lent a hand to the survival of many plant and animal species – including some that are found nowhere else.
Another country to visit if you’re all about the wildlife and scenery is Costa Rica. Nestled into Central America, Costa Rica has become popular with eco-tourists and boats an extensive number of national parks and protected areas. If you want to see a Big Cat in the wild, Costa Rica is one of the best places to do so. Jaguars, ocelots, pumas, jaguarundi, margays, and little spotted cats all live here. There are also over 400 bird species.
8. Modern cities
While Latin America is one of Mother Nature’s most prized possessions, city-lovers won’t be disappointed either. The famous Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires are filled with a lively atmosphere and every night you’ll find a salsa party going on until the early hours.
But if your journey won’t take you anywhere near these two power-houses, don’t fret. The Peru capital of Lima is filled with luxury hotels, nightclubs and a lovely promenade. San José in Costa Rica is also a lively hub with international restaurants. Plus, Brazil’s largest city isn’t even Rio, it’ actually Sao Paulo. The Chilean capital of Santiago is also fast rising as a cosmopolitan hot-spot.
9. Rich gastronomy
Wherever you end up in Latin America, your taste buds will thank you. Up in Mexico, you’ll love the vivid combinations of tomatoes, avocado, chilli peppers, yellow and blue corn. Mexican cuisine was even registered on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2010!
Then further down you’ll find Peru, where the capital of Lima is considered one of Latin America’s foodie hubs. If you’re a seafood lover then you’ll adore the famous ceviche: fresh seafood, marinated in lime juice and chili pepper, served with boiled corn, sweet potatoes and cured onions. You’ll have the opportunity to try exotic meats like alpaca, wild boar and Guinea pig!
Make sure you also grab a bottle of Inca Kola – a sweet and fruity fizzy drink that you’ll find everywhere.
10. The friendly people
Latin Americans are warm and welcoming people. If you’re ever stuck for directions, the locals won’t hesitate to help you and the service in local restaurants is second to none.
Whether you are relaxing on a beach in Costa Rica or hiking through the Andes of Bolivia, locals are more than happy to make sure you feel welcome in this beautiful continent.
Hi Lyndsay, tell us a little about yourself, what you do at Barrhead Travel and your trip to India?
Hi there. I'm Lyndsay and I am a Commerical Assistant at Barrhead Travel within the Business Development Team. India has always been a once in a lifetime experience for me personally, it’s somewhere I never ever thought I would visit. Working for Barrhead Travel is more than just a lifetime job, there is so much opportunity for you to visit/feel a destination for yourself - especially destinations that are a bit different or might be out your comfort zone.
Although India was somewhere I also wanted to visit, I genuinely never thought it was for me as I like to go on beach holidays to relax and do my own thing opposed to an adventure holiday where you have your own local tour guide the full trip and you get to experience things like the locals which you don’t usually get to do on your usual beach/city holidays.
What parts of India did you visit?
I visited Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. This was the Golden Triangle Tour. A tour that gives you a feel for everything as each destination was really different to one another. Delhi was by the far the busiest city we visited. Everything was constant, cars beeping their horns every 10 seconds, roads with no lanes getting used so everyone was just driving wherever they could find a space, cows and goats walking around and stopping traffic whereas Agra and Jaipur was a bit more chilled out and touristy.
What attraction or activity was your favourite?
Visiting the Taj Mahal is probably going to be the most amazing sight I will ever see. This place is just incredible! We had to get up at 4:30am to be there for 5am to ensure we were first in line as it gets really busy and also very hot. The gardens and the views were just spectacular, it’s hard to put into words how amazing it is to see this, you need to see it with your own eyes. When you first go through the entrance gate it’s almost like it’s really cloudy at the other end and then the more you begin to walk through the Taj Mahal just appears… amazing!
I also did a hot air balloon ride over the city of Jaipur, also known as “The Pink City”. This again was another early rise same time as the Taj visit although totally worth it for the sunrise. The balloon goes 2,000 feet up in the air and glides across the city very smoothly and has incredible views. The hot air balloon can hold up to 16 people (dependant on weight) as it is split into 4 different baskets, you would be surprised, I thought a hot air balloon ride could only hold 2 people! We landed the balloon in a local village which again was another amazing experience. Watching all the kids chase the balloon as we were landed was just so nice, it was like we were landing a UFO they were all super happy to see us!
What did you think of the hotels you stayed in?
The hotels we stayed in were great, especially for a trip like this when you’re always out and about on the go and only need somewhere to sleep. The first two hotels we stayed in (The Picadilly Hotel and Seven Hills Tower) were a local 4/5* opposed to the other hotel we stayed in (Hotel Mabhuban) which was a heritage home. This was rated as a 3*, it was still comfortable and welcoming enough to sleep for 2 nights. On the second last night, we stayed at the local Fort Sawarda Village in Jaipur which is a 400 year old Fort but now converted into rooms etc. This was a real eye-opener for us as we got to live like proper locals for one night. This accommodation has no Wi-Fi, was very basic but had spectacular views.
What was the food like? Discover anything new?
The food was great considering I’m probably one of the fussiest people ever. I discovered that the majority of Indians are actually vegetarian so they have plenty options for everyone. You will find that you rarely get beef too. No menu in any restaurants will have any curries/Indian food that we get back home, I had never heard of the majority of things. A lot of curries are made with goat instead of chicken, which again was a shock to me. They have loads to offer though and are able to cater for everyone. They even have your usual McDonalds and KFCs!
What would you recommend someone packs when visiting India?
I visited India in the summer months, which was very hot. Ensure you have a lot of sun cream - there were days where it was 43 degrees.
You always need to be mindful when visiting religious places. You must respect their religion and cover up your knees, legs and shoulders.
I took a few pairs of trousers that were loose and light so you don’t get too warm along with proper t-shirts and not vests.
I also packed a LOT of bug spray. Mosquitos are everywhere and you don’t see them. I recommend taking plenty of bug spray and ensure your full body is covered and not just the parts you can see.
Even though this is an adventure and touring trip, still pack your swimming stuff as you will more than likely have some free time to chill out at the pool. Most hotels I visited had a pool or even a spa area.
Some of the hotel sockets were just the same as back home so we didn’t need an adapter, although I also used the European and US adapter. I would take a variety of both as this sometimes varies. I also took along an extension cable as many rooms only have one plug.
What are your top tips for someone visiting India?
I carried around tissues and wipes everywhere as sometimes public toilets didn’t have these.
Anti-bacterial hand gel. You can never have too much.
You are able to wear whatever you wish, although I recommend carrying a scarf around in your bag in case you need to cover up when visiting local mosques/religious places.
Hi Holly, tell us a bit about yourself and what you do at Barrhead Travel.
I have worked for Barrhead Travel for almost two years now and work within the Marketing Department. This is my first job in the travel industry and it is one of the most exciting industries to work in.
What was it about Sandals Barbados that made you choose it for your own holiday?
I have always dreamed of holidaying in the Caribbean. We wanted to visit somewhere where we could relax and completely switch off, but also experience the local culture - Barbados provides just that.
What was your initial thought when you got there? What caught your eye first?
When we arrived at the resort after the long journey from Scotland, we were greeted by singing hotel staff and were handed a glass of chilled champagne; from this moment I knew that this was going to be the perfect holiday. We were accompanied to our room with a walk through beautiful well-kept gardens. Our room was everything we could have possibly wished for – and more! I also spotted the French Patisserie right outside our room – fresh coffee and pastries in the morning was the best way to start the day.
You were staying in a Caribbean Village Deluxe room - what did you think? What was your favourite part of the room?
The room was the perfect size! There was the comfiest four–poster bed, a spacious and stylish bathroom and not to mention some of my favourite products from the Red Lane® Spa. We also had doors which opened fully onto the beautiful tropical gardens. It was great to chill out here before dinner, watching the sun set.
Sandals is known for its All-Inclusive water sports and activities – what did you get up to while you were there?
We love water-sports so we made sure we booked some trips as soon as we got there. We went on the snorkelling tour to Carlisle Bay twice. I have never snorkelled before and was a little unsure at first, however the divers made me feel completely at ease and ensured I had a fantastic experience. We swam over six ship wrecks and learned about their history. Then it was time for the best part and probably one of the highlights of the holiday - we swam with turtles. There was several of them swimming around us and the water was so clear – definitely a must-do experience!
Tell us about the resort and your holiday highlights.
The resort was just the right size, as I don’t really like huge, sprawling resorts. We went between two pools; for the first half of the week we were in the main pool looking onto the beach. Here, there is a swim-up bar which was incredible and served premium spirits and delicious cocktails. There’s games and pool volleyball on throughout the afternoon which is great for getting to know other guests. We went between the pool and the beautiful white sand beach laying in the hammocks. The other pool is very chilled-out and is situated next to the spa.
And the food? The resort has 11 restaurants. Which one was your favourite?
Ok this is a really hard decision as I fell in love with every restaurant. The restaurants all served different food but I have got to say that Butch’s Chophouse was one of the best steak restaurants I have ever visited. Schooners served the tastiest seafood and I still can’t believe there was no supplement for lobster which there usually is. I am a huge sushi lover and ate in the best sushi restaurant and it was even better that I could order as much as I wanted.
What did you think of the wider island? Did you wander outside the resort?
We planned to get out and about but loved spending time in the dreamy resort so much that we only went out on the Friday night. The place to go on a Friday is Oistins Fish Fry. It is very casual and has a great atmosphere. The place is packed with the island’s chefs cooking delicious fresh fish. You probably will stand in a queue for a while but grab a beer and listen to some of the live music playing. The flying fish was delicious and after dinner, you can wander round and experience Barbados like the locals.
What kind of people were on holiday there? Who would you recommend it to?
There were couples from all over the UK and America, but particularly a lot of Honeymooners. There was a few weddings on the beach and they looked so beautiful with a stunning back drop. If you are planning a destination wedding I would highly recommend Sandals Barbados. Even better, your Wedding is always free. It is also very romantic so perfect for newlyweds or couples looking for the perfect romantic getaway. Don’t worry though if you do find yourself wanting a little ‘me time’ as there’s plenty of things to do. I took some time to visit the Red Lane® Spa, I had a massage and pedicure and while there treated myself to some of their amazing products. There’s perfectly placed hammocks on the beach to read a good book and soak up the Caribbean sunshine, with a cocktail of course!