Santorini is absolutely breathtaking. Every inch is as amazing as you’ve imagined it to be. Here are some guidelines for all first time travellers to Santorini whether you are a solo traveller, honeymooners, friends or couples.

 

When to go to Santorini:

Santorini is a huge tourist destination, meaning that the peak season is very crowded. If you want to experience the best weather in Santorini, June to August is your best bet. However, if you don’t mind a few cloudy days and chances of rain then April, May, September and October will have far less tourists and everywhere will be much more affordable.

 

How to get to Santorini

Getting to Santorini is a bit of a schlep as you must go through Athens first. Although, Athens is highly recommended to stay over for at least a night or two to explore this incredible city, as it’s a great introduction to Greece. Staying in Plaka is a must, as it’s the best way to experience Athens to its full extent.  While you’re in town, you must see the Acropolis and Parthenon, which is only 20 Euro entrance fee. However, if you purchase the Athens City Pass, you will save time and money if you are interested in seeing more sights and museums in Athens.

If time is on your side and you’d like to see the Mediterranean by boat, then the ferry ride to Santorini is for you. It takes approximate 8 hours, so be ready to relax.

An alternative route to Santorini is to fly with the several airline carriers that fly to Santorini. If you are flying a budget airline and do not want to pay for extra luggage, there are safe and secure storage facilities in the Athens Arrival Terminal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where to stay in Santorini

Santorini is an island that stretches across 18km from end to end and 12km wide which makes finding accommodation a bit tricky. If you are on a budget then Fira (pronounced Thera) is the way to go, as it’s much less expensive than Oia and is located much closer to the airport. Fira is also the place to stay if you are looking for the night life and late night shopping. There is a lot more going on in Fira than Oia. This is typically where budget-conscious travellers and backpackers stay. If budget is not a concern for you and you are looking for a quieter relaxing area to stay, then Oia is for you. This area is for honeymooners, couples or if you just want to kick back and relax. This is where the blue topped, white washed buildings and streets exist. Nightlife does not really exist in this area, and most shops and restaurant’s close by 22:00.

 

 

What to do in Santorini

Oia has many little streets to get lost in and coffee shops, boutiques and bookstores to explore.  The best viewpoint on the entire island is at Oia Castle which is also the best spot for sunsets. If you have time and want to explore the entire island, the best way to do this is to rent an ATV (all-terrain vehicle) and stop at all the beaches and ride to the lighthouse at Akrotiri to see the sunset. Santorini has multiple beaches, and all with different types of sand. The three beaches that are the most popular are: The Red Sand Beach, The Black Sand Beach and the White Sand Beach. While the Red Sand Beach is the most popular, it is worth your while to see them all!

 

 

 

 

 

Written by: Zanel Potgieter

5 September 2018

Santorini

every corner is as amazing as the next

blue lagoon

Visiting the hot water springs in Iceland

It’s safe to say that visiting the Blue Lagoon is a must have item on everyone’s bucket list when planning a visit to Iceland. While soaking in the milky blue waters and doing wonders for your skin, it’s also a wonderful way to get rid of stress and say goodbye to any worries you may have- while keeping warm in the Iceland weather.

 

Interesting Facts about the Blue Lagoon

• The Blue Lagoon is actually a manmade lagoon; A nearby power plant, Svartsengi, was drilling to create electricity and hot water for nearby communities and the Blue Lagoon was originally an accidental by-product of this process.

• The geothermal water features three active ingredients:

Silica, Algae & Minerals.

• While it looks blue, the water is actually white. If you pour it into a transparent cup, it will have a milky white colour.

The sun simply makes it look blue!

• The water temperature is 37-40°C, year-round

• The deepest the Blue Lagoon gets is 1.6 metres

 

How much does it cost?

The entry fee to the Blue Lagoon is only 40 Euros which also includes a free non-alcoholic drink to enjoy at the bar inside the lagoon, as well as silica mud to use as a face mask, and access to all the saunas and steam rooms at the spa! This day spa is well worth the mini splurge.

 

 

 

 

Helpful Tips

The Blue Lagoon is about 45 minutes outside of Reykjavik and about 20 minutes away from the airport. There are shuttle transfers available to the Lagoon from both locations. The weather in Iceland is highly unpredictable. You will often experience all four season in a single day! Don’t let bad weather keep you from going to the Blue Lagoon. The water is not boiling hot, but rather like warm bathwater. Though, after swimming around to different areas, you will find some spots are warmer than others.

 

The Blue Lagoon Packing List

 

• Bathing suit & flip flops

• Hair tie (The minerals make your hair brittle, so it was suggested that those with long hair tie it up and lather it with conditioner before entering the lagoon)

• Camera/ cell phone with protective bag

• Shampoo (Your hair will feel dry once you get out the lagoon)

• Body wash, conditioner, hair dryers, and plastic bags for wet swim suits are provided at the Blue Lagoon for no additional charge

 

 

Written by: Zanel Potgieter

31 July 2018

 

Dubrovnik, Croatia

top five things to do  for first time travellers

A trip to Bali

should be on everyone’s bucket list

Bali is one of the most beautiful places in the world and there are so many reasons why. The beaches are beautiful, the hiking is extraordinary and the culture and foods are so unique. Bali has easily become the most popular destination to visit amongst tourists.

 

The Best Time To Go

Most people will suggest to avoid the rainy season which is between October and April. While we talk about four different seasons, the Balinese only refer to two seasons: the wet season and the dry season. However, whether you go during the wet or dry season, the weather temperature will remain between 26 to 30 degrees Celsius. Both seasons have their pros and cons.

The number one reason why tourists visit Bali during the wet season is the calmness. There is no such thing as overcrowded restaurants, busy beaches or congested streets.

The dry season is of course the busiest time of the year which is May to September. You will have idyllic weather, plenty to do and many Balinese festivals to attend.

 

Must See Spots

Kuta is the place to be if you are looking to be part of the hustle and bustle. This part of the island never sleeps. With countless restaurants, bars, shops, spa’s and even water theme parks to choose from, Kuta is the tourist capital.

Gili Trawagan is a separate island which can be reached by a speed boat. The best way to explore this island is by bicycle. Ride around the entire island in an hour and be sure to find the picture perfect swings in the water.

Ubud: You can’t leave Bali without visiting Ubud. Ubud has many adventures to offer and many waterfalls to see. Whether you are looking for a traditional Balinese experience or a relaxing getaway, Ubud is a dream destination.

 

Must Do’s in Bali

 

Waterfalls:

Bali has several amazing waterfalls to see. At the bottom of the waterfalls you will experience the power of the water, be rewarded with a shower and if you are lucky, you might even see a rainbow.

 

Rice Terraces:

These are one of the top tourist attractions in Bali. They may be touristy and crowded but incredibly beautiful and worth the hike.

 

Sunrises:

No matter if you are a morning person or not, the Bali sunrises are phenomenal and a must see for everyone!

 

Taste the best foods:

Bali is a food lover’s paradise! Local food, coffee tastings, vegan food, desserts, the list is endless.

 

Snorkel with turtles:

The best spot to snorkel is around the Gili islands. The turtles are easy to spot and the water is crystal clear. Be sure to pack in an underwater camera.

 

Whether you are an adventure seeker, honeymoon couple or just someone that enjoys lazing in the sun with a good book at a beautiful villa, Bali has something for everyone. It’s not just an affordable island, but the culture and the people are extraordinary and always willing to teach tourists a new thing or two about the locals.

 

 

 

 

Written by: Zanel Potgieter

9 April 2018

 

Dubrovnik is a beautiful historical old town with pebble beaches, tiny islands in the vicinity and of course many street cafés, restaurants, bars and shops to explore.

 

The City Walls of Dubrovnik

Touring the city walls of Dubrovnik is an absolute must do for all tourists. These walls encircle the entire old town of Dubrovnik which stretches over 2 kilometres long and consist of 17 towers, several shops, restaurants, museums and even a church within the walls.

Tips for visiting the city walls:

  • To avoid the maximum crowds (and the heat),

       do this as early as possible

  • Bring water
  • Wear sunscreen and a hat
  • Don’t forget your camera

The cost is approximate R300.

 

The Cable Car

The cable car is situated just outside the city walls. This cable car will take you from downtown up 778m to Mount Srd in less than 5 minutes. At the top of Mount Srd you will have a spectacular view of Dubrovnik and you can even have a coffee or lunch at the top at the bistro.

The cost for the cable car ride is approximate R280.

 

Beaches

While many people visit Croatia for cultural and historical reasons, don’t forget that Croatia is situated right at the Adriatic. The beaches in Dubrovnik will blow you away with its seductive sandy shores, pebbly coves and sun-fried rocks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Game of Thrones Tour

For the fans of the popular HBO series, the walking tour of Game of Thrones will take you to several film locations where you will have access to behind the scenes footage and have the opportunity to follow the footsteps of the show’s characters.

The cost of the walking Game of Thrones tour is approximate R700 for three hours.

 

Kr KA National Park

One of the must do tours while in Croatia is to visit the Kr Kr National Park (pronounced as Kirrr-ka). This is probably one of the most difficult words you will use when in Croatia, however you will master the pronunciation in no time as you won’t be able to stop talking about it. This National Park is known for a series of 7 waterfalls.  You might be wondering what is so wonderful about this waterfall, or once you’ve seen a waterfall, you’ve seen it all. However, these waterfalls are without a doubt one of the most iconic features of the region overall. You can view the waterfall from various platforms, with paths and bridges around the park, which all lead to the falls. Bear in mind that you will be doing a lot of hiking as you explore the exquisite fauna and flora before you get to take a dip in the water.

The cost of a transfer from Dubrovnik to Kr Kr National Park can vary as it’s a 3-hour scenic ride. The entrance fee to the park depending which time of the year you go is approximate R200.

 

 

Written by: Zanel Potgieter

9 May 2018

 

To book your trip to Croatia, visit

http://xlbayleisure.co.za

Xl Cruises

One of the Most Popular Holiday Experiences

If anybody thought cruising is just for the older generation, think again.  During the last couple of years Millennium’s and Generation-X travellers have been cruising the world with various cruise liners.

In this month’s article we share the Norwegian Cruise Liner (NCL) experience with our readers.

 

Norwegian Cruise Line has seen some rapid growth over the last few years and is seen as one of the top cruise liners in the world. Here are the top features that is unique to Norwegian Cruise Line and even the first to hit the high seas.

 

Freestyle Dining

NCL is first to the “anytime” “anywhere” “my time” concept. Whether you feel like dressing up or dressing down, sitting alone or making new friends, it’s entirely up to you. With NCL there is no set dining times or set seating arrangements. For those cruisers who like to go with the flow on their holiday, you can dine wherever you want, with whoever you want and wear whatever you like. For cruisers who prefer to plan their holiday, the NCL app is available for passengers to choose their restaurants and dining times each night.

 

Signature Restaurants

With over 20 restaurants to choose from on each ship, there is something for everyone. All the ships offer complimentary restaurants, however the speciality restaurants is a unique culinary experience you won’t be able to taste on land. NCL’s Teppanyaki was a first on cruise ships. If you like the sound of flying shrimps, onion volcanoes and impressive knife skills, this restaurant is a must. The steakhouse and Brazilian restaurant is perfect for the meat lovers with a huge salad bar for starters and ending the night off with an Oreo cheesecake.

 

 

 

 

The Waterfront

The Waterfront is a promenade deck with the best view at sea. This outdoor deck wraps around the whole ship with plenty of cocktail bars, restaurants, shops or even games to choose from. Some cruisers even use the space to relax with a book, take a morning stroll or just to soak up the sun.

 

The Ice Bar

Now this is as cool as it gets. This ice bar is the only true ice bar at sea. This entire bar is covered in ice and you will be getting gloves and a coat to stay warm as you enjoy your drinks.

 

Outdoor Activities

For those who wants to walk on the wild side, the plank is a 2.4-meter plank stretching across the ocean over the side of the ship. The free fall slide is one of the fastest slides at sea and a must try for those cruisers who wants to go beyond just a dip in the pool. Two brave cruisers stand side by side as they wait in anticipation for the trap door to drop from underneath their feet. For the cruisers who like to take it easy, the bowling alley is a very popular activity with four family friendly lanes.

 

Whatever you choose to do, Norwegian has something for everyone from family activities to solo cruises to music festivals.

 

 

 

Written by: Zanel Potgieter

1 March 2018

 

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