Never-ending breakfast at That’s Toast in Bruges

Your mother might’ve told you that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and she is right! Studies have proven that breakfast boosts your metabolism, helps you burn calories throughout the day and it also gives you the energy you need to get things done. And what can be better than a tasty and solid starter on a plate that is also expertly made by someone else?

Welcome to That’s Toast in Bruges, Belgium!

I discovered a place in Bruges where you can have delicious and healthy breakfast all day long, at That’s Toast! Hipsters, health-freaks and foodies will fall in love with this charming café! It doesn’t matter what you go for all portions are copious and the ingredients are fresh. You can always let the staff know if you have any special preferences or if you are just following one of those gluten-free trends. If the weather is nice I would suggest you to enjoy your meal on the lovely hidden terrace at the café.

But first, coffee!

The owner of That’s Toast is young Dutch man named Steven who got his inspirations through traveling and exploring the world. And every 2-3 months the menu is updated and a new delicious addition appears on the menu! Furthermore That’s Toast doesn’t only offer the perfect Instagram-location but also incredible barista coffee.

Inside or outside?

We ordered both big breakfast plates for €14 per piece, with extra salmon on top of rucola and sweet potatoes for just €2,50 each. As I already mentioned the portions are magnanimous. Our meals were out very quickly and when we had our first bite, we couldn’t put our forks down anymore! I had the vegetarian grilled halloumi sandwich with tomato, avocado, juicy mushrooms and sumptuous eggs. And if I already started so healthy I decided to add a fresh juice to it with orange and ginger. It was not too sweet and not too sour, just perfect!

Breakfast plates with extra salmon and sweet potatoes. Yum!

The meat lovers will adore the other breakfast plate with tempting bacon, 2 different types of sausages, grilled tomato, beans in tomato sauce and the essential eggs. Definitely the breakfast for champions!

Let the feast begin!

Breakfast, brunch, lunch or just a nice drink at That’s Toast, you will be satisfied with every choice! I doubtlessly discovered my new place to eat and relax and who knows maybe I’ll see you there too! Bon appetite!

The Noon, Bruges’ Mediterranean treasure

Bruges is Belgium’s medieval gem with various touristic entertainment possibilities such as shopping, sightseeing, museums and obviously a numerous amount of great restaurants. Sometimes it’s amazing to have a wide range of choices but if you are visiting this magical town just for few days or want to try something extraordinary then it’s not so easy to make a satisfying decision.

Welcome to The Noon!

I discovered this magical mediterranean oasis, where time stands still and all your senses are happily engaged. The Noon is the name of this perfect getaway, where with taking the first step into the restaurant you will immerse into a completely different world. The relaxing fragrance, cozy atmosphere and creative decoration will make you feel like home from the very beginning. Just choose your perfect corner on the comfy couch or at one of the lovely tables. It’s possible to come for a energizing coffee and delightful lunch menu or a sumptuous dinner.

The Noon is run by Mona & Philip, a warm and friendly couple and they give this place it’s authentic charm. Mona & Philip combine three exotic and bright cultures: Moroccan, Indian and Belgian. The cultural beauty is reflected in the interpretation of the food: Colorful, healthy and simply delicious! Only seasonal fresh vegetables and fruits are used for every masterpiece on a plate. First I was skeptical about the herbs because mediterranean kitchen has the tendency to exaggerate with unknown penetrant spices but I was positively surprised how discretely it was added to every meal so I could still taste the fullness of the fresh vegetables and juicy meat.

Mint tea and beer served on a silver metal tray

We started our dinner with some mint tea which was served in a beautiful metal silver teapot on a decorated tray. No worries for the alcohol enthusiasts, there is also a variety of lovely wines and Belgian Gold, beer. And then our tasty journey began!

Vegetarian soup with crisp flatbread

Our appetite was awakened with a vegetarian soup composed of fresh in-season vegetables with grilled flatbread covered in moroccan olive oil. We all know vegetable soups are always good for your health and they provide our bodies with the necessary vitamines but this one was additionally incredibly delicious!

Colourful Vegetarian Tagine With Tofu

Our mains were the Vegetarian Tagine with tofu cheese, lightly spiced heritage carrots and marinated haloumi + the Chicken Tagine with preserved lemon and purple olives that were impressively served under a cone shaped lid. Tagine is by the way a traditional moroccan way of slow cooking with a conical shaped lid. This keeps the dishes uniquely moist. Every meal is served with rice or couscous, fresh salad with delicious dressing and pickled reedit radish.

Our eyes became bigger and mouths more watery when we took the lids away and saw the amazing colours: bright yellow, green and black carrots, golden onions and potatoes, orange sweet potatoes and red juicy tomatoes. Three appetizing pieces of chicken, we didn’t wait too long until we tried them. They were succulent and rich in white meat.

Lamb Tagine Berbere

We couldn’t resist to order the Lamb Tagine Berbere on top of it even though the portions are very generous. And we didn’t regret it! It’s not easy to make sumptuous lamb because often it tends to be very dry, but Mona performs magic in the kitchen! The lamb sausages covered in tasty vegetables and mediterranean herbes overcame all our expectations.

The Noon is a very peaceful and enjoyable place, you will doubtlessly lose track of time here. This happened to us, only after 4 hours we realized that it was time to go back home and it’s only because it was already dark outside, we could’ve sat there for much longer. It became my favourite café/restaurant in Bruges to visit and I will definitely recommend it to everyone who loves healthy and delicious food and who is not afraid to be different. Ah, and vegetarians will be definitely spoiled there!

Opening Hours:
Mon – Thu 11:30am – 4pm
Fri -Sat   11:30am – 4pm
               6pm – 11pm 

The dream destination, Maldives

Maldives is an epitome of heaven on Earth with it’s whiter-than-white powder sandy beaches, luminous crystal clear water and tranquil lifestyle. No wonder that this archipelago of 1,192 coral islands in the Indian Ocean is a popular destination for honeymooners and glamorous tropical getaway seekers. The beautiful water of the Maldives with it’s astonishing underwater world and magnificent sea life has been a magnet for everyone with an interest in snorkeling and diving.

Dhiffushi Island

Not so many know that these incredible islands are inhabited by a friendly Muslim population, who will help you with every need. Maldivians speak Dhivehi, but English is widely spoken especially in areas frequented by tourists. Important to mention that in relation to Muslim religion pork and alcohol are forbidden on the islands. That’s why not all resorts provide it’s customers with liquors.

The floating unicorn

The tropical Maldives spoils it’s locals and visitors with plenty of sunshine and temperatures around 30°C throughout the year. Good sun protection like SPF 50 is required. However, the chance of rain shower increases during the April-October months.

Thulusdhoo Island

Although the Maldives hides a big secret: it’s one of the world’s biggest rubbish collections. You might be shocked about the huge amount of plastic bottles floating in the beautiful crystal-clear Indian Ocean and strewn across it’s idyllic beaches. On our flight to the Maldives we got to know a group of people from different countries who flew there to help clean the islands. Which is surprising because locals could easily take care of their magical paradise themselves.

Arrival and currency

Practically all tourists arrive at Malé International Airport  located on Hulhulé Island just right next to the capital Male. The Maldives have a remarkably easy visa policy: Everybody gets a free 30-day visa on arrival, provided with travel tickets, duration and place of stay. Going through the Maldivian customs doesn’t take too long: We left airport roughly 15 minutes after landing.

The monetary unit is the Maldivian Ruffiyaa (MVR). Change the currency in the airport because there are not many opportunities to exchange money or find an ATM machine. Maldivians prefer USD so make sure you don’t bring anything else to the country, otherwise you will be running around with monopoly money. That happened to me with my superfluous NZD.

Doubtlessly you can use your international credit card in the resorts but they will charge extra fees, usually around 3%. Most of the restaurants additionally charge you 12% GST + Service fee. Be sure you read the menu carefully. Prices in general are not low, you pay around $10-$15 for a meal per person. Depends on the establishment and how touristic the island is.

The majority gets an organized pick up from the airport. But if you need to reach Male, there is a ferry that will bring you to the other island in just 1o minutes.

Traveling between the islands

Ferry from Male to Ukulhas

We associate the Maldives with expensive luxury hotel properties and unpayable beverages but I have great news for every traveler: The Maldives offers ideal holidays for budget travelers as well as big money spenders. It’s also very easy to travel between numerous islands. It can take hours to have a ride on a public ferry but it will cost you only $2-$5. Impatient visitors can easily arrange a speed boat for around $50 per person or a sea plane for $200-$500 with a pick up from the airport. Nevertheless the transport won’t be able to pick you up any time you want. Most of them are available until 5pm. And again don’t worry, there are great possibilities to spend the night on the beautiful main island before your reach your cherished final destination.

Where to stay if you arrive late, Plankton’s Beach

Plankton’s Beach Lobby

We arrived at the airport at 8pm so we couldn’t get any transfer to our first resort. I discovered a brand new modern hotel on Hulhumale just 10 minutes away from Male International Airport, Plankton’s Beach. I read only positive reviews about it, describing it as an ideal place to for short stays or transit guests but also for those who love to experience the city life of the Maldives.

Delicious Welcome Drink

 

It’s very easy to reach the hotel on your own from Male International Airport via the Airport Shuttle Bus from the Arrival Terminal to Airport Bus Stand at Hulhumale. You can also take a taxi or ask the hotel manager to organize one.

 

 

Deluxe Terrace Room with Ocean View

From the very beginning when you step into Plankton’s Beach Hotel cute small lobby you will receive your refreshing welcome drink from the friendly staff to immerse into the perfect holiday. You will be surprised by the spacious and tastefully designed rooms! There are only 9 of them which makes you feel cozy and at home at this hotel. We stayed in the clean and stylish Deluxe Terrace Room with Ocean View and we couldn’t wish for anything more than that. A comfortable king size bed, lovely bathroom with free toiletries and a hair dryer, TV with satellite channels and of course the essential: free High-speed Wi-Fi. We also had 2 bottles of water and instant coffee in the room. Both of them we consumed in the morning on the terrace with the magnificent ocean view.

Delicious breakfast on the beach

Another highlight of this highly recommended hotel is the breakfast on the beach. They begin to serve these delicious starters of the day between 8-9am, but we needed to leave the hotel earlier so Plankton’s Beach manager organized a more suitable time for us! Enjoyed every bit of the sumptuous breakfast and picturesque scenery with the funky unicorn water float.

Happy us!

There are nothing but positive vibes at Plankton’s Beach with smiley and most important extremely helpful staff! We loved that place and would recommend it to everyone. Just contact them via email: booking@planktonsbeach.com

 

   

 

 

Unforgettable times at Sea La Vie Inn, Ukulhas

Location: Gorgeous Ukulhas

The island of Ukulhas is one of the Maldives’ hidden treasures. It’s an ideal destination for couples and families who prefer diving, fishing and swimming without a crowd of tourists. It’s one of the most inhabited island’s of North Ari Atoll which will help you to immerse into a relaxing paradise and an authentic, friendly Maledivian culture.

White sands of Ukulhas

It’s very easy to reach the island with the public ferry from Male’s Villingili Ferry Terminal. It leaves every Tuesday and Thursday at 9am and cost around $5 one way. It takes 4,5 hours to reach the white sands of Ukulhas. Departure from Ukulhas to Male is three times a week at 10am. The schedule of the ferry can change so confirm the dates with your hotel.

Ferry from Male’s Villingili Ferry Terminal to Ukulhas

No doubt there are other faster options to reach the island like a scheduled speedboat. Hotel Sea La Vie Inn can help you to organize pick up from the airport. It will cost you $50 per person and within 90 minutes you will be able to set foot on the heaven on Earth.

If you really don’t want to waste your time then a sea plane will be a great alternative for you. The 20 minute flight operates during the day time between 5:30am and 5pm for $365 per person round trip.

School in Ukulhas

Climate

Like the rest of the Maldives, Ukulhas has a tropical monsoon climate with warm temperatures around the year. April is the hottest month and December is the coolest. We visited this beautiful island in August and it was very hot especially around midday. You will definitely need sunscreen with SPF 30-50. Due to the salty ocean water it’s advisable to put lotion on every 2-3 hours. Advisable also to pack sum bug spray, little cheeky mosquitos love foreign blood!

Warm temperatures and amazing view of Ukulhas

The amazing facilities of Sea La Vie Inn

Rooms

Sea La Vie Inn is a lovely guesthouse which is a stone’s throw away from the ferry terminal. It offers a great environment to spend an unforgettable holiday with it’s 5 exclusive rooms, all fitted with air-conditioning and free Wi-Fi at all areas. We were staying in a modern Deluxe King Suite furnished with an enormous and comfortable king sized bed. It’s not only equipped with a tv, satellite channels but also has tasteful decoration and an appealing colour combination. Another highlight is the spacious bathroom with the rain forest shower head facilitating hot and cold water.

Having a shower is great here!

Restaurants, shops and service

Welcome coconuts

It’s hard to put into words how kind the people and staff of Sea La Vie Inn are. On our arrival we were welcomed with fresh coconuts decorated with beautiful flowers. Exactly what we needed after a series of exhausting long flights. Fazeel, the owner of this great place, helped us with all our questions!

My favourite: passion fruit ice cream

If you are hungry then definitely eat at the Sea La Vie Inn cafe which offers a delicious Thai cuisine. My partner and I have tried everything on the menu and enjoyed every single meal. My favorite is Pad Thai and passion fruit juice.  The highlight is the traditional Maldivian breakfast with tuna salad, vegetables and roti bread: Refreshing, hearty and at a very good price! There is nothing over $8. My other tip is to try the home made passion fruit ice cream, nothing can top this cooling sorbet!

Good morning paradise!

Sea La Vie  Cafe is closed every Friday but not to worry, the town has other alternatives. Nevertheless you can always ask Fazeel, the owner, to organize some breakfast. There are also a couple of kiosks on the island when you can purchase cookies, drinks, toiletries and baking goods at very low prices. For example a big package of Oreo cookies costs only $1. Besides the magnificent  guesthouse, the island also has a health care center and a drugstore.

 


 The staff took brilliant care of us, invited us for a dinner at the beach with them, where we enjoyed plenty of delightful food, they took us for a nighttime walk on the beach to watch the shooting stars and during the day around the village, so we could get to know the local culture and lifestyle. We had lovely conversations with them and felt very welcomed. They even helped me to surprise my boyfriend with a chocolate lava cake and birthday candle.

Friday’s dinner party

Beach and activities

Access to one of the beaches

Sea La Vie Inn is located just next to the dreamy Maldivian beach with it’s turquoise waters. It even offers a tiny private beach area. Important fact to mention is that tourists are welcome on the island which means bikinis are totally acceptable. The white sandy beaches have good entry into the water, though occasional broken corals can be met. Sea La Vie Inn provides it’s guests with snorkeling equipment and it’s the best free activity that you can enjoy in Ukulhas. The water is crystal clear and you can explore the glory of the reefs with it’s exotic sea life. If you are an early bird you can observe baby sharks from the shore. For those who love sunsets, you can sit on the beach with an army of peaceful crabs to keep you company.

Snorkeling equipment

Various activities including free snorkeling and Manta Ray safaris can be arranged at Sea La Vie Inn. There is a coral reef located near the island, where you’ll frequently see turtles, giant rays as well as reef sharks and Zebra sharks. You can also enjoy a Sand Bank Trip, the miracle of nature with powdery beaches and crystal clear water. Traditional Beach BBQ’s with fresh and juicy meals or a romantic Sunset Dinner can easily be organized for you with views out to the sea.

Sea La Vie Inn

 

 

Fishing enthusiasts will adore Ukulhas because it’s a great place to catch Yellowfin Tuna and Blue Marlin. You can also just spot majestic dolphins in the sea jumping around the boats. And don’t worry if you didn’t take enough money with you because it’s always possible to ask for a discount!

 

Thulusdhoo, magnet for surfers

Thulusdhoo is a beautiful quiet island with white sandy beaches, turquoise water and an amazing aquatic life. The Island is located just 28 km north of Male, which you can reach easily by speed boat or even the public ferry. It is the capital of the Kaafu Atoll with a population of over 1400 people, mainly consisting of Muslims. That’s why alcohol is strictly prohibited on the island. Ideal to detox your body!

The beach side of Thulusdhoo

Thulusdhoo  is especially popular between tourists because it’s considered the best Maldivian surf. The coral reef surrounds the island and protects the crystal clear lagoon providing unlimited surfing conditions almost the whole year. The local surfers named this surfing spot “Coke” because of the Coca-Cola factory which was built here in the 80s.

The distance between Malé & Thulusdhoo

Thulusdhoo is not only a surfing paradise but it also offers plenty of various activities such as an incredible underwater world. Just by walking along the shore you will discover exotic fish, rays and turtles. Some are even lucky enough to see dolphins from their hotel rooms. Snorkeling is one of the must does in Thulusdhoo if you want to explore reef with turtles, skates, sharks and other unusual underwater species. Additionally it has a good infrastructure: There are several grocery shops, a pharmacy and even a hospital.

Thulusdhoo is very a touristic spot that’s why they love $USD$ here. Every guesthouse except it nevertheless if you go to the little shops to get some snacks or toiletries it’s better to have Maldives’ Rufiyaa in your wallet.

How to get there?

You can reach Thulusdhoo within 25 minutes from Male by speed boat.  The easiest way is to ask your guesthouse to organize it for you. It will cost you around $50.

Public ferry from Malé to Thulusdhoo

A Public ferry is available from Male at 15:30 every day, except Friday (To be sure ask your guesthouse because they love to change their schedules at Maldives). The ferry’s name is Tharika-2 and it leaves from the jetty terminal between the fruit market and the presidential jetty on Male. Tickets cost $3 one way and it takes 1,5 hours to get to your dream destination.

Where to stay?

Thulusdhoo offers various guesthouses where you can spend your memorable honeymoon or active surf vacation. We stayed at the modern accommodation located just next to the incredible crystal clear water with heavenly beaches, Canopus Retreat. It has 12 trendy rooms with lovely furniture, TV with cable channels if you get bored and of course the essential air conditioner. There is free Wi-Fi access throughout the property, which works pretty good considering the fact that Thulusdhoo is a small island in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

The hotel staff picked us up from the ferry terminal at Thulusdhoo and welcomed us with delicious fruity drinks at Canopus Retreat. We stayed 2 nights in a Standard Double Room and then moved to the Deluxe Double with Sea View. In my opinion you shouldn’t try to save some pennies and get the room with the private balcony and gorgeous sea view. The Standard Double Room is not as cozy, doesn’t have windows and is pretty cold at night because of the AC. It’s fine if you want to stay for just few nights and then continue traveling but for a longer period the spacious Deluxe Double will be the best choice. You will immediately feel the perfect getaway vibes, especially if you are with your loved one. Tip from me; take your own toiletries with you, the guesthouse doesn’t provide with any shampoos or hand soaps. Furthermore there is only one towel per guest.

Deluxe Double Room Canopus Retreat, Thulusdhoo

In the morning you don’t need to think about breakfast because it’s included in your booking. Meal servings are from 7:30-9am, you will be presented with a simple but lovely plate served with eggs, sausage, toasts, jam, butter and fruits. As a beverage you will get delicious fruity drink and coffee or tea.

There is also an indoor and outdoor restaurant in this small guesthouse where you can enjoy lunch or dinner. The Canopus Retreat staff can even prepare a romantic dinner on the beach next to the calm water. The trick is that you never know what they will serve you because there is no menu. The only way to figure it out is to ask the staff. Sometimes it was complicated to make an order and we didn’t always get the precise information on what was available. Nevertheless portions were very magnanimous and every meal was delicious. We were very happy to see pasta and fries again after consuming only rice and noodles for one week on the other island. Definitely taste the pasta with tomato sauce, tuna fillet and refreshing salad.

One of the dishes at Canopus Retreat Restaurant

My personal highlight of Canopus Retreat is it’s spa on the second floor. I was surprised when I went there and discovered the tranquil oasis with relaxing music and odor of essential oils. The room was spacious and decorated in a traditional but modern Indonesian style. It’s possible to have a couples’ massage or a private one. I experienced the private Traditional Massage for 60 minutes which I would highly recommend to everyone who wants to enjoy the deep relaxation of a full body massage. I was laying on the comfortable massage table next to the balcony enjoying an amazing colorful ocean view.

What to do?

There are various activities in the area. As I already mentioned before snorkeling is must do in Thulusdhoo. You can get snorkeling equipment from Canopus Retreat and explore the calm bays full of reefs and exotic fish. We decided to book a proper snorkeling and sandbank trip to explore the deep underwater flora and fauna of the Maldives. Snorkeling is always fun wherever you go, you might even see peaceful sharks, manta rays and turtles. The sandbank looks as beautiful as you know it from all the spectacular Instagram pictures. The ideal location to immerse into the surreal Bounty advertisment and take a couple of new Facebook show-off photos. To keep us strong and wealthy the tour operator provided some sandwiches and drinks for us, to make our trip more enjoyable! The only tip from me make sure that the weather conditions are good and the ocean is calm. The whole adventure on the speed boat was not very pleasant for me. Furthermore our team of three couples was very scared on the way back because of the very strong wind and choppy waves.

Sandbank trip

If you want something more than just swimming with a mask and a tube, you can try diving in Thulusdhoo. Canopus Retreat cooperates with Sea Retreats Dive and Sports Center located just next door to their guesthouse. They offer different diving opportunities and have good diving equipment for both beginners and advanced.

No filter needed

I was looking forward to experience kayaking on the magical turquoise waters of Thulusdhoo but unfortunately due to heavy rain and wind during our last day it was not possible. So maybe next time!

Dhiffushi Island in the Maldives

Dhiffushi Island is part of the Kaafu Atoll. It is located 36,6 km northeast of Male, the capital of the Maldives. It’s a compact island with a strong community spirit of 1200 people. It’s not large enough for agricultural activities but it has plenty of greenery, coconut and fruit trees. Not to forget to mention, there is a beautiful white sandy beach  with calm turquoise waters on the one side. The other side is ideal for wind surfing due to strong but consistent wind between Dhiffushi and it’s neighboring resort island.

Dhiffushi Island, Maldives

The island has a great infrastructure and facilitates a few restaurants (definitely visit Faruma Restaurant with it’s delicious, big portions and acceptable prices) and local shops. On the island you will find a couple of guesthouses. The touristic industry is growing so more and more hotels are being built. Which actually doesn’t make sense because there is only one lovely beach situated just next to the cute guesthouse Bibee. The guesthouse is located next to the beach with plenty of lounge chairs and parasols. It’s the perfect location for snorkeling: The water is warm,  extremely calm and shallow so you can explore the sea world filled with colorful fish of all different sizes and even manta rays, you can also go kayaking or be a bit wild on the jetski.

Dhiffushi

Don’t be surprised that the island might be dirty and full of plastic bottles on the other side of the touristic beach. Like every other Maldivian island it contains huge amounts of rubbish washed up on the island’s pristine sands.

How to get there?

There are various options on how to reach the island. For budget travelers the ideal choice would be to take the public ferry from Male. It departs at 2:30 PM every day except Friday. It also goes back from Dhiffushi to Male’ at 6:30 AM every day except Friday. It will cost you MVR 22 ($1.5) and within 3 hours you will reach your destination.

The impatient tired travelers can take a speed boat for $25. It operates every day except Friday from Male at 4:30pm. Departure from dhiffushi to Male is at 7:30am and it takes 40 minutes.

Bibee Guesthouse can also arrange a speedboat transfer directly from Malé International Airport for a steep $295 per trip, it takes around 40 minutes.

Where to stay?

Guesthouse Bibee, Dhiffushi

The best guesthouse to stay on Dhiffushi island is Bibee which translates as butterfly fish in Maldivian. It offers 12 well-equipped modern rooms with good Wi-Fi, air conditioning, TV with plenty of various channels in English, hot and cold water shower. We were staying in a Deluxe Double Room with an amazing queen size bed, 2 towels each, toiletries, complementary coffee and tea powders and a bottle of water. There is a mini bar with small bottles of water too.

Double Deluxe Room at Bibee, Dhiffushi

 

 

We also had breakfast included in our booking at Bibee. There are two options: The Maldivian breakfast which of course includes tuna fish and the continental breakfast with sausages and one egg. Both of them are simple but lovely. We also had a grape juice and powdered milk coffee.

 

 

Complimentary tea & coffee

The hotel also offers some fun activities like for example the very popular Sand Bank Trips where you can walk on crystal white sand surrounded by tempting turquoise water. Nevertheless it can happen that the tiny island will be full with other curious tourists especially during the high season.

Maldivian breakfast at Bibee

Canoe riding, fishing, dolphin cruises are other possibilities to enjoy your vacation. In my opinion Dhiffushi is most suitable for a family vacation.

Unbeatable prices with SendMyBag.com

Sending your luggage upfront of a trip or moving to a new country is an attractive alternative instead of taking your belongings with you. In the end you don’t need to carry it around, run on time to the airport or stand hours in the queue to check in your suitcase so you can just give it into the trustworthy hands of one of the shipping companies.

When I made my decision to move back to Europe from the furthest country on planet Earth, New Zealand, I realized that within a couple of months I’ve collected a good amount of items. It would be complicated to pack it all in one suitcase, furthermore to get rid of it was not an option. This is when I discovered SendMyBag.com, a worldwide shipping company with the cheapest rates and even student discounts.

It’s very easy to navigate the website, first of all you can get an exact quote on how much would it cost to send your bag from A to B. I needed to send my personal treasures from New Zealand to Belgium, which cost me £310 for a magnanimous 30kg. Therefore the prices depending on the country and weight of the luggage you send. They also accept golf, ski bags and bicycles. Step one, enter your measurement units.

Before you create your account , check SendMyBag.com rules for every country. There you can find information for the place where you need to send your items. Sometimes there are hidden costs, that you need to pay separately, so read carefully. That happened to me, the local custom authorities wanted to inspect the shipment to confirm the contents and I needed to transfer €42 extra.

After you’ve decided where your luggage is going, you need to complete four steps such as to write your collection and destination address and measurements of the item that you want to send. The great option is you can choose the exact date when it should be picked up!

Last but not least, you will be asked if you want to print your labels or get them delivered for an extra charge. I don’t see any reason why to pay extra money for something that can be easily done at home. You don’t have to be a genius to make sure that the labels are attached to your suitcase. I attached my documents by using a see through file and tape, so the list of the items that are in my suitcase is on one side and the barcode for the DHL courier on the other.

Furthermore you can have free cover for a value of up to £125, if you prefer to increase your insurance automatically it would cost you more as well.

 

If you want to track your bag every step of the way you can download Send My Bag App and you will receive free tracking push notifications to your smartphone. So it will help you to stay up to date!

Last but not least you need to pay for your order. You will get notifications via email and within 24 hours your order will be accepted so you can complete the customs form information. I needed to upload a picture of my passport and write down a brief packing list.

Unfortunately I was disappointed when I got word that I’m not allowed to send any liquids, cremes or gels. Being a girl and having all kind of cremes is essential.  I’ve sent my suitcase with another company that was more expensive but I was allowed to send all these products. The only rule was they were not allowed to contain alcohol because of the flammability. That’s why I couldn’t justify the statement from the Send My Bag – support team “All liquids, pastes and gels are prohibited on international services”

The collection of the luggage happens between 9am and 6pm, there is no specific time. Nevertheless you can take your bag to work or ask your friend or neighbor to hand over the bag to the courier. Directly after the pick up you will get a notification with the tracking number, so you can follow every step of your precious belongings.

My bag arrived at it’s final destination within 6 days due to a little delay because of the customs inspection. Everything arrived there safe and in one piece. So in my personal opinion SendMyBag.com is a very trustworthy company. It might give you a bit of a hassle with the unexpected packing restrictions and extra costs, but in the end it still offers the lowest price.

 

 

 

 

Air New Zealand

Air New Zealand is the national airline of (what a surprise) New Zealand with their base in Auckland. It operates on a global network that provides services from as well as within New Zealand to various locations like Australia, the South West Pacific, Asia, North America, South America and the United Kingdom. In 2016 Air New Zealand was crowned best airline in the world for the fourth time in a row. And it has good reasons to be so great! It’s not the cheapest air company but occasuanaly they have great and affordable deals.

Cabin

Cabin at Air New Zealand

I flew with Air New Zealand within NZ several times and every single time it was a pleasure. The planes offer plenty of space and comfortable, modern seating. Nevertheless it makes sense to offer a magnanimous area for kiwis, they are famous for being more voluptuous.  On the domestic flight we were not provided with screens on every chair but instead there were visual aides that showed a little quiz. I’m sure on the longer flights there are plenty of entertaining features for every guest.

Customer service

I’ve never been disappointed with the customer service while flying with Air New Zealand. The staff is always friendly and helpful. Te efficiency of the flight attendants and the rest of the crew make sure that everything happens promptly.

Food

Snack at the domestic flight

I was positively surprised that Air New Zealand still provides with complimentary drinks and snacks even on short flights. I’m very happy that they still uphold standards from the past and serve great coffee and delicious cookies. Additionally they provide you with delicious candies shortly before landing to relieve the pressure in your ears.

Welcome to one of New Zealand’s oldest pubs, The Thistle Inn.

Hard to believe but New Zealand has some good old history too! I discovered one of NZ’s oldest iconic public houses, built in 1840 and survived all the fires and earthquakes, Thistle Inn. Based in Thorndon, next to Parliament it received the second liquor license issued in the whole country and many famous Kiwis visited this establishment for refreshments. One of them was great Maori Warrior Te Rauparaha, Free spirit and poet Katherine Mansfield loved to visit the Thistle Inn too. But also various politicians, dock and government workers enjoy their delicious food and pints.

It’s one of the most memorable places that I visited in Wellington: incredible service, friendly and polite staff, giving you great tips on what to order. It feels like being back in England with all the rustic furniture, wooden floors and welcoming atmosphere. The fireplace in the main room gives you cozy and relaxed vibes and there is also a glass floor through which you can observe the cellar from 1840 with the huge but cute rat John. Don’t worry the pet is not real but a funny addition to the original cellar.

Cute rat John

There are other options in terms of dining rooms like the bright area next to the main room. The glass ceiling lets in plenty of sunshine to lighten the space. Another one is the Historic Dining room designed in traditional royal, earthy green colours, surrounded by Wellington’s historic photos. And that’s not all, if you are curious and follow the stair up there are more of extraordinary rooms. Furthermore there is a smoker friendly balcony where you can get some fresh and not so fresh air. What is definitely impressive is the fact that there are original newspapers from the 1930’ies and 40’ies with significant milestones in our history. It’s also possible to book a short tour and to get more interesting facts about the iconic pub.

Historic Dining Room

But let’s talk about the crucial reason why I went there: Food. The Thistle Inn offers a great range of choices on their menu, supplemented by various beverages and daily special offers. The menu doesn’t contain too many dishes, but all of them will satisfy every guest. It’s an interesting mix of old pub food like fish and chips and pork scratchings combined with a fine and exclusive cuisine. From the very beginning you get a fancy glass of lightly sparkling water with a slice of cucumber and lemon. Waiters always keep an eye out to make sure your glass full, so you are constantly hydrated.

Bar area & handsome man

We started our delicious journey with the Duck Liver Paté $16. Our order was served promptly and the size of a portion could make a group of 3-4 people happy. The texture and flavours of the paté were on point, the bread was fresh and crispy. Loved this signature dish!

Duck Liver Paté $16

We were suggested to try the soup of the day with potatoes, leak and truffle oil $15 and the Monk fish, prawn brochettes, tomato linguini, capers, pecorino $26. Shortly after the paté we could observe the descent sizes of the plates filled with delightful creations in front of us. The hearty and warming soup was a thick creamy puree loaded with incredible flavors. Doubtlessly a must try at the Thistle Inn. The fresh soup recipes change every 3-4 days but if that one was so amazing I’m curious how the others would taste?

soup of the day with potatoes, leak and truffle oil $15 and Monk fish, prawn brochettes, tomato linguini, capers, pecorino $26

You can’t do anything wrong if you order pasta, especially the one that we’ve tried: linguini served in sweet tomato sauce combined with refreshing but not penetrant herbs. Decorated with chunky and savory pieces of white monk fish and huge prawns skewers covered with big slices of pecorino. The dish is not only picturesque for your eyes but mind-blowing on your tongue. It was hard for me to resist and not to steal some mouthwatering prawns coated in red sauce and exclusive cheese. I would recommend both dishes to everyone!

Apple & Blackberry crumble, vanilla bean gelato $14

After our mains we needed some time to digest the food and all the exciting impressions for our senses. And because our motto is YOLO, we needed to try a dessert. We decided to share one, because there was almost no space left in the stomach. Our choice fell on the Apple & Blackberry crumble, vanilla bean gelato $14. If you love refreshing and scrumptious pies that would be the winner.

Date & Apple Chutney

My partner and I were celebrating our 2 year anniversary of being happily together (cheesy, right?) and the restaurant staff knew that. As a gift from them we received their house-made Date & Apple Chutney. Super cute and also delicious afterwards! You can purchase them in the establishment for $6. An interesting and healthy mix!

 

All in one I adore this place and would recommend to enjoy food or drink at the Thistle Inn. It’s a great spot for a date or to enjoy and unwind after work, just make sure you reserve a table for dinner. This place can get crowded and busy in the evening with a nice mix of young and mature guests.

 

Great products of New Zealand

In winter time when the days are short and grey, the weather is not spoiling us with the warm sun, it’s pretty common for all of us to experience the “winter blues”. Less daylight and warm sunshine plus cold temperatures usually have us spend more time cooped up indoors. Our mood starts to fall as fast as the thermometer and unfortunately to have a sunny vacation under the palms is not always an option. The good news is that there are several things that can help you improve your mood, health and energy levels!

Start your day right!

Sounds simple but we all know the way you start the morning can affect your whole day. If you learn how to start your day right it will significantly increase your chances of having a satisfying, productive day! I know it’s hard enough to wake up in the early and dark morning but try to start your day with a boost of energy from a refreshing shower. When life gives you lemons you make handcrafted scrub out of it: Aio Sugar Scrub Lemon. This magic mixture of coconut, olive, almond and rosehip oils that I found on cherrusnz.com will boost your circulation in the morning, get your blood flowing and wakes you up quicker.

You don’t want to carry sleep on your face the whole day so definitely use Astral Collective Zen Activated Sponge. I love that cheeky little sponge because it contains only two ingredients: activated charcoal and konnyaku potato fibre but gives my skin a clean and healthy feeling in just 1 minute! Another deep cleanse alternative is Astral Collective Detox Face Mask although I’m impatient and prefer to use that one in the evening so I can lay down and wait until it’s dry. Nevertheless 1 spoon of this powder mixed with a bit of water works miracles! Oh yeah and the packaging is tiny and cute!

Moisturising your skin is an important part of every bath ritual especially during the cold days. Worth to mention that showers shouldn’t be hot either: The more heat, the more moisture is drawn from your skin. It’s hard to find good face creams, prices and brands don’t mean good quality nowadays. I doubtlessly recommend natural-derived Oxygen Refreshing Moisturiser and Tribeca Glow , it just depends whether you prefer oil or cream.

After your beautiful morning routine leave your house with the perfect smile! I’ve tried the new natural and cruelty-free Zoo Natural Teeth Whitener to whiten and polish teeth. I really liked the result. I need to inform you though, it won’t work immediately but if you use it every day you will notice the difference! It’s a bit of a messy procedure but will definitely give you that million dollar smile!

A smoothie a day keeps the doctor away!

During the winter, it’s especially important to get your daily dose of fruits and veggies to help maintain a strong immune system to battle all the colds and flu’s going around. Blended smoothies are an efficient way to pack a ton of nutrition into glass. Nevertheless we don’t always have time to search for various recipes and buy fresh products in our busy lifestyle. Blend it Raw makes it very easy to be healthy and save some shopping time with their idea to deliver chilltainers filled with ingredients for 10 portioned servings direct to your home. They offer free shipping, everything that they send is recyclable and there are 3 new recipes every week! With the exact amount of products you won’t experience any waste. The amazing aspect about Blend it Raw – recipes is that they describe why the ingredients of each smoothie are important for you. Additionally it’s easy to follow them: Just throw the mentioned ingredients into the blender and Voila! The energy booster in your glass is ready! It’s the most effortless and effective way to stay healthy, energetic and avoid to gain weight during those cozy peckish winter nights at home.

P.S. Worth to mention, they regularly publish new delightful smoothie recipes on their website!

Relax. Soak. Unwind.

The best escape from the rainy cold weather is by soaking in a hot bath and relax that winter blues away. You don’t have to go to a pricey spa, you can have the same luxurious experience in your own home and without spending a fortune. You just need to possess a bath and visit the beautiful website donoharm.com . There you can find various natural and cruelty-free products for affordable prices. Try Anoint Coconut Bath Milk and immerse into an exotic heaven with the smell of coconut and essential oils. And the way the bottle with the cork lid looks is adorable!

Winter times can also cause dry scalp and slows the growth of your hair. But where there are problems, there are solutions! I’ve discovered Essential Scalp Spray which helps to support hair growth and scalp circulation. It also contains Lavender oil that helps to alleviate dryness and inflammation. It’s simple to use, just spray it directly onto the scalp, there is no need to wash it out. You can use it daily, it’s up to you! Furthermore all us girls want is for our hair to grow fast and strong even if it’s not winter!

Future mummies need to take even more care of their skin because of going through the big changes. There is a great range of numerous oils and creams to prevent stretch marks and relieve the feelings of itchiness. One of them is Mother to be Body Oil which is 100% natural and it’s safe for mother and baby. For just $30 you will receive an amazing mix of almond, avocado, wheat, lavender and carrot oils that you need to massage into your skin once a day.

The success lies in taking care of your beautiful body!

Best time for a tea party!

What is a better way to spend a cold winter afternoon than enjoying a cup of delightful tea with your favorite friends? Especially during this winter season’s relentless low temperatures that leave you frozen to the bone. There’s no solution more immediate and enjoyable than a hot cup of good tea. You can surprise yourself and your cherished ones with the Himalayan experience from Nepal. It’s ideal for black and green tea lovers who enjoy rich and strong flavors. I’ve ordered the 10 gram tasters from Tea House and found my favorite one: Ruby Black.

Experience some luxury

With time our skin gets thinner and dryer, furthermore it’s getting more susceptible to damage through the cold temperatures and wind. Especially the area around our eyes is very sensitive to surroundings and different lifestyle habits. We all know that eyes are the windows to our soul, that’s why we need to keep them happy and vibrant! Saintsco Bee Venom Eye Cream is my favourite at the moment. I prefer to put on eye cream in the evening because it’s easier to apply my make up on the next day: No panda eyes after using mascara. Most eye creams made my eyes look swollen the next day but not Saintsco . It’s quickly absorbed by the skin, additionally it tightens and lifts the eye area. Great anti-aging and moisturizer.

And again regular moisturizing is definitely good to prevent any unwanted conditions such as dryness and wrinkles during the colder periods. I discovered the unique Saintsco Bee Venom Mask and was amazed what it’s done to my skin. I have a normal skin type and use it just once a day in the evening and it makes my skin soft and healthy. It contains bee venom that’s known as as a painless alternative to botox, that means no needles needed to look beautiful and fresh! Nevertheless some people might be allergic to bee stings, just make sure that you are not one of them if you want to experience wonders of Saintsco.

Another Sainsco product that I adore is Bee Venom Lip Plumper . Surprise, surprise it makes your lips bigger in a natural way! The bee venom will give you a bit of tingling feeling in the beginning but it takes just 2-3 minutes and as a result you will have voluptuous lips. The combination of  manuka honey and shea butter will nourish and soften the lips. Furthermore it’s possible to wear it under your lipstick!

When it comes to keeping the skin look young, no beauty ingredient does a better job than two of my beloved Saintsco products: Saintsco Bee Venom 24ct Gold Serum and Bee Venom & Stem Cell Super Protein Essense with 24ct Gold. In the winter and for those who are working indoors where the skin is under the influence of conditioned air all the time moisturizing and hydration are essential. Both of these incredible products are suitable for all skin types and help you to combat the signs of aging. Serum helps to increase blood circulation, soften your skin and gives a bit of a shiny effect because of the gold powder in it. It’s a marvelous way to spoil yourself and boost elasticity, correct skin, reduce wrinkles and emphasize your youthful appearance. Furthermore all products are from New Zealand and it contains 100% pure natural bee venom. Definitely a winter must have!

Stay warm and cozy!

While winter is spreading it’s cold all over the country, we instinctly feel an urge to create our warm nests during the season. The sheepskins are the best way to give that feeling both visually and sensually by their soft surface. Did you know research reported that sheepskin has a soothing, swaddling effect that can result in better sleep, reduced stress and improved weight gain. Furthermore you can use them  in different ways by lining the chairs, covering the beds, placing onto the floors or just using them as throws at any place easily. Or just get some warm and soft slippers to keep your feet warm throughout any bad season times!

Give a gift!

During the cold temperatures it’s important to take care of your beloved one. And who has the tendency to forget about essential daily procedures? Right, men! The best way to solve that problem is to surprise him with great products. Furthermore giving presents to others stimulates feelings of kindness, compassion and love. I would suggest Mens Refreshing Pack from KDone. It’s all made in New Zealand and includes shaving gel, aftershave balm, body wash, aluminium free deodorant and lip balm. The products may have a bit of a specific smell, it’s because they are 100% natural and don’t have added fragrances that cause sensitizing and other negative skin reactions. You will be positive surprised about the result and smoothness of your partner’s skin! Additionally it’s packed into a useful travel bag that can be used if you want to escape cold weather and fly away to a sunny paradise.

You need effective travel products for yourself as well? No worries, here is a lovely Skincare Pack with moisturizing goodies. Facial cleanser with the refreshing smell of lemongrass is perfect to remove make up and clean your face. There are two different types of moisturizers: light hydrating and rich& intensive for mature skin, it’s also great to use as a night cream. Last but not least; Hand & Body cream to spoil your skin with avocado oil and vitamin E.

My two other winter must-haves from Kareen Holland’s collection are Foot Balm and Peppermint Shampoo. We tend to forget about our feet in the cold season because they are covered most of the time. But wearing shoes the whole day will cause dry skin and other discomforting reactions. It’s crucial to use foot balm rich in effective hydration and moisturizing. KDone’s with avocado oil, shea butter, cocoa butter and other essential oils is doubtlessly one of these! Use it over night and you will wake up with baby skin on your feet.

As I mentioned before dry scalp is another unpleasant issue that winter can bring. And while it’s not snowing on the North Island, you won’t be able to get away with the “Snowflakes in my hair” joke. Most of the shampoos nowadays contain numerous amount of harmful ingredients, KDone Peppermint Shampoo is absolutely natural. It will sooth your scalp, stimulate blood circulation and makes your hair pretty! It’s undeniably worth the money!

Just Be Natural with soaps!

As I mentioned the seasonal attack of biting wind on our skin and hair leaves us with a dry and uncomfortable feeling. The keys to radiant skin in the winter time are using natural products that work with your skin’s own oil-producing system, protecting skin (and hair) from the harsh elements. I discovered New Zealand’s Be Natural soap products and was amazed by the great results you can reach with it!

Facial skin is sensitive and delicate, but takes quite a beating in terms of exposure to weather, chemicals and other external influences. Furthermore we forget that cleaning our makeup brushes regularly is important. Not only will it get rid of bad bacteria, but it will also prevent your makeup colors from getting mixed. That’s why Make Up Brush Cleaner is one of my favorites. Afterwards you can use Be Clean – Honey, Oat And Almond Face Soap For a gentle, natural cleansing use. It smells like caramel and can be also used as a baby soap, body soap and is  fantastic for men’s shaving.

Be Silky is an organic shampoo bar with Rosemary and Eucalyptus. I’ve never used solid shampoo before and to be honest I was skeptical. But the results are amazing, my hair smells good and it looks shiny and healthy! What else do you need?

Online you can find various soaps which will make every beauty junky happy and excited. They are all just $8!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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