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Fairy Travels

Grand Opening of Christmas 2019 – Lapland

snow on cabins lapland

Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy Blog

When I was a child I dreamed of going to Lapland, as an adult I always assumed such a trip would be so far out of reach so I pushed it to the back of my head. Fast froward 2018 when my childhood dream came true, we visited the stunning city of Rovaniemi, Lapland  it was everything we hoped and more. I learned so much from our first visit and really only scratched the surface of this beautiful place that we have decided to go back for 2019. We are all super excited and going for longer this time to experience all that Rovaniemi has to offer.

I recently saw on Visit Rovaniemi that the Grand Opening and start of the Christmas season is scheduled for 10 November at 4pm.  Per their website,

Santa Park entraceLapland

Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy Blog

the Grand Opening of the Christmas Season is an annual and traditional event  that starts the Christmas season in Rovaniemi. The event begins at 4 pm at the central square of Santa Claus Village. The elves and local artists put on a festive concert that culminates in Santa Claus’ speech which officials opens the Christmas Season.

The event is free of charge. The celebration is organized by Visit Rovaniemi. Its also live streamed on their Facebook page so whether your going, planning a trip or even just a Christmas lover its well worth checking it out.

 

For anybody thinking of going ive pulled all my post below and im always happy to answer questions via comments below, DM or across social.

  • Lapland on a budget – our how to guide – here
  • Dressing for Lapland – here
Fairy Travels

Planning a holiday? Here are some money saving tips and tricks I use

Tips and tricks when booking holdiays 

Since I published this post I have been asked lots of times for any money saving tips and tricks I have for taking the family to Lapland on a budget.  I thought I’d set out some of those which helped us  anyway!

Source: Pixabay

Money, Money, Money

I know this is old fashioned but what we tend to do when we book a holiday  is keep a jar of our loose change and convert it the week before we head away.  For example, we had 8 months of saving for Toronto and had a nice sum of coins saved which converted into CAD$225. Along the same vein and I know this sounds a bit crazy myself and my husband put aside a small amount each month and covert it that month to the currency of our destination this meant another CAD$470  to add to the pot.  While we try not to a couple there are short term loan options like cashlady.com

Deals, Deals Deals

I am the queen of the deal! I just love a good deal. I scour the internet for good deals in our chosen destination.  Groupon is your friend. For example we had pancakes for lunch one of the days at Krepesz, that was pancakes for 4 and drinks for CAD$50.  While in Niagara Falls I booked the Captain Jacks Fun Zone  tickets which the kids thoroughly enjoyed and I saved 70% off the normal price.  There are so many options in these places so by buying in advance (the kids and the adults) know what included and we have a set amount of tokens each. There are also lots of hotel options on Groupon too with great saving or added extras.  A couple we spoke to at breakfast had got a great deal at the Sheraton on the Falls via Groupon with a Falls view room.

Shop around especially for accommodation

There are a myriad of hotel booking options with varying rates of discounts.

Source: Pixabay

One of my personal favourites is booking.com.   Also check out Expedia or hotels.com or as mentioned above Groupon hotel deals. Sign up for alerts for these site to keep up to date on the latest deals and offerings.   It can also be a good option to call the hotel direct as I have found that some will match the rates found elsewhere.

Another great option is booking via Airbnb. One of the key things to remember about Airbnb is to read the reviews of the property and look for hosts with good feedback. Secondly good Airbnb etiquette will help ensure good feedback is left for you in return as that’s the cornerstone of the community.

Flights

Source: Pixabay

This one is bit more tricky and sometime can just be down to the fact that the stars align and sales and timing of your trip work out. But failing that some things you can do include:

  • Settting up Sky Scanner alerts – im a big fan of this. You get emails relating to prices changes for the flight you are considering.
  • Timing – some times of the year are simply cheaper than others so do your research and look for the off peak times in the destinations you plan on visiting
  • Avios, this is currency of a number of airlines and you can collect point by purchasing flights or with the airline or any of its partners. For example you can convert you SuperValu real rewards to Avios points.  I had a quick look and its around 8,000 points for a return European flight. Not too bad!

Has anybody any other good holiday saving tips they have feel free to add them in the comments.

 

Note: Contains affliate/ spon links
Fairy Travels

Planning a short hop to the British Isles? Here’s what to see

boarding the ferry

Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy Blog

Whether you’re planning a trip on Ryanair during the autumn school break or catching the ferry to Holyhead, making your way over to the British Isles has never been easier.  If you want a getaway that isn’t a major hassle to get back from, then travelling to England and Wales is just a short hop-skip and a jump away from Dublin airport or port. Below are a few places to visit that could be of interest; whether you’ll be on-foot or taking the car. 

Porth Darfarch Beach

If you are planning to drive into Britain through Holyhead, then Anglesey is a great place to visit. It’s not too far from Holyhead and offers some stunning beaches that are Blue Flagged. If you’re after a quiet day out with the kids, then Porth Darfarch Beach is just about as perfect as it gets. It’s surrounded by cliffs and has plenty of shallow waters. 

LEGOLAND Windsor Resort 

large lego figures

Pic Credit: Pixabay

The area of Windsor is perhaps one of the most quintessentially British areas you could visit. If you’re flying into London, there are plenty of easy transport links over to Windsor, as it’s situated just to the west of London. If you’re based in a central London hotel, this is an easy day trip to organise. 

This area is home to some brilliant pubs, historical monuments and Windsor Castle. Also in this part of Berkshire is LEGOLAND Windsor Resort, which is ideal if you have little kids who need to be actively entertained. Every child’s favourite multicoloured bricks create some magical spectacles at this impressive funfair park and resort. You’ll find replica cities, a waterpark and events throughout the year. Thanks to its location, there are also plenty of places to visit for dinner afterwards. If you don’t fancy eating at the resort then you can enjoy some seasonal pub grub at the nearby tap houses in the Windsor area. The Corner House is one such establishment that offers a carefully thought-through menu and warm atmosphere. 

Liverpool’s endless culture 

beatles band statues

Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy Blog

You may opt to travel a bit further up on the British coastline if you’re planning to jet across by ferry. Liverpool has so much culture to offer, it’s a rewarding destination for a quick British getaway. In fact, it’s home to the largest cathedral in Britain. This city comes complete with exhibits on The Beatles, the Tate gallery and a ferry tour of its coastline; if you’re ready to hop back on a boat that is! For those who enjoy a creative atmosphere, the Wirral Arts Festival is just around the corner, which hosts plenty of events not too far from Liverpool city centre. 

Whichever city you land in, you’ll find plenty to do during your short stay in the British Isles. Arriving in Wales could see you spending serene days walking on the beach, Liverpool could see you indulging in the arts and a weekend in London has endless amounts of nearby attractions for children of any age. 

 

Note: This is a collaborative post
Fairy Travels

A Quick Irish Parent’s Guide To Skiing

child skiing

Pic Credit: Unsplash

I honestly think there’s an unwritten rule that lets us know when it’s almost ski season in Ireland, and it has nothing to do with getting a ruler to measure non-existent snow: you see ski clothes suddenly pop up in the middle aisle of Lidl. And while you’re not going to get inches of it here anytime around Christmas, it’s hard to justify buying those bright, puffy jackets when the hopes that were going to get a snowy blizzard incoming around the colder months are beyond low.

I can tell you one good reason to buy the jackets and Google around though! 

What if you’re already in the midst of planning a big ski holiday for the family this year and it’s your first time taking everyone to the slopes. What do you need to know about booking a ski holiday, what things to buy, and how to make sure everyone stays safe while having fun on a family ski holiday?

Well before you start looking up how much it costs to add a pair of skis to your luggage (you never need to btw) let me fill you in on some of the pre-planning essentials every family needs to do.

Get used to skis on dry land

child skiing

Pic Credit: Pixabay

Want to avoid bumps, falls and general cluelessness when using skis for the first time? You can prevent getting embarrassed on holiday if you’re lucky enough to be near a ski centre.

There are only two spots in the country I know of that have those outdoors dry slopes you can practice on: the Ski Club of Ireland just south of Dublin on the road to Bray, and the Craigavon Golf & Ski Centre up north (you take the M1 exit on the way to Belfast and its beside Lough Neagh). 

It’s not exactly the same as the alps, but they do have gentle slopes that help get anyone used to wearing skis for the first time. I think it helps take away some of the jitters everyone in the family (dad included) might get if they leave that first time using skis right up until they’re standing in the middle of the ski resort.

Get a holiday that has all the mod cons included

I love doing a bit of savvy research when booking our family holidays, but when it comes to skiing, it is something you can’t skimp on. It’s important to know that most ski resorts people travel to in Europe (around the Alps in France & Austria) are anywhere from an hour to 3 hours away from an airport.

building set in the hills in austria

Pic Credit: Markwarner.co.uk

Unless you actively like the idea of getting a hire car and traversing up the side of mountain roads for hours, just look and see where you can get a family ski holiday with everything included. For example, Mark Warner ski holidays look after everything to help families have a seamless journey from the airport to the resort. You can do things like book in for lessons, get your ski passes and get equipment sorted before you travel to the resort.

And because you’re in the middle of nowhere for up to a week, I’d suggest treating yourself and going all-inclusive for once. You’ll never want to see yourself trudging through snow first thing in the morning to get a pint of milk at the Spar.

Make sure parents get freedom

Does the resort have a ski school? Grand. Then get the kids signed up and you’ll have freedom all day long (I liken it to leaving them off at regular school). When looking up resorts, see if they offer childcare in the afternoons and evening, so you both get to enjoy the après-ski. 

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Fairy Travels

Sunday Fun at Tayto Park

Sunday before the school started back we hit Tayto Park for a day of family fun. We had never been before and really didn’t know what to expect. The boys are 7 and 4 so a bit mixed in terms of what interests them. The older is the ultimate thrilled seeker and my youngest man is a bit like myself, pretty much afraid of everything. Having spoke to friends who had been the advice was get there early. We arrive about 15 mins after opening and I was glad to have taken their advice, the car park was busy but there was no queue to get in.

We were kindly gifted admission for our family to Tayto Park, we got our tickets, arm bands and off we went.  It was lovely and quiet inside so we took our time to get or bearings and decide what rides we wanted to do. The first ride in our eyeline was Viking Voyage. My little man was  under the height requirement so I stayed behind with him which to be honest I didn’t mind too much when i caught sight of the dryer machines!! I won’t ruin the rides for anybody going as part of this post however suffice to say this was a mega hit! so much so it was done 3 times…..(and none of those was me!).

Given the little man was under 1.1 which tended to be the height requirement for a lot of the rides in whats known as the Eagle Zone, the youngest and I decided to head for the Zoo part to see the animals. I knew this would be a hit with my animal loving wee man.  I was really surprised with the eclectic collection of animals on show here from vultures, to lions to pygmy goats. It was still nice and quiet so we took our time and observed the animals free from the crowds.  My little man was really enthralled with the owls and the alpacas although he kept telling everybody who would listen that alpacas spit to stand back!!!

We regrouped at the Eagle’s Nest Adventure Zone which was more suited to my younger mans age and height.  It was heading towards the afternoon now and it was getting visibly busier but we didn’t queue long for any of the rides. Staff were efficient loading and reloading the rides each time. We pretty much sampled all the rides here from the honey pots, to the steam train, the rocking tug, pony rail, the Ferris wheel, the climbing wall, the shot tower and my favourite the carousel. There is something of an old school magic about a carousel. Also in this zone is the vortex tunnel, a playground and the Nissan Driving School which my oldest really loved. The height requirement for this one 1.1 which was meant a very disappointed 4 year old here. This was a busy activity which is probably the only place we queued for any length of time.

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Fairy Travels

Summer 2020 long haul planning!

Its funny as the evenings start to get cooler and dark my mind always starts drifting to our long haul choice for 2020. We did Niagara Falls  last year and it was everything we had hoped and more. We like to do one long haul and a number of shorter breaks each year when we can. Almost ten years ago honeymooned in Australia which incorporated a 2 night Bangkok stop over.  The other tourists we spoke to we all headed out to the Islands with Phuket seeming be the most popular.  We decided back then we would return and this time to do the Island and see the stunning beaches we hear so much about.

boats in water Phuket Thailand

Pic Credit: Pixabay

Travelling with kids is different, there is more to consider and I find when travelling with kids especially long haul that we tend to favour self catering holidays. It just makes it easier to cook the things they like and to have some more space to get over the jet lag!!!

Perhaps with the kids being a little older Phuket could be a good option for this year.  Phuket is over 17 hours from Dublin with a stop. The fastest I can see is via Doha with Qatar.  Its a long flight so we would need a decent length of time to be able to recover from the flight and enjoy the beautiful surroundings.

Accommodation

Having a nosey at accommodation I came across  Phuket Villa Finder and oh my god those pools! The dream.  My mind is wandering to waking up to those views and a pre breakfast swim just wow. There are over 250 really impressive properties in Phuket to choose, picking just one will be the hard part. I had a look at a good few villas and the quality looks exceptional. It seems they also can offer airport pick up and organise things like a chef etc during your stay. That’s great peace of mind to know that support is available should you need it especially as I say when travelling with young kids.

villa Phuket thailand

Pic Credit: Pixabay

What I like about this site its is sustainable credentials. For each villa booked and confirmed, Villa Finder will plant a tree in Sumatra, Indonesia. To date I believe they have planted over 6,000 trees creating valuable employment, habitats and health benefits to these regions.

Having a look at things to do in Phuket aside for chilling and admiring the incredible views there is also the beautiful old town to visit. While Phuket might be known for its beaches and nightlife there is so much more to do and any families I know who have been really love it and comment on its family friendliness.

If you have been do comment below with any must see sights. For now im dreaming of pink sunsets while chilling in the pool of a rental villa overlooking the sea.  Phuket is definitely a strong contender for The Mamma Fairy long haul trip for 2020.

Note: This is a collaborative post

 

 

Fairy Travels

The gastronomy of the Canary Islands: where Europe, Africa and America meet

To know the gastronomy of the Canary Islands is to savour their essence. Are you ready for a culinary journey?

Having spent many a happy summer as a child in the Canary Island and happily continuing the trend with my own kids one of the lesser mentioned highlights I find is the food which hand on heart I can tell us exceptional. Part of a holiday for me is trying new foods, new wines, new flavours. Its about experiencing a destination and its offerings. When the below food guide popped into my inbox I couldn’t wait to share it with kind permission from Travel Media.    It’s often said that the Canary Islands are a continent in miniature. This is not only because of the sheer variety of landscapes you find here – from pristine beaches to majestic volcanoes – but also the rich cuisine that each of the islands has to offer. From the north, with its freshly caught seafood, to the south, where the best modern fusion restaurants are located, the Canary Islands offers a sensorial gastronomic journey.

A world of flavours

Tradition and modernity collide in Canarian gastronomy. It even boasts some outstanding emerging young chefs, like Juan Santiago, World’s Best Young Chef 2015 Finalist. He is known for his experimentation based on tradition, the fruit of which are the liquid croquette or the croquette foam among others. As Santiago puts it, with 15 million tourists visiting the Canary Islands every year, it’s inevitable that new tastes and concepts keep emerging. Flavours of Spain, Latin America and Africa cross paths in this archipelago, shaping a very unique identity.

Tenerife for example, the largest of the Canary Islands, is home of the famous papas negras (‘black’ potatoes) and known for guachinches; humble, family-run restaurants where you experience local dishes at affordable prices. Haute cuisine and destination dining also has its place on the island. Five of the six Michelin star restaurants of the Canary Islands are situated on Tenerife. In modern Canarian cuisine, foams and other methods associated with molecular cookery coexist with traditional fish dishes, the ubiquitous mojo sauces, award -winning cheeses and bananas and pineapples famed throughout Europe.

From the net to table

The Atlantic Ocean wraps the Canary Islands, and traditional fishing, regulated by legislation that preserves stocks and marine ecosystems, is a way of life. The waters around the islands are home to an astonishing variety of fish, such as cherne, Atlantic croaker, salema, and sea bream. Whether grilled, baked, marinated or fried, they give a true taste of the Atlantic. Sancocho is a popular, dish of South American origins that consists of salted fish served with potatoes, sweet potatoes, and mojo – the famous sauce of the islands made with olive oil, peppers and assorted spices.

On the island of Gran Canaria, make your way over to the neighbourhood of San Cristóbal and Bar Zurita, a local institution where you can enjoy fresh-off-the-boat octopus and calamari overlooking the sea. Also recommended is La Bahía del Pajar at Arguineguín, or any of the eateries at El Medáno, without doubt the most beautiful beach on Tenerife. If you find yourself on Lanzarote or La Graciosa – the smallest of the Canary Islands – tuck into a plate of tiny, tasty ‘La Santa’ prawns accompanied with nothing but a slice of lemon and a cold beer.

 

 KM Cuisine

Santiago is a strong advocate of the principles of 0 KM; that is to say, “Buying and eating what is local, shortening distances between land or sea and the kitchen and importing as little as possible.” This philosophy has yielded formidable results; for the environment, for producers and most of all our taste buds.

The philosophy of 0 KM has always influenced eating habits on the Canary Islands. The most popular meat is not beef, but pork, rabbit and goat. Goat meat has a strong flavour, and is eaten with your hands. Accompanied with papas arrugadas (small potatoes with a salty crust), it’s perfection.

 

No meal on the Canary Islands is complete without local bread (essential for mopping up any mojo sauce left on the plate); a good wine, such as dry white from La Gomera, one of the world’s most unique wine regions and above all, cheese.

Canarian cheeses, especially those of the islands of Gran Canaria and Fuerteventura, are among the best in the world. In the 2018 edition of the World Cheese Awards, no less than 35 cheeses made on the Canary Islands received awards. Standout farmhouse cheeses include Maxorata; a semi cured goat’s cheese spice with smoky paprika, and Majorero, a firm goat’s milk cheese similar to Manchego. Perhaps the most original cheese is Flor de Guía; a creamy, slightly salty cheese made with an exact combination of cow’s and goat’s milk and liquid extracted from thistle flowers (flors de guía) for the curdling process.

 

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Fairy Travels

Santa Claus Village -a view from the inside

santa claus village cabins

Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy Blog

Ever since our visit to Lapland in November/ December 2018 we have quite literally been obsessed about returning. We have been fortunate to have travelled to many countries all over the world but none capturing our hearts in the way Lapland did. If you asked me exactly what it is about Lapland, honestly id struggle to put it into words. There is a magic about it, being in the home town of Santa Claus. Perhaps its seeing the magic of Christmas through my kids eyes.  Last year we stayed at Santa Claus Village and despite my intention of it being a “once in a lifetime” trip we have booked to go back this year later in December.

Since our return, I have shared my trip report and some tips and advice on dressing for lapland  and I have got tonnes of emails and DM’s with questions. I am always happy to chat about my favourite place and happy to answer any questions or queries people planning to visit this wonderful destination have.  The concluding comment of one email I received via my trip report really resonated with me. The query itself was about Santa Claus Village and the email concluded with “can you just imagine working there? How amazing would that be?”.

Santa Claus Holiday Village is run by Marko and Inga and they very kindly took the time to answer some of the questions that I (and many other!) have about running and working in what is probably one of the best known, most magical places in the world.

Our Q & A

Tell us about a typical day at Santa Claus Village

santa claus village at at night

Pic Credit: Marko @ Santa Claus Holiday Village

Well, typical day at Santa Claus Village. I guess we must concentrate on the winter season because that`s our high season. Weather might be little bit chilly, very unusually too cold but plenty of snow. Everything is covered pure white snow, trees are like frosted piece of art statues.  Guests wake up in cosy n warm cottages and go hurried for breakfast, to Christmas House restaurant or Three Elves restaurant, depends on accommodation type which they have booked.  After they have enjoyed typical Scandinavian buffet breakfast, many of them will be waiting booked safaris in the lobby. Some goes for Reindeer Sleigh ride safari and some for Husky Sleigh ride safari or Snowmobiling or some other from our famous excursions.   During the day time we used to have quite a lot day visitors in the Village from other accommodations of Rovaniemi and from around Lapland. They come to meet Mr. Santa Claus and send Christmas greeting cards from Santa Claus Main Post Office and for sure making shopping of very special gifts and souvenirs which we have great selections in the shops of village.

In the afternoon, our guests start to return from safaris and excursions. Many of them go to enjoy in the private sauna in the own cottage and that`s really pleasure after spend chilly day in the winter activities.   In the evening we have delicious dinners available in our restaurants. For coming winter season we will have third restaurant. Restaurant Santa Claus Village, it has 140 seats and shape of teepee.

If the weather looks to be clear for coming night, lot of our guests will be going for different kind of Northern Lights search programs, like Aurora Reindeer safari, Northern Light search in private wilderness or Northern Light search and dinner.

Can you tell us a little about the history of Santa Claus Village

We can think about that story begins from 1950 when city of Rovaniemi built a cottage for Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt when she came to visit in the Arctic Circle.

All the way until 80th  century, tourism was here more or less only summer tourism. Guests from Europe come to visit in the Arctic Circle and was going to North cape, northern most point of Europe. At 80th century Mr. Santa Claus decided that he need a place to greet guests from all over the world and he chose Arctic Circle.

Does Santa ever get a holiday or does he meet guests all year round?

He meet guests here every day for the whole year. In the Christmas Eve he starts he`s journey around world to delivery gifts but he have his magic things in his office, he can stop time for a night and that`s how he have time to make a trip around whole world and Christmas Day morning he will be back in the village greeting his guests.

Where do most of your visitors come from? Europe? or further afield?

Our guests are definitely really from all over the world, I would say that there is not any continental in the earth that we wouldn’t have had guests. It happened some years ago the that we had in the same time in house, without knowing each other, 3 families from New Caledonia. Further than that you can`t come if someone does’t live in the moon. But a lot comes from Europe because it`s not so far away.

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Fairy Travels

Stena Line – Ferry travel with kids

Dublin port

Departing Dublin Port Pic Credit: The MammaFairy Blog

Long before kids arrived into the Mamma Fairy house we used to travel quite a bit to Holyhead from Dublin. My sister attended University in Bangor in North Wales so we loved popping over for the weekend.  We hadn’t taken the kids on a ferry so there was mega excitement when I told them Stena Line were very kindly taking us and our car to Wales. One of the things that stresses me most about holidays is the airport, the volume of people, the queues, getting myself and the kids through security! The stress levels until we are sitting at the gate are usually pretty high!! Having taken our car on the ferry many times I knew what to expect! Much less stress – literally drive on drive off!

Our Ferry journey with kids

driving onto a ferry

Boarding time!! Pic Credit: The MammaFairy Blog

We were on the 8.10 Stena Adventurer heading over from Dublin to Holyhead on a lovely bright Friday morning in June. Being a Dublin resident I knew how bad Dublin traffic could be so we allowed ourselves extra time just to be sure and I am very glad we did. An incident at Port Tunnel saw the tunnel temporarily closed so thankfully we had time to go the alternative route. Check in closed 30 mins before departure but my advice is to get there early especially if you are travelling in peak work day traffic.

Check in was smooth, we had our boarding passes printed off, we were told which number queue to join and there we were in line to board the Stena Line Adventurer. The absolute squeals out of the kids as we drove onto the boat!!! Once we boarded we were guided into position,  we parked up and took the hyper gang up to the passenger decks. Another tip is to make sure you take everything you need with you as you can’t return to your vehicle when the ferry departs until the ferry docks again.

On board

Good bye Dublin Pic Credit: The MammaFairy Blog

I think one of the first thing you will notice is just how big the ferry is! We had taken the Superfast ferry in the past and the Adventurer is noticeably bigger.  On board the Adventurer there are:

  • En-suite cabins available from €30, might be handy if you have very young kids, for us with older (hyper with excitement) kids it really wasn’t necessary for the short 3 hour crossing. I believe the cabins go up to 4 berth which could be very handy for families.
  • A Hygge Lounge which is a relaxing, peaceful environment if you want a total chill in a large comfy reclining chair as you gaze over the Irish Sea. The cost is €9 per person but you must be over 16 years. If we didn’t have the kids id be in there in a heartbeat. Right up my street!!!
  • There was a restaurant, bar and coffee dock on each passenger deck serving hot and cold snacks and the usual beers and spirits. It was really busy initially on both legs of our trip but the staff were very efficient and the waiting time was short and a lot less busy once the initial rush was finished.
  • There is also the Stena Plus Lounge where for €20 you can avail of complimentary drinks, snacks, newspapers & magazines as well as free wifi, waiter service and comfy seating. We didn’t do it this trip but in the pre kids days we always frequented the lounge, it is really good value and nice and relaxing, a good option for the 3 hours ferry. The was a ‘Family Meal Deal’ on board 2 adults and 2 kids for £23 really good value and you can pay in either € or £.
  • For kids there really is plenty to do; located on each passenger deck is a small play space, for older kids there is “Teen Town” with some arcade games. Much to the kids excitement there is a cinema with free entry. This is a really good option to pass an hour or so especially with younger kids.

Our crossing

Our ship departed on time, boarding was smooth, the sail itself was smooth and the disembarkation was efficient.  What more could you ask for?! To keep the kids entertained I took sketch pads and their trusty twistables! While there is plenty on board to keep them entertained the play centres can get busy so worth having a few of their favourites to keep them occupied.  We took some of their own snacks with us while we ordered coffees, toast and scrambled egg to go with them. Thumbs up for Stena’s scrambled egg.

Our plans

As our trip was so short I had done lots of research before hand to maximise the time we had in North Wales. Full blog post on our activities but for now a very sneak peak…..

Day 1 -We drove to the picturesque town of Llanberis were we stayed on night after our journey on the Snowdon Mountain Railway. We reached the top of Snowdown Mountain literally surrounded by clouds which they kids thought was “epic” the last bit  is a little steep but oh so worth it. Be warned even in summer it can get cold up there so our trusty Reima winter gear came in useful again.

Day 2 – We drove further into Snowdonia to Llechwedd near Blaenau Ffestiniog. Llechwedd is an old slate mine where you can go 50o metres below ground into a deep mine.  I’ll keep you in suspense a little longer for my full review but suffice to say this place left a lasting impression on both us and the kids. Rich our guide a 7th generation miner himself was what made this tour for us. His unique insights, his respect for the heritage of the area and the contribution to mining brought a tear to my eye more than once.

Day 3 – Before heading back to Holyhead we spent a day and night in Llandudno, an old school sea side holiday resort.  While here we also took a quick visit to the Copper mines for a unique self guided tour of 4000 year old mines!!!  We loved our chilled out day here, kids will forever remember playing football at the beach at 10pm then running back to the b&b soaked, tired but happy.

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Itinerary ideas for Iceland

Since our trip last September to Iceland lots of people have asked for tips and advice on what to do to Iceland, sample itineraries, “must see” attractions.   I knew a few of my fellow blog buddies had been to Iceland I thought i’d reach out and get a variety of ideas on their top picks.

waterfall

Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy Blog

For many people and particularly given just how expensive Iceland is, their preference would be to book via website who can help you book the entire trip in one place.  With WowAir now defunct, there are less flight options for getting to this wonderful destination therefore I can really see how using the services of a site to assist you to book the entire package would be very appealing.  One option im aware of is the Voyage Prive website where they describe themselves as  “a members only luxury travel club, offering unforgettable getaways, at unbelievable prices“.  I love a deal and I know a lot of people like the security of having a packages as opposed to DIY, so well worth checking out and not just for Iceland, there cover worldwide holidays from ski trip to luxury resorts to city breaks.

Iceland “things to do”

The over riding thing I will say about Iceland is that it totally lives up to its reputation as being magical – the scenery is breathtaking, the people friendly and the thermal spas well……you just have to try them. And before you ask……yes it is expensive but to me, and my husband will agree it is totally worth it. It was a bucket list trip for us – a once in a lifetime – but I left a bit of my heart there and I have to go back. We loved it so much

Geysirs in Iceland

Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy Blog

Our visit was short and we had young kids (6 and 3 at the time of travel) so we carefully planned out itinerary, for a sneak peak of what we did see our Golden Circle trip here my  kids are still asking to go back to that wonderful Ice cream place before Gullfoss. I really do love looking back at our pics, really does make me want to go and book it again.

We also did Fontana as we booked last minute, the Blue Lagoon was booked out. A top tip if the Blue Lagoon is top of your list is to book early. Please also respect the cultural (and hygienic) advice to shower before entering the thermal pools. It was definitely one of the highlights as it was quiet when we were there, we had loads of time and space and the kids were made very welcome. And try the bread – drooling as I type. Quite  honestly the nicest I have ever tasted. It is known as  Geothermal bakery and the break is cooked in the ground for 24 hours!!

 

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