Fairy Travels

Lapland – new for 2019

log cabin

Santa Claus Village Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy Blog

Last year we went on what was supposed to be a once in lifetime trip to Rovaniemi, Lapland. It so magical and captivating that we have decided to go back again this year. In conversation with Visit Rovaniemi I asked them was there any new activities/ restaurants for 2019.  They very kindly sent me on all the new activities etc which I though might be helpful for return visitors like ourselves.

New Accommodation:

  • Happy Fox: Happy Fox Suites
  • Apukka Resort: 17 new Aurora Cabins, 3  Lappish Komsio Suites.
  • Forenom: Forenom Serviced Apartments Rovaniemi Valtakatu 35, 96200 Rovaniemi.
  • Sky Hotel Ounasvaara opening after renovation as a 4 star hotel.
  • Nova Skyland: New apartments
  • Santa Claus Holiday Village: 14 new Family Suites, each suite fits 2 adults + 3 children.
  • District Rovaniemi: Yurt accommodation.
  • Arctic Dreams House: Private Luxury Experience in Ranua. Wikkelä Villa all inclusive –stays.
  • Snowest Travels: Villa Snowest, Villa for 16 persons (420m2) https://www.snowesttravels.com/villa-snowest/

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Fairy Travels

Gothenburg with kids – A weekend visit

At the end of August we visited Gothenburg for 3 nights. It’s a city that wasn’t really on my radar up to that point but the lure of €9.99 flights from Ryanair made it very appealing! So with very little research I pressed book and we were heading to Gothenburg!  Gothenburg city is the largest non capital city in the Nordics and is located on the west coast of Sweden. It took just over 2 hours from Dublin which is perfect for a city break with kids.

Where we stayed

hotel receiption

How stunning is the reception of Gothia Towers Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy

There are a myriad of hotel options available in Gothenburg and it was hard to narrow the selection down. With it being a short break, kids in tow we knew we needed a central location.  We fell for Gothia Towers. This hotel is the largest in the Nordic region with a staggering 1,200 rooms, 8 restaurants including  Heaven 23 located on floor 23 with impressive views over Gothenburg.  The hotel comprises of three interlinking towers covering a vast 180,000 square meters.  Its hard to miss the swimming pool literally overhanging the street! Be warned if travelling with kids its ages 16 up for admission.

I would not normally be a fan of these big hotels however between the location, the services and the Trip Advisor rating we decided it was hard to pass this one.

Breakfast views at Gothia Towers Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy Blog

The location can’t be beaten it is located across from Liseburg which is a beautiful amusement park which has been open since 1923. Its also within walking distance of Avenyn which is the main street in Gothenburg. Both close by and within the hotel complex there are many options for food and drinks.

We had a family room with two double beds and 2 bathrooms which more than met our needs it was really big and spotlessly clean. Breakfast each morning was served on floor 29 which the kids really loved. Breakfast was so tasty and plentiful and really did fill us for the day. There was a great selection of breads, hot food and cold meats.  We tried two of the onsite restaurants and one of the bars:

  • Heaven 23 – located on the 23rd floor known for its cocktails and its world famous shrimp sandwich. We had a late lunch here and while we didn’t sample the cocktails we did opt for shrimp sandwich and it really was spectacular. Drooling just thinking about it again.
  • Ristoria – We had pizza here the night we arrived as the kids were starving and we thought best to get them feed before we head out exploring. Kids enjoyed it. Ours was just ok nothing overly exciting for the prices for example the kids was around €10 and adults mains were around €25 each.
  • Twentyfourseven – We had some very tasty cocktails the night we arrived at this lovely lobby bar while the kids played away at the kids play spaces at reception.  A great idea making it enjoyable for us and for them!

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Features

Norton Virgien, Director & Co-Executive Producer; VAMPIRINA FANG-TASTIC – An Interview

I am very excited about today’s feature. This week we have had the opportunity to ask Norton Virgien, Supervising Director and Co-Executive Producer of VAMPIRINA FANG-TASTIC some questions on his career and his new latest work VAMPIRINA: FANG-TASTIC PARTY, which is a very special interactive event in cinemas nationwide this weekend only – Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th

A little bit about Norton

Norton began his directing career in 1990 as part of the original team for Nickelodeon’s Rugrats.  A two time Emmy winner for Rugrats, Norton also directed episodes of the critically  acclaimed Duckman series and the CBS series Santo Bugito, before co-directing 1998’s The Rugrats Movie,  which became the first non-Disney animated release to gross more than $100 million dollars.   Subsequently Norton was a Co-Producer on the Klasky Csupo features Rugrats in Paris and The Wild Thornberrys Movie, and a Co-Director of the 2004 release Rugrats Go Wild.  In early 2005, he directed a thirteen episode season of the Discovery Channel series Tutenstein, winning a third Emmy.  In 2009, for Universal Animation, he directed a DVD sequel to the Curious George Movie, Follow That Monkey!   He has since worked as Director on Doc McStuffins and Henry Hugglemonster, both for Disney and is currently Supervising Director and Co-Executive Producer on Vampirina.

Interview

Many thanks for taking the time to answer our questions, it is very much appreciated. As someone of the 80/90s, I was a massive Rugrats fan. Angelica was really the character we all really wanted to be! Even my kids love the Rugrats, a whole generation apart.

  •   I told my kids who I was interviewing and my 7 year old is very excited, enthusiastically professing that he will be doing your job in the future! So first up, courtesy of my oldest son, how did you end up directing? Was it something that always interested you?

Great question! I had always loved drawing as a child, and doodled incessantly! And I also loved storytelling, and did a bit of creative writing in school. I loved comic books as they combined drawing and storytelling in such a strong way – but then I discovered animation, which is perhaps the art form that brings so many others – design, music, acting, drama together at once! It took me a while working as an animator to work my up to drawing storyboards (which is really fun) and finally directing. And Rugrats was indeed one of the most fun shows to get a chance to direct – great writing and voices and a really fresh concept at the time!

  •   He is also curious about the difference between a Director and a Producer, and which one do you like best?

The roles of Director and Producer can overlap quite a bit – as a good producer has the creative needs of a project in mind along with their practical concerns of budget and schedule, and a good director thinks about the practical things at the same time he/she is pushing for the most creative and effective result.

  •   He also wants to know do you have a favourite show/film that you directed? I did turn this question on him and he said it’s between the Curious George Movie and Doc McStuffins! My favourite has to be Rugrats. So nostalgic.

It’s as hard to pick a favorite project as it is to choose one’s favourite child – if we’re lucky they are ALL special in their way! Right now my favourite is Vampirina – since she’s the one we’re working with at the moment, and she’s such and unusual and constantly surprising young girl!

  •   You have such an impressive career with so many hugely popular shows to your name. Do you still get a thrill when you see the final production?

I’m pleased to say the thrill of seeing an audience enjoy your project hasn’t worn off for me at all! And I still get a little tear in the eye at the sweet moments, and laugh at the best jokes, even after seeing them over and over and over…! It makes the hard work totally worthwhile.

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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

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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Home & Interiors

Smart technology to keep your home secure

Pic Credit: Liberty Insurance

Liberty Insurance knows advances in technology mean that it’s never been easier or more affordable to secure your home, that’s why they’ve brought you these tips on how to use smart technology to improve home security. 

 The devices remain pretty much the same but now alarms, locks, sensors and cameras are connected by Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, can be monitored and controlled remotely by apps and any data like audio or video can be stored in the cloud to be viewed later. And now with the internet of things, they can all be controlled from an automated hub like Amazon Echo, Google Home or Hive. With a little DIY know-how, you can protect your home and not break the bank doing it.

Cameras

Camera technology has advanced at an unbridled pace since the introduction of the smartphone and that affordable tech can be found in the home security camera. Even some of the most basic camera kits come with High-Definition and night-vision capability and can record onto a hard drive or to the cloud via Wi-Fi. And with an app, you can even check in on your home when you’re lying on a beach in the Costas. 

Cameras can be mounted externally, internally and even on out buildings. However, there is one obvious weakness to a Wi-Fi only set up and that is your Wi-Fi itself. If the Wi-Fi goes down and the modem is not rebooted, then your cameras won’t have anywhere to send their video. Hard-wiring your cameras into a hard-drive is an obvious solution but would almost certainly require a professional to install the system.

Video Doorbells & Smart Locks

tablet media device

Pic Credit: Pixabay

Once the preserve of the very wealthy, video door-bells are becoming more and more commonplace as they become more affordable. With Wi-Fi and an app, you can now see who is calling at your front door without having to leave the comfort of your armchair. Indeed, you can instruct delivery drivers to leave parcels at your door while you are in work through the face-time function on the app. They come with HD and night vision and recording also.

Some video-doorbells connect to a smart lock which allows you to remotely open the lock so a child or workman can enter your house while you are not at home. 

Smart locks not connected to a video doorbell use a variety of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth that connect with your phone to lock and unlock, but you can also choose from a wide range of touch screen and fingerprint locks also.

Window & Door Sensors

A smart window or door sensor will send a notification to your phone of when the window or door is opened. They also come with alarms and can be programmed to suit your needs and some even come with small tiny cameras.

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Features

Are you ever #driventodistraction

people carrier

Our recent Iceland road trip Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy Blog

We love to travel and that’s both locally and overseas and often favouring ferry travel so w can take our own car when we can. On a recent road trip we were trying to guestimate our yearly road miles! Anecdotally it is believed this figure to be around 10,000 a year for us id say multiply that by at least 5 or 6. One thing I will say and I’m very proud to say is how safety conscious my husband is. It is a lot of responsibility for him opting to be the driver the vast majority of the time. I’m not ashamed to say he is the better driver.

Recently I happened upon a game by Kwik-fit which I thought was really interesting. Entitled #driventodistraction it gives you the chance to test your reaction times by answering the questions on the phone whilst concentrating on the road and looking out for the STOP sign and it records how long it takes for you to stop! Sounds easy?? I urge anybody who is on the road to give this a go, you will honestly be so surprised.

As part of their research Kwik fit found that 19% of the surveyed drivers admitted that they sometimes take calls while driving, 17% admit that they read texts off of their phone, and 12% send texts. Aside from the obvious breaking the rules of the road, clearly any of the below can serious diminish your reaction times and even worse still be the time needed to react in an emergency situation.

GPS/ Sat Nav on phones

phone on car dash

Pic Credit: Pixabay

Many of us are guilty of using the sat navs/ GPS on our phones to help us find the location we need however using your phone to type into the map function is no different to txting etc – you still are utilising the phone and the possibility of being #driventodistraction is still there irrespective of how you are using your phone. If you need to use your sat nav feature/ gps on your phone – delegate!

Life is precious and we all owe a duty of care to our own passengers and other road users. There is no txt no call worth it. Pull over when safe or wait until you get there.

As an aside do have a nosey on the Kwik fit webpage for some further information on other safety matter like tyre wear and tear and brakes.

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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