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Tromso with kids review

Tromso had been on my bucket list for some time, most likely driven by its claim to be one of the best places to see the Northern Lights in the world! However the pandemic had other plans for us and the trip was postponed a number of times and finally happened in November.  We had been to Lapland, Iceland and Sweden so I was keen to add Norway to my Nordic travel list.

Flights

In terms of flights from Dublin the two main airlines are Scandinavian or Norwegian and price wise for us they were coming in pretty similar. We ended up going with Scandinavian as it gave us the best flight times going out. Flights home with both airlines are super early.  There are no direct flights so we transited via Oslo. Flights were straightforward, not too busy and our bags were checked through. Each flight was 2 hours long. Planet Buddies had kindly sent the kids some wireless headphone which we put to good use on the flights and the airport wait. Highly recommend as they come volume limited so safe for little growing ears.

It terms of flight cost for the four of us this came to around €800 for all the flights including a bag.  Scandinavian still give out free teas and coffees on board which was very welcome! Staff were great on all the flights and my kids even got to see the cockpit. A very special memory they will cherish forever.

Where we stayed 

scandic hotel Tromso

Scandic Ishavshotel Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy Blog

Tromso itself is a small and very walkable city.  I had done lots of research on hotels and kept being drawn back to one. I would be lying if I said the Tripadvisor reviews commenting on seeing the Northern Lights from the rooms didn’t sway me! We choose the Scandic Ishavshotel which has a prime location on the pier overlooking the city. Tromso is often called the “Paris of the North” due to the spectacular views.   When we told our taxi driver where we were staying the first thing he said was “oh you know they have the best breakfast in Tromso”.  The city itself is only 6km from the airport and that view when you leave the airport is really something.

We arrived around 7pm and headed straight to check in, it was snowing lightly and the kids were so excited. Check in was smooth, free

view

View from the bed at the Scandic

tea and coffee all day at reception too so grabbed a coffee and headed to our room on the 7th floor.  Once we opened the door….oh my god….that view. We were allocated a Master Suite with a wrap around balcony looking over the sea and Tromso.  To say we were speechless is an understatement. A wow moment for sure.  There was a separate living out which had a sofa bed for the kids but just check out the view from our bed….I could have wiled away hours just looking out at it.

I suspect our taxi driver was not wrong in his assessment, breakfast was in the spacious lobby with gorgeous views. There was a huge selection of hot and cold items. It wasn’t busy any morning we were there so we enjoyed long leisurely breakfast looking out at Tromso.  Breakfast is included in the room rate and it is probably one of the best hotel breakfast we have had on our travels.

The location of the hotel is perfect. You can walk to a selection of restaurants, bars and attractions.  And the absolute icing on the cake, it is 100% true that you can see the Northern Lights from your window, 3 nights out of 4 on our trip the Northern lights danced over Tromso when we sat out on the balcony. An experience I will truly never forget.

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Fairy Travels

Top 3 European Destinations for Foodies

If you are a foodie who loves to travel, then combining your two favourite passions when you visit new places is a must. Europe is full to the brim with culture, history, and, best of all, great food. With so many destinations to choose from, it can be difficult to narrow down the best ones. Here are three top picks for your next foodie adventure.

Naples

pizza

Pic Credit: Pixabay

With extortionate amounts of fresh pasta, crisp, stone-baked pizzas, and delicious, homemade bread, Italian cuisine is arguably the best comfort food you can find. Although most people think of Rome when it comes to Italian cuisine, Naples is a fantastic choice for those who truly enjoy their food. Naples specializes in street food which can be found in all corners of this city. The friggitoria serves fried delicacies such as local fish, fresh seafood, and courgette flowers. Don’t forget the sweet and flaky Sfogliatelle for dessert.

Neapolitan Pizza

This foodie city is the original birthplace of pizza. In fact, Unesco has included Neapolitan pizza and the art of traditional pizza making (pizzaiuolo) to the Unesco’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The art of a pizzaiuolo is traditional to the city of Naples and it involves a specific way of twirling the pizza dough before baking it in a wood-fired, brick oven. There are two versions of the traditional Neapolitan pizza. One is the Marinara which includes tomato, oregano, garlic, and oil, and the other is the Margherita, believed to be named after Queen Margherita of Savoy. The Margherita features the three colors of the Italian flag, and it is topped with tomato, mozzarella, oil, and basil.

London

Although the UK is not often associated with fantastic local cuisine or specialist dishes, it is home to people from many different cultures. In particular, London is a diverse city that is full of quirky eateries, fine-dining restaurants, and international cafes. Not to mention, there are a plethora of food markets to choose from too. You don’t have to travel abroad to get a taste of your favourite cuisine. Camden is home to an eclectic mix of eateries, Brixton has many multicultural restaurants to choose from, and you can feast on authentic Asian cuisine in Chinatown. In addition, there is a diverse range of cuisines to choose from in James Street. If you fancy Mediterranean food with refreshing cocktails, give Cafe Luca a go. Visit cafe-luca.co.uk to view their lunch and evening menu.

Paris

When it comes to foodie destinations, Paris cannot be missed. From morning to night, you will find great food in this lively city. France is renowned for their superb pastries and decadent desserts. Visit a local bakery for the most buttery croissants you will ever taste or a patisserie to indulge in a cream-filled delight. For those who aren’t squeamish, a visit to Paris isn’t complete without trying the escargot. The most traditional way to enjoy these specially prepared snails is in their shells and cooked with butter, garlic, and herbs.

 

Note: This is a collaborative post

Fairy Travels

Royal Canal Greenway opens

Royal Canal Greenway

The Royal Canal Greenway, is a scenic 130km walking and cycling amenity stretching alongside the historic 225-year-old canal, officially launched on 24 March 2021.  The €12 million project co-ordinated by Waterways Ireland is the country’s longest Greenway, traversing through Kildare, Meath, Westmeath and Longford. Those wishing to experience the Royal Canal Greenway are advised to adhere to Government guidelines on movement and social distancing. We fortunate to live close to its starting point so looking forward to the easing of restrictions to be able to explore more of this new amenity.

Maynooth Harbour

Pic Credit: Royal Canal Greenway

The Greenway is a former towpath for barges featuring 90 bridges, 33 locks, 17 harbours and four aqueducts. Greenway users can choose to complete the entire 130km flat, off-road trail in one visit or explore the shorter designated routes — ranging from 6km to 15km — between the 14 connecting access points and towns.

Attractions

High-profile attractions linking onto the Royal Canal Greenway are trails to Carton House in Maynooth; Corlea Trackway Visitor Centre — one of the largest prehistoric roads in Europe — in Longford; and Center Parcs. The 165km self-guided National Famine Way also travels largely along the Greenway, following the footsteps of 1,490 emigrants who walked from Roscommon to Dublin at the peak of the famine in 1847.

The Greenway has been completed in partnership with Waterways Ireland; the four local authorities of Kildare, Longford, Meath and Westmeath County Councils; the Department of Transport, and Transport Infrastructure Ireland.

The Royal Canal Greenway also forms part of EuroVelo 2, a 5,000km “Capitals Route” that passes through Ireland, the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Belarus and Russia.

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Fairy Travels

Dream Holiday Destinations To Book

Do you sit and think about your dream holiday and imagine all the fun places that you can go to? Better yet, what if you were able to take the steps to start booking a dream vacation and preparing for your next trip? When it comes to taking the first step in planning, you’ll need to put a focus and emphasis on an area of the world that you’re excited and ready to travel to.

Dream Holiday Destinations To Book

While travel may be off the agenda in the short term however it does not stop us dreaming and planning our next adventures. This begs the question…Where in the world do you really want to go? Ill start! Top of my bucket-list for a very long time was Lapland closely followed by Iceland. Having been fortunate enough to have visited both pre Covid. I have spent the last few weeks dreaming of where next and top for our family list is Barbados and Jordan, vastly different but intriguing countries and some might say not an immediate first choice for family travel.

Barbados

barbados

Pic Credit: Pixabay

If you’re looking for a place that offers sunshine, beauty, and stunning landscapes and views that go on for miles, your attention should turn to discover the beauty of Barbados.

The clear waters, the green hills, the trails, and forests that you can walk on and through for miles…there really are very few places in the world that can take your breath away in the way that Barbados can.

And if you’re still having trouble picturing your toes in the sand on the beaches of Barbados, imagine sitting on the shore and taking in the sunsets and sunrises as well. The beauty that awaits you in Barbados is worth you diving in and researching more because it’s unlike any other place in the world.

Barbados wasn’t on my radar until recently when I happened upon a blog post about a new Aer Lingus route via Manchester direct to Barbados from July 2021. I get so excited when I read about new routes so had to have a nosey. My key thing always is, how family friendly a place might be, so off I went to find out just how family friendly it might be.  The Visit Barbados website has a wealth of information on its family friendly activities from submarines to safaris!

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Fairy Travels

3 Tips for a Memorable Travel with Your Kids

aircraft

Pic Credit: Pexels

Traveling together with your kids is never an easy experience. There’s a lot to consider before embarking on such an important trip, like what they’ll wear, eat, and drink. While this task is often gruelling, some of the best memories of a trip are always with your little ones. 

Use these tips to ensure an easy and safe traveling experience with your kids, one that you’ll remember for years to come.

Plan Ahead

A successful trip with your children often depends on how adequately you prepare; understanding intricate details like your child’s age and health matters a lot when on the road. If your child experiences nausea from flying, you may want to carry disposable collectors with you.

The Kids passports should also feature as you plan for the trip. Without proper documentation, international travel is impossible.

Children love to have fun, and this merry often comes at an expense. When you’re barely conversant with a country, it is better to transact through a safer payment processing company which offers smoother processes.

Planning for any trip that you plan on going with your kids helps you avoid embarrassing situations and unnecessary headaches.

Explain the Purpose of the Trip

Kids, although unreasonable, can sometimes understand the seriousness of a situation. If it is your first time traveling with your kids, explaining different trip components will help them feel more comfortable. For example, if you plan to fly, ready them by explaining the feeling of boarding an airplane.

Use these strategies to prepare for a first time flight with your child.

Get the Timing Right

Kids, although constantly active, operate within specific schedules. Perhaps your child is more active during the morning hours and calmer in the afternoon. Scheduling flights during these periods of inactiveness ensure a smooth time flying.

Carry Painkillers

Due to the difference in air pressure during take-off and landing, it is common for children to have ear pains. Carrying pain medication helps deal with such situations immediately after the pop-up.

Bring Enough Distractions

Children have a very low concentration span. Expecting a child to remain still and silent for an eight-hour flight is simply impossible. Instead, carry with you distractions like favorite toys that will keep your child occupied when it gets boring.

Develop a habit of advising your child on important life matters, and you’ll be surprised at how attentive they can be.

Remain Alert

When on a trip with your kids, you will most likely spend a lot of time in fun public places like the beach. In such congested places, it is easy for them to get lost, and as such, you must always know their whereabouts.

Use trackers and other relevant gadgets to keep a keen eye on your children at all times. If older, ensure that they have or know your number in the event you separate.

Traveling with your family and, more so, the kids always proves to be a worthy investment. Your children often end up with such memories long after it happens. Have an easier and safer time traveling with your kids by planning, explaining the trip’s purpose, and remain alert at all times.

 

Fairy Travels

Top 4 Parks to Enjoy Interactive Animal Experiences in Australia

From friendly koala bears to scary spiders, there is no doubt that Australia boasts a unique range of animals and meeting them up close is a must when visiting the country. Not sure where to cuddle a koala or feed a crocodile? Then why not visit one of Australia’s conservational nature parks, which offer once-in-a-lifetime interactive experiences that you will remember forever! Here are some of the top nature parks to look out for when visiting Australia: 

Crocosaurus Cove 

Croc Cove Australia

Pic Credit: https://www.best-tickets.com.au/

If you are keen to get up close and personal with one of Australia’s famous crocodiles, then Crocosaurus Cove is the place to visit! The ultimate crocodile experience, Crocosaurus Cove features Australia’s only crocodile dive which involves coming up close to a 5m Saltwater crocodile from the safety of a cage. Crocosaurus Cove also offers a variety of other crocodile related activities, such as the reptile house, swimming with crocs, feeding crocs and the big croc feed show which are suitable for all ages! Situated in the north of Australia close to Darwin, Crocosaurus Cove provides the wonderful opportunity to explore the Northern Territory. Enjoy the thrilling and fascinating experience of getting as close as you can get to these incredible, prehistoric creatures!

Mogo Wildlife Park 

From white rhinos to adorable marmosets, Mogo Wildlife Park is home to the largest collection of endangered species in Australia! Known for its engaging and educational animal experiences, you can feed a tiger, play with meerkats or sit with a Squirrel at Mogo Wildlife Park, whilst you learn all about their habits and attributes from the experts! Situated not far from Canberra, Mogo Wildlife Park is an opportunity to explore rural Australia close to the capital and experience animals from all over the world!

Ballarat Wildlife Park

If you are eager to meet Australia’s native animals in a natural setting, Ballarat Wildlife Park is the ideal place to visit! With beautiful, green lush grounds, Ballarat Wildlife Park boasts over 100 kangaroos bouncing around the park as well as wallabies, meerkats, snakes and wombats, which you can feed from the palm of your hand. If you are visiting Melbourne, Ballarat Wildlife Park is the perfect way to experience nature!

Kuranda Koala Gardens

As one of the cutest and most iconic creatures in Australia, meeting a koala bear is a must! At Kuranda Koala Gardens, you can enjoy the unique experience of holding one of these friendly furry friends and capturing this moment forever on camera! The park is home to several other Australian animals, such as crocodiles, quokkas, wallabies and snakes which are also there to interact with. Located just north of Cairns, Kuranda Koala Gardens is a popular tourist attraction and allows you to discover the utter paradise of the Kuranda rainforest!

 

Fairy Travels

Finland travel restrictions update

reindeer in Finland

Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy Blog

We have been to Lapland (Rovaniemi- Finland) twice and are still cautiously optimistic about our trip at the end of January 2021. My post on diy Lapland still gets huge traffic as does my dressing for Lapland post. I get a lot of DMs and emails asking whether I think we will be able to travel this Winter season and the truth is none of us really know. It’s a constantly evolving situation and can be difficult to keep on top of the changing situation. As it stands (end September 2020) I have set out what the current situation is looking like. I will do my best to keep it updated as time goes on but please always rely on the official advice. I will set out the key websites below.

Finland Travel restrictions 

Post November 23rd

  • If your home country has less than 25 cases per 100,000 you can travel with no restrictions.
  • Greater than 25 cases the following are the key parameters:
    • If your visit is less than 72 hours you can travel with proof of negative test which itself is no older than 72 hours.
    • If your visit it more than 72 hours the above applies plus you will need a second test locally after 72 hours and self quarantine until you get the results.  The logistics around this are still being firmed up but this is the indicative guideline at the moment.

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Fairy Travels

Alaska – a 2021 bucket list destination

Back in 2010/ 2011 when we were planning our honeymoon we toyed with an Alaskan cruise. It’s one of those destinations that has always been on my bucket list.  Now that we have two wonderful boys some day I hope to be able to take them and share my bucket list trip with them. Maybe 2021 will be the year.  For anybody sharing this bucket list destination – American Holidays and Royal Caribbean have a mega offering to tempt us back to into the world of travelling again.

Escape to Alaska in 2021 with American Holidays and Royal Caribbean

Famed for its jaw-dropping landscapes, unspoiled natural beauty and incredible wildlife, a holiday to Alaska truly is a once in a lifetime experience. Boasting a longer coastline than all other US states combined, what better way to experience the breath-taking scenery of Alaska than with American Holidays on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Don’t forget, you can now book your 2021 Alaskan cruise with peace of mind with American Holidays’ new Book and Travel with Confidence promise, giving you low deposits, from £/€100pp, up to three free amendments, and free cancellation up to 10 weeks before departure, should you need to make any changes. American Holidays trusted partners have your safety and wellbeing at their core, and all adhere to our robust health and safety audit. Learn more about how you can book and travel with confidence here.

Discover some of the world’s most stunning sights and make memories to last a lifetime as you sail through the wilds of the Last Frontier on your Royal Caribbean cruise ship. Sail on Serenade of the Seas or Ovation of the Seas, Royal Caribbean’s newest ship to sail Alaska, where you can pay a visit to the North Star, a glass pod rising 300ft above sea level from which you can enjoy stunning panoramic views of the surrounding scenery as you sail through Alaska’s Inside Passage, Icy Strait Point or past the Hubbard or Dawes glaciers.

Ovation of the Seas offers you the chance to experience rock climbing walls and surf simulators to beautiful swimming pools and luxurious spa services, Royal Caribbean cruise ships are the ideal place for you to soak up breath-taking views of Alaska’s unspoiled landscape! Treat your taste buds while onboard, with incredible dining services, whether your craving Far East flavours, family-style Italian dishes, American steakhouse classics, there’s something for everyone onboard.

The amazing experiences don’t stop there. Your Alaska cruise holiday will take you to the port of Juneau, home to snow-capped mountains, misty rainforests, massive glaciers and bounty of wildlife as well as Skagway, the site of the famous Klondike Gold Rush. Anchorage is the state’s largest city and a gateway to the rest of the state. Take a trip to Denali National Park, the tallest peak in North America! This can be seen from as far away as Anchorage on a clear day! Covered in wildflowers, rushing rivers and calm lakes, an up-close view is more than worth the expedition during your holiday.

Whether you’re interested in hiking through a forest, trekking to glaciers, whale watching excursions or a shopping spree downtown, the towns along Alaska’s inside passage provide a variety of unique outdoor adventures.

No trip to Alaska would be complete without experiencing some of the local delicacies. Alaskan food focuses on using locally sourced ingredients, without compromising on flavour! Try some locally sourced fresh black cod or fresh king crab. Fancy something sweeter? Alaska is famous for its abundance of wild berries so, be sure to try some wild berry cobbler on your travels – you won’t be disappointed!

Get the best of both worlds and combine your Alaskan cruise with a city break with American Holidays…

Family Alaskan Cruise Adventure

Planning a family holiday to remember? American Holidays’ Family Alaskan Cruise Adventure begins with one night in Seattle before boarding Royal Caribbean’s incredible Ovation of the Seas for a 7-night Alaskan cruise.  Firstly, you and your family will arrive in Seattle, a wonderful blend of nature and urban beauty, the perfect city break destination and spend one night here.

On the second day of your family holiday you’ll board the incredible Ovation of the Seas for your cruise to Alaska from Seattle. This is a fantastic cruise ship and the perfect option for families as there are so many amazing fun features onboard. Scale the heights of the rock wall, experience the thrill of a free fall on RipCord® by iFLY®, or catch a wave on the FlowRider® all against the backdrop of the stunning Alaskan glaciers you sail by. Another real highlight will be a visit to the North Star pod which lifts you 90ft above sea level for breath-taking panoramic views of the Alaskan landscape.

On this cruise holiday you’ll experience some of the most beautiful places in Alaska. You’ll sail through Alaska’s Inside Passage which spans 500 miles of shoreline, covering some of the world’s most breath-taking landscapes and wildlife. You’ll stop at the ports of Juneau and Skagway, home to an abundance of exciting outdoor activities for the whole family! You’ll also sail through the Endicott Arm Fjord which is surrounded by granite cliffs, mountain valleys and dozens of gushing waterfalls. Finally, your last stop on your cruise is in Victoria, British Columbia, known as the ‘cycling capital of Canada’, this is the perfect spot for the whole family to rent bikes and explore the area on two wheels.

Take me there…..sounds just incredible.  Starting from €1,699, my interest is seriously captured. Now just to convince my husband……

Fairy Travels

A weekend in the Volkswagen California Camper

On a Friday at the end of August, just prior to the schools returning, I earned the best accolade!! Officially declared the best mammy ever! Why you might wonder…….

Well, I announced that we had been kindly offered the use of a Volkswagen California for a weekend. I am sure the squeals of excitement could be heard for miles! I mean what is not to love, the freedom of being able to hit the road and stay pretty much where we wanted. It didn’t take too long to formulate the plan of where to go. The kids wanted to show their cousins so it was decided pretty quickly we would head for quite possibly our favourite place….Donegal.

As luck we have it, we happened on possibly the only weekend where the weather was akin to a mini heatwave.  We packed up Friday after the oldest had finished soccer camp and we were off down the N3 with everything but the kitchen sink, and some very happy kids and adults.

The Volkswagen California 6.1

The model we had the use of was the California 6.1 – 2020 so brand-new version with the very eye-catching two-tone paint work.  That copper bronze is really fab! It has a 2-litre diesel engine with automatic transmission. I am informed that the annual road tax is a very reasonable €102.

Some initial thoughts on the spec

  • The way the space is designed is impressive, a very clever use of space. There is a decent size fridge (42l), 2 ring gas hob, sink, cutlery drawer and an abundance of storage. The front seats swivel around, and the table is pulled up to make it the perfect dining/ chill out space. I could ramble on about this for ever, it’s the little details.  The outdoor table is stored in the sliding door frame, the chairs literally in the boot door. No space is wasted. It’s so ergonomically designed and its ease of use I feel is a big selling point.
  • Its deceptively spacious, from just looking at the outside I didn’t expect to have so much space inside.
  • The kids went wild for the sleep set up. The roof rises (push button electric) and there is a decent size double up there and the two back seats lie flat to form the other double.  Plenty space for 2 adults and 2 kids. The base of the bed can also be pushed up into the roof to allow standing room too. Each window has blinds including very cleverly designed front windscreen blinds.

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Fairy Travels

Lapland in the summer time – Midnight Sun

reindeer

Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy Blog

Its no secret we totally fell in love with Lapland, the people, the culture, the scenery, its just spectacular.

We have been in 2018 and 2019 and depending on how Covid pans out of the coming months we are planning to return in 2021. I think we leave a bit of our hearts there each time. The kids are lucky enough to have seen a lot of the world but Lapland (Rovaniemi) is the only place we have returned to a second and hopefully a third time. That’s saying something.

For some tips on Lapland on a budget – I have written this post and I also have this post on our 2019 trip. Both posts are packed with details on getting to and enjoying all the best that Rovaniemi has to offer.

However, one thing that we have been toying with is to see Lapland in the summer time – to see the Midnight sun. The concept fascinates me.  I saw an email from last week which contained a youtube clip on a 3 day Lapland trip and if this doesnt inspire you to visit and see it for yourself im not sure what will!! There is tonnes on Visit Rovaniemi who have a dedicated page on Summer 2020 if you do need any more information.

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