Posted in holiday, Lifestyle

Lanzarote Mini- Break

I’m ba-ack! Did ya miss me? I know it’s almost like I was never away, what with the brilliance of scheduling posts, but I’m here today to tell you all about my mini break away to finish celebrating Rachel’s 18th birthday. But hi again everyone! How’ve you all been? Feels like ages since I sat to write a post.

I’ve got a bit of the holiday blues. It was great being away in the sun, even if only for a weekend. Makes me realise I should’ve gone to Ibiza when I had the chance all those months ago! But anyway, I promised you a write up of my time away so here goes.


We left the house at 9:30 on Friday morning, excited but tired and ready to just start the holiday! When you’re only away for 3 nights, every minute counts and so once we got through security we headed straight to the bar. What holiday starts without a drink before the flight? For once, I got travelling with no delays, and soon we were on the plane preparing ourselves for take off. Rachel and I had the middle and aisle seats, but luckily no one came for the window seat and so we were able to sprawl out along the row. We passed the 4 hour flight talking, listening to music, and watching films on my iPad. Finally got seeing the live-action version of Peter Pan!

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When we landed in Lanzarote, it was a quick and easy route to baggage reclaim, and soon we were in a taxi on our way to the hotel. Unfortunately our taxi driver got a little lost along the way but it just meant we were 5 minutes later in getting to the hotel than we had originally thought.

 

First impressions are always important, and I wasn’t quite so sure when we got out of the taxi. When I had booked the hotel back in August, there hadn’t been any pictures of the front of the hotel from the street, and so to arrive and see it right beside a sports bar I was slightly worried about what it would be like. This worry disappeared as soon as we walked through the doors, though. The reception area was big and bright and the man at the check in desk was smiling – always a good start. When booking, I had only paid a deposit, and so paid the rest while we checked in. Our passports were scanned, we signed a couple of forms, were given a map of the grounds, and told to wait to the side as someone was coming to show us to our room. Our room was over to the left of the hotel, and so we walked past the restaurant, the bar, and the entertainment lounge before we were told our room was just up the stairs and on the left. Rachel had the big case while I tried to figure out how to carry a handbag and a travel case – it’s a lot more complicated than it sounds! It was only when we reached the door that we realised we hadn’t got a key… so back I went to reception and collected it. Then began the confusion of the door. We couldn’t unlock it! No matter what way we turned the key, it constantly sounded like we were locking it over and over again. Eventually we somehow got inside and were pleasantly surprised with the room.

 

I had asked for a double bedroom just for the two of us – we don’t mind sharing when on holiday. So imagine our surprise when we found ourselves in an apartment with a lovely big balcony! Just a shame my request for a pool view had been completely ignored. It wasn’t worth asking to move though, and so we unpacked quickly and went downstairs for a drink. Did I mention we were all inclusive? We took a walk around our half of the resort and saw the mini golf area and the tennis courts. There was a €20 deposit for each of these (so you got your money back after returning the equipment) and golf cost €1 per game, while tennis cost €6 for 2 people for an hour. If we’d been there longer, we might have considered it, however all we wanted to do was lie by the pool. Unfortunately there was no one around the pool by 5pm and so we decided to take a walk and investigate the surrounding area. We didn’t go too far, mainly because the idea of getting lost in a new country without adults (shh no 21 and 18 does not make us adults) but we found the sea front! It looked so calm and peaceful, and Rachel got to walk on the sand for the first time in almost a year. For some reason she loves it! We soon headed back and got ready for dinner, not really sure what to expect.

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The restaurant was a reasonable size, with lots to choose from, but all the tables were crammed in together which made it difficult to navigate around when you had food and/or drink in hand. For anyone all inclusive, there were bottles of wine and some wine glasses at the bar for you to help yourself, as well as there being a serve yourself drinks area with beer and soft drinks. Starters were salads, some fish, and soup options, as well as some cheeses and cold meats. The mains consisted of a couple of different meats, a fish option, some sort of rice dish, and always chips. For dessert, you could have either ice cream (in a bowl or a cone), fruit, cakes, jelly, or mousse. The staff were all friendly and easy to approach, and very quick to clear between courses. That first night, Rachel and I took a mix of salads and cold meats with some fresh bread to start. I then had the chicken korma for dinner which was quite nice but knocked me out of the running for our lent challenge within the flat. Rachel had pork in a creamy sauce and it was delicious. So tender and just melted in your mouth! Now, for dessert, I hadn’t even realised I’d broken my lent and so I had a lemon mousse that was a bit disappointing, while Rachel sampled the cakes. After dinner, a chat, and quite a few glasses of wine, we decided we were shattered – I’m not ashamed to admit we were in bed by 9pm and asleep before 10!

 

Saturday morning was bliss – waking up to see the sun shining in and feel the heat of the day before it had even really warmed up. We went down for breakfast – a fry up followed by some fruit – before taking up our positions on the sun bed. The bar opened at 11 for us to get a drink, and so we played a hand of cards before moving back to the beds for a while. Eventually we went over to the pool bar for lunch. As part of our meal plan, we could either have a buffet lunch in the restaurant or something off the pool bar menu. Rachel had spicy chicken wings while I had fish. It was alright, but we agreed that we would eat in the restaurant on Sunday. It clouded over mid-afternoon, so we decided to venture out again but further this time. We found a little shopping centre and had a little look through it, before walking out and finding ourselves at the beach! How did that happen?? It was gorgeous, and by this stage the sun had come back out. We ambled along the sand, enjoying the heat and peacefulness of the entire thing. Eventually we headed back to the hotel and lay in the sun again. By this stage, the pool area was quite quiet and the air had cooled a bit. This wasn’t helped when the sun disappeared behind a layer of cloud again, so we packed up and went to the pub beside the hotel to watch Ireland play England in the final match of the six nations – what a great match!

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We went back to the hotel and got ready for dinner, feeling very much in the holiday spirit. Dinner that night was lovely again, a similar starter followed by a pasta dish and then fruit and cakes for pudding. Now, we were more awake and ready to join everyone in the entertainment lounge. We sat down with our glass of amaretto each and some man came over to us, having identified us as the youngest in the hotel, and told us he was travelling home in the morning and had some vodka left that he couldn’t travel with if we would like it so naturally we thanked him and accepted it. It was huge! You know those big bottles you put in optics in a bar? Yeah, we had pretty much a full one of those given to us. Never mind that, Rachel then won a bottle of sparkling wine while playing bingo! Saturday seemed to be a lucky day for us. We sat up to listen to the music afterwards and headed to bed around 11.

 

Sunday we woke up to the sun again but a stronger wind. After breakfast, we took up our positions on the sunbeds and agreed we weren’t moving very far. I read my book (and finished it so look out for that review coming soon), we had a few drinks, and we were just so relaxed. At lunch, we went into the buffet restaurant and I was so excited to see calamari! After this, we moved back to the sun and just stayed there until about 5ish again. With it being our last day, we didn’t want to waste any of our valuable tanning time. After dinner, we moved through to watch the entertainment again – flamenco dancers – before heading to the room to pack. We crawled into bed, set our alarms, and were sad to be saying goodbye so soon.

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Monday morning came very quickly and I’m not going to pretend I wasn’t exhausted. We arrived in Belfast around 11:30ish, and I got back to the flat at around 3pm – almost 12 hours after I started travelling.

 

It was a great mini break, and one that was definitely needed. I feel like I cleared my head and got a little perspective. I woke up on Tuesday feeling ready to take on these upcoming exams, and I can’t wait for the summer break. It’s good to get away, even for a short time, just to remind yourself that it’s okay to take time to yourself. A little self-love goes a long way.

 

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Posted in holiday, Lifestyle

Ibiza 2016

Hello my lovely friends! How’ve you all been?

If any of you follow me on Twitter, you’ll be well aware of the fact that recently I’ve been completely AWOL from all aspects of my blog, so please don’t feel abandoned.
Ibiza this year was good. I can’t say it was great, I can’t gush about it, but I can 100% guarantee that I didn’t want to come home again. We had an interesting flight out to Ibiza with Jet2 to start – firstly we were delayed by about 45 minutes with no explanation or apology. This really irritated me because we were already going to be arriving late enough, never mind a delay. Plus, have you ever been delayed on a plane predominantly filled with drunk Northern Irish people who’re excited for their trip to Ibiza? Let’s just say it was noisy, cramped and embarrassing (I mean, really. Have you heard our accents??). Finally we got up in the air and I plugged in my headphones to watch We’re The Millers – I still haven’t seen the end of the film so review will be up eventually. Mum and I had some prossecco and we relaxed into holiday mode. 

Drinks on the plane
About half an hour after the seatbelt sign had been switched off, I looked at Dad (who was sitting beside me) and asked could he smell smoke. Turns out one of the drunken a*******s had decided to light up in the toilets just behind us. He then proceeded to claim that the stewardesses has said he could. His passport was confiscated and he was told he would be arrested when we landed as smoking on an airplane is a serious offence. We could’ve all died! We settled back down and eventually the plane started to land in the country I’ve now adopted as my 3rd home (order being Scotland, Northern Ireland and then Ibiza). It was at this point that a delightful friend of Mr Smoker decided the seatbelt rule didn’t apply to him and so, as the wheels hit the tarmac, he stood up and opened the overhead locker to retrieve his belongings. Well we don’t know how he was aware of it but the pilot slammed on his brakes and yelled over then intercom “SIT DOWN NOW!” as the rest of us watched this eejit stumble to the ground. Finally we stopped and that was all fine, we began to gather our stuff and make our way into the aisles to disembark (can I use that for a plane or is it only used for a boat?) when once again we were instructed to take our seats. The Guardia Civil were coming on the plane to arrest our two idiots. Great start to their holiday! This however meant a further 30 minute delay in getting off the airplane. 
Arriving at the hotel felt like bliss. Someone came out of reception to help us lift our cases up, and checking in was straightforward as ever. We started downstairs to grab some dinner before the restaurant shut where we were greeted by staff we consider old friends. Hugs and kisses all around and a lot of talking later, we finally got something to eat around 9:30pm… I was starving!

So, instead of boring you with a day by day account of the trip, I’ll give you the interesting parts, or at least the bits I would find interesting.
Once again, there were a few changes to the hotel. Due to last year’s slating of the changes, a lot of the guests were around my age and only staying for bed and breakfast, not half board. This meant that management had decided to close the main restaurant and have us eat dinner at the pool bar. Here we were given a choice of 2 meat and 2 fish which were served with potato and vegetables. Now, we aren’t a stereotypical family from the island of Ireland. We don’t like potato. The thought of 11 days of meat, potato and veg was already quite daunting. It was then quickly explained to us that, for no extra cost, we could order something from the pool bar’s lunchtime menu. Considering the lunch menu from the pool bar was more a dinner menu anyway, we did this for a few nights. On our 6th night, José (who had gone out with Rachel and me for drinks the previous 2 years and had received a promotion this year to head of the restaurant – I felt like a proud parent!) came over to us and said that the next day we would be moving back to the main restaurant for dinners as numbers were increasing again. The cheer we let out! So note, if considering booking Sol Beach House Hotel Ibiza, go for it! It’s brilliant.

The other change was a lot of staff from last year had been dropped and a lot of new faces were introduced. However our main favourites were still there and we were able to continue our friendships with them all, we’ve even invited some of them to come visit us here in Northern Ireland if they’d like to come and practice their English for a week or so. 
We did venture out of the hotel a few times. On the first Wednesday, we went to the hippy market in Es Canar where we got a caracature drawn of us as a family – picture soon to follow! We spent a good amount of time browsing the stalls and it was good to experience however I don’t think I’d rush back as so many stalls were over priced. 
We also took an evening out to go to Ibiza Town and see what it was like in the evenings. Unfortunately we missed the parade and a lot of the shows as we ended up going shopping instead. However we did go up into the old town a bit and got some lovely photos of the port.


Those pictures don’t really do it justice but I felt I had to share them. 
The next night, Mum, Dad, Rachel and I met José for drinks in Es Canar, this was Mum and Dad’s way of saying thanks for everything over the last few years. We went to the bar that he’d taken Rachel and me to over the last 2 years and there was a Robbie Williams tribute act so it was a good laugh singing along and dancing when conversation was avoiding us. It was a good night but mum and dad dragged us back to the hotel before we could go to the nightclub or anywhere near the beach and so on Wednesday night we went out with him again.

This, of course, resulted in him getting very drunk and Rachel and I were semi drunk. As Wednesday was our last full day, we decided to treat ourselves to a cocktail before going to our rooms to get changed for dinner. Mum and I had some lemon gin thing that tasted delicious, Dad had a Bloody Mary and Rachel had some weird take on an amaretto sour. Except, it was one of our friendly waiters who made it and so she was drunk before she’d even half finished the drink. Considering this was followed by more predinner drinks, wine with dinner, and drinks at a party the hotel was having, it wasn’t really our fault that we were so drunk by the time José took us to the nightclub and we were dancing with him. After dancing for an hour, we decided to go to the beach – yes, that’s what you do at 2am. Rachel as usual wanted to go swimming in the sea and so we all ended up soaked. José at least had had the sense to strip down to his underwear before joining us in the water. We all walked a bit to dry off but José was complaining that he’d need a shower before bed. However, as he’s now living in the hotel and sharing a room with another member of staff, he couldn’t use their bathroom at 3am, so Rachel offered him our bathroom. We had a bit of a laugh after he’d showered off and then the 3 of us all tried to share the small double in the room until he decided he was too uncomfortable and also realised he needed to get up for work the next morning without being seen by any other guests or members of staff and so he snuck out again around 4:30ish. Needless to say, he didn’t make it in to start his shift at 10am.

Goodbyes are always the worst and suffice to say I was crying a lot as we left. With the cost of the holiday, there’s no way we’ll be back any time soon and we have no idea if or when we’ll next see our friends. I’d like to hope that we’ll go back in a few years, but the cost needs to come down and our friends most likely won’t still be working there.

So for now, I’ll just keep looking at the pictures and focus on the memories from this year. Who knows, maybe I’ll go by myself next summer?!
Ktkinnes xx

Posted in holiday, Lifestyle

Day One and Two Nights

Hey everyone! With a heatwave currently hitting the UK, it’s less likely to make you jealous that the temperature here is lovely and warm.

As you may have guessed from previous posts, I’m back in Ibiza for probably the last time. We arrived later than expected due to firstly a delay and then secondly, half way through the flight some half-wit decided to be smart and smoke in the toilets. Not a good move. This resulted in him having his passport confiscated and being escorted off the plane by the police when we landed. His friends could be heard giving off “It was just a feg, like!” – we could’ve killed them. So we ended up just getting a taxi to the hotel to get here as quick as possible.
We checked in, a few minor changes to the checking in procedure, and someone was sent to carry our cases up the steps for us – a nice touch! A quick journey to the rooms where we dumped our bags before heading down to dinner where we saw a few familiar faces beaming at us. We were quickly told by José that Alvaro no longer works here but we don’t know why, and it seems to be the same with a few other faces we were looking forward to seeing. Seems management’s changes have included staff. 
One of the main changes is that dinner is no longer served in the restaurant but rather outside in the pool bar. Starters have been significantly reduced and are along half a wall, your main course is a choice from 4 things on a menu or you can order from the pool bar’s menu, and puddings are beside the starters and are also significantly reduced. José explained all this to us as quickly as he could, promising to make sure we have a “big happy holiday” – we definitely have missed him! By the time we were through with dinner, it felt like we were home again.
After dinner, we took a walk up to the old piano bar, no longer a piano bar after the 2015 renovations but we still call it the piano bar for ease. We were met with more smiling faces and hugs from staff, the usual questions of how is everybody etc and we remembered to ask if the waiter from last year who had told us his wife was pregnant (at only 6 weeks) if the baby had been born and how old he was. We had a great night talking to old friends, and went to bed around midnight after quickly unpacking everything. Rachel however was refusing to sleep, apparently too full of energy. Not a great first night’s sleep!
We got up in the morning and went down to breakfast. Now breakfast was exactly as expected and remembered. It was great to see that the hotel actually had quite a few staying in it, even if they disappear after breakfast. Sunscreen was applied and we took up our usual positions by the pool. After an hour or so we had to move however as a bunch of young Americans were being obnoxiously loud and talking for the sake of talking. The rest of the day was purely a routine of sunbathe, swim, drink some water, reapply sunscreen and repeat. At about 6, we came up to the room again to start getting ready for dinner.
There was a very limited choice on the menu and so Rachel ended up ordering a salmon spaghetti off the pool bar’s menu. We had our starters as per usual, had our main course, and then some fruit for pudding as we were far too full for anything else. We then took a walk down into Santa Eulalia and had a drink in a bar after asking at one of the stalls about getting a characature of the 4 of us. One guy claimed 80 euros was a brilliant price and was as low as he was willing to go, so we walked to the top of the promenade where we were quoted 45 euros for the exact same thing! 

Meanwhile, Rachel had been complaining of a sore stomach. We chose to semi ignore her as she seems okay at the start, even she thought it was just from walking too soon after a large meal. However, the closer we got to the hotel on our way back, the worse she began to feel, even sitting down at one stage and saying it hurt to even walk. When we got back, she went to Mum and Dad’s room to get an antacid to see if that would help but it wasn’t doing anything for her. One of the couples we’re friends with offered us prescription gastro-problem tablets so Rachel took one and we came to bed. We’d literally been in the room 2 minutes when she started throwing up.
It’s now 4:20am and she’s still on-off sleeping and throwing up but we aren’t sure if it’s sun stroke or food poisoning. Will keep you informed. All we know is that Rachel has managed to be sick ever year we’ve come here. Okay, the first two times were probably alcohol induced but tonight definitely isn’t. We can survive on 2 hours sleep though, it’s not like we’re doing anything tomorrow. But for now, I’m away to see if we can sleep at all. Feeling a little queasy myself but that’s purely from listening to Rachel for the last 20 minutes.
Wish me luck!
Ktkinnes xx