Saturday, 17 October 2015

Visiting Portugal for a Wedding

Last month my better half and myself visited Portugal for one of my oldest friend's weddings. His family has always had property in the Algarve (south coast) and it was therefore an obvious choice for their event.

The UK can be pretty drab at anytime of the year (it has actually been great this year but it wasn't worth the risk of rain). The wise choice is therefore to fly 2 hours away to the south of Portugal for guaranteed sun. By having the wedding just after the school holidays in September, the prices were very reasonable for flights and accommodation.

Because I was a long time friend and travelling from farther away from the UK, I got to stay in the family villa (see photo below). This meant I just had to cover the cost of the essentials like electricity. Most of the wedding party got a very reasonable deal at a small hotel down the road.

Poolside at our villa
The wedding lasted for a week with all the before and after events. It was the perfect little holiday and almost everyone invited managed to make it. Even those from the other side of the world took the opportunity to catch up with everyone at the wedding.

The events included a pre-wedding brunch by the sea (turned out to be a late lunch for us due to a late taxi), stag and hen parties at night, a BBQ and lots of meals at local restaurants. It was a super week with bright sunshine every day. September is a great time to visit Portugal because the hottest weather is over and it is a very pleasant, slightly milder temperature.

The wedding itself was by the beach at a lovely spot on top of a cliff. Then the reception was at an outdoor restaurant 200 metres away. Finally a short walk down to the beach for the evening disco. It was a great location and I can't wait to see the videos and photos which were done by Bloom Imagery.

The wedding photographer was a team of maybe 3 guys (I didn't notice really, except for when dancing). It was drummed into us that they would be handling photos and videos of the event, to stop everyone holding their own cameras and phones throughout the big day.

Encouraging everyone to stay focused on the proceedings was a great idea. This is why I haven't attached any pics from the day. Far too many people miss important life events because they want to take a photo or video on their phones. By almost banning them from the wedding, I think we all enjoyed it more.

The wedding week was a great success and when I get married I would like us to do something similar. Portugal is a great place to have a wedding. I don't know the figures, but my guess is that even with the flights, it won't cost more than back in the UK.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Swimming Lessons for the Kids Before a Holiday

We have booked to go away this year at the end of July for two weeks in Spain. We found a good value package deal, made sure all our passports were up to date and got our youngest his first passport (nightmare at Liverpool's passport office- avoid them if you can), we even starting buying bathing suits.

Then we realised that our youngest James, has no idea how to swim. We quickly asked around and looked online. We found a really nice website for kids swimming lessons Trafford, it was coincidentally a service that our neighbour recommended to use too. So we were doubly happy to sign up.

I work with computers so always appreciate when someone has a nice clean website design. It makes me think that they will also provide a good service. We spoke to the head honcho Linda, who was very nice, and she invited us to come and try out her next lesson in Stretford.

It was ideal. A clean pool, not too many getting taught at the same time, a fun atmosphere and it seemed to be very effective, professional coaching. We are confident James will be ready to at least take a dip without us watching him every second. He seems to be picking up the basics very fast, so we will have no worries as long as he is in a show end where he feet can touch the floor.

Anyway this post is just a reminded for anyone else who overlooks this: make sure all your kids are able to swim before you go on holiday. It really would of put a dampener on things if James couldn't go in the water un-aided. Below is a map of the location of our swimming lessons, click it to go to the website.

Young Kids Swimming Lessons in Stretford, Trafford

Saturday, 18 April 2015

What is Great About Boracay for a Paradise Holiday in the Sun

Boracay is rightly the top tourist destination in the Philippines, a country with over 7,000 islands in the tropics. This is one of the most beautiful places to visit, plus it doesn't cost an arm and a leg to be there.

Firstly Boracay has awesome white sand beaches. In Station 1 in the north part of the main White Beach, the sand is like powder. The sea is fairly shallow and seaweed and coral free. This means it has a beautiful turquoise color. It is bliss just to be there and such pleasant surrounds make it a place where you don't feel the need to "do more".

Secondly the relaxed way of life here is addictive. Residents and visitors live on "island time". This means a brief foray out in the morning, then a leisurely lunch and possibly a snooze when the sun it at its hottest. In the afternoon people really start to go out to the beach in numbers and by sunset it is full.

Finally sunset cocktails and sunset sailing. Most days you will sit in one of the many bars or restaurants on the beach, slip your sandals off and feel the sand between your toes. Then wait for your waitress to bring you happy hour cocktails for a bargain price.

Sailing on Boracay at Sunset 2015

On at least one day it is practically mandatory to take a sailing boat cruise at sunset. There are wonderful sunsets on Boracay and this is a must. You can use the local boats called "paraws" or hire out a real full sized yacht. I recommend Yachting Boracay for this as they have awesome service, especially if you are in a big group.

There is plenty more to the island too. It has a fantastic range of accommodation to suit all budgets. Almost all world cuisines are catered for in the hundreds of restaurants. There is a lively bar and club scene at night. Plus lots of daytime activities. The only downside is that the island is becoming more and more populated as tourist demand grows. That is why you should visit sooner rather than later.

Update 24 April: Check out this post I just found about the top 3 activities on Boracay