Destinations with hidden gems

Did you know that in the heart of Vienna there is an 11-floor Aqua/Terra zoo featuring creatures from the great deep to birds and small mammals? Or that in Oslo there is a park dedicated to naked statues?! Not all hidden gems are that easy to find when you start searching on the immensely wide, wide web. So let me tell you all about some of these destinations with hidden gems I’ve discovered over the years…

Madrid

Madrid is filled with wonder and excitement, trust me I lived there! The centre is buzzing with a mixture of traditional vs modern shops and buildings and there really is something for everyone. Here are my hidden gems:

Palacio de Cristal del Retiro

The Palacio de Cristal del Retiro (Crystal Palace) is located in Madrid’s Retiro Park . This once royal park opened its gates to the public in the 18th century, and since then has become an iconic spot for boaters, runners and tourists. What you might not realise is that if you venture far enough through the gorgeous scenery, there is a lovely Crystal Palace by a small lake, which is home to ever changing art instalments. It’s a great way to discover new talent without having to go to a museum.

Teleférico Madrid

I probably used the Madrid Teleférico over ten times during my stay back in 2013. This is Madrid’s version of a cable car tour, which I absolutely loved. You can pick it up near Moncloa tube station and take a fabulous ride all the way over to Casa de Campo. This is sort of like a national park and is also home to the Madrid Zoo. The walk back to the nearest tube (if you don’t get a return) is quite lengthy and hilly so make sure you have the right footwear and suncream!

Dubai

Dubai is a favourite destination of mine which I have covered many times before on the blog. If you want to discover what Dubai has to offer, I really recommend you stay longer than a week as it just can’t all be done otherwise! Many people are put off from the UAE based on what they’ve heard about strict rules, but it’s honestly not like that at all. I wouldn’t recommend going to a shopping mall in your bikini and shorts, but as long as you are respectful then there is nothing to worry about. Here are my hidden gems:

Dubai Autodrome

The Dubai Autodrome is a great way to let off some steam and have a bit of family competition. They have both an indoor and outdoor track and the fun can start for ages 7 and up. I had fun as both a driver and a spectator when I went. I’m really not into this sort of thing normally, but I had a lot of fun at the Autodrome!

Ski Dubai

You may already know about Ski Dubai, but if not let me paint you a picture. It’s 42 degrees outside, you are baking and sweaty and not thinking straight. You enter the Mall of the Emirates, only to come across a huge winter wonderland behind a glass wall. Mountains of snow awaits you, you can’t help but to get into a snow suit and dance around in the sub-degree temperatures. You take your first skiing lesson, and proudly manage one time down the hill without falling over. When you can’t feel your fingers anymore, it’s time to get back to the heat after a gloriously cool afternoon. Sounds amazing, but also a bit crazy to go skiing when in Dubai? This is such a great experience, however skilled (or unskilled) you are!

Got the travel bug yet? Yearning to find some destinations with hidden gems of your own?  Holiday Gems specialise in sunny destinations closer to home such as Gran Canaria, Majorca and other Spanish provinces. Click to read more information on Gran Canaria Holidays for 2018/2019 with Holiday Gems

Saharasplash x

Let me transport you back a few weeks to when I went to the Henley Regatta with Debenhams!

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First Family Getaway to Alveston Manor

Though most of you can’t wait to see the end of January, I have got to say it’s been great. Each day seems to go by so quickly now that Alice is in our lives, and I bet that 2018 will be no different. One fine January day, we set off on an excursion to Stratford-upon-Avon for something rather exciting. Keep reading to find out about our first family getaway to Alveston Manor.

It seems that Alice is giving us an excuse to do some travelling around the UK, and so far in her first three months of life has ventured far and wide. Alveston Manor, part of the Macdonald Hotel Group, was kind enough to welcome us through its beautiful doors to explore what it had to offer.

Our room was a treat to behold. The bedroom come living room had a wonderful seating area which we made full use of. You could see how the hotel had been transformed from the old wooden beams still a prominent feature throughout. The bathroom was sleek and modern, while the bedroom outside took me right back to my childhood- like staying the night in my nanny’s cottage.

There was plenty of pampering on our first family getaway to Alveston Manor. Paul and I took it in turns to have a hot stone massage each. When it was my turn, I took Alice down to the Elemis spa to switch over, and she got to have a look around the chill out room, though no massage for her just yet!

Fully rested and relaxed, we made our way down to the hotel’s restaurant at 7pm. We each had a three course meal which made the evening so tasty. Alice sat and enjoyed watching all the goings on, and loved the look of my beetroot carpaccio with goat’s cheese starter!

Steak with potato purée and rosti

Warm chocolate brownie with ice cream

We took our desserts back up to the room and the staff were more than happy to accommodate this. Alice was well and truly done after such an exciting day!

The morning started off just as fantastic as the night finished. We were brought breakfast in bed- need I say more?

I enjoyed a cup of earl grey while looking out onto the manor’s gardens.

This was such a perfect first getaway to Alveston Manor, we all were so impressed with the rustic yet fresh venue.

Find your perfect room and book a stay at Alveston Manor this year.

Saharasplash x

Up for another blog post? Here’s what I got in the Aldi Baby and Toddler Event this month.

What my mum is made of

I’m doing a ‘What my mum is made of’ post around the theme of Mother’s Day this year! So…Tracy Vince was born at home on the 22nd September 1963. She grew up in Ipswich town with her older sister and parents. It was a fairly normal household but of course not without its ups and downs. She started work alongside school as a teenager and began to make a name for herself in the world like many of us do. After school, she decided on a career move and switched to insurance and got a company car.

She had a soft spot for music like Michael Jackson and Earth Wind and Fire as she started into her twenties. She moved on up in her professional career and made new friends and relationships. Then came the year of 1988. She was living in her own home and soon after was burgled, hence the call out to my dad (unbeknownst to her at that time) to come and install a burglar alarm. Then in the year 1990, I was born!

I grew up with my mother, and instead of going back to work, she decided to open up a nursery in our home so that she could look after me full time as well as earn some money. 24 years later, the nursery is still going and growing strong (thankfully not in our home anymore!) as well as my mother. She took a big risk and it definitely paid off which has given my sister and I the best lives we could ask for.

My mum is there for the whole family whenever they need her. She manages her business every day, she never misses a single thing from school concerts to my graduation. She has driven miles and miles to get me when I have been sick and I know that I can rely on her for anything and everything.

Photo by Camera Hannah 

What my mum is made of is independence, determination and a hard working ethos. This has had a great effect on who I am and the morals I live by. I am taking risks in my blogging career move just like her, and I hope to report that in 24 years I will be just as successful as my mother!

I hope that for all of us out there lucky to have our mothers today, you will recognise her every day, not just one day out of the year plus on her birthday!

I have two lovely little gifts that are just perfect for the hard working mothers out there that will last a lot longer than chocolates or flowers:

Angels trumpet candle- DL & Co

To me this candle symbolises the relationship I have with my mum- at some times heated but sweet-smelling every day. The packaging is so graceful and there are many unique scents to choose from on Rooi.com

Big Love Heart spoon set 

I love this cute heart spoon set! It’s a little treat for your mum so that every time she goes for a tub of Ben and Jerrys, or in my mum’s case apple pie, she will know that you love her.

Thanks for reading what my mum is made of. I hope you had a great Mother’s Day this year and keep checking back for brand new posts on Saharasplash.com!

In collaboration with Rooi.com