Celebrating London


Around every corner there is a story waiting to be discovered, a melting pot of culture and promise. London is a great city created by people from around the world who have helped to shape its history and its future. Our advise for the best way to learn about London is to get out and experience it!

Visit NOTTING HILL

The Notting Hill Bookshop, London
The Notting Hill Bookshop,  London (image via easy.com)

 

The Churchill Arms, Notting Hill
The Churchill Arms, Notting Hill (image via shopmodmint.com)

 

 

Visit BRICK LANE

Brick Lane street art, London
Brick Lane street art, London (image via theplant do.com)

Visit SOHO

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Visit COVENT GARDEN Continue reading “Celebrating London”

Top 10 things to do in Sri Lanka


We recently embarked on a trip to Sri Lanka after being inspired by a friend who declared the country an absolute must-see. As Sri Lanka has so much to offer we decided from the offset that this needed to be more than a holiday – it would be a mini adventure! So we packed a bag and booked a flight…

Sri Lankan surf beach bar
Sri Lankan surf beach bar

Check out the Alphabet Lifestyle list of top things to do and see in Sri Lanka:

  1. Take the express coast train from Galle to Colombo. 

Riding the train is a great way to get around Sri Lanka as its cheap, safe and an overall great experience. (Alphabet Lifestyle Top Tip: Make sure to book first-class and grab a window seat!)

Express train from Galle to Colombo
Express train from Galle to Colombo

2. Learn to surf.

Surfing is great fun in Sri Lanka with ideal surf conditions for both the novice and the expert surfer. East coast resorts such as Arugam Bay offer some of the world’s best places to surf, whilst the waves at Whisky Point are ideal for beginners.

The South Coast offers plenty of options for beginners and intermediates. Try Mirissa Beach or Unawatuna for chilled surf culture, cheap surf hotels and great beach bars. After a long day, sit and relax in one of the many bars, order the catch of the day and watch Sri Lanka’s idyllic sunset.

Mirissa Beach
Mirissa Beach
Sunset at Unawata
Sunset at Unawatuna

3. Visit a National Park

Yala National Park is the second largest in Sri Lanka and gives some of the best opportunities to witness Sri Lanka’s variety of wildlife, including elephants, crocodiles, monkeys, water buffalo, deer and the star attraction – leopards! Visitors can take a jeep safari across the park which spans 400 sq mile across the heart of the country.

Yala National Park
Yala National Park

4. Take a seaplane

See Sri Lanka from the sky! Cinnamon Air seaplane flights carries routes from Colombo to the coastal town of Koggalla and Kandy, central Sri Lanka. It also makes the arduous 6-hour journey to the beautiful beaches of Trincomalee on the North-east coast much more accessible. We flew from Colombo to Victoria Golf resort landing on Victoria Dam.

 

5. Play a round of golf at Victoria Golf and Country Resort.

The award winning resort, Victoria Golf & Country Resort, is situated just 10km from Kandy, Central Highlands, and offers breathtaking views and picturesque scenery. Golf Digest ranks it in the top 100 Most Beautiful Courses in the World. Not bad!

Sunset at Victoria Golf and Country Resort
Sunset at Victoria Golf and Country Resort

 

Relax in the pool and are in the views
Relax in the pool and take in the views

6. Visit Kandy

Hire a driver and visit the Sacred City of Kandy, a UNESCO World Heritage site and Royal City, Kandy is the home of  Sri Dalada Maligawa (Temple of the Tooth). The temple is regarded as one of the most important Buddhist religious sites in the country. Take a walk around Kandy lake, the focal point at the centre of the city. Visit the temple if you’re looking for a cultural experience and a serene moment amongst the hustle and bustle of the city. (Alphabet Lifestyle Top Tip: Pay the small fee for a guide to provide an insight into the religion and customs.)

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7. Photograph the stilt fishermen of Koggala

The old Sri Lankan traditional stilt fishermen can be spotted along the coastal road from Koggala to Galle. The fishermen sit on a crossbar called a ‘petta’ tied to a vertical pole driven into the sand. They hope to catch small herrings and mackerels which they store in bags tied to their waist.

Stilt fishermen at Koggala
Stilt fishermen at Koggala

8. Climb Adam’s Peak

Located in central Sri Lanka Adam’s Peak, also know as the holy mountain, is believed to be the first place where Adam set foot on earth after being cast out of heaven. Access to the mountain is possible by several trails linked to major cities. The ascent is done on foot through forested areas up thousands of steps built into the mountainside. Pilgrims and tourists make the climb to the temple at the summit to witness the Sri Pada, “a sacred footprint” rock formation, which in Buddhist tradition is held to be the footprint of Buddha.

9. Climb Lion’s Rock

For those less active (like me!) climb to the top of Lion’s Rock, a huge column of rock jutting out from the tropical forest, the Rock is known locally as Sigiriya and offers amazing 360-degree views.
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10. Visit Pinnawela Elephant Sanctuary

Pinnawela Elephant Sanctuary situated north-west of Kegalla between Colombo and Kandy, was originally founded to provide care and protection to the many orphaned elephants found in the jungles of Sri Lanka. The orphanage is currently home to around 80 elephants. Tourists can visit the orphanage and get involved in the bathing and feeding of the elephants.

Pinnawela Elephant Sanctuary sri lanka
Pinnawela Elephant Sanctuary

Comment below to share your travel tips and let us know your Sri Lankan hot-spots!

Welcome to Doha

Welcome to Doha, Qatar

Welcome To Doha Timelapse from Michael Shainblum on Vimeo.

Check out this great time-lapse video of Qatar by Michael Shainblum. The video captures the evolution of the Middle Eastern state of Qatar’s history from the old to present-day world, and the quintessence of the country’s culture.

It’s fascinating to see how the country has developed since it gained its independence from the United Kingdom in 1971 – just over four decades ago!

Doha 1985, Sheraton Hotel
Doha 1985, Sheraton Hotel
Qatar in 1977
Doha’s open-air market in 1977

Resort Review: InterContinental Danang

InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort, Da Nang, Vietnam

InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort 

Embedded in the mythical hills of the famous Son Tra Peninsula in Vietnam, the InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula is surrounded by breathtaking jungle landscape with panoramic views of the East Sea. The uber luxurious 197 bedroom resort was designed by star architect Bill Bensley, and is firmly placed within our Alphabet Lifestyle Bucket List!

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Dinner with a view! Enjoy breakfast with panoramic ocean views over the East Sea.

From the moment we arrived at Danang Internataional Airport, we were pampered by the InterContinental’s personal service and the 30-minute airport collection service escorted us along the breath-taking coastal road to the resort ensuring a stress-free arrival – essential when travelling with 3 super-excited boys aged 1, 3 and 6 years old!

The Resort

The resort is split across 4 levels; Heaven, Sky, Earth & Sea, with an enchanting sky-line tram to transport you between each level. Within the grounds you will find Michelin 3-star Michel Roux’s La Maison 1888 (although no children are allowed, parents should note that you can book a complimentary child-minding service through the hotel’s concierge),  plus four additional restaurants offering breakfast-style buffet featuring every food imaginable! (Top tip: The Vietnamese Pho is a delicious local dish and an absolute must-try!)

View from the Citron restaurant

During the stay our inner fitness freaks made most of the gym facilities with free morning yoga and fun beach activities throughout the day…whilst also splurging in the evenings on the delicious 2-for-1 happy hour cocktails with optional free shisha and bar snacks. Not forgetting treating ourselves to the extra-special “World’s finest pedicure” at the award winning PEDI:MANI:CURE Studio by Bastien Gonzalez to ensure that we were beach ready!

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Shisha and cocktails at The Long Bar

 

The Rooms

The chic rooms with Vietnamese inspired decor and contemporary design elements were to die for, and the rain shower, couple’s vanity basin, double granite bath (big enough for two) & over-sized bed promised a serene, relaxed stay.

Apologies as my shakey handheld video footage does the room no justice!

Monkey danang vietnam Intercontinental resort
Monkey spotting on the way to our room 🙂

Feel free to comment below if you have any further questions about the resort.

My Home is Manchester



Social travel writers, Mohammed and Peyman AlAwadhi, better known as ‘Peeta Planet‘  teamed with ‘Visit Britain’ to encourage visitors from the GCC countries to explore the Great British countryside and venture outside of London. The series ‘Dunes to Peaks’ features Manchester and the Peak District, just a 45 min drive from the city.

The series of 11 short videos includes fly fishing on the River Wye, horse riding on the Tissington Trail, a fashion documentary filmed in city centre, Manchester, and a visit to Chatsworth Hall, a stately home in Derbyshire.

Check out the intro video to the series. It captures for me what is essentially British.  The video explores Manchester’s vibrant city, from street culture, shopping and street carnivals to the home of football rivals, Manchester United and Manchester City and introduces a side of the Uk that most visitors from the GCC don’t realise exists, the Great British countryside. Every year Britain welcomes more than 600,000 visitors from the Gulf states but the majority don’t venture outside of London. The Al Awadhi brothers supported by ‘Visit Britain’ hope that they inspire more visitors from GCC countries to extend their city breaks and explore the beautiful countryside.

Check out the full video series on youtube

For more information on Peeta Planet visit their website here. peeta planet.com

See also http://www.visitbritain.com

Katara Cultural Village

Katara Cultural Village

Alphabet Lifestyle visits Katara Cultural Village, Doha, Qatar.

No visit to Doha would be complete without a visit to Katara Cultural Village.

Katara architecture
Discover traditional Qatari architecture

The village includes a theatre, art galleries – hosting modern and local Qatari art, an opera house and the piece de resistance; an open amphitheatre. The project was conceptualised to reflect the heritage of Qatar through traditional architecture.

Katara amphitheatre
Walkway to amphitheatre
Katara art sculptures
Katara art sculptures

The Katara Opera House is home to the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra and the breathe-taking amphitheatre hosts world class events (Alphabet Lifestyle Top Tip: Take a cushion, as several hours seated on concrete steps can be seriously uncomfortable!). You will find some of the best cultural performances in Doha, so ensure that you make time to enjoy a performance at the opera house or visit the latest exhibitions. See the link for more details of upcoming events – Katara.net.

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Katara Amphitheatre
Katara Amphitheatre

As well as offering a diverse culture experience, you will also find some of the best restaurants in Doha within Katara. We recommend that anyone visiting Katara should experience L’wzaar sea food restaurant, or Saffron Lounge for an exceptional culinary experience. For a traditional Middle-Eastern food visit Chac late, or Mamig restaurant doha for casual authentic Armenian and Lebanese cuisine.

Watch this space for upcoming Doha restaurant reviews and click here for more photographs from our Katara visit.

BALI – Restauraunts, hotspots and places to see

Bali

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I was browsing through my photos of a recent trip to Bali and came across a few that I’d like to share. If you’re planning a trip to Bali I hope they help. Enjoy x

Also check out my previous posts on Ubud and Bali

Tanah Lot temple. A Hindu temple set on a rock formation in Tabanan Regency, west Bali
Tanah Lot temple. A Hindu temple set on a rock formation in Tabanan Regency, west Bali
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Sunset at the W Hotel. Live dj’s and a cool sunset vibe
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Sunset at Seminyak beach. Grab cocktails at Ku de Ta, a great sunset venue and awesome restaurant
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Durians, the king of fruits. A local Balinese favourite.
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Shopping in Bali. Don’t forget you really must barter. It’s expected!
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Watch the sunset and surfers with the locals on Seminyak beach
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A view over the Ayung river at Kapu Kapu Barong Villa and Spa Resort
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Temple and water gardens in Ubud
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Forest villas at Kapu Kapu Barong
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The Legian Hotel in Seminyak. Book a beachfront table at the restaurant and watch the sunset from this beautiful ocean location
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The Legian Hotel at sunset
Regal slang Rice Terraces in Ubud
Tegalalang Rice Terraces in Ubud
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Dinner at the W Hotel
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Catch up with the monkeys at The Monkey Forest in Ubud
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Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud
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Dinner includes a live temple traditional dance show at The Lotus Restaurant, Ubud

12 hours in Dubai

Afternoon tea at At.mosphere, Burj Khalifa

We took a flight from Hamad International Airport, Qatar, with Qatar Airways, landing in Dubai approx 50mins later, ready for a day of shopping.

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We headed over to Dubai Marina for beakfast. The Dubai Marine Walk is a must see in Dubai. A waterfront development of stunning buildings, a myriad of hotels, restaurants, cafes, and patisseries. A perfect place to shop, eat and relax.

We ate breakfast at Carluccuios, essential preparation for the day of shopping ahead. We had planned to stroll the walkways, however with temperatures reaching 40 degrees, after just 10 minutes we headed indoors.

If you are planning to visit The Marina we would suggest that you visit in the evenings when the walkway is a bustle of activity, or wait until the cooler months.

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From here we took a taxi to The Dubai Mall – A shoppers paradise. For those that abhor the idea of a day of shopping don’t dismiss the idea yet. Over 1 million people visit the mall every week. Why? You may ask.

Dubai mall aquarium

Not only is The Dubai Mall the worlds largest shopping destination but it is also home to movie theaters, an ice skating rink and a giant aquarium and an underwater zoo featuring sharks, stingrays and penguins. It is also linked to the worlds tallest building – The Burj Khalifa at 829.84m(2,723ft).  If that’s not enough you can experience The Dubai Fountain.

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Set on a 30-acre lake, the fountains shoot water jets up to 150m (500ft) choreographed to music and designed by creators of the Bellagio fountains in Las Vegas. Quite spectacular.

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Burj Khalifa fountains

We choose to take afternoon tea at the At.mosphere on the 123rd floor ( you need to pre-book).

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The View! In my opinion is the best in Dubai.

Now, The Food at At.mosphere, Burj Khalifa!

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Berries and cream with gold leaf

First, a palette cleanser of  berries and cream, and trickled with gold leaf, followed by a selection of delicacies and finger sandwiches, followed by a roast of the day or the fish choice, and finally the creme de la creme – a selection of fine pastries, cakes and home made scones. Absolutely delicious and can’t wait to visit again soon!

Afternoon tea at At.mosphere, Burj Khalifa
Afternoon tea at At.mosphere, Burj Khalifa