Discovering Corfu, Part 1

 

Corfu, Greece, Holidays, Travel, Thomson, Mediterranean

Ready for landing in Corfu

It was our first time in Greece visiting the lovely island of Corfu, and we did so many things that I will be writing more than one post about this amazing holiday.

The flight from England to Corfu takes about 4 hours and we had a pleasant trip with Thomson Airlines. The pilot was actually giving updates of where about we were flying ( Germany and Croatia), and we were told it was very hot in the island. Corfu airport must be one of the smallest airports I have seen in my life, because it had only two runways so the plane was in a queue going in circles, before landing. On arrival Thomsons did the transfers to our hotel, the Iti Louis Grand in Glyfada beach, which is located in the west coast of the island. This hotel is perfect for families with children and recommended for weddings too.

Corfu, Glyfada, Holiday, Louis Grand Hotel

Louis Grand Hotel

Glyfada is a sand beach with a beautiful landscape, the rock formations make this beach exotic and the turquoise blue sea is calm most of the time, so it is safe for small children. There is a couple more of hotels in the beach and small shops that offer snacks, drinks and toys for the little ones. You can hire scooters or bicycles to tour the island, or rent a car, but the roads are narrow almost everywhere so scooters are ideal.

 

Corfu, Glyfada, Beach, Mediterranean

Glyfada Beach

 

We took the hotel complimentary bus to Corfu town a couple of times. The town is small and everything is in walking distance, don’t forget to bring your bottle of water as Corfu is very hot and I remember we had a day where the temperature was 41 Celsius, we were practically melting. Also bring a high factor sun block if you don’t want to end up sun burnt. I read about a saint called St Spyridon and decided to visit his church. St Spyridon is buried there and you are allowed to see the body inside the coffin.

 

Corfu, Island, Travel, Mediterranean

Mouse Island and Vlaherna

A lot of people visit the church and light a candle when making a wish to the saint. Corfu town has many narrow streets with shops and restaurants, the buildings and houses are very Italian, and in some places you will find yourself walking in marble pavement, Venetian style streets. In what is called the Esplanada it is the Palace of St Michael and St George, inside you will find the Museum of Asian Art with a beautiful collection of Japanese Art, well this is something I didn’t expect to see in Corfu and I loved it.

Achilleion Palace, Corfu,

Achilleion Palace

 

Corfu, Achilleion Palace

The church at Achilleion Palace

Not far from Kerkyra (Corfu’s town) is the Achelleion Palace but before getting there we stopped at Kanoni, a lovely peninsula with restaurants and a great view of Mouse Island and Vlaherna, an island that has a convent. The Achelleion Palace was built by Empress Elisabeth of Austria, known as Empress Sisi. She was an unhappy woman, many terrible things happened in her life so she built the palace in Corfu and named it after her idol Achilles.

The palace has many Greek mythology statues, and one of them is the statue of Dyimg Achilles. Inside the palace there is a chapel with a lovely painting of the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus, and the ceiling is also covered in paintings. The palace was built by Italian arquitect Raffaele Caritto.

In the north west of Corfu there is a town called Paleokastritsa which is well known for its clear turquoise water and amazing caves. We did a separate tour and I will tell you all about it in my next post.

Advertisements

My Riviera Maya Summer Holiday

20160812_144002

I recently came back from the beautiful Riviera Maya in Mexico, a place that means a lot to me and my family. It was in Cancun where I officially met my husband after our Online Dating romance, and to us its our ‘love nest’ away from home.

We have stayed in the hotel zone area in Cancun in the past but this time we decided to stay somewhere a bit further away. I heard of Playa del Carmen, a small town located about 40 minutes away from Cancun International Airport. We did some research in Trip Advisor looking for a nice family resort to stay at and we found The Royal Haciendas which is suitable for families with children. Cancun Airport has too many shuttle or taxi transfers on the Arrivals area and they will offer you their services but don’t listen to them (even if they insist too much) if you already paid your airport/hotel transport online and follow the instructions of the company you booked with.

Our transfer to the hotel didn’t take too long and we had a very nice chatty driver who was telling us how Cancun has grown economically in the last ten years thanks to the continuing growth in tourism. In 2005 Hurricane Wilma practically destroyed Cancun, but the city, hotels and resorts were rebuilt in short time.

img_0653

The first couple of days we decided to just relax and enjoy the beach. In the morning I loved doing Zumba lessons while my husband and son were having fun in the swimming pool. In the afternoons we would be in the beach making sand castles and having walks along the lovely beach. My son enjoyed snorkeling and would spend hours looking for fish. One day while playing in the sea we saw something moving inside the water, not sure about what it was and my son suddenly shouts: ‘Turtle mummy!, its a turtle!’. And he was right, it was a baby turtle swimming near the sea bed and as the tide came in it was covered by sand and we lost sight of it. One of the best places to spot sea turtles is the Riviera Maya and The Royal Haciendas as part of the Royal Resorts takes part in the sea turtle conservation campaign.

img_0652

Playa del Carmen town was almost next door and we went for a walk along Quinta Avenida, an avenue with lots of craft shops, boutiques, cafes and restaurants. Xcaret is an echo-archeological park located close to Playa del Carmen. It is a very popular tourist location and one of its many attractions is to swim in the underground river. It is a unique experience!. It is easy to take the ferry from Playa del Carmen to Cozumel Island, the ferrys depart every hour and if you wish you could spend all day in the island which is great for snorkeling and diving. Also near Playa del Carmen you will find attractions like Xel-ha, the dolphins paradise, the archaeological city of Tulum which is well preserved and the Coba pyramids.

img_0697

Make sure you carry a bottle of water at all times with you because of the extreme heat. We traveled in August and the highest temperature was 35 Celsius which means bring a lot of sun block with you, mosquito repellent and hats to protect yourself from the sun.

I remember the first time we came to Riviera Maya we visited almost all the attractions but because we ran out of money we couldn’t visit Chichen Itza. So that was something pending to do, and it was like a sort of mission to go there on our second trip. We booked our tour to Chichen Itza in advance and it was a memorable experience, especially for our son who loves exploring and enjoys filming.

On our last day we took a taxi to Cancun, and again we had a very chatty taxi driver. His name was Orlando and for a reasonable fare he dropped us in Cancun and waited for us while we visited the Aquarium. The Cancun Aquarium is small but children enjoy it as they can pet starfish, stingrays and you can swim with dolphins which is optional with a fee. On the way back to the hotel Orlando said life in Cancun is good and there are always jobs available. The city is non stop growing, and there is even a new town resort being built called Puerto Morelos which is between Cancun and Playa del Carmen. Taxis are safe as long as you take them from your hotel lobby or with the bell boy. I was more than happy to tip all the taxi drivers, they all were friendly, helpful, they drive safely and they are experts in Mayan history.

img_0666

Our last day of holiday was sort of sad. My son said this was the best holiday ever and that he loved Cancun so much that he would love to live there. When our plane took off from Cancun it was not a good bye but more like a ‘see you soon’ with the wish of going back to Riviera Maya again next summer.

The Royal Haciendas, a lovely resort in the Riviera Maya, Mexico

 

img_20160812_152810893

I would like to share our ‘Royal Haciendas’ experience as it was great staying in the resort. This review has been also posted with Trip Advisor.

***

The Royal Haciendas is a family and child friendly resort located in Playa del Carmen, in the Mexican Riviera Maya. It is near many tourist attractions and about 40 minutes away from Cancun Airport.

The resort is massive and divided in two areas. Each area has swimming pools for adults and children and two restaurants called the Sol Grill and Luna Grill. These restaurants offer lovely nachos, wraps and burgers. Our reservation was all inclusive in a Deluxe Junior Suite. The suite was big, it was more like a ‘mini flat’, with microwave, minifridge, coffee maker and we had a terrace with a nice garden view. All the hotel has free high speed wifi too.

img_0655

Our fruit basket and red wine

 On our first day the resort gave a us a basket of fresh fruit and a bottle of red wine which was very kind of them. We enjoyed a variety of meals at La Palapa del Sol restaurant. Every night there is a themed buffet with Mexican, Caribbean, Mediterranean, Italian, Oriental and BBQ food. There is also a snack/sushi bar called La Rotonda and an elegant restaurant called Los Murales. At Los Murales we ordered for starters the avocado filled with sea food and as a main dish the salmon with asparagus. We absolutely loved it as well as the Ferrero dessert.

20160820_183035

Sea Food at Los Murales Restaurant in the Royal Haciendas, delicious!.

20160820_185654

Ferrero dessert, beautifully made. At Los Murales, Royal Haciendas Resort

The resort has a beautiful beach, it is well maintained and its cleaned in the mornings. If you decide to stay on the beach you will find blue flags that you can use to order food and drinks, we found this great.

Me and the beach, enjoying the Riviera Maya.

You will find hammocks near the gardens, they are perfect for an afternoon siesta, check your Facebook or just relax. There is a Sports desk and Activity Room with many things to do for adults and children. You can book the tennis court, play golf, do snorkelling or do kayaking. They count with an activity timetable for adults and children. You may try doing zumba, pilates, aquaerobics, beach volleyball, latin dance lessons and many more. I would like to thank the zumba instructor for such an enjoyable lesson. I just loved it!.

img_0712

Aquaerobics time.

 

img_0728

Kayaking in Playa del Carmen, Riviera Maya.

The resort has a mini market, so don’t worry if you forgot your suntan lotion or any basics. There is a doctor on site, a Spa and a small travel agency that helped us with our trip to Chichen Itza and transfers to the airport.

The resort is near the Playa del Carmen town where you can do shopping or just go for a walk. The resort offers a shuttle and there are also taxis available near the front door, you have just to speak to one of the bell boys. The resort is very safe in terms of checking at all times who gets into the resort.

We booked the resort directly via their web site and we received a discount coupon to spend at the resort but we spoke to different members of staff and it was never clear about how to use the discount. At the end we didn’t use it but a member of reception took note of our case and said they will get in touch with us. Anyway we booked for nine days and decided to extend our stay for two more days because we simply loved the place.

img_20160814_131326613

All inclusive means all the Piña Coladas you want and all the desserts you want. Yummi!!

The staff in general was friendly and polite, the rooms are spotless clean and there is always someone in charge to refill your fridge with drinks. Also, there is someone always late afternoon checking if you need any additional toiletries or towels, which was very nice and shows they look after you. It was nice for them to leave a lolly pop next to your bed every day after cleaning the room. Las Haciendas has everything you need and is perfect for families with small children. My 8 year old son always talks about how beautiful was our holiday, definitely we are considering going back in the future.

My Followers