Thursday, July 21

MedSailors: A Trip Of A Lifetime | Greece Sailing 2016


Having your expectations exceeded with anything in life will always leave you feeling pretty positive. But going away on a trip which doubled, tripled and even quadrupled my expectations, certainly left me feeling very uplifted and fulfilled. I was not ready to go home. I cried when we left. CRIED. I'm going to go as far as calling this the best trip I've done so far.

THE BEGINNING 
Back in November, Jess and I were approached by MedSailors asking if we'd like to join them on a holiday in Greece on a yacht. They
 offer premium sailing holidays for 20-35 year olds in Croatia, Turkey and Greece. We're keen travellers and have done a few trips together in the past, so as I'm sure you can imagine, we threw ourselves at the opportunity. We booked our flights, a hotel for the night before, and spent the next nine months deciding which excursions we wanted to do, how many bikinis were too many, and if we'd be likely to make new friends.

I'm a water baby. I've grown up by the sea. My family have always been fortunate enough to own a boat, and my brother currently works on superyacht. However, I've never spent a week on a yacht. We arrived far too early on a Saturday at the marina, embarrassed by the size of our suitcases (note: PACK LIGHT. TRUST ME.) We met the Manager Helen, who walked us across a plank onto our boat called Philoctetes, to meet our Skipper Alvaro. He was Argentinian, with a huge smile and positive attitude. 



THE BOAT
With MedSailors, you have the option between a Premier or Premier Plus boat. The difference isn't huge but certainly noticeable. Our Premier Plus was slightly larger and newer. Jess and I had a room under the bow, with memory foam mattresses and our own bathroom. There's a shared shower and kitchen area, much more roomy than you think! There were 4 double beds and 1 bunk in total. Al the skipper slept in the 'sofa' area next to the kitchen but to be honest, we all ended up mixing up and sleeping above deck too. I even stayed in the hammock on the final evening. Nothing quite beats waking up to the sunrise beaming on your face. Ahh.

Each boat has up to 9 guests on board. We noticed most people were from Australia and New Zealand however, our boat was a mix of 3 Aussies, 2 Kiwis, 2 Canadians and us English. 


Photo credit: Samantha Goudie / MedSailors
THE CREW
Speaking of the people, it goes without saying I felt extremely lucky and privileged to be in the company of so many amazing guys and girls. I've travelled in the past and had experiences of bitchiness and feeling isolated, but not ONCE did Jess or I have any problems with any of our fellow guests. Everyone was great. They were always up to a laugh, considerate of each others space, happy to share things (including alcohol, always a bonus) and never isolating anyone, especially as we had one girl who was a solo traveller too. We were all up between 7-9am, and went to bed whenever suited us too.



THE SKIPPERS
The great people didn't stop there. Obviously our Skipper Al was amazing. He's training to be a doctor; took a year out to do MedSailors, loved it so much, he's back for his second season and absolutely nailing it. He didn't moan once (especially with NINE girls) and I always saw him with a smile on his face. Hats off to all the Skippers though, because their job isn't easy. They're fully qualified 
(RYA Offshore Yacht Master Certificate plus, two weeks MedSailors training) and equally experienced, managing a boat full of guests, cooking, tidying, organising, navigating, socialising and being an all-round awesome team-player. I never felt unsafe with Al either so rest assured, you're in good hands with people who know what they're doing. The friendship between the other Skippers didn't go unnoticed either, we all mingled in the evenings which made it extra fun.

Photo credit: Samantha Goudie / MedSailors

THE FOOD
The food was brilliant. Al made breakfast and lunch on board everyday. We enjoyed lots of garlic, roasted vegetables and pesto pasta to name a few. In the evenings, we all ate together. Each table was your 'boat', but the other boats sat on tables next to us at the same restaurants. We had a one or two 'free' evenings where we got to choose where we ate, but otherwise, we all stayed together. We found the best option was ordering a buffet style selection in the evenings, which worked out around 15 euros each. My favourite food included traditional Greek dishes such as tzatziki, fresh calamari, feta cheese, honey and baklava and of course, greek salad.



THE FUN STUFF
There was never a dull day on our MedSailors trip but the best part is, nothing feels rushed either. The most you're sailing for is between 2-4 hours, but this absolutely flies by. During this time, we socialised, read a book, sunbathed and enjoyed the view. I even took the wheel and did a bit of sailing. We'd often stop for swim (normally before breakfast and again before lunch), which was the perfect opportunity for swimming, paddle boarding, snorkelling, jumping in (over and over again), raft racing and everything in between. Another Skipper Brad even made us fresh mojitos and delivered them on a paddleboard one day for lunch. Epic.

Once on land, the fun didn't stop. We got the opportunity to go quad biking in Spetses which was much more fun than I imagined. We drove around the whole island! In and out of the town, past the marina, over the hills...the views were unreal. In Poros, we went banana boating and tubing. Lots of screaming and giggles. They even had free beer whilst we waited our turn. WIN!



We were definitely a party boat though, and enjoyed pre-drinks and dancing every night. It really surprised me actually, the nightclubs and bars MedSailors took us too were really good, we even played beer pong one night! The evenings were a great chance to socialise with the other boats too. On day two, myself and a few of the girls sat on the back of the boat until 4am whilst we people watched and had other boats come and chat and introduce themselves. Nights like that will remain solid memories for me.

THE PRICE
It goes without saying all trips have a price tag, but luckily MedSailors is pretty affordable. A week trip varies between £400-£600, which includes your Skipper, accommodation on board and breakfast and lunch every day. You pay for your flight, evening meals, excursions and everything in between. Jess and I budgeted around £35 a day which worked perfectly for us. We spent money on things like alcohol, ice, water bottles, gifts, more alcohol and gelato/ice creams. You could budget better than us though, we just enjoyed the moments most of the time.



GREECE, THE ISLANDS & WEATHER
I absolutely adored Greece. It was exactly how I imaged. Pretty, quaint, friendly. MedSailors have years of history with the locals, so took us to some great restaurants and bars and we always felt very welcome. Some of the owners even had Skipper shirts on and MedSailors flags flying outside.

Overall, we visited six islands in six days including Perdika, Spetses, Ermioni, Aegina, Agistri and Poros. We were meant to stop at Hydra one day but the strong winds meant we sailed to Aegina instead. I was pretty impressed with how quick the Skippers responded to a change in the route actually, everything was super smooth.


Sailing was pretty calm too. The seas are fairly tame in the Med at this time of year, so we mostly cruised along 90% of the time. 
Surprisingly, not one of us got sea sick. There were moments a few of the girls felt it, but no one was actually poorly. Plus, we were all pretty hungover most days but the sea air and morning swim pretty much killed it off, hence why it was super easy to do it all over again the next day.

The weather was pretty perfect for us too. Sunshine mid 30's all day. Sunset around 9pm. The only thing that did surprise me was how warm the evenings were. Pack light clothes (no bra outfits ladies, trust me!). I didn't find it uncomfortable to sleep, but some guests slept on the deck, in the dingy, on the hammock because it was so warm. I'd recommend investing in a mini fan.




THANK YOU
I can't end this post without saying a super massive thank you to a few people. Firstly, MedSailors themselves for having us and providing an absolutely awesome trip. To Helen and Nick for checking we were okay and accommodating us!

Second thank you to our fellow guests (Alex, Bryanna, Kiki, Hannah, Liz, Nikki & Georgia), you girls are the BOMB. Biggest of love to you for being great sports around Jess & I filming ourselves like crazy girls. Plus...ATT FOREVA. AND WE WON THAT CUP, YES KIIK! I will miss you all more than you know.

Thank youuu big time to Al and the other Skippers, you guys don't give yourselves enough credit and truly changed our trip for us. You almost made me jealous of your jobs and I hope our paths cross again one day.

...and last but certainly not least, thank you to my Jessyyy. You cutie pie. My travel partner in crime. My best internet chummy. Thank you for the best trip. It wouldn't have been the same without you. All those days spent gossiping, laughing, happy tears crying, singing and swimming! You really are a superstar and I love you v much. Here's to the next trip?


WATCH IT ALL!


Finally, I vlogged the whole thing. Here's the trailer featuring snippets of all the highlights, best bits and sneak peeks but don't miss the full 1 HOUR long vlog too to see absolutely everything we got up to.

Until Croatia baby.


*This post is not sponsored. MedSailors kindly hosted us on board a Premier Plus yacht for a week in return for coverage on my blog and channel. The majority of this trip was supported by myself. I loved it so much.


Thursday, July 7

Pack With Me | MedSailors Greece Sailing Trip!

I'm off to Greece (eeekkk!) with MedSailors and my friend Jess. We're so excited. Here's what I've packed. Enjoy! 



Sunday, June 26

The Ultimate Guide To Gran Canaria | Spa, Wellness & Health Resorts

I absolutely adore the Canary Islands. I've previously visited Fuerteventura, Lanzarote and Tenerife and loved each and every trip, so it was on my bucket list to take a trip to Gran Canaria! I asked my best friend Megan to join me, to discover what spa, wellness and health the island has to offer, whilst celebrating her birthday too. With crystal clear seas, sandy coves of shara-style dunes and sunshine all year round, there really is something for everyone. Discover the four hotels we visited and be sure to watch the vlogs too!

Gloria Palace Amadores Thalasso & Hotels
Set on a cliff overlooking the ocean, this luxury hotel almost feels like you're staying on a cruise ship. Our view from our room was absolutely breathtaking, and as we were half board, we ate breakfast and dinner outside with the same view too. Located 500m from Playa de Amadores beach, and around 45 minutes from the airport in La Palma, this hotel honestly had everything we needed. With several pools, entertainment every night, a huge buffet, and wifi throughout, we couldn't complain. Plus, the fresh fruit smoothies by the pool in the day, and the mango mojitos by the bar at night were absolutely delicious! We didn't have a problem getting a sun lounger in the morning, it was clean and tidy everywhere, and the staff were exceptionally friendly.




During our stay, we had the opportunity to visit the Thalasso Gloria Palace Spa, with one of Europe's largest Thalassotherapy centres. Based on treatments with seawater between 33 and 37 degrees, its allows the body to absorb elements such as iodine, sulphur, calcium and magnesium. There are different jets around the pool to work on different parts of your body, include lie-down beds and jacuzzi's, all with an ocean view. We each enjoyed a treatment too, I had an aloe vera treatment, where I was wrapped up and left for it to soak into my skin. Gran Canaria has the purest aloe vera in the world, so I was very happy to have it on my sunburn! The spa was open in the evening too, so we could sit and watch the sunset. 

Aphrodite Boat Trip



On day two, we hopped on board the Aphrodite sailboat. I'm a keen water baby and love being out at sea, so was excited to see what it had to offer. We left the dock at Puerto Rico at 10am, with around 20 other guests. There was plenty of space and choice of where to sunbathe. We were out five hours, sailing round the south west coast. We stopped for lunch and enjoyed a traditional Gran Canaria meal including chicken, potatoes and salad. We were kept topped up with drinks, including some amazing shots made with honey and cream! I was incredibly impressed with the lady organising the day, she spoke to every guest in between Dutch, Spanish, English, German and French. There was no language barrier for her! After lunch, we stopped in a small bay near some coves and had the chance to jump in and go swimming. I caught it all on camera so be sure to watch my vlog below. Great day, great service, would highly recommend.
Discover more: Gran Canaria Blue


Sheraton Salobre Golf Resort
Celebrating their 10th birthday in July, the Sheraton is an absolutely beautiful 5* resort in Maspalomas. Overlooking two golf courses and with several infinity pools, this is ideal for couples looking to retreat somewhere private and peaceful. Everything was extremely high class, modern and classy.

The Sheraton has many recreational facilities, one being the Aloe Wellness Spa, a high class wellness area, suited to please all five senses. It is the ideal place for body, mind and soul to relax and regain energy. There's a fabulous heated outdoor vitality pool with hydromassage and bubbly beds. Inside you can find a sauna, turkish bath, nine treatment rooms and a wide variety of massage and treatment packages. There's even a room that is 99.8% oxygen, great for the skin! We had a sneak peak at the Sunset Terrace too, I'd love to return one day and spend all day on their Balinese beds. Beautiful.



Marina Suites
This little haven of a hotel is suited in the docks at Puerto Rico. They offer half board dining but it would also suit a family looking for Self-Catering. Rooms come in various sizes however, they offer great options for separate bedroom and lounge areas if you're a family. There's a beautiful seafront infinity pool with lie-down beds. We ate in the pool bar restaurant called the Atlantic, I had a very generous portion of fish & chips and it was delicious. The whole hotel had a refurb last year, so it's got some gorgeous nautical touches through-out. I really loved this hotel, I can imagine my mum and I coming to stay for a short break. 




Hotel Cordial Mogán Playa
I was completely blown away with this hotel. I hate to pick favourites because I genuinely liked all the hotels we visited however, this one really ticked a lot of boxes. Situated near Porta Mogán Harbour, also known as 'Little Venice' for it's pretty buildings and bridges, the location is ideal for walking into the town or beach. There's two large pools, one for peace and quiet and one for kids and entertainment. They did a great 'Splashmob' a few years ago which shows the pools really well. 

The biggest part of the hotel I cannot afford to skip past is their commitment to the environment. Everywhere you go is a different plant species, it's like walking through a small rainforest. They have five full time gardeners to look after it all. From washing towels and sheets to growing their own fruit and vegetables, they continually consider their social and physical awareness to the planet, which I massively respect and was very impressed with everything they showed and talked us through. 


The final location we visited was Spa Iguana in the hotel. From photos, it looked really small and I didn't have very high expectations however, my opinion was completely swayed. It is small yes however, there weren't many other people using the facilities so you basically have the place to yourself. We went straight into a double treatment room and had a full body Aromatherapy massage. It was absolutely incredible. My therapist was extremely professional, tidy and friendly. Her flow and pressure was perfect, and I drifted off into a floating cloud of zen and relaxation. 100% recommend. 

Wow, this spa was beautiful. Like a japanese garden. You definitely required slippers because the black floor was pretty warm! However, there were three varieties of beds to choose from, a jacuzzi and the pools inside had jets too. The greenery was stunning. Absolutely loved it. 



With approximately 236km of stunning coastline, winds ideal for sailing, spectacularly beautiful sea beds and stunning sand dunes, Gran Canaria is the ultimate wellness, nautical and spa destination. The Gran Canaria Spa, Wellness & Health Association can offer tailor-made packages to ensure that you have a wellness getaway of your dreams. Megan & I had an absolutely fabulous time, and I can't wait to return one day. Hopefully we've help you find the perfect place to visit next! Huge thank you to Gran Canaria Wellness for hosting us, we really enjoyed our stay on this beautiful island.




*Huge thank you to Gran Canaria Wellness & The Spa PR Company for hosting us on this trip.