Bulgaria travel: Snowboarding plans for next year

With all the wedding planning and budgeting, I didn’t think I could squeeze in a ski trip this year. It’s our 10 year anniversary so Gavin is treating me to a week snowboarding in Bulgaria.

I have never been to Bulgaria.

I can’t wait.

Planning the Snow Trip

When our snowboarding group started to talk about where we wanted to go I knew that the Alps were far out of my budget. I turned down the holiday and then they started looking further afield. I am not a great snowboarder but I have been doing it for long enough that I am confident on most slopes and situations. Unless we are talking about a sheet of ice I can pretty much tackle any slope. Just really really slowly.

pexels-photo-163912.jpeg

Photo by Borislav Krustev on Pexels.com

Bulgaria is cheap, super cheap. We are talking half the price of the French Alps in a hotel as well. We normally rough it in a french Hostel and so far I haven’t missed any luxuries. After 10 years of UCPA’s  its a hotel for us this time. The price tag is also great!

We are planning on renting a Chalet at some stage as most of us have our own equipment. We had a chalet in Samoens 4 years ago and it was so beautiful. I still have the same jacket I bought at the start of my Snowboarding life. I invested in a good coat and its only now that there is a bit of wear and tear in it. I also have amazing armour after I broke my wrist on the flattest slope on Samoens!

Borovets Ski Resort

The Apres ski is supposed to be amazing which I didn’t expect. The town has enough entertainment for us with restaurants and bars. The actual slopes are supposed to be great nothing too challenging so I will hopefully get a few more red slops under my belt. the only downside it the chairlifts as that is what they mostly are. My favourite thing to do each holiday is to board from the top of the mountain to the bottom. Then I reward myself with a nice vine chaud or Peche beer.

7a35ee22-f6f8-40b8-92bb-917c40524fe6

I will pay for lessons for the first day to act as a warm-up plus it will just be me and my cousin in the glass. we will have some constructive tuition and then join the others on the rest of the holiday.

We are spending our evenings planning routes and looking on tripadvisor for restaurant recommendations. We like to slip out one night and just spend the evening alone. I really looking forward to not spending 40 euros on 4 bottles of beer! The pricing all over Borovets seems amazing value for money.

Living in London means I am used to spending £4-5 on a beer and £10 on a gin and tonic. With wedding planning and budgets I have been limiting my nights out but I still budget for a few.

Otherwise, what’s the point.

I am looking forward to dressing in cosy knits and sampling the sumptuous Bulgarian cuisine. I have already my guidebook as I like to be informed.

If you have been to Borovets Ski resort and have any advice let me know!

Exploring The Seychelles; My Recommendations

I try to explore Seychelles every two years.

I have family and friends who live out there and it is my heritage so I want to live and learn as much as I can. So, I thought if you were venturing to these beautiful set of islands that maybe you would appreciate some recommendations from me.

Yummy Food

La Perle Noire Mahe

Food recommendations

Gavin isn’t a big fish eater but he will happily eat fish every day over there due to how fresh it is (caught that day)! And how it is prepared, either grilled, baked or fried. It is just gorgeous.

Just off the beach you will find fisherman with their catch of the day. Parrot fish and snapper will be bound together and you will see the locals gather and buy them. You can find saltfish samosas at most grocery stores, along with breadfruit chips (eat them and you will always return to the Seychelles or so the saying goes!) fresh fruit and cold beer.

Each shop will have their own prices but they are much cheaper than the big supermarkets in town.

This is my favorite food in the world and no one makes it better than my dad! For you guys you will have to try the restaurants and hotels. Traditionally food is served in bowls in front of you and you help yourself. No waste.

This is how I was brought up.

Lunch at Carana Beach

Seychellois have a very healthy attitude when it comes to food, they eat pretty much what they catch and they live of the land. My favourite dish is octopus curry or fried octopus it is just delicate and meaty all at the same time.

My favourite places for food

  • Café Solei holds so many memories, I told Gavin about this place on our first date. We visit every time
  • Sunset Beach Hotel ( just ridiculously beautiful we basically we live here during the day) Cocktails and fish and chips is insanely good. The views are magical, I am hoping my sister will get married here!
  • Carana Beach hotel, when we were there the waves are pretty big which was fun. It is so instagramable there!
  • La Perle Noire (Black Pearl) —————- just yum. Hospitality is like coming home, I cannot fault this place at all
  • The boat house great traditional food at a great price
  • Pizza places on Mahe – honestly we haven’t had a bad pizza there
  • For snacks we eat all the samosas we can find, fresh fruit. mmmm

f70e17aa-54d8-43a1-98b7-1808624b91c5.jpg

Seychellois hospitality

English is taught in schools and you will often find someone who speaks German, Spanish, Italian and Russian. They are a very well-educated people.

Okay, tricky subject. Seychellois will help you if you need it but you may find the service a bit slow.

I like to visit hotels for lunch then eat at home with my friends and family.

On more than one occasion and in multiple places I have found the service very relaxed. Waiting an hour to get served a drink. Waiting 45 minutes for a cold beer then another hour before the pizza was served. Don’t get angry get used to it. My tip is order two drinks so you don’t have to wait.

Some places you won’t find any issues, but don’t expect the same over friendly help you get in other countries.

f3393fca-fb04-4611-9311-c3903ca8fe65.jpg

Boat trips

My dad has a little boat and we go across to Moyenne for lunch.

When we went with a group of friends we decided to do a boat trip to the same place. Because there were ten of us, we were the only ones on the glass bottom boat and it was great. They let us play our music, went really fast so we all got sprayed with water and were really fun guys! They dropped us off in the ocean where the swells were much bigger. There were a lot of boats bopping up and down and lots of people in the water but it was great.

The fish get bigger the further out you go. Then we waded to shore hand lunch then had a little walk round the island. Photographed the giant tortoises, visit the pirates grave and drank a fair few gin and tonics!

Grand Anse

Take your Pictures but please don’t swim here!

Explore and listen

Every islander will have their favourite beach so listen and explore. They will also know what the waves are like at that moment. I have been known to take my book into the ocean and just float along in the shallows.

There are plenty of walks in Seychelles so comfortable shoes are an absolute must!  Anse Major is an impressive hike around the coast half way up the mountain you will see some incredible views the coral and sea life there is beautiful. I followed a family of squid around for hours. it is hot and sweaty and there are a few sketchy bits (I am terrified of heights). My top tip for this hike is to get a taxi back, a taxi boat that is!

Again the views just cannot be beaten.

516b27aa-d77f-4ec2-ab67-ba87776c0294

Bloom Gin, in Seychelles

Night life

There isn’t that much to do, sun sets around 6-7 depending on what side of the island you are on then it goes pitch black.

That chirping noise you can hear is the geckos, don’t hate them they eat all the bugs.

As there isn’t that much to do at night so be prepared to make or take your own entertainment! Beau Vallon often has little festivals with food and stalls which are great, there are a few clubs and Seychelles do great cocktails. We always bring gin to the island and get tonic and limes in the shops. If they don’t have limes then we get the Seychelles local oranges which are sweet and sharp and taste so good with gin!

Hotel do put on shows and event nights so you are welcome to attend those, I love a good Saga night.

This is a place ripe for relaxation. The pace is slow here so leave your city legs behind and go with the flow. If things take a while don’t worry you are on holiday not in a rush. I love a nice light beer Sey Brew and lovely rum Takamaka which I prefer with lemonade rather than coke!

You are on holiday/ vacation so relax sip your ice-cold dink and watch the sunset and its incredible skies.

Seychelles is full of beauty and magic so explore it.

If you have been to the Seychelles then let me know places you have been and loved!

I hope you enjoy!

Dana

Mahe

Swimming at Beau Vallon Beach

Planning and Organising 3 Hen Dos

 

Have you ever tried to plan a hen do? A group of relative strangers who are all linked via one person. It is not easy.

The older you get the more difficult it is to plan things.

To organise x amount of people with different things going on in their lives, sometimes it is practically impossible.

I have about 6 Whatsapp groups where we all try and meet up. Most of the time it is a text from Jess saying are you still up for Saturday. I have completely forgotten that I had plans but then I just end up going.

I used to be worse!

Completely dysfunctional; I forgot everything. But this isn’t anything this is my hen do.

1e7cee46-af7c-40b5-b2cf-bfcf7659ae07

Snow Boarding group!

 

I am having a few: one in Madrid (my favourite city at the moment), A Hag do in London/France Skiing and another Hen in Essex. This way all mine and Gavin’s friends can attend the ones they are available for and can afford.

It sounds excessive but my sister lives in New Zealand so won’t be there until a week before the wedding. She is a bridesmaid so that’s why I am having an Essex Hen Do. Plus, the elders can attend that one.

Hen Dos are expensive

We are having a few, goodness knows how I am going to save for them.

I don’t really believe in your hens brunting all of the cost. I don’t mind them paying for drinks and the odd meal but not flights and accommodation.

hen do

Becky’s Hen do Edinburgh

I have organised one hen do, been part of the creative side of my sister in Law and attended a fair few myself.

My best friend gave me a list of 44 people.

I was freaking out about what that many people could do and stay. Luckily it was a small group of us that went away and a larger group that attended the London hen do.

Still there were cross words, tears and I am pretty sure one hen never paid me. Guess that’s my fault for not being more organised.

One of the biggest issues is people not getting back to you. Dongle the organiser was a great help for picking the date but still I only had people’s emails to deal with.

Nightmare

My dyspraxia means that I tend to read an email and answer in a very straight forward way. Which can come across as abrupt, blunt sometimes rude. I don’t mean it. I read emails at face value, without a tone and certainly not between the lines. Some of the hens didn’t understand this.  I had to explain myself to them and as soon as I talked about my dyspraxia they understood my reply’s.

All in all, we had an amazing Hen do in Edinburgh, caught up with old friends, drunk lots of booze in our old haunts. Walked up Arthurs Seat! Had afternoon tea at the Dome (you have to do this) did some touristy bit too. Scotland rocks!

But I made a lot of mistakes.

beer.jpg

Abi’s Hen do Munich

So, with this info I am going to aid my organiser

Becky told me where she wanted her hen do one drunken night so when it was my turn, she asked me where I wanted to go. First place I thought of was Madrid.

Hot, sunny, beautiful Madrid. I loved it there and can’t wait to go back. Gav is off to Krakow which I also adore but there is something magical about Madrid.

Flights and accommodation can be sorted out for less than £200 so it would be the same price staying in the UK.

Things I learned from hen Dos I have been to

  • Organisation is Key
  • Let people pay for themselves
  • Respect people budgets
  • The hardest part is finding a free weekend
  • People don’t respond to people they barely know
  • There is a lot of pressure on the person organising
  • We are adults, let people be

 

Organisation is key

in planning a Hen do it doesn’t matter if you have 3 or 44 people leaving things to the last minute doesn’t work.

Let people pay for themselves

I get that sometimes people find it easier to pay on one credit card and then people can pay them back later. But that puts the stress on one bank account. I couldn’t afford to do that so why should other people.

Respect people budgets

We all have different pay check and budgets, respect that some people can’t afford everything. You invite them because you love don’t make them feel bad if you can’t afford it.

d6a14818-72de-4473-be2f-8fdd93e18b4b

Sam’s Hen Do, Penfest, yes those are dark clouds!

Finding a free weekend

I have set the date and given everyone 11 months’ notice. If they can’t make it I understand but almost a year should be plenty of notice especially for dates and also to save.

People don’t respond to people they barely know

I have also taken it upon myself to invite the guests on my Facebook account. I have done this so Becky doesn’t have the hard task of chasing everyone up. After collecting money, I found this the hardest. The yes/no’s the last-minute cant makes it’s made me book a place, then cancel it loosing my booking fee and paying for a cancellation.

The person organising is gold

Becky is just looking after one hen do. She is then organising with the girls to see do the final details that I am not allowed to know about she has two rules, no strippers and no penis anything!!! She is a super star but I know it will be work for her.

 

Sorry Becky.

674d3570-5ecc-43d8-928c-706953b9ab05

Sam loves Tennis, Penfest

We are adults, let people be

I mean it. If you can’t make, I totally understand. If you can’t afford it, I really do understand. If you just don’t fancy another hen do then don’t come. If people want to go to bed early, let them. If they don’t fancy dancing till 3am I don’t blame them.

 

My bed time is normally 10pm.

 

I am not getting involved in my hen do anymore. I will leave the planning to my bestest.

All I want is lovely wine, great food and my friends.

That’s it

A perfect hen do for me.

Have fun with your hen do and treasure those who are helping. They are gold.

Dana

Jess and Crispin’s Hag Do, Drink Shop Do

e665577a-028e-471f-81b2-7bfe2c4772f4

Madrid and Engagement ring shopping

I honestly thought this would be easy, I mean it is shopping for my engagement ring?

I kind of knew what I wanted, something vintage or unique? I thought I would love shopping for jewellery, I didn’t expect it to be filled with pressure.

 
Having to pick a piece of jewellery that sits on your finger forever is hard.

 
With every ring I tried on I felt the price tag and the weight of my decision.

 
I have a new respect for partners choosing the ring. This isn’t my favourite necklace or bracelet. This is something that will stay on my finger permanently. And with that come a massive amount of pressure to get it right, so I will be happy forever, without regrets.
When Gavin asked me to marry him, those words were all that mattered but still.

 

I would like a nice ring on my finger at the same time.

 

We won a competition to Madrid through Brockman’s gin, see being a gin drinker really pays off! So we decided when we were there we would do a bit of ring shopping. Madrid has a lot of emeralds and I knew I wanted a green stone.

 

The first ring I tried on was a beautiful emerald cut emerald with two diamonds at the side on a gold band. It was expensive and beautiful and when I looked at it, it really wasn’t me. I felt strange knowing that this expensive ring wasn’t me and Gavin looking at me with his big beautiful eyes.

 
He just wanted for me to be happy and a drink.

 
We were in glorious Spain.

mnap

Engagement shopping in Madrid this was google maps helpful reminder

 

We all wanted a drink!

 

This continued in about five shops, the green was too green. The gold was two yellow.
Then we found a street filled with antiques… oh if I had a bigger suitcase!

 
I doubted my decision and my preference. We walked a minimum of 16000 steps a day. This was broken up with wine cheese and a bit of site seeing so I am not complaining. I really fell in love with Madrid a little bit.

 
We eventually found a gorgeous 1920 diamond ring. It fit perfectly. Was an unusual shape but I just wasn’t sure?

 
I couldn’t commit to it.

 
We were in Madrid not in London and leaving the next day it was not as though I had a lot of time to think about it.

 
I felt pressured to make a big decision

 
At first, I was grateful that I got to choose but then it started getting stressful and I started resenting the options out there.

 
So, I had a think.

 
Looking around shops was getting crazy.

churros.png
We had eaten a lot of churros!

My plastic ring was broken due to its fragility.
If you havent read about my proposal please find it here  Gav bought me a replacement in Sainsburys for £6. Yes, it turned my finger green, then black but after that it was fine. It was simple and pretty and I had lots of complements on my sparkling £6 ring.

 
Finding the real thing was proving tricky and stressful. I couldn’t commit to what I wanted.

 
I now admire men who go out and see the perfect ring for their partner and buy it. There is a reason that so may people just like a diamond solitaire.

It is simple and elegant.

 
Green is my favourite colour so I knew I wanted green stone. We have a running joke that my favourite colour is purple when it is green, Gav constantly tells me it is purple. So, when I was looking at stones I came across a green amethyst. It suits us! It should be purple but it is green.

 
I have a Pinterest board called hint, hint Gavin. Filled with pale green rings on white gold.

 
So, we planned a trip into London’s Hatton Garden.

 
I popped into a shop in Romford and they had some nice stones in the window. I had a two-minute chat with the girl who was working there and was told to come back when the manager was back at the weekend.

fb40f322-7193-4a2f-b21d-cde88d051e12
We were busy that weekend so didn’t come back for two weeks. Hatton Garden was waylaid due to birthdays and parties that kept getting in the way. I took Gav with me and as we approached the window there it was. A pale green cushion cut amethyst with a white gold band and little diamonds on the side.
She had got it.
It was perfect.
How was it possible. It even fit me. They had made it so easy, I thought it was going to take forever. She had even found me some matching earrings and a pendant. The woman was a genius!
And that its.
A two-minute chat and a lady who knows what she is doing and I have my beautiful engagement ring.

2691769e-7ecc-492d-a817-5855b3e06126

My Green Amethyst Engagement Ring

It’s probably not your cup of tea.

 
I love that it is not traditional. This little beauty is going to sit on my finger for the rest of my life. It wasn’t lovingly selected by my fiancé but we did pick it together.

 
Finding it was a journey, in a stressful first world problem kind of way. Our trip to Madrid was heavenly, I have never felt so at home in a place I have never been to before. So although we didn’t find my ring there it we cant wait to go back. I did start to think that my £6 ring was in it for the long haul.

 
But nope, here is my ring. In all its simple elegance.
Now to find the band!!!
Dana