A DAY AT THE BEACH IN LAGOS - LA CAMPAGNE TROPICANA BEACH RESORT // LAGOS, NIGERIA

LA CAMPAGNE TROPICANA BEACH RESORT

I thought it might be useful to share about our beach day in Lagos. As I said in my last post; spending a day at the beach is a must do if you are in Lagos. The beach at the La Campagne tropicana beach resort is one of the most popular beach destinations in Lagos. It is about an hour drive from the Island and probably two hours from the mainland; but well worth it if you need to get away from the hustle of the city. We only pspent a day here but there are options for overnight stays if you want to stay a bit longer.

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We arrived early afternoon ; I thought the check-in process was a bit tedious; but that probably has more to do with hunger pangs than anything else. We checked in and purchased coupons - while you can purchase food and pay for activities beach side - you need coupons to do that and it is easier to purchase at check-in. After the check in, we were directed to the waiting area for the shuttle to the beach. It is a trek from check in to the beach but not a terrible one; we did the trek at the end of our visit and I did not find it to be an issue. As we approached the beach, I could see the rows of palm trees and the ocean peaking from behind them.

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We found a spot to camp out under one of the umbrellas and proceeded to order meals and drinks. Mainly ordered the fresh coconut water; you can also bring a picnic with you. The party camped out beside us came prepared with an incredible spread of food and drinks. Next time, I am doing that. Besides the general seating area. There are also “SIMI” - essential luxurious queen bed sized cabanas that can be rented using coupons.

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I spent most of my day lounging beach side but for those restless ones who cannot be bothered to lounge beach side all day; they have got several activities including horseback riding ; jet skis and kayaking. The facility has also got spaces for sports play like beach soceer ; basketball court ; football field. For those of us with no inclination for physical activities, there is an area for board games as well. The facility seems very kid friendly; there were several groups with little ones and they seemed to be having a great time. Here are a few pictures from our beach day.

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2019 TRAVEL BUCKETLIST - TEN PLACES I AM DYING TO VISIT

As someone who enjoys traveling, one of the top three question I am asked is with regards to my bucket list; Usually starts with a question about where I have been and then a question about where I want to go. Before I get into my list, I have to say keep an open mind on destinations; take advantage of flight and travel deals and don’t limit yourself to a bucket list. Essentially, make a list but don’t be afraid to toss it out. 2018 was an incredible year of travel and ninety percent of the destinations were not on my bucket list. The opportunities presented themselves and I took advantage of it and had an incredible time. I have got 10 countries listed here - some I can knock off in a long weekend and others will require a bit more planning; time and money. If you have been to any of these places - I will love recommendations of what to do and where to eat.

[Disclaimer: None of the pictures in this post is mine, click on picture to visit the respective source]

1. South Korea - Looking forward to exploring the capital city of Seoul ; seaside city of Jeju. Visiting night markets and eating the local food. I have loved this Country for so long and I have been lucky to meet a few Koreans who have made me love the Country even more and the desire to visit has only grown. A few areas I am looking forward to visiting in the capital city - Apgujeong-dong aka the Rodeo drive of Seoul; Insa-dong for street food and teahouses; Sisa-Dong; Songhyeon-dong for its close proximity to Gyeongbokgung Palace walls with traditional hanok houses and Yeonnan-dong.

2. Morrocco - I have not heard or read one negative thing about this Country. I will love to visit Marrakech ; Essaouira and Casablanca. If I can squeeze Chefchaouen into the same trip; I will be over the moon. I am looking forward to visiting out souks and medina and lounging in Raids. Also the architecture - beautiful and tiled colorful goodness to feast my eyes on and capture through my lens and in my heart.

3. Iceland - I have always wanted to see the Northern lights and while there is no guarantee that I will see it; the potential is very exciting. I am also looking forward to visiting Reynisfjara for the black sand beaches ; the waterfalls at Skogafoss and the lagoons (blue lagoon and secret lagoon).

4. South Africa - I have done a piss poor job of exploring my continent and I will very much like that to change in 2019. I am hoping to visit South Africa as my first big trip of 2019. I will like to spend most of my time in Jo’burg and Cape town (maybe Durban as well). Looking forward to wine tasting; “hiking” to table mountain; Chapman’s peak; Simon’s town ; Robben Island; Cape of good hope; Bo-Kaap and Boulder beach. I will also like to go on Safari in Kruger National park.

5. Southern Italy - I have visited Italy a few times and it never disappoints. In all of my visits, I have not spent a lot of time in Southern part of the Country and I will very much like to do remedy that this year. Looking forward to visiting Cinque Terre and the towns of Amalfi cost. Have you seen pictures of the colorful homes stacked on a hill-side ? I will also love to visit Sicily and the Isle of Capri. Maybe I will just move to Italy (might be easier).

6. Costa Rica - Some dear friends honey mooned here several years ago and they loved it and have not stopped recommending it. While planning my Christmas trip this year - this was a very top option but Portugal won out. Costa Rica is often recommended as a great geo-tourism destination. Looking forward to wander through Las Baulas National Marine Park; explore Puerto Viejo de Talamanca and Manuel Antonio National Park.

7. Greece - Do I really need to justify this ? I definitely want to visit Athens for its historical and architectural significance and the islands of Mykonos and Santorini. However, the place I am most looking forward to visiting is Zakynthos - (Navagio and the shipwreck beach) because it is incredibly beautiful and it is one of the locations of one of my favorite shows of all time - Descendants of the Sun and I cannot wait to see it in person.

8. Maldives - Have you seen pictures of Maldives ? It sells itself - this nation in the Indian ocean is known for its beaches; lagoons and extensive reefs and I cannot wait to see all of it. Looking forward to the fish markets; Madjeedhee Magu and Hukuru Miskly in the capital city of Male.

9. Hong Kong and Macau - Yes ! I know these are not the same Country but the ferry ride from Hong Kong to Macau is only 55 mins so why not combine both, right ? Looking forward to exploring the Portuguese influences of Macau - from Ruinas de Sao Paulo ; Taipa village; Coloane; egg tarts from Lord stow’s; long wa tea house; and lou lim leoc. In Hong Kong, I cannot wait to see the views from Victoria hill; the Victoria harbour; markets at Mong Kok; climb the 260 steps to Tian Tan Buddha and Lantau Island.

10. Thailand - From Bangkok to Chiang Mai - I want to see and experience it all. This was another destination I considered for Christmas but could not free up my schedule to get the travel papers sorted. However, I did the research for this trip and I cannot wait to get there. Friends told me to avoid Phuket because of the crowds and go to Koh Phi Phi Island or Koh Lipe, instead. Stay at the Chai Lai Orchid elephant sanctuary and visit the white temple at Chiang Mia; floating market ; riding in tuk tuk and temple hop (Wat Arun ; Wat Pho ; Grand Palace) in Bangkok and lounging on the beach in Koh Phi Phi.

Any others I should consider ? What is on your travel bucket list ?

CHRISTMAS IN EUROPE 2018 - A PHOTO DIARY

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MERRY CHRISTMAS

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It is Christmas Eve !!! I hope you are spending the day away from work; sleeping in; drinking mulled wine; eating minced pie and spending time with family and friends. I love this time of year in London (and Europe). Spending this time of year in London, Paris, any where in Europe is an absolute must once in a lifetime. The cities transform and in spite of the rain and cold (and snow); the Cities are vibrant; beautiful and merry. From corners filled with elaborate; uplifting decors; to Christmas markets; Mulled wine; wreaths hanging from doors; carols. I am here for all of it.

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I was going to limit this post to Christmas in London; but we got a chance to visit Amsterdam; Paris ; Lille and Brugge in the last month and the sights and sounds of Christmas in all of those cities are worth sharing. I am yet to explore Berlin, Strasbourg and Alsace/Colmar during this season but I hear it is a must-see which means I have got three trips lined up for next Christmas.

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Every time I find myself in Europe this time of year, I always take some time out to explore and soak up all the Christmas bits the city has to offer; This year I took pictures and a few video clips. I am currently running a Christmas series on my Instagram page. You can follow along at #TSE12DaysofChristmas. The video clips are in my highlight tagged “Christmas EUR”

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London transforms at Christmas - Somerset house and National history museum is completely transformed and Hyde park becomes Winter wonderland. Oxford street and Carnaby street light up and the tree and reindeers at covent garden while traditions of this season; they still draw the crowd. Beyond that - there are Christmas markets serving up the best minced pies; hot chocolate and mulled wine. How could I forget the annual gift from Norway which is on display at Trafalgar square and special displays like the Diane Van Furstenburg tree of Love at Claridges and St Pancras International.

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Brugge, Belgium - There are day trips from Paris and London to the Brugge Christmas market. Brugge itself is a dream to explore and the Christmas market is the cherry on top.

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Lille, France - Honestly I was not sure what to expect from Lille but I was pleasantly surprised. Compared to London and Paris - the Christmas scene is not at an obscene elaborate scene but it is still worth a trip to explore the city and its market. There is an impressive Christmas tree in the city center.

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Paris, France - This is probably the only time I will gladly indulge Opulence. The window displays on avenue Champ elysees to the elaborate decors at galleries de lafayette and Le Bon Marche. Paris takes Christmas decor; and takes it up twenty notches - just look at the decor at Dior ; Louis Vuitton and the avenue. Feast your eyes on the opulence and beauty. of the window displays and decor.

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WATCHING THE SUNSET FROM MOUNT BONNELL // AUSTIN , TX

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If you know, you know how I feel about sunsets and sunrise. There is something about that time of day that calms me and centers me and leaves me of awe. While I was preparing for the Austin trip - Mount Bonnell was one of the most recommended things to do - the opportunity to get some workout in and also watch the sunset was a no brainer. After an afternoon exploring congress street ; the state Capital building (which is one of my favorite architecture); the botanical garden - it was time to unwind for the day. In the summer months, the sunset is quite later in the day so I had to wait about an hour after completing the hike. Keep that in mind if you are headed this way and want to do a sunset hike.

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There are stairs to get you to the top but once you are up there, there are some rocky parts if you want to wander off the main viewing ledge. I did a silly thing and forgot to pack appropriate shoes, so I had to do in hike in sandal (don’t judge); I paid for it for days but the hike was still worth it. If hiking or sunset/sunrise (or both) is your thing then you should add this to you itinerary plus you will be rewarded with a great view of the hill country - which I thing is a pretty spectacular reward.

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WEEKEND GUIDE TO AUSTIN <> AUSTIN, TX

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Nine years, two weeks and a day  - that is how long I lived in Texas before making a proper trip to Austin. Only three and half hours from Dallas and filled with all the things that make my wanderlust heart sing - how is it that I lived in this state for nearly a decade and was only just exploring Austin - shame on me. I had such an incredible time in Austin and can say without hesitation -  it will make my top twenty list of favorite cities in the world.

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Getting There. Flights to Austin can be expensive. It is only four hours from Dallas but airfare from Dallas average $350. If you live in Texas, i recommend driving. If you don't live in Texas and are looking for ways to save on your trip - you can fly into Houston or Dallas and get a rental car to drive to Austin or hop on a mega bus. You can also use a private jet on wheels service line Vonlane if you departing from Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth or San Antonio.

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Getting Around. I had my car to get around but had a challenge finding parking especially in the downtown area. Make sure you have change on hand to pay for parking. If you are flying in and don’t want to rent a car; it is worth noting Austin has an odd relationship with Uber and Lyft (and there have been times they are not available in the city). Austin has several alternatives including Ride Austin and Fasten - be sure to download the app before you go. It works sort of like Uber and is quite reliable.

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The Best Time to Visit. Texas summers are legendary and although Austin is not like most Texas cities, it is still very hot in summer. Texas dwellers are used to it (mostly), but if you have flexibility visiting in spring or fall, that will be my preference. If you are heading this way in summer, make sure to stay hydrated.

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Where to Stay. Having a car means you can stay away from downtown and more expensive hotels. I stayed in a hotel about twenty-five minutes from the center and with a car, that was not inconvenient; parking, on the other hand, is another story. If you want to stay close to center - I recommend: Four seasons Austin; Aloft Austin Downtown; Doubletree university area.

What to do.The beauty of Austin is that it has something for everyone. If you are in search of a weekend of food or just nightlife - you will not be disappointed. If you prefer history or culture or the outdoors - again there is more than enough for you to see and do in Austin.

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  1. Visit the Texas State Capital. One of the most impressive capital you will ever visit.

  2. Hike up to Mount Bonnell for an incredible view of Lake Travis. Also, sunset views from Mount Bonnel are stunning

  3. Visit the Zilker Botanical garden - do not miss the Japanese garden

  4. Visit Bullock Texas State History Museum for a wealth of history.

  5. Take a stroll down Congress Avenue (South Congress) lined with shops and restaurants - I recommend Jo’s coffee (the coffee is excellent but their Tacos are even better); and Amy’s Ice cream. There are also some murals in this area to look out for - including the “I love you so much mural” by Jo’s Coffee and “Willie Nelson for President” mural.

  6. Visit the Umlauf Sculpture garden for quiet statues and water lilies. You might even catch a wedding while you are there.

  7. Explore the Hope Outdoor gallery for some of the best murals/street art you will ever see. If you can maneuver your way to the top, you will be rewarded with some amazing views of the city.

  8. Get your photograph taken by the “Greetings from Austin Mural.

  9. For the nightlife - clubs; bars; live music - head to the sixth street.

  10. Stop by the Austin Farmer’s market. Market opens at 9 a.m. on Saturday.

  11. If you have time, take a tour of the University of Texas camp

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Where to Eat. As much as Austin is known for culture and music, it is also a foodie town. A few spots I will recommend

  1. Franklin’s Bbq. Get there early and plan to wait up to 2.5 hours to place your order. Some days, the line is so long, the sold-out sign goes up before the restaurant opens. Plan accordingly.

  2. Blenders and Bowls for amazing acai bowls and smoothie blends. I recommend - The O.G.! bowl.

  3. Jo’s Coffee. One of the best coffee shops in Austin and from my Travels. It is the only place I will order an iced dirty chai because they have set the bar so high. They also serve amazing breakfast tacos.

  4. Hillside Farmacy. One of two of my favorite brunch spots in Austin. I love the ambiance and the weekend brunch menu delivers. I recommend the Green onion biscuit and gravy with a side of scrambled eggs.

  5. Paperboy. This is my second brunch spot recommendations. The stationary trailer is open till 2 p.m. I recommend the B.E.C (bacon,sunny egg, and pimento cheese on buttermilk bun).

  6. Voodoo Doughnut. The vegan glazed doughnut, always.

  7. Lucky Robot. Amazing traditional Japanese dishes

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Day Trips. If you have got more than a weekend to spare. Then you should consider taking a day trip to one of these locations

  1. Waco. Visit Magnolia | Tour Baylor Campus | Have the best ice cream at heritage creamery

  2. Hamilton Pool. All the waterfalls you want. I hear the pools have been around for thousands of years.

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