Travel Inspirations, Wanderlusting & Musings, Worldly Treats & Eats

Amazing Afternoon Tea Spots for a Classy London Trip

Amazing Afternoon Tea Spots for a Classy London Trip

When traveling to new destinations, statistics show that more people are trying to come up with unique itineraries to fulfill their need for more meaningful, authentic experiences. And when they encounter something that bridges a new culture with their own, they develop a deeper connection with the city that travelers have found themselves in.

There are some practices and aspects of countries that are universally present across all cultures, which is amazing in itself, but while we’re out exploring new places, we often aim to fit in with what the locals are doing. For the Brits, one of the things that quintessentially defines their culture is drinking tea, and reports say about one third of UK’s population drink five or more cups of tea per day. So what better way to get acclimated with the London lifestyle by having some high tea in the best tea spots in town?

Not surprisingly, the capital has dozens of places that serve afternoon tea, ranging from affordable to glamorous, from traditional to ceremonious, and here we’ve rounded up some of the best places for you to sample British high tea:

Bake-a-boo
With all the specialized diets that people have to be on these days, finding an afternoon tea spot with a guilt free menu can be quite a challenge. Those that are both health and budget conscious will be delighted to hear that this kitschy tea room on Mill Lane has got gluten-, dairy- and sugar-free baked goods to munch on as you sip on your hot beverage, all for the price of £15 per head. A minimum of two people are required for reservations at Bake-a-boo as well as a 50% deposit along with a day’s notice. Also, afternoon tea is only available from Friday to Sunday, and if you fancy some morning tea instead, you’ll have to book for a Saturday morning.

(image credit: bake-a-boo.com)

 

The Ritz
Relish in London’s tea heritage with an afternoon at The Ritz, which opened back in 1906 and still maintains the sophistication and flair associated with high tea. After successfully booking a spot in this extremely popular establishment, be sure to dress up for the occasion as the dress code is quite strict here, with men expected to wear a jacket and tie. Also be prepared to pay for the extravagance, as it costs £50 or £60 if you opt for the champagne afternoon tea.

(image credit: theritzlondon.com)

The Magazine
Take cue from Condé Nast Traveller and choose a more contemporary setting at The Magazine, a garden cafe overshadowed by Hyde Park’s Serpentine Sackler Gallery. The modern aura is characterized by the glass architecture and interior design with triangular tables to show that this little place is anything but conventional. Replacing the traditional tiers of treats are wooden blocks with an international spread of canapés with delights like the spicy sobrasada, though they do serve a couple classic high tea items like scones with cream and jam. For £25, you’ll get this trendy afternoon tea setup along with a cocktail.

(image credit: cntraveller.com)

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Travel Inspirations, Wanderlusting & Musings

Where to in 2016?

Often my biggest dilemma is “what in the world will I eat today” (either prepared by me or the likes of some fine dining establishment) but the other question is usually “where to next”….

where to next words

Honestly, I never really know above and beyond – EVERYWHERE!  Of course my friends and family love to joke and say I’ve been everywhere but in travelworld I haven’t even scratched the surface.  5 of 7 continents isn’t too shabby but considering there’s just under 200 countries, depending on the source, I still have plenty of countries to explore.

worldpoliticallarge

Given that we’ve just welcomed in the month of February and I’ve already checked off 2 countries on my ever-changing list is perhaps a good indicator as to how the rest of my travel year will go (see my European Birthday).  Kicking off the year in the likes of the French Riviera leaves my mind to wandering and planning and plotting and daydreaming about which economy I want to donate a few coins to.

Since my peeps are always asking, I figured I’d take a moment to ponder for myself my 2016 travel list based on what’s been a constant thought.  So far what’s been popping up are the following:

  • Cuba –  Havana, Cojimar, Las Terrazas, Varadero, Cardenas (for obvious reasons)
  • Phuket
  • Australia – Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth
  • Marrakech
  • Costa Rica – San José, Tortuguero, Arenal & Monteverde
  • Ecuador – Quito, Cotopaxi, Amazon
  • Cairo and Jordan
  • Boracay, Phillipines
  • Nairobi
  • Turkey – Istanbul and Cappadocia
  • Beijing and Shanghai
  • Mykonos
  • Bali (again….I went in 2014)
  • Mauritius
  • Amalfi Coast

I could go on but we ARE just talking about before the year is out *sigh*!!  So as you can see, EVERYWHERE is pretty much on my list and one by one I throw everything I have to make my list a reality!

Where will you go in 2016 and/or where would you like your journey to take you?

~Godivaworld Travels

 

Adventures, Travel Inspirations, Wanderlusting & Musings

Solo Travel….I’m here for that!

The world has seemingly become smaller and smaller as the internet has become the tool and source to research, plan, and even take virtual tours of distant and not-so distant exotic locales around the world.  In recent times, only those of a certain economic class were afforded the opportunity or luxury to traipse off to the likes of the Caribbean, Europe, Asia, and other exotic lands.  As the world has opened up to mainstream America, so too has the curiosity and desire for greater, worldlier experiences.  Amidst this new era of exploration, a new breed of traveler has emerged – welcome “The Solo Traveler”!

What separates a solo traveler from your average run of the mill traveler is a mindset; a daring, open, adventurous, brave, and most importantly uninhibited desire to explore the world.  In the mind of a “solo traveler” it is the destination and experience versus the companionship that matters most.  There is no destination too distant or off-limits as each experience begins with a purpose.  Be it a search for solitude; a quest to meet new people often in a land where YOU are the one with the accent; or just the desire to be free to indulge and move to and fro without consulting with an accompanying travel companion.

It is often freeing and most certainly liberating at best but requiring an independent spirit or desire to embark on something new and different.  Solo travel however, is most certainly not for those challenged by solitude or scared of dining alone (a phobia known as solomangarephobia or the fear of eating alone in public).  Who knew?

No fret, as there are tons of resources for solo travelers including apps, dedicated sites, travel agents, travel groups and clubs all geared to the ever-growing population of solo travelers.  So even if you’re not quite ready to take the leap on a solo journey, you can start by going alone but in a group of other solo travelers so you’re not totally out on your own.  Just google solo travel to get a taste of what that ‘world’ looks like from the perspective of those who live by it and do it on a regular basis.

I, myself have gone on adventures with others whom I did not know prior to the trip (I’ve been to Cancun, Puerto Rico and Brazil for example and had a ball) and although we traveled together we were able to move and explore on our own, by our own individual rules.  This, I can tell you is a great way to slowly move into the solo travel space while still providing you a ‘parachute’ or safety net of others to fall back on.  Here are some sites to consider when researching your own solo journeys:

  • Friendly Planet Travel – they have a wide range of destinations and types of travel (independent, groups, etc).  I peruse them quite often and am thinking of trying them out this year for my next adventure.
  • Solo Travel with Abercrombie & Kent – Best known as a luxury travel company, Abercrombie and Kent accepts solo travelers on all of its trips — to all seven continents. They also offer Solo Savings escorted group tours, where single travelers enjoy their own private accommodations during every stop of the trip, but don’t have to pay the usual single supplements. A&K either completely waives the supplement, or reduces it by up to 75%.
  • Lonely Planet – I peruse this site just because…there’s a little bit of everything on it
  • Wanderlust and Lipstick – a new site I stumbled upon but definitely a good place to start for those new to or considering solo travel
  • Contiki is geared towards younger travelers, specifically those aged 18-35. The company uses forums and social media to connect vacationers with each other before they embark on their journey. Since most of their pricing is for doubles, Contiki’s goal is to match travelers up with someone of the same sex and then book a double room for them. So if you’re looking to make friends on your trip, this is the company for you.
  • Ideal for budget travelers, Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT) takes single travelers to exotic destinations such as Botswana and Patagonia. They have both land adventures, which are tours on land with groups of 10-16 other travelers, or small ship adventures, which are boat tours with anywhere from 16 to 25 other travelers.
  • Norwegian Cruise Line – On three of its ships — the Epic, Breakaway, and Pride of America — has cabins made exclusively for solo travelers that cost about 30% less than a double stateroom. They offers cruises all over including Alaska, Florida and the Bahamas, Bermuda, Canada and New England, Hawaii, Mexico, Europe, and Panama just to name a few.

There are plenty others as well as numerous blogs, articles, and books on solo travels so it’s really personal preference as to your source for researching, planning, and ultimately making your solo travel dreams a reality.

Imagine a destination you’ve always dreamt of however you socialize it with your spouse, partner, friend, family, etc. only to discover those who would accompany you have limitations (for various and sundries of reasons); or want to provide input on the destination, travel time, even the accommodations.  Can you say downer!  Oftentimes the trip sunsets before it even gets finalized becoming more of a headache in the planning stages than the exciting dream destination you originally envisioned.  As a Solo Traveler, you think it, you plan it, it happens.  No consulting necessary as the only one to please is YOU!  It may begin with researching sites, groups, tours, etc. designated for solo travelers or destinations best suited for the solo traveler but it ends with an experience based on your expectations.

Research is key as is understanding how daring you are as in, are you courageous enough to travel alone or prefer a group of other solo travelers.  Much like Julia Roberts’ character in the movie “Eat, Pray, Love” who went on a voyage to find herself after a painful divorce – solo travelers often discover much more about themselves as they are left to their own defenses, thoughts, and preferences totally unfiltered or encumbered by another.  Traveling in this fashion enables one to fully embrace ones’ surroundings to the point of self-indulgence, unfiltered, undisturbed if so desired.

Safety and precautions of course are a greater risk as a solo traveler as you are more vulnerable to scam artists and criminals targeting unsuspecting tourists in a party of one.  However, as with traveling in any capacity precautions must be made to ensure one’s safety.  With the right amount of preparation, planning, and research you will at best be armed with information on what to avoid and known safety concerns to name a few.  Travel sites often socialize key safety concerns, known dangers, and safety precautions for travelers so always do thorough research on any destination as part of your planning. However, when in doubt always trust your instincts!

Imagine doing what you want when you want in your destination of choice.  If you choose to lounge in your hotel room or by the pool all day no one will object when you travel alone. It may appear to be a lonely experience and to some, perhaps, but traveling solo opens the door to new interactions simply because you are a party of one.  Many are more inclined to approach you as a solo traveler from the wait-staff to the concierge as well as the locals.  You have the power to engage in conversations or be eyeball high in your Kindle, the choice is yours.  I have traveled abroad without knowing a soul however, by the end of the trip I made so many new connections it truly felt like I traveled with a companion or two.  The beauty of the solo travel experience is that the journey is just as you envision it to be with as little or as much interactions, excitement, and/or quiet time as you desire.

To the solo traveler in you!!!

Travel Inspirations, Worldly Treats & Eats

10 Tips for Dining Overseas and Eating Like a Local

 

TripAdvisor Headshot By Wendy Perrin, TripAdvisor travel advocate

One of the big reasons many of us travel is for the food. We want to try those specialties that don’t taste the same at home, not to mention those foods we can’t even get at home — think mangosteens in Southeast Asia, or a pint of Guinness in Ireland — and, of course, we want to dine in local hangouts rather than tourist traps. With that in mind, here are ten easy steps to eating where and what the locals eat:

1. Avoid restaurants with English-language menus.

More often than not, these are tourist magnets. If somebody is stopping passers-by near the entrance of a restaurant and telling them that it’s home to the city’s best risotto or rijsttafel, that too is a red flag.

2. Follow locals to the best eats.

Check out the local newspaper’s list of best-value restaurants. You can also pick up great intel on a foodie walking and tasting tour. Hotel concierges can be helpful, but only if you ask them where they themselves would go on their night off. Once you’ve found a local hangout you love, ask your server — or whoever else you befriend at that restaurant — where else in town you should eat. And, of course, look at the restaurant ratings and reviews posted on TripAdvisor.

3. Make a beeline for food markets and farmers’ markets.
From La Boqueria in Barcelona, Spain, to the Adelaide Central Market in Adelaide, Australia, these are the colorful can’t-miss places where the locals shop for fresh delicious food, where you can pick up picnic provisions, and where you can usually sit down to a meal too.

4. In Asia, think night markets and even shopping malls.

Asia is filled with exotic night markets and hawker centers (collections of inexpensive stalls selling hot food). If you’re not that adventurous, you can still find all manner of intriguing dishes and exotic flavors in the food courts in shopping malls. It’s easy to figure out what you want to eat: Just make the rounds of the food court, smelling all the steaming specialties on offer, and place your order by pointing to whatever looks most appetizing.

5. Seek out university neighborhoods.
You’ll find inexpensive cafés and interesting ethnic restaurants, not to mention students who are eager to practice their English on you and offer up offbeat sightseeing tips.

6. Order with your hands.
When a menu isn’t in English, just walk around the restaurant and spot which dishes look most appealing, then point to those dishes. Ask what the specialty of the house is, and order that too. If you really need to read the menu, there’s the Google Translate app.

7. Dine at a smart hour.
Don’t presume you’ll want to eat at the same time you do at home. Remember that in some countries — Spain and Arab countries, for instance — locals don’t eat dinner till 10 or 11 pm. If you’re splurging on a restaurant with a spectacular view, be open to dining early (say, 5:30 or 6:00 pm) so you can enjoy the view in the daylight as well as at sunset, at twilight, and at night when the scene is all lit up.

8. Know the etiquette.
Before you make a faux pas such as sticking your chopsticks upright in a bowl of rice in Japan, read up on local customs. TripAdvisor has “Tipping & Etiquette” pages for dozens of countries (just punch “TripAdvisor [country name] tipping etiquette” into your search engine. Here are more ways to learn local customs.

9. If you can’t get a reservation, just show up.
Walk in (nicely dressed) at the hour when the restaurant opens for dinner, or late in the evening. You’d be surprised how often there are no-shows. Here are more tricks for getting a table at a hot restaurant.

10. Visit the takeout aisle of a local supermarket.
Supermarkets are an interesting window into the local culture. Once you see what residents take home to eat, you just might be tempted too — and you can’t beat the price.

Travel Inspirations

Sisterhood of the World Blogger Award!!!!

Imagine that….just sitting here in the blogosphere sharing my travels and journeys from behind my keyboard and out the blue a Blogger Award nomination – my FIRST – thanks to Jenn a.k.a Travelgirl47!!!   Continue reading “Sisterhood of the World Blogger Award!!!!”

Travel Inspirations, Wanderlusting & Musings

Travel Thoughts Tuesday

I know EXACTLY where’ I’ve been, but hardly ever know where I’m going next!  I am a Traveler!

Always thinking about where to go next yet never really knowing where “next” is life in my world because the “where” doesn’t really matter as long as it’s somewhere!

~ Travel Well ~

Travel Inspirations, Wanderlusting & Musings

Wanderlust Wednesday

“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.” – Anonymous

Do you see my yacht?
Do you see my yacht?

Do you see what I see?

Instead of being on my yacht (see above)

I’m at my desk

in my zebra robe

looking out my window

in Atlanta.

 

Travel Inspirations, Wandering

Wandering Wednesday (In my mind)

Sitting here looking out my window dreaming of a distant land (most likely land surrounded by deep blue seas and sand however, beggars can’t be choosy – as my mom would always say), whilst pondering my next journey.  If only I could close my eyes and POOF find myself traipsing hither and fro, but where would I go?

Well I was looking around on TripAdvisor after receiving the email from them stating my last review was a hit (don’t they always say that or should I feel special?) and voila I come across…..

DISCOVER THE TOP 25 DESTINATIONS IN THE WORLD 2015
Explore this year’s Travelers’ Choice Award-winning destinations, based on millions of reviews by travelers. Discover grand cities, exciting trip ideas, and unforgettable sights. Which one will you discover first?
ALL OF THEM
So explore I did (virtually anyhow)…..let’s salivate together while we look at them.
  • Travelers’ Choice #1 Destination: Marrakech
    • The new Travelers’ Choice #1 Destination in the world, Marrakech is a magical place, brimming with markets, gardens, palaces, and mosques.
  • Travelers’ Choice #2 Destination: Siem Reap
    • The complex and the 12th century Angkor Thom royal city are considered the main reasons to visit Siem Reap, the #2 Travelers’ Choice Destination in the world for 2015. Get a lesson in national history at the Cambodian Cultural Village, and a lesson in bargaining at the Angkor Night Market, a bonanza of shopping stalls, food vendors, and bars.
  • Travelers’ Choice #3 Destination: Istanbul
    • Europe and Asia meet in Istanbul, this year’s #3 Travelers’ Choice Destination in the World, where breathtaking ancient architecture coexists with modern restaurants and nightlife. The city’s mosques, bazaars, and hammams (Turkish baths) could keep you happily occupied for your entire trip.
  • Travelers’ Choice #4 Destination: Hanoi
    • Hanoi is #4 in the world in this year’s Travelers’ Choice Destinations Awards. The charming Vietnamese capital has aged well, preserving the Old Quarter, monuments and colonial architecture, while making room for modern developments alongside.
  • Travelers’ Choice #5 Destination: Prague
    • The bohemian allure and fairytale features of Prague, #5 in the World in this year’s Travelers’ Choice Destination Awards, make it a perfect destination for beach-weary vacationers who want to immerse themselves in culture.
  • Travelers’ Choice #6 Destination: London
    • The crown jewels, Buckingham Palace, Camden Market…in London, a perennial Travelers’ Choice Award winner, history collides with art, fashion, food, and good British ale.
  • Travelers’ Choice #7 Destination: Rome
    • The Travelers’ Choice #7 Destination in the World for 2015, Rome wasn’t built in a day–and you’ll need much more than a day to take in this timeless city. The city is a real-life collage of piazzas, open-air markets, and astonishing historic sites.
  • Travelers’ Choice #8 Destination: Buenos Aires
    • The birthplace of the tango is, like the dance itself, captivating, seductive and bustling with excited energy.
  • Travelers’ Choice #9 Destination: Paris
    • Lingering over pain au chocolat in a sidewalk café, relaxing after a day of strolling along the Seine and marveling at icons like the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe… the perfect Paris experience combines leisure and liveliness with enough time to savor both an exquisite meal and exhibits at the Louvre.
  • Travelers’ Choice #10 Destination: Cape Town Central
    • Cape Town, #9 on the list of Travelers’ Choice Destination World Winners, glistens at the southern tip of the African continent.

View the remaining 15 Travelers’ Choice destinations for 2015 on TripAdvisor.

Have your journeys led you to any of the 2015 Travelers’ Choice destinations in your travels?

~ Travel Well ~