Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Cute shoes: definitely cheeky

I'm starting to think I'm obsessed with shoes - but I can assure you that I'm not!  However, my recent posts may indicate otherwise, with my beloved Crocs that most of my friends turn their noses up at (fortunately I generally only wear them when travelling, so no one see's them!), my walking boots that are in need of replacing for something less clunky, and my love of brown boots (yes, I have 3 pairs now, necessary as the winter sets in!); you really wouldn't expect me to be a fan of a cute little pair of 'pump' type shoes that I recently won in a competition online...

I think the selling point for me is that these little 'Cheeky' shoes (as they are suitably named) fit nicely in whatever bag/case/backpack I happen to have with me and take up virtually no space at all.  You hardly know they are there until you realise you need them. 

More importantly they are a godsend on my feet and really comfortable.  Although I have come accustomed to wearing them around the house (I have wooden flooring downstairs) these brightly coloured footwear have held their own on even reasonably rough terrain.

For example, whilst I was in Lake Garda a few weeks ago, I took them out for a spin on a walk that probably clocked a good couple of miles along a dusty track and cobbled streets.  Although I have to admit to preferring my trainers or walking shoes on this sort of terrain, the Cheeky Shoes surprisingly didn't make the walk as uncomfortable as I was expecting.

I think generally these shoes are much better suited to flat ground, and perhaps not places I tend to frequent whilst travelling as I am a keen walker, and love a good hike or two.  However I'm still packing them in my case for this weekends jaunt to Budapest as I know they will work well with jeans or to dress up my slightly less than formal outfits.

So in my view, to summarise and in response to other reviews I've read...

- Comfortable as long as you are not walking too rough a terrain;
- Easy to pack as they take up little space;
- Funky colour options;
- Dainty and would be great for dancing (I have yet to try them out at a salsa or ceroc class as haven't had time).

- For long periods of wear whilst walking (a lot) I found it necessary to wear socks or footsies inside the shoes as my feet got a little sweaty/hot;
- Toes tend to stick out under the material, but you do get used to this.
Why not check out the full range here

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Next stop: Budapest, Hungary

Yes, indeed I have been there before!  I used to think that I needed to tick as many countries off the list as possible, but then I have been to Malaysia several times, Mexico twice and numerous other places time and time again.
Budapest is definitely somewhere I highly recommend... something for everyone springs to mind!
Check out my last trip there in September last year here and check back next month for my next visit...

Monday, 22 October 2012

Walking boots: 7 years on

Yesterday I braved a 12 mile walk around Leatherhead in Surrey, which turned into a washout due to the pouring rain, but my trusty 7 year old walking boots stood up to the bad weather as always. 
My chosen combination of boots and waterproof trousers were a complete blessing, after almost 5 hours walking in the pouring rain.  I was caked in mud but I was warm and dry in terms of my feet. 

Normally I don't plan for the rain in respect of my lower body and just venture out with my raincoat as a means of keeping the wet out.  That means I almost always get caught out by having non waterproof trousers and no gaiters, which leads to water getting in my boots; still no blisters though (touch wood!).

So now I'm looking for new hiking boots that will last me the next 7 years and honestly don't know where to start.

I purchased my current Columbia Vibram boots back at the start of 2005, ahead of my trip to Peru, Machu Picchu to be precise.  I trialled them out on a couple of lengthy walks in preparation for the trip and wearing them in... but even the first 10 miles (or so) they didn't give me blisters. 
To be honest, the only time I find potential blistering discomfort is when I wear normal (thinner) socks and not proper thick hiking socks, so I always ensure I have at least a couple of pairs of my hiking socks packed.
Experience has taught me that you really can't beat good footwear when it comes to hiking boots and parting with this pair is going to be really hard. 

Accompanying me on many a trip and on numerous walks as well as rescuing me in the bad snow during the winter... they will of course still have a place in my garage and make an appearance from time to time.

I will be scouting around for recommendations so all suggestions will be appreciated.  I have a straightforward criteria, as long as they are waterproof, support my ankles, are less clumpy and don't give me blisters, then I'm sure I will be just as happy with my new boots for the next 7 years. 
PS We clocked 43 geocaches so I'm now past the 1200 mark :).

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Looking for recommendations

Ideal locations for my next trip are in the Latin American or Asia regions... I just can't decide exactly where yet, although I have been doing a lot of research and reading up. 
I have to say that Cuba is top of the list currently, and has been for the last 3 years as I have planned to go there since 2009 but not yet made it for one or other reason!
In total I've visited over 60 countries, according to my Travelpod I've clocked 62, but that does include a stop over in Tokyo (doesn't count) and I'm pretty sure I'm missing a few other places, such as Malta...
So, where haven't I been and where do you recommend?  I'm looking for ideas for this December and in my search I hope to get a few guest writers to share where they have been (that I have not) here on my site in the coming weeks.

Got an idea, have a story to share, then just let me know.  I can be contacted via email at tiggerbird@gmail.com.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Creative walking

I am a very keen walker. In fact on my to do list remains a large number of the 214 Wainwright mountains to climb in the Lake District, but fortunately I have the rest of my lifetime to try and achieve them :).

Last year I got properly introduced to the world of geocaching which is a outdoor treasure hunt game, and have been completely addicted ever since. Whatever the weather you will often find me out and about somewhere, if I'm not travelling or crafting the hours away, that is.

In August, I collected my 1000th geocache, just over a month before the 1st year anniversary of my first find, back on 23rd September 2011.

And what better way to mark both those occasions than to combine my other hobby with my love of the outdoors and create something for my scrapbook to mark the occasion.

Check out this link to see what a Smash book is all about.

I love compiling my Smash book from my travels, as I can cart it around with me wherever I go, gluing and sticking things in that I pick up along the way and it doesn't have to be neat and tidy :).

I love to travel, I love to walk and I love to craft ... and I can combine all these things and often do!

Friday, 12 October 2012

Low cost airlines - cheap or cheeky

There is something to be said for travelling on a low cost airline.  Certainly an experience that I haven't had the pleasure of in what must have been a couple of years.

You may be shocked to hear that I, a supposedly seasoned traveller, was surprised at what this involved.

Having to cram my liquids into just one small plastic bag for honestly the first time in a very long time. Usually I have my customary lip balm and hand sanitiser, but this time was required to empty the majority of the contents of my wash bag into my hand luggage to get through security, and all because I had carry on luggage.  Where have I been and why have I missed this vital piece of info about travelling with EasyJet - clearly on another airline!

I have in the past, always left everything in my case and gotten through with security non the wiser.  In fact, today I have proved it's a pointless rule as I was pulled aside and asked for my passport?  My laptop, which I had failed to bring out for inspection, or the bottle of perfume still stashed in my case for fear of it being confiscated for exceeding the 100ml, were both ignored and instead they chose to 'swab' my ticket and passport - what for, who knows... this is definitely a mystery that remains, having experienced a similar treatment many times before!

I think my fellow traveller was just glad that we hadn't been sectioned for a supposed 'naked scan' as she is convinced we had been last time we flew together.  That's another story, as is the strip search encounter ;).

Anyway, as we queued for boarding it was then that the reality about one piece of baggage became apparent. I put my hand up to not having a clue about this at all, until now.  

However, we were hopeful that I may just be able to get away with it, so I pushed in front to ensure any problems I may cause could be discretely dealt with to one side and not delay the flight.  Still bemused that I seriously couldn't carry my hand luggage on board, I was quietly thinking that perhaps paying to take it would be easier.

Expecting to be made a public display of, I was disappointed at not even being given an option.  Instead the steward requested that I simply put the said bag into my case, without a fuss, so all I could do was admit defeat and attempt to offload my belongings and stuff what was left into my already bulging stash. Unfortunately I hadn't chosen to travel light today... but we got there in the end, despite the 4 pairs of shoes which were taking up all the space ;).

I have since carried out a little research on this one piece of baggage rule and it seems it only applies to certain airports.  Following the removal of this requirement in 2008 by most other airlines EasyJet chose to continue this approach.  It is in fact an unavoidable rule which 'everyone', except me it seems, already knows.

Note, that if you have airport shopping, you are in fact allowed this in addition, and therefore I believe this is yet another pointless rule (yes, I am on my soapbox today).

Totally just trying it on to get you to pay more for additional baggage and in my view down right cheeky.

I urge you to take a suitable carrier bag along for any excess carry on bags that you may feel are necessary. that is if you haven't already worked this out for yourself ;).

The good news, and total news to me (as I was actually aware of this particular flaw in their service), is that EasyJet recently announced that seat allocations will be put in place in the more immediate future.  To be honest that isn't really going to make me travel with this low cost airline again any time soon. The better news is that our return flight will be with BA ;)!

Clearly I have a lot to learn about budget airlines. I will know next time to pay the surcharge up front or perhaps stick to the more reasonable airlines, which incidentally have always come up cheaper on at least the last 7 trips I have booked.

You may be glad to hear that we arrived safely in Verona and have spent the afternoon/evening taking in Riva Del Garda on the North of Lake Garda... I promise that normal blog service will resume tomorrow, so check back soon x

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Crocs away, unless it rains

This time tomorrow I should be packed and ready to embark on yet another quick break.

Not as last minute as some of my trips this year, I actually booked this a month or so ago, when I stumbled across a special offer for 3 nights that turned out to be unavailable, but did in fact have me frantically searching for an alternative having got my hopes up of adding another country to my collection.

So, where am I off to... did I forget to mention that bit!  Lake Garda ... Italy...

Oddly enough I'm actually struggling to find much in the way of information about Lake Garda on the web.  There are the usual sites advertising accommodation and packages, but there seems to be very little in the way of info to help the independent traveller, and that includes details of how to get around without hiring a car.  Worry not - I think we have the getting there from Verona airport, partly sorted.  I'm more curious to determine how we get back to Verona and enjoy the city on our last day... :)!

Of course I'm very much looking forward to putting my feet up a little after the last few weeks at work almost forcing me into an early retirement (I wish!).  Most of all I am looking forward to the walking, as I have heard the surrounding area is a walkers heaven, and I can see from the geocaching site that there are plenty of tubs to keep me occupied too.

We will be staying in Riva del Garda, at the Northern end of the lake, but I'm already promised a trip down to the South and Sermione to sample some of the ruins and reminisce over my fellow traveller's last visit there.  By my calculations she was actually on her honeymoon... but I will grill Cat over the weekend for slightly better details.

The good news is I have some new shoes to try out that I won online and which will accompany my now well worn Crocs.  My travel companion, Cat, will be glad that the Crocs will be put away at least whilst I give the new Cheekyshoes a try.  Fingers crossed the weather doesn't remain as forecast or I will be needing a new umbrella, and my trusty Crocs will have to come out to play anyway!

Edit: Photo added after deciding the walking boots were necessary too!
All recommendations and tips to ensure we get the most out of our trip to Lake Garda (via Verona) would be greatly appreciated, even after departure as we have 4 days to fill!

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Next stop Lake Garda

Well, just a very quick post today - having updated a weeks worth of scheduled posts on my other blog ready for my departure to Lake Garda for a long weekend, I thought I should probably start updating my travel site and my current travelpod of course will follow from Friday.

Please bear with me whilst this site is under construction... when I get some time I hope to post more than just links to my travelpod.

So, with 7 countries conquered so far this year I think I'm doing pretty well!  Although to be honest, fleeting visits over long weekends and 1 proper week long trip isn't really fulfilling my travel bug!

Country number 8 this year will be Italy, with a short trip over to Lake Garda on Friday/Monday.  Watch this space for all the stories...