Playing Tourist with London Duck Tours

If you’re a regular reader of mine you’ll know I’m a big fan of London, and visit whenever I can – especially in Summer. So when I was asked whether I wanted to play tourist and go on a London Duck Tour, the answer was a resounding YES!

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I’d heard of Duck Tours before but wasn’t really sure what they were, having just seen the big yellow boat-like vehicles cruising through the streets of London. I was definitely intrigued. Me and hubby arrived at the Southbank on the day of our tour, and basked in the gorgeous sunshine until our transport arrived.

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The DUKW vehicles (affectionately referred to as Ducks and painted an appropriate yellow) are so-called thus: D = First year of production code “D” is for 1942, U = Body style “U” utility truck (amphibious), K = Front wheel drive, W = Two rear driving wheels (tandem axle). These vehicles were used to carry supplies and were most suited for this due to being able to go on both land and water. Fitted with a lovely roof, they are very accommodating on both grey and gloriously sunny days.

We hopped onto our Duck, Titania (all the Ducks are names after female characters from Shakespeare plays) and got comfy in our seats. Our tour guide Mark quickly gave us a brief of the journey ahead and then we were off!

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The tour started in Waterloo, then Westminster;

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Parliament Street, Whitehall, Downing Street, Trafalgar Square, Pall Mall, Piccadilly;

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Grosvenor Place and Buckingham Palace, MI5 and Lambeth Bridge before splashing down into the Thames next to MI6.

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We then travelled by water past the Tate Gallery, underneath Lambert Bridge and then turned around beside the Houses Of Parliament before heading back to dry land. Back on solid ground, we passed through the Vauxhall area and then back towards Waterloo.

Considering I’m a regular visitor to London, it was great learning so much about places I’ve seen many times, as well as noticing things I’ve never seen before and travelling through parts of the city I’ve never seen. I even learned that the Thames isn’t as dirty as I’d once thought, and its only the colour it is due to the constant churning of clay and soil on its bed. Who knew?! (Well, obviously Mark, our guide knew….)

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I loved the tour. Our guide was informative, funny and really knew his stuff. I honestly felt like I was on holiday, and the time we spent on the water was so relaxing!

I’m so pleased I got the opportunity to take this tour. I’ve seen that London Duck Tours also do themed tours including James Bond and D-Day. I might have to look those up! I visit London so frequently it’s so easy to forget about the landscape and history surrounding you in such a fast-paced environment. I LOVED playing tourist!

I was given the opportunity to take this tour for free by London Duck Tours, but at under £30 per adult ticket I’d say it’s worth every penny, for such a unique way to see and learn about London. You can find out more about their tours, and buy tickets and vouchers here, at their website London Duck Tours

Have you ever been on one of these tours, or even one of their themed tours? I’d love to know what you thought. Leave me a comment below, and tell me about it!

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I was given two tickets to the London Duck Tours for free, in return for my honest review of the experience. All views are my own and totally unbiased. If you like the look of the tours, go try one and see for yourself!

Sarah’s Ibiza Hen, Pt 2

This is a follow on from part 1. If you haven’t read that yet, you might want to head on over!

So, I left you at Zoo Project. How was it? It’s all kinds of fun, right?

So the next day was Sunday, and as a lovely follow on from the days before the weather still wasn’t the greatest. Our next surprise for Sarah was postponed for the following day meaning a second 5am start, but it would be worth it. Just keep reading.

So instead of getting up super early we went back to bed for a few hours, got up and ready and not knowing what the next activity was (only Caz knew) we packed our beach bags, donned our bikinis and headed off for breakfast at Skinny Kitchen in the rain.

Gary found Skinny Kitchen one day through Facebook and mentioned it to me, knowing I was interested in eating clean. It’s a little cafe in San Antonio which provides good clean eating food on a San Antonio budget.

imageWe weren’t disappointed as we drank our yummy juices, sipped on protein shakes and nommed on pancakes, waffles and eggs on toast.

imageWe had to move inside when the drizzle started and were a little crestfallen walking to the shops and towards the marina in the rain. But by the time we’d arrived at our next destination the rain had stopped and the forecast was good.

Caz had arranged for us to go on a catamaran! Our own private boat, with a chance to swim in the sea and lunch at an exclusive beach club. Of course we didn’t know any of that at this point.

imageWe popped open the bubbly and headed out to sea. It wasn’t long before we were posing on the nets at the back of the boat… and then we anchored and headed out for a swim. Our skipper provided a paddle board and inflatable for two. As Caz isn’t a confident swimmer I offered to lounge on the inflatable with her, and then after a while jumped into the water. Only to be stung by a jelly fish…..

imageThe picture above was from the next day, but you can see it’s pretty big and it hurt somewhat. Jelly fish aren’t normally in the water this time of year, but the stormy weather had brought them closer to shore and later on we saw them in their thousands.

imageThat’s two of the little buggers but they littered the water the later we drew into the evening. Still in a little shock we were driven off to shore and to Cala Bassa beach club where I was able to collect myself and relax a little.

imageThis shot was taken for my photo bingo. As you can see I decided water was a better idea after the jelly fish incident, but you can kind of sea the shoreline beyond the bottle. It was a beautiful location, to sit and eat a yummy lunch.

imageBack on the boat we knew we wouldn’t be able to swim any more due to the jelly fish and the clouds promised a disappointing sunset, so our Skipper drove us out on a little dingy and showed us some private beaches and also Beyoncé’s Ibiza home.

We listened to music, drunk wine and watched what there was of the sunset.

imageimageimageAnd then, off in the distance I saw what I thought was either a shark or dolphin… Thankfully it was not 1 but 5 dolphins, swimming together all around the boat. Our driver was wonderful enough to keep moving the boat around so we could see them. We watched them for what was probably the best part of an hour before we lost the light.

It was an amazing experience and we were so thankful to Jose our skipper, who gave us a really unique day. From the boat we changed our clothes and headed off to Sa Capella, an authentic Spanish restaurant.

imageBuilt inside an old church, the waiters were middle-aged men with little aprons on. It was the kind of restaurant where people would be, and were, proposed to.

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Our table was up in a little alcove so set away from the rest of the tables, which was lovely and in our relaxed and happily tired states we were able to have a really good chat.

And then, in a little miss communication, they played the birthday music and brought Sarah a birthday surprise. I’m guessing they don’t understand ‘bride to be’ in Spain…

imageWe had a good giggle about that!

And then it was back home and to bed, as we had to be up in a few hours for the next surprise!

Up at the crack of dawn and very sleepy, we were picked up from the hotel by Jose (a different Jose) who drove us far and far and far into the heart of Ibiza. At which point we parked up in a field and this happened:

imageI am rather frightened of heights, but it was a good experience that I’m glad I’ve had. Though I did hold onto the side for a long time…

imageVery sleepy Erin…. Back on the ground we helped put the balloon away, and then ‘blessed the earth’….

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This was having cava with soil poured onto our heads…. as you can see from the photo, it was a little chilly…

imageAnd we couldn’t resist a selfie!

We were then taken into the very centre of Ibiza for a wonderful breakfast of tomatoes and oil on bread (for the lactose intolerant) and ham and cheese on bread for the rest. We also had coffee and fresh spanish orange juice (the best I’ve ever tasted).

And then we were back at the hotel, because we had tickets for a club to attend! Ocean Beach is a day club not far from where we were staying, with DJs, loungers, cocktails and live entertainment. We’d booked loungers on the mezzanine which overlooked the club and the pool area.

With threatening clouds, we ordered lunch pretty quickly and enjoyed some amazing hot sunshine. But then the rain came….. and it was a storm. It went for about an hour and a half constantly. Since we were dressed for pool weather we embraced it and continued to dance whilst the rest of the floor hid under a cover by the bar. We just carried on! People downstairs jumped into the pool, the music kept playing and even though we got a little chilly I’m so glad we stayed. We now have an amazing memory of dancing in the Ibiza rain!

imageHiding under sopping wet towels! When the rain stopped and the sun began to shine again we got dry towels and listened to Lovely Laura Sax playing her tunes, live, below us.

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I was rather soggy….

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We survived the rain! (Look at those clouds!)

We decided to head off earlier than originally planned, because we were chilly and soggy and headed back to the hotel. We briskly changed and then headed back out to the sunset strip for dinner and chats, before heading back to pack….. We were crossing the island the next morning!

Stay tuned for part 3, the final part of my holiday rundown……

 

Sarah’s Ibiza Hen, Pt 1

I’ve been away from the blogosphere for a few weeks, and that’s mainly because I’ve been preparing for being away, being away and then recovering from being away!

I’ve recently returned from Ibiza, where me and 3 of my best friends went to celebrate the engagement and impending wedding of Sarah. It was my first girly holiday and first time to Ibiza. The whole break had been planned out meticulously by Caz, who had been 7 times before and knows how to plan a holiday.

And now a warning: this post, and the ones to follow are going to have a lot of pictures in them, so if your browser can’t hack it maybe you should upgrade your browser…. it’s 2015!

So we arrived at Caz’s house after an evening of panic that my case was going to go over the weight limit which included me driving to Tash’s to pick up her suitcase scales and discovering I was, indeed, taking too many dresses, belts and shoes…..

It was about 5 minutes before the first bottle of cava was opened. Who doesn’t want to toast a holiday at 6am? We were surprised with a beautiful stretch limo, organised by fiance, Nick, complete with more wine….. Start as you mean to go on!

imageChecked in at the airport and luggage successfully weighed and allowed on the plane (phew!) we headed off for a breakfast and relax until our gate was called.

The flight was quick and uneventful, since I’m used to long haul flights it felt like we were barely flying an hour!

imageOnce off the plane, we were greeted by our driver from the airport to our first hotel, which was situated in San Antonio. Overlooking the beach front, the Marina Playa Apartment Hotel was perfect. Each room slept two (or three on a pull out sofa-bed), had kitchenette and bathroom and a beautiful view of the beach. Each balcony looked out over the pool area.

imageAfter a quick unpack and mini sunbathe by the pool, we put on our glad rags and took a walk to what would be our first meal of many in a beautiful location.

Kumharas, situated on a tiny beach, was a perfect location for us to watch our first sunset, have a drink and toast the holiday. The sangria here was beautiful and it was so relaxing to sit and watch the sun go down.

imageimageOnce the sun had gone down, we moved to the restaurant area for our dinner reservation, and true to form Caz had arranged for us to eat in their chill out area. This was a low table on a platform with cushions to sit on and draped fabric over head.

imageWhilst we ate, people shopped at the mini hippy market behind us, and danced to the music played by the DJ well into the evening. It was great for people watching and the food was lovely.

imageFairly sleepy from the early start, and the sea air, we walked back to the hotel just as flashes of lightning threatened the skies.

dDspite this we slept well. It was a big day on Day 2 – the Hen day! We dedicated a whole day to Sarah’s Hen, with secret activities and theme. Sarah came to Tash and my room, that morning, where we had decorated in a nautical theme, prepared a breakfast and dressed up complete with captain’s hats!

imageWe played music, ate and Caz provided us with a photo treasure hunt, for photos we needed to take throughout the trip. The person who completed their list would win a prize!

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This was followed by pass the parcel, with forfeits and prizes!

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We then dressed up for our first activity – lunch at Es Nautic. This was a lovely restaurant on the marina serving amazing seafood and fish.

imageimageFrom here we headed to the sunset strip and to Savanna for cocktail making. There was more drinking than making to be honest. After two glasses of cava, two strawberry daiquiris, one porn star martini and a mojito we were feeling rather merry….

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Though we did manage to get some cocktail making done, behind the bar too!

imageAfter this we headed to the marina and to a beautiful speedboat. But the skies were threatening another storm, and on the advice of our skipper we rescheduled our speed boat trip for later in the week. Having pre booked sushi on the boat for the evening we ate this on the balcony whilst the clouds rolled in. Then we got ready for the final activity of the day.

Caz wanted us to have a classy holiday but she also wanted us to visit one of the more ‘chavvy’ clubs so off to Es Paradis we went. Es Paradis was having its water party, so it went with our nautical theme.

imageimageDespite waiting until the early hours (and Caz and Sarah waited until the even earlier hours) we didn’t see the pool (pictured behind us, above) fill up.

Day 3 began with a leisurely walk to a nearby cafe and a lovely breakfast. Just what I needed.

imageWe met a lovely Spanish waiter there who looked like Drake, had never left Spain but whose accent flipped between Scottish and Liverpudlian…. it was bizarre!

From here we got ready for our next activity, which was Zoo Project. Situated in an old abandoned Zoo, people visit dressed up in feathers and snake skins, with body paint, ready to dance. With clubbing and chill out areas it promised to be exciting. The girls had all opted for body paint, whereas I’m not really a body paint kinda gal, so I made use of my Urban Decay Electric palette and painted on rainbow eyes.

imageimageLunch was at Ibiza Rocks bar. Yummy strawberry sangria and burgers. And then we headed to Zoo.

We spent most of our evening dancing, watching DJs and dancers at the seal pit, then headed to the chill out area to listen to musicians and watch more dancers and acrobats. We also got rather hungry so grabbed some outdoor BBQ which was delicious. I enjoyed it all, but I could have stayed in the chill out area for hours.

And so ended day 3! We had barely started…. stay tuned for the next part!