Travel Stories

  • Hello Osaka, what a welcome!

    Hello Osaka, what a welcome! | Japan Travel Diary

    When I first arrived in Osaka after a very long (20+hrs flight and stop-over) from Australia I wasn’t tired at all. I was super excited to finally be in Japan for the first time! I knew Japan Wireless was waiting for me back at my place, so I only had to make it to the place without struggles or internet. It was way later than I calculated before due to the long queues (3hours) at the rail station to get my preordered pass. So I had to follow a different travel schedule as the metro I was supposed to take didn’t even go anymore. It was late at night, and I realized when I was on the train that check-in time had ended. Stressed, because arriving in the middle of the night in a new place is never ideal, I hurried as much as I could. Everything went super smooth, the train system in Japan is genius (more…)

  • the one thing you should always do to avoid this ATM scam

    Avoid this ATM scam by doing this one thing (how I avoided losing $300!)

    Home » Travel » Travel Stories

    Travelers often do the same thing, and with this article, I want to help you avoid losing a lot of money via an ATM scam. It’s not an article about scams (I think), it’s all about a small thing you should do, to avoid a lot of trouble later.

    (more…)
  • WORLDTRIP – Let’s go!

    Dubai
    Hi all! After what seems like forever away from my blog, I’m back with a massive photo update!
    In the time of silence I had to move houses, had the flue and traveled to Indonesia, where I’m currently staying… Bali it is! I’ve been here for more than a month now and the internet is so bad that I haven’t got the chance to do a photo update yet! My iPhone got stolen (RIP), so unfortunately I can’t post on Instagram until I’m in Australia, next month. It’s been quiet, the down time is good… I think. I’ve read a lot and enjoyed the sun, the swimming pools and the food. Regarding the blog, I’m gonna start at the start, which means week 1. In this post I’ll share my photos from the 24hr flight, which I enjoyed SO MUCH, thank you so much Qantas x Fly Emirates! It was absolutely a pleasure to fly with Fly Emirates, and I’d love to do it again and again and again.. here’s why:
    Amazing: wake me up for food sticker, because duh, you can always wake me up for food! So the sticker basically equals relaxing down time with my eye mask on, without the stress of missing a meal. (Yes, I that’s the type of stress I have while flying haha). The food was so good!
    Oh and of course they sponsor Arsenal, so I had to check out the Arsenal World Channel.
    First stop: Dubai. Also known as sandy desert land…. this was literally 1 minute before we reached the airport.
    I’ve never seen a toilet shower like this. Amazing, the Middle East. And look at those palmtrees, just in the airport! Cray cray! It’s my first time in Asia, so I’m probably amazed with everything coming.
    So, then I flew off to Singapore. And what a space I had with the seat I booked! I was so happy with my seat, especially after I couldn’t go to the toilet for 7 hours because of the sleeping people next to me on the first flight. Yaay! I walked around a lot, had enough space to watch Denzel movies and eat dinner and take a good nap!
    Oh hai, Singapore… this was my on board stuff (A LOT due to all the magazines I bought last minute) and it was time for some refreshment! And oh yeah, look what this exotic Dutch princess found in the women’s: a beauty area! So much fun. Asia, you’re already awesome.
    Free hot/cold/ice water. Much needed after 20 hours in the air.
    And then I found an old friend of mine. Had to pay him a visit, I was hungry and jetlagged. I had no clue what time it was… I was still living on Dubai time and also kept the Dutch time in the back of my mind… confusing! So why not, burgers. Oh wait, how do I pay for them?? Oh no worries, I could pay with euro’s at the Singapore airport. Awesome. Although the airport was a bit boring, they should definitely work on their entertainment. I mean, a Disney photo wall doesn’t do it for me. The burger was basically the most exciting thing that happend there.
    And then finally… my first hotel! It’s actually a super nice one and I was happy I booked the room in advance, so I could immediately take a shower and go to bed! I arrived around 7 AM in Denpasar and I was soo tired… that’s why it was even more frustrating that something went wrong with my pick up – arranged by the hotel. I arrived, was dead tired and then had to figure this taxi thing out. And I didn’t do any research about money, taxi’s or… anything. So I saw a taxi desk at the airport and asked how much It’d be to Kuta. He said 400 rp. I read on the internet that it’d be aproximately 50.000 rp. So I told him that. He said 400. I said ok. In the end he meant 400.000 rp, not 400. So I had not only not enough money, but I also had to pay around $40. Silly man. 50.000 rp is like $4… So in the end I complained by the hotel and they ‘saved’ me, I only paid 150.000 rp, which is still a lot but hey, I was ‘at home now’ and finally get some rest.
    Flights by: Qantas and Fly Emirates (and a super crappy one by Jetstar, brr)
    Photos: Noni May with iPhone 4s (RIP)

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  • Sicily, Italy

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    In April I flew to Catania, Sicily to check out the island for my project Unplug & Explore. And oh boy, I had a blast! While staying in the Grand Hotel Baia Verde, I unplugged for the week and explored the island.
    The weather was extremely pleasant; it was April but already super warm, between 20 and 24 degrees. Hereby my report, divided in three parts: Explore, Unplug, The Hotel. And some general information for if you’d like to visit yourself.

    Would you like me to visit your hotel or city? Send me an email nm@nonimay.com

    © All photos by Noni May for Unplug&Explore. Do not use them without permission ©. 


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    Explore
    As every trip, I had a few things I really wanted to see. Because it’s great to unplug or because it’s a shame you visit the city and not see them.

    • An Etna hike
    • Palazzo Biscari
    • Piazza del Duomo
    • Via Etnea
    • Villa Bellini
    • The Orto Botanico dell’Università di Catania

    My favorite thing of the whole trip was the hike on the Etna. The hotel arranged a tour for me on a Saturday (Easter Saturday). I was picked up around 9 at the hotel and in about 1,5 hours we drove to the Etna. In the car the tour guide told me a bit more about the Etna and the region, which was very interesting. I didn’t know Volcano areas are so interesting! You learn about it in school, but when you’re actually there yourself, it’s so much more interesting! The road trip was great for learning more about the Etna region and the small villages you drive through are amazing.

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    The Etna is the most active volcano of Europe (ieeeh!) but it’s completely safe to visit. So there are different layers of Volcano, which are all very different. You have the newer ones, the black ones, the nature rich ones.. so much difference!

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    On the mount Etna itself there’s also a difference on nature, depending how high you go. I went to Sapienza Refuge (1.986 mt), where I explored the last eruptions and the old Silvestri Craters. Then I visited the nature path of the Etna Park and the view of the Bova Valley. Afterwards we drove back, and visited Zafferana. I visited one of the most famous organic farms and had a lovely wine and honey tasting afternoon. They also offer great organic olive oils, pesto’s and olives. I also visited a volcano cave, which was not that interesting (mostly dark). I’d recommend a tour where you go through Alcantara Gorges, a beautiful river within high volcano walls.

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    Doing an Etna hike with a tour guide costs you about €40 – €60, going up higher with the cableway costs you about €30 more. Bring good shoes as you can take more adventurous ways to climb the mountain, where it might snow (I’d definitely suggest that route!). I’m afraid of hights but did it anyways, it was incredible scary but so much fun once I was down again 😉

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    Unplug
    Of course I was unplugged most of the time, but the hotel offers something I had to review… wifi! Which makes the hotel great for business trips, because besides the wifi they offer a few very classy meeting rooms! I could easily use the wifi while laying on the side of the pool of the hotel… great for keeping Instagram updated about how good life is.. 😉

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    The hotel offers so much relaxing that it was hard to leave and unplug in the city… my suggestions for unplugging in Sicily:

    • Visit one of the beaches. Hotel Baia Verde has a private beach, so there’s again no hurry to leave the hotel. But there are also many, many places in the nature where you can stop, read a boo and picnic.
    • Stay around the Hotel pool. The hotel pool is big enough to hold a few groups, so there’s probably always space for you.
    • Hotel Baia Verde owns a mini spa, how perfect is that? You can get massages, facials, spray tan (in case you’re afraid to show up near the pool.. go there first!) and a private gym, free to use for every hotel guest. This part of the hotel will keep you busy for a good day.
    • Go for a run! One thing I noticed immediately was the amount of runners passing by.. great I had my running shoes with me! I also tried out the gym, which is great when it’s already dark outside and you’d like to do some strengthening exercises.
    • Visit The Orto Botanico dell’Università di Catania. A quit place in every city, the one in Catania is actually pretty massive. With an area -Hortus Siculus- with only Sicilian plants. 150 years old but still a nice, quit place to spend an afternoon. Bring a book and something to drink and you’ll have a lovely day! I spent there a good few hours and left pretty relaxed.

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    The Hotel; Grand Hotel Baia Verde
    Snap Traveller arranged my stay at the Grand Hotel Baia Verde and it was an absolute pleasure. The personnel was super kind, and the room was more than perfect. And like you read before, the hotel offers great ways to unplug. If I could live there I absolutely would. But how about the rooms? The hotel is great for everybody: they offer small apartments -ideal for families-, luxurious rooms, smaller rooms and rooms with a view. And the best room: the ‘sea view suite’ the most beautiful sea view I’ve ever seen! Like you’re on a boat! I had a room with a view which was pretty luxe. A bed bigger than me (and probably more m2 than my apartment in Amsterdam – oh how lovely!), a sea view and a terrace. I’d definitely recommend that type of room to everybody visiting the hotel, as I believe it’s the best one (besides the suite with the sea view of course!). There’s nothing like waking up with a sea view, walking a few steps to the swimming pool or having breakfast on your terrace. Hmm.. talking about breakfast, it was great! I’m eating gluten and dairy free, which is always a challenge in Italy… but the hotel offered me great gluten free options. And not only crackers for me, also some madeleine’s! Yaay, every morning I got a different kind of gluten free breakfast, which is great if you’re staying longer than one night.

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    My room had a small desk, and more importantly two universal contacts – I forgot my worldwide charger for my camera so this was great! The only thing that made my stay at Hotel Baia Verde a little bit harder than necessary: I didn’t have a car. And the hotel is far from the city center and the busses.. ohh the busses don’t drive on time. Actually.. there aren’t times and sometimes I had to wait more than an hour. This caused me a lot of unnecessary stress (is the bus stil coming? How do I get home..). Of course I could have get a cab, but that was about €30, and the bus was only €1 for 90 minutes.. or free if you’re a dare devil.. because the bus is not a common used transportation, no one bats an eye if you don’t have a ticket. But it’s so cheap, why bother not buying tickets? Just make sure you buy them in advance on the station or in the city, as there isn’t a way to get a ticket in the bus itself or near the hotel.
    The hotel has a large restaurants, where they will make their way to make you a meal, even if it’s off the menu. Like a gluten free one 🙂

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    Information/Transportation/Etc.
    Arriving in Italy it was kinda hard to speak with anybody because no one, and I mean absolutely no one speaks English. So bring your language book if you have one. Prepare some basics so you can find your way, as the public transportation is not organised at all, even the bus drivers don’t understand you. They don’t announce the bus stops, so I’d recommend driving while it’s light outside. My first bus ride was in the dark and I’d never recommend that to anyone, I was lost. Terrible. A bus ticket is only €1 for 90 minutes.
    Sicily itself is reasonable priced, you can use euros. I flew from Amsterdam with Transavia, which is a great airline. On the way back we were even complete way before departure time, so we left earlier, which was great. This way I had my connection in Amsterdam, the plane was half empty, and everybody had about 6 chairs to sleep on.
    A special thanks to Snap Traveller and Grand Hotel Baia Verde!

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