Days Out · Family · Liverpool · Travel

Loving Liverpool After Lockdown

Liverpool
Photo by Conor Samuel on Unsplash

If you’ve read this blog before, you’ll probably know that as a family, we’re big fans of Liverpool. Obviously, the main love is Liverpool FC, but we’re also in love with the actual city of Liverpool and the people who live there. Husband and I often joke that we’d feel way more at home in Liverpool because of the politics and attitudes of the people up there and we’ve even sat and trawled through Rightmove, fantasising about a move to the North West where housing costs are so much more affordable.

Travelling right now is out of the question (we’ve barely left the house since this time last year!) and we certainly won’t be going anywhere until it’s totally safe. We can’t wait for lockdown to end so that we can visit our spiritual home again, and this in mind, I thought I’d put together a little list of some of the places that we’re planning to go:

Anfield

Anfield Stadium, Home of Liverpool FCI mean, come on, this one was a no-brainer, right?! Husband has been to Anfield to watch Liverpool play many times but I’ve only been once and I was pregnant with BB at the time, so I’d love for us to go back as a foursome and watch a match. There is NOTHING in the world like the sound of The Kop singing You’ll Never Walk Alone to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.

World Museum Liverpool

World Museum Liverpool

The World Museum Liverpool is the oldest of all of the museums and galleries in Liverpool and is famous for its great collections, its history of innovation and the family-friendly experience that it offers. From science demonstrations to a packed aquarium, this is something that all four of us would absolutely love.

Mersey Ferries

Mersey Ferries LiverpoolHave you even been to Liverpool if you haven’t taken a ferry ‘cross the Mersey?! Aside from the fact that the boast themselves look like something that Paul McCartney saw in an LSD-fuelled dream, the Mersey Ferries have been an iconic way to see the shores of Liverpool for decades. Plus, with an adult return fare costing less than £4, it’s a cheap and cheerful way to kill a couple of hours in the City.

Knowsley Safari

Knowsley Safari LiverpoolI’ve gotta admit, as a family we’re suckers for a zoo or safari park and being in lockdown has made us really miss visiting this sort of attraction. As well as the car safari, which has wolves, tigers, giraffes and more, there’s a foot safari section of the park which is more like walking around a zoo, so you get the best of both worlds. I know for a fact that we could lose a whole day wandering around somewhere like this!

That’s the list so far! Have you been to Liverpool? What was your favourite thing to do there? Do leave me a comment with any recommedations below, I’d love to hear from you. In collaboration with Hotels.com, but all views are my own.

Travel

Backpacking for beginners

Filling a backpack and leaving a note for your friend on which of your house plants need watering is something that will make you feel like you’re off to stand shoulder to shoulder with the great pioneering adventurers. Move over, Amundsen. Take a backseat, Earhart. Here comes some very decent walking boots and a backpack that cost a little above budget. Let’s do this. 

First, a quick message regarding COVID-19. The overall effects of the pandemic have left the travel and tourism industry with unanswered questions over whether travel restrictions will be in place at the time of travel, meaning your booking could be affected. Keep this in mind when planning your trip, and be sure to check the latest news (also, see this related COVID travel info). Now. let’s get on with backpacking for beginners.

You’ve packed way too much

When I was about 10 years old, I went to play golf for the first time. There was a golf pro on the course that day, carrying only two clubs – one for distance, and one for putting. I, on the other hand, had about 17 clubs, a golf bag on wheels, a thousand spare golf balls, a towel, sandwiches, water, a cap, a raincoat, and an umbrella. 

When it comes to backpacking, you do need certain things such as spare clothes, toiletries, tickets, travel documents, and your phone (and a charger and headphones), but beyond that you are taking things along that you probably won’t find regular use for, meaning you could just buy these things if you needed them. Expert trekkers take only what they need.

Choose hostels where breakfast is included in the price

Hostels come in all shapes and sizes. Some have luxuries that others don’t. For example, some hostels have bars. Some hostels have communal internet café type areas with vending machines and free to use computers. I’ve even been to one hostel with a pool area (although, in fairness, it was poorly maintained). Wherever you choose to stay, there’s one thing that you should look out for at the point of booking – breakfast. Underestimate breakfast at your peril. There is nothing quite as galling as setting off to find an early morning bakery because you forgot to ask about breakfast – starting the day on an empty stomach is no fun. 

Sleep tight…

Hostels do not supply you with sleeping bags (at least, certainly not in my experience – it doesn’t make good hygiene sense). They supply clean sheets (you hope) and a bed and a pillow. If you’re feeling relatively rough and ready, these arrangements may suit you just fine. However, if you think that sleeping under one thin loose sheet might leave you a little exposed (both to thieves and the overnight temperatures), you may want to look into taking along a sleeping bag. 

Not only will you feel more protected in general, but you can use the sleeping bag to store things like your phone and your money while you sleep – any potential thieves would have to have a deft touch to go unnoticed while stealing from the inside of an occupied sleeping bag!

Holidays · Nature · Travel

Next Level Sailing Recent Whale Sightings Off the Coast of San Diego

Whale watchingWhale watching can be a lot of fun. Whether you are interested as a hobby or as a day outing, San Diego is one of the best places in the country to catch a glimpse of these majestic animals. Sometimes they come in close to the shore and sometimes they are much further out. Recently, there have been some noteworthy harbor whale watching San Diego sightings.

Types of Whales Commonly Sighted Near San Diego

Part of the reason for the popularity of whale watching in San Diego is that gray whales often migrate near the city. They pass down to the warmer waters in the south for the winter. They particularly visit the lagoons of Baja California. During this time, they give birth to their calves who start to grow up in those warm waters.

When the spring rolls around, the gray whales them migrate back north toward Alaska. They can frequently be spotted during their main migratory seasons. This year was no exception and there were numerous sightings of small pods of these whales including juveniles making their first trip north.

Blue whales are another common type in the area. They are the largest creatures on earth and very rare (tragically, they were hunted to near extinction). They can be found further out feeding on small fish during the summer months. Some San Diego boat charters have already caught glimpses of these breathtaking giants this summer.

Rare Beluga Whale Sighting

The most headline-worthy sighting so far has been a beluga whale swimming in the waters off San Diego during June 2020. It was about seven miles from shore.

This sighting was strange because beluga whales live in the arctic waters. They sometimes come south during the summer months. However, San Diego is an unusually long trip for one of these whales.

The beluga whale sighting was a real treat for enthusiasts and researchers in the area. One likened it to seeing a polar bear while being out for a walk.

How To Go Whale Watching

There are many great ways to go whale watching in the San Diego area. The gray whales are often visible from the shore using binoculars, especially during the spring migration.

Whale watching in San Diego

However, the best way to get a view of the whales is usually to take a boat. There are many whale watching San Diego tours that will give you a beautiful view. Sometimes the best choice is sailing because it disturbs the whales less.

There are options for sailing all the way out into the wide ocean water or just to stay within the harbor area. Both can provide views of the whales as they come in close to the land.

Discover the Wonders of San Diego’s Coastal Waters

Whale watching in San Diego can be a truly memorable experience. It is best when you have the right boat charter to help you get great views of the whales further out. Whether you want to take a short trip, spend a full day on the water or dedicate your life to the whales, there are options for you in San Diego.

Travel

How to Spend 48 Hours in Wichita, Kansas

Wichita, KansasThe largest city in the state of Kansas sure has a lot to offer; so how best do you go about spending 48 hours in the Air Capital of the World, as it is also known?

Well, read on as we find out!

Trip to Kansas Aviation Museum

While in Wichita, you can never be far away from aviation and avionics, can you? Well, given the city’s legacy in these areas, a trip to Kansas Aviation Museum is definitely an idyllic way to spend time while in Wichita.

The site of this museum is in fact the former Wichita Municipal Airport, setup in the 1930s. Eventually, it took the shape of a museum much later in 1991.

Today, you can enjoy viewing airplanes such as the Cessna T-37, Beech Starship, B-52D Stratofortress, Boeing 737-2H4, as well as the Learjet 23 among others. You can also enjoy an annual “Play on a Plane Day” event held at the museum, in case you happen to be in Wichita at that time.

Wichita Art Museum

Art enthusiasts will certainly enjoy visiting Wichita Art Museum which is in fact the largest art museum in all of Kansas with over 7,000 unique artworks from all over housed in the museum.

Additionally, there are a lot of art galleries in the city; as an art enthusiast, we do recommend that you do try and visit these as well.

Sedgwick County Zoo

No trip to Wichita will be complete without visiting the city’s Sedgwick County Zoo, which is not only the largest zoo in the state of Kansas but also one of the largest in all of United States.

Shopping

Wichita does offer ample avenues for you to shop with ease.

Bradley Fair, an outdoor mall on the city’s North Rock Road is especially recommended for a number of cool apparel stores, besides restaurants that offer delectable cuisine unique to the area.

There are also the usual malls like Towne East Square and Towne West Square with typical retail outlets you will find in much of America.

Food

For a memorable culinary experience, we do wholeheartedly recommend heading out to the city’s Old Town. Situated just across from downtown, it is easy to get here and the food and drinks scene here is quite vibrant with a lot of unique gastronomic delicacies to try out.

The city’s Waterfront is another unique destination for a lot of special experiences that foodies would want to have. There are just so many nice restaurants here and the whole place is done up so well; you definitely would not want to miss out on this place!

Wichita Travel Made Easy with ESTA

ESTA or Electronic System for Travel Authorization is a special provision for travelers from select countries which allows them to travel to the US without having to obtain a visa in advance.

As a part of the entire exercise to ‘Check my ESTA’, viz. to ensure you are actually eligible to travel to the US under this program, you must confirm:

  • You do actually belong to one of the countries on the VWP or Visa Waiver Program list; not necessarily as a citizen – being an eligible national would suffice.

  • Your planned trip to the US should not exceed 90 days.

  • You should not have a Visitor’s Visa to the US already.

  • The purpose of your trip to the US should quite clearly be either business or pleasure.

Many travelers to Wichita have had memorable trips to the Aviation Capital of the World, all thanks to the ESTA provision.

Accordingly, we do reiterate that you confirm your eligibility for the program as per the ‘Check my ESTA’ checklist we have shared above.

Music

As a music buff, you will definitely enjoy your time in Wichita. After all, there’s a lot going on – on this front, not only from a Kansan perspective but indeed an American and international one.

First up, there is Wichita Symphony Orchestra which performs regularly. Then, there are Wichita Grand Opera and Music Theatre Wichita, both of which are well known all over America.

Finally, as the place where the electric guitar was born, there sure is an electrifying buzz to Wichita, on the musical front!

Botanica

Botanica is an experience unique to Wichita which we wholeheartedly recommend if you have 48 hours to spend in the city. There are as many as 24 immaculately designed gardens within Botanica, which definitely make a perfect setting for your Instagram ‘Wichita trip’ Story!

Conclusion

Ultimately, you will hardly find 48 hours to be adequate to explore and experience Wichita to the fullest.

At the same time, if that is all the time you have, this article will surely help you make the most of it!

If you are an international traveler eligible for ESTA, don’t forget to do a ‘Check my ESTA’ as specified above!

Travel

Exploring Toowoomba: 7 Things to Do in This City

If you ever find yourself wanting to explore Toowoomba in Australia, go ahead because you will not regret it. Here are the top seven things to do, see, and eat in this Queensland’s largest inland city.

  1. Relax at Picnic Point Lookout

Have a picnic and relax by yourself, with a partner, or the whole family. Overlooking the Great Dividing Range, you can feast your eyes to the seemingly never-ending acres of lush lawn offered by Picnic Point Lookout. Place a picnic rug under one of the different kauri or pine trees and revel in the sight. 

  1. Learn at Cobb + Co Museum

Museums, the “look but don’t touch” kinds, are usually not everyone’s cup of tea. But this one must be. It’s not the standard museum where you walk around and appreciate the art piece or historical item using your eyes only.

Instead, Cobb+Co Museum offers interactive displays as well as trade workshops you can participate in. Boys and girls can certainly have fun and learn a lot with their whip plaiting and silversmithing workshops. God knows these skills can come pretty handy one day. The museum also has some of the best scones in town. Try them! 

  1. Watch a Show at Empire Theatre

If you want to be mesmerized, then catch a show at the Empire Theatre. The theatre by itself offers an impressive architecture you will be happy to have stepped foot in, but the shows are something else. Some of the notable shows here are Swan Lake, The Lion, The Witch, and many more others. My Fair Lady is set to be shown in the upcoming days.

  1. Smell the Flowers at Lauren Bank Park

If Picnic Point Lookout is not enough, you can also visit Laurel Bank Park. It’s a garden inside a garden. It’s one of the Toowoomba’s premier parks and features all sorts of trees and flowers. There are barbecue spots as well as picnic areas, which you can plop down and revel in the view and scents as well.

Children play equipment are available for kids to play with. it’s a nice place to just wind down and appreciate what nature has to offer. Since seasons change, one can expect the floral offerings of this park to change as well. However, throughout the year, guests can just visit spectacular transformations. Trees change in color and new flowers bloom in certain seasons so it is never tiring to visit this park.

  1. Appreciate Passion at Street Art Trail

Fifth, discover the finest of Toowoomba’s street art. It is not only Melbourne that has some of the nicest graffiti laneways in Australia. Toowoomba has them too! Go to Street Art Trail and check out all the eye-popping artworks in sky-high walls. Some buildings are so covered with graffiti art teeming with emotions and passion from the artists popping out it’s actually meditating to just gaze at them. 

  1. Drink at Preston Peak Wines

Number five got you all thirsty? Then check out Preston Peak Wines. You can do a mix of both here, exploring and drinking. Located on the Great Dividing Range as well as overlooking the Lockyer Valley, you can certainly consume some fine wine here while soaking in the majestic view. Deep into this locality is the village chapel where most of the amazing weddings take place.

  1. Eat at Original Saigon Restaurant

While there are several more historical sites, parks, and gardens that you can explore in Toowoomba, check out its amazing food scene as well. After all the sightseeing, you must be tired at the end of the day. Looking for delivery food nearby? Then check out Original Saigon’s menu for more healthy food options.

It’s one of the premier Vietnamese restaurants in the area. Craving for pho? For rice noodles? How about some pork or vegetable banh mi? You name it, they have it. You can have some takeout on the go too and go to the aforementioned parks. 

You can do so much more than these seven things in this list, of course. But these are great for starters. If you are new to Toowoomba or have already visited this gem of a place, then you are in for a surprise for how many things you can do and sights to see in here. There’s always something to appreciate here, especially its food scene.