9 Top Tips on Volunteering

We’ve volunteered in five different countries and have a huge passion for travel, charity work and most importantly; change. We’ve therefore combined some top tips and experiences from our fellow travellers and volunteers to help you when planning your volunteering trip. Sometimes it’s difficult to know where to start, who to trust and where to go so hopefully this will answer some of your questions.

1) Rox Oquendo; Former Director of Hands on Manila

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“You don’t always have to donate money to make a difference in small communities, your time can be much more beneficial. Contact NGO’s in the Philippines to find out how you can get involved with their ongoing programmes. If you have any special skills you think may be of benefit, for example if you’re a medical practitioner then make the NGO you are volunteering with aware, you may be able to help with specialist missions. By volunteering you’re exposed to the real Philippines and get to explore places off the beaten track.”

Our first volunteering experience abroad was with Hands on Manila and we can’t recommend them enough!

2) Skye Sandhu-Nelson; Community Champion

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“Each person has their own reasons to give or volunteer and you’ve got to have an affinity to the cause your supporting which will be unique to each individual. This needs to be taken into consideration before deciding on where is right for you to volunteer.”

Skye is an incredibly experienced volunteer and as has supported the YMCA, Salvation Army, The Citizens Advice Bureau, local schools and play groups, Womankind Worldwide and many more.

3) Emily Hudson; Explorer

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“All I would say is get stuck in as any little job goes a long way, get to know the locals, learn their ways and work with them to help your cause. Don’t forget to keep in touch even after your time volunteering has come to an end. It’s such a buzz to get updates and see how things are progressing when you’re back home. Also, do some research on how you can continue to support your project from home through online tasks and spreading the word.”

Emily volunteered at The African Impact, Marine Conservation Project in Zanzibar, Tanzania.

4) Sam Rees-Davies; Backpacking Biker

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We met Sam in February 2017 on our first day returning to Our Home Community. Unfortunately it was their last night volunteering there but although we had very little time together we instantly knew we shared the same passion about Our Home.

“Our first and most important tip when volunteering is always plan your route before you set off on your journey. Initially getting to Our Home seemed impossible as we were travelling by bike from Ooty with nothing but road signs! When we finally arrived we were mobbed by so many excitable children. One of the most refreshing things when you speak to anyone at Our Home is that they never refer to it as an orphanage, it is quite literally their home. The sense of community and family is breathtaking. Never have I seen so many children with such a zest for life, and if you need inspiration to volunteer, this is it!

We spent our days playing football, painting, cooking and also took the children on a trip to the local dam. Reflecting on my time at Our Home my biggest advice is get involved as much as you can and think of something new to introduce, cooking macaroni cheese was certainly a first time experience for these Indian kids and it was great I could give them that.”

5) Chloe Leach; Backpacker

“If I was to give any suggestions to someone wanting to volunteer abroad I’d say first and foremost – do your research. There are a lot of ‘volunteer projects’ that are scams, especially in SE Asia. They take your money and it doesn’t go to benefiting the cause they ‘stand for’. Please ensure you look for ethical projects.

I’d also say, GET STUCK IN. You’ll probably be given some tasks that aren’t as enjoyable as others. However, it is what you make it and at the end of the day you’re there volunteering to benefit the lives of others and not yourself.”

Chloe has volunteered at SchoolsWorldwide, a charity that runs volunteer trips through schools in Namibia, and Elephant Nature Park in Thailand where we also had a fantastic experience.

6) Sofia Candy; Backpacker

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Sofia volunteered with the Soi Dog Foundation, Thailand in 2015 and has incredibly now adopted Sansa, a dog they fell in love with during their time there. Sansa has been living in the U.K. for almost a year and is loving her new family life.

“If you wish to volunteer at Soi Dog make sure you contact them in advance to arrange your dates as they get booked up quickly during busy seasons. Take some dog treats with you in a bum bag for when you walk the dogs, they love a treat! Wear comfy shoes and clothes you don’t mind getting dirty and smelly … Hanging out with the dogs and cats all day can get messy but it’s an amazing experience and you’ll hear lots of stories about how these animals were saved from torture and cruelty. It’s a fab life experience you will never forget.”

7) Thuy An; Community Outreach Coordinator; YMCA Vietnam

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“Vietnam is a great place to volunteer and have a life changing experience. To make sure you have the most enjoyable time possible and not too much of a culture shock, this is what I would recommend:

  • First and foremost make sure you participate in a voluntary experience that will excite you. This way you will be able to put 100% into everything you too.
  • When planning to volunteer make sure you obtain necessary visas and documents required before you arrive to avoid any problems.
  • Be prepared to eat all kinds of food in Vietnam … the infamous durian and fish sauce is typical for daily meals, if you’re a picky eater or dislike smelly food Vietnam might not be the place for you!
  • Most Vietnamese people are nice and friendly but always be aware of scams and rip-offs when shopping in local or tourist markets.
  • Don’t get run over by a car! The traffic is crazy. When crossing the streets be alert, confident and steady.
  • Lastly, equip yourself with some local knowledge about wherever you go. The Vietnamese people will love that you’ve taken the time to get to know their culture.

Thuy An organised our brilliant voluntary trip with YMCA Vietnam in 2015.

8) Swostik Pandey; Student and Entrepreneur

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“Whilst volunteering in Vietnam I often found myself being so thankful for the opportunity to give back. My main advice for volunteering abroad is to be as passionate as possible. Most people only volunteer once or twice in their lifetime so give it all you have and make sure you don’t forget to embrace the culture. Not only does this teach you about the local people, food and lifestyle of where you are volunteering but it also makes you appreciate everything you have in life. My second tip would be to be outgoing. Being able to create memories is great but always remember the people around you are the ones who help form those memories. Whether it is sharing a smile or attempting to speak an unknown language, every little thing will go a very long way!”

We volunteered with Swostik in 2015 as part of the YMCA Vietnam Overseas Community Project.

9) KHTravels; Blogging & Volunteering Couple 

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Our ultimate tip would be to prepare yourself for the hardships that go alongside the incredible experience you will have whilst volunteering. Volunteering isn’t easy and can be a very emotional journey.

Your accommodation will be very basic with no luxuries; uncomfortable beds, no fans, mosquito bites, squat toilets, hand washing clothes, no TV and no wifi! Culture shock can also be daunting and you’re often in remote communities that may not have seen foreigners before so expect a mixture of responses. These are the first things to come to terms with and the rest will fall into place. We of course do not want to deter your from volunteering but you need to be aware of what you’re letting yourself in for and if this doesn’t put you off, then you’re ready to go!

So there you have it, from some of our most trusted friends from around the world, we hope you’ll find their suggestions and advice helpful. If you still have any unanswered questions then please get in touch.

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The Orbit

orbitThe Orbit was one of the most iconic features of the 2012 Olympics, obtrusive with its red colour it protruded itself against the backdrop of the modern history being made around it. The rumours were rife when it was first built, would it be a viewing platform or a restaurant or a white elephant but we think it might have had the perfect outcome… the world’s tallest tunnel slide!

At £15 a pop and only £10 for children this is not only the #1 thing to do in London but also one of the cheapest! The 40 second slide fills you with excitement and/or fear of death (depending on your love of heights) as you ferociously spiral to the ground.

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There is a viewing deck at the top of the tower but if it’s a view of London you’re after then look elsewhere as other than a Birdseye view of the Olympic Stadium there’s not much to see from here. It’s easily accessible and on the doorstep of Westfield shopping centre. If you’re feeling inspired by your surroundings you could even take a dip at the London Aquatics Centre to step into some Olympic flippers.

We would avoid going on busy shopping days and West Ham matchdays to avoid the chaos of people.

You can book your tickets by visiting the Arcelor Mittal Orbit website.

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Features

We love writing about our travels, whether that’s engaging our readers with tales of our adventures or helping out with travel advice from past experiences. Getting involved with other blog sites is something we’re hugely passionate about. Please see below a few blogs we have featured with:

If you’d like us to write a blog or article for you, please get in touch here!

 

 

Goa … The perfect ending.

After an incredible journey starting on 4th February 2015 from London Heathrow we had reached the final destination of our yearlong travelling adventure. It’s impossible to sum up a million memories into a few words but Goa was perhaps the perfect way to complete our voyage of discovery.

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goa-2Arriving in Goa we stayed at Veeniola Holiday Home, an idyllic setting offering exactly what you want as a backpacker. The rooms were clean and well furnished, the staff were great, especially the manager Charlie who helpfully answered all of our questions, and most importantly the wifi worked! We kept extending our stay at Veeniola which totalled around two weeks and although it wasn’t the fanciest of places or the most lavish, it gave you everything you needed and made us feel at home.

Most of our time in Goa was spent reflecting and relaxing as we prepared ourselves for the big return to the UK. We were a 10-minute walk from a dreamy white sand, clear blue sea beach and spent our days kicking back with beers, diving through the waves and walking for miles through the sands under a perfect cloud free sky.

We have been to many destinations where there are so many things to do that you never have enough time to do them all but Goa was exactly what we needed at exactly the right time. Cavelossim beach had the perfect balance of beach hut restaurants and natural beauty. Alex’s Beach Shack is a must if you’re in town but you won’t be disappointed in any of the shacks along the beach, each with something different to offer, from fresh fish nights to Karaoke parties.

FC Goa

goa-9Being without football for most of the year, K was desperate to see a live game so we bought tickets for FC Goa vs Northeast United. The Indian super league was in its second season and included some global stars including Roberto Carlos and Robert Pires. On show in our game was World Cup winner and Brazil legend Lucio as well as former Portugal international Simao Sabrosa.

In terms of footballing quality, the game was lacking although it was scattered with some elements of class, including Reinaldo’s equaliser, but the most incredible part were the fans. As with anything in India, people want to be entertained and everyone was in party mood. The football was like the music at a house party, you know it’s there and without it you wouldn’t have a party but you don’t really pay attention to it. The infamous vuvuzelas from the 2010 World Cup were handed out before the game as well as FC Goa flags and everyone was in high spirits. The match ended 1-1 but we doubt the majority of the fans knew or even cared about the score. Fireworks were set off and the stadium was over-crowded but like everything in India, it was so wrong it worked just right.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR2898.Without a doubt Goa was our most relaxing stint in India despite the craziness of the Indian Super League! Our next biggest trip was going to the cinema to watch Spectre, as we’ve mentioned before we adored the cinemas in India, superb quality, cheap tickets and fab range of drinks and snacks, the ultimate movie experience!

Goa was complete and utter paradise, the longer we stayed the more we loved it. We’re intending on heading back in 2017 and perhaps this time we will see more of what this beautiful state has to offer. It might not be as traditional as the rest of India but sometimes we can all have a bit too much Indian, and to end a year of craziness, sleepless nights, long journeys and living out of a backpack, to do absolutely nothing was bliss!

 

Diwali, Moo & Chai!

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Our next destination was Punjab and H had been waiting for this all year, it’s where K’s family live so she couldn’t wait to meet them and see where he spent his childhood holidays. It was also going to be Diwali during our time with them making it extra special.

We spent our time between K’s Uncle and Aunties, the days were filled chatting, eating and of course drinking lots of chai. They live on a farm so we were in our element, spending time with the baby animals, learning how to milk cows, and even driving tractors. We made a special friend on the farm, Moo. A little stray puppy that had wandered in and befriended the baby cows. It was one of the cutest things we have ever seen, and we made a really special bond with him, feeding him and playing. Our only regret is that we couldn’t bring him home with us!

A trip to Punjab wouldn’t be complete without visiting the famous Golden Temple. On our travels we have seen some absolutely perfect things in our world but have also experienced heart breaking moments, and unfortunately at the Golden Temple we witnessed one of the worst. H was expecting marvellous things after the many stories she had heard from K and other travellers but was beyond disappointed.

When we arrived, through the hustle and bustle of busy passing people we noticed a small child, no older than three curled up in a little ball, no adults in sight with hundreds of flies buzzing around. We approached the child and as we got closer noticed she was a little girl and smelt awful. K gently nudged her, asked if she was okay but she didn’t move, continuing to nudge her our hearts sank as we actually thought this girl might be dead on the floor as people were just passing by. One well dressed, religious man stopped and said to us she is fine, he shook her as if she was a toy. Clearly she was not fine. K felt her skin and she was still warm and scooped her into his arms. This was when she opened her eyes and we have never felt more relieved.

punjab-7She did not speak and looked terrified. She had filthy, mouldy old clothes on, and faeces coming out from her trousers. We took her to a quieter area and tried to talk, she said nothing and wouldn’t drink any water that we offered. We got a towel and stripped the clothes from her, washing her with wipes, antibacterial hand gel and water. She was absolutely covered in defecation which was days old and needed scrubbing off. We were extra careful to cover her modesty as passers-by had begun to stare, some just looking, some smiling admirably and some confused. K was annoyed by this and questioned why they were looking, what did they want to see? They were quite happy to walk past this dying girl five minutes ago. We started to get the feeling they were looking at H as if she was a rich foreign woman doing a fantastic thing for this poor child, as they were smiling?

K bought her some clothes and when she was completely clean we dressed her and she started to trust us finally drinking some water, she was so dehydrated. Clinging to H she was obviously upset by so many people staring. We took her to the local police, did they care? No. They laughed in our faces saying you can’t help everyone.

punjab-8We then took her to eat before deciding what to do next. She ate but still did not speak, K went to see if anyone was looking for her or if the police had decided to do anything about this situation and he came across a woman crying, searching with other children. He approached her and discovered she was the child’s mum, informing her she was safe with H and the woman was hysterical with relief, she kissed H’s feet and thanked us. The mum had been begging whilst the little girl was sleeping outside the temple, and explained how the girl had been very unwell and needed to sleep and that she needed money for medicine. She presumed the girl would be safe outside this holy temple. Thank goodness she was.

We’re sure your first reaction will be to judge this mother for leaving her child, it was ours, and we certainly told her she should never do it again. However, before you do judge this woman please think what could have happened to her. Like thousands of homeless Indian women, she could have been raped many times on the street, she herself could have been an orphan growing up as a street kid. For these people there is no opportunity, no benefits, no council housing, no NHS for sick children… nothing. The rich stay rich whilst the poor will always stay poor. We watched so many wealthy, well respected religious people walk past this small child like she did not even exist, and then donate money to a temple made of pure gold? To us we cannot comprehend this at all. Something for sure is that travelling certainly was opening our eyes and experiences like this are the ones that will never be forgotten and truly make you realise how lucky you are.

On a brighter note, Diwali was beautiful. K’s mum took H shopping and treated her to a stunning pink Indian suit, as everyone gets dressed up for the special day. We ate delicious food as all of the family joined together. As the night fell we lit candles around the house and outside, and it looked like a fairy tale come true. Some of the boys lit of fireworks (to our horror with no safety precautions in place!) but looking back it was all great fun. We played with sparklers into the night and it was just as we imagined it would be.

Our time in the north was an emotional one, full of ups and downs, and plenty of different experiences. It was beautiful though and showed us yet another side to India. More memories created whether they were good or bad. Travelling is the best form of learning and we certainly learnt a lot whilst travelling here.

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Marvellous Mountains

3After an eventful time in Delhi next up were the Northern regions of India. A few weeks with cool breezes, mountain views, and peaceful evenings was exactly what we needed.

The plan was to head to Mount Abu, Shimla and finally Punjab to visit K’s family. Mount Abu is a hill station in Rajasthan, and being honest wasn’t actually on our agenda. K’s mum had always wanted to visit, so we decided to stop off for a few nights. We must admit it turned out to be fantastic, and we’re so glad we didn’t skip it! We stayed at the “Babbar Den” home in the hills which offered a great service, friendly staff, and also an awesome cave suite!

Mount Abu wasn’t short of attractions, if you’re looking for something unusual to do we would suggest the Dilwara Jain Temple. Known as one of the finest Jain temples around the world for its extraordinary architecture and marvellous marble stone carvings, this was without a doubt one of the more interesting travelling experiences we’ve had!

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On our first evening we witnessed of the most beautiful sunsets ever, sitting at the top of Aravali Hills with a perfectly clear view and not a cloud in the sky, the welcome chill gave it an enchanting feeling. As we watched the night arrive, sunset point soon filled with tourists, locals and couples, all there for the same thing. We met a young local magician who was entertaining the crowds trying to earn money for his family. We got chatting and ended up taking him for dinner and despite the obvious language barrier he was really grateful and very sweet. We bumped into him again the next day and went on a pedalo ride in the town centre lake, it was great fun and something else we would recommend whilst in Mount Abu. Unlike a most of India, it has a really peaceful feel as the sun shines down onto Nakki lake.

The shopping in Mount Abu was also great, lots of novelty souvenirs, cheap silver and good quality clothes. You also have the opportunity to dress up as a local and have a photo-shoot in the town, which we didn’t do but it did attract a lot of attention! There are plenty of restaurant choices offering traditional Rajasthan dishes or western food, and also lots of great ice cream places! With so much to do whilst you are here we recommend hiring a cheap driver for the day to make sure you don’t miss anything.

5Leaving Mount Abu we travelled to Shimla which is famous for Indian tourists as their holiday destination for the cool breeze. Located in the Himalayas it was actually very nippy, but unfortunately we didn’t get to see any snow. It’s an incredibly scenic part of India, filled with monkeys and all sorts of other wildlife. There are plenty of tourist attractions which are great for families including pony rides, different games and balloons to buy. It almost had a Brighton type feel to it, without the sea, with children running about having fun, parents relaxing and gorgeous views.

6First on our agenda was visiting the ancient Jakhoo Temple and at a height of 2,455m above sea level it offers a panoramic view of the Shivalik Ranges and the town of Sanjauli. It is a moderate climb up a footpath, just ensure you have plenty of water if it is a hot day! There are many cheeky monkeys around looking for opportunities to nab your belongings, so keep them safe, a top tip is to take your sunglasses off your head. H made this mistake and encountered a huge monkey jumping on her for them! The temple is home world’s tallest statue of Lord Hanuman, good luck fitting it all in a single photo!

A little way from  Shimla, we stopped to take a cable car ride through one of the many valleys in the mountains. This was a first for both of us, and certainly something to tick off the bucket list! We would be lying to say we wasn’t a tad scared, but we felt like we were on top of the world. We also took a guided tour of the Indian Institute of Advanced Study also known as Viceregal Lodge, a building made of beautiful architecture, it is located on stunning grounds that you can explore whilst enjoying the view of Shimla. There is a lot of history associated with the building so be prepared to take in a lot of information! The tour guides were great though and catered for whatever language you spoke which is always useful and you will also get some great photos here.

Some of our best times in India were spent in the mountains, including Munnar, taking a step away from the chaotic cities and seeing some of the natural beauty India has to offer. We highly recommend visiting Shimla and Mount Abu if you’re travelling India, and look out for our little magician by the lake!

 

Arafwch – Slow down!

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After spending a year of our lives travelling through exotic locations, eating strange foods and absorbing the world’s different cultures, we almost forgot what made the UK so special. Living on the outskirts of London we overlooked all that this incredible city had to offer but worse, we forgot just how awesome the rest of the United Kingdom could be.

Saving for our next adventure, our UK break was less Angkor Wat and more Aberystwyth, specifically Tregaron. Staying at a wonderful little cottage in a village made up of ‘ones’ was just what the doctor ordered! One pub, one post office, one local shop … you get the picture. There was just enough in this village to make it inhabitable but just enough was perfect. Taking a break from the world we were left without phone signal and without worry as we allowed ourselves to take a break from the social strains of today’s society.

Y Talbot was first up and it was a fantastic mix of tradition and comfort. An ideal beer garden enclosing a beautiful pub which also happens to be a 4.5 star rated hotel on TripAdvisor. The food was gorgeous, succulent beef/fish and fresh vegetables which were locally sourced and a rare example of actually building from within your own community. A little known fact is that the head chef at the Y Talbot Dafydd trained with Marco Pierre White and was a previous Sous Chef at The Ritz! Certainly a claim to fame in this small village!

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But food isn’t what we came to Wales for, it was something far simpler. We wanted to take a break from ourselves. We trekked through the hills, had packed lunch in the mountains and walked along mile after mile of secluded coastline, with plenty of afternoon naps! The most human interaction we had was when buying a bottle of milk from the local store. Small talk doesn’t exist in places like Tregaron, people actually care about what you have to say. A wonderful change from meaninglessly nattering about traffic, the tube or worst of all… the weather!

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When heading into Aberystwyth we did manage to get phone signal and being the summer of 2016 and in a new destination, there was only one thing to do. Pokémon Go! We found so many awesome Pokémon in town from Tangela to Chancey but sadly the place was still crawling with those pesky Rattata!

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Aside from the Pokémon haul, Aberystwyth was a lively seaside town, with plenty to keep you busy. A host of bespoke eateries and coffee shops, castles that outlasted the dark ages and people with smiles on their faces. H visited her childhood favourite shop named “Stars” which is home to lots of little quirky trinkets, incense sticks and jewellery, a lovely little place for a rummage!

Not too far from Aberystwyth you can also find Devil’s Bridge Falls which is a world famous tourist attraction although it will be a test of your fitness so make sure you’re prepared before entering the underworld. If you don’t mind a soggy sandwich then head down to The Hafod with a picnic and eat in a flourishing forest dominated by streams. It’s not the easiest place to find but it’s hidden gems like the Hafod that make for the best memories.

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As we drove through the hills along the country lanes, passing horses, sheep and cows all roaming the lands we felt settled. It was as though we had finally been able to take a real break from everything. Personally, we couldn’t live in a place like this, we can’t function without the hustle and bustle but sometimes it’s good to take a step back and breathe, and Wales certainly allowed us to do just that.

Brighton

Brighton 4Whether you’re a couple looking for a romantic getaway, a family in need of some seaside fun or a group friends wanting to party the night away, Brighton is the place for you. Located just an hour south of London this easy to reach seaside town is great for a day trip or a mini getaway. Having been several times before we know how fun it is and exactly what Brighton has to offer.
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If yoBrightonu’re a lover of all things food you are not short of options! Classic fish and chips along the beach, or strolling through the lanes you will stumble across as series of little eateries, each one offering something different but all with a beautiful atmosphere and a great selection. A couple of our favourites include the famous Choccywoccydoodah which any chocolate lover would be mad to miss indulging in! Dos Sombreros is another favourite, a fantastic Mexican with a wide selection of delicious food and cocktails galore, perfect to spend the night nattering away in the heart of this quaint town.
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The lanes are a collection of tiny fairy-like cobbled streets famous for their ornate shops and restaurants. Be prepared for them to be busy on a weekend but they are lovely to wander around taking in the Brighton culture and full of quirkiness.
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Brighton 1Brighton Pier
was built in 1899 and has an assortment of arcades, rides and other novelty fun whilst still keeping its historic ambience. We enjoyed ordering a cider to kick back and relax with the view of Brighton’s picturesque, colourful seafront bursting with beach huts and beautiful regency architecture.
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You are spoiBrighton 2lt with choice when it comes down to booking accommodation from boutique B&Bs, modern apartments and classic hotels. We stayed in Queens hotel situated on the seafront which was great for a bit of luxury and a spa treatment during our visit. Sussex house was good for a self-catering trip and close to the town centre for easy access to Brighton’s famed nightlife. It was conveniently located with a modern interior, a good place to settle down in for a few nights.
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Brighton has to be one of our favourite seaside resorts in the UK. With so much to explore and something different going on every time we visit, It really is an ideal UK getaway.

Why EU should go to Brussels

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In the aftermath of the EU referendum (don’t worry this isn’t another rant from an unqualified politician) there was only one place for the next instalment of KHTravels; Brussels.

The heart of Europe and the EU, Brussels was exactly what we expected it to be. A real European city, café cultured with incredible art and architecture, an extraordinary love for waffles and amazing Belgian beer, what more could you ask for?

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Staying at the Radisson Blu in the centre of Brussels, we decided to take a break from backpacking and splash out with pure luxury! With a bucket of beer upon arrival, we took the glass elevator overlooking the Michelin stared restaurant to our floor before falling in love with our room. This was our first break away from England together since coming home from our travels and we had totally forgot that holidays are meant to be relaxing. We’d become so accustomed to dorm rooms and wooden beds the incredible décor and lavish style of the Radisson Blu was just what the doctor ordered!

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After tearing ourselves away from the gorgeous room we decided to head down to Grand Place which was only a few minutes’ walk away. As luck would have it, the Brussels Jazz Marathon was taking place and we kicked back with a freshly brewed Belgian beer soaking up the sun and the atmosphere. Grand Place was stunning, you feel as if you’ve been enclosed into a mythical land, although with some of the buildings being very dark, we felt this land could also have a gloomy, eerie side if no one was around …

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Manneken pis was next on our hit list and we soon found the small bronze sculpture by following the giggles of tourists sniggering around a small boy with an everlasting bladder. We have to be honest, the sculpture was interesting but with so many people and an overkill with replicas all over the city we were slightly underwhelmed. We may have also been slightly distracted by the multiple one Euro waffle bars that were distracting our attention. These were the greatest waffles on Earth, we know you’ve heard this a lot but trust us, please go to Brussels if only for the waffles … beer, oh, and the Belgian frittes. Just go for the food, everything else is a bonus!

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Speaking of food, we may have had our best meal ever at a wonderful little restaurant called Meet Meat. Slightly out of town on a rainy evening, we took the option of travelling out of the city centre to Meet Meat due to the rave reviews on Tripadvisor and it was definitely the right decision! With a wide range of steak cuts for you to select, cooked to your preference and accompanied by a host of impeccably presented sides, Meet Meat certainly continued with our theme of excellency and quality during this city break. The prime cuts of beef almost melted in your mouth and filled that gap in your stomach in such a way that you would not know how you ever lived without it. Simply exceptional.

Enough food porn for one blog and back to the sights! We loved the accessibility of Brussels, from walking through the cobbled streets to jumping on the tube without paying through your nose for travel. We did exactly that for our next destination – the Atomium and Mini Europe. The Atomium was opened in 1958 amidst great fanfare at the World Fair of Brussels (aka Expo 58). This incredible structure was designed to symbolise utopia and peace, a structure without structure and a figure of the past with a permanently futuristic look. Climbing through the Atomium there is a sense of imagination and wonder with a hint of incompletion. A wondrous view from afar and equally breath-taking views of the city from within, the interior of the Atomium just seems a bit hollow, yet it almost seems as though it was meant that way.

A stone’s throw away was Mini Europe, a grand collection of Europe’s most iconic and recognisable landmarks and a fantastic place to inspire you to travel the continent. Featuring the eruption of Vesuvius and the leaning tower of Pisa, this is the perfect spot to choose your next destination if backpacking through Europe.

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Other city highlights included brunch at the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM), St. Michael & St. Gudula Cathedral Tower and Galeries St Hubert. Brunch at the MIM was unreal with limitless prosciutto ham, champagne and a selection of cheeses and freshly baked breads. The cathedral was another piece of architectural brilliance while the Galeries reminded us of just why Europe is so fantastic. Lined with exquisite chocolatiers, theatres and luxury stores all enclosed with a glass roof, this was one of our most favourite spots being just a short walk away from our hotel.

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Finally, despite being in the immediate aftermath of Brexit we could not leave Brussels without visiting the European Union. Politics are politics and there will always be rights and wrongs to both sides but one thing we can say is that we are better collectively than individually. In a world of travel and integration, there is no room for segregation. The EU may not have been what it had set out to be but it did help to bring together 28 countries with different languages, different cultures and different people. No one is certain what the future will hold or what another decision would have brought but one thing we do know is this. The European Union was one of the most boring day trips of our time in Brussels so instead of visiting a building full of politicians, you’d be better off hanging back in Grand Place with a beer and meeting the real people that make Europe so great.

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We’ve got 99 problems but travelling isn’t one!