WHAT TO DO, WHERE TO EAT & WHAT TO SEE IN ZADAR & SPLIT, CROATIA

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I can’t believe it’s been over two weeks since I came back from Croatia, I spent a week in this beautiful country and ticked a couple of places of my ‘to see’ list whilst I was there! If you’re planning a trip here anytime soon, or maybe you’re thinking of visiting Croatia for your honeymoon or are simply dreaming up new pretty place to explore in the future then be sure to pin this page to your travel board for future use! I’m going to be sharing places to visit, where we stayed, what to eat, my favourite moments and a few helpful tips and tricks!

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VISIT IN SPLIT

Hands down my favourite day of the whole trip was when we took a day trip to Krka national park. This park is full of these insanely gorgeous natural waterfalls that you can gawk over! (Actually if you go in the summer months you can swim in them!) we booked our tour with a company called Splitlicious and I couldn’t recommend them enough! We got picked up in a mini bus around 8am in the morning and headed to Krka, it takes about 40 minutes to walk around the entire park and there’s a lovely little restaurant that over looks the waterfalls where we ate lunch.

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THE ELEPHANT JUNGLE SANCTUARY & WHY YOU SHOULDN’T SUPPORT RIDING ELEPHANTS

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If you’re thinking of honeymooning in Thailand then I would highly recommend a trip to Chiang Mai to be with the elephants at The Elephant Jungle Sanctuary. This sanctuary  is an ethical and sustainable eco-tourism project in Thailand, with their concern about the welfare of elephants it became their mission to provide the elephants with good health, freedom and happiness that they truly deserve! I visited this place last month and I can’t even tell you what an incredible experience it was!

ABOUT THE SANCTUARY

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I know that when many people think of Thailand they envision riding elephants, PLEASE DO NOT DO THIS. I am going to talk more about how goddam awful this is later on the post and why us tourists shouldn’t be supporting it but for now let’s talk about our experience with The Elephant Jungle Sanctuary. They maintain a strict no riding policy and they hope that their approach will set an example which will in time lead to a transformation in elephant tourism as well as human and ethical treatment to elephants worldwide.

Their hope is to lead by example and contribute to a positive change in the perception of elephants, to witness a future where elephants are not rigged, poached, over worked or abused and are instead treated with care, love and respect. The sanctuaries are home to over sixty formerly mistreated elephants who are now free to enjoy their lives and we got to spend an entire day with them!

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Our day started by changing into traditional Karen clothes then learning all about the elephants. For example they only sleep for 3 hours a day! SAY WHAT! Which means they have staff with them 24 hours a day taking care of them. We also learnt that Elephants eat a huge amount of food, needing to consume an average of 150kg of food each day just to survive! Larger elephants will eat much more, with some known to eat up to 300kg/day. They also need to drink a great deal of water, with some estimating that each elephant must drink 150L per day. (I struggle to drink 1 litre of water a day!)

Once we had learnt about the elephants it was time to meet and feed them! We were each giving two bunches of bananas to feed them, one banana at a time. We interacted with them, played with them and felt their skin, it was honestly the most incredible experience to see an elephant this close up! Turns out this part of the day was just their appetiser because after that we carried these huge leaves down to them and they tucked straight in!

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After this, we enjoyed a traditional Thai lunch with fresh fruit. Then we walked with the elephants down to a muddy reserve where we gave them a mud bath (and got pretty covered in mud ourselves!) Then we walked with them over to the river where we bathed and brushed them. It was absolutely beautiful! I honestly cannot recommend this experience enough and it’s great to know that you’re contributing to the welfare of the elephants by visiting!

*Please be aware of less than ethical imitations of this company operating under similar names in an effort to attract customers using their caring reputation that do not maintain the same standard or respectful treatment towards their animals. If booking ensure you are booking directing to the official “Elephant Jungle Sanctuary” so that you are supporting the positive change

MISTREATMENT OF ELEPHANTS IN THAILAND

Nowadays, elephants primarily work in the tourism and entertainment sectors. Unfortunately, very few companies treat their elephants ethically, or with the respect they deserve, instead viewing them simply as a profitable business asset. Young elephants are sometimes poached from the wild to be sold and used as novelties in hotels, or trained to perform for tourists. This practice is incredibly damaging to the population of Thai elephants, as the mother (and sometimes other females, such as the chosen ‘foster mother’) is often killed during the poaching process, and this separation greatly endangers the life and long-term health of the infant. Some estimate that as many as 70% of baby elephants currently used in tourism may have been poached from their natural habitat.

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Work includes tourist ridding, logging, and circus activities.

Sometimes they are made to carry people for up to 5 hours. Being forced to work in busy Thailand, slowly wears the elephants down as elephants need to cool down and be allowed to eat more then they are provided. They are hurt at these camps guides use hooks to force them to carry tourists which they hit the elephants with, causing bleeding.

WHY NOT TO RIDE AN ELEPHANT

Elephants are not designed to carry weight on their back. They have evolved to support a mass amount of weight suspended below their spine. Elephants spines are not like horses for instance. In order for an elephant to be ridden, it needs to be put through a ritual called Phajaan. The word “phajaan” is a ritual that is practiced in Thailand by tribes and has been around for hundreds of years. It can best be described as “Crushing” an elephants spirit. I’m not going to go into too much detail here because it’s absolutely heart breaking and frankly unbelievable that this type of torture is happening but you can read a bit more about it here. Once the tribe feel the baby elephant has had its ‘spirit broken’, it will have nothing left to do but submit, listen and learn what the masters are trying to teach it. It’s absolutely outrageous and all the for enjoyment of tourists.

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A GUIDE TO PHUKET (IF YOU’RE AVOIDING BANGLA ROAD)

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Happy hump day guys! I’m so excited to share some tips and advice on my recent trip to Phuket with you today, if you’re planning a trip to Thailand soon, considering it for your honeymoon or are simply dreaming up new places to visit in the future then be sure to pin this page to your travel board for future use! I’m going to be sharing places to visit, where we stayed, what to eat, my favourite moments and what you should pack!

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VISIT

Obviously one of the best things to do if you’re staying in Phuket is to visit Phi Phi Islands, they’re a set of 6 beautiful islands each with their own unique qualities! The most famous of the bunch is the uninhabited Phi Phi Leh since that classic scene with Leonardo DiCaprio in ‘The Beach’ was filmed there. Beware though it can get RIDICULOUSLY busy! We visited Phi Phi with a tour called Simba Sea Trips which got us to Phi Phi Leh for about 6:30am, the sun had just rose and we ate breakfast on the beach which was beautiful. When we arrived there was maybe less than 30 people there but our tour guide informed us that by lunch time there’s normally around 1000 people! And let me tell you, it’s a small beach. So get there as early as you can if you want to get some nice photos and really soak up the atmosphere undisturbed.

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FLORENCE IN A DAY

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One of my favourite things about Italy is that no matter what part of it I’ve been to it’s always been beautiful and the food has always been incredible! A few weeks ago me and James took a break in Italy, we stayed in Pisa, rented a car and explored Cinque Terre and Florence while we were there. In case you missed it, you can see our guide to Cinque Terre here with lots of helpful tips! Today though, we’re going to be talking about Florence!

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As I mentioned before we rented a car and it took us just over an hour to get to Florence from Pisa. Parking there can be a little tricky due to the ZTL. Basically, you can’t drive into the City walls unless you are a resident or have a permit. If you cross into the ZTL then it’s a costly error as you can incur a fine of up to €100 each time you enter it. (yikes)

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CINQUE TERRE: THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO GETTING THERE, WHAT TO SEE & WHERE TO EAT!

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You know when you’re scrolling through Pinterest and you come across those beautiful places and you pin them to that ‘some day travel’ board? Well, let me tell you, Cinque Terre has been on that board for a long time my friends and last week I finally got to experience the unforgettable place! It was a Birthday surprise from James and I couldn’t have been more excited to get there, see the colourful buildings, explore the charming little streets and stuff my face with Italian food! While we were there I felt like we learnt a lot and definitely picked up some tips to make the entire trip run smoothly so I figured I would share as much of our Cinque Terre travel advice with you as possible, you might want to grab a brew guys, it’s a long one!

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A QUICK GUIDE TO COLOURFUL COPENHAGEN!

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Last December me and Emily had the opportunity to take a trip to Copenhagen and we were so excited about it! Emily had been before and was filling me in on all of the awesome places and how beautiful the buildings were! She was not wrong. A couple of weeks before Christmas and off we went! For me, it was absolutely perfect timing because it really got me into the Christmas spirit that I was just not feeling in England!

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STAY…

We stayed in the most beautiful hotel called the Abaslon Hotel, it was awesome for us because it was filled to the brim with colourful touches! The bathroom in our room even had a light control where we could change the lights to any colour of the rainbow! The carpets were beautifully striped in shades of green and there were succulents everywhere! Our room was super spacious and the staff at the hotel were absolutely fantastic! Seriously though, they went above and beyond for us. The hotel was right in the centre of Copenhagen and everything was in walking distance for us which was perfect.

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#TEAMTIMFORD: 10 TOTALLY UNFORGETTABLE HONEYMOON IDEAS FOR NATURE LOVERS

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How do you combat the winter blues? By planning your dream honeymoon, of course! Ok it might almost two years away but a girl can dream right?

We are true nature lovers so top of our honeymoon priorities will need to be unforgettable animal encounters and outdoor activities. We have a huge bucket list of destinations we want to see in our lifetime together, so as you can imagine picking our top 10 was soooo hard, however  we have managed to narrow it down to 10 unforgettable activities, from sleeping under the stars on safari to planting coral reefs in the Maldives, now just to choose one!

1. Plant a coral reef in the Maldives

The only way to describe the Maldives is ‘paradise’. Jess and I were very lucky to have won a holiday there last year and it was everything we had imagined it to be and more. Made up of lots of tiny, picture perfect coral islands and surrounded by crystal clear waters, holidays in the Maldives can be as laid back or as adventurous as you want them to be. Choose to stay in overwater beach huts, rustic jungle retreats or on a stunning beach villa.

A honeymoon in the Maldives might not sound like something for the adventurers amongst you but don’t be fooled, there are lots of water activities for sea life lovers. We swam with whale sharks, dolphins, turtles and saw so many different species of corals and fish that I couldn’t keep count.

As nice as it was spending time with Jess, we agree however that we weren’t able to take full advantage of the island. The Maldives are known for their romantic dinners at sunset and luxurious couple’s retreats, so I would absolutely love to go again, next time with Mr T in tow (and Jess smuggled in my suitcase!)

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2. Sleep out under the stars on safari

This really would be a trip of a lifetime. An African safari is so high up on our bucket list that it is practically off the charts. Sanctuary Makanyane certainly has the wow factor for us, tucked away in the wilderness your lodge is surrounded by lush forest setting with awe inspiring views of the tranquil Marico River.

This reserve is one of the largest in South Africa, is responsibly managed and has an abundance of the Big 5, a myriad of bird species, cheetahs and brown hyenas and is also the best place in South Africa to see wild dog, also called “Makanyane”.

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3. Meet the Giant tortoises and baby turtles in the Seychelles

Wildlife lovers will know all about the plight of the endangered Hawksbill and green turtle. Between October and February these turtles lay their eggs on the pristine beaches of the Seychelles under the supervision and protection of the one of the longest running monitoring programmes.

I am very lucky to have already witnessed this spectacle first hand in Borneo but I would absolutely love to see it all again and share it with Mr T. He is a huge lover of Tortoises and Turtles, so much so, his nickname is ‘Turt’, so this would be his dream!

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4. Learn to be an Elephant Mahout in Thailand

There are many experiences you can have with elephants in Asia. Before I knew better, I rode an elephant in Borneo. It was an amazing experience and one I will never forget, but it left me feeling guilty (although the elephant was very well cared for!) and I have since been more interested in ethical elephant experiences.

Something we would love to learn is how to be elephant Mahouts. This is where you are taught about the importance of elephant husbandry and care, correct eating, sleeping, bathing and exercise. They are not trained to perform tricks and instead use elephant riding as a gentle form of exercise and stimulation, rather than making them trek through forests for hours with a heavy chair attached to their back, which is most unnatural to them.

There are many elephant parks that offer this experience some are better than others, just make sure the one you choose, offers the elephants plenty of rest time away from tourists, with plenty of food and freshwater. Try to avoid trekking camps that use chairs as these are too heavy for the elephant, instead you should be allowed to ride the elephant just behind its ears. Finally try to seek mahouts that do not use bull hooks, some will insist this is necessary, which is arguable, but you can check they aren’t misusing them by ensuring the elephant is free of cuts near its ears, mouth or armpits.

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