Greek Island Hopping

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I'd only been to Greece once before, a few days on Santorini a few years ago, so when my sister Alyse told me she wanted to do some of the Greek Islands this summer I was on board straight away. As we began our trip with Med Experience it quickly became apparent that island hopping in Greece is the best way to travel.

We spent a night in Athens getting to know our group over a bit of feta, lamb and beers before heading off to Santorini in the morning. It was a long ferry trip but we used the time to play cards, chat and get ourselves prepared for the craziness that was to come.

Once in Fira, Santorini we all jumped in the pool before watching the famous Santorini sunset over dinner. Next we hit the clubs to really get to know each other (you only know someone when you've seen them dance, right?). The next day we set off on a short hike to look out over the mesmerising Santorini view and walk through the streets of Oia where we enjoyed our first gyros (which definitely wasn't the last). We had a chilled afternoon swimming at a black sand beach before heading out for another massive night in town.

The next island we hopped on off to was the island of Ios. I think I can speak for a lot of the group when I say that Ios was one of our favourite stops - I didn't want to leave! Gorgeous sunsets, picturesque town and my god, the bar crawls were unbelievable! One of the big activities in Ios bars is buying 7 shots which comes with a singlet. By the first night there were new singlets scattered amongst our group and that just kept growing the next night too. Apart from the bars (which, did I mention, are wicked?) Ios offers much opportunity for water sports, boating and snorkeling.

Next came Paros and some much welcome down time after the ridiculousness that was Ios. Paros is a smaller place that offers a look into a traditional lifestyle on the islands. Our first night there we had a big Greek feast with Greek dancing, plate smashing and way too much Ouzo. The next day we headed out on a traditional (ex) fishing boat that took us along the coast to beautiful swim spots for exploring and cliff diving.

The last island to hop to was none other than the island of Mykonos. I'd heard it was the party island and since we were staying right at Paradise Beach Resort we were hit with full force on the very first afternoon. The beach party started at 4pm with cocktail buckets, bikinis and dancing - this party then turned into the paint party at 10pm. From memory I don't think anyone was in bed before 4am ... But that 12 hour party on the first night didn't stop us from going just as hard again on the second! However we did go into Mykonos town to explore the white & blue streets and spot the famous windmills before sunset. By then it was right back to Paradise for yet another paint party, massive frozen cocktails & endless dancing with the group right through the night.

Of course by this stage our group had bonded pretty tightly and it would be impossible to try and explain everything we went through together along the way. So I'll just express my endless thanks & love for our tour leader Vas and the group for a trip to remember always! Thanks MedExperience



Ultimate Byron Bay Road trip

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Ah, the drive from Sydney to Byron Bay is one I'm now familiar with and welcome as an easy adventure! Every time I visit I find something new and this trip was no exception as we strived to explore places unseen as well as the old favourites. We had the new Holden Spark to road test for a week so it was pretty much a no brainer! After checking into our charming AirBnB in the middle of town we had a solid feed at Bayleaf and watched the sunset illuminate the clouds from the beach. The next morning brought a visit to The Farm for breakfast and a stroll through the sunflowers before heading off inland to Protestors Falls - a short walk after a solid drive out of Byron that I would highly recommend if you've got a spare day. 

I had never been snorkelling out at Julian Rocks and after hearing that they regularly have sea turtle sightings I was hooked on the idea - you can see footage from swimming with turtles in the road trip video released soon on my youtube channel - visit here & subscribe to see it as soon as it's live! Island Quarry was a spot I had visited with a bunch of friends about 5 years ago so it was on the list for this trip. Such a beautiful place but no longer the locals 'secret spot' that it used to be, which was interesting as I believe it's being developed further for community events in the future. In between beach swims & cafe hopping we also made a trip to Stone & Wood brewery for a good ol' brewery tour! On the way home a picnic was packed which was enjoyed on the docks at Coffs Harbour while the sun set.  

Over the whole trip we were on the road A LOT and the Spark made it super easy to zip around town once in Byron - not to mention it managed to fit a surfboard in the back with ease! If you want to check out the little beast for yourself Holden currently have a pop-up at Westfield Chatswood (plus Holden as joined by Gelato Messina & their limited edition flavour inspired by the Spark!) - so get down there before 22nd May!



Autumn Palette

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As a bit of a change from my usual travel posts I've put together a little Autumn lookbook thanks to the amazing folk at Grana! I love the range of chinese silk they offer because not only is it heavenly soft, the colours are so rich and perfect for autumn. So I went for a matching two piece (silk top & shorts) and I dressed down the rust ensemble with a (japanese) denim shirt. Now usually an outfit that involves cashmere would be regarded as pretty damn luxe but in typical Emma style I've gone and grunged it up just a tad for my second look with my greek fisherman hat & DIY choker... thoughts though? At the end of the day it's still quality Mongolian cashmere so pretty luxe in my books! Paired with Emerald silk shorts.

Hope you guys liked the little lookbook post! I also have an exclusive Grana promo code which gives you guys a 10% discount and free shipping! Just enter EMMAxGRANA at check-out. 



My African Adventure in KENYA

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I had never been to Africa before. When you think of Africa, what comes to mind? For me, the first thing has to be the animals. And my goodness, there are animals! … but we’ll come to them later. Next would be the epic landscape, the open plains, the flat top trees and then the dense jungle like something reminiscent of Out of Africa or even the Lion King (you know when Simba runs away and everyone breaks out into Hakuna Matata). If this image comes to your mind too, what you’re probably thinking of is Kenya

Upon arriving in Nairobi, I hit the ground running and learnt there’s actually a lot the capital has to offer. Despite the frustration of my bags being lost on the way to Africa I forgot my worries for the day due to what I was able to experience as soon as I arrived. First stop was a visit to an Elephant Orphanage run by the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust where you can get up close with baby elephants that have been rescued by the organisation. If that isn’t enough, Nairobi is also home to the Giraffe Manor, which accommodates tourists in the stately hotel alongside a number of endangered Rothschild giraffes that will join you for breakfast, sticking their heads in your bedroom window or the dining room each morning. Other interesting activities in Nairobi include a tour of the Kazuri Factory where they produce handmade beads or if you’ve got a wild appetite a visit to Carnivore is in order, where you can enjoy an all-you-can-eat meat buffet! More posts from Kenya and my time on Safari to come next.  



48HRS IN BANGKOK with Holiday Inn Express

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Earlier this month I had the absolute pleasure of travelling to Thailand for the first time to experience a stay in Bangkok thanks to Holiday Inn Express! I had 48 hours and a jam packed itinerary so location of my hotel was of optimum importance! Luckily Holiday Inn Express Siam had me covered being situated right next to a sky-train station and only a short taxi ride away from both the old quarter and the major shopping districts!

Basically what Holiday Inn Express is about is providing a comfortable and convenient stay without all the extras you don’t necessarily need removed in order to reduce the cost for travellers. They have free breakfast, fast internet and, probably my favourite thing, your choice of (firm or soft) pillows!

So what did I get up to in 48hours in Bangkok? Of course, I started with the ‘Must Dos’ for Bangkok and took a taxi out to the Grand Palace & Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha). I would definitely recommend visiting both of these spots – the detail in the temples is beautiful! Although it can get VERY hot and crowded here so I would recommend heading out there first thing in the morning. After a quick lunch by the river I visited the Snake Farm at the Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute. I arrived in time for the handling demonstration which was very interesting – it was a little worrying to see some of the more dangerous snakes had been defanged in order to be handled however that was my only issue and I was delighted to be able to cuddle a python after the demonstration – holding a massive snake was on my 2016 bucket list!

That night I took the sky-train from just outside the hotel to catch the sunset at Sky Bar (aka The Hangover 2 bar & the most expensive beer I’ve ever had) before catching a free ferry to the Asiatique night markets for a bite to eat and a little shopping! 

The next day I started Day 2 with a visit to the Jim Thompson House which is located right behind the hotel. Jim Thompson was an American businessman who helped revive the silk industry in Thailand before his mysterious disappearance in 1967. At the house you are offered information about Thompson’s work as well as a tour of his stunning house – I was so captivated there and left wanting to actually live in that beautiful house. I then took a short walk across the canal to have lunch at the Caturday Cat Café! I’m going to let the photos & video speak for themselves with this one – all I’m saying is that they are so so cute and well cared for at Caturday! I spent my afternoon exploring the extensive shopping district in Bangkok – some of the malls there are just like eBay in real life! Pretty much anything you can imagine, you can find in these massive shopping centers.

I had a massive 2 days in Bangkok thanks to Holiday Inn Express and IHG and I would have not changed a thing – what an amazing city! I thought I would also mention that Holiday Inn Express will be opening it’s doors to Sydney in Maquarie Park this April and will launch the brand in Australia!  Holiday Inn Express Sydney Macquarie Park provides guests with everything they need and nothing they don’t for a smart and convenient stay, including free and fast Wi-Fi and free Express Start™ Breakfast or Grab & Go. You’re able to book a stay now at  http://www.ihg.com/holidayinnexpress/hotels/us/en/sydney/sydmp/hoteldetail