The LONDON Challenge

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These days, travelling has become a massive part of my life just like a lot of young people around me. Westpac has helped to make it more affordable & enjoyable for students & people under 31 by offering those who open a new Westpac Everyday bank account, which comes with a complimentary Student Discount Card. The discount card is recognised all over the world & offers a bunch of different discounts whilst away including tours, food, accommodation & even discounts on flights to get there through STA Travel!

Westpac challenged us to test out as many activities as we could to make our travel spending stretch further & what better city to test it out than London - a place I've visited many times but always has something new for us to experience. 

First stop was the view at The Shard! The Shard is the tallest building in the United Kingdom at almost 310m high! It was only completed in 2012 so it's something rather new to add to your bucket list. Not only does it have a viewing deck but also features a handful of bars & restaurants if you'd like a sneaky bite or drink in case you're a little anxious when it comes to heights. We got in for student rates by using the Student Discount card.

We then caught the tube out to Grosvenor House at the Park Room, which overlooks Hyde Park - the perfect spot to experience the traditional British Afternoon Tea complete with cucumber sandwiches & a glass of bubbles! Also in the area are the March Arch, Paddington and Kensington gardens. All are just a short walk away from the beautiful Natural History Museum. 

Before the Westpac challenge I'd only ever walked past Westminster Abbey, but with 15% off through the student discount card, we were able to book tickets to walk through the historic Abbey. It was at Westminster Abbey that Queen Elizabeth II had her coronation, her wedding and of course the wedding of her son Prince William to the lovely Kate. It is the burial place of Charles Darwin and it also held the funeral of Princess Diana. 

The highlight for me was the intricate detail in the Henry Vll Lady Chapel at the far end of the Abbey. Not only the pendant fan vault ceiling but also the monuments dedicated to past nobles and rows of banners of the knights of the Order of Bath. 

After working up an appetite we headed to Bella Italia, we couldn’t resist the 2 for 1 cocktails for cardholders on selected days! Lucky for us it was a lovely day in London & the sun shone down on us in the square - we even had a great spot for people watching & spotted Ellie Goulding with entourage in tow & followed by a mob of paparazzi.

To find out more about Westpac’s Everyday Bank account and what the complimentary Discount Card can offer you during your travels head here.



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