With Love from Scotland, Nira Moments

Posted on: September 29, 2016

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Travel the world, seek and explore ……

If your looking for culture, something different and a a plethora of whiskey and scotch then go and travel to Scotland.  I traveled to the United Kingdom, specifically Edinburgh Scotland, Glasgow and St. Andrews. At first I was a little apprehensive in going to the UK outside of London, because I thought it seemed more of a “Man’s” trip. With Scotland being the main destination, there is so much to do there and it’s definitely not just for a “Man’s trip” I was simply impressed and enchanted.  Before any trip, I do my do diligence and research on the destination, i.e: where to go, what to see, where to eat etc.. I was definitely in for an adventure. Once I landed in Edinburgh, I soon learned that this trip would be one I’d absolutely love, enjoy and been in complete awe the entire time.

I landed in Edinburgh,  breezed thru customs and was greeted by a car service  to take me to my hotel. When I stepped outside of the airport, I was amazed by Edinburgh’s natural beauty. It was something out of a movie, that’s how beautiful this place was and this was just at the airport. So you could just imagine my surprise as I continued the journey. I was a like a kid in a toy story, wide-eyed and amazed. It was a complete snapchat and Instagram frenzy.  I was flashing my camera and iPhone as we drove through the quaint streets of Edinburgh. Cobblestones, old historic buildings, and Harry potter like homes. I was just in complete awe as every turn the car made.

History on Edinburgh: 

  • Capital City Of Scotland
  • Scotland’s second most populated cities
  • Seventh most populated city in all of the United Kingdom
  • Historic centre of Edinburgh is divided in two by the broad green swathe of Princes Street Gardens. To the south the view is dominated by Edinburgh Castle, built high on the castle rock, and the long sweep of the Old Town descending towards Holyrood Palace. To the north lie Princes Street and the New Town. (Wikipedia) 
  • The West End of center city is known as the Financial District and where the Edinburgh International Conference Centre is located
  • Edinburgh’s Old and New Town’s were noted at UNSECO World Heritage Sites in 1995 recognizing the unique character of the Old Town and its medieval streets and planned Georgian New Town, which connects to  Dean Village and Calton Hill areas.
  • There are over 4,500 listed buildings within the city,[10] a higher proportion relative to area than any other city in the United Kingdom. (Wikipedia)

We arrived at our hotel, and the entire staff was so friendly and welcoming. Even our car service driver, she too was so nice and warm. We stayed at the Nira Caledonia located in Stockbridge a surround village just outside of the city center. Known as one of Edinburghs Best Luxury Hotels, this posh, chic and ever so stylish hotel was the perfect setting for any occasion.  For me, this was a work/personal trip and I do hope to visit the country again and explore more of the magical place. I will admit I’m one who loves to indulge and enjoy all the amenities that many luxury hotels offer. Although Nira Caledonia  luxe and quaint as it is, it has its own charm that I offers overall. The entire establishment offers so much even as a boutique luxe hotel.  The Nira Caledonia is located in the village of Stockbridge, close to the city centre, about a 1.3 mile walk. It’s also a 4 minute walk from the Water of Leith river. Very close to many restaurants, shops and many tourist sights.The Nira Caledonia was once the home of renowned 19th century essayist, bon viveur and hedonist, Christopher North. Even to this day, they still carry on the traditions he set forth.  It comes to no surprise that Nira Caledonia makes the  Small Luxury Hotels of the World list.

I stayed in there spacious garden suite, that included a private terrace with the most amazing views of Edinburgh in the background. It was the perfect mix of zen and serenity all at the same time. Nira Caledonia offers different suites all with varying interior design and decor, but they offer spacious seating areas and bedrooms within the suite itself. The seating area was great to just sit and relax after a day of sightseeing.  The perfect area to take photos, enjoy some afternoon tea, even some of our meals too. I loved the interior design of the Garden terrace suite that I couldn’t help but take photos and take in every moment. If you know me, I’m a sucker for personal greetings and details. When I arrived to the suite, they had  champagne on ice with a welcome note and chocolates.  A nice touch and greetings after the long flight.  They really know how to give their guest the first class and red carpet service you deserve and that’s what I received from the moment I arrived and throughout the duration of my stay. I  couldn’t ask for anything more, excellent accommodations and hospitality. No complaints whatsoever. From day 1 I absolutely loved the location as it was a breeze getting around the city and the area. I usually like to stay right in the center of the city, but the Nira was literally a few blocks from the centre. It was nice and refreshing to stay in the beautiful and quaint area of Stockbridge. Stockbridge village and the surrounding villages were the perfect places to take photos. So perfect that we could just walk outside and start snapping. Seriously guys, you’ll get your fair share and opportunity to take the perfect photos. If “your photo” spot is taken, don’t fret, you’ll soon find another spot to capture your next best photo. Every inch of the area and beyond is so instagrammable. Edinburgh and the country of Scotland is not only breathtaking but absolutely stunning.

I loved starting the day in the hotels main restaurant Blackwood Bar & Grill. Every morning they offered a wide variety of fresh, organic selections that made for a delicious breakfast. The fuel was much needed to get me through the days of sightseeing and exploration. And returning each night to enjoy a night cap at the bar to end the day. All in all, I truly enjoyed my stay at Nira Caledonia. A place I hope to visit again in the future. I’d like to thank the staff at Nira Caledonia for making my stay nothing short from fantastic.

Book your next stay at the Nira Caledonia

Where to Eat: 

What’s great about Edinburgh, it literally has many cuisines from around the world. So you’ll have a a plethora of restaurants to try. Plenty of restaurants to choose from on just about every corner of the beautiful city. So, whatever you’re craving whether it be: Indian, Italian, Spanish, Latin, Seafood you name it they have it. But if your looking for more traditional Scottish fares here are a few place to try out.

The Doric: Address: 15-16 Market St, Edinburgh EH1 1DE, United Kingdom,  the-doric.com

The Dorie is a local Scottish fares and 17th century feels. They offer a wide selection of Real Ales and Whiskies to taste.  If your looking to try some Traditional and popular Scottish delights try there Haggis Bon Bons (popular dish all over Scotland), other dishes to try are their Homemade Shepard’s Pie and Lamb Shank, both delicious. On Tap,  try their Deuchars, Stewart Hollyrood and Edinburgh Castle. As far as their whiskies they have a superb collection so you can choose whatever your heart desires.

Amber Restaurant: Address: 354 Castlehill, Edinburgh EH1 2NE, United Kingdom, scotchwhiskyexperience.co.uk

The Amber restaurant offers traditional Scottish cuisine, with tasting menus and a whiskey bar. The menu choice is run-of-the-mill Scottish fine dining so if you haven’t sampled this kind of cuisine before then you will love trying the Scottish selection on offer. With it being part of the whisky experience it means there is loads of whisky on offer, a favorite for my husband and I. If you like whisky you’ll love it. Would be nice to see them do some whisky matching with the food. Be sure to try their tasting menus they have to offer, you won’t be disappoint especially while you sit and enjoy some fine whiskey.

Take a stroll down to Dean Village there you’ll find a row of cute cafes, shops and restaurants with a variety of cuisines to offer.  Our favorites were:

The Olive Branch: Address:  91 Broughton St, Edinburgh EH1 3RX, United Kingdom, theolivebranchscotland.co.uk 

This restaurant offers simple European food in a smart modern spot with large windows, brick walls, wood floors and tables. Great for brunch and lunch.

Blackwoods Bar and Grill: Address:  6 Gloucester Pl, Edinburgh EH3 6EF, United Kingdom,  niracaledonia.com 

Excellent restaurant and it was right at our luxury boutique hotel. This is definitely a must try restaurant and I’m not just saying this because it was at our hotel, it’s because it was that good. Amazing food, exceptional  service and a great, relaxed atmosphere. Blackwood’s has outstanding quality at very reasonable prices, no pretensions, just amazing food, excellent service in a small comfortable space. Only about a dozen tables, intimate and perfect for Dinner. Order their juicy steaks cooked to your desire and their lovely mussels as well as their Wild Boar Ravioli, all three are absolutely delicious.  Make sure to leave room for dessert, because you’ll want to try their Sticky Toffee Pudding with Butterscotch sauce and Banana ice cream, restaurant favorite and simply to die for!

If you looking for more variety head on over to George Street. On George Street you’ll find some cute boutique shops and a plethora of restaurants to choose from. Some of our favorites were:

Cafe Andaluz: Address: 77B George St, Edinburgh EH2 3EE, United Kingdom, http://www.cafeandaluz.com

Elegant Andalucian decor and intimate ambience in a tapas joint with set menus and kids’ options. Amazing ambiance with food to match. Best tapas in all of Edinburgh. Be sure to order the Pollo Marinade, Gambas Pil Pil, Patatas Bravas, Paella Valencia, and the Bomba Picante. Great to share and oh so delicious!

The Printing Press Bar & Kitchen: Address: printingpressedinburgh.co.uk

Elegant, modern bar & bistro serving seasonally changing, locally sourced rustic Scottish cuisine. Fun, vibrant restaurant with great food and drinks. Great for dinner or even just some appetizers and cocktails after a day of sightseeing.

Be sure to bring your walking shoes, because you’ll want to explore anything and everything around Edinburgh. Walk the streets of Edinburgh and you’ll soon notice how the entire capital is comprised of small villages. To me, Edinburgh reminded me of Boston. A city that’s fun, vibrant, cultural and simply breathtaking. A quaint city that encompasses the big city life but not too big and over powering. You can literally explore and see all the villages and cover the entire city during a weekend visit,  But we took our time and enjoyed every bit of this lovely city. If your anything like me, you’ll be flashing away. Because every inch of this magical place is photo worth. So get your camera and iPhone’s ready!!

Where to go/What to See:  

GrassMarket+ Victoria Street
Edinburgh Castle+ Castle Hill
The Scottish Whiskey Experience
The Real Mary King’s Close
National Galleries of Scotland
Palace of HolyroodHouse
The Queen’s Gallery
The Scottish Parliment
Jenners
Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
The Royal Yacht Britannia
Shopping on Princes Street
Shopping on Georges Street
Luxury Shopping at Multrees Walk
West End (Cafes, Shops, Bistros)
Scott Monument
Greyfriar Bobby
Lauriston Castle
Waverly Market
Stockbridge Market
StockBridge Village
Dean Village
High Street + CanonGate
The Royal Mile
Arthur’s Seat
Prince’s Street Garden
HolyRood Park
St. Giles Cathedral
Edinburgh Waverly Railroad Station
Union Canal
Church of Scotland
Blackford Hill
Dugald Steward Monument
Circus Lane
•Take a day trip to Glasgow from Waverly Station (45 mins to 1 hr train ride)
•Take a day trip to St. Andrews (1 hr train ride)
• Take a drive to Speyside and experience the Scotch Distilleries (Glenlivet, Macallan and Glenfidich) (3 1/2 Hr drive From Edinburgh and 1 hr from Aberdeen)
I hope you enjoyed my Travel Guide and Photo Diary. If you ever get the chance to visit Scotland and stay at the Nira Caledonia (highly recommend), please do share your travels using the hashtags: #SFBTravelDiaries
#NiraMoments #Sponsored #Collaboration
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It’s more Fun in the Bahamas

Posted on: June 9, 2016

It’s definitely more fun in the Bahamas, with great weather and fun in the sun, how could you go wrong! I mean, am I right?!

Last May, I enjoyed a little getaway to the Bahamas.  A little fun in the sun and some good ol’ R&R. I’ve enjoyed visiting the Bahamas ever since my first visit back in High School.  It was a nice way to free my mind and getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city . Whenever you get a chance it’s always nice to get away now and then, and I feel it’s important too. Great way to get refreshed, relaxed and feel restored and ready to get back to reality.

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I stayed at none other than the Atlantis Resort & Casino on Paradise Island. I stayed at the newest, most modern and fashionably chic part of the resort: The Cove Atlantis.

Atlantis Paradise Island Resorts & Casino: Located at: One Casino Drive Paradise Island, Bahamas. It’s the Caribbean’s top vacation resort to visit. Discover all the fun and all it has to offer. The Resort has water parks the whole family can enjoy, fine dining, casino gaming and so much more. The resort has so much to offer you almost don’t need to go anywhere else. The Atlantis is such a gorgeous hotel and resort with so much to do for the whole family. I would highly recommend staying here when you visit the Bahamas. There are also many other hotels on Paradise Island and in downtown Nassau that are also notable. But this is one hotel that offers so much and has just about everything you’re looking for when your looking for relaxation, fun in the sun, and much more. Plus, it’s one of our favorites.

  • Royal Tower: is the most iconic tower and the heartbeat of the resort and the central location for the hotels premiere attractions.
  • Beach Tower: relaxed and care-free atmosphere, your room is steps away from all the fun, the beach and pools. The most affordable accommodations.
  • Coral Tower: contemporary and relaxed Bahamian ambiance, moderately priced accommodations.
  • The Reef Atlantis:Your home away from home, Luxury beachfront suites and residential apartments
  • The Cove Atlantis: Most stylish and fashionably chic escape, upscale guest experience. Exclusive access to the Adult only pool and beach club Cain at the Cove as well as Cascades Family pools. (This is where were stayed)
  • Harbourside Atlantis: Enjoy both simple and spacious charm of comfortable villas here at the Harbourside resorts. Ideally suited for families or groups of 9 or more.

What Atlantis has to offer–What To See + What To Do: 

  • Enjoy the Dolphin Experience at Dolphin Cay extraordinary environment and intimate interaction programs at this 14-acre marine habitat
  • Go and experience Atlantis’s Water Park 141-acre water park includes a mile-long river tubing adventure, nine water slides, and 11 pools
  • Water Adventures: Learn how scientists and Atlantis Blue Project are working to conserve the world’s coral reefs
  • Check out their Marine Habitat: Experience up-close views of more than 50,000 marine animals from over 200 species (Included with your stay)
  • There are a plethora of activities for the Kids and Adults to enjoy outside of the waterpark: Tennis, Shopping, Earth & Pottery Studio, Rock Climbing, Atlantis Theater, Atlantis Library, Yacht and Fishing Charters, and Tours
  • Golf: Guests of Atlantis can enjoy invigorating play and spectacular ocean views at the Ocean Club Golf Course, an 18-hole, par 72 championship course, designed by Tom Weiskopf
  • Spa: Mandara Spa brings together ancient Balinese healing touches, traditional European therapies and natural elements indigenous to The Bahamas to provide the most unique and pampering spa treatments
  • Entertainment : Atlantis has many bars and lounge and great nightlife. Experience it all and check them all out.
  • Cain at The Cove
  • Aura Nightclub
  • Atlantis LIVE
  • Atlantis Theatre
  • Jokers Wild Comedy Club
  • Bars & Lounges

Guest don’t just have to go to Rodeo drive or 5th Avenue for luxury shopping. Atlantis Resorts offers world-class shopping thats just steps away from your room. Visit the Crystal shops located in the The Royal Tower, more boutique shops in their Cove Tower, Marina Village and the Pro shop. Whatever you fancy Atlantis offers that and much more. If you want to venture off Paradise Island, head down to Bay Street located in downtown Nassau. There you’ll find many shops, outlets, boutiques and the local straw market. The Straw Market is one of my favorite place to visit. The straw market is a traditional open-air market, where local vendors sell handwoven straw crafts, Bahamian souvenirs & tourist trinkets. Definitely a great place to buy gifts for family and friends. Great for bargains as well.

Where To Eat: 

The Atlantis has a variety of foods to offer, so you won’t go hungry thats for sure. If your looking for fine dining, dining al fresco or some quick eats Atlantis has it. Island life is the best life and its great for any setting for eating. enjoy eating at one of my favorite restaurants Nobu (Celebrity Chef Restaurant), if your looking for something more Island cuisine then you’ll enjoy 77 West. Here are some other restaurants at Atlantis that may tickle your fancy.

Fine Dining Options (Our Faves):                                                          

Casual Dining Al Fresco (Our Favorites): 

Quick Eats: 

And if your super hungry and looking for something with more variety check out Poseidon’s Table. This is Atlantis’s newest buffet dining restaurant that has so much to offer. With an eclectic cuisines for dinner and an array of your breakfast favorites.

There is so much to see and do at The Atlantis but the same goes for the entire island of the Bahamas. If you want to experience the island, here are some suggestion on what to see in the Bahamas.

Bahamas Facts

  • Officially known as the Commonwealth of The Bahamas
  • It lies just northwest of Turks and Caicos and Southeast of Florida and East of the Florida Keys
  • Nassau is the Capital located in New Providence
  • New Providence is the most populated Island in the Bahamas containing more than 70% of the total population
  • The Bahamas was the first site where Christopher Columbus set foot on in the New World in 1492
  • The Bahamas become a British Colony in 1718, but became independent realm in 1973 retaining Queen Elizabeth II as its monarch.
  • Bahamas in one of the richest countries in the Americas following the USA and Canadas
  • The economy is based on tourism and finance
  • The colours embodied in the design of the Bahamian flag symbolize the image and aspirations of the people of the Bahamas; the design reflects aspects of the natural environment (sun, sand and sea) and the economic and social development. The flag is a black equilateral triangle against the mast, superimposed on a horizontal background made up of two colours on three equal stripes of aquamarine, gold and aquamarine. (Wikipedia)
  • The symbolism of the flag is as follows: Black, a strong colour, represents the vigour and force of a united people, the triangle pointing towards the body of the flag represents the enterprise and determination of the Bahamian people to develop and possess the rich resources of sun and sea symbolised by gold and aquamarine respectively. In reference to the representation of the people with the colour black, some white Bahamians have joked that they are represented in the thread which “holds it all together.”(Wikipedia)
  • The Yellow Elder is the national flower, it blooms throughout the years

What To See

  • Blue Lagoon: Blue Lagoon Island is a private island located 5 km from Nassau, Bahamas and serves as a local tourist attraction
  • Ardastra Gardens: Ardastra Gardens, Zoo and Conservation Centre in Nassau, The Bahamas opened in 1937 though the work of the Jamaican horticulturist, Hedley Vivian Edwards. From the Latin Ardua astrum, Ardastra means “Striving for the stars”
  • Junkanoo: Junkanoo is a street parade with music, dance, and costumes of Igbo origin in many towns across the Bahamas every Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. The largest Junkanoo parade happens in the capital New Providence.
  • Fort Fincastle: Fort Fincastle is a fort located in the city of Nassau on the island of New Providence in The Bahamas
  • Fort Charlotte: Fort Charlotte is a British-colonial era fort built on a hill over-looking the harbor of Nassau, The Bahamas. The fort sits a short walk west of downtown Nassau and the cruise ship terminal
  • Take a tour of Nassau, Paradise Island and more. For more information click here

If you’re anything like us, wherever we travel we like to check out where the locals hangout and eat. We love seeing and exploring the hot spots for the locals, especially for eating. So if your looking for something more local and authentic, take a little drive or walk down downtown Nassau to the Fish Fry. The Fish Fry, is where you’ll find real, authentic Bahamian dishes that will satisfy your tastebuds. The Fish Fry is a place I would highly recommend if your looking for local and real Bahamian cuisine.

During our trip, we enjoyed each day by the pool or beach, basically relaxed in paradise. Some days were spent, curled up reading a book or work in the Library lounge located in the Royal Tower. And of course we love taking photos. Honestly, every inch of this hotel and island was so Instagram friendly. It’s impossible to not find a more perfect place to take photos. If your favorite photo spot is occupied? Don’t fret, walk in any direction of the resort or even away from the hotel and you’ll find another perfect spot. This may seem like #bloggerproblems, but no fear the island is so beautiful, every inch is photo worthy. You’re in island paradise, so don’t worry you’ll be able to capture that perfect island photo shot, GUARANTEED! We enjoyed cocktails by the pool even tried our luck at the casino. Danced the night away at the Aura Nightclub and returned to the lobby bar for a nightcap.

The Island of the Bahamas and the Atlantis is so absolutely gorgeous with fun, relaxing and positive vibes. During you’re stay you’ll feel at ease and with so much to do you won’t ever have to worry about being bored. When you visit the Bahamas and stay at the Atlantis, you will surely have an amazing time as we did. Although the majority of our visit was spent at the resort, we also took time to explore the rest of the island. All in all, we enjoyed our stay in the Bahamas and at the Atlantis Resorts and Casino Paradise Island. We want to thank the entire staff at the Atlantis for making our stay such a fantastic experience. We also want to thank the Bahamas tourism board for the incredible tour of the beautiful island.

Have you traveled to Paradise? 

Book your next vacation at The Atlantis

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All about that Palm Tree Life !!

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I hope you enjoyed my Travel guide+diary and photos. I hope this was helpful for you in planning your next vacation or visit to the Bahamas or the Atlantis. I love hearing from you. Comment below or even write to me. If you ever get the chance to visit the Bahamas and stay at the Atlantis, please do share your visit using the hashtags: #SFBTravelDiaries #AlwaysAmazing #TheCoveLife #ItsMoreFunintheBahamas #StayAtlantis

As always, thanks for reading, following along and supporting me in my journey.