We Interview The Man Behind A Luxury Travel Blog

So The Travelling Postcard is only but a spec in the world of travel and travel blogging, so imagine our surprise when Dr Paul Johnson responded to our asking for an interview! As you will see below, A Luxury Travel Blog is expert in this field, travelling and sharing experiences for many years, writing this post has been a delight. 
Paul Johnson - A Luxury Travel Blog

Paul Johnson - A Luxury Travel Blog  


When did you first start travelling?

For as long as I can remember - when I was very young, we used to go on camping holidays to France every year.

How many countries visited?

About 30

Favourite Country? 

Hard to call... Tanzania, Greenland or Greece, but I'll go with Tanzania as we enjoyed a wonderful honeymoon there.

Least favourite country?


I don't really have one.

Best travel advice ever received?

On leaving the house, check for three things - passport, money and tickets. So long as you have those, any other mishaps can be rectified!

Where are you now? 

I am currently spending the week at a luxury hotel (Polurrian Bay Hotel, Mullion - a member of Luxury Family Hotels) on the Lizard Peninsula in Cornwall, UK. Cornwall has been in the news lately because it has been hit by severe weather (by UK standards) and they are keen to get the message out that they are still #openforbusiness



Please tell us a bit about who you are, what made you travel and how you brought about A Luxury Travel Blog? 



I have worked in the tourist industry for over 25 years and, since the Web came along, been a Director of The Dedicated Partnership Ltd. ( www.dedicate.co.uk ) which specialises in the online marketing of tourism businesses. I am also a Director of a holiday rental business, Kendal Holiday Cottages Ltd., that I run with my wife - www.kendalcottages.com

My background, though, is in Geography and Geology. After a BSc Joint Honours degree in those two subjects, I went on to get a PhD in Glaciology. Of course, these subjects have presented me with plenty of travel opportunities which has been a bonus, but my love of travel has been with me since childhood.

At the time of starting A Luxury Travel Blog, there was nothing like the number of travel blogs out there that you see today and those that were around tended to focus primarily on backpacking and budget travel. With my student and youth hostelling days mostly behind me (we still sometimes youth hostel with our children as it can be great for kids to get together), and a growing interest in the luxury end of the market, A Luxury Travel Blog was born.

From your favourite country mentioned above, what top experiences would you suggest cannot be missed? Either for the country as a whole or a town / city within it.

You can't go to Tanzania without going on safari!  We visited the Serengeti, Ngorongoro and Lake Manyara, as well as a private island off Zanzibar. All were wonderful in their own unique way, but experiencing a safari would be my number one recommendation.


Two / Three hints or tips for travellers wanting to travel to your favourite destination? Can be anything from visas to luggage essentials etc, but if possible, specific to the country or town chosen. 

Choose your location carefully. Go for a small, private operator with an open top 4X4 which will give you the best chance of successful game viewing. Make sure you have a professional guide, with an extensive knowledge.  If you have a particular interest (eg. ornithology), make sure you pick a guide that shares that interest.

Recommended hotel stay? 

We loved all the places we stayed.  Grumeti River Lodge is a wonderful spot if you just want to relax by a river brimming with hippos!

Least favourite thing about this country / town or city you have chosen?  

There was nothing I didn't enjoy about our visit.


Finally, any advice for fellow travel bloggers? 

I have written two posts that I hope may offer useful advice to fellow travel bloggers:

7 top tips to running a successful travel blog

10 top tips on how to widen the appeal of your travel blog


You can read more about Dr Johnson and A Luxury Travel Blog here:
A Luxury Travel Blog: http://www.aluxurytravelblog.com (400,000+ uniques/mo) ALTB on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/luxurytravel (85,000+ likes)ALTB on Twitter: http://twitter.com/luxury__travel (320,000+ followers)


We would like to thank Dr Johnson and A Luxury Travel Blog for giving us this opportunity.

Happy Travelling!
Shereen & Dylan




The Postcards impression on Gibraltar’s Frontier Delays

Gibraltar Border 

The Postcards Impressions


An impression or opinion is brought about by many voices sharing their ideas or concerns,  it is for this same reason that we have decided to create “The Postcards Impression”… this will enable us as writers to share our thoughts on occurring events happening in all parts of the globe.  This week would like to share our opinion on how Gibraltar, a mere 30,000 in population and not even 7 square kilometres is dealing with a diplomatic row with the Kingdom of Spain.  Please do not be dettered by this, this post does not share any political affintity whatsoever, we are just travel bloggers who wish to express the wonderful features Gibraltar offers travellers.


A history of tales between Gibraltar and Spain



A brief history before we start, Gibraltar has been British for over 300 years and ever since Spain has been trying to regain power of Gibraltar.  They have even agreed to share soveringty alongside Britain, this was abundantly refused by the people of Gibraltar in a referendum held in 2002.  Ever since, Spain exerts pressure on Gibraltar in a less than political way by actually initiating stringent border checks which can cause chaos in Gibraltar as queues stretch back along our roads.  Last July saw the start of events which have caused certain media to portray Gibraltar as a destination in chaos with the ideology that “Once you go in it will take an enternity to go out”.  Well my fellow readers, this assumption is far from the truth, Gibraltar remains as one of the most visited destiantions along the Mediteranean and a tourist hotspot due to its vibrant history and wonderful features.  Of course we must be vigilant that stringent border checks have immediately caused the eye of the media to swoop over and have been portraying Gibraltar as a No-Go destination in the summer.
Gibraltar Border Delays 

 How the Media affects current situations ...  

Media sources normally exaggerate or depict no problems within an area.  Places such as Bangkok and Kiev are currently suffering from protests against Governments with fatalities to account for.  In occasions such as these, people will normally not visit as they fear for their safety.  As a vivid traveller myself, I would like to further mention that Bangkok is a safe place if you stay away from protests, I myself will be there in a few weeks time!  So I hope im expressing my opinion when I mention matters such as Bangkok.  Media footage wil normally deter people from visiting a destination if the place seems unsafe.  Apart from border delays which are not an everyday occurance, roaming in and out of Gibraltar is fluid at times and I can guarantee that your experience will be that of great gratification.

Gibraltar's unique and different tourist attractions!



Gibraltar offers travellers fantastic features that can't be experienced in other destinations.  Have you ever experienced crossing a live runway and actually watching a plane land or take off metres away from you?  Have you ever taken a picture with a semi wild roaming Barbary Macaque at the top of a limestone rock? Or even jumped onto a boat and visit the bottle nosed dolphins? Or even been in a cable car to to the top of the Rock and gazed 360 degrees across the gateway to the Mediteranean. My personal favourite which is actually possible, Breakfast in Gibraltar, Lunch in Spain and dinner in Morocco.  Three Countries , Two Continents, One Day!

Gibraltar Airport Runway - Traffic stops to let aircrafts through
Barbary Macaque found at the Top of the Rock
Bottle nosed Dolphins found in the Bay of Gibraltar
Views of Africa 
Upper Rock Nature Reserve Gibraltar 
Views of the Rock from Morocco
The Straits of Gibraltar 

The possibilities are endless, visit us in the future as the animosity is all created by politicians and the media.  The people of Gibraltrar and Spain would simply welcome you to our region, full of wonderful experiences and a travel adventure you will soon not forget.

Have you liked this post?



In the next few weeks we will be sharing more on The Postcards Impressions to further understand different cultures, we will soon be trying to get your opinion on matters which make the headlines which you think needs to be shared.


In the meantime, please let us know the following:


What are your perceptions of Gibraltar? Especially for the American readers which I know follow us.. a big Gibraltarian Hello and thanks to you!

Secondly, If you have heard of Gibraltar border delays let us know your thoughts on the matter, we sure want to know!

Safe Travels
Dylan

Granada a wonderful blend of Moorish Charm and Spanish Tradition

To the north of Malaga and about 3 hours form my hometown lies the beautiful city of Granada, Spain. It's quaint little streets, abundance of history and incredible selection of tapas this place is absolutely perfect for a short weekend getaway. I can see why its a popular excursion for those staying up on the Costa del Sol.


My first impression of Granada was that its a small, quiet, adorable little town. You have the typical breakfast locals where we enjoyed a traditional Spanish bread with tomato and olive oil spread with a standard glass of tea, rather than my typical mug of tea.

Everyone seems to go about their business in an orderly fashion making it a really relaxed morning. Once we had breakfast and energized we strolled through the streets, cobbled and brown. The sunlight in the mornings created a warm, relaxed, cosy ambiance hitting the brown walls and streets.

Granada's Architecture and Moorish Influence 

We came across an old church, I'm always fascinated by them as I can never quite figure out how they were built, kind of like the pyramids. Tall ceilings, mosaic windows and intricately detailed statues made the church a delight to witness.   




The main square around the church was full of people and tourists, it brought the area to life. Sadly, there are a lot of middle aged women trying to sell you oddly shaped leaves with well wishes in exchange for cash, stay away from them, if you can! If it wasn't that they come right up to your face and shove the leaves in your face, they too would add to the ambiance nicely to the city.  In any case, right next to the church you also have small shops and stands, selling from candy and sweets to tea leaves. 


Markets, Tapas & more!

Making our way through the town, we finally got to a market our colleague was telling us about but we couldn't find. Very narrow streets created this little market, once you stepped into it, it felt like you had left Granada and stepped foot in the souks of Morocco.

Granada's Arabic influence is really prominent throughout the town, from stores to buildings, Granada was beautiful because of it.



While the boys ordered brunch tapas (which one round of beers brings you a free plate of tapas!) the girls visited the shops. Don't know who got the better deal!

For lunch we sat in one of the tapas bars in the main square, the food was absolutely delicious. Such a delight. Revueltos (chips, ham and egg all scrambled in a pan), Spanish ham, prawns, chicken kebabs, typical Spanish Ensaladilla Rusa (literally translated to Russian Salad), everything was exquisite and again for every drink you ordered, you got a free tapa! Well worth the money and most locals do this in this city!

Sightseeing and the Alhambra 

In the afternoon, we decided we were too full to walk around the town, so we purchased the Hop On Hop Off sightseeing bus. It was 19.00 Euros pp for two days, perfect for our weekend long trip. We joined the tour group and followed the routes all the way through until we reached La Alhambra.


 



A beautiful city created by the Moors, hence the Arabic influence that seemed to resonate throughout Granada. Make sure you get tickets for this in advance, we went there under the impression there would be hundreds of tickets for us to choose from, but unfortunately, there is a cap on the amount of tickets sold daily for entrances into the Alhambra and their gardens. 



Thankfully, we managed to get tickets only for the exterior of the La Alhambra and could walk through their grounds seeing some of the architectural features created. Its a pleasant walk through this place with wonderful views of Granada. If you get the chance to visit, don't forget to stroll by La Alhambra, it is the most popular visitor attraction on the Costa del Sol! 


Have any of you ever visited Granada?! If so, what where your trip highlights? Send us an email to info@thetravelpostbox.com to get featured on the blog!


Happy Travelling
Shereen 


Visit Spain's most incredible towns and cities with G Adventures! Find out more below: 



Moorish SpainMoorish Spain
Al-Andalus was a Muslim state that ignited Europe for centuries. It's now more commonly known as Spain. Discover the romance and intrigue for yourself on an 8-day tour that offers expert guidance but leaves plenty of free time to unravel the mysteries on your own. You'll explore Madrid's museums, walk Toledo's streets, and embrace Andalucia's Moorish spirit in converted mosques, Seville's cathedral and the Alhambra of Granada. From gypsy culture to flamenco passion, encounter a culture a thousand years in the making.

My Little London Town Routine

Everyone has a town or a city they absolutely love going back to, mine is London. I will never tire of it, the air, the people, the hustle and bustle of the underground, Covent Garden and my favourite Leicester Square.


If I only had 12hrs in London...

My little London Town routine will always be the same, I sometimes wonder whether I should change it in order to see a bit more of the city, but then I remember I am only in London for 12hrs and cannot miss the things I love most!


The Morning Stroll through Covent Garden

In the morning, I head straight to Covent Garden. The first happy moment of the day is getting to it, my mother hates the Underground as do many people because of the rat race the city generates, especially at rush hour. I however, rather enjoy experiencing it. I tuck my headphones neatly into my ears, have some uplifting music on and just people watch. It is rather stress relieving seeing others lives go by, I catch myself wondering what those people on the tube are wondering and what their day would be filled with if I were in their shoes.



Once we get to Covent Garden, a nice tea in the centre of the square. Nice, warm cuppa to get the senses going and then just enjoying the surroundings. Talent acts, markets, quaint little shops perfect to get you into the London mood.



Lunch at Oxford Circus 

Once morning coffee and stroll are done, I head to Oxford Circus, Oxford Street. I sometimes spend a lot of time here wandering through the stores, but as of late I only tend to have a couple of hours in the city and so I just walk through this street and window shop as I head to the wonderful Bella Italia!


It is probably my favourite Italian Restaurant out of Italy. You have so much to choose from the menu, make sure you order the basket of different types of bread.... the dip it brings is absolutely exquisite, by the time you realise, the entire basket is gone leaving you hungry for more!


Enjoy any amazing Italian dish from spaghetti al vongole to lasagne and cannelloni.. its all there to your hearts content! Finally, do NOT have desert if you want to follow this little run about town as after this lunch I tend to head down to Leicester Square for the most amazing ice cream tower.


After lunch, walk down to Picadilly Circus through Regent Street and admire all the high street shops and Hamley's incredible window displays!


Afternoon at the delicious Haagen Dazs followed by a house of fun!

I absolutely LOVE going to Leicester Square around 17:30 hrs to sit and enjoy the mother of all ice creams... Haagen Dazs's very own Cookies & Cream tower. Its this cookies & cream flavoured ice cream in a long thin glass cup, it is heaven to look at and even more so when you take the first bite. The glass is full of the amazing ice cream, warm actual cookie crumbles and chocolate fudge sauce. A dream come true!


After the amazing treat, I tend to wander to Piccadilly Circus and visit Ripley's Believe It or Not store or enjoy some arcade games in the Trocadero. The arcade is a three storey building with everything from bowling to pin ball to casino type games... hours of fun!





Dinner in Chinatown

Once you've tired yourself out at the museum or playing arcade games, head back to Leicester Square, a quick visit to the M&M Store is a must. I would never had thought M&M's could've made such an array of consumables.. its a fantastic store!


At around 20:00 hrs, head over to Chinatown! If you are coming into Chinatown from Leicester Square the second corner on the right, Gerard's Corner. Our most favourite Chinese in the city! We never miss a chance to come here for dinner!




Ending a night at the Movies!

Finally, I never ever miss a trip to the cinema in London. Leicester Square is home to all the latest movies and I always enjoy a trip to the cinema, my guilty pleasure. I love that there are about 6 cinemas surrounding the square and they won't be showing the same movie in any of them, they give each other the respect to host different movies in different cinemas.


With this being said, for some reason I always tend to end up at the Vue. The Odeon is just too big for my liking and too popular, the Vue has its authentic cinema charm and not very busy meaning there will always be tickets available for you to watch something and queues for the popcorn won't be too long! Please do take note that most cinemas in Leicester Square are about £15.00 per person on average ... but sooo worth it!







This brings me to the end of my 12 hours in London! Please do let me know how you spend your only 12 hrs in the city you most love and always go back to! Send us an email to info@thetravelpostbox.com if you would like us to share your story here!



Safe Travels Everyone,
Shereen!




The Wonders of Bolivia - A friendly word by a fellow traveller!


Have you ever thought of travelling to South America?  Its rich and vibrant history are only two of the many factors which persuaded fellow traveller and great friend Colin Rocca to do so. Colin standing at around 176 cm weighing around 170 pounds....  Why do readers want to know this? Only joking, I'm only messing with Colin. In actual fact, I was actually incredibly interested in hearing his story through Bolivia as he is a vivid traveller who has visited nearly all corners of the globe.  A truly remarkable person whose outlook on life is that of a nomadic traveller.... could I call him a hippy I dare to ask?




Bolivia Statistics

Capital :                La Paz
Largest City:          Santa Cruz de la Sierra
Official Language:  Spanish, Quechua, Aymara, Guarani
Ethnic Groups:       Amerindian (55%), Mestizo (30%), White (15%)


And with that little introduction, we begin our interview...

In 2013, Colin embarked on a planned trip through Bolivia, a country renowned for its silver back in the days before Spanish conquistadors rampaged everything.  Did you know Bolivia used to create their own silverware and money coins, since Europeans annihilated their production they now have to get their supplies from places like France.  Since then certain countries like Spain named certain routes as “La Ruta de la Plata” which means Silver Route, as soon as Silver arrived from Bolivia, this was then supplied to mainland Europe using the Silver Route which runs through Compostela.



What made you travel and with whom?

Having decided to travel in May 2013, my group of friends and I travelled to Bolivia as I had been jumping in between jobs at the time and decided to visit a close friend who was travelling through South America.  The group consisted of three other friends, a word of advice for travellers who plan on visiting alone... if its your first time do make sure you at least have a plan of action, an idea of where you plan to go or ideally, travel in a small group.


   

What route did you take?

La Paz
Arriving in La Paz on a Monday morning with cold temperatures, I can remember how the altitude instantly took a toll on us as we endured a lack of oxygen right after we left the arrivals hall. We immediately jumped onto a bus to take us to our hostel in central La Paz. Our planned route through Bolivia was jam packed and intense due to our short stay: 18 days. On our first day, we endured a short walk around the city followed by a night dinner feast full of homemade burgers and choripan, chorizo in a sandwich with blends known only in the region. Our second day had a quad bike touring los Yungas, a must do as you escape the city crowd.


Uyuni
The next morning before embarking to Uyuni for our adventure, . After several hours of travelling from the capital.  The bus arrived at five in the morning where we were to meet one of our friends Julian, it was a no show.  We were in the bus station without knowing were he was.  We finally decided to go hostel to hostel to try and find him, luckily on our first hostel there he was sleeping... poor receptionist had to wake him up!

Arriving at Uyuni was great as we now reached the gateway to the worlds largest salt flats.  What was once known for being a trade post, now attracts millions of tourists.  A three day tour of the Salar de Uyini (salt flats) where we even stayed one night in a hostel made of salt. We endured picturesque landscapes and an even more remarkable feature of the lake,when it rains the sky reflects the water in the lakes thus looking as if the sky continues through the ground. We even trekked to reach the border with Chile in our 4x4 vehicle.



Potosi
After our three day tour of the salt flats, we decided to travel to Potosi, which is one  of the highest cities in the world by elevation with over 4000 meteres in altitude. The name is also sometimes referred to as Cerro Rico (Rich Mountain). The mountain has always been the reason for the cities historical significance since as explained before it used to lie as the supply route to Spain during the Spanish period.  Our brief stay of the city included visiting certain museums which paved us way to our next destination: La Isla del Sol, placed among Lake Titicaca which is by way of volume of water the largest in South America.  The main highlights of the island is its culture with not more than 1000 people living there and its fresh fish literally caught right beside you and cooked at the first instance.  I must however mention, the altitude in this region took negative effect on us as we endured hard throbbing headaches because of the altitude we were perched on.

After visitng La Isla del Sol we decided to call it a day. Being so high up in the Andes region, the altitude made us travel back to the capital city of La Paz were we planned to fly to Rurrenabaque, the town closest to Maddidi National Park, our next stop!

The Amazon - Maddidi National Park
After spending one night in the neighbouring town of the amazon, we embarked on a 6 day tour of the National park.  The first three days consisted of a three day survival trek in the middle of the Amazonian forest with a specialized tour guide who we even convinced on our 2st night after some of his local whisky to trek 12 hours non-stop barefoot, can you believe that! He Couldn't!
By the end we became accustomed to actually walking and being part of the amazon.  Our guide Fraizer from Mogli tours prepared daily fresh fish caught on the day.  On our last day on survival mode we trekked to a summit were we encountered Papayagos swarming close to us entering their habitat, a truly remarkable scene and apparently hard to find these days according to Fraizer. May I also add, I was incredibly amazed by the surreal tranquillity of the Amazon rainforest as we floated back to camp on our rubber rings.

Our final night was special as our indigenous guide got us to carry out a ritual for Pacahmama, according to their Aztec antecedents a ritual like this brings prosperity and health to mother nature.  Did I mention we slept in man-made tents, its chilly at night!



Our second part of the six day tour of the Amazon was totally different to the initial three days.  We experienced the luxury side of the Amazon, we enjoyed certain experiences such as a river canoe tour through the river were animals strolled through the river bank.  We even swam with river dolphins, these fantastic creatures are incredible, at first they poke you but then only want to be entertained by playing with them.  Accommodation was the opposite to our first three days, we were now sleeping in dorms in the middle of the Amazon, it seemed like a five star hotel in comparison - not sure if I enjoyed it as much as the tents!
We finally completed our six day Amazonian adventure, a must live experience where you will certainly feel how the Amazon changes at night.  Its animals conserve a truly fantastic adventure which has to be lived by everyone travelling the region. 
La Paz
Our trip of Bolivia came to close soon after this as we headed to La Paz street nightlife to witness El Mercado de Brujas, an ancient traditional market where you can purchase certain items which relate to witch myths.  After two nights we endured one of the world’s most dangerous bicycle roads Yungas Road or as it’s known by many “Death Road”.  A heart thrilling and exciting experience, this bicycle road has taken the life of many as the roads width is near to nothing and the fall is jaw dropping!

What did you enjoy the most?

It certainly has to be Salinas and its Salt flats, a different experience which has attracted many from afar.  Secondly, the Amazon itself, the changes between day and night are astonishing, how certain animals come out by day and others by night. The sound of the rainforest at night is an indescribable feeling!

What did you least enjoy?

The Altitude has to be the most negative aspect of traveling to Bolivia. However, there is a tea that alleviates the sickness.  The Coca leaf is mixed in a tea and thus makes you feel better, the indigenous people of Bolivia have always used this and President Morales legalised the growing of Coca leafs for medicinal purposes, a global outbreak has been caused since this introduction as Bolivia has become one of the biggest suppliers of cocaine in the world.

How does the culture differ from Europe?

It used to be far greater, however, cities have slowly grown to destroy the indigenous villages and its people.  You can now see how older generations of citizens who are not used to life in the city struggle to become members of society, a true shame as they simply cannot adopt to modern day life.


Any two travel tips?

Take your time to acclimatise to the altitude, if you are unwell stop and relax, always take the necessary steps for the sickness to alleviate.
Make sure you try homemade burgers and choripan! You won’t be disappointed.
Would you revisit?
I would travel to other places in South America before heading back to Bolivia, nevertheless, I will return. 


We take this opportunity to thank Colin for his time and story telling, it has been wonderful listening to all his stories throughout his time there! Have any of you ever been to Bolivia? What were your thoughts on the city? Do you have any travel tips you'd like to share?


Happy Travelling!
Dylan