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Sheraton Grand Hotel and Spa

Our review of the very relaxing Grand Sheraton Hotel and Spa in Edinburgh.

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Sheraton Grand Hotel and Spa Edinburgh

We were excited to be invited along to the recently refurbished Sheraton Grand Hotel and Spa in Edinburgh a few weeks ago as part of the Sheraton’s #meetyouthere campaign. And we are even more excited to giveaway 10,000 Starwood Preferred Guest loyalty points to one of you!

Sheraton Grand Hotel and Spa Edinburgh

Sheraton Grand Hotel and Spa, Edinburgh

As budget travelers, we are rarely given a chance to hang out in 5-star hotels, so we jumped to join the Sheraton team for a night of luxury at the refurbished Sheraton Grand Hotel and Spa in Edinburgh. Staying as part of the “Sheraton Club,” we were in line for the whole luxury experience. And boy, were we pampered from the minute we arrived!

Usually, we have to lug our backpacks up 17 flights of rickety stairs, but as we walked into the reception, our bags were carried to our rooms while we were whisked away to the Sheraton Club lounge for a welcome drink and canapes!

Sheraton Grand Hotel and Spa Edinburgh

Sure we were getting the star treatment as part of the unveiling of the refurbishment, but you can be guaranteed that you will get the same respect and luxury when you check-in, especially if you are lucky enough to win the 10,000 SPG points.

With our appetites held off for the next few hours, we were led to what is undoubtedly the showpiece of the Sheraton Grand Hotel. One Spa is attached to the Hotel as part of the Club member’s experience. You can even join the One Club separately from the Sheraton resorts.

Fortunately, we were dolled up looking dashing in shirts and skirts, so we were not expected to get a sweat on while we toured the exercise and workout areas. Although Adela and I did head down at 6.30 am the following day for a workout to burn off a few of the drinks we had. It is so lovely to walk through a Hotel directly to the gym rather than run in the cold like we usually do.

We didn’t say no to the Spa treatments, though. However, I did let the masseuse off lightly by offering to have a hand massage instead of a foot massage.

I even nearly fell asleep with the candles, oils, and hippy music lulling me into a dreamlike state. If only we had longer here so we could have enjoyed the rooftop pool as well.

Rooftop Hydropool at One Spa

I would have to say that the highlight of the entire night was the food and drinks. Heading behind the chaotic restaurant scenes, we met the world-renowned Malcolm Webster, the Head Chef, and creator of some of the most excellent food we have ever eaten. Plus, the Sheraton team dished out wines to complement every delectable forkful.

It turns out that pairing your food with a decent bottle of red is much nicer than the usual £3 bottle at Tesco.

The only thing left for us to do roll ourselves up to our Club rooms high above the city lights of Edinburgh and collapse on the gigantic bed. I now know why they make more expansive beds than they are long. Purely to fit my fat ass in after scoffing all that food.

Sheraton Grand Hotel and Spa Edinburgh

Our only disappointment is that now we will struggle to get back into the budget travel frame of mind and wish we wrote a luxury travel blog instead!

Starwood Preferred Guest Points Giveaway

We are so lucky to be able to give you a chance to win your very own luxury experience with Starwood Hotels and Resorts. And the best part is that you can use the points anywhere in the world! And you don’t have to use all the issues in one go if you don’t want to. Although we recommend it 🙂

For example, you can spend three nights in a Starwood Category 1 Hotel using 3,000 points a night or just one night in the Sheraton Grand Hotel and Spa. The choice is yours. Check out this list of Category 4 Hotels around the world.

So all you have to do to enter our draw is follow the subsequent two links to join our newsletter mailing list and ‘LIKE’ us on Facebook. Once you have done that, there is nothing to do but sit back, relax and cross your fingers! If you have already done both, then you have entered already!

The draw will be held on Friday 29th June and be announced in our June newsletter, on our travel blog, and our Facebook page.

CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR WINNER. THANKS ALL FOR ENTERING.

All photos courtesy of Sheraton Grand Hotel and Spa.

Disclaimer: We were guests of Sheraton Grand Hotel and Spa as part of their #meetyouthere campaign. However, as always, our thoughts are always our own.

Cole is one half of New Zealand's leading adventure travel blogging couple who have been wearing out their jandals around the world since 2009. He loves any adventure activities and anything to do with the water whether it is Surfing, Diving, Swimming, Snorkeling or just lounging nearby on the beach. You can follow Cole on Google+. Or consider following us via RSS Feed, Twitter, Facebook and subscribe to our Newsletter.

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Asia

Devouring seafood at the Fethiye Fish Market

The Fethiye fish market is the place where you will find the best restaurants in Fethiye. As well as the tastiest, freshest and cheapest seafood too.

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Restaurants in Fethiye

Seafood and local markets. Two things that we love to devour and explore when we are traveling. Combine the two into one evening at the Fethiye Fish Market, and you have us salivating at the very thought.

Trip Advisor Fethiye

Eating at the Fethiye Fish Market

While we were in Turkey last year for ANZAC Day and our epic Busabout Sail Turkey cruise, we found one of the best restaurants we have ever been to.

We are always on the lookout for excellent food when we travel. And when a recommendation is handed to you from a local at your accommodation, you should listen. Our Fethiye Guesthouse hostel told us that the freshest, tastiest, and cheapest seafood in Fethiye was to be found at the local Fethiye fish market.

We didn’t need much convincing.

Fethiye Fish Markets

We were ready for a giant meal after a crazy and unique Hamam Turkish bath with semi-naked Turkish men.

But finding the local fish markets in Fethiye is just the beginning.

Walking the streets of Fethiye, you wouldn’t realize that tucked away in one of the squares is a fish market. From the outside, the square looks like a regular block of shops. Jewelers, tour companies, and local supermarkets sit side-by-side, hiding the gem inside.

It isn’t until you walk through one of the four arched entrances into the open-aired courtyard that the Fethiye fish market is revealed in all its glory.

Restaurants in Fethiye

Fethiye Fish Market

As you step from under the awnings, your mind begins to piece together the scene in front of your eyes.

Surrounding the square are tables covered with white linen and sparkling dinner sets—each lit from above with paper lanterns.

In the middle of the square sits a brightly lit stand with local fishers jostling together, selling their fresh bounty from that day’s expedition on the Aegean Sea. Each fisher takes up a small shelf of shaved ice piled high with squid, fish, mussels, and prawns.

Fethiye Restaurants

The seafood stand in the middle is where all the action is.

Seeing the confusion spreading across our faces, we were approached by one of the English-speaking waiters. He quickly explained that we were to select and pay for our dinner from any fishermen. They would prepare our seafood to our liking, whether prawns with shells off, chopped calamari, or whole snapper.

We would then bring our bounty in plastic bags back to the restaurant of our choice, where for a measly 6 – 8 Turkish Lira (US$4 – 5), they would cook our seafood. Included in the price was all-you-can-eat salad and bread—a bargain.

Restaurants in Fethiye, Fethiye Fish Market, Fethiye Restaurants, Trip Advisor Fethiye

Strolling around the stand several times, we were waved in with friendly smiles and broken English.

While the fishers were all competing, they were all friends. The mixed banter between them as they enticed us to their stalls was good-natured, and there was a lot of it.

With so many options, it was hard to decide on what we wanted to eat. We were eyeing the sailor-style mussels But as a sucker for calamari, that was immediately diced and thrown into our bag. As well as king prawns, a side of quickly filleted fish, and a couple of pieces of tender salmon.

Restaurants in Fethiye

Handing our bags of fresh seafood over to our waiter, we began downing the local Turkish beer, Efes, and watching as other locals and tourists joined the crowds in the square.

It wasn’t long before we were tucking into our meals. Each plate was perfectly cooked to our specific liking. Each morsel is as succulent as the next. And with 8 of us in our group, there was a lot of sharing and mixing of meals as we all wanted to try what others had.

The Fethiye fish market was the perfect way to finish another incredible day in Fethiye.

What do you think of the Fethiye fish market? Sound amazing?!

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Europe

Cooking tips while traveling in Italy

Find out the best ways to live like a local with these Cooking tips while traveling in Italy. Perfect for saving money and eating extremely well!

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Pasta cooking at Casa Artusi, Emilia Romagna, Blogville

To get the most out of your culinary travels in Italy, do as the Italians do; shop like an Italian, eat like an Italian and drink like an Italian. Speak to waiters, ask locals for advice, chat with shop owners and watch what people buy, when they eat their meals and which accompaniments they choose.

Leaning tower of Pisa, HDR, Italy

Travelling in Italy

Cooking tips while traveling in Italy

Use these travel tips to find out the best ways to live like a local with these cooking tips while traveling in Italy. They are perfect for saving money while travelling, and eating extremely well!

Don’t go big on breakfast

Italians tend to start the day with a strong espresso or a milky café latte, accompanied by a pastry which is often a croissant or crostata (Italian breakfast tart).

If you’re cooking your own breakfast pastries then bear in mind that the Italian croissant, known as acornetto, differs from the French version. It is less buttery, a little lighter tends to be smaller, and is usually finished with a delicious orange glaze.

Abandon stereotypes

Many of the Italian dishes you might be used to at home are variations of traditional dishes, adapted to suit the western palate.

For example; did you know that Bolognese sauce is traditionally served with tagliatelle rather than spaghetti? Or that an authentic carbonara sauce isn’t made with cream? Trust the chefs you meet and learn to cook authentic dishes the traditional way.

Pasta cooking at Casa Artusi, Emilia Romagna, Blogville

Cooking tips while traveling in Italy – Cook like a local

Cook two courses for lunch

The saying “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” doesn’t apply in Italy. Lunch is the main deal in Italy and you’ll notice that many shops and tourist attractions shut for several hours during lunchtime.

To cook lunch the Italian way, prepare a generous pasta course, followed up with a protein course of meat or cheese, perhaps with some fried veggies on the side. If serving wine, include a jug of water to dilute it with and have fruit or gelato ready for dessert.

Shop in local markets

Join the locals and shop for your goods in Italy’s wonderful open-air markets, rather than going to the supermarket. Not only do local markets expose you to the best seasonal foods of each region but they’ll also give you the opportunity to speak with stall owners, ask them questions about their foodstuffs and maybe even taste some of their wares before you buy them.

To get the most out of your trip, go armed with an Italian dictionary and learn the names of the ingredients you plan to buy.

Florence Italy Local Fruit Markets

Cooking tips while traveling in Italy – Shop at local markets

Be regional

Italian cuisine varies greatly between regions and each Italian region has its own specialty dishes, cooking preferences, and local ingredients which have been shaped by the local geography, history, and climate. You should appreciate this distinction by noticing what’s on sale in local markets, looking around at what’s growing in the fields, what people are cooking, and what local restaurants are serving up from cacio e pepe to white garlic pizza.

For example, Venetian cuisine features risottos, heavy sauces, and tiramisu. If you are travelling in Tuscany, expect to be cooking more simply using plenty of fresh vegetables, fruit, cheeses, and bread, with delicious Tuscan soups a firm feature of the cuisine. While coastal regions like Cinque Terre will naturally favor seafood and fish dishes.

Riomaggiore photos Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre is home to delicious seafood – Cooking tips while traveling in Italy

If you are passionate about Italian food, try a Flavours cooking holiday and enjoy learning how to create traditional recipes like an Italian.

What are your special tips for living like a local while travelling? Do you have any other cooking tips while traveling in Italy?

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Europe

Paris on a Budget: Best Cheap Eats in Paris

While Paris used to be regarded as an expensive city, you can now enjoy Paris on a Budget. Use our guide to find the Best Cheap Eats in Paris.

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Eiffel Tower at Night, Paris

Although Paris has a reputation for being one of the most expensive cities globally, the rumors are now unfounded. In 2012, Paris dropped ten places in the Mercer cost of living survey. And with the Euro looking weak, now is probably a good time to find cheap flights and discover the city of love on a budget.

Best Cheap eats in Paris, Eiffel Tower at Night, Paris

Eating in Paris can catch a lot of tourists out. Avoid the expensive restaurants serving fancy dishes like salmon wellington and snooty maître d’s on the Champs Elysees and follow our guide for the best cheap eats in Paris.  Spend less on food and possibly splurge on friendly hotels in Paris instead!

Best Cheap Eats in Paris

Head to the Marais

Famous for its selection of ethnic eateries, the trendy Marais area of Paris is perfect for picking up a quick snack.

Check out L’As du Falafel, where you can grab a flatbread bursting with golden fried balls of falafel, smothered in hummus and accompanied with red cabbage. For €4 to take away, you can’t argue with that. Simply head to Chez Hanna down the street for equally tasty food at similarly low prices if it’s too busy.

Best eats in Paris, The Louvre, Paris

Enjoy an Oriental baguette.

Vietnamese food is popular in France, and nowhere can you see the fusion of two cultures more clearly than at Saigon Sandwich in the Belleville district of Paris.  Their specialty, banh mi, is light and crusty French baguette filled with flavors of South East Asia.

There are only a few options (poulet, boeuf, Maison, and unique), but for €3 ago, you could happily sample them all.

Find French food on the cheap.

Believe it or not, there are some restaurants specializing in French cuisine that won’t see you stumbling into your overdraft. Les Temps des Cerises is one of them.

Described by Yelp as a “Dive Bar,” nothing could be further from the truth.  Run by a cooperative, it attracts a distinctly bohemian crowd. The menu is small, but the food is prepared from ingredients that sing with freshness and high quality.

View from the top of Arc de Triomphe

Eat like a local celebrity …

Rumour has it that Pierre Herme, one of Paris’s most celebrated pastry chefs, visits the Belleville restaurant Le Baratin. The prices are surprisingly low for the delicious Argentinian fare.

Time Out Magazine recommends the tuna carpaccio with cherries or the spicy basque lamb. Pop in at lunchtime for the prixe fix menu. At €18 for three courses it’s hard to complain.

… or eat like a local office worker

Bistro Victoires is a favorite amongst Paris’s locals. It doesn’t look like much from the outside, and the wine list leaves a lot to be desired, but when you sit down to enjoy some of the best steak frites in Paris, all else will be forgiven.

Portion sizes are enormous, and the waiters often remind patrons that if they order a starter, they won’t be able to tackle the main course. Despite being a famous location steps away from the Palais Royal, it still manages to be a hidden gem.

Champs-Elysees Sunset

What are your tips for finding the best cheap eats in Paris?

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Meet Cole and Adela

Cole and AdelaWe have been wearing out our jandals (Kiwi for flip-flops) on our travel adventures around the world since 2009. We think our blog is thought provoking and a little witty. But we have been proven wrong before. Find out more about us here...

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