1 April 2015

USA Road Trip | 3-Week Road Trip Itinerary

Finalising the route for our three-week road trip was a lot more tricky than we thought. The route has changed pretty drastically and originally we had planned to drive through Arizona 'proper' getting as far as Phoenix, but one looooooong Thorn Tree discussion later we refined our route to what you can see above.

There were some stops that people just thought gimmicky (Scottsdale) and some where people pointed out it would be completely out of season (Palm Springs). We tried not to just nod and agree with everything the forum was saying and did further research of our own. This was all part of deciding what was right for our trip.

There are a few things that will affect the route you plan no matter who you are:

1| Availability of National Park accommodation. This applies particularly if you're planning on going during peak season around the summer months of June-August, though accommodation is extremely competitive all year round. You need to be flexible with your dates and may need to check constantly for cancellations. We basically planned our whole route around Yosemite and Grand Canyon as we managed to secure some park accommodation - you've been warned!

2| Time you have available. This is really crucial for two reasons. Most obviously the less time you have the less distance you can travel; but you also need to take in to account if you're travelling constantly for over two weeks you may loose momentum and need more than one night somewhere to allow for a lie-in and a break from the constantly new.

3| Your priorities. Unlike Europe and to an extent South East Asia, there is no possible way you can see all of the USA and the hardest part is working out your priorities!! I didn't even consider a majority of the states and instead stuck with the few based around California. For example, if you're keen to do the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim trek realistically you actually need 4 nights even though the trek can technically be done in a day. Or, if you want to 'see LA' the Hollywood Hills area is pretty far apart from Venice Beach (+ traffic of course).

There are no easy ways around it. Research is your best best friend!

See my post for more help planning any multi-stop trip or choosing the best accommodation for you.

22 March 2015

Turtle Bay, Bath | Caribbean Food and Good Vibes

There is a Caribbean food shack in Reading and it always looks a little intimidating, but I'd heard good things about Turtle Bay Bath's very own Caribbean and was eager to give it a shot.
I visited Turtle Bay for three reasons:
1. I've loved what little Caribbean food I've ever had (see post about Barbados here)
2. It is on my Bath Bucketlist
3. I was celebrating getting a work placement sorted for the second half of this year.

Turtle Bay is located directly opposite the entrance to the Victoria & Albert Musuem on Bridge Street. This is also right by Pulteney Bridge and if you sit outside you're actually looking on to you have a pretty good view of the bridge (not the famous side though, mind). Turtle Bay has a great daily happy hour from 12-7pm and 10pm-Close (which is 1am some nights) and I can't wait to come have some sunny cocktails in the summer. Would be great for a low key summer night with friends.

For cocktails, we opted for Tobago Tea which had a good kick to it and not too sweet. I loved it, but Josh wasn't keen (though I must point out that he doesn't actually drink!). It is worth noting here that you do have to have two cocktails of the same thing to take advantage of the happy hour deal. Almost all the cocktails were new to me and the flavours are zingy and fresh. There's a bar area if you just wanted to come for the cocktails (I wouldn't blame you). If you like the stronger stuff they offer 4 types of Rum and a Zing for £18. Cocktails were all £6.85 and 2for1 during the aforementioned happy hour.

Next up? Jerk Cheesy Chips which will definitely make it to the Cheesy Chip Crawl (see Bath Bucketlist). After much debate we went for Jerk Salmon and Jerk Lamb. The staff offered to swap the side to anyone one of the lovely sides so we chose the Sweet Potato Mash and Rice 'n' Peas.
We both agreed that the salmon was the absolute best element of our feast and cooked perfectly. Closely followed was... the rest. It was all so good we struggled to decide which element took prized second and third place and the Rice 'n' Peas was unexpectedly flavoursome. I can't remember the last meal where I actually wanted to eat every element on my plate, down to the squeeze of lime juice and the accompanying salad. There were no pointless flurries of parsley (that no-one even eats) - it was all equally good.

BEWARE the jerk sauce/seasoning/marinade is spicy spicy - perhaps comparable to Nandos hot? Maybe medium? I have a very attractive habit of getting clammy under my eyes when I eat spicy things and Turtle Bay's jerk actually had me patting my eyes with the napkin. They were real napkins at that - not paper, but thick cotton.

It's been a while since I've seen a creative pudding menu, but again Turtle Bay comes up trumps. Having said that we went for the Dark Chocolate Pie which had an almost powered chocolate taste, rather like Cocoa Pops. This is a compliment. I wouldn't say it was very 'dark' and it's not rich - it's moist and a surprisingly refreshing way to end a meal. Next time I am plumping for the banana fritters.
Lastly, but never least the staff were really friendly, help and FUN. Sometimes restaurant staff can be a little false or overly professional - here their were the sort of people you can imagine going on a night out with. Find more details about Turtle Bay on their website. It's actually a chain so there may be one near you?