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The room - I had a special corporate rate of 120 pounds a night, I honestly wouldn't pay more. The room was quite small but had everything I needed including hair dryer, ironing board and iron, kettle, team and coffee, double bed, TV with play station (charged at about 5 pounds an hour) and internet (10p per minute), your regular 5 TV channels and 3 german ones (no not that kind they looked like news channels), and a selection of pay movies, kindly listed on your bill as room service incase your on business and aren't supposed to expense films. They also have a deal where your spouse can stay for free, I don't have one so I don't know much about this. It also had some things you don't need like a trouser press, if anyone knows how to use this device, please leave me a comment with instructions in it. The bathroom was also well equipped plenty of towels, and a note requesting to put them in the bath if you wanted them changing for clean ones or leave them anywhere else and they would just be hung back up for you. There was 2 boxes of tissues, not sure why but defintely useful, a shower cap, bath salts in a cool little packet, conditioning shampoo (girlies will still need to take conditioner I'm afraid) soap shower gel and bubble bath. So top score on the toiletries, although some moisturiser instead of several variations of soap would have been useful. The major downside to my room was it was on the ground floor and had a window which had obviously been broken into at some point and which the cleaners insisted on opening and leaving open all day whilst I was out and my computer was in! Room service menu - I normally admit I am the queen of junk food reason being it's convenient and suits my hectic lifestyle, however when stuck in a hotel for a week, when someone else is doing the cooking I normally expect to get fed pretty well. But not in this instance. The menu was spilt into sections, burger bar, pi zzeria, cincinatti chicken, oriental..., basically there was a section for each type of junk food you'd eat on your way home from a night out. The first night I thought I'd try a freshly made pizza, freshly made at the McCain factory before being frozen and shipped off to the Hilton and the price for this was 8.25! Next night I tried chicken tikka masala, a slight improvement it was served in one of those stainless steal bowls however it had been tipped out of one of those plastic microwaveable containers I'm sure. It was served with rice and Naan bread and although better than the pizza was very stodgy. Next night I walk to the Sainsbury's across the street and bought a chicken wrap sandwich for under 2 pounds and it was delicious. In my week long stay I called room service 3 times on three seperate days. Each time the phone tranfered to reception as noone in the kitchen answered it and each time the Sweet of the day was apple pie. Mini-bar - what minibar! I expected one but there was not, only a kettle with tea, coffee and shortbread biscuits which I admit were free but it was very sunny outside and I wanted a cold drink. After enquiring at reception I was told to refer back to the affore mentioned Room service menu. There was a list of about 8 drinks and then there was a note saying you could ask the bar for a more detailed list. Unbelieveable it was 2 pounds for a 500ml bottle of coke, I'm afraid I was off back over the road to Sainsbury's. Breakfast - So far I've done nothing but complain about the food, well I can say they did manage a pretty good breakfast. They had a very good choice from bread and pastries, to ham and cheeses, to yoghurts, to cereal, to dried fruits, to freshish (some of them looked like they were out of cans) fruits, to you full fry up including a little man frying your eggs and making belgian waffles. Also for extra cost you could have kippers or some other kind of fishy breakfast. You also had a choice between coffee (very weak and watery and no they wouldn't let me have an expresso from the coffee bar), tea and numerous fuit juices. You could also have breakfast served in your room, if you had breakfast in with your room it cost 5 pounds extra else it was about 12 pounds, or you could have breakfast to go, I didn't try this service but it seemed pretty good, at no extra cost if you already had breakfast included or for 5 pounds if you didn't you could get a drink and a bacon sandwich ready to go in a brown paper bag, you could either have it delivered to your room or pick it up from the coffee bar at a specified time. Restaurant - There is a restaurant where you can eat on an evening but as I don't like to eat alone in restaurants, especially when they are full of men in suits I didn't try it out. Gym - The gym was open 6.30am to 10pm through the week, I only visited late evening but found it very goos, it has an 18m pool, spa, steam room, sauna and weight room. I didn't use the weight room as I found it rather crammed with equipment and mainly men clients trying to out do each other with heavier weights. The pool on the other hand was almost empty and very relaxing. The gym also had complimentary towels and toiletries, the only thing I found annoying was that you needed a pound coin for the locker but the gym staff were very kind and lent me one. Hilton Honours - When I knew I would be staying at the hilton I signed up for a Hilton Honours card on their website. They have lots of good ways of earning points, you can even double dip, this means if you have an airmiles card with their partner airlines you can also gain airmiles aswell as HH points. Even better if you flew with one of their partner airlines and show your boarding pass at checkin you get 250 extra HH points, actually no you don't I tried this, I got my airmiles but as for the HH points for the boarding pass the recep tionist claimed he'd heard another customer mention this but he didn't know anything about it or how to credit me the points. Oh well I was happy enough getting HH points, airmiles and points from my credit card company for the stay (can you tell when I'm also a dooyoo addict?) Alarm calls - When I checked in I was asked if I wanted an alarm call the next morning and a newspaper, I declined the newspaper but asked for a call at 7am. Next morning 6.55am the phone rings it's my alarm call and if I hit any button it will give me another call in 5 mins. Actually not true if you hit one of the speed dial buttons for hotel services it actually calls them, luckily I hit the room service button which they never answer anyway (see above). But anyway as a person who relies on the sleep button to make sure she doesn't fall back asleep I found this very useful. You could also set an alarm on the TV but there was no sleep function. On day two I decided to set my alarm call from my phone myself. You call it enter your room number and for security reasons (I guess so people in other rooms can't accidentally set an alarm call for the wrong room) it calls you back and then allows you to set the time. I set it for 7.30am, it goes off at 6.50am Grrr!! Next night I try again 7.30am, I set the Tv as a back up as I'm now not too trusting of the hotel alarm system, it goes off at 6.50am. I enquire at reception and find that they actually set up your first requested alarm call for your entire stay, luckily on day four it was reset to a reasonable hour. Hotel bar/coffee bar - the bar had a pretty good selection and some very nice cocktails although rather pricey. But unfortunately the bar was kind of an extention to the reception seating area and also had to share it's seats with the coffee bar. The coffee bar was also rather expensive 2 pounds for an espresso! Anyway to me it ment there was no atmosphere and not really somewhe re you could comfortably sit and have a few drinks. Hotel Taxi's - there are usually taxi drivers waiting in reception or just outside, they charge fixed hotel rates or so I was told in such a way I was lead to believe they were cheaper than normal rates, however in reality they were twice the price of local taxi firms so I spent the rest of the week calling my own taxi's from a local firm. In all this hotel was very average the staff were friendly enough the rooms were Ok but it was nothing special and certainly not worth the prices they charge. If your going for one or two nights it will meet your needs if your staying longer I'd look elsewhere.
A friend recently suggested a trip to Monkey World, I've always been facinated by monkey's but I was a little apprehensive as I'm not keep on Zoo's. After some reassuarance that Monkey World's monkey's have all been rescued and are now living in nice surroundings as opposed to cages I was pursuaded to go. I'm glad I did. This park is excellent. It costs about 6 pounds for adults and 5 for children, they also do family tickets you can find details on their website so I won't list them. The thing I noticed about the park was the enclosures, I've been to zoo's where they describe the cages as enclosures but at Monkey World enclosures seems a fitting term. The monkey's have lots of out door and indoor space and are free to go in and out as they please. They also have numerous trees, ropes, platforms, hamocks etc. to keep them amused. There is also one forest part where the visitors can walk through and the monkeys are totally free. You cannot take any food or drink into this part. Each enclosure houses different types of Monkey's and gives details of all the monkeys including their names and their history. Now here's a warning like I mentioned earlier they are all rescued and reading their stories brought tears to my eyes, so if your like me a tissue maybe useful. I read every single story. All the monkeys now look very happy and healthy although some look a little strange due to their mistreatment in the past. Many of them were kept alone in small cages in dark rooms for many years. One in particular that stood out to me, had deformed teeth due to being mistreated, he now looked like count dracula. Apart from walking around seeing the monkey's there are picnic areas (but no feeding the animals) and there is a childrens play area with swings, slides and one of those rope climbing frames which looke like fun. Sorry I think I was a little too big to try it out. They also have childrens go karts. There is also the possibility to adopt a monkey and listen to talks. The talks are usually every hour on the hour and there are different ones throughout the day. If you don't want to take a picnic there are a few places to buy food there, but it seemed to be mainly drinks, crisps, hotdogs and ice-cream. There is also a gift shop with the largest collection of monkey teddies I have ever seen, as well as your regular souvenirs of mugs, note paper, mobile phone covers... all in the monkey theme. In all a grand day out, lots of fun and eye opening at the same time. I will never understand how people can be so cruel to any living thing but seeing the work that is done here, I'm not sure who enjoys it most. The monkey's really seem to love the attention they get from the visitors. One inparticular kept coming over to the glass window and seemed to be playing games with the children through the glass. This is a great day out for children adn adults alike.
My New Years resolution was to start going to the gym, so in January off I went to my local gym and signed up. So along I went a coupld of times in my old trainers, old leggings and a baggy T-shirt advertising some kind of beer which I got given at a pub quiz. As with most New Years resolutions my good intentions began to fade so I decided to buy myself a nice new outfit to wear to the gym this worked and after a couple of months I had rather a collection of new gym clothes. Ok having something new to wear was pretty much the only way I could get myself to go! Well I had all these great outfits but my scratty old trainer really were letting me down, thing was they were comfy. Whenever I get trainers they always rub my feet usually my heels and due to that DM boot fashion when I was a kid my Achilles tendon is not too great either and doesn't like stiff shoe backs sticking in it. Hence I avoid new trainers like the plague. So one day I was browsing the Nike website when I came across the Air Max Craze. I was just amazed they looked fantastic. They had a few different colours but I was instantly attracted to the black ones with orange and yellow details. The real thing though that caught my eye was the backs, there weren't any. How fantastic, they couldn't possibly hurt my feet. Now don't panic there is a rubbery strap which does go around your heel to hold your trainer on, so you won't be running down the street and suddenly see your shoe go flying off your foot. The rubbery strap in stretchy and moves with your foot instead of against it (you know how most backs of trainers move with the sole so when you lift your heels up leaving the ball of your foot on the floor the back of the trainer rubs your heel). I was sold, well not exactly, the Nike website only sells on line to the US. So off I trotted to my local high street but to no avail they weren't out in the UK yet. About a month later I finally found the m and had to have them immediately, again it wasn't that easy it took me to 2 towns and 7 sports shops before I found them in my size. I'd been told by one sport shop the smallest size was a 5, I knew it wasn't true as thanks to the Nike website I'd already checked they made them in my size. I didn't care about the price, I'd spent a fortune on gym outfits and could only wear one at once but I wear the same trainers on every gym visit and I walk on my feet everyday so paying to look after them seemed like a very wise investment. Other features of these trainers are that they have a zip up the front great for lazy people. Under the zip however there are also laces which I was a little puzzeled about but after wearing them I figured it out, the zip doesn't allow you to tighten the shoe across your foot but by using the laces you can do this, then fasten the sip and the laces are out of the way. Also in between the laces and the outer zip layer each pair has a kind of fortune cookie quote. I checked the other pairs in the shop they were all different. So after buying them I rushed down the gym to try them out. They were heaven I've never had trainers that I could wear straight out the box and not rub my feet at all. I had just one problem they did look rather odd with socks, especially as I choose the black ones and most sport socks are white. After returning home I was throwing the box away when I found a leaflet about my new trainers I decided to read it, normally I wouldn't have given it a second glance but I was so excited with them I wanted to know all about them. Aparently the designers are aware that a lot of people don't wear socks with trainers and that with these trainer socks would look bizarre, so they designed the whole inside of the trainers without any seems so they don't rub. I will add one comment on this, buy some odour eaters or shoe spray or Febreze, not wear ing sicks in trainers makes them get quite niffy. I did pull the inner soles out of mine and put them back quite easily but I'm not sure how they stand up to being washed. I have since bought several pairs of sports socks from Marks and Spencers which have the backs cut out, so you can't see I'm wearing them in these trainers. This is also a good idea if your going to use these trainers to play sports that involve running around and stopping quickly or jumping and landing a lot as your feet tend to stick to the inner sole of the shoe and not slide like they would if you have socks on. This results in painful blisters on the soles of your feet, believe me you have been warned. All in all these are the best trainers I've ever had and well worth the money. They look great and they're comfy. I highly recommend a trip t the Nike website where you can find out loads of info about the design and you can view the trainers from all angles.
I'm really going to Focus on shopping in the Souks (The narrow streets of shops and market stalls in the Medina) in this opinion as it's where most English tourists get ripped off in Tunisia (the rest of Tunisia is very cheap), I think the reason for most of us is we don't have a clue when it comes to haggeling. Remember the Life of Brian (It was filmed just down the road from Sousse in Monastir which is why I remembered this) when he has to haggle for the false beard to use as a disguise? Well I think that's how we tend to do it, the shop owner says one price we say another he drops it slightly and we agree. This is not a good idea, so here is my guide to not being ripped off in the souks. Firstly there are two types of shops in the Souks, Government shops with set prices and normal shops where you can haggle. I recommend firstly going into one of the government shops and having at look at the prices of things you like. If you really can't bear the though of haggling then you could also buy your souvenirs here. Once you've got yourself familirised with the prices, head off into the little narrow streets. Do not buy anything in the stores right at the beginning of the souks, the further in you venture the cheaper you'll get the prices. Here is a good example, I saw a nice bracelet in one shop but having skinny wrists it needed making smaller. The guy sat me down, offered me some mint tea, which is a tradition and won't cost you anything (so don't think if you've drank it you have to buy something you don't). The guy measured the bracelet on my wrist and measured the size. Before he altered it I obviously wanted to know the price so he put it on a scale and weighed it, now just think about this a minute, they are selling by weight, he was about to shorten it for me but to work out the price he weighed the whole thing. Luckily I noticed this. Next he worked out some ridiculous price about 200 dinars, but then told me today they were having a 25% discount (funny that as 3 other shops on the same street were also having a 25% discount that day) so then he told me the price for me was 150 dinar (you'll note they always tell you "for you it is 150 dinar" as though for someone else it would be more, actually depending on the country your from they will start slightly higher of lower). He then says but for fun now we play a game, you give me you absolute maximum price so I did 30 dinars. At this he put his hand to his chest and made a surprised but painful noise (it's a complete over dramatised act and all part of the "fun") so he writes his price at the top of a piece of paper and mine at the bottom and then says we'll try meet in the middle. At this I told him I was a student (well I was at one time) and really couldn't afford any more. I also told him he'd asked me my absolute maximum price and I'd given him it. I then apologised and told him I really couldn't afford it and got up to leave. He finally accepted the 30 dinars. You will find walking away may help in getting a lower price, as you walk away they often start shouting lower prices, if you hear one you like go back, but be prepared to walk away again as they sometimes try putting the price back up again when you go back. Also with Jewelry be careful, they have several tales about Berber silver, I really think there is no such thing but I'm not a jeweler. What I do know is that one apparently silver bracelet with no hallmark, I was told was Berber silver, it doesn't have a hallmark apparently. In the next shop I was told how Berber silver is more pure than sterling silver and how it has healing properties like copper. I was told it's hallmark was 925, one thing I do know is that that is the hallmark of sterling silver, and this I was certain about, unless you can get Berber silver from Argos! A good idea is to go nearer the end of your holiday, you won't be quite so white/red therefore they'll see you've not just arrived, therefore they know your not quite as naive about the money as you we're when you first arrived, by this time you'll have at least come to terms with the exchange rate. And the final watch out's - their ways of getting you into their shops. Firstly they'll guess your country (us brits are usual very easy to spot as we're lobster red) then they'll start shouting hello at you and telling you that there goods are "Cheaper than Asda price!", I found this rather amusing at first and when I laughed I'd let my guard down and next thing I know the guys leading me by my arm into his shop and showing me a range of Jewelry. They'll also want to shake your hand another way of getting hold of you and directing you into their shop. Asking you how much something would be in your country is another way, they then tell you how much cheaper they are selling it for (seeming to forget that you probably don't want whatever it is they just picked up). They will also volunteer to write you name down in Arabic, this is free however the motive is they then offer to engrave it onto a bracelet or make you a necklace, this does make nice holiday souvenirs fro friends but watch out as I collected numerous scraps of paper which people had written my name on for me and they didn't all look the same to me, so it could be useful to check they've actually written it right. You don't want to be walking around with a necklace saying something completely bizarre on it now do you? So now you've had the warning, but don't be put off as if your on your guard it can be quite fun, especially if you grab yourself a bargain and something can still be a bargain even if you find someone else got it cheaper, as long as you got it cheaper than it would cost at home or if you would have a ctually paid more for it if you'd had to.
So why should you visit Chebika? The mountain Oases for one. Yes a mountain Oases, until recently I thought there was only one type of Oases, the type that are in the middle of a desert. I now know of three types of Oases although there could be more, there's desert, mountain and marine. To go to the mountain Oases we hired a fourwheel drive vehicle with a driver, you'll see a lot of these speeding across the desert in this area. They seat six people and are airconditioned. I'm not sure of the price as I wasn't the one paying but most things in Tunisia are very reasonably priced. One word of warning, if you do rent one of these vehicles check it's tyres! We didn't notice until we'd been travelling in it for an hour or so and the tyres were as smooth as a babies bum. Saying this we were in a convoy with 4 other vehicles and the others were all fine. The best time to visit the mountain Oases is early morning, we went about 9am and even at this time, it was rather warm. So slap on some high factor sun cream, a hat and investing in a thin long sleeved cotton shirt is a good idea, it stops you burning in the sun and shivering in the airconditioning. We had a guide who led us down a path between the "mountains" (they really were more like rocky hills but in the flat surroundings I guess they pass as mountains. It starts with just a few palm trees along the side of the path and then opens out into a small clearing with more palm trees and a waterfall, which is actually a warm spring from which you can drink the water. Most people opted not to as it's very easy to get a stomach upset in Tunisia. At this point my camera came out and I got some lovely pictures. We then continued on up one of the mountains, not quite to the top, in fact we didn't go up that high really and they had built steps but in the heat it was very tiring but manageable. There was an elderly couple with us who had a couple of stops on the way up but they made it, quite happliy. The view at the top certainly made up for the breathlessness on the way up. At the top you also look down on a Berber village which was ruined by floods in 1969. Again a great photo oppotunity. From there you could really see how barren the surrounding land was and how amazing it was that in the mist of it there were these fantastic palm trees. After this our driver then took us to see another ruined Berber village and made a couple of other short stops at places with excellent views. People generally give the driver a tip but we were told only to do so if we thought we'd received a good service, ie if the driver put the air conditioning on when asked. It was good to know this as when we first got in our vehicle the driver had his window down and the heat was awful. Chebika is not somewhere you'd stay for long, in fact most things can be seen in a couple of hours (preferably morning hours), so here are a few suggestions on other things to do while your there. Take a trip across the salt lake "Chotte El Jeird" the lake is actually dry but the sun shining on the salt is a very pleseant site and there are some small pools with different coloured water edges in solid masses of salt which almost looks like marble. Once at the other side of the lake (it only takes about an hour) head for Douz. At Douz you can visit the edge of the Sahara, you may want to wait until the evening and take a camel ride into the Sahara at sunset. We hired Ali baba style head dresses and long gowns, you'll find most people do. I know your thinking how tacky and touristy and didn't we all look stupid. Well actually yes but then it was also fun and believe me if the sand is blowning it hurts and the gowns protect you. Also they protect you from the sun and any flys that maybe around the camels so it's really a good idea. Also sunglasses are a good idea to stop sand getting in your eyes. If your worried about the camels, don't be we saw some very scary camels at other places and they also didn't look too healthy but at Douz the camels all looked very well and were rather friendly. Mine let me stroke his head and was very calm about it. At Douz there is also a dessert Oases but I'm not sure that it is man made rather than natural and I personally thought the mountain Oases was far better. Another great attraction in this area is Matmata which is where they filmed Star Wars but I've written a whole seperate opinion on that one.
Where? That was my reaction to being told I would be visiting Matmata. I was then told it's a town of Troglodyte houses, I still wasn't convinved for some reason I was imagining small troll like people living in caves. But then I was told it's where Star Wars was filmed, "oh" I said now rather curious and trying to remember back, (I haven't seen the new version and it's a long time since I saw the old one.) I seemed to remember strange little people living in holes dug into the hills side, and decided it would actually be a rather cool place to visit. (In fact "The life of Brian was also filmed in Tunisia but in Monastir, and also the English Patient was filmed in the desert so if your into your films, give Universal studio's a miss and checkout Tunisia) When we pulled over at the side of the road I didn't really realise we were there, the reason bing there are two types of troglodyte houses, ones dug into the side of a hill or mountain and ones dug into the ground. We'd gone to see the ones dug into the ground. At this point I will give you a warning, Matmata is further south and much more inland than the holiday resorts in Tunisia. Therefore the nice gentle breezes for the sea do not reach here and you will really feel a difference from the heat, it's a good idea to wear a thin long sleeved shirt as even with sun cream on the heat on my skin felt like it would burn. Also a hat not only to protect your head but to shade your eyes as even with sunglasses the sun is still bright. First of all we walked to the edge of a large hole dug down into the ground. Around the edges at the bottom of the hole you could see more holes dug into the walls of the hole. The walls of the hole were all painted white, with a few basic pictures drawn on the walls, for example there was an outline of a fish which is a lucky symbol to the Troglodites. Apparently each time it rains they have to repair the walls , although I guess rains not a common occurance there. We then proceeded down a slight slope to find the entrance of the house, as we did this we were told the slight slope was the water suppliy, at the bottom there was a small mound which directed the water into a hole and through a very basic filter into a well. When I say basic it would have stopped a branch or rock but not really small twigs or leaves, although I guess there aren't many of those in the desert. Just before the entrance to the house was a small ceramic oven, I'm not really sure as to why it was outside given that the centre of the house was open air I doubt it would have caused a problem. So next we walked into the house through a short tunnel and found ourselves in the centre of the house which is open air. The house we visited was actually still inhabited by a troglodyte family who were very happy for a group of tourists to walk into there house and show themselves around. I was so suprised at how laid back they were to let us wonder in and out of the rooms unassisted. This felt a little strange as at first I thought maybe they didn't really live there and it was just a show for the tourists but looking around you could see the things at the side of the bed and in the store room that were obvious that someone lived there. For example there was a baby walker at the back of the store room, I'd never of expected them to have such a thing so it obviously wasn't there as a prop for the tourists. As you went into each of the rooms it was amazing how cool they were, almost as though they had air conditioning. After the visit to this house we then went to a troglodyte restaurant for lunch. The restaurant was actually part of the set for Star Wars and you could still see all the alterations they had made. The lunch was traditional Tunisian Cous-cous a dish I've never been over keen on but this was far better than any cous cous I' d tasted before and the restaurant were very generous in serving it up, they gave a big dish between four people and then came round with large containers with extra vegetables and sauce and kept topping everyones plates up. Although my initial interest was due to the link with Star Wars I actually found it a very interesting visit and would reommend it even if you hate Star Wars, as just seeing how clever these houses are, especially at keeping the rooms inside so cool, was worth it.
As you approach El-Jem one thing dominates the sky line, the Colloseum. The site is amazing and I recommend anybody to go there. El-Jem is in a way very much like the Colloseum in rome, probably because the Romans built it. I believe it is better preserved than the Roman Colluseum even though there has also been some renovations in parts. Also there is the fact of the gap at one side where the Turks attacked it when the Tunisians were using it as a fortress. But this really doesn't spoil it one bit. To enter costs about 2 pounds and if you want to take photo's it's an extra 50p, they give you a voucher but once inside there appeared to be nobody checking if you had one, although I don't recommend not paying it as I saw numerous disputes with locals about paying for other things outside, ie you just took a picture and my camel was in the background so you owe me money and it wouldn't be worth the hassel. On the outside you are free to take as many pictures as you wish. Inside you can visit a number of levels, you can climb numerous stair cases to the side where all the arches are, this is highly recommended for getting some fantastic photo's as there are many peep holes and gaps which can be used to frame some great shots. At the other side you can take some more stairs up the an area of large steps which were used as the seating, again giving you some nice views. Then you can go down some stairs into the basement where the prisoners and wild animals were kept. And finally you can stand right in the middle of the areana and imagine what it must have been like to be thrown in there surrounded by 30,000 people. With all the stairs I recommend an early morning or evening visit as being in land it tends to be a lot more humid here. A hat with a peak at the front is a must have to enable you to really see the views and also as it's easier to take photo's than when wearing sunglasses. Also if you 've been to the colluseum in Rome you'll probably notice it lacks some of the atmosphere. In Rome there are people dressed as Gladiators on the outside who may want money to have your photo taken with them but they don't really hassel you, at El-Jem you'll be spoken to in every language they can think of until they get a response. They'll try to sell you an Ali Baba style head dress, and do watch out if you have children as they don't think anything about starting to fasten one onto a childs head even if the parent hasn't agreed, or even seen. Another trick is to tell females something is free and then go charge their, husband/boyfriend. This sometimes backfires if there is no accompanying male at which point they go back to the female demanding money. Outside you may also take a camel ride, I urge you not to bother, the camels don't look so healthy and have rather a lot of protection around there mouths to stop them biting. Also you'll only get about 2 minutes on the camel. If you really want a camel ride go to Douz, you can get a camel ride into the Sahara at sunset lasting one hour and the camels are much happier. Mine was quite happy to let me pat it's head and was obviously well looked after. Oh and I nearly fogot they also have a music festival inside the Colloseum, I can't remember exactly when but I believe it is in July, I'll see if I can find the exact date and update this.
The reason I'm writing this opinion is not only to recommend this product but to maybe help anyone out there who has to give these to their child. I started using these eye drops for hayfever when I was a child. Actually my Mum, my Aunt, my teacher, or which ever adult had the misfortune of looking after me at eye drop time had to use these on me. The thing was I hated having these put in my eyes, like any child I didn't like any kind of medicine but eye drops were the worst and my mum never understood why. I'll give you a list of reasons. Firstly how comfortable are you on a normal day with someone else going close enough to your eye ball to actually touch it? Now imagine you eyes are red, swollen, itchy and sore, you really don't want anyone else touching them. Then there was the technique of how they were administered, everyone who looked after me had a different way but most people generally went with tilting my head back asking me to look up. They then put one hand on my face to steady it (this is really not a comfortable position to be in) and then waved the drop bottle somewhere above my eye and sqeezed, sometimes they went in, other times they didn't (most often they didn't due to my squwirming from the uncomfy position and knowing the drops were going to sting) and had to try again. This may sound familiar to you, if it does please read on, there is a better way of doing this for both parties. So now the drops were in my eye and oh did they sting, as most children would do, my hands went straight to my eyes and started rubbing. As adults we know this is wrong but as a child my eyes didn't hurt whilst I was rubbing only when I stopped, so applying a childs logic, I rubbed! Now this went on each summer for a number of years but over time things got better. We developed a more comfortable way of getting the drops in my eyes which made me accept having them put in. Hence the screaming ta ntrums ended. The best way we found of getting the drops in my eyes was for me to lay down on the sofa with my head hung over the arm rest, of course this depends on the structure of your sofa, so supporting the neck with a cushion to tilt the head best is probably best for most people. My mum then used a finger from one hand to gently pull down my lower eye lid. This kind of opens it up creating a little well into which she dropped the drop. This made sure the drop entered my eye properly, so only one drop had to be used, instead of drops going all over my face as I wriggeled and squwirmed from the standing head tilt position. I would then close my eyes and mum would give me one of those frozen ice packs to put on my eyes which I'd keep there for five minutes. After which I'd be back on my feet off outside to play with my friends. Ok we developed a better way of getting these in my eye but your probably wondering why I still use them as an adult and haven't found something else that doesn't sting. Well the truth is that although these drops sting at first your eyes soon adjust to them and they don't sting any more. Plus once there in they really do work. I have tried other drops which don't sting, the thing is they don't work either. So my recommendation is to stick with these drops they will sting at first (keeping your eyes closed for a couple of minutes arter using them helps) but stick with them and they will become your best friend throughout the summer months. Also wearing sun glasses helps, not only does it keep other irritants like dust getting into your eye but it stops you touching them so much. Oh one last thing, if like my mum you've been telling your child to stop complaining about having their eye drops put in, you may want to try them on yourself. For years my mum thought my wriggeling and tantrums at eye drop time were just me being fussy. A couple of years ago she got something in her eye and couldn't find the optrex so she used my drops. I found her with her head under the kitchen tap trying to wash them out because they stung so much (Note they stung her so much as they are not ment to be used to remove foreign bodies from your eye, normally the stinging is bareable and does only last a couple of minutes). Had she realised earlier she may have handled eye drop time differently when I was a child. Finally just a reminder, read the whole information sheet which comes with your eye drops. The expiry date maybe in 2 years time but you usually find once opened they only last about a month.
Lake Tahoe is an excellent summer or winter destination. In winter it's a ski resort, I can't comment much on this as I went in summer but I know quite a few people who have been for the skiing and had an excellent time. For a summer holiday, it's fantastic and should appeal to a wide range of people. Lake Tahoe is right on the state line between Nevada and California, hence the town in split into to two halves, the side full of casino's and the side full of hotels and restaurants. There are a large selections of hotels and motel and you could certainly find decent accommodation at very reasonable prices. As for food we mostly ate in diners, which offered very large portions or all you can eat buffets, again very well priced compared to the UK. So what is there to do in Lake Tahoe in summer, well of course there is the Casino's they have wide selections of games and machines as you would expect. They also have shows, the singers are mostly of the older genertation when I was there Neil Sedaka was in town, he used to be quite famous I was told. If your not into Casino's not to worry, being on a Lake there are numerous water sports. I tried parasailing, jet skiing and white water rafting. The white water rafting was actually a half day trip and we were taken out of Lake Tahoe to the river. I would strongly recommend trying this as the scenery is terrific along the river and you can't really get to see it any other way. Also don't be scared about the rafting, when I went there were some children of about 12 with us and it was perfectly safe. If water sports aren't your thing there is a beach by the lake, although as I remeber it wasn't the largest or nicest beach but we didn't spend much time there as there was plenty of other things to keep us occupied. You can also take a boat trip on the lake on one of those boats with the water wheel on the side. Just like the one one Huc kelberry Finn! Or there is also a minature glof course. This area is also very good for walking as the scenery is fantasic. I also recommend taking the cable car up the mountain for some fantastic views. The cable car is actually one of the ski lifts in winter. Whilst I was there we also went to Ponderosa Ranch for a day trip. This is where Bonanza was filmed (if you can remeber that far back!) Here you can wonder around the town, dress up in costumes and be photographed, take tours of some of the film sets etc. If your interested in filming, cowboys or remember Bonanza then I recommend this if not then I'd probably give it a miss. One final recommendation take a camera, I'm no expert with a camera but the scenery around here is fantastic and even with my very amateur photography I managed to take some fantastic pictures.
Remember when the sun came out and was nice and warm the other day? Well I decided it was time to get my legs out for the summer, they've been rather neglected over the winter so I decided to treate them. I hate having to shave my legs numerous times a week or having to mess around with hair disolving creams so I decided I try waxing. It lasts upto 6 weeks, allegedly! So I trotted off to the shops and found the perfect wax it even said so on the lable. It was in an easy to use roll on dispenser which you heated in the microwave (or in a bowl of hot water if you are lacking a microwave, I can't comment on how effective this is as I didn't try it and have no intentions to). I got home and thoroughly read the instructions, they recommend either using your kitchen or bathroom, as my microwave is in my kitchen I decided this was the best place. Also my kitchen floor is tiled, it advises against using wax near soft furnishings. And so it began, firstly I had to take the lid off the wax remove the foil seal and replace the lid, sounds easy but no it took some serious strength to get the lid to click back on properly. Then into the microwave it went. Following the instructions I then shook the wax container to even out the temperature of the wax and tested it on my hand. All seemed fine so I began. Firstly it took a while to get the roller going which distributes the wax onto your leg but once it started it seemed fine. The strips were quite long so I put an application of wax the same length on my leg. The instructions didn't advise other wise. I then realised it's not so eay to hold your skin taught from ankle to knee whilst pulling off the strip. Also being a bit of a chicken I couldn't cunjure up enough courage to pull the hole stip off at once and ended up doing it in two halves which I'm sure hurt more. Not to be out off I tried a second time, this time I only applied enough wax to use half a s trip, I found this much easy as I managed to hold the skin taught and to pull the strip off in one quick tug. So I continued for a while and the wax began to cool. At this point the rolled began to stick and I had to roll over the same area of my leg a few times to get enough wax applied. The wax also became stringy and I ended up with stringy bits floating onto the floor and sticking to my arms. It was all become a little messy, but the instructions said you could remove any excess wax with baby oil so I wasn't too worried. I decided to reheat my wax as directed, again I tested the wax before applying it to my leg but I hadn't noticed the escaped blob of wax which had been on the outside of the roller which had heated up very nicely in the microwave and when rolled down my leg created a nice red burn! It was nothing a bit of ice wouldn't solve and as I was onto my second leg I decided to carry on. Now I was beginning to run out of stips but the instructions said you could use each strip upto four times. So I began to reuse them, this is when it all wen bad. I was using a strip for the fourth time, I stuck it on my leg realising the wax was building up quite thickly on the strip by now, anyway I gave it a tug and "OUCH"! Plus a few other choice words, what happened? Well the build up of wax was so thick when I pulled the strip it pulled my flesh with it, luckily being the chicken I am I hadn't pulled that hard and quickly let go. I now had a strip stuck to my leg with a huge amount of wax and a rapidly swelling ankle! I set about slowly peeling off the strip, it wasn't actually so difficult to remove the strip but by now pulling it off quickly it left the wax behind. So I reached for the little oily wipes which came with the wax "to be used to remove excess wax" according to the instructions. In reality, if you rub them vigourously over the wax and leave it 5 minutes and then rub again it will remove mo st of it but not all. In fact stray bits of wax will plague you for days, you think it's gone but then you notice fluffy bits starting to appear on your legs or hands and you've found another bit of stray wax. So I ended up with 1 and a half waxed legs which ment I still had to shave one leg and after a week I was back to shaving both, you see although it got most of the hairs, it didn't get them all. Also as hairs grow at different rates some were too short for the wax to get them, even though I'd let them grow much longer than normal before waxing. Plus I ended up wearing trousers for a week to cover up the bruise and the burn! My advice give it a miss, the only thing that lasted 6 weeks were the stray bits of wax kept finding all over my kitchen.
Wow, what a great film. I saw this yesterday, I arrived at the cinema with no idea of what was on. I looked at the list and decided on "Along came a spider", I know I'd seen a trailer and a friend had said it was good but I really couldn't remember the story line. I purchased my ticket hoping it wasn't sometihng like Arachnophobia or I'd be very disappointed. I was in luck, this is an excellent film, it got me hooked right from the start and never let me go. I don't want to spoil any of the plot as this film is full of twists and unlike most films, you haven't already guessed them before they happen. So what's this film about, it's about a child, Megan Rose, who is kidnapped from her school whilst under protection from the secret service. The kidnapper is her teacher Mr Soneji and the guy incharge of finding her is Alex Cross (played by Morgan Freeman, his role is very similar to his role in Seven, but he plays these roles so well there's no need to worry you'll be bored by the character). Alex is aided by Jezzie Flannigan the Secret Agent who was responsible for Megan, and is determined to make ammends and regain her reputation within the secret service. It can't be easy to act along side Morgan Freeman in a role he excells at but Jezzie holds her own. I know it sounds a rather run of the mill story line but trust me it's not, I just don't want to spoil it. So where's the spider fit in? Well there are no spiders just an excellent Web of twists which are intricately interwoven. I will however say one thing about the twists in this film, now don't get mad I'm not going to give anything away, I'm not going to spoil it for you. I just felt that there were some excellent twists in this film but felt that they were sometime rushed over, I know a lot of films have twists in them and they drag them out and almost loose the cleverness of them by gloat ing about their cleverness but this isn't one of them. This film has a twist and then moves on quite quickly I'd have liked a little longer to enjoy some of them, they were very good and deserved appreciation. Luckily it moved onto something equally as interesting so I didn't feel too irritated and it left a lot to talk about in the pub afterwards. One last thing I have to mention which gave me a laugh as I was watching the cast go up was the last 2 character names, "Guy who wasn't allowed to answer phone" and "Potentially evil guy on train"!
Ok I'll admit a friend asked me to go see this film with her and I only agreed when she told me it starred Ben Affleck. I figured I could occupy myself by drooling at him for a couple of hours whilst munching a bucket of pop corn. In reality, Ok I drooled a little (well a lot actually) but suprisingly I actually enjoyed it. I'd say it's more of a girlie night in with face packs and pizza than a must see cinema film but it's definitely worth watching. So what's it about? The two main characters are Buddy (yes they really made Ben Affleck play a character called Buddy) a slick advertising executive with a drinking problem, who is only out for one thing. And Abby a widow with 2 kids, who's slightly dizzy and awkward around men but most of us can relate to the things she does. (I couldn't help cringing) The film starts when Buddy gets talking to Abby's husband in an airport lounge. All the flights are delayed or cancelled due to bad weather. Abby's husband (sorry I forgot his name he was only in the start of the film and I was too busy munching my pop corn) has taken a deal from the airline to take a later flight but is saying how he's supposed to go get a Christmas tree with his son and is going to miss it. Anyway as Buddy is about to board the flight he decides to give his ticket to Abby's husband (it's really not that sickening as Buddy only does this so he can spend the night with some woman he also met in the airport lounge). The next thing Buddy wakes up in the night to learn there has been a plane crash, yes you've guessed it, it was the flight he should have been on. Of course now there is a problem, as in parrallel Abby is trying to contact her husband who was originally to be on the flight but then took the airlines deal and changed. She calls the airline just to check and is assured he wasn't on the flight. Meanwhile Buddy has to get the air hostess he distracted to let Abby's husband board the plane on his ticket to change the passenger list. One year later and Buddy has been through rehab for his drinking, and feels he has to find Abby and make sure she's Ok. I won't go into any more details on this, you've probably got most of it worked out anyway but don't let this put you off as it really is a very pleasant film. Also there is some lovely running comedy in there between Buddy and his gay assistant (who I believe used to be in Roseanne and is an excellent character) which will cheer you up between the tissue grabbing scenes.
When I think of Sweden I don't really think of Vodka, I guess most people don't, but you should. This is an excellent vodka, it comes in a lovely bottle, quite plain and chunky but still very stylish looking, you must know it's shape from the Absolute adverts. If not check out their website as they are defintely worth a look. It has that same air about it as Ikea furtniture, simple stylish and affordable, even better it's even available at Ikea. So next time you've just bought half your local Ikea, add a bottle of this to your basket, it certainly makes putting all that furniture together a lot more fun. This vodka can certainly hold it's own so if your a real vodka fan, I recommend keeping it in the freezer and drinking it neat. If not not that much of a fan you can try mixing it with all the usual mixers, coke, orange juice or cranberry juice if your posh. You may have also seen the Absolut Vodka bars where they have numerous flavours of vodka. I always wondered how they did this until recently when I was at a party and some Swedish friends brought some Mint Humbug vodka. Apparently it is very easy to do, all you have to do is to take you sweets and crush them into a powder, put them into the vodka, give it a shake and put it in the fridge. It should be ready the next day. Now I was a little sceptical about this, I mean I really didn't want to waste a full bottle of vodka. So instead I drank 3/4 of the bottle first (I got a friend to help me but this isn't necessary) and made a small test with some crushed werthers originals. So I popped it in the fridge and waited, I will confess I did keep going back to the fridge and examinning it to see if anything was happening and giving it another shake. Anyway finally the time arrived to test it, well ther were a few bits floating around in the bottom of the bottle, this could be normal, my local barman doesn't normally let me examine the bottle so I reall y wouldn't know. Or else it could have been careless crushing by me, or perhaps I added too many werthers, I'll try adding less next time and let you know. Anyway the bits kindly stayed in the bottom of the bottle when I poured myself a glass. The result, I was rather suprised it was actually rather nice although I would say this is definitely a shot drink than something to savour. One other thing I like to do with this vodka is make vodka watermelon. I saw this on Jamie Oliver and as my culinary skill are not the best it was the perfect opportunity to impress my friend with my Jamie Oliver recipe. Take one Water melon, one funnel and a bottle of Absolut. Make small deepish hole in watermelon just big enough to fit the funnel in. Fill the funnel with vodka and let it soak in. You then repeat this, moving the position of the funnel to evenly ditribute the vodka. It's best to do this the day before you want to serve it, also remember watermelon doesn't have such a strong flavour and not everyone likes to be over powered by vodka. This is very good to served at a barbeque on a sunny sunday afternoon just becareful that any small children who may be around don't get hold of it!
1. Walkman (plus spare batteries and a selection of tapes) as opposed to a Discman which you cannot use on flights for some strange reason. A Walkman is essential for flights to drown out the noise of someone elses beloved children who are screaming and shouting sat behind you whilst their parents opted to sit several rows behind! It's also useful when they turn up in the hotel room next to yours, or on the next sunb lounger to yours. Try buying a tape of the music from which ever country you are visiting or language tape of that country just to add to the experience. 2. Suntan lotion - Whether your going some where hot or going skiing suntan lotion is always an esential, unless you want to spend your holiday looking like a beetroot or end up looking like a prune by the time your 40. And don't forget the aftersun, you can actually get spray on aftersun now, I don't think it feels quite as good as the cream but it's excellent for getting to hard to reach places if you don't have a friend arount to help. It's also good for spraying youself when just leaving the beach you know when you skin starts to feel tight when the sea water dries on it. Oh and don't forget your hair you can get some leave in conditioners with sunscreen in them, yes sun streak hair may look nice for a week or so (or it may just turn green when the pool chlorine hits it) but after that it's just dry and straggely. 3. Decent suitcase - there's nothing worse than struggeling through airports with a huge heavy suitcase, buy one with wheels (see my op on Wheelie Trolley's under travel equipment). Also there's nothing worse than arriving at your destination and finding your suitcase zip packed in somewhere along the way and has spilled your underwear all over the luggage carosel! Also a novel idea could be to try leaving some space in it for those tacky, I mean gorgeous holiday bargains you'll end up buying. 4. A Hat - preferably with a rim which will cast some shade on your face and shoulders. Not only is this sensible to protect your head but it's very useful. How many pairs of sun glasses have you lost as you take them off and put them down, every time you go in a shop or cafe because you can't see when you go inside? I've lost or broken many a pair by doing this. A hat I can leave on. Also hats shade your whole face eliminating, nice panda eye suntans. Hat's also shade your eyes enough to take photo's, I cannot take photo's wearing sunglasses, but if I remove them I have to squint which can leave you with some rather interesting but not quite what you wanted holiday snaps! 5. Comfy shoes - I recommend those Reef style surfer sandals with the velcro, they're flat and very comfy, they don't keep your feet all enclosed and sweaty like trainers, you can walk on the sand with them and not worry about getting the sand out of them, in fact you can even paddle in the sea in them. Plus if like my Mum your feet swell slightly in the heat they're very easy to adjust so they stay comfy. 6. A good book - Whether your on the beach, by the pool, sat outside a nice cafe or delayed at the airport it's always nice to loose yourself for an hour or so in a good book. When else do you find the time? 7. A small first aid kit, including head ache tablets and allergy tablets is needed, do you really want to go trying new medicines whilst on holiday? Do you feel comfortable that you understood the directions correctly or that you bought the right type of medication in the first place? Whilst I'm all into trying new foods etc. I like to stick to what I know when it comes to medicine. Oh and don't forget some creme for insect bites! 8. A credit card, Ok normally I try to behave myself and taking a credit card on holiday can be even more tempting than normal with all those bargains you just can't get at home. But I still take it, just keep it locked in the hotel safe if you feel you can't trust yourself. Just so you have it incase of emergency. It's amazing how many people loose their spending money on holiday, how many times have you left all your things by the pool or on the beach whilst you went for a quick swim? Or what if you need money for medical expenses, often you have to pay them when your abroad and claim them back when you return home. 9. A decent sized beach bag, one that you can put your towel, walkman, bottle of water, change of clothes, suntan lotion, bucket and spade etc in. There's nothing worse than struggeling down to the beach juggeling with armfuls of stuff. It may also come in useful as an extra bag to put those holiday souvenirs in to take home if you run out of room in your suitcase. Also look out for those little cool bag's the ones made from foamy stuff designed just to fit round bottles they're very handy for keeping drinks cool on the beach. 10. And finally a toothbrush, erm actually no you can always buy a toothbrush at your destination and you'll find hotels often have them if you ask at reception. So instead I'll go for some washing powder. Yes you think I'm nuts don't you! Well here's my reasoning, I try to pack economically so I may only take one cardigan for example now your guaranteed if you do this to spill something on it the first night. Or what about your swim suit, you probably plan on wearing it several times wouldn't it be nice to give it a quick swish in the sink (the hotel sink,I did say not the kitchen sink!). Ok you could try using regular soap or shampoo, but be warned, shampoo once trained the colour out of my favourite shorts.
I'm no longer a huge fan of Haagen-Dazs since I discovered Ben & Jerry's. I like my ice cream packed with chunks of flavour, where haagen daz seem to have dinty little pieces. Anyway as a complete Baileys addict, I just had to try this ice cream, and as I couldn't even imagine a Baileys ice cream with any kind of chunks I figured I couldn't be too disappointed. Well I was not disappointed in the slightest, it's a pale coffee coloured ice cream which just simply melts in your mouth. It's soooo smooth and creamy they have really captured the essence of Baileys. You can get this ice cream in both the little piddley tubs, (I'm not sure what purpose these serve, they remind me more of a free sample which unfortunately isn't free and leaves you begging for more.) and the regular 500ml tubs. It also comes on a stick covered in wonderful dark chocolate. I try to save this ice cream for special occasions, it's very good served just before coffee at dinner parties, a good idea is to liven it up with a splash of real Baileys. The ice cream itself does actually contain 4% of Baileys (I think it means 4% Baileys and not 4% alcohol as I let my 10yr old nephew eat it!) but a little more isn't going to hurt :-) Now for the disturbing information 100ml serving contains 14.7 grams of fat, and in my book that's a pretty stingy portion although this is one of the most sickly ice creams I've come across if you do over indulge, as it is rather sweet and very creamy.