RINGS ROUND THE WORLD

One family taking a year out to travel the world, take photos, write about it, give hints, tell you about their trials and tribulations and of course have fun!

OUR DESTINATIONS

WHERE NEXT?

RESOURCES

This is an article title

Where to sleep , Argentina

Argentina is more expensive then expected but saying that the facilities are usually excellent . We choose the San Telmo area in Buenos Aires to base ourselves as we wanted to experience the grittier part of the city and see the arty side of things.Tango dances take place regularly in San Telmo square and the window shopping is excellent if you are interested in Art Deco . There are plenty of place to eat and have a beers all within walking distance . The closest safe underground station is San Juan about 8 blocks from Noster Baynes . We stopped in Rosario on the way to Esquina for one night and would have stayed a few days more . It's a nice city with a river beach close by for hanging out and plenty of shopping . It is said that the best looking girls are here and that if you turn to look at one you will miss the next ! Esquina is a sleepy, quaint country town where life slows way down . We spent Christmas with Angie , Diego and their kids in their stunning ranch . If you are looking for an Estancia and are happy to be one of the family then this place will steal your heart . This is one place we really hope to come back to again , and again , and again . Cordoba , well we were warned by our hosts in Esquina and they were right . We should have gone some place else as it is just a city with nothing special . The hotel was great , inexpensive , right on the main shopping street and well fitted out for the price . One day is enough here though and after our fantastic Estancia stay I am sure nothing was going to come even close . If you are in Buenos Aires , allow 2 days at least for Tigre .....it's delta living and a great place to chill out .

Options are bus , plane and some times the train . Bus is the way everyone travels and if you are on a long journey the best way is by executive cama where you can expect dinner , wine , pillows and a blanket . It's like first class flying . We have travelled by semi cama ( nearly lying flat ) but without the frills , cama same as semi but with a sandwich thrown in and executive cama as previously mentioned . If you want executive cama book in advance as not all buses have this service . The top companies are as follows , Chavellier & Flecha . The best website is Platforma10 for online bookings as this lists all the companies with times and prices . If you don't speak fluent English but want to advance book tickets try Omnilineas but they are more expensive .

Where to sleep , Chile

The Soho apartments in Santiago are fantastic if you want some independence . The apartments are right in the middle of everything and excellently appointed so cooking is a breeze . In Valpariso we stayed in an up and coming area which really means it's a bit of a dump . If we were to go back we would stay around the Conception area which has a good selection of places to eat . La Serena is a so so town advertised as a great place for sea food and beaches . The beaches are not great and most of the time the only food on offer where hugh plates of chips , chorizo and cheese sauce ........! Vicuna and the Elqui Valley are fantastic places to visit and we could have spent a lot longer in this area and probably should have . The Santa Cruz in the wine region is over priced and over rated but the arms dealer Carlos Cardoen has set up a private museum showing his incredible collections of artifacts and for this reason alone we would recommend a day trip . You could easily fit the museum in morning and a vineyard in the afternoon .

Travel Documents

After numerous calls to both Irish , U.S & U.K travel agents we found the cheapest and most responsive company was Travel Nation. They were great for the places we wanted to visit and helped us no end with the route planning .

Train Travel Information

Without a doubt , our train travel would have been much more difficult to plan without the fantastic "The Man in Seat 61 " website . If you are in any doubt about the standards of service of train throughout the globe then this site is sure to help educate you . In China we used a few websites for train schedule and ticket purchase but the cheapest option is to go to the station and find ( you may have some difficulty ) the english self service ticket machines. Not all stations have these but in Shanghai and Beijing main stations you will find them . Try to book your tickets in China as far in advance as possible as they fill up quickly . If you get stuck as we did on occasion , flights are cheap and easy to book . C Trip is fantastic for booking flights . Just make sure you allow at least 24 hours in advance for booking as international cards need this time to clear . Any less and your card won't work !

Where to sleep , Australia

You have to camp if you visit Australia , it really is the only way to see this vast country . Our 5 weeks there , were only long enough to see the east coast from Sydney to Noosa and back . We would have needed another 2 weeks to comfortably do the great barrier reef . What we should have done is fly into Cairns , take a camper down the coast to Melbourne and fly out of Melbourne . That way we would have seen more in our time . Camp sites here are fantastically well equipped with power showers in all of the sites . We found the motor home a real easy way to camp , no setting up just drive , park and plug in was all the effort it took . Camping is not cheap , our motor home cost about $180 AUD per day including fully comp insurance . Most of the campsites are between $35 and $60 per day for a powered site .

Where to sleep , Java

Homestays in Java are clean cheap and normally full of character . If can drag yourself away from modern extras such as buffet breakfasts and wifi then you will be sure to enjoy your stays here . Some of the newer homestays do have wifi but you have to look hard for them . All of the accommodation contacts we mention below are in the Lonely Planet but unfortunately there are no links only text in the guide books . Splendid Inn – Malang , Java. Spendid indeed but not in new splendor , this place has a soul and a lifetime of travelers tales . Its layers of granny chic mixed with dutch colonial and a good dash of original retro pieces make this a hard place to dislike . Ok so it has not been modernized but it has been kept meticuisly and the pieces of mismatched furniture are all of good quality so have lasted the test of time . Net curtains and floral print drapes clash well with the 60’s tiled bathroom and avocado sink . No wifi but plenty of lounging places to read and write . At 250,000 IRP per night including a basic but adequate breakfast with add on’s of 60,000 for an extra bed make this a good value for money kind of place . If you are after modern luxury look for somewhere else but if you are happy with quirky cool in a faulty towers kind of way but with excellent service and smiling staff then this is the place for you . Paradiso Guest House – Solo , Java. 100 years ago this place may have been paradise but all that remains is faded grandeur . Located down a quite alley the guest wing of this dutch colonial mansion has had a half hearted update with it’s whitwashed walls , ornate venetian mirrors and white tiled floors . The cold water battered bath with seventies shower head just about rinses you off and is a tired old example of it’s designer hey day . If you get passed the chiped ‘ old yellow white “ painted furniture and doors you will find comfy new beds and fan only rooms which are airy and bright .The 110,000.00 INRP rate including extra bed was a very good budget rate and the old building was as clean as it could be . Don’t expect breakfast here but Solos mediocre eating options are close by within walking distance . Harmony Inn – Yogakarta , Java 3/10/10 Medium range guest house with aircon and a nice pool . Well located within walking distance from some great restaurants . There are lots of accomadation options on this road not listed in the Lonely Planet so if we were here again we would look at some of the other places for a better deal . Our room including extra bed and a simple breakfast worked out at 270,000.00 INRP. Via Via is not far from here and apart from fantastic food have a home stay which is worth looking at .

Where to sleep , Bali

With so many options of places to stay your head will be spinning but planning ahead is necessary to avoid disappointment . We just arrived and basically had no choices in our price bracket of $50 a night. In Ubud it was difficult to get more then one or two nights in a row so we had to move about quite a bit . Taman Ayu - Kerokoban , Bali Tucked away in a quiter corner of Petitengat but located within easy access to entertainment and places to eat on the Legian / Oberoi strip . We had very few options for accomodation within our budget due to high occupancy in Seminyak while we were here so were happy enough to stay in Taman Ayu. All the basics are here but some of the rooms such as 904 is in need of renovation . The bathroom in particular and the lighting need to be adressed .....fast . Puri Prada - Ubud ,Bali Nice little place overlooking the padi fields and at 600,000 INR with extra bed a night not bad value . The suite rooms with the private outdoor pavillion are the nicest but our room had an lovely indoor pool bath and large outdoor shower area . We moved from here only because the place was booked for the nights we wanted to stay . Nyoman Karsa – Ubud, Bali The sparsely furnished modern room was fine for our two night stay but lacks in Balinese style . We stayed here as our impormptu visit to Ubud nearly left us homeless . Everywhere we called into or phoned was fully booked . Staff are nice a friendly but only stay here if you are looking for modern apartment style living instead of a more authentic experience which Ubud is full of . Villa Sesipa – Ubud, Bali We felt like a bit of luxury after seven months on the road with our kids and boy does this place have it all . Once inside the door of the villa we didn’t leave for 24 hours . Everything was perfect and our room service food which comes from the attached Warung Semesta was delicious and well priced . It’s one of those place where you immediatly relax surrounded by great style . The kids slept head to tail on the extra deep window seat made up as a bed for the night and we had plenty of room to lounge about . The main drag and Monkey Forest is only a few minutes walk . Treatments can be arranged in house for very compeditive prices which is a breath of fresh air as most places of this standard tend to load on the extras .

Where to sleep , Thailand

There are an endless amount of places to stay in Thailand so you will never have a problem in finding a bed . Best deals in the cities are with Booking.com or Agoda if they include breakfast . For anywhere else you are better to turn up and haggle in person . In Bangkok we stayed in the Manhattan which is dated but good service and fantastic location for the price . The Nantra in Pattaya was well photographed for online sales but in reality the furniture is shabby and " cheap modern " with lots of knocks . The location was far enough away from the nightlife as we were there only to see uncle Peter so fine for a stop over . Staff were lovely and breakfast was good . Accomadation on the islands varies greatly and if it's not high season go direct and have a look before you book . Best rates were achieved in person . The Best House in Pakbara was our only option which was overpriced , very average food and smelled of damp . Only stay here if you have to overnight for the early speedboat to Koh Lipee .

Where to sleep - Philippines

Lots of options in Manila city but deciding on the area is not easy . We stayed near Greenbelt in Manila in an area called Makati . Nice shopping and safe enough to walk around with plenty of dining options at Greenbelt make it a good place to start .

Where to sleep , Japan

It's expensive here and the room sizes are tiny . Even smaller are the bathrooms which in every place we have been are pod like and room for one only . Mind you , the jax are fully equiped and between the heated seats and the bum cleaning sprays you will not mind the size of the space . Axel took a particular like to the full services toilets , sure he is just like his dad ! The hotels we stayed in , Tokyo and Hiroshima had kitchenettes which are great when you are traveling long term with kids .

Where to sleep , China

CTrip in China is great for both internal flights and hotels and much cheaper then any of the more well known sites . Chinese receptionists won't budge much on rack rates but allow a few days advance booking for ctrip as they require 24hours pre booking notice for credit card clearance if using non chinese issued cards . If you happen to be in any chinese city at the same time as an expo , be prepared to pay over double the normal rack rate . We hit Shanghai at expo time and our only option was the Holiday Inn Express that was close to the center and under $100.00 per night .Not great but perfectly adequate for our stay . If you are happy to stay in guest house type accommodation then try the hutong hotels in Beijing for some real time . There are plenty of them scattered around the inner city sights .

Where to sleep

We stayed in the following hotels and guest houses and most were rated on Trip Advisor . The best rates we were able to secure were between the following sites but India if you call ahead and ask them over the phone they will most likely give you an all inclusive better rate and include an extra bed but be prepared to haggle and know the online rates before you agree to anything . http://www.1800hotels.ie http://www.hotels.com http://www.booking.com. http://www.travelguru.com It is not worth looking at expedia as they are always more expensive so save your self some time .

Where to eat , Istanbul

We stocked up our energy levels in the following cafes / restaurants while here so click on the links and you will get addresses and contact details and a little info on what they do .

Where to sleep , Sri Lanka

Arriving into Sri Lanka we knew we wanted to head down to the south beaches around Unawantuna where the sea is safe for the kids and there are plenty of places to eat . We were advised that the food in Vijaya beach was great so after our 4 hour drive from Colombo airport we arrived at Vijaya where our host the very amiable Mahendra met us . It is a small guest house with about 10 rooms right on the beach and we took the large family room with not one but two four poster double beds and nets , outside terrace & large bathroom. Our off season rate was 4000RP including breakfast and extra bed for Axel which is about €27.00 per night in total . Situated right on the beach and a with a reef keeping the waves low , it was perfect for the kids . The food is really good hear and the choice for breakfast is great . The fruit plates with curd , freshly brewed coffee , and bacon and eggs done anyway are great way to start the day . We were here on the 11th May and the weather had started to change . The humidity was a problem only because Wijaya does not have to date any aircon . This is probably not an issue in high season but on day two the discomfort of putting creams on the kids while they were permanently sweaty made us decicide to move to the family owned Rockside just a few doors up . High season would see Wajaya in more of a party mode so not sure I would stay here with a young family but I would definately recommend it for a meal or drinks and you will be sure to meet entertaining locals and ex pats popping in for a cool cocktail before sunset .

Where to eat , Sri Lanka

What a pleasure to eat anywhere here . Everything is clean , food is fresh and plenty of fish . Spicier then India but much tastier so far . Shekira is literally a beach hut that specializes in fried fish , cheap and tasty for a casual dinner. Era is very beautiful and very hip and the before dinner drinks are as delicious as the main feast , make sure you save time for the dessert though. Wijaya beach is great for breakfast , lunch and dinner so pop in and see their specials board ....The tuna was to die for and the homemade coleslaw delicious , they even keep a supply of freshly made brownies ready for those sweet moment cravings . The Country Comfort in Ella does great homely food and is perfect for a stopover on route up the hills .

Tour Guides

You may want to take a trip around these fantasic places and if you do we cannot recommend the following guides enough. Great company and a pleasure to travel with .

Where to eat , Balgalore

We were really craving a bit of steak and apart from Mumbai , Bangalore had steak house options . We should have booked as Saturday night here was jammed with locals but having been surrounded by vegetarians for the last few weeks we didn't expect it to be so busy . After waiting for about 30 mins ( not bad for not having a booking ) we were seated . It unfortunately took another 30 mins for someone to take our order and later still to be served . The steaks were massive , actually too big .....one would have done two adults at least . Drinks came after asking them for them about six times though just at the end of our meal ! There may be better steakhouse options but apart from the service the food was good . Italia does great vegetarian only italian food . Don't be put off by the veggie title as it was our second visit when I noticed that there was no meat . Great pizza , pastas and salads and the place is spotless !

Where to sleep , Udaipur

This boutique hotel , the Mahendra Prakash is amazing . If you are looking for beauty , cleanliness , excellent service and location without breaking the bank then look no further . Our room was huge and the rate we paid was 1600 IRP which today is about €26.00 not including breakfast or taxes . Food is served poolside and breakfasts are great . Try the mixed fruit pancakes for €1.20 , the large pot of freshly brewed coffee for €1.50 or eggs anyway for 0.50 cents ! All the rooms are different so you can have a look and see what suits you best . There are great rooms with veranda poolside so if you have kids then these are perfect . Get them off to bed and enjoy a drink on the veranda without having to worry about babysitters ! They have internet set up in a small office off reception but no wireless which was the only thing I felt they were missing . The evenings can see a steady stream of people wanting to get online so be prepared to wait . Everything is nearby so a stroll up town is easy and pleasurable . If little legs get tired there are lots of tuk tuks ready to bring you everywhere for a very small price .

Where to sleep , Mumbai

When you are traveling in India you get very used to cheap prices for accommodation . When you arrive in Mumbai put those expectations behind you as there is not much value for money here . We firstly went to the Garden House Hotel and it was a bit down trodden . We did get a room in nearby Godwins, the rate of about €80.00 a night was steep compared to previous places but this being a big , busy city it can be expected . The room was a great size , with pull out double sofa bed for the kids and a dividing wall for us which gave some privacy . There are issues with the cleanliness here but it seams to be across the board in this price group . I would not stay here again and the breakfast area was not somewhere you would want to eat from . We managed with bowls of cornflakes and toast to try and reduce the chances on sick tummys . The Ascot hotel around the corner is pricier but very , very nice . Mumbai is a dirty city like most of India so choose your accommodation carefully , if we were going again we would up our budget to ensure a better quality and standard .

Where to eat , Mumbai

There are no shortage of places to eat here . If you do like we did go to McDonalds as a promised treat for the kids expecting a big mac then you will be sorely disappointed . No beef here I am afraid or in any other McDonalds in the country . The kids had to settle for chicken nuggets and we decided to try the McChicken Tikka burger . Not bad if you like tikka but no substitute for a bit of meat !! We followed the lonely planet guide and ate very well . The best place was the food stall at the back of the Taj called the Bademiya . It opens at 7pm and you will more then likely have to wait for a seat. We fed the kids in McD's before as they only specialize in fantastic Indian kebabs that ours would not eat . Leopolds has something for everyone and the atmosphere was good . Enjoy their test tube beer pitchers and pasta with pesto .

Where to eat , Udaipur

Eating out here was a pleasure and kids had no problems .

Where to Sleep, Bangalore

We choose this place while on the train from Mysore to Bangalore from the Lonely Planet . When we phoned they offered us a rate of about €33.00 per night including breakfast . This we believed was a double room with extra bed . On arrival we were delighted to see the room was 2 bedrooms , large comfy double bed , sat TV , fridge , microwave and bathroom . We stayed in 201 and for a family it is a perfect room . Location is not far from trendy 100ft road where a good selection of restaurants are positioned . The area is residential and quite and the hotel is spotless .

Cappadocia, where to eat

For those of you who are passing through the same places as we have , you may like to try the following restaurants. We will be updating this section when we get somewhere to base ourselves for a few weeks as it is time consuming .

What to pack

We had to do a lot of preparation before we could actually travel and found very few websites that had list of things to get before travelling with a young family . We decided to create lists that you can print off and amend where necessary . As we are travelling for a year there may be some things that will not apply to you . There may also be some things that we will not use but the lists will be updated as we go and at the end of our trip ..... we will also indicated items we should have brought.

Medical

We have compiled a full medical list which made us more comfortable about traveling with the kids . Hopefully we will not have to use any of it but it's better to be prepared .