I've been on a mission or a while now, to find the perfect suitcase to meet my frequent travel needs. One that I could 100% rely on, that would last me a number of years and that I ultimately enjoy travelling with.
When I discovered Explorer Luna-Air - an affordable designer New Zealand luggage range, designed by Kiwis for the way we travel - I was more than excited to try out their popular range.
I chose the Explorer Luna-Air 56cm & 75cm Hardside Luggage Set in the colour teal. I'm normally a person that would always go for black but that beautiful colour was too enticing.
I love that luggage.co.nz offer free shipping and 100-day returns so you can be sure your suitcase is a perfect fit.
I was more than impressed that my order arrived the very next day. Inside the cardboard box, they were neatly packaged together; the little one inside the larger one which was safely wrapped in a white dust bag.
I instantly knew I was going to love my new cases. They are extremely well-made with good quality materials, durable and very lightweight. Their beautiful pop of colour and attractive, sleek design is the icing on the cake.
Both suitcases have the same great features, with four 360 direction wheels, a built-in TSA friendly code lock, interior zip and mesh pockets, and a telescopic handle system. I couldn’t wait to take them on their first adventure.
I’ve had my Explorer Luna-Airs for almost four months now, and I’ve used them with great pleasure for all kinds of travel.
From a big three-week road trip all around the South Island (including across the Foveaux Strait to Stewart Island), to a tropical island getaway in Bali, weekend adventures in Wellington and soon it will be a big two-month trip to Europe.
They are without a doubt the best suitcases I have ever owned – no more dragging your suitcase around; they glide along next to you like a dream and are the perfect travel companion.
Packing is a breeze with the elasticated cross ribbons and divider panels inside, ensuring everything stays in place exactly as you packed it.
You can fit so much more into them than you would expect and as a bonus, they're so easy to spot coming towards you on the conveyor belt!
The Explorer Luna-Air Hardside Spinner range comes in three different sizes to choose from: a Carry-On 56cm, a medium Checked-In 65cm and a large Checked-In 75cm.
They are available in six attractive colours: Black, White, Grey, Pink, Teal and Seafoam.
The range is exclusive to luggage.co.nz and come with a 5 Year Manufacturers Warranty.
When you travel as much as I do, your suitcase really does become your travel companion and it's so important to have one that you love and enjoy using. I am so thrilled to have found that with the Explorer Luna-Air range.
Every trip brings a fresh wave of excitement when I start packing in one of my beautiful teal cases.
I absolutely love how lightweight, functional, and strikingly good-looking they are. The collection is of the highest quality, making it fantastic value for money.
I highly recommend Explorer Luna-Air to anyone and everyone. No matter your daggy airport outfit, you will always look stylish standing next to your Luna-Air.
Explorer Luggage has got your back with free shipping New Zealand wide, easy 100 day returns and a five-year manufacturers warranty. What are you waiting for? Luna-Air is ready for your next adventure as much as you are.
On my latest trip to Bali, I spent two incredible nights at Goya Boutique Resort, nestled in the heart of Ubud. They are a luxurious tropical hideaway, offering modern private villas set in a lush and tranquil environment.
I had such a blissful and relaxing time, I only wish I had stayed for longer!
Goya Boutique Resort is in a good location (not far from the Monkey Forest) and easy to find. I was warmly welcomed and had my luggage taken for me as I walked up the steps into the large and modernly designed reception area.
The check-in process was seamless and I was informed of all of the onsite facilities and daily activities. Because I had arrived slightly early I was taken to Senja Bar, a gorgeous area in front of the infinity pool to wait for my room to be ready.
I was extremely impressed by the eloquent surroundings, and the pool overlooking the rainforest was mesmerising! I couldn't wait to join the other guests lounging around and enjoying the warm sunshine.
I was presented with a refreshing drink and a lovely fruit platter while I waited. Included was also a welcome 10-minute foot or shoulder massage and I opted for the latter which was most relaxing.
Not long after, my room was ready and I was shown to my incredible Private Pool Villa.
It was my first time having my very own private pool and it blew my mind! As I was shown around the features of the room I couldn't stop saying, "Oh my God" and "Wow!"
Through the door was a beautiful outdoor area surrounded by lush greenery. The pool was most inviting with its own comfortable double lounger set in front of it.
The outdoor entrance was modernly furnished with a large sofa, table and chairs, to fully maximise the experience of being outside, which I loved.
Through the front door, the large four-poster bed was an impressive central feature. The entire room was tastefully decorated with wooden furniture and decorative art.
On the bed was the loveliest welcome with hand-written leaf notes, beautifully displayed flower petals and towel art.
The room was well-equipped with everything you could want for including a flat-screen TV with cable channels, and underneath, a refrigerator and minibar with a kettle, and tea and coffee making facilities.
In a corner sat a wooden desk and chair with complimentary mineral water and a jar of cookies.
Through the sliding doors was a stylishly decorated bathroom with a double vanity. A double wardrobe was located at one end with a safety deposit box, robes, slippers and a pool bag to use.
I loved the round mirrors above the sinks and the luxurious Bvlgari toiletries provided, all of the highest quality.
To the right was another lovely surprise, a beautiful white ceramic bath filled with fresh petals - I couldn't wait to have my first flower bath! It was set with a view of the pool if you chose to have the blinds up, to make it an ultimate relaxing experience.
The large rain shower at the end was also a delight to use. Other features of the room included excellent Wifi and air conditioning, room service, daily housekeeping, laundry service available, unlimited free bottled water and a nightly turndown service.
I especially loved how secluded and private the villa felt, and how spacious, artfully decorated and cosy the room was. The bed was extremely comfortable and the sleep quality was excellent.
Other types of rooms available include two-bedroom private pool villas and deluxe suites with balcony and views overlooking the rainforest.
Beyond the Room
Goya is a resort that has it all; so you don't ever have to leave if you don't want to. There is an incredible infinity pool overlooking the lush rainforest below, surrounded by plenty of loungers to relax on.
At each ends of the pool are luxurious cabanas with a table and comfortable seating to enjoy the surrounding tranquil views.
Onsite, Goya Spa offers a sanctuary of solitude and an enriching spa experience. From a traditional Balinese massage to hot stone, aromatherapy and acupressure, there is something to suit everyone's needs and wants. There are a range of luxurious spa packages to indulge in.
There are also complimentary wellness activities including Yoga available at certain times.
The 24-hour front desk can assist with vehicle rentals and airport or hotel transfers. Free bicycles are also available onsite to use. You can also book through them a Balinese Cooking Class and a local Ubud ricefield experience. They are happy to help arrange any other tour you might like to do. Furthermore, there is the lovely onsite Senja Bar & Resto where you can enjoy lunch, dinner and a cocktail, beer or wine in an elegant setting. This is also where breakfast is served each day.
A daily à la carte breakfast is included in the room and offers an impressive selection on the menu. You can choose anything you like including made-to-order barista coffee, teas, juices, and a range of hot and cold breakfast options.
Savoury waffles, tasty omelettes, fresh fruit, fluffy pancakes and acai bowls; breakfast every day at Goya was absolute #goals.
The lunch and dinner menu offered a good mixture of European and local specialities. I highly enjoy eating Indonesian food and I particularly loved their Beef Rendang.
There is a daily complimentary afternoon tea at Senja Bar from 3-5 PM, which is a thoughtful touch. Each day they have a range of delicious Balinese cakes and treats to enjoy, as well as hot, fresh coffee.
My stay at Goya was absolute perfection and I cannot wait for the day when I return again.
I absolutely loved my stay at Goya Boutique Resort and wished I didn't ever have to leave! It was such a memorable experience staying in a private pool villa and enjoying the delightful facilities of the resort.
The staff are all incredibly warm, generous and friendly. Any minor request was taken care of straight away; the service was impeccable.
As it is quite a secluded resort, this is a wonderful retreat to refresh, rejuvenate and relax. It is the perfect place for couples, families and friends for a special occasion or luxurious getaway.
If you do wish to leave the sanctuary of your villa, there are a number of nearby attractions such as the Monkey Forest, Ubud Palace and plenty of shopping and eatery spots.
Goya is without a doubt, my favourite place I've ever stayed at in Bali and it was a highlight of my recent two-weeks there.
I highly recommend it to anyone visiting Ubud, it was a real treat to stay there and one not to be missed!
I recently experienced the most epic road trip in the beautiful South Island of New Zealand with Stray.
I travelled the South Island for three weeks, exploring so many new places off the beaten path, doing Kiwi-typical adrenalin pumping activities and making new Straymates from all over the world - I had the best time!
I returned to New Zealand recently after living overseas for a few years and wished to travel the South Island properly as I hadn't done so since I was young.
Researching, I came across Stray - New Zealand's award-winning, guided hop-on-hop-off bus network for adventurous travellers.
This sounded right up my alley as I enjoy group tours, and they take you further off the beaten track to so many incredible lesser-known places, as well as hitting the most popular attractions and highlights. They have hand-picked the best road trip routes, unique accommodation places and memorable activities to do.
All I had to do was sit back, relax and enjoy the journey!
Which Bus Pass to take?
Stray's hop-on, hop-off bus route runs in a loop showcasing the best of both islands.
They offer many different types of bus passes, depending on where you wish to travel to in New Zealand and how much time you have. The passes are flexible and you can hop-on and hop-off wherever you like.
On your bus, you will have a super friendly Driver Guide full of local knowledge who can help you book accommodation and activities as you go.
The ultimate Stray pass is the Maximus Pass - covering both islands in full so you'll get to see it all!
The Ron Pass - the one I did
Because I wanted to concentrate on the South Island, I chose The Ron Pass, which includes their full South Island travel network.
I was thrilled to explore so many places, including the Deep South where I had never been. I had never even met a single person that had been to Stewart Island before!
It was a real adventure.
Day 1: Christchurch - Kaikoura
My road trip began bright and early in Christchurch and headed to the coastal town of Kaikoura. One of the top activities to do here is Whale Watching, and we were lucky to see two Sperm whales, a few Dusky dolphins and plenty of seals. We finished the day having fish and chips and drinking L&P - Kiwi as!
Day 2: Kaikoura - Picton
Today we drove to Picton at the very top of the South Island, passing beautiful rolling green hills dotted with sheep along the way. We had the afternoon free to wander around and watch the ferries come in. Once it started to rain we took refuge in a local pub!
Day 3: Picton - Abel Tasman
We picked up more Strayers that had come over that morning on the ferry from Wellington and continued our roadie. We stopped at a Hobbit filming location, at the river where The Company hides in barrels!
That evening we had a social dinner and our awesome driver Bobby cooked us all a mean burger feast at our accommodation at Abel Tasman - which was located right on the very edge of the National Park.
Day 4: Abel Tasman
Today we had a full free day to explore the area. A popular activity to do here is kayaking but due to bad weather, the tours had been cancelled. Doing a day hike is equally as impressive, even in the rain. I had a wonderful time walking along the coastal track of one of New Zealand's Great Walks, nestled in native rainforest, with waterfalls, bubbling creeks and local birds and wildlife. It was great to spend a few hours out solely in beautiful nature.
Day 5: Abel Tasman - Westport
This morning, after a stunning pink sunrise we headed to our next destination, Westport. After a few hours on the bus, we arrived on the West Coast, known for its wild and untamed beauty. We were dropped off at Tauranga Bay where we got to stretch our legs for a nice one-hour hike along the scenic coastline. We passed by a local seal colony and ended at the Cape Foulwind Lighthouse.
Today we headed further down the coast and it was a perfect blue-sky day. The views as we were driving along the coast were insane! We stopped at the famous Punakaiki 'Pancake' Rocks - unique limestone rock formations and blowholes that began forming 30 million years ago.
We had another stop in Greymouth where we picked up some more Strayers before ending in Franz Josef. Those of us opting for the Glacier Heli-Hike (me, me, me!) got all booked in at the base for the next morning. That evening at our awesome accommodation we had a fun pizza night with all you can eat woodfired pizza and a house drink for only $20 - choice!
Day 7 - 8: Franz Josef
For the next two days in a row, my Heli-Hike tour was cancelled! The weather is super unpredictable and it was too windy at the top of the mountain for the helicopters to fly. I spent my time doing some picturesque hikes in the area, eating nice food at the local cafes and catching up on work.
Day 9 - 10: Franz Josef
The third time was the charm - doing a Glacier Heli-Hike was a huuuge bucket list tick for me and it was totally worth the wait! After an exhilarating helicopter ride, we got to spend a full three hours on the glacier. The beautiful blue ice, unique formations and mountain scenery were incredibly breath-taking. It's one of those top travel highlights that will stay with me forever.
Today was a big travel day heading further south but there were heaps of exciting stops along the way to break it up, beginning with Lake Matheson. This is known as a spectacular mirror lake but it was foggy and raining so hard that we couldn't see it! We also stopped at a beautiful waterfall and Lake Hawea viewing points.
Arriving in Wanaka, the first thing I did was take a photo (or twenty) of #thatwanakatree - the most Instagrammed tree in the world. Wanaka is an absolutely stunning town, next time I would definitely stay for longer and do the Roy's Peak hike.
Day 12: Wanaka - Queenstown
That morning a few of us did a one-hour return hike up Mount Iron which had beautiful mountain and lake views from the top. On the road again, we stopped at a Cromwell fruit shop before arriving at a super exciting destination - the Kawarau Bridge Bungy.
I was the only person on the bus that wanted to do it, so I stepped up and showed them what us Kiwis like to do for fun! It was my third bungy jump and it was just as thrilling as the first. Finishing up in Queenstown, the first thing I did was have a Fergburger - the best burgers in New Zealand and an absolute must-have.
Over the next two days, I had a blast in Queenstown, walking around the cute tourist town, riding up the gondola for the best views (I was a bit guttered the luge was temporarily closed), going to the Ice Bar and doing a bit of a pub crawl with my fellow Strayers.
I also did a day-trip to Glenorchy (45 minutes away) and did a Funyak tour which included a high-speed jet boat ride followed by floating down the Dart River in inflatable kayaks.
I was amongst literal Lord of the Rings filming locations so as you can imagine, it was incredibly scenic!
Today was one of my absolute favourite Straydays! We left bright and early and headed to Fiordland. The entire drive to Milford Sound was picture-perfect and we had a few scenic photo stops at mirror lakes and Te Anau along the way. Then it was time for our cruise in the 8th Wonder of the World which was mesmerisingly beautiful.
That evening our accommodation was off the grid at historic Gunn's Camp. We had no wifi or signal and the electricity generator shut off at 10 pm. I really enjoyed being offline for once and everyone hung out together and just chatted like the old days! Later on, we went out to search for glowworms and gaze at the stars - I had never seen the Milky Way so clear and bright before in my life!
Day 16: Fiordland - Stewart Island
We had another early start and began with a sunrise hike up Routeburn Track. If it was a clear morning we would have had great views of the nearby alpine peaks and valleys but it was a rainy and foggy one (still a great way to start the day). We headed further south to Invercargill and on to Bluff. Here, most of us caught the ferry over to Stewart Island for the night.
We had dinner and a couple of pints at the one and only pub. Some friendly locals gave us some temporary tattoos that said 'I love Stewart Island' which we gladly sported. Later on, we went out to try and spot some kiwis. We were unsuccessful but apparently, it is one of the best places to see them in the wild.
Day 17: Stewart Island - Queenstown
Today we had the best part of a full day to explore Stewart Island. Most of us split into groups and hired cars, which was a great way to see as much of the island as we could in a short time. We saw so many pristine beaches, beautiful coves, went for little hikes in lush rainforests and played on rope swings.
Stewart Island blew me away and wasn't at all what I expected. It was like stepping back in time and a total paradise - I loved it! We caught the ferry back at 3 pm and drove back to Queenstown for the night.
Day 18: Queenstown - Mount Cook
Our road trip continued to another exciting destination - Mount Cook - New Zealand's highest mountain. We first stopped at Lake Pukaki which had the most incredible turquoise water I had ever seen, I couldn't believe my eyes!
At Mount Cook, most of us did the Hooker Valley track - one of the best day-walks to do there. It's a three-hour return hike amongst the beautiful landscape of the Southern Alps, across swing bridges, milky-blue alpine streams and ending with views of Mueller Glacier. On a clear day, you can see Mount Cook but it was clouded over for us. It was still probably the best hike I've ever done in my life.
Day 19: Mount Cook - Christchurch
Very sadly, it was my last Strayday! After a group photo, we arrived in Lake Tekapo where we had some free time. A few people braved the very chilly morning and walked up to the Mt John Observatory for the views, while the rest of us who claimed sore legs from the day before took refuge in Tekapo Springs, which had hot pools, an ice skating rink and a nice cafe attached.
We had one last photo stop by the lake and the Church of the Good Shepherd before expressing it to Christchurch. I hopped off the Stray bus for the final time and made my way to the airport, sad to say goodbye to my new friends, but full of new experiences, incredible memories and about a thousand photos on my camera!
How much does it cost?
Stray is a super affordable way to travel around New Zealand.
The Ron Pass which I had is only $895 NZD which covers the entire South Island travel network and is valid for a whole year. Check out their page here to see their different passes and prices.
Hostels in New Zealand typically cost between $27 - $35 a night. You have the flexibility to choose what suits your budget and pay as you go. You can book your accommodation daily via your Driver, often at a discounted price.
Food costs will depend on the person. New Zealand is known for being a bit pricey but you can eat quite cheaply if you cook your own meals. The Stray bus regularly stops at local supermarkets so you can get your own fresh supplies at a lower cost.
Activities can range from $60 - $400+ depending on what it is so it's definitely worth preplanning and budgeting for the ones you really wish to do. Stray also offers many of these activities at a discounted price which is awesome!
All of your Stray transport is included on their private and comfortable buses.
Driver Guides are your bus driver and tour guide all in one, each of them are super friendly, helpful and great sources of local knowledge.
Reserved accommodation is available for you even in the busiest summer months - you are always guaranteed a bed!
The Stray Bus
I loved kicking back and relaxing on the Stray bus, you get to enjoy the best views! All of the vehicles I hopped on were clean and comfy and the larger buses have USB ports to charge your phone. The Driver Guides have microphones so you can easily hear them talking and music is played regularly on the journeys.
I was generally very impressed by the places we stayed at. Each hostel was clean and always in the perfect location, only a short walk away from grocery stores and nearby attractions. My favourites were located at Franz Josef (which had a spa pool!), Gunns Camp and Mount Cook.
Who travels with Stray?
Stray is open to any adventurous traveller aged 18 years or older; there is no age limit. On my bus, our group was typically aged between early twenties to early thirties.
I met so many awesome people from all over the world including Canada, Germany, Malaysia, Sweden, Wales, The Netherlands, USA, even Egypt.
So many people, like myself, were travelling solo, so it's such a fantastic way to make new friends. Strayers will soon become your Straymates, there's no doubt about that!
When to travel?
New Zealand is an awesome country to travel year-round! Summer is our peak-tourist season and the busiest time of year but if you like swimming and going to the beach, that might be the right time for you.
To avoid most of the crowds, travel in spring, autumn and even winter! The South Island, in particular, is insanely beautiful in the winter as it snows in many places - but you're right in thinking it will be very cold!
I had such a fantastic experience with Stray from start to finish. We went to so many unique and beautiful places and I was very impressed by how organised and seamless my tour was run, even with multiple people hopping on and off at different places all the time.
Longer travel days are always broken up with well-thought-out stops, including countless photo opportunities, places where you can go for little hikes, have lunch or do a grocery shop.
The drivers I had were all hilarious, super friendly and easygoing, and had a wealth of knowledge to share.
The ever-changing landscape of New Zealand is just incredible; even if you drive for half a day it is never boring because the views out of the windows are stunning. Multiple shades of green, snow-peaked mountains, rolling hills - it all looks straight out of a movie.
If you are thinking about doing Stray, 100% go for it! It's the ultimate road trip where you don't have to worry about planning routes, researching where to go, where to stay and what to do. It's all taken care of for you and all you have to do is turn up with a heart of adventure. It is a truly enjoyable way to travel the South Island and it will be just the same for the North.
I have never done so many beautiful hikes or super fun activities in my life, all packed into three weeks. I can't wait to use my pass again in summer!
Pin it! :)
Stray Australia and Stray Asia
Did you know Stray is Asia Pacific's largest hop-on hop-off adventure travel operator? With the same flexible and off the beaten track bus routes in Australia and Asia - your adventure doesn't have to stop in New Zealand!
From Sydney to Cairns, Stray Australia offers various passes running north and south along their spectacular East Coast.
Stray Asia's guided network spans Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, offering access into remote and interesting parts of Asia that are otherwise hard to access.
If you're looking for a fun way to travel with total flexibility over your day-to-day itinerary, be shown extraordinary places and meet great people, then Stray is the best choice!
I recently did one of the most incredible tours from Queenstown with Dart River Adventures. Based in Glenorchy, I went on their Funyak tour (inflatable kayaks/canoes) which was so much fun and incredibly scenic, floating down Dart River in literal Lord of the Rings locations.
Read on to find out all about this unmissable experience and why you should totally do it too when you're next in Queenstown - the adventure capital of New Zealand.
This tour was complimentary in exchange for an honest review, all opinions are as always my own.
The day began bright and early with a pick-up time of 7:45 am at the central Queenstown Information Centre. Alternatively, if staying closer to Glenorchy, you can meet them there yourself at 8:30 am.
In a large comfortable bus, the 45-minute ride went very quickly with beautiful scenery all the way there. We checked into the Dart River Adventures building and were given all the information we needed and a run-down of the clothing and gear we were about to suit up in.
For the Funyak tour, they provide fleece tops for warmth, a wetsuit, booties, spray jackets, life jackets and dry bags for your belongings. Being winter, we were also given warm beanies if needed and a snood/mouth scarf.
There were male and female changing rooms for us to get ready in with lockers for anything we wished to leave behind, before one more short bus ride to the first part of our adventure.
We hopped into a speedboat for an exhilarating 40-minute ride up the Dart River, with fun twists and 360 turns similar to the famous Shotover Jet.
It was a very crisp morning but the weather was absolutely perfect - you couldn't have asked for a better day and the gear provided did a great job at keeping you warm.
We travelled at high-speed up the Dart River deep into the heart of the world-renowned Mount Aspiring National Park. The surroundings were picture-perfect and we had several stops to take photos and soak it all in.
Once we arrived at our stunning Funyak location we were given a cup of hot chocolate which was very welcome. We met our lovely guides for the day Ed and Amber who told us everything we needed to know about how to use our inflatable kayaks.
We split into twos or threes and because I was flying solo I got to ride with the professional Ed - lucky me!
We gently floated down the Dart River the way we came, using our oars to easily control our Funyaks. The colour of the pristine water was such a beautiful blue, and apparently, winter is the best time to see it like that.
After our exciting beginning, this part was incredibly tranquil and relaxing, with the most magnificent New Zealand scenery around us.
Next, we reached our delightful lunch location which had been set up wonderfully by Gareth. We had a full buffet spread with fresh bread, salads, meats, cheeses, fruit, sweet slices, hot soup and a choice of hot and cold drinks.
Everything was super tasty and it was a very enjoyable lunch break in the wilderness.
An absolute highlight of the day, we then explored up a nearby side stream through dramatic chasms and rock pools with eye-poppingly green water.
I had never seen anything like it before - it was such an amazing experience!
Back on the Dart River, we drifted some more on to our end location where we were picked up by a four-wheel drive bus to take us back to Glenorchy.
During the 30-minute ride, we were told about the famous movies filmed in these very locations such as Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, Wolverine and many more.
At the Dart River Adventures building, we changed back into our clothes and had the option of buying some professional photos taken throughout the day.
Then it was a quick ride back to Queenstown on the bus after an excellent day amongst some of the most incredible nature I've ever laid my eyes on.
Price: $369 NZD per adult, $269 per child (seasonal)
Reviews: 4.5/5 stars and a Certificate of Excellence from 2,043 reviews on Trip Advisor
What to bring:
Warm outer layer
Warm underwear or swimwear
Change of underwear
Camera carried at own risk
I had such a fantastic time on this tour, even though I come from New Zealand - the truly stunning locations absolutely blew me away! From the fun speedboat ride to the gentle Funyaks, a delicious lunch and picturesque scenery, this tour is an absolute must-do for all visitors and locals alike.
Our guides were super friendly, professional and safety conscious as needed. The whole day ran super smoothly and every single person on our tour highly enjoyed it.
A great activity year-round, I would recommend doing it especially in winter as I did, as the water was such an amazing colour and it gets a whole lot busier in the peak summer months.
This Funyak tour would suit any type of traveller from families (not younger than 5 years old, however), to couples, friends and solo travellers like me.
It's a great adventure and one of those memorable days that is an absolute travel highlight.
If you would like to see a bit more I made a short video of my Funyak experience for YouTube:
Is Funyaking along the Dart River now on your Bucket List?
Thank you Dart River Adventures and Ngāi Tahu Tourism for having me.
Doing food tours is one of my absolute favourite things to do when travelling, and you bet I did one in New York! I had heard such great things about Foods of New York tours and I couldn't wait to try some of the very best food on offer from their original Greenwich Village tour.
This is a food and culture walking tour in the historic west village of Greenwich, an old Italian neighbourhood. As you can imagine, there are some amazing food establishments here and we were taken around the charming neighbourhood to their favourite Mom and Pop restaurants and speciality food shops.
Read on to find out what mouth-watering Italian-themed cuisine we tried and why you should totally do one of their tours too if you're coming to New York.
Original Greenwich Tour
Our group met inside Murray's Cheese shop, an easy to find location in the heart of Greenwich. We were warmly greeted by our guide Marie who handed us each a bottle of water and information about the tour.
Once all of our party had arrived (a small group of around 12), Marie introduced herself and told us some interesting history of the 18-year-old Foods of New York company and what to expect from our upcoming tour.
We had 8 delicious stops ahead of us in total, beginning at the famous Joe's Pizza for their classic New York slice.
Established in 1975 by Joe who is originally from Naples, Joe's Pizza is now a "Greenwich Village institution" and is extremely popular with locals and tourists alike.
It tasted like true authentic Italian pizza (my fave) and I rate it very highly. After a mouth-watering slice, the tour was off to a fantastic start.
Next up, we went to nearby Oliviers & Co, a boutique store specialising in gourmet Mediterranean products.
We began with a tasting of their basil-infused extra virgin olive oil on Tuscan bread which had an incredibly delightful flavour.
We were then presented with a cup of Truffle popcorn each - which was outstanding! It was so moreish, I could have kept eating that forever.
Thirdly, the lovely shop owner gave us a lesson on how to tell the difference between true aged balsamic vinegar. We tried two kinds of theirs, one of which was aged 8 years.
Our next foodie stop was at Faicco's Italian Specialties - the oldest establishment in the neighbourhood that's been there for over 100 years.
We got to try the most popular item on their menu - Sicilian Rice Balls as well as a tasting of their Italian salami.
Rice balls, or Arancini, originating in Sicily, are balls of rice that are coated with breadcrumbs and fried. Inside was a mixture of rice and cheese and it was so creamy and delicious - the best I've ever tried in my life! The salami, too, was top-notch.
We then had a little break from eating and Marie showed us some points of interest around the neighbourhood.
We were taken inside a beautiful restaurant Palma that has a secret back dining room. We were told some very famous politicians and celebrities often dine here, including the Rolling Stones.
Next up, we had our first seated tasting at Trattoria Pesce Pasta. We were each presented with a lovely plate with an eye-poppingly large Italian meatball with sauce.
The meatball was tender and the sauce tangy and delicious. The grated parmesan cheese was the perfect addition and it was a delightful tasting in the classic looking restaurant specialising in Northern Italian cuisine.
Our next foodie stop was another seated tasting at Rafele Ristorante, and we had twenty minutes to enjoy the food and order a beverage if we pleased.
I ordered a cappuccino which was very good and enjoyed it with a great view of the chef working in front of the wood burner.
We were presented with a plate of Eggplant Rollatini and freshly baked focaccia bread. The Rollatini was creamy and cooked to perfection and the bread was springy and full of flavour.
Feeling a tad full now, I was glad we were off for a little walk again. We stopped by a few notable buildings before heading to a spot I was so happy about - the famous Friends building!
Being a big fan of the show and being in Greenwich, I was planning on finding this spot after the tour. Those of us who wanted one got their photos before heading to the next stop.
Milk & Cookies Bakery was our next visit and we each got one of their large Chocolate Chip Cookies, still hot from the oven. I couldn't even save it for later, once I had a bite I had to keep eating it all - it was so good!
We went back to where we first met at Murray's Cheese shop where we tried a selection of different cheeses including cow, sheep and goat. They were accompanied with apricots and cheese puff bites which complimented the cheese tastings very well.
The cheese shop is foodie heaven offering an abundance of fine cheeses plus bread, cured meats, olives & other deli items. I would be in there all the time if I lived nearby!
Our final stop of the day was at Rocco's Pasticceria where we had a fresh-filled Cannoli. I'm glad it was small because I was quite full by then but it was lovely and sweet and the perfect way to finish off the tour.
I was incredibly impressed by the amount of high-quality food we tried and there was a good amount of walking to balance it out. It was such a fantastic tour and each and every stop was well-thought out and delicious.
Time: The 3-hour tour runs daily every half hour from 11 am - 1:30 pm
Cost: $54 US per person
Reviews: 5/5 stars out of 5,574 reviews on Trip Advisor (the highest rated tour)
I couldn't recommend this tour enough, I had such a great time in Greenwich Village, eating my way around the best foodie spots in the neighbourhood.
We learned so much about the history and culture of Greenwich and what makes it so unique from the rest of New York.
I loved the variety of tastings we tried and it was amazing value for how much you get. You certainly don't need to eat breakfast or even dinner after such a substantial tour.
Our guide Marie was very friendly and a fantastic guide. She gave us great recommendations for other places to eat in the area as well.
Foods of New York also offer many other neighbourhood food tours, including in Chelsea, Chinatown, Little Italy, Brooklyn and more. I would definitely love to do all of them when I get a chance.
Their tours are perfect for any type of visitor and locals alike, from families, couples and friends to solo travellers like me. Vegetarian and gluten-free are easily accommodated on their tours, just let them know when booking.
I thoroughly enjoyed the food tour, it was one of my top highlights from my time in New York.
As my recent trip to New York was my first time there, I wanted to do this iconic city justice in the short amount of time I had. There are so many attractions and sights to see and I didn't want to miss a single one.
I researched some of the top rated tours and came across New York Tour 1, which sounded perfect for my style of travel.
In a small group, you are taken by an expert guide around some of the best attractions of New York all by local transport. You see it the way true New Yorkers do, by walking, taking the subway and ferry.
This appealed to me very much as I love exploring a new city this way and you get to avoid losing time by being stuck in traffic.
One Day New York City Tour
I booked the tour for my first full day there and the meeting point was in an easy to spot location, by the statue of George M. Cohan in the middle of Times Square.
Our tour guide for the day, Tom, began by telling us some super interesting history of Times Square and how the once humble horse-trading district became the Entertainment Capital of the World.
We passed by the Diamond District before heading underground towards the Rockefeller Centre. This was a super handy walkway that we learned about that I used a few times after the tour.
We had a quick restroom break (I grabbed a coffee) before passing by the famous ice skating rink where we learned more fascinating history.
Across the road was St. Patrick's Cathedral - a stunning Neo-Gothic-style Roman Catholic church and the largest in New York. We got to go inside and marvel at the decor.
We continued walking on this lovely sunny day, up Fifth Avenue. Along the way, Tom would point things out and give us super handy tips like the entire 8th floor of Saks Fifth Avenue is dedicated to shoes (totally went there another day).
We saw the Empire State Building in the distance and stopped to look at the impressive New York Public Library before turning towards the Grand Central Terminal.
We also learnt a bit about the Chrysler Building we could see nearby before heading inside one of the most famous transportation hubs in the world.
I've seen Grand Central Terminal so many times onscreen and it was truly marvellous to be there and feel the energy. Tom told us some really interesting stories and took a group photo (find it at the end of this post).
We had another quick break before meeting back up to catch the subway to our next destination. Tom showed us newbies how easy it was and we caught the line downtown to Bowling Green near Battery Park.
We stopped at Stone Street where there was an abundance of great food choices to have for lunch. We were given a whole hour break, which I personally thought was a bit long but that's probably because I was by myself. I'm a twenty-minute max kind of lunch-eater so after some sushi, I killed the rest of the time by drinking a very nice German beer in a pub. Win-win.
Next, it was time to catch the return ferry to Staten Island. I was most excited to see the New York City skyline and the Statue of Liberty.
Tom knew the best spot for us on the ferry and we had the best views all the way there and back. It was a 25-minute ride each way but with more stories and the stunning sights, the time went super quick.
Next up, we passed by the famous Charging Bull (which was so crowded it wasn't worth taking a photo of). We walked up Broadway and stopped at Wall Street and learned about the area famous for the New York Stock Exchange.
Our final stop of the day was at the 9/11 Memorial and One World Trade Center. We visited the two memorial pools where the buildings once were and heard some very moving stories including about the Survivor Tree.
It is a very sombre and sad place but a beautiful tribute and important to remember and pay respects. We went inside the Oculus, a uniquely designed transportation centre and shopping mall in one.
It was here that we finished up our tour with Tom, I couldn't believe six hours had passed by so quickly. We had the option to upgrade our tickets to include entrance to the One World Observatory, which I did.
Construction of the new building first began in 2006 and the Observatory was opened in 2015. It is now the tallest building in the Western world. The elevator to the top rises 1,250 feet in 60 seconds and the end reveal is a very impressive experience.
The panoramic observation deck on the 100th floor has incredible 360 views stretching all across Manhattan.
Seeing New York from above was one of my top highlights from my time there so I really recommend getting that extra upgrade. It was a fantastic way to finish off the tour and an already superb day.
Time: Tours run daily starting at 9:30 am and go for 6 hours
Price: $74 US per adult, $64 per child aged 4-12, free for under 4 years old
Reviews: 5/5 stars on Trip Advisor out of 12,767 reviews - the most highly rated tour
Our group at Grand Central Terminal
This tour is the perfect way for first-timers to be introduced to New York. From start to finish, the tour is extremely well thought-out and executed to maximise your time and enjoyment.
It's a fantastic way to learn your way around and you get to see and feel the real energy of the city.
Our guide Tom was very friendly and easygoing and had a wealth of knowledge to share.
As well as history and local stories, he gave us plenty of recommendations for the best things to do and even top places to eat.
This tour is perfect for all types of visitors, from families with children to groups of friends or solo like me. Everyone that's comfortable being on their feet for a few hours would thoroughly enjoy it. You see so many top attractions, learn a lot of history and get insiders tips.
They also offer a range of other tours including custom and private, Statue of Liberty tours, 9/11 Memorial and Wall Street tours and specific neighbourhood tours.
My first day in New York was one of my favourite days thanks to New York Tour 1 - I couldn't recommend them highly enough!
There were two big reasons why I wanted to visit Chicago on my recent trip to North America:
1. To experience St. Patrick's Day in Chicago and see the famous green river (it was truly spectacular).
2. To eat aaall the pizza.
Pizza has to be one of my all-time favourite foods (which is saying a lot) and I was incredibly excited to try all the different kinds in Chicago, including the famous deep-dish pizza.
Typically, I researched to see if there were any good tours that would take me around to all of the best pizza spots and lo and behold - there was! Chicago Pizza Tours were exactly what I was looking for and they had excellent reviews. It was a match made in heaven.
Read on to find out what delicious pizzas we tried all over Chicago and why you should 100% do this tour too if you're visiting the third largest city in America.
Original Chicago Pizza Tour
I chose their original pizza tour (they also do one paired with cocktails) which is a daytime bus guided tour around to some of the most significant pizzerias in Chicago. There were five different styles of pizza to try in four neighbourhoods; naturally, I didn't have breakfast.
Our meeting point and first tasting of the day was downtown at Pizano's Pizza & Pasta. It is claimed to be the best pizza in Chicago and even the likes of Oprah Winfrey and Bill Clinton say it's their favourite.
We had several tables for us reserved downstairs and the restaurant had a very nice and cosy atmosphere. We had a full group of about twenty people - clearly a popular tour.
Our guide for the day Danny introduced himself and began with some tour information.
He said every place we were going to was chosen because of how different each style of pizza is from each other - so we get to try a really good range.
He also told us we would eat about 2.5 pounds of pizza per person on this tour (he wasn't kidding!).
While our pizza was being made fresh for us, we learned some important facts like how thin crust is actually the most popular pizza in Chicago - three times more so than deep-dish.
Our first tastings arrived and we were presented with two smaller slices of thin crust and one larger deep-dish.
The thin crusts were one mushroom, one pepperoni and they were both outstanding and full of flavour. The deep-dish was sausage and the toppings and mozzarella cheese were absolutely delicious, but I definitely preferred the thin crusts. I'm not a crust fan personally, and I found the deep-dish to be a bit too thick and crunchy.
Great start to the tour though and we went back upstairs where outside our own personal minibus and driver Jonathan was waiting.
We all fitted comfortably onboard and were off to our next destination.
We drove south to Flo & Santos, a Polish-Italian restaurant, pub and pizzeria. As we found out, Chicago is the biggest Polish-speaking city in the world outside of Warsaw.
There was a really cool casual and industrial style setting inside and we sat at long tables. With some great local beers on tap, we had the option of ordering a beverage if we pleased. (Every stop also always came with plenty of water).
While our pizzas were being prepared we learned the history of how pizza came to be so popular in the United States (they eat 60% of the world's pizza!).
Here we got to try three types of thin crust. The first was Polish sausage which was my favourite, it was so tasty!
The second one was Italian beef, which was also very good. The flavours of both were incredible and (spoiler alert) they ended up being my top picks of the day.
Third, we were very spoiled and got to try their special dessert Smores pizza. It was very indulgent and nice to mix things up and have something sweet.
I really enjoyed the atmospher of Flo & Santo's and I would definitely be a regular if I lived in Chicago. Pizza and pierogis? Yes please.
Next up we had a 25-minute drive north to Lincoln Park which was perfect to digest a little. We drove by the scenic Lake Michigan and Danny pointed out some popular spots and destinations to visit along the way.
We arrived at Pequod's Pizza, a very popular joint that was full of people. Luckily we always had a reserved table for us!
Here we were trying the biggest slice of the day and one that they are famous for - their deep-dish sausage and pepperoni. They were even named 2018's Best deep dish pizza in Chicago.
We were told the crust handle looks burnt but it's not, and it's the best part of the pizza - so we had to try it! The slice was absolutely enormous.
I really liked the sauce, it was fresh and tangy and it was true - the crispy crust was the best part. I tried to tackle it as best I could, but I couldn't even eat half of it!
Our final stop west was at Coalfire, where they specialised in traditional thin crust, coal-forged pizza.
Their interior was trendy and modern, with an open kitchen to view into. We had a choice of choosing either their White or Lasagna pizza, I chose the latter. I still photographed both as boy, they were beautiful.
I particularly liked how thin the crust was - it was so nice and light. The topping flavours combined on the Lasagna pizza was perfection and I loved the creamy whipped ricotta on top.
I was officially full to the brim with pizza after that one! After a quick drive back we were dropped off downtown where our first stop was. Everyone was very happy and satisfied after an excellent afternoon of eating some of the very best pizza Chicago has to offer.
If you are a pizza fan then this tour is unmissable. It was a truly fantastic way to discover the best pizza spots in town. What separates Chicago Pizza Tours from the rest is that they don't just stay downtown - we got to explore the best from different unique neighbourhoods all over the city. I loved the variety of places we went to at authentic local businesses with stark differences between each pizza styles.
What made the tour all the more special was our wonderful guide Danny, he was such a fantastic and friendly guide and I learnt so much from him that day. He is a local Chicagoan and has a wealth of knowledge to share. He has been doing this tour for five years and is very passionate about his pizza! He also gave us plenty of recommendations for other great pizza joints and popular Chicagoan food to try and top things to do.
This tour is perfect for all types of travellers, whether with family, friends or solo (like me) or it would even be a great way for locals to show off their city's best pizza to visitors. They can cater for allergies and vegetarians, you just have to let them know in advance. It's excellent value for money; with very generous servings of delicious pizza - you don't even need to eat anything else that day (and I recommend wearing your stretchy pants!).
As a first time visitor to the city I really appreciated getting out from the centre and seeing more of Chicago. It was a very enjoyable experience and I couldn't recommend this tour enough to all the great pizza lovers of the world out there - it will blow your mind!
If you know me, then you'll know I love my food tours and I have partaken in many all over the world. I was most excited to jump onboard one in Las Vegas - known to be an absolute haven for foodies (there's more to Vegas than just gambling you know!).
As this was also my first trip to North America, I was looking forward to seeing what tantalising delights the United States would throw at me.
Upon doing some research, I came across Taste Buzz Food Tours, a highly rated Las Vegas Food Tour company that offers three types of tours. I opted for the Foodie Tour on the Las Vegas Strip, as it promised a culinary adventure along with seeing some of the top attractions - a win-win for a first time visitor.
Read on to find out what mouth-watering dishes we tried and why every visitor to Las Vegas should put this outstanding tour on their must-do list.
An epic foodie tour
Our group's meeting point was at The Cosmopolitan - a luxurious hotel and casino on The Strip. It was also where our first three tastings of the day were located.
Kathryn, founder of Taste Buzz and our guide for the day greeted us outside and introduced the tour. We all introduced ourselves and went around and shared our number one favourite food (mine was German pork knuckle) before heading inside for the first bite of the day.
The first stop was at the very trendy Eggslut, which I had noticed when I was in Los Angeles by the long line of people waiting outside down the street for it. My LA tour guide had told me they do the best breakfast sandwiches so I looked up whether there was one in Las Vegas. Funnily enough, the very day before this food tour I was one of those people in this very long line (and it was so worth it!).
But anyway - back to the tour (and this time we did not have to wait in line).
We got to try their signature dish named 'Slut' which is a cage-free coddled egg on top of a smooth potato purée, poached in a glass jar, topped with salt and chives and served with slices of toasted baguette.
You whisk the contents of the jar very quickly, where it turns into the most perfect and delicious scrambled eggs on toast you've ever had.
The potato combined with the egg made it extra creamy and it was just fantastic, I could have easily eaten the whole lot myself (but a lot more food to come).
Stops 2 & 3
Our next tasting was at The Juice Standard where we got to try a variety of their freshly pressed, all-natural, vegan and organic juices and nut milk.
Their range combines super healthy ingredients to create different flavours and benefits.
Their Cosmopolitan juice, for example, is perfect for detoxifying the body and Bee Resilient gives you two days worth of greens.
My favourite was called Bee Vibrant which tasted like a spicy lemonade. The ingredients were alkaline water, lemon, agave and cayenne.
You could taste how fresh each one was and that it was really good for your body.
They also do superfood smoothies which sound amazing as well.
Next up, we were taken to the third floor of The Cosmopolitan which is dedicated to dining. Kathryn told us about some great choices up there including an exclusive restaurant with a 15-course tasting menu.
We were taken down a cool vinyl-lined hallway which led to what is known as 'Secret Pizza' - there are no signs or advertising for this place. Apparently many locals don't even know about this hidden hole-in-the-wall spot that does amazing New York Style pizza.
We tried a slice of their signature White pizza which came with ricotta, mozzarella and herbs and it tasted amazing! I loved the New York style thin crust and the cheese combination was very delicious.
The place had a very casual but cosy atmosphere, with places to sit and enjoy your pizza or you can even have a go on their pinball machine while you wait.
I will definitely be back to try more of their menu the next time I'm in Las Vegas.
It was time to pop next door to the world famous Bellagio. We first marvelled at the ceiling of glass flowers in the lobby that cost 12 million dollars to install before heading to the indoor Conservatory & Botanical Garden.
This is a huge Las Vegas attraction and the display is redesigned for each season and Chinese New Year. We were lucky to witness the newly installed Spring Celebration design which was a fantastic showcase of nature, colour and sounds.
We were then led to any chocolate lover's dream - to see the world's largest chocolate fountain! It is 8 metres tall and circulates 2 tonnes of chocolate at a rate of over 100 litres per minute. It was a truly magnificent sight.
Stops 4 & 5
After that little break from eating, we headed outside and crossed the road to our next foodie stop at Dirt Dog. We got to try two items off their menu - their signature bacon-wrapped hot dog and a deep-fried Oreo with Horchata whipped cream.
That hot dog was, I kid you not - the best hot dog I've ever had in my life. Just thinking about it now is making me drool. It is a mouth-watering flavour explosion and I even had to go back that same evening to get another one for dinner! The deep-fried oreo too was very delicious and went perfectly with the Horchata cream.
On our way to the next destination, we passed through The Flamingo Hotel where they actually have real live flamingos - just to make our day that little more extra.
Our last savoury bite of the day was at Off the Strip, known to be the best steakhouse in Las Vegas. We got to try their Rolled New York Strip with Asparagus - the strip was stuffed with Provolone cheese, basil and sun-dried tomatoes, wrapped with asparagus spears and smothered in Marsala mushroom sauce.
It was very juicy and tender and the flavours were wonderful. Being a Bistro and Bar there was an opportunity to order a beverage if we wished and the group had a great time sitting at our reserved table eating and chatting away.
Next up, we were off to the nearby Amorino, an Italian dessert shop specialising in gelato and sweet treats. We got to have their 'Hot Chocolate Experience' which was a cup of their Cioccolata Calda - a traditional recipe for a smooth and flavourful chocolate drink, which is then topped with whipped cream, marshmallows and grated chocolate.
I am not one to order hot chocolate myself (I would order a coffee drink instead) - but oh my giddy aunt, this experience completely changed my mind!
It was one of the most decadent and delicious things I've ever tried and I fell completely head over heels. You chocolate lovers out there - this is your dream beverage.
I'm also totally keen to return and try their amazing looking Italian gelato as well.
Heading towards our final tasting of the day, Kathryn showed us Sprinkles Cupcake's ATM machine - something I had never seen before. (I ended up walking past one later when I was in New York and tried it out - they are very fresh and tasty!).
Our final stop was at Honolulu Cookie Company, a Hawaiian based company who freshly bake their gourmet shortbread cookies. They use the finest ingredients, natural Hawaiian fruit flavours and hand-dip and package each premium cookie individually.
We got to sample each flavour and try as many as we pleased. They were all fresh and crunchy and melt in your mouth good.
My favourite was the White Chocolate Coconut and I loved the Pineapple Macadamia as well.
I adored their packaging and pineapple-shaped cookie tins. Most of the cookies come pineapple shaped as well.
We were each given a goodie bag to take home with three of their full-sized cookies in different flavours which was a very nice surprise!
That was the conclusion of our epic foodie tour. Everyone was very content and full after a fantastic afternoon of eating our way around some amazing highlights of The Strip.
I was thoroughly impressed by the food tour and I couldn't recommend it enough to visitors and even locals of Las Vegas. It is the perfect way to explore some of the very best culinary delights this exciting city has to offer and see some incredible photo-worthy attractions along the way.
There was a great variety of foodie stops and each one was carefully thought out - being a local and an expert foodie herself, Kathryn sure knows her stuff!
There was a perfect balance of salty and sweet and a good amount of walking and pauses to break it up. Not only was each tasting finger-licking good, we also learned a lot of great information and history about each place and we got plenty of worthy recommendations along the way.
What is most impressive is that this tour is only one year old and it is doing so well, as it rightly should be. Kathryn was an excellent host and guide, her passion for food really shone through and she had a wealth of knowledge to share.
The tour is great value for money with the diverse and generous servings included and all of the highest quality.
It was a super fun and satisfying way to spend the afternoon and be introduced to some of the very best foodie hotspots of Las Vegas.
Kathy and I after the tour
Pro Tip: If you plan on doing one of their tours (which you totally should), don't have breakfast and wear your stretchy pants!
Excited to be heading to Las Vegas, and not being much of a gambler, I spent a bit of time researching some fun activities to do during the day.
I had heard of Red Rock Canyon in Nevada’s Mojave Desert which is estimated to be 180-190 million years old, and was pleasantly surprised to find out it was less than half an hour away from The Strip.
I came across EZ Ride LV by their glowing reviews on Trip Advisor and loved the sound of their tour. They are a self-guided electric bike tour company which means you can enjoy the beautiful scenery at your own pace and stop whenever you please.
I had never been on an electric bike before so I was most excited to try it out!
Red Rock Canyon E-Bike Tour
I went for an afternoon tour and it was only a twenty minute Uber ride to the meeting point. I met with one of the family-business owners, Laurent, who allowed me to change my tour day at the last minute - he was very flexible and accommodating.
I was given a refresher on how to use the gears correctly and took the e-bike for a little spin around the carpark to be sure I was confident to go off on my own.
I was given a map and clear instructions on how to get to the Red Rock Canyon entrance where it is then a 13-mile one-way scenic route.
I was also provided with a correctly-fitted helmet, riding gloves, two bottles of cold water and two snack bars for the journey. I was even offered a jacket in case I got cold, but I was lucky and got a nice and warm sunny day - so I did accept the offer of sunscreen!
I was off towards the National Conservation Area. It was an easy 4.5-mile ride there and the surroundings steadily became more and more impressive.
Red Rock Canyon's 13-mile scenic road is a one-way loop which is shared by vehicles, hikers and cyclists alike. There are multiple scenic stops along the way which are well signposted with information, many offering their own unique hiking trails amongst the incredible geological features.
I marvelled at the towering red sandstone peaks, the Sand Dunes Frozen in Time, the Sandstone Quarry and the stunning panoramic viewing spots dotted throughout the ride. I chose to hop off at multiple points to have a closer look.
The e-bike was very easy and comfortable to ride. It looks like an ordinary bicycle and is equipped with a large battery capacity and a 450-watt motor capable of going up to 20 miles per hour.
You pedal to activate the motor and while the bike does do a lot of the work for you, it is still quite a good work out, especially after 22 miles all up!
I was extremely impressed going up a hill when I zipped past what looked like a professional cyclist with utmost ease.
There is a screen on the front where you can see how fast you are going and other useful information.
I was keeping my eyes peeled for wildlife!
Sandstone Quarry Area
I can't tell you how much I enjoyed being out amongst such beautiful nature while exercising - it's something I wish I did a lot more often because it's such a fantastic feeling.
The landscape is completely different to anything I've ever seen before - it was even my first time seeing native cacti (that doesn't come in a pot plant).
Each of the miles is marked along the way and at about mile 6 was a beautiful high lookout point where I had a bit of a rest and soaked up the surroundings.
I also enjoyed one of the trail mix bars which was a great source of energy. I had the e-bike for a full three hours and was glad to be able to ride around leisurely and stop wherever I pleased.
There is a Visitors Center at the entrance/end if you wish to take a look but I didn't feel the need to. It was an easy ride back to the meeting point where Laurent came to collect the e-bike and equipment. My legs definitely felt like jelly by then - but that's because I hadn't cycled in years! (I enjoyed it so much though that it made me want to buy a bike when I got home).
I couldn't recommend EZ Ride LV's E-bike tours enough, it was such a fantastic way to see Red Rock Canyon and a very memorable afternoon.
This tour would be a great activity for families, couples, friends and solo travellers alike. Even children are more than welcome as their e-bikes come in different sizes to suit all riders. All ages and levels of fitness would enjoy this tour as the powerful bike really does most of the work.
It's the perfect fun activity to get out and away from the city lights for a few hours to soak up some fresh air and truly stunning nature.
Being self-guided was quite relaxing and each site was well marked and explained along the way.
Right from the beginning the communication with Laurent was great and you can tell they really care about their customers. The bikes were great quality and the tour is excellent value for money.
E-biking through the Red Rock Canyon was an amazing experience that I will never forget and I would 100% love to do it again on my next trip back to Las Vegas.
Would you be up for e-biking the Red Rock Canyon? It's definitely worth putting on the bucket list!
Being my first trip to Los Angeles, naturally, there were so many things I wanted to see and do packed into just a short amount of time. Researching full day tours of LA, I came across We Love LA Tours, which are a private tour company that packs in so many of the top highlights I wanted to see all in one day. It was a match made in heaven.
They are the top rated, number one tour on Trip Advisor for a reason, as their full day tour was absolutely fantastic, and despite the fact that it was a rare rainy day in LA - the tour was one of the best I've ever done.
Read on to find out what I got up to in the City of Angels and what makes this tour company so outstanding.
Venice Beach & Santa Monica Pier
We started our day at 9 am where my mum and I were picked up promptly at our hotel by our wonderful tour guide for the day, Bruce. The vehicle was very comfortable, clean and spacious and we were provided with complimentary water and even umbrellas to help keep us dry (a necessity!).
As it was quite drizzly, Bruce made the decision to visit the famous beaches first, as he heard the Hollywood sign - originally first up on the itinerary had poor visibility. We had the hopes that the day might clear up by the afternoon.
It was a twenty minute drive to our first stop and Bruce introduced himself and talked about Los Angeles along the way. We drove slowly through the Venice Canals which were very stunning, before being dropped off at Venice Beach to stroll around leisurely at our own pace.
The beach was very cool and I loved the vibes. I have seen it so many times in pictures and video but with blue skies and crowded with people! One good thing about the rain was that it kept most of the crowds away.
Cool street art
The famous Venice sign
We had at least half an hour there to do as we pleased and Bruce waited patiently for us to take us to the next spot: Santa Monica Pier. Again, it was apparently very quiet for a Saturday so I didn't mind the rain at all!
I got my photo taken at the End of the Trail Route 66 sign and enjoyed browsing in the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co souvenir store (the pier is where Forest Gump ran to before he turned around).
Route 66 sign
Outside the Bubba Gump store
We had ample time (over 45 minutes) to stroll the whole pier and I even grabbed a sweet snack for morning tea at the Food Market set up there.
Fun park at Santa Monica Pier
A happy selfie
Delicious donuts! I tried the X-Ray Speculoos
Holmby & Beverly Hills
Next up we drove to Holmby Hills to see some famous Celebrity houses. We saw Aaron Spelling's mansion (TV producer who helmed Charlies Angels, Beverly Hills, 90210 etc.) called The Manor which is 5.3 acres and has 27 bathrooms. It's the largest in the Los Angeles area and it's even bigger than the White House. We drove by the old Playboy Mansion, one of Ellen Degeneres' former homes and even the house where Michael Jackson passed away.
The gate to the old Playboy Mansion
In the Beverly Hills area we stopped at the very unique Spadena House, nicknamed 'The Witch's House' which was very cool to see. We saw the old and iconic tree in Beverly Garden Park which looked like it was straight out of a Disney movie.
I even asked Bruce if he could take me to The Beverly Hills Hotel for a photo in front of it and he didn't mind at all! It turned out to be my favourite photo of the day.
By then it was absolutely pouring with rain and I was so glad to be nice, dry and warm inside the car and still get to see these incredible sights! I really enjoyed driving through Beverly Hills, the tree lined streets are so beautiful.
Farmers Market at The Grove
We drove down Rodeo Drive - where the rich and famous shop, before heading to the famous Original Farmers Market at The Grove for lunch. We had a full hour to enjoy lunch and browse a few shops.
Dylan's Candy Bar at The Grove
The market offers over 100 gourmet grocers and restaurants in an open-air setting so there were a lot of delicious kinds of food to choose from. I went for a traditional American hotdog, because - I love trying local food! We then spent the rest of our time in Topshop where I bought a couple of things...
Shopping at The Grove
Next up was something I was super excited about: exploring Hollywood Boulevard! We began in the dazzling Dolby Theatre - the permanent home of the Oscars since 2002, before heading out to the boulevard dotted with over 2,500 stars.
Bruce showed us the TCL Chinese Theatre and helped me to find Sir Peter Jackson's star on the historic Hollywood Walk of Fame before leaving us with free time to walk the stars on our own.
I was so happy to get a picture with Sir Peter Jackson's as I'm a huge fan and a very proud fellow Kiwi. Tom Hanks' star was my other favourite of the day as he is my all-time favourite actor. I had a fab time running around and spotting everyone's stars!
We finished up in La La Land, a huge gift store with some great souvenirs in there, before hopping back in the car to our final two attractions of the day.
Rainy Hollywood Boulevard
Inside the La La Land store
The best view & the sign
We drove to the Mulholland Overlook which boasts the best view over the Hollywood Bowl and Downtown LA. Sadly, as it was still terrible weather we could only see cloud/fog.
This is what it looks like on an ordinary day for reference (not my photo obviously!):
And sadly, we also missed out on seeing the Hollywood sign - something I've been dreaming of for so long! It's such a shame because the We Love LA Tour has a fantastic spot to see it right up close. Nevermind, it just gives me even more of an excuse to come back!
Pretending I can see the sign anyway!
We headed back to our hotel in the late afternoon and were dropped off by about 4 pm, very happy and satisfied after a full and excellent day of sightseeing, even with the rain!
Price: Depending on the group size, please check the pricing here.
Reviews: 5/5 stars from 574 reviews of Trip Advisor (and the number one tour in LA).
I couldn't have imagined a better day tour of Los Angeles, it was the abolute perfect way for first-timers like myself to be introduced to the best and iconic sites of the city. We never once felt rushed and had plenty of time at each place, the whole day was extremely well organaised.
What made the tour all the more special was our incredible guide Bruce, who went out of his way to give us a memorable and fun day. He shared countless great stories and facts about the city and his passion for what he does really shone through. He was also a wonderful photographer for me (thanks Bruce!).
Doing a private tour is without a doubt the best way to see LA, we could personalise it to how we wished and it was very convenient and comfortable. We didn't need to worry about driving, parking, where to go or being one of thirty others in a big group. We got to do the tour on our own schedule and I loved how flexible it was. They also offer half-day tours if you don't have time to do a full day and they do fully-customisable tours as well where you can design it all yourself.
I couldn't recommend We Love LA Tours highly enough - they are outstanding in their field and I would book again with them in a heartbeat.
Don't worry about the weather either, I happened to tour on the 1% of days it decides to rain. The odds of coming on the other 99% with blue and sunny skies are a lot better!
End of the tour! My guide Bruce and I
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