Currently traveling

Fifi Flipflops Big Adventure

November 2015 - March 2020
Currently traveling
  • Day859

    Magic Carpets

    April 5, 2018 in Turkey ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    I wake quite late in the morning and after a quick shower just about make it for breakfast. My room is amazing with a fully equipped kitchen and even a dishwasher. Every toiletry imaginable with luxury bath robes and a mini bar containing about 12 different spirits. Breakfast is on the same level with fruits I’ve never seen before( and I’ve seen a few) a multitude of hot dishes and even a whole honeycomb you cut off for honey. I indulge more than I would usually before making my way to the shuttle bus to take me to the suhmaret district. I get dropped at the airport and head for the metro. With a quick change to the tram It takes about 40 mins but is absolutely packed and after giving my seat to an older gentleman istand in the crushed compartment until my stop.
    As soon as I step off the buzz of Istanbul envelopes me like a warm hug. So many people say to me don’t go to Istanbul because of terrorism but terrorism is something that lives in our own back yard and to be honest the way they drive here is far more dangerous.
    Although I’ve visited the ana Sophia mosque and blue mosque before I’m excited to return as their beauty is breathtaking. Sadly one is closed for refurbishment and the other for prayer. As I turn to leave the area a Turkish guy speaks to me and asks me if I’ve seen the cistern. I say no and he asks if I’d like to? I agree and after a small walk he points to it and carry’s on walking telling me to follow. I can’t believe I’ve fallen into the tourist trap and before I know it I’m in a carpet shop. After nearly an hour I’ve learnt a lot about silk carpets and when I ask the price of the smallest one the guy tells me it’s 1100 quid, I’d expect it to fly for that it’s no bigger than a bath mat. After much toing and froing I make my excuses and leave the shop but before leaving ask if they can give me assistance in buying a wedding gift. I’m taken to a jewellery shop and purchase my gift of a bangle for the bride. This is traditional as when the men went to war the women would have the bangles to be able to survive financially if anything happened to their husband.
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  • Day859

    The Henna night

    April 5, 2018 in Turkey ⋅ ☀️ 19 °C

    I leave early in the morning to catch my flight to Düsseldorf then catch my connecting flight to Istanbul. The journey runs pretty smoothly until I get to Istanbul where Mustafa’s cousin picks me up. The traffic has caused massive delays and I’m at the airport waiting for Two hours until finally Hakan arrives. We are due to be at the henna party at 730 and it’s 630 now with an hour and a half drive. There is no time to go to the hotel so just grab a quick wash while the housekeeper irons my dress. I look a show as I touch up my make up for the third time today but at least I’ll make the bride to be look at her best.
    We arrive at the ceremony and it’s in full swing but when I arrive it’s like the queen has just stepped into the room. Mustafa’s fiance Elif calls for me to go to her boudoir where she greets me and we chat for a short while. I had no chance of making the bride look better as she already looks stunningly beautiful x I join the head table and although there are only a couple of people who speak english there is no issue as I just watch and learn.
    The venue is set out like a wedding venue in the uk with tables spread throughout the room laden with food and soft drinks and chairs wrapped with bows. The bride enters the room with an enterage of drummers and tambourines to traditional Turkish music in the most amazing gown. We dance around the bride doing variations of steps that by the time of got the hang of it were on to the next dance and I’m learning all over again. By the end of the 4th dance I decide to sit down to avoid standing on anyone’s toes for a while. Elif disappears again and comes out in a blue gown this time. She really is like a princess and once again we make a large circle and dance around the bride who certainly has a few dancing moves and knows how to enjoy her last night of freedom.
    Towards the end of the night Mustafa arrives and it’s time for the henna ceremony. As one of the selected few we are taken away and dressed in traditional clothes and a small veil and given a candle. We form 2 lines either side before Mustafa and Elif are brought out together this time. Elif now has the most amazing red dress and veil on and they walk towards a seat on the stage has a canopy. Henna is placed in the hand of the bride covered by a paper flower to keep it in place and Elifs mother gives her blessing. Mustafa leaves shortly afterwards and we carry on dancing the night away. It’s time for me to lay my head but what a truly remarkable experience I can’t wait for the wedding. Sorry no photos due to respect ✊
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  • Day817

    City tour

    February 22, 2018 in Finland ⋅ ⛅ -15 °C

    Ada arrives shortly after 9 , it’s moomoo day in school so mama has gone to spend the morning with Elma. We eat a small breakfast and chat a while looking at old photos of when they were young, she then drops us at the university where papa is waiting. His girlfriend works here so we are joining her for an early lunch. The restaurant is open to anyone and is only a few euros which means that no one should go without at least one good meal a day and the food is delicious with multiple choices.
    Next stop is the town centre, we park in one of the biggest car parks I’ve seen which runs the length and breadth of the city but all underground it is fully heated so if people park here all day they don’t have to defrost their cars. The streets up above are also heated so for the first time I see a pavement without snow and ice. Just when I think I couldn’t eat anything else it’s into the cafe for coffee and cake 🍰
    Something I love here is they’ve encompassed the poppy into design and every where you go you see it from bedding to napkins, pictures and clothes I love it.
    We then drive down to the beach 🏖 well sort off , it’s hard to believe there is actually sand beneath all this snow, but there really is and the proof is the little beach huts for you to get changed in. We were due to go ice fishing 🎣 today but with it being so cold papa has advised against it, and although there are people actually fishing it’s for the hardened proffesionals and even they have a bottle of vodka to keep warm.
    The latter part of the afternoon is spent shopping buying all the little Bits of home that ida can’t get in the uk but I also indulge. In Nordic countries they have cloudberries that are the most heavenly thing I’ve eaten so I’m bringing some home. Back at home Ada has cooked dinner and we all sit down to eat with her mum and sister for the last time well at least I thought so but shortly after we’re back in the car and heading back to her dads place where there is homemade blueberry pie and homemade cloudberry jam cheese bread coffee cake and custard. I must have put on so much weight since being here but the diet can wait. I’ve had such an amazing time but would love to come back in the summer to see things differently.
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  • Day816

    Sweden

    February 21, 2018 in Sweden ⋅ ☀️ -18 °C

    As we are so close Tina offers to take us to Sweden 🇸🇪 for food, it’s literally a case of crossing a bridge and we’re there. The first thing we see as we arrive is Ikea and we head a little further into the town to find a place to eat. It’s quite a small town but we settle for a little restaurant that we can’t make out whether it Tina’s or Pina’s. We enter and there’s not a sole in there. The menu offers burgers kebab reindeer chicken and meatballs Ida fancy’s kebab and I opt for reindeer but they have neither so I suppose when in Sweden meatballs it is. I can’t believe with such a small menu they haven’t got half the stuff but we have a little giggle and shortly after our food is served.
    After the Santa Claus experience I have to say it’s a massive anti climax, the potato is so salty I can’t eat it and as soon as we’re finished we can’t wait to get back to Finland 🇫🇮🇫🇮 .
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  • Day816

    Santa

    February 21, 2018 in Finland ⋅ ⛅ -11 °C

    I wake early because I’m excited as a kid at Xmas. Today is the day I’m going to meet The real Santa Claus.
    We are visiting a few places today and shortly after 9 we’re on the road. Our first stop is in a place called Kemi where we visited the snow castle. I have never experienced anything like it before it’s a full sized castle made of ice with carvings all the way through it. We buy a cup of fruit wine 🍷which is very similar to mulled wine and then make our way through to the chapel. You can marry here and even stay in one of the fifteen hotel rooms which are themed by phenomenal ice sculptures, each one a different theme. Outside is a big ice slide which I go down on a rubber ring. It really is something else. The crazy part is that in the summer it melts and each year they build a new one, and the work that must go into it is amazing. Back on the road again and our next stop is lunch in Rovaniemi in a great little restaurant called Koti which means home in Finnish where we enjoy chicken and black bean soup salad and freshly baked sourdough bread just what we need to warm the barnacles. It’s only a short drive to Santas village and because it’s this time of year the majority of people are Chinese as its Chinese New Year they have holidays and what better way to spend it. We make our way through the building showing various aspects of different countries versions of Santa and also how the original Santa used to be. I’m shocked as we round the corner and there are only a few people in front of us. This is definitely the time to come as the queues would me massive during the Christmas period. Then it’s my turn to make an appearance. I must say I feel slightly nervous 😬 On the door is a sign saying no photos but to buy one is quite expensive so I take a few shots discreetly hoping he won’t notice . Who do I think I am trying to kid Santa 😂??
    I sit next to him and he asks where I’m from and when I say liverpool he says “do you know Sammi Hypia ?” I joke that I knew he was a Liverpool supporter because he’s got a red suit on. He asks if I’ve been good and I tell him “most of the time” and he says 6 days out of seven isn’t bad. We chat a little more and I’m shocked at how much time he spends with me because I know what a busy man he is. As we smile for the camera I have an overwhelming sense of happiness this really has been a dream come true even if it’s 40 yrs late😂. As I’m saying goodbye I look at the photos and it’s so good it would be rude not to and reluctantly pass over the tourist trap euros but think this will look good in the centre of my photo collage.
    The Santa village is based on the artic circle so after getting the obligatory photo we spend another hour roaming the various gift shops filled with lots of various items from reindeer droppings to Christmas decorations and even though they are very similar each shop seems to have different things. Our next stop is Santa’s post Office where every single letter from around the world is kept and stored and you can also send postcards which will get stamped at the sorting office here with an option of it leaving today or another post box for Xmas. Our time here is up and once again we’re back on the road (with a little detour to Sweden- see next footprint) before arriving back home a few hours later. I take the opportunity of having another sauna and get into bed relaxed and blissfully happy.
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  • Day815

    Husky Riding

    February 20, 2018 in Finland ⋅ ⛅ -11 °C

    I wake early this morning and wrap myself up warm before making a cup of tea and going out to sit on the porch. I’m so grateful to Ida and her family for giving me the opportunity to collect more experiences and memories and this trip is something that I will treasure and remember for the rest of my life x it’s -24 this morning and boy does it feel it, it’s a different type of coldness than ive experienced before its fresh and clean and because there’s no wind if you wrap up warm it’s nice. I sit and watch the sunrise with my second cup of tea, but no cigarette because I’ve left my lighter on the table for no more than 5 minutes and it’s frozen solid 😂. I put it in my pocket and after 10 mins or so it’s working again. Everyone gets up at there own pace and as I help to clean up the house Ada gets the baby while Jonathan and Ida shower. I return to the balcony and sit for a while just taking in the peace but it’s broken by a tapping noise. I go inside to ask what it is an Jonathan says it’s a woodpecker. I’m shocked to hear they have them here but they have 2 species the white and the rare black one. We cant see which one it is as the noise echoes so could be coming from anywhere. This morning we are off husky riding and I’m so excited although it is so cold I make sure I wrap up extra warm. We are all supposed to be going but Ada’s said it’s too cold for the baby so it’s just us two girls and Jonathan. It’s only a short drive from the cabin and once we’re all wrapped up we head into the safari centre to book in. We have a brief of how to use the sled and make an emergency stop and then it’s down to the field to meet the huskies. I’m actually going to be driving and Ida jumps in ready for the ride of her life 😂. I’m surprised at how much pull the huskies have and I’m quite glad that I’m the leading sled. The huskies go pretty fast around the set track , and obviously know where they’re going because I certainly don’t. At one point we hit a pretty sharp corner and I have a bit of a wobble but we’re soon back on the straight and narrow but the tears are streaming down my face from the cold and before too long the ride is over. We dismantle and get an opportunity to meet the huskies properly as well as seeing reindeers and to my astonishment a llama. We spend a little more time here before going to the Apollo drive through to collect food and drive over to papas to eat it. I have ordered a chilli 🌶 🍔 which comes with pineapple hot sauce and salad and is one of the best I’ve eaten and the chips come with every topping just amazing. After dinner papa needs to do some snow work so I go out to join him and as I’m stood on the porch he comes round the corner with a massey Ferguson tractor with a huge shovel and snow blower. He clears the snow From the sheds and retrieves two stand on sledges and the rest of the guys join us for more snow fun. As I sled down the hill I realised I don’t know how to steer it as I power down the bank I can’t turn and ride directly into a huge mound of snow luckily the sled hits it before I do. It’s soon time to pack up before we make the 2 hour journey home which seems to take forever as the baby’s really restless and me and Ida are in the back seat with her. The sunset 🌅 on the way home is a saving grace and sets the sky on fire. We arrive home safe and sound and ida puts the sauna on for me. When I get in it it’s fine but because the apartment sauna is so much smaller than the cabin one I nearly fry when I put the water on the coals. Totally refreshed I jump into my pyjamas and we have a few hours with Ida’s friend before i hit the sack 🛏Read more

  • Day814

    Sledging Fun

    February 19, 2018 in Finland ⋅ 🌙 -13 °C

    I wake just in time for the sunrise and just as I think it’s not that great the sun lights the sky with a beautiful orange glow. Once everyone is up we have breakfast and after a shower we’re out the door. The first stop is in the town where we go in the designer shop that sells lots of local wears including hand knitted items and clothes as well as artisan items. We take a walk down to the lake, but can only walk so far as the track is dedicated solely to skiers and they go crazy if your caught 😂😂
    We make our way to pick up moumou ( grandma) and on root I spot a park full of snowmen. We pull over and Ida explains they we’re built a while ago when it was warmer but because it’s so cold they haven’t defrosted. Back in the car we arrive at grandmas before taking her to lunch at the local spa. Lunch is pork cooked in a mustard sauce and various other items including salads and potatoes. After lunch we drive to Ruka a small town but it’s one of the largest skiing resorts in Finland as much as I’m keen to try everything skiing is a no go for me as breaking my leg would destroy the long term plan and knowing how clumsy i am I’m not going to take the risk. The scenery here is beautiful even though it’s a lot of trees and snow its very different every way you look. We make our way back to the cabin as sledging is today’s activity and Ida’s goddaughters are meeting us there. I try and convince moumou that she should join us but she’s having none of it so me and the girls head out with the sleds. I can’t believe how hard work it is the going down is fine but as I get off and try and climb back up the snow is waist deep and I literally have to climb through it and by the time I get to the top I can barely breathe. We have a couple more goes and it does get slightly easier as the snow gets packed. Ada then suggests we go along the road with the sleds and she pulls me. I have a scream but i have to say when I have to do the pulling it near damn kills me. We finish up and head inside for the best hot chocolate ever joined with Finnish sweet rolls called laskiaispulla which are filled with cream and jam followed by coffee ☕️. We are joined by lots more family and loads of kids. It’s great how family are so important here and everyone talks rather than watching tv 📺 we all sit round the table and drink coffee and eat breads and cheese this is very traditional so who Evers house you go to the put the percolated coffee on and everyone comes together at the table , even the young children. The only telly that’s been watched since I’ve been here is the Winter Olympics. Everyone leaves after a few hours and the Sauna is on. it’s a well known fact that going from hot to cold is really good for the soul so sticking with tradition I jump out of the sauna and run outside where I roll in the snow then back into the sauna and I have to say it’s amazing. Shortly after as I go outside the sky is lit up in one area and I run back inside to tell the guys. They come out and confirmed it’s the northern lights and as they’ve seen it before I stay outside to try and get some photos. I truly am blessed to see them as it’s not a regular occurrence here but another box ticked and I go to bed a happy bunny.
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  • Day813

    Finnish Traditions

    February 18, 2018 in Finland ⋅ 🌙 -18 °C

    We wake at 8 and I’ve slept well even if it’s not been for long. Ida’s sister is on her way to pick us up to drive to the chalet where we will spend the next few days. Ada and Elma (Ada’s 18 month old daughter) arrive shortly followed by Tina (Ida’s mum) and we all enjoy a breakfast together followed by me having a little browse around the outside of the House. There is only a small community here and the nearest shops are a car ride away together with the only pub for miles. For breakfast I eat a rice pastry with a dressing of eggs and butter which tastes very similar to egg mayonnaise but nicer. Belly’s full and a three hour drive ahead we set off. It’s crazy how a smidging of snow brings the uk to a standstill and even though the roads are well gritted they still seem treachorous to me. The whole journey consists of snow and trees which I suppose is pretty understandable as Finland has 80% coverage with forest. The snow clings to the trees making for the most adorable views. We stop halfway for a coffee but it’s not quite a Costa. The coffee here is traditionally strong but it’s warm and that’s what is important. I pay a visit to the ladies and have soon come to realise that it’s hard work getting dressed and undressed. It’s so cold outside but whenever you go into a place it’s so warm you have to strip off. After refreshments and redressing were back in the car for the remainder of the journey. The cars here have plugs a bit like hybrid cars but the plug here keeps the engine warm so it’s easy to start.
    After more trees and snow we arrive in kuusamo and at Ida’s dads cabin. Jonathan Ada’s husband is here and as we sit around the dinner table drinking coffee Papa cooks reindeer stew. It’s so good traveling with local people as you get to see the traditional family ways, and even though her dad doesn’t speak English everyone else does so communication is good. The reindeer stew is delicious and as soon as we’ve finished we head up for the most amazing sunset. The colours are so vibrant and the contrast with the snow certainly makes this one of my favourites. After the sun has gone down there is something that they call a blue moment here, it’s not like just the sky turning blue it’s more than that but something that you just have to see.
    Early evening we make our way to moumou’s which is grandma in Finnish and awaiting us is more food. Grandma lives literally at the end of the road and when we arrive all the family are waiting. We eat and drink and I have a traditional coffee with cheese yes cheese. You put the cheese in drink the coffee and then sprinkle the cheese with sugar and eat delicious. After spending a few hours it’s time to get back on the road and head for the final destination via the K supermarket on route for essentials. I love walking round foreign supermarkets and can’t believe they have a pick and mix for pets.
    We arrive at the cabin a short time later and once the fires going finish the evening cooking sausages on forks in the flames followed by marshmallows. What a truly amazing day
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  • Day812

    And were off again

    February 17, 2018 in Finland ⋅ ⛅ -18 °C

    So today is a pretty crazy day for me as my usual agenda boarding a plane would be jetting off somewhere hot, but today couldn’t be more different, I’m off to Lapland with my Finnish partner in crime Ida.
    Even as I’m sat on the plane as we fly to helsinki it still seems a bit surreal. This is one of the first times I’ve flown where I’m not in that holiday mood of giddiness and I don’t know why although not feeling well might have something to do with it. We will fly to Helsinki first before flying out to Oulu which is about an hour away. Our arrival time is 1 in the morning and luckily Ida’s mum is picking us up so at least we won’t have our pants pulled down using an airport taxi. We arrive at Helsinki airport and the slight panic we might miss our connecting flight is calmed when the captain advises us that they have a delay on that flight also. The good news is it means I can have a cigarette in the airport smoking room which I have to say is the cleanest one I’ve ever seen. After a cigarette or two we head for the departure lounge and within no time at all we’re back on the bus to catch our flight to Oulu. Sitting on the plane waiting for take off a large crane like lorry approaches the plane and starts spraying the wing with anti free, this is to prevent anything from freezing up, well it is minus 16 outside. We arrive in Oulu without any freezing issues and I head through customs to have a cigarette while Ida waits for our case. Ida’s mums meeting us at the airport and as I go through there’s a lady that looks just like Ida and I say hello but it isn’t Ida’s my so rather than make a show of myself again I go and have my cigarette. Oh my gosh I wasn’t expecting how cold it was but the snow sparkles like diamonds even as it’s falling from the sky it’s so pretty. Back in the arrivals lounge it’s not long before Ida comes through with the case and is greeted by a lady that looks nothing like her and a lot younger than I was expecting. She drives us the 20 km back to the apartment and after a quick chat heads off and we get straight to bed as it’s 2amRead more

  • Day712

    Out at Sea

    November 9, 2017 in Saint Lucia ⋅ ⛅ 29 °C

    So I wake this morning and the view as I step onto the balcony never ceases to amaze me. I feel so much better and shower and dress before heading down with Judy to have my morning brew with the office staff. We head out on the bus at 10 to catch the boat from the harbour and sit up front while Captain Kurt drives us to pigeon island. On route my hat blows off and although we turn around to find it we can’t see it anywhere. I have another one at the house so I tell him to carry on. We arrive at the island and take a small trek up to the fort at the top. You can see for miles and even Martanique in the distance. We walk back down and after a quick swim it’s time for lunch. The picnic supplied is sublime and after a good munch I’m back in the sea for a refreshing dip before our tour of the rest of the island. Were shown the houses of all the celebs before anchoring off to do some snorkelling . We head for home It’s been an amazing boat trip and just when I think that I couldn’t smile anymore we are surrounded by pods of dolphins 🐬 the babies frolicking in the sea jumping and diving they swim around the boat curving the bow as we dangle our legs over the side as they play beneath us. There are multiple pods and two different species with the youngsters being the most playful. The boat brings us back into harbour and we disembark back to the hotel. While Judy heads back to the office im left in charge of ordering drinks so 2 James Bond martini 🍸 it is. They are like rocket fuel then Judy orders a bottle of prosecco. Phil and Lorna join us for the sunset and we head back to the ridge. We have dinner and as I go outside the stars are amazing shortly after there is a power cut. With no light pollution whatsoever Judy and I cuddle up in fluffy blankets and fall asleep under the stars what a perfect end to a perfect day with a perfect friend.Read more