Singapore. 

We spent a month in Bali and desperately didn’t want to leave but we still had some time to stop in Singapore which we were really excited about!
Flight over was only about 2.5 hours, jumped straight into a taxi and 20 minutes later we were at the hotel. Arrived about 7pm. Blimey what a culture change from beach resort to island city! We’ve been to Dubai a couple of times, that’s wealthy and glitzy but Singapore is that and some! It’s so clean, so well signposted, everyone speaks fluent English and it’s bloody expensive! Loads of the buildings look really futuristic/space like here. 

We managed to wangle another upgrade here so got a nice room in a skyscraper hotel, no geckos running up the walls here! It is right along the river, about 3km up from the marina bay. 

We spent a day wandering along the river (in 32degree heat) all the way down to the Marina Bay Sands hotel and the Gardens of the Bay. It’s a great walk, loads of interesting bridges, museum and monuments along the way. We popped over to Suntec City (Mall) to see the world’s largest fountain and finished the day in Chinatown rummaging through the $ store and feeding ourselves with Chinese food! Our hotel provides each room with a smartphone for your stay which has wifi usage all over the city so you can take it out and use the maps, boom taxis and attraction tickets – this was really useful to have! 

The next day we were up and out early headed over to Orchard Road, a known shopping street for a mooch about, then caught the MRT tube train to Little India. The MRT is dead cheap and so easy to use, very clean and efficient. Little India is a colourful collection of streets with a market selling mainly food items but also lots of nick-nacks as well. There is an indoor mall full of beauty Indian clothing to browse through and on the way out Faye spotted a lady doing henna so we stopped to get some done. 

After Little India we got the MRT round to the Bayfront, we were staying in the Marina Bay Sands hotel that evening due to a very thoughtful family friend who kindly paid for us to go, but before we checking in we went over to Gardens of the Bay which is gardens, light installations, restaurants and 2 huge dome conservatories. It was baking here so we only managed a couple of hours but we did the skywalk between the Supertrees which was fantastic and gives you a great view over the gardens and of the Marina Bay Sands hotel. From here we made our way into the Sands hotel and had a wander round, whilst waiting to check in we went in the Sampan boat rides which is a canal made through the shopping mall off the front of the hotel. 

Check in for the hotel all very smooth, I’d booked for a Club 55 room which includes breakfast, afternoon tea and drinks & canapés in a private dining room. I’d requested a twin room but she said they didn’t have any so upgraded us to a ‘Marina Suite’. She said ‘it may be a bit big for you’ but I said ‘I’m sure we’ll make do!!’ It was huge. 3 x the size of our home in England, multiple bathrooms, TVs, walk in wardrobe, pool table the works! It was awesome. We had a great view over looking the Gardens of the Bay. We unpacked our toothbrushes and headed straight up for Afternoon Tea which was fab, sandwiches, cakes, scones and you could eat as much as you wanted, the best feature of the Club 55 dining room was a) the view over the Bay and b) the 8ft fridge with every drink you could imagine and you could go and help yourself! Once we’d stuffed ourselves silly we made our way to the infinity pool. This was the reason we came to the hotel, we’d been watching a programme, Amazing Hotels a few months ago back in England where we came across the Sands hotel, Faye saw the pool and was desperate to go. She also wanted a Butler but the budget didn’t quite stretch that far! The pool is on the roof of the hotel 57 floors up and has incredible views. When we arrived up there in the afternoon it was busy as I think most people go to the hotel for the same reason as we did, the pool! There was even professional photographers up there helping people get their Instagram worthy shot! If your going there for a bit of quiet time I don’t think you’d get that at this hotel pool it’s very buzzy. 

A few hours swimming and then it was back to eating again! We went back to the Club 55 room and were greeted with Champagne as we got out the lift to watch the sunset. We were then seated and could help ourselves to the canapé buffet and drinks. Faye and I went all out so didn’t need any dinner after that!

From there we went to watch the Marina Bay water and light show over the Bay, very popular so you need to get there early to get a good spot. Then there was another light and music show at Gardens of the Bay which we watched from our balcony in the room. We went back to the pool for a late night swim, it was still really busy at 11pm, played pool and crashed for the night!

On our last day we got up early went swimming thinking it might be quieter and it was a little but not loads, had a huge breakfast with everything you could imagine and checked out of our one night living like Queens! It was a once in a lifetime experience for us and something off Faye’s bucket list swimming in the pool. 

Last thing on our Singapore list was Sentosa Island. We got the cable car over and wandered down to the beach. There’s loads to do there mainly aimed at children. We went to a pirate ship swimming pool and then went and did a 4D cinema experience before getting the cable car home, stopping in a Central Perk Friends cafe for dinner on the way home. 

Singapore was brilliant. We loved it. Despite the heat! It was hideously expensive and I spent just as much in 5 days here as 3 weeks in Bali! But it was totally worth it and I’m so glad we came here. 

We’re at the end of our 5 weeks away now and it’s flown by! We’re both gutted to be going home later and neither of us want to leave. But absolutely shattered and in need of a few days in bed! Both Bali and Singapore I’d highly recommend. Bali has such a variety of scenery and the people are so lovely you can do and see so much here as well as relax and chill out. Singapore is great for a stop over for a few days it’s an incredible place. 

We are so fortunate to be able to take trips like this and I adore the one-on-one time Faye and I get to spend together when we’re away because it’s much harder at home where life is so hectic. It puts everything in perspective as to who and what is important in our lives. 

The countdown is on for next year as we’re already discussing where is next on our list!

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Sanur & around.

After returning from the Gili’s we spent the remainder of the week back in Sanur at our original hotel. We slept very well that first night back!
Jl. Danau Tamblingan is the main road in front of our hotel and we didn’t get much of a chance to explore it before Gili so made a conscious effort to spent some time in the evenings working our way up and down the street. Faye had her hair braided, we brought more tourist tat and we ate in lots of nice restaurants, Massimo’s being our favourite – ideally need to make a reservation here. After dinner they have a huge gelato counter out the front so we visited that a lot! 
Whilst in Sanur we booked another trip out, luckily no boats involved in this one, just a driver arranged by the hotel. We paid around £35 for a driver for 9 hours which was dead cheap! Now ‘tours’ here aren’t really what I’d say is a tour. It’s just a driver who drops you at each destination and speaks a little English. 

So this time we did a tour of places southern to us in Sanur. This started by going to Nusa Dua, a quiet beach which some very fancy (expensive) hotels. Lots of parts of this beach are private to individual hotels but there are some public parts you can visit. So we spent a few hours on the beach, swimming in the sea and had a lovely lunch before moving on. 

Next up was Uluwatu. Uluwatu is right down the very bottom of Bali, the most southern point. Here there is a gorgeous temple right on the cliff and is a perfect spot to watch the sunset. You have to watch out for monkeys here though, they are known to steal anything and everything! At 6pm daily they do a Kecak fire dance show which tells an abbreviated story about Rama and Sita. Faye was learning all about Hinduism at school recently so knew everything that was going on – more than I did which was fab. They give you a handout which explains what is going on as well. This show at sunset at the temple is SO popular, a huge tourist attraction and they cram people in but you need to be seated a good 45 minutes before it starts meaning the sun is beaming on you so it’s very hot. The show was very good, gorgeous costumes, very funny at times and completely appealed to all ages. Once it was over hundreds of people were fleeing out to find their tour guides so once we got back in the car it was an hours journey to our last stop, Jimbaran. We were here for a seafood dinner on the beach. Jimbaran is back on the west coast of Bali where the sea is quite wild and huge great waves were crashing down just below us. Here there are loads of restaurants round the bay with tables on the beach, you select your seafood fresh off the ice and it’s served with rice, vegetables and fruit. Whilst you eat there are fireworks and dancers going around. 
Overall we really loved our time in Sanur. There’s not a lot going on but we loved having a chill out time between the beach and the pools and finding nice food. Many people go to Gili for the white sand/blue sea beaches but the Sanur/Nusa Dua ones are equally as nice in my opinion. We were also recommended to go across the water to Lembongan to do snorkelling but we ran out of time/couldn’t face another boat trips. It’s seems apparent here with all the boat trips to expect delays and the Balinese don’t bat an eyelid to it but the tourists go ballistic! We finished up our time in Sanur on the beach at a fire party which a neighbouring hotel was hosting, cocktails and tapas during sunset and a whole host of evening entertainment and dancing – we had a blast! 

Gili.

We’ve spent the last few days on Gili T. All a bit stressful and not something I’d organised beforehand. 

A taxi driver we’d met had offered to assist me booking the boat tickets which I’d been looking at online and it just seemed so expensive for the boat over. 
Getting to the Gili Islands (Gili T, Gili A & Gili M) is only possible via boat. There are loads of ‘fast boat’ companies which the crossing takes around 90 mins for around £50 per person return or you can get the ferry for pennies but it takes 8 hours!! I hate boat rides, I always get seasick so fast boat was the only option. Dewa our friendly taxi man booked us tickets for the boat with a company Semaya One, for 700,000 Rupiahs return whereas they were quoting me 1,200,000 so he saved us a fair bit of money! In with the ticket they come and collect you from your hotel and drop you back once you arrive back on Bali. 

It’s was another 6am start to wait to be collected and whilst we were waiting I googled the boat company. BIG MISTAKE! It had horrendous reviews, but then I looked at some of the other companies and they all have rubbish reviews. Basically the boats don’t run to time schedule, it’s a very choppy crossing with lots of people being sick, they also serve Bintangs on board so there’s drunks, and sometimes the boats get cancelled! I think we experienced all of the above. 

After the 6am start, being collected at 7.15am, an hours drive to Padang Bai we checked in ready for our 9.15am boat. Boat didn’t leave until 10am and it was a pretty choppy crossing. Luckily we both managed to hold it together on the way out and Faye slept for most of the way. 

On arrival at Gili T the boat pulls up, you jump off into the shallow water and make your way up the beach. White sand and gorgeous blue sea! For this part I was very glad not to have luggage. People are trying to pull suitcases up the beach – looked very painful! 

I’d pre booked our hotel the day before and looked up location in advance. Glad I did because there’s not really any street signs it’s just a case of figuring out if your North of South of the island and wandering around to find it. We stayed at a lovely hotel a few streets back from the main strip called Marta’s Hotel. We had a little bungalow, hot water (not all places do in Gili T!) and the staff were so friendly and helpful. Marta (Balinese) married his wife Joanna (English) 20 years ago and they run the hotel together. Breakfast was served on our little veranda – fresh fruit, juices and pancakes! 

Once we’d checked in a put our bags down we went for a wander for lunch, ate in a place called Scallywag’s, a little tacky. Then went back to the hotel for a swim in the pool. It seemed much hotter on the Gili’s than in Bali. 

Late afternoon we set out to climb up to sunset point. Hard work on the climb but well worth the hike. Perhaps worth wearing trainers though as we did it in dresses and flip flops! The decent on the other side of the mountain brings you down onto sunset beach were we stopped for dinner and watched the sun set. 

There’s no motorised transport on the island so the options are push bikes or horse and carriage. I didn’t feel comfortable using the horse and carriage, they are just little ponies pulling 6 people at once, they looked shattered! 

The next day we were due to get the 3pm boat back to Bali so we got up, hired bikes and cycled the whole way round the island – bloody boiling – not my best idea. We stopped off at north beach for some snorkelling and were lucky enough to see lots of fish and turtles. 

Then it all went a bit wrong. We went to check in for the boat to be told boats weren’t running due to choppy sea. At this point we were exhausted, boiling and in desperate need of a shower! Our options were to get the 8 hour ferry – not a chance in hell – or wait until the morning and get first boat out at 11. So then we had to find a hotel for the night. We tried about 15 but they were all full. I then went back to Marta’s were we stayed the night before, they were also full but they could tell I was getting stressed so they made Faye some lunch and helped me find a little homestay a couple of roads behind them for £20! Joanna looked after Faye whilst I went to sort it out. It was very basic, cold water, a bit grubby, a few bugs, but the door locked! Marta’s let us use their pool for the rest of the day and helped us with everything. 

That evening we went for an early dinner at Pearl on the south of the island. Lovely food and beautiful building. It was also Independence Day and one of the local hotels had a screen up on the beach for an open air cinema showing Independence Day, not the most child friendly film but never mind!! We both really enjoyed watching a movie and eating popcorn on sofas on the beach! 

Next morning after not a lot of sleep we went down to the beach early to check in for the boat, said they were running again so we had an hour to kill, went for breakfast, had feet massages and went back down to the boat to be told it’d been pushed back another hour so we found a spot on the beach and chilled out for a very. long. time. After lots of back and forth the boat came at 2pm and it was a free for all to get onto the boat. Once we’d boarded I thought brilliant, 90 mins of feeling sick and we’re back! That however wasn’t the case! The boat went over to Lombok, I assume to drop a couple of people off. Then the boat didn’t move for ages and we were sat bobbing around and sweltering. After a while people started to go upstairs and find out what was going on, there was a lot of heated discussions starting. Basically the boat was apparently 12 people over the limit and the harbour master wouldn’t let us go until 12 people got off. The thing was none of the staff came and told us what the situation was. A few volunteers stepped up, there was talks of everyone chipping in and giving them some money to pay for their hotel in Lombok but we were still 3 short. 10 minutes later a big Geordie lad went upstairs to get to the bottom of what was going on and kept relaying the info back to everyone. Eventually the harbour master agreed to sign some bit of paper allowing us to go so an hour later we set sail again, 9 people over capacity. As we’d left so late the sea was awful, incredibly rough but so hot in the cabin so people were being ill everywhere and you’re not offered water or anything. We had a further 2 hours of this before we pulled up in Pandang Bai where people were fighting to get off the boat. Loads of people had missed flights! 

Faye and I thought thank god we’re off that boat! Just an hours drive back to Sanur to our hotel, but, when the boat company was putting people in the taxis back we were forced into a 7 seat mini van that already had 9 people in and all their luggage. Faye had to sit on the floor whilst a Dutch guy stopped cases falling on her and I had to share a chair with his wife. Everyone was outraged but they really didn’t care and no one then spoke any English. So off in the car we went, again boiling, to arrive in Sanur and he pulled over. He didn’t drop us at the hotel just pulled into a lay by on the motor way next to a sign pointing to Sanur. He spoke no English and everyone in the van tried to help me but we just got out, walked to the nearest thing which was a Dunkin Donuts and used their wifi to order a Blue Bird cab. 8pm we got home. It took 11 hours. It was hellish. 

I’m so grateful to Faye that day because she had the patience of a saint and didn’t moan once. All she simply said once we got back was ‘maybe can we not go there again’ and I don’t blame her. I don’t know if we used the wrong boat company or what but for us what was meant to be a quick overnight stop turned into 3 days. Perhaps Gili T was the wrong island to pick and we should of done Gili A which is meant to be more peaceful. In my opinion the tourists are ruining Gili T, the rubbish, the drinking etc. I am glad we went because if we didn’t I would of regretted it but I won’t be returning!

A highlight for Faye was she’s lost another tooth in Gili – it’s costing me a fortune!



Sanur.

We are here in Sanur for two weeks. Sanur is quite a relaxed placed. Supposedly a good middle ground between the hustle of Kuta and the quietness of Nusa Dua. Our hotel is the most westernised one we’ve stayed in so far, it’s quite a large complex with an number of swimming pools and on the beach, but it still keeps a Balinese edge to it as the rooms are in little 2 floor Balinese cottages rather than a big high rise building (which I think I read they aren’t allowed to build here). We’ve spent a good few days doing nothing, we’ve caught up on sleep and I’ve caught up on some work and emails. In theory we could have travelled around a bit more but to be honest Sanur is quite a good base and I hate living out the backpack so I’d rather unpack and settle in and then if we want to go elsewhere, like we are going to the Gili Islands I’ll just leave most of at stuff at the Sanur hotel and take a small rucksack for our nights at Gili. Yes a slight waste of money but for me it makes things easier. 
In Sanur the best hotels seem to be right on the beach. They all seem to be big brands; Fairmont, Mercure etc I’m sure away from the beachfront there is more traditional accommodations. But if you’re coming I’d definitely recommend being on the beach, it’s lovely. The sea is calmer on this side of the island compared to Seminyak so it’s safer for kids to swim in. There’s a whole host of water sports available and better for beginner surfer’s. If a keen surfer your best on the other side. So far Faye has given SUP boarding and SUP yoga a go. 
Sanur’s got loads of restaurants to try and so far we have mainly tried the ones up and down the beachfront and they’ve all been great. Next is to trek a little more inland to see what’s about. 
We hired bikes from the hotel and did an 8-mile round trip up and down the beachfront stopping for lunch and ice creams along the way. Came straight off the bikes and dived into the pool as even with the sea breeze it was boiling!

Beach Clubs, Seminyak 

We had our money’s worth on Thursday and spent the day and most of the evening at Potato Head in Seminyak. Before coming to Bali I spent some time researching the best beach clubs for children and pretty much all of them are child friendly, in fact almost everything here caters for children as well as adults. I picked a couple of the beach clubs based on Tripadvisor reviews, one of which was Potato Head. Finns, Cocoon and Double Six all seemed viable but we only had a feed days to fit a couple in. Beach clubs are a great day out for us because Faye loves to swim and they always have lovely pools and it’s a chance for Faye to make some friends for the day. She’s at an age and swimming ability where I can trust her to swim alone which gives me the chance to lay by the poolside!

Potato Head I think appeals to all ages and they were great with kids, sometimes these places can be a little pretentious but none we’ve visited so far have been. They’ve been super relaxed about everything. I just wouldn’t recommend if you want a quiet day as there is music playing throughout the day. Potato Head is free to get in but you need to get there early, doors open at 10am and unfortunately you cannot book in advance. You have to turn up prior to it opening (from 8.50am) to reserve a bed then come back at 10am to get in. We got there just before 9am, earlier than I intended but I had no idea how long the traffic would take (traffic is a nightmare in Seminyak). This did pay off though because we managed to get a lounger right next to the pool. In exchange for the lounger you have to spend a minimum of 500,000 IDR (£28). We didn’t spent much more than that all day on food and drinks all of which was lovely and served straight to the sun bed!! The quietest time was in the morning when the pool was virtually empty and the place got busier throughout the day as there are a couple of restaurants there which people come to. The sun came down around 6pm so we walked down to the steps onto the beach to watch it and it was dark soon after so Faye took one more night time swim, we played a game of Skip-Bo and made a swift exit as by this time there was a fair few lairy Australians parading round in ‘I Love Bali’ speedo’s! 

The following day we visited another recommended beach club called Ku De Ta similar set up to Potato but on a smaller scale and you can’t go down to the beach. We made our way over there in the afternoon and just had a late lunch in one of their restaurants overlooking the beach and took a dip in the pool. It’s advised to make reservations at both the Ku De Ta restaurants as they are busy every day of the week. If you want to start tabs at any of the beach clubs you need ID as well as the credit card. 

Both nights after leaving the beach clubs getting a taxi home was a little tricky. It seems a good place for unlicensed cabs to hover to rip off tourists. You are advised to only use Blue Bird taxis which are blue cars with a bird on top. But there are looky likey cars that look almost identical. Blue Birds are almost meant to always be on a meter starting at 7,000 IDR. I learnt the hard way and got in a fake one by mistake and my journey was almost 3 x as much! Shortly we are moving on to Ubud and I have prebooked a Blue Bird through their app which is just like Uber! Let’s hope it turns up!

What we’ve learnt.

89 Days

25 Hotels

Over 20 Places

1 Country

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I was slightly hesitant about going away on our three month trip to America, for many reasons such as work and money, but, mainly because I’m backpacking with my three year old! Would we be safe? How would Faye cope? How will I cope!?!

Once we got there, those worries soon went straight out the window. I remember the first day we set out exploring. We left our youth hostel in Boston late one afternoon and went for a walk around the neighbourhood and I instantly felt happy and calm. The houses and streets were beautiful and Faye was running up and down, laughing away.

Don’t underestimate the hard work that goes into organising a trip like this, it takes a long time, and foolishly I planned mine whilst completing my final year of my degree, which got very stressful, BUT, it paid off as things went pretty smoothly once we were away.

Yes we backpacked, but very organised backpacking, I had pre-booked all our accommodation and transport before we left the UK, this is partly because I wouldn’t have been able to sleep at night if I didn’t know where I was going to stay from one week to the next, and also, i’m with a young child, I wanted suitable places for her. Ultimately I know I would not have enjoyed it as much as I did if I was spending time trying to find accommodation. Another bonus to it, is that its cheaper. If you can book hotels, train tickets, car hire at least a few months in advance you can get things quite a bit cheaper.

So we stayed in 25 hotels during the trip. I initially set my budget at £50 per night for accommodation and the average worked out at £51.25, so I thought that worked out pretty well. Obviously depending on the area you are in, a hotel can be £30 a night and others can be £100 plus, but, you’ve just got to keep on top of your budget the whole time. Its also nice to spend a few nights in an average hotel to save some money and then have one night in a nice one. Hotels on average in America are way, WAY, better than what you would receive in England. Most places we stayed, had two large double beds, fridge, microwave, hi speed Wi-Fi, satellite TV, kettles, free parking and breakfast – for £50. When researching my hotels I used hotels.com as you get one free night for every ten you book through them, but its also worth going direct to the hotel for a price. I used Tripadvisor for everything, but you have to take it with a pinch of salt, people on there seem to moan about anything and everything. My main priorities were, does the lock on the door work and is the bed clean, any extras I’m over the moon. We were very fortunate with ALL our hotel, everyone was more than adequate for us two and I always felt safe.

I was advised by STA travel agents when initially discussing my trip that I would need £1000 per person, per month, in America as everyday spending money for food and activities etc. I took half that amount of money as that’s all I had. We had £39 per day, around $68, dependant on the exchange rate. Obviously some places are twice as expensive as others, so any opportunity I could find to save cash I would. We didn’t go out for three meals everyday because I just couldn’t afford it. We made use of the fridge and microwave in our hotels and always tried to get the free breakfasts. I also always carried snacks for Faye so instead of stopping for a meal she could graze through until dinner time. I have come home with a small credit card bill, due to the clothes shopping during the end, but that was to be expected. However, on average I did manage to keep to my budget, the best way to do that I found was to spend as little as possible during the start of the trip to make sure you know you have enough to last the duration.

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The trip has done a lot for Faye’s social skills, before we came away she was not particularly confident doing physical tasks, and wasn’t keen on having conversations with new people, which is fine as she’s only three, but since being away she’s thrown herself into pretty much all the activities, she’s much more confident and she’ll even order her own food in a restaurant! When you ask her about the trip, she will mainly tell you about Disney, but she has really enjoyed all the other places. Things like the US Mint in Philadelphia, I found slightly dull looking at coin after coin, but Faye loved it! She found it really interesting looking at the factory and identifying what different coins were. Giving her her own digital camera was one of the best things to keep her entertained, she loves to take photos and did so throughout the whole trip. People passing by would often smile when they saw Faye taking pictures of me, and would offer to take a photo, but Faye (being a very independent child) would say ‘no thank you, I’m good at taking pictures’.

Don’t get me wrong it’s not always easy being in each others pockets for three months, when we are at home in England, I work and Faye has Preschool so we have time apart, which I believe everyone needs, so there was numerous times I could of strangled her, and I’m sure she could me. It doesn’t help that when Faye’s asleep she still doesn’t stop talking or fidgeting! There’s not much that can be done about it really, just go the bathroom, count to ten and think at least I’m not at work!

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Neither of us wanted to return home, we could of easily stayed away for another few months, but unfortunately the VISA and the money ran out. In the airport on the way home we were reading travel books for where we would like to go next. We like Mexico, Thailand and central America – to be honest, I’ll go anywhere! Faye starts primary school in September 2014 which will be quite an obstacle but I won’t let it stop me. I am aware taking children out of school is very difficult these days, however the knowledge Faye has developed on this trip for her age has been immense and its never ending. She’s practiced her hand writing when sending postcards, she’s been identifying all her numbers when finding hotel rooms and using elevators. She can now identify different flags and countries. She’s learnt about pounds and dollars as well as different cultures and some of the history behind the United States of America. She’s been educated on looking after the environment and pollution of the sea. She has seen a whole variety of wildlife in their natural habitats. She’s used so many modes of transport and tried different foods. The best thing is, that I am not having to teach her these things, we are learning them together and enjoying it at the same time. We are both incredibly fortunate to have been on this adventure.

So the plan now is to work hard, save up and play the lottery to fund the next trip!

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Santa Barbara.

The move to Santa Barbara is about an hour and a half from the LA area, give or take a little due to traffic.

Here we are staying in the Days Inn on State Street. We arrived at the hotel two hours before check in and they had no problem letting us into the room early. Nice large room with fridge, air con and wifi. Free parking. Swimming pool was large and open well into the evening and free continental breakfast 6am-10.30am. State Street is 7 miles long and goes all the way down to the ocean leading onto Stearns Wharf. State Street has some mixed reviews on Tripadvisor so I was a little apprehensive. So we are just under two miles back from the ocean on State Street. I rather quite liked State Street, our hotel is at a quieter bit, but half a mile away are shops and restaurants and not remotely tacky like some parts of LA were. The room itself was $200, one of the most expensive rooms of my trip, but this is an expensive area and also a Saturday night. What I found slightly tricky here was finding a hotel that will let you stop over for one night at a weekend. Many hotels here require a minimum two night stay at weekends during the summer.

As soon as we threw our bags into the room we came straight out an headed down to Stearns Wharf. Took the car as I wasn’t sure of the distance, parking is every couple of blocks on either side of the road down State Street. $12 a day or $2 an hour – I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before but pay machines in car parks here in America are SO SLOW! From Stearns Wharf we hopped on the Santa Barbara Trolley Tour, $19 for adults, children go free, lasts around 90 minutes and gives a good coverage of the city. You can hop on and off throughout the day. As we are only in Santa Barbara overnight a short tour was the best way for us to see as much as possible. After we had a wander around Stearns Wharf, which can be a little chilly with the breeze, before heading back to our hotel.