This month’s Travel Link Up theme is “My Favourite Things” with the usual suspects Rebecca and Emma plus our awesome Kiwi co-host for November, Frankie from The Mayfairy.  My favourite movie of all time is The Sound of Music and I’ve visited Salzburg twice…and I want to return for a third time as I love the city so much.

I will admit to having the soundtrack on my iPod as well which I totally love…whenever my work colleagues over the years have gotten a tad stressed, I’ve always prescribed the sound track and forced them to listen to it until they’re in a happier place…usually by the second song they’re feeling instantly better.

Anyway…so my favourite things…

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens

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Bright copper kettles and warm woollen mittens

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Brown paper packages tied up with strings

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These are a few of my favorite things

My Favourite Travel Photo

This is my favourite travel photo of Lisa and I in Krakow…we had such a brilliant weekend together even though I had the sniffles…Lisa is the best tour guide and sister that I could ever wish for…she completes me!

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This photo would be a close second…sweaty and hot in Belarus covered in cheap polyester…it was such a funny day as you can tell by the smiles on our faces…Belarus is amazing by the way!

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My Favourite Place for Ice Cream

Okay once again in Krakow…best place for ice cream in Europe is Lody…just do it!

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My Favourite Hotel Welcome Gift

Seriously a shoe cake…the guys at the Grande Bretagne in Athens will never be beaten…ever!

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And then the Sheraton in Krakow gave us a dragon…let’s just say the dragon sleeps with my sister each night in New Zealand.

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Starwood do the most amazing Hotel Welcome Gifts…thank you so much for every one!

My Favourite Place for Mocktails

Lisa and I had definitely rated the Sheraton in Krakow for mocktails…we couldn’t stop giggling over the fluffy kiwi mocktail as obviously we’re kiwis!

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My Favourite Place for Gluten Free Chocolate Eclairs

Two words…Helmut Newcake…in Paris…go to Paris just to eat these chocolate eclairs.

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My Favourite Up in the Air Photo

I’m petrified of heights but for some reason I love taking photos from the plane…my all time favourite is this one coming into land at Heathrow when we flew over Windsor Castle on a perfect May day.

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My Favourite Thing about London

The icons…I still get giddy when I see the Tower Bridge and Houses of Parliament.

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My Favourite London Event

I think I must have been a detective in a past life as I love snooping…my favourite London event is definitely the Open House weekend where you can snoop inside buildings which are normally closed off to the general public.

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My Favourite Place for a Shoefie in London

Duck and Waffle folks…go for the shoefie…they do gluten free waffles as well…you could go for those as well…and maybe the views

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My Favourite London Afternoon Tea

Claridge’s…my number one…where they don’t bat an eyelid when you turn up looking like this…with a broken arm, two black eyes, bruised teeth and a broken nose to have afternoon tea…I don’t recommend falling off a ladder and slamming your face into a man hole cover!

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My Favourite Train Station

If I ruled the world every train station would look like Porto…just saying.

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My Favourite View with Afternoon Tea

Afternoon Tea at the Old Cataract Hotel served up with a glorious sunset…the reason why we visited Egypt.

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My Favourite Place for Sunsets

African sunsets are incredible but for me there is nothing better than watching the sunset set over the Nile

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I have so much video footage and photos of these sunsets!

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My Favourite Thing about England 

Definitely the castles and the incredible amount of history…I remember a work colleague lending me a book about Henry VIII and I managed to read all 600+ pages in under a week (he was shocked) but it gave me a real passion to learn more about the history of England. Possibly the reason why I don’t watch Coronation Street or Eastenders…there are more saucy and scandalous plots in England’s history to discover in the great castles you can snoop inside.

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My Favourite Place to Play Princess for a Night

If you’re an expat make sure you book yourself in for a night at a castle…I’ve only done this once but it’s high on the list again and yes take your slippers like little old grandma did here…

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Thornbury Castle is a great place to spend a night and apparently Henry VIII slept at the castle once.

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My Favourite Place in England

Cambridge…a 30 minute drive from my house and just takes my breathe away with every visit…and it has great shopping.

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My Favourite English Summer Tradition

For some reason the English love to open up their gardens during the summer months, normally for charity and offer cream teas…I love this English Summertime tradition…and it makes me grateful that I don’t live in London anymore as this is definitely a “shires’ thing (but am sure you can find a few in London if you looked).

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My Favourite Thing about the English Seaside

Beach huts…and the more colourful the better!  And I will admit, I’ve never gone swimming at an English beach yet.

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My Favourite Travelling Hat

I bought this hat from Max Fashions in New Zealand years ago and it travels with me everywhere…it’s the first thing I pack when I go on holiday…always wear a hat…I managed to get skin cancer on my scalp…trust me wear a hat!

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My Favourite Travelling IBS Photo

This is what happens when things get lost in translation…hello gluten food baby…I’ve been expecting you!

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My Favourite Thing About Lifts in Hotels

You can take a sneaky selfie and nobody will judge you or roll their eyes.

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My Favourite Thing about Christmas in New Zealand

Christmas and sunshine go hand in hand…along with giant santas…preferably with a moving finger…

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…but my favourite thing is the gorgeous Pohutukawa tree…and my folks of course…that’s my mummy!

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My Favourite Christmas Market in Germany

I’ve visited quite a few…okay more than a few…a lot…Dresden is possibly my favourite but I think Hamburg would be a close second.

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My Favourite Thing about Travelling

Meeting new people…I love the pyramids (and I’ve seen them three times now) but on my last trip it was meeting all these cute little school kids and telling them about New Zealand and having loads of giggles with them…for me that is what travelling is about all…

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…and I like to talk to random strangers…it takes you out of your comfort zone and you just never know who you are going to meet.  Take the time to talk to the locals…and if you can’t speak to the language then a smile goes an awfully long way.

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xx

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2014 – what a year!  I think Lisa summed it up appropriately with the Charles Dickens quote on her Friday post.  So where did the wind blow me in 2014, let’s take a mini blog post vacation together!

The Staycation

You have to love a good old staycation; no airports, no security lines and an unlimited luggage allowance equals mostly a stress free holiday unless of course you get stuck in the one way system in Sheffield! This year I’ve had a few mini staycations in England that included Heythorp Park in Oxfordshire and staying at the brand spanking new Shangri La London Hotel located in The Shard.

But if you had to ask me what my favourite staycations were it would be the weekend away discovering the delights of Derbyshire and Yorkshire

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Exploring London during the Open House weekend and staying at the ultra trendy W Hotel in Leicester Square…

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and when in England you just need to sleep in a castle especially one where randy old King Henry VIII rested his head.

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Passport at the Ready

After a long discussion of heading somewhere nice and warm for our birthdays in February we ended up in the very tropical city of Berlin for a long weekend!  While not my favourite city in Germany (and I don’t know why people rave about the city – there is more to Germany than Berlin and Munich folks, get out there and discover it!).  I highly recommend staying at The Intercontinental Berlin especially if you’re gluten free, their breakfast is amazing – allergy label heaven.

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For Lisa’s birthday in March, Lisa and I jetted off for a romantic weekend in Verona and then a jolly jaunt down to Venice for the Carnival.  Let’s just say Venice and I are on a break at the moment – Venice broke my iPhone and then almost ruined a £800 handbag!  We can laugh about the disastrous weekend now but oh my goodness at the time (the bottom three photos of Lisa and I sums up the weekend – we were cold and wet kiwis – these are the photos you didn’t see!)

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I love Europe in springtime and Amsterdam is the Queen of Spring – glorious sunshine and tulips galore what more can a girl want; wait, maybe a rather large clog!  (Yes you all need to feel sorry for Lisa as she has an egg for a sister who has no shame = spring flowers make me want to skip and dance like crazy – I should point out that’s me in the bottom three photos)

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The First Bank Holiday in May, G and I met Lisa in Athens for the weekend and let’s just say Lisa and I shopped till we dropped.  Athens is one of my favourite European cities; I would seriously move to Athens just to eat my weight in feta cheese!

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Can I just say that I loved having my little sister in the same hemisphere as me for the first half of the year and our last trip together was to one of Lisa’s favourite cities in Europe – Krakow in Poland.  We had the best trip ever…planned to perfection by Lisa and even my stonking cold didn’t ruin our perfect weekend together.

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I love a bit of pressure, I work way better under pressure so it should be no surprise that G and I jetted off to Paris with a free night voucher on the last day it was valid.  G’s first visit to Paris and he needed to see six million dead Frenchmen and ladies!  G has a travel obsession, he’s on the look out for the best catacombs in the world (trust me we travel for strange reasons; cake, catacombs, shoes…)

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May and June were crazy months and I had three trips booked back to back (Krakow, Paris and then Copenhagen).  G was short 20 tier points for his BA membership so we jetted off to Copenhagen for the day, as you do.

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I have a travel wish list a mile long and Porto was at the top of the list; finally I got there and holy moly I wasn’t disappointed.  Great hotel, soulful city but just not a gluten free haven that I thought it would be.  It did make me giggle when I got asked when my baby was due (gluten bloating) and the horrified stares from random strangers as I knocked back a few glasses of Port.

2014 porto

Can you imagine not having a week long holiday for over two years – well that was me until we headed to Egypt for a week.  Unfortunately we did have a few issues with a certain hotel chain which was unfortunate, 5 star hotel should mean 5 star service in my world!  This was my third visit to Egypt and I still love the country and people.  It’s just so sad to see a country bought to it’s knees by the political unrest – Aswan and Cairo are two of my favourite places in Egypt.

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You know when you wait ages for a bus and two come at once; well one week holidays seemed to be the same.  After our sunny holiday to Egypt, I was jetting off to Germany to meet Christine and Jonelle and spend a whole week touring the Christmas Markets.   Just in case you don’t know, I’m obsessed with Christmas and the German Markets!

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Scoffing Afternoon Tea

And when I wasn’t on holiday I was scoffing Afternoon Tea; 19 of the little buggers in fact! I’ve done a round up of my favourite gluten free afternoon tea’s for 2014.

2014 review

So what are your exciting plans for 2015?  We have a new travel link up running from the 1st of January through to the 7th of January about your bucket lists, travel plans or anything else for 2015 – you can find more information here.

xx

If you liked this post on Where Did the Wind Blow Me – 2014 Review then why not come and join me on TwitterGoogle+InstagramPinterest and Bloglovin’ – I won’t bite!

While most folks go on holiday and stay in one hotel for the entire duration of their holiday, I like to be a bit different and decided to split our holiday up with four nights in Aswan and spending our last three nights in Cairo so that we could go shopping.  So how does one enjoy a luxury holiday to Cairo, let me show you how..

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…firstly you stay at a lovely hotel in Cairo.  With the lack of tourists in Egypt there are some pretty good deals going on for accommodation so you don’t really have an excuse not to spoil yourself!  We choose to stay at the Sofitel El Gezirah for our three nights in Cairo; there will be a full review to follow but these are the views from our balcony.

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..Secondly find somewhere fancy to eat – the lovely gentleman that picked us up from the airport told us that Kebabgy at the Sofitel made the best bread in Cairo and he wasn’t fibbing.  Yes I ate bread, there are some days when I crave it so much that I head into Waitrose just to sniff the fresh bread on display (yes I’ve just admitted to my rather dirty habit) – I was having one of those days however I ate the bread this time and it was pretty darn tasty.  We decided to live dangerously and ordered Egyptian Sparkling Wine (it makes my eyes water just thinking about it!).  How much did I enjoy Kebabgy, so much that we ate there two nights on the trot but the second visit was without the Sparkling Wine or the bread!

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And then of course we had to go shopping at the Khan el-Khalili souq – our bank accounts are still crying from over use from the lantern shopping.  We bought quite a few!

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While shopping we took a wrong turn and ended up finding this pretty building, there’s always a silver lining for each wrong turn in life.

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This was my third visit to Cairo and I’ve seen most of the main sights however these bad boys are always worth a visit when in the area; they still take my breathe away.

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G finds Cairo slightly chaotic while I just find the craziest so so appealing!  I left him safely at the hotel while I visited the pyramids.

I’m going to spam you with photos of Pyramids now (but not too many as I starting getting RSI pains from editing pyramid photos so I gave up, you’re lucky!)

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You know how I mentioned there aren’t too many foreign tourists in Egypt at the moment, well I became a bit of a tourist attraction for the locals who were visiting from the South of Egypt.  I signed autographs and had my photo taken with A LOT of people – I do wonder how many Facebook profile photos have my ugly mug in them now!  These girls were precious and I got lots of cuddles, I tried to teach them to say cheese but obviously it means something completely different in Arabic as they went running towards the camera.

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I did have a “police incident” while at the Pyramids; as I was super popular with the locals and everyone wanted my photo, I had to start saying no especially when it came to the young men.  One young man tapped me lightly on the shoulder and then ran off which caused the guys on the camels to start screaming to the police that I was injured.  Needless to say I was soon surrounded with what felt like half of Egypt while I told the police I was unharmed and that everything was fine – I received an apology and then was offered a camel ride (as you do!)

I declined the camel ride but was forced to have a photo beside a camel – this is what NOT to wear while in Egypt!  The camel is definitely better dressed!

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Mama Mia its the Sphinx!

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I used the hotels chauffeur service to take me out to Giza which made life super easy as I had air conditioning plus I didn’t have to negotiate with a taxi driver to get back to Cairo.  Just a few of the weird and wonderful things we saw on our drive back to the hotel, we were both giggling!

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Soon it was time to board our British Airways flight back to London after spending three nights in Cairo, time flies when you’re on holiday.

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We managed to score an old BMI plane which had big comfy seats and a lot of space; someone was so comfy he became Sleeping Beauty…

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which made it difficult to have a constant supply of gluten free jelly beans!  Thank goodness that the cabin crew understood my plight and did regular trips to keep me in my sugar coma.

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Travel Tips for visiting the Ancient Pyramids in Giza

  • Opening hours are from 8am through to 4pm.
  • To gain entrance to the site around the Pyramids cost 80 Egyptian Pounds for an adult and 40 Egyptian Pounds for a student.
  • The Great Pyramid is closed between Midday and 1pm and costs 200 Egyptian Pounds to enter (half this price for students).
  • The entrance fees for the other Pyramids are as follows – The Khahfre Pyramid costs 40 Egyptian Pounds; The Menkaure Pyramid costs 40 Egyptian Pounds and the Mers Ankh Tomb costs 50 Egyptian Pounds to enter.  (student prices are half the adult prices listed – a valid student identity card must be shown).
  • Cameras aren’t allowed inside the Pyramids or Tombs

Have you visited Cairo in Egypt – what was your favourite thing to do?  What’s your favourite ancient site in Egypt and your tips for visiting the country?

xx

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I love luxury hotels with a history; they don’t just provide somewhere luxurious to rest your head at night but they also provide you with walls that could tell you a million and one bedtime stories and the Sofitel Legend Old Cataract Hotel in Aswan, Egypt is no exception.

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As strange as it may seem, the Old Cataract Hotel was our reason for choosing Egypt as our holiday destination; not the famous temples or pyramids of Egypt but this legend of a hotel which was built in 1899 by Thomas Cook.

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I’m not going to lie, check in was okayish however the Sofitel Platinum benefits were overlooked and the concierge service felt almost non existent during our visit but lets not dwell on that as I need to show you why you need to visit Aswan.

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The Old Cataract consists of two buildings (something we didn’t realise at the time of booking our room) – the Old Hotel (New Cataract Wing) and the Nile Building (Nile Wing).  The Old Hotel has a mixture of rooms – including all the garden facing rooms along with the suites however all the rest of the Nile view rooms were located in the Nile Building built in the 1960’s.

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So of course, not really understanding this we ended up having three rooms during our stay (not great when you have totally overpacked!) – so are you ready to have a snoop inside a few rooms including two very special suites.

So let’s start with two of the rooms we stayed in –

This is a luxury room located inside the Nile Building – ultra modern with stunning views over the pool, the old hotel and the Nile.

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We then changed to a Prestige Suite in the Old Hotel as G wanted to stay in the Old Hotel as this was the reason why we had travelled all the way to Egypt.  The suite was large with high ceilings however we had a smaller balcony than in the Nile Building.

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The staff were kind enough to let us a snoop inside the Agatha Christie Suite where she wrote her famous murder mystery, Death on the Nile – super lush! (the suite not the murder)

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After paying my respects to him a few months ago in Oxfordshire, it felt only right to go snooping inside the Winston Churchill Suite and what a beauty it was!  The balcony is just incredible and had that old world charm about it which made you feel like you were stepping back in time.  I could picture Winston having a cigar on that balcony watching the world go by.

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And of course there has to be a library at the Old Cataract and it wouldn’t be complete without a Dummies guide..

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Hey gym that I used twice while on holiday!  The hotel even has an indoor hotel which is great if you get sunburnt in minutes like I did while using the outdoor pool – I’m a pale princess!

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The outdoor pool is probably the coldest thing you will find in the whole of Aswan – a welcome relief from the 38 degree heat!

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If there is something that the Old Cataract Hotel exceeds at is the food and beverage – the staff were incredible (and were ever so helpful with my gluten free dietary requirement) and the food was just amazing.  If only breakfast could be served like this every day!

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The terrace was my favourite place in the whole hotel; the music, the views and just the old world elegance that ticked all the boxes in making this hotel a firm favourite of mine.

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But if the terrace isn’t for you there are plenty of little spots to relax in dotted around the hotel..

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..Or maybe the bar area

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And if the above photos haven’t made you think of booking a night at the Sofitel Legend Old Cataract Hotel in Aswan then these glorious sunsets sure will!

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So what do you think?  Will you be booking a night to stay at this gorgeous iconic luxury hotel?

xx

If you liked this post on Iconic Luxury Hotels: Sofitel Legend Old Cataract Hotel, Aswan then why not come and join me on TwitterGoogle+InstagramPinterest and Bloglovin’ – I won’t bite!