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Half a day in Nairobi

Admittedly I am prone to exaggeration at times, but I truly had one of THE BEST afternoons of my life in Nairobi visiting the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage.

It was absolutely heartbreaking to hear the stories of these adorable orphaned elephants. The are cared for in the elephant nursery by the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust until they are 3 years old, when they are released back into the wild. It was fascinating to hear about the bond that exists between the baby elephants and the keepers – it would have been my ideal job until I saw the sleeping quarters, which are shared with the elephants! Not sure I’m quite cut out for that. During the visit you’ll watch the baby elephants playing and being fed; there is also lots of opportunity for those all-important elephant selfies.

The easiest way to visit the elephants (especially if you have limited time) is to book a tour with hotel pick-up and drop-off. There are lots of options available, some of which also include a visit to the Giraffe Centre. The one I used was: https://www.viator.com/tours/Nairobi/Nairobi-Day-Tour-David-Sheldrick-Wildlife-Trust-and-Giraffe-Center/d5280-21143P10

If you have some additional time in Nairobi then the city market is also well worth a visit. Word of warning – be prepared to haggle (you should be paying maximum half of the initial price they give you). This place is perfect for buying gifts and cool stuff for your home – after all, can you ever really have too many straw bags and wooden bowls!?

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Half a day in Moscow

First things first, you must visit the Red Square. One of my favourite buildings, St. Basil’s Cathedral, is every bit as beautiful and magical as it looks in the pictures. For a spectacular evening view of the Red Square check out the O2 lounge, rooftop restaurant and bar of the Ritz-Carlton.

St. Basil’s Cathedral

Of course there is plenty to do around the Red Square, but if you are short on time then a great way to see as much of Moscow as possible in just a few hours is a boat cruise. Glass-sided boats leave very regularly from outside the Radisson Royal Hotel (also known as Hotel Ukraina). The hotel building itself is very impressive (one of the tallest in the city) and definitely worth a look. The cruise lasts around two and a half hours and costs 1000 rubles; it is possible to book in advance although it isn’t really necessary. I would recommend going around lunchtime as the on-board restaurant is a lovely place to dine whilst enjoying the city views and is very reasonably priced. For more info and booking: https://www.radissonblu.com/en/royalhotel-moscow/river-cruise

View from the Flotilla Radisson Royal

During the Russian Winter Festival is a fabulous time to visit Moscow. On my most recent visit I was lucky enough to see some of the winter lights displays – truly spectacular, like something out of a fairy tale!

From Russia with love!

Half a day in San Francisco

If you find yourself with a few hours to spare in San Francisco, I would highly recommend a visit to Alcatraz. The ex-prison, located on an island just over a mile offshore, is now open to the public as a museum.

View from the ferry leaving the island

You should allow around three hours for the visit, including the ferry crossings (which go from Pier 33). This will allow you plenty of time to explore the island. The ticket costs around $40 (including museum entry and ferry crossings) and can be booked online: https://www.alcatrazcruises.com

Once you get onto the island you are free to explore Alcatraz at your leisure. There are also guided tours and an audio guide available. Usually I find an audio guide to be an effective way of sucking the fun out of any historical/cultural visit, but this one is done really well and even features ex-prisoners talking about their experiences. There is also an ex-prisoner working in the shop, signing copies of his book!

The visit gave me an insight into what life was like at Alcatraz and I found myself eager to watch prison escape films all of a sudden! Another great plus point of taking this trip is the views – you get a pretty good view of the Golden Gate Bridge on the crossing out and a brilliant view of San Francisco from the island itself.

The Waterfront Restaurant

If you have time for a spot of lunch before or after your visit to Alcatraz, The Waterfront Restaurant at Pier 7, is a great place to stop. It’s fairly fancy but they have a very reasonable fixed-price lunch menu during the week and the service is great. A far cry from what the canteen at Alcatraz was serving back in the day I imagine! Website: http://www.waterfrontsf.com/

Half a day in LA

On my recent trip to Los Angeles I only had a few hours free, so I paid a visit to The Broad – a modern art museum in Downtown LA. It also happened to be a 5 minute walk from my hotel. I’m sure the Hollywood Walk of Fame is great, but convenience is key on very short trips!

Admission to The Broad is free and you can book a place online in advance. I would recommend booking online, but it is still possible to visit without a reservation (you might just have a to queue for a little while). They stop admitting visitors around 90 minutes before the museum closes.

You can reserve tickets here: https://ticketing.thebroad.org/

It doesn’t take that long to explore the exhibits – I was there for around an hour and a half in total. The whole place is incredibly photogenic – ideal if you’re looking for some nice Insta shots to demonstrate how cultured you are.

Otium

Right next to The Broad there is a great restaurant, super convenient if you want to grab a bite to eat before or after visiting the gallery. I managed to get a table at the bar as I was dining solo, but it would definitely be a good idea to make a reservation. There is also a lovely outdoor seating area. The chef, Timothy Hollingsworth, was recently featured on Netflix’s cooking competition ‘The Final Table’ and the place has become increasingly popular since then. Not that I knew any of this before I visited – I ended up dining there pretty much by accident and the waiter told me all about it!

All in all, a successful few hours in Downtown LA!

Welcome to Half a day in…

“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” – Gustav Flaubert.

I am very fortunate in that I travel frequently for work. Often people will ask me things like: “don’t you get bored of all the travel?”, or “has the novelty worn off yet?”. Quite frankly: no. Travel is one of my great passions in life and I am grateful that my job allows me to see more of the world than I would otherwise have the opportunity to see.

Typically when I am travelling for work I will have no more than half a day free in my destination. There is of course the temptation to simply retire to the hotel room and answer some emails. But the emails will still be there when I am sitting in the airport later; those precious few hours to see a little of the place I am visiting will not.

When you have such a short amount of time available, it is essential to plan ahead as often it will be necessary to book tickets or make reservations in advance. The purpose of this blog is to share with you how I spend the small amount of free time I have when I am travelling for work, and hopefully inspire fellow travellers to make the most of even just a short amount of time in a destination. For locations where I am lucky enough to have more than half a day free, I will provide a few options that could easily be visited in half a day.

Happy travelling!

Amy