Tag Archives: wanderlust

Travel diaries -Discovering Africa Sierra Leone – Independence day weekend (lantern Parade)

Am thrilled to be celebrating independence day with my Sierra Leonean friends.  It’s a long weekend and celebrations start with watching the Lanterns at the city centre.

I was not sure what to expect but my host made  a fuss about not taking our phones or valuable’s with us. This made me wonder about the safety. 

I was advised to wear covered shoes to avoid having my toe’s stepped on and to dress down and blend in. No problem! Am 6ft tall and blending is what I do. Lol. 

I kept my dressing simple and put on minimal makeup.

The lantwen show was supposed to start at the Cutting Tree. I am told that this used to be the location of the slave trade. Slaves were taken from Sierra Leone to Banana Island.

The streets were hiving with people. Its like the whole of Freetown was gathered on the street. I would liken this to Nottinghill Carnival except it was in the middle of the night(11pm), there was mess music and more people milling around being very loud. 

I felt very unsettled and just couldn’t get into the grove of things.  I saw lots of kids and was so concerned about there safety. 

After much waiting around we saw 2 poorly constructed floats pass by. ….πŸ˜©πŸ˜•πŸ˜―.

I couldn’t decide if I was more disappointed or confused. At this point I was ready to go.   I was told that through the night various other lanterns/floats would pass and there would be a price for the best float. 

We headed home at approximately 1.30am. The worse part of the night is that I couldn’t take any pictures while out and we came home to NO light !😭😭😭😭

This is a very tired and reluctant Ijay. Nonetheless, I can say I experienced watching the lantern on SL independance day. 

My outfit is pretty basic 

Basic Tee – Primark 

Black high waisted jeans – Dorothy Perkins 

Trainers- Nike 

Kimono -Zara
Thanks for reading to the end. Be sure to follow me on Instagram for regular updates @ijayheavens I post there regularly. 

See you soon. 


How to get a hotel upgrade!

If you have been following my blog you will know that I recently got back from a very lovely holiday.  I really did my best to take everyone with me on this trip by uploading lots of pictures and keeping you all updated on my movements.  Sharing is caring and you can thank me later.πŸ˜‹πŸ˜‹πŸ˜‹

If you missed this you can still catch up by looking through my travel diaries category.

So, we all know that I love a bargain ( better yet, some freeness).I am always on the look out for ways to get the most out of my money.  We had booked to stay at what I thought was an already beautiful hotel.  According to booking.com a 5* hotel. On arrival it was great but we randomly got offered an upgrade to a newer, more luxury resort hotel which belonged to the same hotel chain.

Interestingly, we had considered this luxury resort hotel while booking but did not want to pay the priceπŸ™ˆ.  With the offer of a free shuttle to the new hotel, we accepted !

On arrival to out new hotel, I was gobsmacked at the views and still could not believe the free upgrade.  We were offer champers on arrival at the reception… the life.  I do not want to go off track so a Full reviews of this luxury hotel is to follow. Please stay tuned.

After a few nights of trying to understand why the free upgrade, IT HIT ME.  I literally had a secret escapes moment.  ” Even the most luxurious hotels out there don’t like having empty rooms…”  I noticed that the hotel was probably not as full as it could have been.

We booked the holiday for the first week in June.  This is probably not the busiest time of the year for hotels.  It’s not quite summer holidays and schools are still in session.

So I  guess that is how to  get a hotel upgrade.

  1. Book your stay at off peak times when it is not busy.  You stand a better chance in getting a room upgrade if the hotel is not busy and the rooms are vacant anyway.
  2. If you do not ask, you may not get.  In this instance we did not need to ask and it was simply offered because we had great smiles( lol).  But the Asking principle has worked wonders for me in the past.  Especially with airlines.
  3. This is most likely to work with hotels with chains. The idea is that they upgrade you to a hotel within their chain with better rooms, a better location or just more luxury… yes we like luxury .  Alternatively, you can also try this with room upgrades.
  4. Finally, having a great time on holiday is best upgrade anyone can ask for.  Make sure you enjoy your vacations.  Whether you get a hotel upgrade or not.

The idea of luxury hotel not wanting to have empty rooms is one which Secret excape uses to get you and I luxury hotels for a cheaper price. Therefore this was not a fluke or luck. IT WORKS.

Disclaimer -results with the above can’t be guaranteed as each hotel has its own policies.   These are only my suggestions 

    Ps- Do not forget to come back and let me know how you get on.  Or if you have any other tricks up your sleeves on how to get hotel upgrades please share.

    ( Comments below)

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