Saturday, 24 June 2017

Exploring London!

Recently I travelled down to London to visit my boyfriend who lives there and as I am going again this week I thought it was time to write about my first trip! My boyfriend has just recently moved back so this was my first of many visits.

Right off the bat I made a massive mistake; I drove. Never ever again will I be driving down to London. He lives in South London meaning not only did I have to travel all the way down the M1 which was actually ok, I then had to drive through central London and it was the worst experience of my life. It took hours to get virtually no where! It was so so frustrating being that close but it taking so long. This was me being a bit too confident and not listening to the advice I was given to not drive! Well lesson learnt and the train is going to be my new best friend from now on.

The drive did put a big downer on the start of my trip as  arrived frustrated and about 2 hours after I thought I would but luckily it did improve!

That night I met his family for the first time and we had a family dinner, which was a little overwhelming as my boyfriend has a family of 6. Meaning it was a lot of people to meet and talk too!

 On my first full day there we went into the centre of London! I have visited London several times before with school, my parents and an ex but always with a set plan for example school trips. So it was nice just to wander, I had no idea what I wanted to do so we started off at Buckingham Palace and just walked around from there. 

We went down the mall to horsegaurds parade as I am an avid horse rider and owner and for those of you that have read my other blogs will know I went to live in New York for 3 months to teach horse riding. 

We then had a mandatory pub stop before going to Trafalgar Square. There where several bike races happening that day so the roads where cordoned off making it a little more difficult to get around than it usually would have been. However later on the bike races did pay off for us.

On out way to china town we stopped for the most amazing lunch! London is expensive so when we saw a lunch menu at Steak & co for £7.95 we didn't think twice! My boyfriend had the steak which you cook yourself at the table on a hot stone and I had incredible chicken and bacon mac & cheese. We then had pudding as well in total it was under £20 each which is a bargain for 2 course and drinks in central London.

Loving the identicalness of these 2 photos including my boyfriends hiding behind his drink in the background 

We then headed to Leicester square and went in the Lego shop and M&M world, I have never seen so many different coloured M&Ms the walls where lined with them! 

We finally made it to China town where we had been heading before lunch where we saw the famous bubble wraps which I definitely plan on going back for on my next visit, then to another mandatory pub stop.

As mentioned before there where lots of bike races happening and as we entered Piccadilly circus the final 3 laps of the women international was going so we stopped to watch the finish! I know nothing about cycling but it was fun to watch and the atmosphere was great!

Our last stop was green park to sit and relax for a while before heading home! Overall it was a really nice day, very relaxed and it being sunny and warm helped as well!

Have you visited London? Any ideas of what we should do next time i'm there? I'd love to visit the natural history museum 

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Post Travel Money Worries

If you've read my other blog posts you'll know I worked in New York at a summer camp teaching horse riding in 2016 and after finishing the camp I travelled for a month. This included a 2 week partnership with Intrepid Travel on their Wild West tour.

However, this post isn't about the travelling but about my final days and months that followed. As you will probably know you don't work at camp for the money. It's all about the experience of being in America living and working, making amazing new friends. If you then add on a month of travel you might have guessed that I came home flat broke.

My last stop when travelling was San Fransisco where I flew home from, by the time I got here I was pennyless and had to make the dreaded phone call home to ask for money to pay for a hostel. I am beyond grateful that my parents where able to lend me the money as I know many people don't have this option!

So as I lived out my final ays in San Fran living off pasta, cheese and bread that i'd bought at trader Joes my time of wracking up debt started. Again luckily only off my parents meaning no interest but debt is still debt either way.

Once arriving home I started back at the shop I had been working at during my time at university, but as it was coming into the quiet winter period I was getting hardly any shifts. I was making between £350 and £500 a month sometimes only working one day a week. This meant that my parents had to pay for my car insurance and a few of my car payments as I payoff for it monthly. I did what I could to earn more money selling stuff on Ebay and taking a second job working at Centre Parks giving children pony rides. This was only for a few weeks over Christmas but it helped. Even with all that I was not able to start paying my parents back.

Having so many money problems as a result of travelling did put a downer on my memories, I sometimes think about how I wish I had been able to do more things while I was there and if only i'd had more money I could have. I without a doubt I had an amazing time. Yet if I was to do it again I would be more careful. I didn't start to budget until I became low on money. I had relied on my camp pay to fund my travelling but it didn't stretch anywhere near as far as I thought after having to use some of it while at camp. In fact I don't even know how much money I went to America with, thats how little I planned.

Therefore the moral of the story and this blog post is that yes looking at money, budgeting and doing the practice things like that may be boring but they are essential and I may have been able to save myself worry and debt if I had invested more time into having a sensible plan.

Have you experienced any money troubled during or post travel? How did you cope with it? Let me know in the comments!

Thursday, 8 June 2017

What to do in Berlin!

Last weekend I was away in Berlin for 3 days and had an amazing time!

My flight went from East Midlands Airport at 6.30am meaning a very early start. As I was travelling with my boyfriend we paid for airport parking. Splitting this between us made it cheaper than public transport to the airport.

We arrived in Berlin at 9.30 and made our way to out hotel via the Tier Garten, We stayed at the Fjord hotel Berlin and paid £243 for 2 people making it £40.50 a night. The hotel was lovely to say it was on the cheaper side. We dropped our bags off as we where too early to check in and then when we went back they had been taken to our room which was a nice bonus. There was free fruit and infused water daily. Also extremely friendly staff which really helps. I'd 100% recommend this hotel.

After going to the hotel we headed out to join a free walking tour from this company:

Our guide was great and showed us all the main sights such as the Brandenburg Gate, Berlin Wall, Cathedral and The Palace as well as a few places that we wouldn't have known about such as the site of Hitlers war bunker. I love walking tours as you can really get to understand the history where as by myself I may see the building but I wouldn't know the story behind it. Such as the 2 domes in the Gendermarkt, one French and one German. The Germans where angry that the French finished their dome first so the Germans decided to make theirs 1 meter higher to get back at them! He also showed us where the burning of the books happened at the university library which foreshadowed the start of the war.

We left our tour at the Brandenburg gate and went for a much needed sit down in a cafe at this point we'd been up 14 hours and where pretty tired. So we decided to head back to our hotel via the supermarket where we picked up breakfast and snacks for our trip to keep our food costs a bit lower. After checking in we went to our room to unpack and shower before heading back out for dinner.

Our hotel was close to Potsdamer Platz where there was lots of restaurants so we headed there and ate at Que Pasa. As you can probably guess from the name it was a Mexican. We shared nachos for a starter then I had a burrito and my boyfriend had tacos as well as 2 cocktails for me and 2 beers for him. The bill came to €56 which we thought wasn't bad!

On our second day we headed out early to the Topography of Terror (Berlin Wall), we spent hours reading all about the history of the wall and the wars. I was really interesting and definitely a must do for anyone heading to Berlin. 

After that we made our way towards Check Point Charlie stopping at an italian where I had the best spaghetti Bolognese i've ever had! Unfortunately I don't know the name of this restaurant but this was the best meal I had while in Berlin.

We then headed to the Check Point Charlie museum. We where actually pretty disappointed in this one, it was all very cluttered and didn't seem to follow any real plan. There was lots and lots of information shoved in random places and covered everything from World War 1 to Korean Torture camps. I think they had tried to cram too much into a small space and it just left us confused and a bit bored.

After leaving we headed to Fassbender & Rausch a famous chocolate shop in Berlin. They have models of Berlin landmarks such as the Reichstag made of of chocolate and weighting 300kg! There was also the Titanic, a plane, the Brandenburg gate and a volcano erupting chocolate! We bought a small things to sample back at our hotel.

We headed out again that night for a nice meal, this included us getting dressed up a bit! We went to a restaurant called Meredo. The service here was pretty poor it took a long long time for our drinks to arrive and then our food. Luckily when the food actually arrived it was really good! I had a chicken caesar burger which came with an amazing salad and was in fresh ciabatta bread with rotisserie chicken. My boyfriend had a traditional beef burger. The food did redeem the restaurant a bit but after waiting so long I don't think we'd go back there.

For our final day the heavens opened and it rained a lot! So instead of heading to the zoo as we had planned we went to the spy museum via a watch tower left from the Berlin Wall. Unfortunately because of the rain we where not able to go into the tower. The rain also meant the queue for the spy museum was huge! However, it was well worth the wait once we finally got in. It was the best museum we visited by far. There was so many interesting things to read about and lots of spy artifacts to look at such as cameras, modified umbrellas and suitcases. We also received money off vouchers for their cafe when we paid for our tickets so after spending a few hours walking around the museum we had hot chocolate and lemon cake. The hot chocolate was incredible to say it was a small museum cafe. I'd recommend going here just for that.

After the Spy Museum we headed back to Fassbender & Rausch to buy some more chocolate! We bought hot chocolate and a mix of their different types of chocolate. We then made one last stop before heading back to our hotel and that was Dunkin Donuts. We don't have these in England so we wanted to try it! We got a box of 6 doughnuts for €7 which we thought was pretty good value and meant we had breakfast for the next day.

As we where running low on money we headed to Pizza Hut for dinner haha. It was close to our hotel and cheap so after eating pizza and chicken sticks we headed back to the hotel for an early night as our flight was at 9.30 am the next day meaning leaving our hotel at 6am.

We got up at 5.30am and left our hotel at 6am to walk to the Berlin Central station for the train to the airport. We attempted to make our way back through the Tier Garten as we had done the first day only to find it all fenced off meaning we had to go all the way around. This may have taken us a long time but meant we got another look at the Jewish Holocaust Memorial, Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag which turned out to be a nice little send off for our weekend in Berlin.

Have you been to Berlin? Would you like to? Let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

6 Reasons to Visit Berlin in Photos

Here is a selection of photos that'll hopefully inspire you to visit the beautiful and historic Berlin!

Berlin Cathedral

Jewish Holocaust Memorial


Berlin Wall

The Food

Fassbender & Rausch Chocolate Shop

Keep you eyes out for my full blog post on Berlin coming soon!

Which of these places would you most like to visit?

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Wekend Away: Pickering

This weekend I visited Pickering in the North of England. It is a small country village near Scarborough. 

My boyfriend and I arrived in Pickering before our check-in time so we wandered down to the main street which was full of local shops many selling antiques and collectables and then various local business such as butchers and cafes. At this point, after being roasting hot and sunny during our whole drive north it decided to chuck it down! So we had to hide in some shops for a while before heading back to check in.

We rented a cottage in the centre of Pickering called Bramblewood cottage, it was a gorgeous stereotypical quaint English cottage with lots of interesting features like little windows and cubby holes but also had all modern features including a huge shower and a beautiful garden.

After power naps on the sofa we headed out for the evening and worked our way down the pubs on the high street, due to Pickering being so small we found it difficult to find a place to eat as everywhere was fully booked. However, we then stumbled across an Indian restaurant called Cilantro and had an amazing meal! The food was great and we ordered way too much which meant we ended up coming home with a doggy bag. I had a chicken and chickpea curry in a tomato sauce which was great but along with our rice, sides, nann bread and starters I couldn't finish it. The great thing about Pickering being so small is that it is only a few minutes walk from anywhere in the village to our cottage.

On our second day we headed to Scarborough the closest beach to our cottage, the day started out scorching hot again so once we found parking we headed to the sea front and walked along the promenade. This included stopping at a fudge shop which had all kinds of flavours in the end we settled on, Mint Chocolate Chip, Oreo Vanilla and Mango. The fudge was disappointing not quite the melt in your mouth fudge you can get but it was ok. However, no one apart from me liked it at all so I've been working my way through all 3 bars since! We then carried on along to the pier where we sat and took in the beautiful view on the pier!

The big attraction in Scarborough apart from the beach is the castle. Which like all castles is on the top of a hill so we started our climb up many many steps to reach it. As you can see from these photos the view from the top is pretty amazing!

After the castle we headed down the hill to a fish and chip shop which is a British seaside classic and we had an amazing lunch. The cod was great covered in thick crispy batter. I really wish i'd taken a picture to show you how good it was. Before heading back to our cottage we wandered to the beach and sat on the sand for a while which resulted in us getting a bit sandy and wet as we didn't go prepared with towels but it was all good fun as well as getting to stroke the cutest donkey called Marvin who was there to give children rides.

The sun and walking had tired us out so we headed back and ended up having a nap before eating dinner in the cottage and getting ready to head out to one of the pubs we had visited the night before which was holding a quiz. We had a few drinks and did the quiz which which somehow managed to win getting 32/40 questions right! It was a great end to our weekend.

For anyone looking for a quiet weekend away Pickering will be perfect for you!

Do you have any trips planned? Tell me in the comments!
I'm off to Berlin on Friday 

Monday, 29 May 2017

Tips & Tricks: What to pack for a weekend break

This weekend i'm going away to a cottage in Pickering. My aim is to pack light which is definitely helped by the beautiful weather we're having in the UK right now. However I am awful at taking far far to much stuff so here is a list of what i'm taking. I don't think it's too bad for 3 days

-  T-shirt to sleep in
- long sleeved body suit for the evenings
- Flower vest top for day/ evening
- Aztec vest for the beach.
- Jumper - because you never know with British weather

- Black Denim Shirts
- Blue ripped Jeans (this may change to black jeans)
- Black cotton shorts for the beach
- Blue PJ shorts

- Underwear
- Socks
- Belt
- 2 x bikini top, 1 x bikini bottom
- Sandels
- Nike trainers

- Make-up
- Straighteners
- Hair Brush
- Dry Shampoo
- Deodorant
- Shoulder bag
- Book
- Sunglasses
- Toothbrush
- Face wash
- Make-up wipes
- Book

What would you pack for a weekend away? Is this too much or too little?

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Grand Canyon National Park

As far as the Grand Canyon goes I think I could just put pictures here and nothing else and my point would still be proven! It is stunning, every direction you look there is something beautiful to see. However, I will try and do justice to my experience here with words as well as photos!

I went to the Grand Canyon as part of a partnership with intrepid travel. I was lucky enough to be taken along on one of their Wild West tours and you can read all about my adventures on it in my blog, but this one is for the Grand Canyon. The first day we arrived in the park we headed straight to our camp site, we where in Mathers camp ground. After pitching our tents half the group left to go for a helicopter tour while the rest of us explored the south rim. The first time you see over the edge your breath is taken away, it is so vast and beyond what you can imagine.

Now there is a marked path, however you are able to go beyond this out onto the ledges at your own risk which I did although I urge caution if you visit and do this. As you can see it is just incredible the sky meets the ground uninterrupted and really shows how incredibly huge the Grand Canyon is.

That night out tour leader Izzy collected pizza for us and drove us to a view point to watch the sun go down. This was an amazing experience the Canyon was lit up with golden light showing us everything and provided us with some amazing photo opportunities.

We then headed back to the camp site for a early night as we would be getting up before the sun the next day for our hike! As you can imagine it is very hot at the Grand Canyon, it is a dessert and due to the Canyon itself trapping heat the further down you go the warmer it gets. Temperatures at the bottom of the Canyon can be up to 20 degree celsius higher than on the rim! Therefore we set of at 6am to the head of the Kaibab trail to beat the heat. We used the parks bus service to get to the trail head. 

We where going to be hiking to Skeleton Point which is over 2,000ft down into the Canyon. Unlike some trails the one did not have any water points meaning we had to go prepared with all our water and food. There are 2 check points along the way which provided amazing photo opportunities. The important thing about the trail is to know your limits which is why 2 girls turned back at the first check point while 2 of us carried on. 

We arrive at Skeleton point around 8am an hour and a half after setting off and as you can see from these photos the views are amazing! We stopped for 'lunch' or breakfast however you want to put it and took in the beautiful scenery. The temperature was already soaring at this point and with no shade in the Canyon theres no escaping it. 

Hiking back up the Canyon was a lot less pleasant experience than going down, the way back up is brutal. You don't realise how steep and winding the trail is on the way down but after only a few minutes of climbing our legs where burning. It took us 2 and a half hours to get back up with many more breaks. At points it was a grit your teeth and power through situation as stopping then starting again was worse than carrying on! However, when we did eventually reach the top, and the sense of achievement was amazing! When we realised we'd hike over 4,000ft in total and looked back at the trail it was amazing! It was also great to head back firstly to the village shop for ice cream, and then to camp for showers! 

The rest of the day consisted of relaxing at camp until the whole group had made their way back and then another trip to the rim for our last view of the Canyon. Here we sat as a group taking it all in and getting out last photos.

We headed out early the next morning, but not before stopping at the south entrance for our picture with the Grand Canyon sign doing our best elk impressions. 

Have you visited the Grand Canyon or would you like too? Let me know in the comments what you think!