I thought I’d pop this post up whilst I work on a few others that will be coming out over the next few weeks. Also, Christmas is coming up so I’m excited to think up ideas for Blogmas! Although we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in the UK, I thought it’d be good to take a moment to write about what I’m thankful for. 💕

Friends

I’ve always believed you are who you are because of your surroundings, what you consume via television, film, books or various other media, your upbringing and family, and most importantly your friends. I am so thankful for the friends that I have in my life who have unabashedly supported me in everything that I’ve done and said I will eventually do.

And to Mutay, my biggest cheerleader, I love you wholeheartedly.

Family

I sometimes feel I take my family for granted but I’m lucky to have the family I have. We’ve had our ups and downs but I am thankful for all the love and support I have received.

Being alive

A bit of an obvious one, but yes, I am thankful to be alive. I have days where I wake up and sometimes I need a little reminding why my life is okay and that is actually going to okay – those reminders are everything. My health hasn’t been the greatest, but I’m here breathing so I thank my lucky stars and whichever guardian angel is watching over me. (And probably thinking, oooh she’s a hot mess)

The ability to travel

A big one! I’m thankful to my mother for taking me on many holidays when my sister and I were younger; instilling in me my travel bug and opening my eyes to new cultures and food. I’ve been blessed to visit 18 countries, so far, so here’s to more in the New Year!

Books

I am thankful for books having the ability to transport me to a different world where I can escape from the real world for a couple of hours/days/months. Where I can explore new characters, new worlds and follow various, crazy plotlines and expand my own horizon.

My blog

I am thankful to this little patch on the Internet for giving me an outlet. I would never have imagined I’d be blogging for this long but here we are. There have been many bumps in the road, but I’m hopeful that from now and in the future I’ll be coming up with so much more content. Bigger and better, right?

What are you thankful for?

Storytime: Against my better judgement I got into an Uber with a crazy lady. I’ll explain – Mutay and I had just braved a 12hr+ coach journey from Toronto to New York and I wasn’t really feeling to search for the subway to trek all the way to Brooklyn. So, I ordered an Uber.

The Uber came pretty quick – he parked, came to help us load our suitcases in the trunk and at this point, I could see he was talking, but I thought he was on the phone or something. Lo and behold when we open the car door, who is sitting there? The previous passenger he had picked up. The driver was urging her to leave but she was refusing, saying “I ain’t leaving… I ain’t leaving…,” I thought, well damn.

At this point, Uber had taken a pre-authorisation charge but I thought that meant I had already paid for it and couldn’t cancel. So, now this is where against my judgement I got into the Uber because I was tired and thought the driver would just drive down the block and she would get out. She didn’t.

The driver eventually had to park, still trying to get this passenger out of the car, but with her refusing and saying she had no money and bunching herself up in the corner and repeating herself, “I ain’t leaving… I ain’t leaving…” Our driver called Uber support after parking up, but he selected the Spanish option so I couldn’t understand what he was saying. He eventually told us to leave because he now had to wait for the police and didn’t know how long they would be.

We got another Uber and Mutay helped message Uber support and I got my money back in the end, but wow. I was literally sitting on the edge of my seat, ready to bolt in case the lady did something wild. She definitely looked like she would have – she had those crazy eyes. 👀

TL;DR got in an Uber with a crazy lady, eventually escaped after driving around NY for a bit but then got my money back.

🎶 IN NEW YORK, CONCRETE JUNGLE WHERE DREAMS ARE MADE OF 🎶

Lowkey, New York was the most chill of all the places we visited. How do I even describe New York? It reminds me of London – fast-paced, too many people and it smells. But there’s something comforting about New York. Like a warm, old blanket from your childhood.

Also, TSA can suck my ass. Why you so long for? You’ll literally read a whole damn book before you get seen to.

Must See

🌉 High Line

Oh, man. The High Line on a cold October night is mad. When you’re drunk, it’s even madder. After hitting up Sugar Factory we decided to visit the High Line not realising how cold it was. We were absolutely freezing! Still, I love the High Line – it’s such a cool place and the views are mad pretty.

🌆 Westlight

Seriously, it was so cold and the higher up you are the windier and colder it is. We made our way to Westlight, a rooftop bar with panoramic skyline views. We could literally only stay outside for a few minutes because it was that cold and I for sure thought my wig was gonna get snatched. The gods of wind weren’t playing that night. The views were amazing, though!

🎨 Jack Shainman Gallery

Free

Mutay wanted to see an exhibition by Toyin Ojih Odutola called When Legends Die. Located in Chelsea, Jack Shainman Gallery houses exhibitions from contemporary artists. The series of paintings we saw are surrounding a fictional aristocratic Nigerian family. I didn’t know much about the exhibition beforehand but the pieces that I viewed were so beautiful and I consequently researched more about it afterwards. I particularly liked what she said here:

“This whole saga,” she says, “answers the question: What would it look like to have wealth embodied by historically oppressed figures?” – W

This exhibition has finished now, but I would still visit the gallery if you’re in the area, anyway! That particular area it’s located in has many other galleries, as well!

🖼️ Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

Adult: $25

Man, I don’t even have words to describe this museum. So many exhibitions and collections span across the whole building and each floor you visit is a new surprise. I wouldn’t even be able to condense MoMA in a few sentences, but I will say that it is a must visit.

The most interesting exhibitions to visit are Bodys Isek Kingelez: City Dreams which showcases sculptures from everyday materials such as coloured paper and soda cans and also Toward a Concrete Utopia: Architecture in Yugoslavia, 1948–1980, which “explores themes of large-scale urbanisation, technology in everyday life, consumerism, monuments and memorialisation, and the global reach of Yugoslav architecture.” Both these exhibitions run until January 2019.

📚 Strand Bookstore

My favourite bookstore in the world. Until I find another one, somewhere – in fact, hit me up if you know any cool bookstores that I should visit. Seriously, though – we spent hours in this bookstore, rolling around our carts and filling them with books and I essentially spent way more money on books than I should have.

Strand Bookstore is a treasure trove – you will literally find books on all topics, which is another reason why you end up spending ages in there. We found a section on Occult & Magic Studies! If you’re a book lover, definitely stop by here and prepare to get lost within the miles upon miles of books.

🌃 Times Square

I’m sad because it rained the day we visited but Times Square is always a good shout. It is so iconic. Those big screens, the hustle and bustle and smell of food on every corner. Yeah, that’s New York.

Dine

🍲 Spring Shabu Shabu

136-20 38th Avenue 2nd Fl. Flushing NY 11354

What’s better than shabu-shabu? All You Can Eat shabu-shabu, of course! We spent far too long in here eating and left feeling like we were going to die but, omg it was so worth it because everything was so delicious.

You have the option from 5 different broths: dashi, spicy dashi, pork bone, spicy pork bone and vegetable. You can also add meat for an extra charge! I went for the pork bone broth with non-fatty beef and lamb. After that, you get to choose from the buffet items! Everything from seasonal vegetables to dumplings to noodles is on offer and they also have a special sauce station. Also unlimited refills on your drink!

TAKE. ME. BACK.

🍗 Peppa’s Jerk Chicken

791 Prospect Pl, Brooklyn, NY 11216

I’m sorry, Mutay. I still owe her for most of the jerk chicken that we ordered from this joint. Ahem.

Authentic jerk chicken your thing? Head to Peppa’s and don’t forget to order festival!

It tastes especially nice at 4 AM in the morning after you’ve been wandering around Brooklyn. Jerk chicken, curry goat and other Caribbean food can be found here and although, again, I’m really sorry Mutay, the jerk chicken was so fucking sexy. WTF.

🍔 Big Daddy’s

239 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10003

Ever since I saw their Instagram I knew I had to visit this restaurant when I visited New York. And I did! Boasting a retro-style interior – felt like I was in Riverdale or something – Big Daddy’s serves up typical American eats and huge ass milkshakes.

I went for the Real Mac Coy burger – creamy mac n cheese & bacon with a side of tater tots. Yum! I also ordered the Cookie Monster milkshake – vanilla shake with oreo cookies & whipped cream. Again, yum! Would definitely visit again – they have so many things on their menu I need to try out.

🍜 Ichiran

374 Johnson Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11206

On a cold, rainy day what best to have other than ramen? It was such a unique experience of eating ramen here! You get solo dining booths and all you have to do is fill out the order form with what you want to order. There’s limited interaction with the waiters and the idea behind the solo booths is to allow you to have a more intimate experience when eating your ramen.

It “was created in response to the many distractions and loud surroundings of a typical ramen restaurant.” And if you want to order more, you just place the plate on the sensor and a melody will play alerting a member of staff. The ramen itself was absolutely gorgeous. It filled my heart with warmth and love and I even got a complimentary refill of noodles. Belly full. Happy Chynna.

🍹 Sugar Factory American Brasserie

We didn’t eat here and we only came here for the smoking cocktails we were so cruelly denied back in 2015. But we made it back 3 years later and those smoking cocktails were worth the wait! Also, I have a penchant for massive ass drinks. Shiiiiiiit. I ordered the Raspberry Watermelon Mojito; fruit juices, silver rum and topped with watermelon candy and fresh mint leaves. Delicious! And alcoholic! And everything I never knew I needed!

 

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Tips

✨ Bring hand sanitiser with you everywhere. I wore a yellow puffer jacket and I came out of the subway with the cuffs of my jacket dusty and black. Just goes to show how dirty the subway is! 😭

✨ You can buy a 7-day Unlimited Ride MetroCard for $32. We were only there for 4 days, but it turned out to be worth the value because we used the bus and subway quite a bit. If you’re going to make at least 12 journeys then this is definitely worth it.

✨ Don’t get in an empty subway cart. This is something I actually learnt the last time I visited wherein we entered the cart only to find one singular man sitting there. Suddenly, our poor noses were filled with the foulest stench known to man. I thought I was going to die – pretty sure the man shit himself! 💩

✨ Wear comfortable shoes. New York is a big city and you’ll find yourself walking a lot trying to take everything in, so definitely, be prepared.

✨ Google Maps is your friend. Streets still confuse me in New York, but Google Maps definitely helps you get your bearings.

✨Don’t get into Ubers with crazy ladies.

Overall

Oh, New York. You’re like an old friend whom I didn’t realise I missed so much until I visited again. As I mentioned, New York feels very familiar to home and it’s probably why it’s a place that I could visit again and again. And the food! My god, the food! So many freaking options. Another reason I need to visit again!

… with my woes.

I have a feeling that this post is definitely going to be my longest out of all the ones I’ll be posting. When I was going through the things we did when we were in Toronto, I actually had no idea how much we did. Admittedly, there are a lot of things that I still want to see in Toronto so a trip back is definitely needed.

Canada is actually on my list of places to work abroad and this trip was partly to give me an insight into what Toronto is like. I love Toronto. Being a city girl, Toronto is definitely the sort of place I could see myself living and working in. I’m still to make my decision and I don’t to rush my choice, but Toronto is edging towards the first place on my list.

Everything in Toronto was so smooth, chill and I loved all of the vibes. Everything about Toronto just felt right, you know? I could see myself visiting again and again and again. Enough of me rambling, let’s get on with it, shall we?

Stay

We stayed in an Airbnb situated in the neighbourhood of Riverside (which for the longest time I thought was actually called Riverdale, and I think my television addled brain got over excited, but anyway).

The Airbnb was amazing – a modern loft with a cool layout with nice decor and plants. We had the whole apartment to ourselves and our host was amazing in communicating and extremely accommodating when I let her know that we had to check out late due to our coach being at midnight.

Everything was so comfortable and the apartment had all the amenities we needed and was the best space for a photoshoot, haha. Would definitely recommend a stay at this Airbnb as it is not that far from some cool bars and the major sights like the CN tower.

Must See

🌆 Yonge-Dundas Square

The Times Square of Toronto, Yonge-Dundas Square is a public square in Downtown Toronto. There wasn’t much going on when we passed through, except a couple of protests and your generic preacher, but we did pop into the mall nearby where we went to Jack Astor’s Bar & Grill (but more on that below 😉).

🌺 Allan Gardens Conservatory

Free

There are 5 garden-filled greenhouses covering 16,000 sq ft with the most beautiful plants. If you’re a huge fan of succulents (like I am) then definitely visit the Cactus House. Perhaps pop an antihistamine before you visit, as well, if you have hayfever. I really enjoyed exploring this conservatory and everywhere just popped with colour which made for some amazing photos.

 

🍁 Nathan Phillips Square

Nathan Phillips Square is a plaza and home of the 3D Toronto sign. We spent a while here just to get photos in front of the sign and I managed to get one jumping in front of it, thanks to Mutay.

🏛️ Old City Hall

We passed the Old City Hall on the way to Nathan Phillips Square. The architecture stands out amongst the rest of the buildings in Toronto in that it is quite old and unique, but extremely beautiful. We were meant to stop by it on a free walking tour that I had booked for us, but ahem… I got too drunk and couldn’t get up on the morning of the tour. Nevertheless, I’m glad we managed to see it!

🗼 The CN Tower

General Admission: Adult (13 – 64): $38.0

This was one of the main touristy things I wanted to do when I went to Toronto and I’m glad I got to cross it off the list. I was slightly disappointed in the glass floor because I thought it would be bigger and it was also overcrowded with other tourists, so it was hard to get a good photo, but it was still kind of cool. The views from the tower were amazing and again we spent about a trillion hours rolling around on the floor outside trying to get a photo with ourselves and the tower in it. We kind of underestimated how tall the tower was!

🖼️ Museum of Contemporary Art Toronto

Adult: $10
Student with ID (18+): $5

We only got to explore this museum for the last half hour it was open but man, oh, man! If you ever visit Toronto, I would highly suggest you visit this museum. All of the collections on display were so good and I loved the interactive element of some of them. One of the exhibitions was called Belief – it considered beliefs and systems that are the foundation from which our civilization has been built: personal and collective beliefs that form the conditions, values and identities that define existence in the globalised world of the 21st century. It was extremely interesting!

Must Do

🌊 Niagara Falls Tour

Our coach wasn’t until midnight, so we spent our last full day in Canada doing a Niagara Falls tour. that we found on Airbnb. It was one of the best days ever! We met with our tour guide, Lenka, at 9AM after we stopped by McDonald’s for breakfast. There were only 5 of us all together including our tour guide so it was a nice, private tour that we got.

Our first stop was Upper Canada Cheese Company where we got to see cheese being made and also sample some cheese. If it wasn’t so difficult to bring cheese back home, I would have bought all of the freaking cheese because cheese is life, cheese is love. Especially this one smoked cheese… oh my gosh. 😍

After eating some tasty cheese we drove over to Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery for some wine tasting. We also got to try ice wine for the first time. I had never even heard of icewine before then and now I am basically in love with it. Icewine is where the grapes are frozen whilst still on the vines and only a small amount of juice can be squeezed from the grape. It also requires someone to harvest them in the early hours of the morning and because of the difficulty in the producing icewine, it is generally very expensive. I managed to nab a bottle at $24 and that stuff is only being drunk on special occasions. It is so sweet and almost syrupy and not like any wine I’ve ever had before!

After wine tasting, we made our way to Niagara Falls! We didn’t go on the boat but it was amazing just to walk along and witness the falls. Niagara Falls has been on my bucket list for the longest time and ahhhh! Can’t believe I’ve finally managed to witness it. We even got to see a rainbow whilst we were there. We were also lucky because it was slated to rain but it didn’t rain until later on in the day. We were going to ziplining but then we saw how much it was and thought against it, haha. We also explored Clifton Hill which is basically a funfair on steroids.

Following Niagara Falls, we passed by the Cham Shan Buddhist Temple. It’s only open in the summer, unfortunately, but managed to visit the main hall. There are photos or videos inside the main hall, but there is an amazing Buddha statue inside. The actual temple itself is beautiful, as well.

We also stopped by the smallest chapel in the world according to the Guinness Book of World Records, the Living Water Wayside Chapel. It was so tiny and cute and so totally built for me, am I right? According to Lenka, someone actually had a wedding the previous week when she visited and there were like 5 guests.

We then headed to Niagara-on-the-Lake which is the cutest little button of a town if I’ve ever been to one. We stopped by a small gallery featuring Jason Leo Bantle’s nature photography and all of his photography is amazing – the way he captures the animals in action is truly something behold. We stopped by Cows for some ice cream – their scoops are generous! We also popped by the Prince of Wales hotel just to look at the interior, which was really pretty.

Before heading home we stopped by Caroline Cellars Family Estate Winery for some more wine tasting. Yummy!

I would definitely recommend doing a tour like this because not only did we get to see Niagara Falls, we also got to so many fun things along the way and Lenka, our tour guide, was amazing in giving us the lowdown on everything that we visited!

Dine

🍎 School

We had to wait nearly 45 minutes for a table but boy was the wait worth it. Order the Super Cheesy Bacon French Toast and prepare to be blown away! Service is great, interior lives up to its name and the food is superb! They even had episodes of Saved by the Bell playing on the TV! I also ordered a vanilla latte, which was so lovely.

✨ The Lockhart

HARRY POTTER THEMED BAR. WHAT?! Order the Better Beer – Advocaat, Cinnamon Infused Toasted Butter Washed Sauza, House Ginger Beer, Ginger Ale, Whipped Cream, Toasted Marshmallow and take in all of the Harry Potter-esque things in the bar because there is A LOT. I ordered the Eggs Benny because you can’t really go wrong with that. Pop to the toilet even if you don’t need to, as well.

🍗 Hot-Star Fried Chicken

A friend suggested we visit this joint and I’m so glad we did. They specialise in Taiwanese fried chicken and the chicken is so crispy and delicious, I’m crying just thinking about it. We ordered the cheese-stuffed fried chicken and I regret nothing! 😭 I also recommend the strawberry soda!

 

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☕ Tim Hortons

Oi, Tim Hortons don’t play games when it comes to their coffee. I’m a huge coffee fan and hmmm, yes – I could drink Tim Horton’s coffee all day, every day! I also got the Bagel B.E.L.T. which was yum, yum, yum.

🧀 Burger Shoppe

Did you even go to Canada if you didn’t have poutine? You can order the classic poutine from Burger Shoppe, which was only down the road from where we were staying, as well as with caramelized onions and bacon. Absolutely lovely, gravy, cheesy goodness.

 IHOP

Pancakes with almost every dish? Yes, sir, thank you, please. I ordered the Breakfast Sampler –  two eggs, two hickory-smoked bacon strips, two pork sausage links, two pieces of ham, two fluffy buttermilk pancakes and our golden hash browns. GORGEOUS. Smother your pancakes in syrup and you’re good to go.

Drink

Hi-Lo

This was the first bar we went into on our first night in Toronto and wow, I don’t even really know what was going on. It’s like I was thrown back into the early 2000s. A worker also came out to sell meatballs, as well, which was completely random. Still a cool little bar!

Eastbound Brewing Company

The second bar we happened upon after Hi-Lo. We witnessed an arm wrestling match and also found the majority of their drinks, including cocktails, have beer. The clue’s in the name, I guess. Music was good and it was a lot more mellow than Hi-Lo where we didn’t even recognise any of the music, lol.

Jack Astor’s Bar & Grill

Drinks the size of my fucking head. The waitress asked if I wanted to jack up my drinkand I got 1/4 of the way through and thought, woah… this is alcohol. I didn’t order any food but man, the drink I ordered was enough for me, mate. Our waitress was really cute, too.

Bar 244

$10 entry. $3 drinks all night. I kid you not. The sort of typical bar I’d go to in London, but waaaaaay cheaper than what I’m used to. Good music, good vibes – I’m just sad that it closed at 2AM. Felt like my night had just started!

Tips

✨ Make sure you’ve got your visa in place, otherwise they won’t let you in the country. Check here if you need one.

✨ Public transport in Toronto is pretty straightforward. A single fare is $3.25, cheaper if you use a Presto card at $3.00.

✨ Allow a full day if you plan to visit Niagara Falls. It’s a fair bit away from Toronto and there are so many things to do, you’d need a whole day.

✨ Visit Koreatown for good eats and cute little shops!

✨ Choose a place to stay that isn’t too far from the city centre. From there you can whizz around everywhere!

✨ There are free walking tours available – we didn’t go on any due to the fact that I’m a drunkard, but reviews have rated Tour Guys highly!

✨ Never get a coach from Toronto to New York. Seriously. Don’t.

Overall

I fucking love Toronto and I really need to visit again. It’s a massive city but I felt very much at home whilst I was there. Everything was s easy navigate, the people were really friendly (I mean that’s a stereotype about Canadians, right?) and it was just so much fun to explore!

Well, I’m back! I’m surprised I actually blogged at least once whilst I was away but then we hit Toronto and all thoughts of blogging disappeared. But here I am ready to fill you all in on my latest adventures. I still can’t believe that we hit up 3 countries in 10 days, but alas we did and it was absolutely amazing.

I was going to put everything in one master post but realised that wasn’t realistic and you’d probably stop reading ¼ of the way in. So, here’s the first post of our transatlantic adventures starting off with: Iceland.

Quick rundown: Iceland is cold. Iceland is expensive. Iceland is really fucking beautiful. We had a bit of a mishap on our first night but overall the trip was amazing. The weather wasn’t the greatest but we made the most of it and despite the cold and rain, the sights we witnessed were all worth it.

I definitely want to visit Iceland again because there’s quite a lot of things I’d love to do that I didn’t get to, i.e. the Blue Lagoon.

Stay

We stayed in Laekur Hostel, which is located about 2km from the city centre. Situated in the really nice neighbourhood of Laugardalur there is a 24/7 grocery store just a minute down the road alongside a bakery and ice cream shop.

Our room was a 6-bed dorm room with free lockers located outside. It has shared kitchen and bathroom facilities, and for a hostel, the bathroom was extremely nice. Bed linen is provided but if you need a towel you’ll have to rent it from the downstairs cafe for €5. Each bed also came with a USB charger and lamp.

Overall, the hostel was nice and it had a homely feel. I probably wouldn’t look to stay there again because from when we checked in, it was a whole hassle and then having dinner that night in their cafe was also a whole hassle but if I had no other choice then I would stay there.

See

There are many things to do in Iceland – like a lot of things, but I feel you need a lot of money to do all of the things. We had to compromise between the Blue Lagoon and the Golden Circle, in which the Golden Circle won out because we got to go to a spa in the end anyway.

🎨 Reykjavík Art Museum

This museum is housed in three buildings and for ISK 1650 (£11/$14) you have 24hr to visit all three buildings. We were lucky and got tickets half price that day because not all of the galleries were open. We started off at Kjarvalsstaðir where we had breakfast from the museum cafe.

Kjarvalsstaðir houses art from Jóhannes Sveinsson Kjarval, who was one of the pioneers of Icelandic art. Much of his art portrays Iceland’s natural landscape and a lot of it also has ties with fantasy and works of imagination. Kjarval’s work can be divided into 3 main categories: landscapes, portraits and fantasy.

Each building also has a Wish Tree and as part of Yoko Ono’s interactive artwork, you are invited to write out your wish for peace and hang it on the tree.

After, Kjarvalsstaðir we moved onto Hafnarhús which houses art from more contemporary artists. A lot of the works on display are by Erró who was significant in the international pop art scene and a lot of his works draw on comic books and advertisements, which I loved! There’s also an interactive element towards the end part of your visit to the museum, in which you have to stick your head in a box and view what’s inside. #ART

Our last stop was Ásmundarsafn which was actually designed, worked and lived in by sculptor Ásmundur Sveinsson. Sveinsson believed that the future of sculpture lay in approaching technology and many of his sculptures are displayed in this building. You can also go for a wander outside in the gardens where a lot of his other pieces are, as well.

⛪ Hallgrímskirkja

Hallgrímskirkja is a Lutheran parish church in Reykjavík, Iceland. At 74.5 metres high, it is the largest church in Iceland and among the tallest structures in the country. The church is named after the Icelandic poet and clergyman Hallgrímur Pétursson, author of the Passion Hymns. – Wikipedia

We passed this church on the way to Kjarvalsstaðir and it is so beautiful! It has a very New Age feel to it and I thought at any moment that the top would transform and fly away. We didn’t go inside but you can go in and up the tower for ISK 1000 (£7/$9).

The Golden Circle

There are plenty of tour companies that do the Golden Circle and it is one of the most popular things to do whilst in Iceland. We opted to book our tour with Reykjavik Excursions and got picked up at the BSI bus terminal at 9 am to start our tour. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t great the day of our tour but we made the most of it and it was honestly the best day ever.

🏞️ Thingvellir National Park

Þingvellir (Thingvellir) is a historic site and national park in Iceland, east of Reykjavík. It’s known for the Alþing (Althing), the site of Iceland’s parliament from the 10th to 18th centuries. On the site are the Þingvellir Church and the ruins of old stone shelters. The park sits in a rift valley caused by the separation of 2 tectonic plates, with rocky cliffs and fissures like the huge Almannagjá fault.

The park is absolutely massive and there is so much to explore! We were only there for half hour, unfortunately, but it was enough to take in the spectacular views and you know I’m a sucker for a good view.

The rain was pelting on my face and I thought the wind would pick me up and blow me away, but alas I stayed firm. You can see where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet!

♨️ Geysir Hot Spring Area

The whole area smelt like eggs because the sulphur coming from the geysers, but nevertheless this is also a really cool place to explore. It took us several attempts before we managed to see Stokkur spout water but we finally managed to capture it on camera. Stokkur spouts water up to 100ft every few minutes and all around the area, you will find hot water blowholes.

🌊 Gullfoss Waterfall

Gullfoss Waterfall is breathtaking. I don’t think I can put into words just how beautiful the waterfall is, but I’ll try. You have to spend at least 10 minutes just watching the rushing of the water and wondering how nature is so amazing and why anyone would want to ruin it? The water cascades down in two parts: one 11 m high, and the other 21 m. I’m going to run out of superlatives trying to describe Iceland!

Gullfoss means “Golden Waterfall” in Icelandic and on a sunny day the water actually takes on a golden-brown colour. Gullfoss is also the largest volume of water in Europe!

🛁 Laugarvatn Fontana

This was a nice way to end our tour of the Golden Circle. Many tours that we found on the Reykjavik Excursions website included an extra activity like snowmobiling, horse riding or ATV. We opted for Fontana’s natural steam baths as we weren’t going to the Blue Lagoon and this seemed like a good enough substitute.

Before we headed into the spa, we got to visit their geothermal bakery. They make the bread from an old recipe, afterwards, they dig it into the warm ground and bake it for 24 hours. After 24 hours, they dig the bread up and we got to sample some. Oh my goodness, it was delicious! Served with salted butter to offset the sweetness of the bread (there’s quite a bit of sugar in the recipe), it was so warm and yummy and we had to have several slices.

The spa is outdoors and even though it was raining it was still nice to relax in the hot pools. Their sauna and steam rooms were also amazing to just sit and sweat all of the toxins. Everything was so relaxing and definitely needed at the end of the long tour.

Dine

☕ Kjarvalsstaðir cafe

A great spot for breakfast or just to grab some coffee before you head out to explore the rest of the museum.

🍕 Blackbox Pizzeria

We happened upon this place on our first day into the city and decided to go there for dinner. Best choice ever. A sort of Subway in which you can see them make your pizza in front of you and it comes out piping hot from their pizza oven. The interior is stylish and clean reminding me a bit of a bar and the music was pretty good too.

Emilie and the cool kids

A cute little cafe which we stopped in on our way to get the bus back to the airport. Freshly made bagels, salads and coffees and tea can be ordered here. They also have smoothies, as well!


Tips

✨ Plan early! Seriously. If you plan on doing the Blue Lagoon, it’s best to book early as prices do increase closer to the time you want to go.

✨ You can download the app Straeto and buy your bus tickets. One ticket is ISK 460 (£3/$4) and the app also includes a trip planner and live map, as well as service updates.

✨ Craft an itinerary. It makes things a lot easier, especially as a lot of things in Iceland are spread out.

✨ Pack warmly. Iceland is cold – I am so glad I bought a new puffer jacket for my trip because I would have suffered otherwise!

✨ Iceland is a very walkable city, so unless you really have to you won’t need to use taxis.

✨ Be prepared for all kinds of weather. Rain is common and unfortunately, it did rain for most of our time there.

Overall

I had an amazing time in Iceland and I’m already planning in my head my next trip there! There are so many things that I didn’t get to do whilst there – definitely want to go whale watching and catch the Northern Lights next time! I would definitely recommend Iceland as a place to visit because it is unbelievably captivating.

As I write this, I am sitting in a hostel in Iceland and honestly, it still feels like a dream. I don’t think it has hit me yet that I’m on holiday, so I’ll give it a few more days. Regardless, I was meant to have this post up yesterday but as that was the day we were flying out, things also went flying out the window.

Have you ever been in place where you think, nothing gets much better than this? Like when you’re eating some really good pancakes or reading a book that you can’t seem to put down? I always find that it’s the little things that make me happy and that sometimes it doesn’t need to be a big showstopper to make me smile.

This month has been up and down but a few things have made me happy and it hasn’t been a massive shitshow.

Support 🙏🏽

I’ve mentioned this before but work hasn’t been great. It got to a point where a had a breakdown at work and if a team leader had sent me home then I probably wouldn’t have come back again. However, in a roundabout way some people at work have been really supportive. I had no idea we had an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) at work which is a 24/7 helpline for when you’re feeling down or stressed and who can also connect you with counsellors if need be. They also have an app which has exercises to help meditate, breathing exercises and just reducing stress in general. I haven’t had a chance to fully use the app but I’ve already downloaded it and it’s been really useful already.

I’m also happy for the support from my friends when I said that I wanted to work abroad. A few people knew already but not many, so I finally broke it to the rest of my group the other day. Loving their responses – they were all so excited! I need that hype to get me all the way to actually making those steps to work abroad. It’s a huge deal when I really think about it, but I’m glad that I have the right people backing my corner.

TV 📺

I recently finished watching Maniac on Netflix and I absolutely loved it. The way it handled mental health was so gentle without poking at it with a big stick and going, “Oooh, what do we have here?” It was so nuanced, and I loved how many layers it had to it and how each episode interwined. It was surprising to see Jonah Hill in this sort of role because I am so used to him in a comedic role, but he was absolutely amazing. I have no idea what a schizoprenic person is like, so I can’t really comment on his portrayal of one but his acting was so good. He made me want to scoop him up and just protect him from this bad world. Emma Stone’s character was equally as good – I thought at first she was just a bitch for no reason, but as the series goes by you see her story unfold and ugh. Her English accent was actually really good, as well!

Books 📚

Gillian Flynn is a dark writer. I don’t say that lightly either. I picked up her book Dark Places when I was in WHSmith and when I started reading it, I couldn’t put it down. It’s a mystery novel surrounding the massacre of the main characters family. The story is told in a series of flashbacks as well as detailing the life of the only survivor of the massacre. It was a really interesting book, especially as it unfolds and you find out who the murderer is.

I also read her other book Sharp Objects directly after finishing Dark Places and it was another one I couldn’t put down. The main character is a reporter who is sent back to her hometown to find out about the murder of two little girls. This isn’t your typical murder mystery book – this delves deep into a whole array of topics. I would say it quite a triggering book and also extremely terrifying. Flynn is genuinely an amazing writer. If you’ve read Gone Girl and liked it, then I would highly recommend these two as well. Sharp Objects has also been made into a TV show starring Amy Adams, which I’ve only just started but is already living up to the book.

Music 🎶

Ready Player One soundtrack! I love 70s/80s music, so much.

What are some things that have made you happy this month? Let me know in the comments!

Adulting is hard. I can’t tell you how many times I complain a day about having to “adult”. I really wish there was a handy manual that I could refer to when I can’t get my head around something, or better yet – I wish someone had told me what I was to expect when I grew up.

Do you ever wonder what life would be like if they had taught us budgeting or money management when we were in school? Things like taxes, mortgages or setting up a savings plan. If you were lucky to have parents who helped you out with that, all I can say is that I’m very jealous. It would have been so nice to have been directed in the right position, especially when I started working.

Talking about school – I wish that we hadn’t been pushed to decide what we wanted to do when we finished. I felt like I was constantly being hustled into deciding what I wanted to do at university when I could barely decide what to have for breakfast in the morning.

Knowing what you want to do for the rest of your life at the age of 18 is daunting. I was blessed to know what I wanted to achieve but in terms of carving out a career for myself, I was seriously out of my depth. But, hey, here I am now.

What is it that they don’t tell you about adulting? A helluva lot of things, apparently.

Friendship 👯

➡️ Keeping in touch with friends becomes harder

Let’s face it. How many times have you been in a group chat trying to sort out when to catch up because you haven’t seen each other in forever? It goes a little something like this:

Group of friends: Let’s catch up!

Friend 1: Yay! I can meet on Fridays!

Friend 2: I can only meet on the weekends

Friend 3: I can only meet during the full moon

Friend 4: I’m free in 2020

But life gets in the way when you’re an adult because this monster comes out of the closet called Responsibility and he’s a big asshole. He makes you wonder whether you left the iron on as soon as you’ve left your house, even though you didn’t turn on the bloody thing, to begin with.

You’re busy because of work or school or family or just trying to do life admin in general, and sometimes it is hard to stay connected with your friends whilst trying to do everything else at the same time.

It was so much easier when we were younger and still in school – we saw each every day! We were sort of in a bubble in school and it isn’t until you finish secondary school/sixth form/university and are thrust into the big wild world that you realise… ah, shit.

In saying that, though, it is always important to try and stay connected. I will be the first to admit that I am terrible at this. When I’m there, I’m present but in terms of messaging – wow… expect to receive a reply from me in 2025. (For all my friends reading this, I promise I’ll do better. I love you, all 💕)

A simple “Hey, how’s it going” is so quick to send to someone.

Relationships 💏

➡️ You’re too weak to handle heartbreaks, but you’re too strong to invest emotionally in a relationship once again

Ain’t that a doozy. When I was 16 I thought getting a boyfriend was my #1 priority when really it shouldn’t have been and I really could have got better GCSEs, but I digress.

The sort of relationships you have when you’re 16 are so different than the ones at age 21. You’re still a little emotionally immature, but you’re like slightly well travelled now and so you think you are mature enough to be in a relationship. Then you realise, wow, I’m really not. I’m talking about me, by the way.

I wish that I was told what my dating life would be like when I became an adult because then I could have run away screaming.

The dating world is shit. I’m not about to spew my usual rhetoric about men are trash but in my experience… Also, it’s really scary allowing yourself to be vulnerable around someone. And even though we are meant to be grown-ups, believe me when I say that you will meetsuper immature adults who are in their late 20s and don’t know how to SAY IT WITH THEIR CHEST.

Work 💼

➡️ Getting a job is a nightmare

This one speaks for itself really. Ask anyone… finding a job is a job in itself. There’s a dream being sold that if you get a degree, you’re automatically going to get a job and I can frankly say: that is hooey.

Sure, I managed to get a job in Primark but with my degree, that’s definitely not what I wanted to be doing. I searched high and low for a job until I was lucky enough to land a paid internship, but for a lot of people, they have to sift through so many unpaid internships before hitting gold. The rules have changed around that, now, but I’m telling you – it was an absolute nightmare for me when I first graduated.

And then there’s the bit about getting a job with a stable paycheck but then ending up hating it but then you can’t leave just yet because you haven’t found anything to fall back on yet. And you can’t just leave because you need the money and here we have a catch-22. Fan-fucking-tastic.

There are so many things that you don’t get told about adulting. I get it, it’s a learning curve but a heads up would have been nice. Can I just fast forward to the part where I have a book published, I’m in a happy and loving relationship living in an affordable (keyword there) house with my 5 cats? THANKS. Other tidbits I’ve gathered:

➡️ Common sense isn’t common

➡️ You never feel like an actual adult

➡️ Life does not automatically fall into place

➡️ You’re now in charge of eating your own vegetables and taking care of your own body

Ultimately, though it’s all about being yourself. I posed the title of this blog post to friends and the varying topics you’ve just read are from them (PS. Thanks, all!) but here’s what I’ll end this post with:

“It’s ok to be you! Be who you want to be! Fuck what everyone else says!”

 

As you might have noticed I have made the move to chynnawebley.com. I wanted to focus more on my portfolio, which has definitely been neglected for far too long and therefore have put my blog here.

I didn’t expect to be away for this long again but my mental health comes first. Blogging, for me, has always been a passion of mine but in recent months it seemed more like a chore rather than a fun little hobby. I love seeing everyone else excelling in the blogosphere and I’m always sneaking around, peeking at everyone’s posts and cheering on everyone’s achievements. However, when it came to my own blog, I would open it up and just feel nothing.

I never wanted to fall out of love with blogging, so I decided to take an unexpected hiatus and focus on other things and I’m pleased I did. I’m now ready to come back with full force, with better content and to reconnect with you guys.

I haven’t written anything in what feels like eons, but I’m slowly trying to get back into freelance writing. (If you know anyone looking for a freelance writer, or know any gigs going please feel free to email me)

WORK 💼

Work has not been great. It got to a point where I’d wake up in the morning and feel utter dread to go into work. I had to call in sick; otherwise, if I went in then it would have been really detrimental to me. I remember going in before when I was feeling like that and it was dreadful.

But those weeks that I took off were good for me and it got me thinking (dangerous, I know) about what I want to do in life and how I feel like I’ve been working for so long with nothing to show for it. I attempted to search for jobs to do with my degree (Communications, Culture and Media) and I was really on it for a while. I even got an interview, but then I really deeped it and knew that I didn’t want to do an office job; Monday – Friday, 9 – 5:30.

I like my 4 day week. I don’t mind doing long hours if it means getting a day off during the week. However, when I don’t enjoy what I do it does become taxing. It affects my whole self. I can become withdrawn and I get tired really easily. I wish it was easy for me to just quit and be done with it, but let’s face it – this economy is a tough one to live in and whoever says money doesn’t make you happy is a goddamn liar.

My time away from work gave me space to mull over and I figured out that what I need is a change in scenery. So, whilst it will be a long while before anything happens because I need to save money I have decided that I want to work abroad.

I’ve already come up with a savings plan, I’ve narrowed it down to three countries and I will most likely be looking to teach English. It’s a big step but an exciting one and I already have the support of my best friend and my mother knows of my plans as well, so I am extremely pumped to get the gears going on this. There’s a lot to figure out and let’s face it moving to a different country is a whole new ballpark, but if I could do it back in 2011 then I can definitely do it again in 2020. Fingers crossed!

BLOGGING 📝

I did a clear out. When I was transferring my content over, I realised I had a lot of old posts. I mean really old dating back to 2009 and so I sifted through them and realised that whilst they will always hold a special place in my heart (it’s when I started blogging, after all) they weren’t really relevant to what my blog content is nowadays.

I saw a shift in the way I started blogging in 2013, so I decided to clear out all the posts before then. I’m also looking at coming up with more content and becoming more consistent in my blogging. I always make promises that I sometimes can’t keep, but I’ll try and do better, though.

Do better, do better – my mantra when it comes to this blog. I don’t want to force it, of course, but I really want to give it another go. Because writing will always be my first love and I want to get back into the rhythm of just writing because I want to rather than seeing it as just another thing I need to cross off my to-do list.

I want to get stuck into my blog series’ again – The Feminist Diaries, Let’s Talk About…, The Food Diaries – because I really enjoyed writing those and let’s face it, it’s more fun when you’re writing about what you love. And for me, as you should know, that’s food. I might start some new series; maybe about what I’m watching/reading at the moment, a specific travel series, pieces of stories I’m working on at the moment.

All I really want to do is start afresh without having to start all over again, but rather build on what I already have in place.

HEALTH 🏥

I was doing great and then I wasn’t doing great. I suffer from eczema, and whilst it has been under control for many years, for some reason I had the biggest flare up I’ve ever had since God knows when. One moment, my skin was semi-rash free. Next thing I knew, it wasn’t.

There could have been a variety of factors involved, including the change in weather (it was an extremely hot summer for us), my diet was shit or I was under a lot of stress at work. Needless to say, it was not fun waking up in the morning with dotted blood all over my sheets from where I’d scratched myself at night.

I literally had to avoid all sorts of soaps and shower gels, so as not to irritate. I took only 2-minute showers, enough to be clean. I had to slather myself in hydrocortisone cream and emollient cream. I’m usually very cavalier about my eczema. Like I don’t actually care about having my arms out even when it’s very obvious. But this recent thing that happened had me wanting to wear long sleeves all the time. The skin above my upper lip kept cracking and I just felt really self-conscious.

It was tough, but I got through, as I always do. It would just be a lot easier if I didn’t have it, you know? I don’t need extremely clear skin, but it would be great if I didn’t have to worry about itching and scratching and worried that my skin is peeling off/bleeding again.

Other than that, it’s been alright. I attempted to do the Autoimmune Paleo Diet (AIP), which is a version of the Paleo diet, designed to help treat autoimmune diseases such as eczema. I didn’t stick to it because the week after I started, my family from the Philippines came to visit and because I have no self-control I ended up eating out with them a lot and they kept cooking and putting stuff in the fridge and well… yeah.

Do I want to feel better when I wake up in the morning and not feel like I haven’t slept in a hundred years? Absolutely. It may sound like I’m making excuses (yeah, I probably am let’s face it), but there are so many factors in life and for me, it’s not so easy to control all of them the way I want. So, for now, I will focus on what makes me happy and I feel like that will sort of get me on the right track into not only having a healthy lifestyle but also a healthy mind.

WHAT’S NEXT? ✈️

Focus. That’s what I need to do. Focus.

Also… going on this trip this month with Mutay and living our best lives. First stop, Iceland then flying over to Toronto and then finally stopping in New York. We planned this for our birthday, but because our birthday is in August and it’s always expensive around that time, we moved our traditional trip to October and I am so excited.

I need this time to get away from London. I think that’s what’s also got me in a rut. If I stay in London for too long, then I get antsy. Sure, there’s plenty to do here and I can meet up with my friends but there’s a whole fucking world to see. We are so small in comparison to the Earth we live on. I feel like we should all take it upon ourselves to discover what’s out there.

Sure, not everyone can do that but if you can then take advantage of that privilege. Why?

I’m usually pessimistic about most things male related, but after recently ending a nearly one year old relationship the appeal of meeting new people and males that might share my interests was positively welcomed.

Chynna convinced me to join her in what I could call a ‘social experiment’. I had no plans of actually meeting anyone off OkCupid but that quickly changed.

I received my fair share of the generic ‘hey, how are you?’ messages – admittedly, I only replied to those if the sender was cute! Then I had the ones who had thoroughly read my profile and were very willing to compete with me in a burger challenge! (Give me burgers any day)

Lastly, I had the vulgar messages ‘Instead of a burger challenge, I’d rather eat what’s in between your legs’ – Right, okay.

After only a week of messaging two guys back and forth, I had two dates lined up. I was petrified, the first date fell through mainly because of clashes in our schedules and my inability to travel down to London on a whim. Studying takes precedence over everything. My second date however was planned and took place in a bar close to home. Of course, I did not go alone. Chynna came along as my safety but ended up doing more than just being safety!!!!

Meeting someone new is absolutely terrifying, my nerves nearly got the better. The actual date turned out to be fine, there were some awkward silences. Chynna’s cover was blown when he was asking about the people who worked at the bar and I was ‘overly confident that the short girl did not work there’ – Oops should have been more discreet. He was okay with it though, and then sexual music started and we were serenaded with songs that were most certainly not first date material.

The night ended well with no kissing. Till this day I still don’t know how he feels the date went because he’s been so ‘busy’. On the other hand, we have plans to meet up again this Saturday! Although I am not 100% with this guy, I’ve realised that I’m not ready to date someone who is constantly busy. He’s already starting to annoy me and we’ve only had one date! (Back to male pessimism)

The OKC experience was fun! I have actually deactivated my account, although I may still have one more date on the cards. I don know if online dating is for me, never say never though.

By Mutay of Deux Ville Filles

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