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.

I last went to Prague about 5 years ago but didn’t have the pleasure of exploring the city as much as I would have liked to. When my friend suggested we go to Prague, I jumped at the chance. An opportunity to go away and just forget all the stress and worries of real life? Yes, please, thank you, sir! We found a really good package deal via British Airways, so it was really a no-brainer. So on April 24th, we flew out to the wonderful city of Prague to start my first adventure of the year.

Want to know what to visit, where to eat or what to do when in Prague? Be sure to read on and take notes! 📝

MUST SEE

  • WENCESLAS SQUARE

Our first full day consisted of 15,866 steps. That is a helluva lot of walking. We started off by attempting to find Wenceslas Square. Google decided to take us on a complete hike, but luckily we found a quicker way after that first trek. The weather was so beautiful, so we decided to chill in the square for a bit before continuing our journey.

Wenceslas Square is one of the main city squares and the centre of the business and cultural communities in the New Town of Prague, Czech Republic

  • OLD TOWN SQUARE

After Wenceslas Square, we made our way to Old Town Square. Old Town Square is a historic square in the Old Town quarter of Prague. There are many buildings displaying different architectural styles in the square and it was such a beautiful sight to take in. We made our way to the Old Town Hall Tower, as the Astronomical Clock is currently under repair. For 250 CZK (£8/$11) you can go up the tower and witness astounding views of Old Town. 

  • CHARLES BRIDGE

After taking many photos in the square, we made our way to Charles Bridge. Charles Bridge is a historic bridge that crosses the Vltava river. Its construction started in 1357 under the auspices of King Charles IV, and finished at the beginning of the 15th century.

We walked over that bridge many times during our trip and it never got old. It is absolutely amazing and is decorated with about 30 statues and statuaries, depicting saints and patron saints. It is such a beautiful bridge to walk over especially when the weather is gorgeous.

The Crucifix and Calvary on Charles Bridge

  • DANCING HOUSE

After making it to the other side of the bridge, we decided to try and find the Dancing House. Also given the nickname Fred and Ginger, the Dancing House is located on the Rašín Embankment – it is not the typical Baroque, Gothic or Art Noveau designs that Prague is famous for but I definitely loved it and it is very different to any building I’ve ever seen. 

  • PRAGUE CASTLE

I was genuinely expecting to find a grand castle upon us deciding to go to Prague Castle, only to find out it’s actually a castle complex consisting of palaces, churches, gardens, etc. It was still a very interesting place to visit and they even had a changing of the guards. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Prague Castle is the largest coherent castle complex in the world!

There are several types of tickets you can get when visiting the castle (because come on, what tourist attraction is really free these days?) – we chose Circuit B for 250 CZK (£9/$11) which allowed us to visit St. Vitus Cathedral, Old Royal Palace, St. George’s Basilica and Golden Lane.

I’ve mentioned before that I love cathedrals and St. Vitus’ was no exception. I was astonished by the stained glass windows and even though the cathedral was chock full of tourists, I still felt at peace somewhat. I wanted to light a candle, but they had these fake ones which I don’t fw, tbh.

One of the stain glass windows in St. Vitus Cathedral

The cathedral was my favourite part of the circuit, but I did enjoy the Old Royal Palace which apparently holds a copy of the Czech crown (I didn’t see) and St. George’s Basilica. I also really liked Golden Lane, with its cute brightly coloured buildings. 

St. Vitus Cathedral

St. George’s Basilica

  • LENNON WALL

Rather randomly, there is a Lennon Wall located in Prague which we had to visit. It was once an ordinary wall but has since been filled with Lennon-inspired graffiti. Also a little further down from the wall is a small bridge with lover’s locks (eye roll).

  • BETHLEHEM CHAPEL

We never actually got to go inside the chapel because it looked like renovations were taking place so we ended up having to just take pictures of the outside. The Bethlehem Chapel is a medieval religious building in the Old Town of Prague, notable for its connection with the origins of the Bohemian Reformation.

  • OLD NEW SYNAGOGUE

This is Europe’s oldest active synagogue located in the Jewish Quarter of Prague. We didn’t go inside the synagogue either but just observed the outside. It is said that the body of Golem (created by Rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel) lies in the attic where the genizah of Prague’s community is kept.

  • JOSEFOV (THE JEWISH QUARTER)

This town quarter was once the Jewish ghetto of the town. Most of the quarter was demolished between 1893 and 1913 as part of an initiative to model the city on Paris. What was left were only six synagogues, the old cemetery, and the Old Jewish Town Hall. There were a few stalls that we visited selling their wares and I bought a bracelet from one of them.

DINE

Before we arrived, I had already done research on some restaurants that were considered really good according to TripAdvisor and Time Out. I already knew that I was looking to eat well when I was out in Prague and wanted to get a scope of the different kinds of food they had there. 

  • KAVARNA ADRIA

This cafe is reportedly visited by many locals and is located on the second floor of Palac Adria. We got to sit out on the terrace for dinner, making the whole experience even better. Offering both local and international dishes, Kavarna Adria had an extensive menu. I already knew what I was going to order before I’d even stepped into the cafe – beef goulash with Vienna onion and speck dumplings.

This is the sort of meal that will send you to SLEEP. The beef was deliciously tender, the gravy was rich and meaty and the dumplings rounded it off perfectly. I thought it was decently priced at 199 CZK (£6/$9). I also ordered a tequila sunrise because you can’t go wrong with cocktails. 

It was really relaxing sitting out on the terrace above all the hustle and bustle of Central Prague. The service was good, with the waiter being nice and friendly. Would definitely visit again!

  • GEORGE PRIME STEAK

I wanted to be bougie for one night and, to be honest, you can’t get any bougier than George Prime Steak. Also, I really love steak!!

I immediately felt fancy as soon as I stepped into the restaurant; the ambience was amazing. Amazing setting and location – the atmosphere was relaxing, the chairs comfortable and the food delicious. 

We didn’t get this, however, a waiter goes around with a display of the various cuts and gives recommendations on how they should be cooked. I always go for my steak medium rare, anything above is atrocious.

I ordered a T-bone steak (2 for 1, baby) with creamed mash potato and stir-fried baby bok choy. I could have eaten it all over again if I could! I also ordered one of their signature handcrafted cocktails – PAPA REVOLUTION: Bulleit Bourbon, Bitters, DON PAPA RUM, Roger Groult Calvados, Passionfruit Puree, Touch Of Apricot. So yummy! If you can’t tell, cocktails are my weakness.

Although pricey according to Prague standards, I would not hesitate to come back again.

  • CAFE LOUVRE

This cafe offers a garden area and an indoor eating area. We decided to sit outside because how often do you get to eat outside especially if you live in London? It may look high end but the friendly staff make you feel right at home. Excellent food, excellent service – what more can I say?

I ordered the pork tenderloin marinated in garlic and rosemary, smoked meat-stuffed dumplings and stewed cabbage. There’s only so much cow you can have. It was absolutely delicious. The sauce complimented the meat and the dumplings were there to soak up all the deliciousness.

Again, decently priced at 219 CZK (£7/$10) so definitely a place I would visit again. 

  • TRDLO

Trdlo or trdelník is very popular pastry in Prague. Everywhere we went there were loads of trdelník shops and it smelt so sweet and yummy! We had just walked over Charles Bridge for the 1000th time and decided to stop by one of the shops and try this delicious snack.

It is made from rolled dough that is wrapped around a stick, then grilled and topped with sugar and cinnamon. I went for the Vanilla Dream – vanilla, strawberries and whipped cream. It was so good!

DRINK

  • HEMINGWAY BAR

This is the cutest bar I have ever been in! Inspired by Ernest Hemingway, this little bar specialises in freshly mixed cocktails. We were lucky to get a seat because apparently it does get quite busy. 

The server we had was amazing! She explained each of our cocktails to us in such detail. There was many to choose from on their menu.

Firstly, I opted for the Candy Shop – Pisco spirit, fresh lemon juice, sugar syrup, raspberry purée, rhubarb bitters, egg white, soda water, pop rock candy, homemade figue marshmallow. Our server suggested I take a bite of the marshmallow and then a sip of the drink, which I did and it was so yummy! Sweet and sour at the same time.

For my next cocktail I ordered the Magic Moment – Beefeater gin, mallow and nettle cordial, magic moment. If you’ve been on my Instagram then you’ll have already seen what the “magic moment” is, but it sure was pretty and pink! The drink was quite strong and I’m not usually a gin drinker, but I did enjoy this one.

MUST DO

  • SEGWAY EXPERIENCE PRAGUE

My colleague at work suggested that we do a Segway tour and after finding pamphlets for it in our hotel, we decided that it was going to happen. I had the BEST time doing the tour. We were lucky enough to actually get a private tour because no one else turned up and so basically paid group price for a private tour. It also ended up being longer than the allotted time, so we got even more for our money.

Our guide, Peter, was amazing! He was so patient with us as we learned the ropes and was full of amazing historical facts about Prague. If you ever go to Prague and do this tour, see if you can get Peter because he is the best.

Peter took us to a few monasteries including Strahov Monastery and Brevnov Monastery. As we approached Strahov Stadium we also got to freestyle in the parking lot which was a lot of fun! We didn’t get to see inside the stadium because it was blocked by sandbags. We also got to go through Ladronka Park and visit the village estate of Spiritka. 

It was such a fun experience whizzing through Prague on a Segway and I would definitely do it again!

  • DRUNKEN MONKEY PUB CRAWL

…..

…….

All I can really tell you is that there a 2-hour open bar and beer pong. And really good music. And really fun, crazy, amazing staff. 

What I can’t tell you is what happens after you leave the Drunken Monkey because girl. Anyway, if you’re looking for a lit last night in Prague then I would definitely recommend. I just wouldn’t recommend mixing your drinks. ✌🏾

HOLD ONTO YOUR FUCKING PHONE XD

If I could I would quit my job and go travelling. And whilst I know that there are jobs out there that will allow me to travel and work at the same time, I don’t know if that is something I could do. Perhaps with time and research, it could become a possibility but for now, I like the fact that I have a stable paycheck which allows me to save and then go to the places that I really want to go.

So, in saying that I, of course, have a travel bucket list. Mutay and I sat down when we went to Edinburgh last February and came up with a master list of places that we want to travel too, and boy it was long.

I had a look at the Destination2 website the other day for some more inspiration because the world is such a huge and wonderful place, and ideally, I would love to visit everywhere. Mutay and I are looking to go to LA this year (hi, Nancy 😉), and I’m already planning to go to the Philippines next year in December. Hopefully, next year will be the year that I get to visit more places!

Without further ado, here is my travel bucket list for 2018.

Iceland

Every time I surf the web I swear I see adverts with deals to Iceland. Which, of course, increases the need to visit Iceland. Who wouldn’t want to see the Northern Lights? The Blue Lagoon? Go on a Puffin Express cruise? Go on a hot spring adventure? The closest I’ve been is a stopover in Reykjavik when I was flying to New York, but I want more than a stopover!

Hawaii

I watch a lot of Just Kidding News and they are always going to Hawaii. There is always a sense of FOMO whenever I watch the vlogs of them visiting Hawaii because it looks glorious. Gorgeous beaches, good food and from what I can tell the friendliest people. I want to be greeted at the airport with a lei. I want to visit the Volcanoes National Park, take in scenic views of Waipio Valley and soak in all the culture possible.

Dubai

My friend moved out to Dubai middle of last year and every time she posts a photo on Instagram my heart is screaming, “BOOK A TICKET. JUMP ON A PLANE. GO GO GO.” You can go to Dubai with Destination2 and from just looking around they have some really good deals, so it’s possible I’ll be heading there sooner than you think. I know a few people who have been to Dubai and have had such a blast! There are so many things to do like the Aquaventure Waterpark, taking a helicopter ride for some amazing satellite views or visiting Burj Khalifa, a mega tall skyscraper that would probably make me crane my neck like no man’s business.

Singapore

This country has been on my list for the longest time (most likely fuelled from a stopover I took when I went to the Philippines – notice how I’m always stopping over but not visiting?). I’m always seeing photos on Instagram of the Gardens by the Bay which looks so colourful and futuristic. They also have Universal Studios and I love a theme park and who wouldn’t want to stay at Marina Bay Sands and enjoy the world’s largest infinity pool?

What’s on your travel bucket list?

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London is one of the most expensive cities on the planet, and yet it still manages to attract hundreds of thousands of visitors each and every year. But not all of these tourists and visitors are well-heeled travellers. So, there must be some ways you can visit London on a shoestring budget, right? There totally is, you just need to know where to look for some great deals and discounts. Here are my top tips, just for you!

Book In Advance

There are quite a few attractions that you have to pay to enter, such as Madame Tussauds, the Tower of London, and Westminster Abbey. Some are so expensive, you might think that you need a cash advance to pay for them all! But there is a way to get cheaper ticket prices – you just need to book in advance! If you book your tickets early through the attraction website, you’ll be able to get a percentage off the full price of a ticket.

Seek Out Free Attractions

But you don’t have to pay for every single attraction in London. There are some fab ones that are completely free and ideal for very limited budgets. The majority of galleries and museums in the city are free to enter, though they might have a special exhibition that you need to pay extra for. There are also lots of great outdoor spaces that don’t cost anything to check out, such as Hyde Park and Regent’s Park. You’ll also be able to watch the daily Changing of the Guards for free.

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Eat Away From The Beaten Path

Dining out in London can end up being very expensive if you stick to the usual tourist hotspots. But, if you are up for exploring away from the beaten path, you will easily be able to find some more affordable eateries. It’s also a good idea to eat at street-food markets as well as these are considerably cheaper than eating in a proper restaurant. There are various street-food markets around London but one of the most famous has to be the one at Borough Market. Some other great ones include the one at the Southbank Centre and Leather Lane Street Market.

Get West End Tickets On The Cheap

Going to see a theatre show at the West End is a must-do when you are in London. Unfortunately, though, some of the ticket prices can be eye-watering! Even if you book well in advance, you might find that the price of tickets is a lot more than what you are willing to pay. But there is one way to get very cheap tickets – you need to buy them at the last minute from one of the booths on Leicester Square. Sellers sell any remaining tickets at super discounted prices. You might not be able to get a ticket for your preferred show, but at least you can see something!

As you can see, a trip to London doesn’t have to cost you a fortune, and all budget travellers are made to feel welcome!

This is a collaborative post. May contain affiliate links.

I don’t think I could ever get tired of Paris. It doesn’t matter how many times I go, or how many times I visit the same landmark, or how many times I go to Disney – there’s always this sense of familiarity which makes me feel comfortable and I know that I can visit again and again.

Last November, my friend and I went to Paris for a few days where we also spent a whole day in Disney. You can’t really go wrong with a trip to Disney and it really is the happiest place on Earth. Don your Minnie ears and join me on a Parisian adventure!

Theme tune for this trip 💕

I think this will be my third post in relation to Paris. My last post was a detailed account of how to spend less than 48 hours in Paris – it’s crazy how many things you can cram in in such a short space of time.

If Disney is the main focus of your trip then I would suggest staying in one of the hotels near the Disney area. If you have £££ then definitely check out the hotel in the park itself. As we are only young 20 somethings still trying to establish ourselves in the world and don’t really have moolah like that, we stayed at Vienna House Dream Castle Hotel

British Airways do really good package deals and ours only cost around £200 – that’s flights and hotel. We also had breakfast included, which is definitely a bonus. When I’m booking packages, I always like to look for the hotels that have breakfast included just because it can save you so much more money. You can fill up your belly in the morning, then you just have to grab a light lunch and save your money for dinner.

Again, I booked our Disney tickets through Attraction Tickets Direct. You only save a couple of £s booking through them, but it is still cheaper than booking directly with Disney. Also, they have e-tickets, so no waiting around for the post hoping your tickets come on time! The website also offers deals on tickets for attractions in other major cities, as well. 

Our hotel had a free shuttle bus to/from the hotel to Marne-la-Vallée – Chessy station, which made things a lot easier. Because of where the hotel is situated it isn’t that easy getting there – you can get to the station perfectly fine, but once there without the free shuttle bus you’d have to get a taxi, which is just extra £.

Disney, as always, was amazing. We got there early enough to have to queue and wait for them to open the gates. There’s always a feeling of happiness I get whenever I see the castle at the end of Main Street.

The day we chose to go happened to be the best day because we managed to go on some of the rides more than once because the queues were so short!

Favourite rides 🎢

  • Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast – I’m absolutely crap at this and my hand/eye coordination skills are questionable, to say the least, and yet I still LOVE this ride
  • Hyperspace Mountain – sorry, this will always still be Space Mountain to me. 
  • Star Tours – love how interactive this ride is!
  • Hollywood Tower – this makes your heart drop out your butt, so really not for the faint-hearted. My friend said she thinks a little boy fainted on the ride when we were on it 😭

The highlight of the day was definitely the Stars on Parade and the Disney Illuminations. We managed to get a good view of the parade as we were sitting down at the front, and gosh! You could feel my happiness all the way from Paris to Timbuktu.

I loved seeing all my favourite Disney characters dancing and singing (I attempted to sing along until I realised that it was the French version of the song 😅)! The fireworks were out of this world and standing there taking it all in with delicious hot cocoa was definitely the best way to end the day at Disney.

Just before we flew back home, we spent our last few hours in Disney Village and exploring the shops. I may have spent a stupid amount of time in the Lego store…

I reckon the next time I go back to Disney, I will definitely be wearing a Princess dress because if little kids can do it, why can’t I? And don’t tell me it’s because I’m not a little kid.

We only spent a couple of days in Paris, but still snuck in a lot of sightseeing. We started off by taking the train into central Paris and getting off where the Louvre is located. Unfortunately, the day that we visited the Louvre there was tarpaulin over it so we didn’t get its full glass glory. 

From the Louvre, we wandered through the Tuileries Garden – I have no idea if it was the same goat that I saw when I visited back in 2016, but nevertheless, there was a goat right next to the statues munching on grass. 😂 We need to appreciate the number of statues there are of people who look like they’re having a crisis. Falling down and all sorts.

The Tuileries Garden led us to the magnificent Luxor Obelisk. This is a 75ft high Ancient Egyptian obelisk and I craned my neck so much to try and take it all in. It is an extraordinary landmark and it definitely stands out. Next to the obelisk is the Fontaines de la Concorde, which are stunning as well. Good architecture is like eye candy to me.

You can’t visit Paris without visiting the Arc de Triomphe, no matter how cheesy and touristy it may be. We only saw it in passing, but I managed to capture a photo whilst standing in the middle of a crossing with lots of traffic. 📸 The things we do for the ‘gram, eh?

Our next stop was the Eiffel Tower. I think I’ve been up the tower a grand total of 4 times now and it never ceases to amaze me. The views are breathtaking no matter what level you end up on. Although the very tip-top of the tower can get crowded because it is quite small, the views are definitely worth it. 

StorytimeWe eavesdropped on a couple arguing. I say arguing, more like the man was popping off at the woman whilst the woman was standing there sulking. I caught him saying things like, “It’s not about getting the most expensive ticket”, “You have been miserable this whole trip” and “You say sorry, but you don’t mean it.” *sips tea*

Our last stop was NotreDame Cathedral, which brought back memories for both of us because the last time we had both visited the cathedral was back on our year 8 trip. That was god knows how many years ago. We went to check if the little park was still there and it was! It was relatively unchanged, just missing a few things but wow. We couldn’t believe it.

We also went inside the cathedral as it was free entry. I’ve mentioned this in a few posts, but I really like cathedrals and the insides are always so stunning. Especially the stained glass windows. 😍

Overall, it was a nice little getaway. It always is great to just go away for a few days, take a breather and then return back to normal life.

 

Notes

  • If you get your Disney tickets through ATD, then you get a percentage off food/drink/merchandise at Planet Hollywood and Earl’s Sandwich
  • Choose to go to Disney when the kids are still on break. During the week is definitely better too. We unintentionally chose a day just before they put up their Christmas decor, so it was extremely quiet. As we leaving to go back home, we saw floods of people coming through because of the Christmas and it being a weekend.
  • I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again: a travel card is so much more efficient. I use Revolut now! You can use their app to check the balance, easily transfer money from your own account and send money to other people, as well as being able to freeze your card in case you lose it and other additional security features. You also get a notification when you’ve made a transaction straight away. I still carry cash with me, but I love having this card as well. Plus it’s contactless!

 

 

 

 

 

This year for myself and Mutay’s birthday trip we decided to head to Dubrovnik! Keep reading to find out all about our adventures.

Flying Out ✈️

I just need to point out that Monarch is stingy when it comes to their hand baggage allowance. You’re allowed 10kg, however, you can only have one small suitcase that measures 56 x 40 x 25cm or two bags that add up to that measurement. There’s no room for movement. Usually, with cheap airlines, you’re allowed your small suitcase and then a backpack. Also, the legroom is atrocious on their planes and I don’t need much cause I’m a short ass but man.

The flight was smooth, though, and we landed in Dubrovnik on time. It took us ages to leave the plane though because our bags had to be put somewhere else cause there was no space. Once we came out the airport, however, our driver was waiting for us to take us to the hotel.

We arrived at Hotel Adria and already were impressed with how nice the hotel smells. Check in was easy and we made our way to our room, which had a spectacular view from the balcony. The room itself was really nice! We ordered room service and decided to chill out on the balcony with our rose gold prosecco we bought at the airport. The view was amazing, the food was so-so but the company was perfect.

Dubrovnik Walls 🏛 Buggy Safari 🚜 and Pub Crawl 🍻

Continental breakfast always throws me off because 1. There are so many options and 2. Some of the options are a bit questionable. Par exemple, vegetables and pie? Anyway, the rest of the breakfast options were good and we managed to snag a table by the window so we could have breakfast with a view.

After breakfast, we headed to our first destination, Pile Gate which is the entrance to the Old Town. We explored the Old Town, which is really quaint. We stumbled across St. Blaise Church where they were holding a mass. I wasn’t expecting it though, so felt super awkward walking in mid prayer.

We also found a spot called Buža after spying a sign that said cold drinks with amazing views. They weren’t wrong, even though I initially thought it was click bait. The service was a bit slow but definitely worth a stop on a hot day!

We somehow ended up at the Ethnographic Museum where we bought a 1-day Dubrovnik Card which allowed us free entry to some museums and the Walls of Dubrovnik. We were more interested in seeing the Walls, so we headed there next.

The Walls are probably Dubrovnik’s most famous feature. They surround the city and overlook the sea – you will definitely need to visit here for some amazing views.

Honestly, it felt like I was climbing the Great Wall of China again and my heart felt like it was going to burst out my chest at any minute. It was so worth it, though! The views were spectacular and the weather was amazing. After the Walls, we decided to grab something to eat, at a restaurant called Dubravka where I had a delicious lasagna bolognese.

We had to rush at this point because we had to get all the way to Srđ Hill! The Uber we ordered took so long, we had to cancel it and order another one and then that Uber had to make a pit stop to fill up his gas and we ALMOST didn’t make it, but I’m so so glad we did because the buggy safari was THE best part of the day.

For about an hour you get to drive a buggy through the hills and fields of Dubrovnik! Honestly, it is one of the best experiences I’ve ever had despite it being a little scary as well. We got to see ex-mine fields, fortresses, and an amazing 360° view of Dubrovnik, including islands and mountains. Absolutely stunning views and I would definitely recommend this activity for all you adrenaline junkies.

After the safari, we headed back to our hotel to freshen up before heading out on a pub crawl.

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….
….

It all got a bit crazy, I can’t lie. With unlimited drinks for an hour in the first bar, I think you can guess what happened. Before I’d even finished one drink, I’d somehow appeared with more. Somebody needs to stop me. It was so much fun, though, from the bits I can remember and SOMEHOW we managed to make it to the final club – although, we didn’t stay long according to Mutay.

/Welp/.

We made it back to the hotel, though! That’s a plus, right?

Full Body Scrub 💆🏽 Candle Massage 🕯 & Rest 😴

So, the next day was a complete write-off.

We were in no fit state to do anything. Which was a shame, but nevertheless we still managed to drag ourselves to the hotel spa and indulge in a full body scrub and candle massage.

Definitely needed!

The full body scrub was so good – it felt like she was scrubbing my sins away. I also somehow sustained an injury on our night out (don’t ask me how) and so had these big scratches on my right foot, which did start stinging after everything.

The candle massage was really good, as well! They use a massage candle that melts into a warm massage oil. It smells amazing and left my skin feeling smooth like butter. The massage part was so relaxing and after the treatment, we shuffled back to our room to sleep.

We eventually left the hotel to find a pharmacy and grab some dinner. We stopped by Taverna Nostromo where I had a yummy beefsteak on a bed of arugula with potatoes, cheese sauce and BBQ sauce.

The rest of the evening was spent watching Let’s Eat on Netflix, which has made me want to eat all the Korean food.

Pebble Beaches 🏖 Kayaking 🚣🏾 & Game of Thrones Tour ⚔

This was our last full day in Dubrovnik so we were determined to make the most of it. Our first port of call was to find a company that offered kayak tours – you’ll find loads of them just outside Pile Gate. Most companies will offer you a 2.5-3 hour tour including snorkelling, food and an experienced guide.

Our tour wasn’t until 1 PM, so we had some time to kill. We were originally going to go to Banje Beach but the uber driver we had told us that basically everyone and their mum goes there, so he suggested Copacabana Beach as it is much quieter.

He was definitely right, and we got the chance to splash around in the sea and relax on the sun loungers (for a fee, of course). I was hoping there would be sand beaches, but it was mostly pebbles. Nevertheless, it was definitely nice to get some downtime and not feel like crap anymore.

We got an uber back to Pile Gate (after a whole lot of kerfuffle because the driver apparently couldn’t get down the road to the beach, although our driver going to the beach managed to…?) and we missed our kayak slot, but luckily we managed to catch the 1:30 PM slot.

Kayaking is HARD, guys. Honestly. I got some serious #armgainz after our tour. Initially, it was difficult to get into and we ended up being so behind from the rest of the group, but we eventually got into a rhythm in the end. The tour was so worth it, though, and the views were amazing and we were surrounded by beautiful, sparkling water. We stopped off at a beach where you can go snorkelling or cliff diving, of which I did neither because ya girl’s wig is new and I don’t want to ruin it!

After the tour, we headed back to the hotel for a quick shower before heading back out for the Game of Thrones tour. We left this until the end of the trip, as we felt it would be the perfect way to end our holiday. Our tour included a cruise on the Adriatic Sea in Karaka, which was a boat used on GoT (fangirl cries). We also had the opportunity to cosplay, so I got to dress up as Danaerys. It actually reignited my love of cosplay and I can’t wait until October for Comic Con as I’m planning to go as Gamora!

After the cruise, we were split into three groups and had a walking tour around Old Town. We got to see where Cersei had to do the walk of atonement, where Sansa escaped from the men that tried to rape her in season 2 and we also visited King’s Landing. It was a lot of walking, but it was SO good and very informative. We ended the tour at King’s Landing and after ending back into the Old Town we stopped off to buy a few souvenirs.

I also managed to find the burger spot we passed on our pub crawl and had a delicious burger, which was definitely needed after all that walking! Whilst walking back through Old Town, we spotted a display where they were giving out roses to everyone. It was super cute and apparently every year this artist gives out 100 roses to Dubrovnik. I tried to Google more about it, but couldn’t find anything, unfortunately.

Wrapping Up 👯

Our flight wasn’t until 12:30 PM but it still didn’t leave us time to do much. So we grabbed breakfast and basically chilled in our hotel room until our driver came to take us to the airport.

The driver was kind enough to stop halfway (even though he said he was running late) to let us take photos of the amazing views. Oh, to have sunny weather all the time is a dream.

I need to go back to Croatia, ASAP. It was honestly one of the best trips I’ve ever been on and there was so much to do whilst we were out there. I definitely want to do the island hopping that they offer as I’ve heard amazing things about the islands, especially Lokrum Island. I also want to visit other parts of Croatia, like Split because apparently, it’s not as expensive as Dubrovnik.

I had so much fun whilst I was out there and will forever treasure the experiences and memories I’ve created. ❤️

My hovercraft is full of eels.

Let’s get back into the swing of things with a new travel post. It has occurred to me several times that I haven’t been out of the country since November, which is very unusual for me. I don’t think I’ll be beating my record of 7 countries in a year, but that’s alright. I’ll be off to Croatia in August, so at least I’m getting out a bit. Not to mention, Mutay and I did visit Edinburgh in February!

For my mum’s 60th birthday I treated her to a trip to Venice because you only turn 60 once, right? To be honest, it was also an excuse for me to come along, and I managed to lock in a good price with my sister accompanying us as well.

We arrived in Venice pretty late on Monday night, so we didn’t do anything when we got to the hotel except unpack and fall asleep straight away. The real fun started on Tuesday.

I’m putting this photo here because I’m gassed and I love my outfit 😍

CA’ D’ORO, CHIESAS AND SO MANY BRIDGES 🌉

This day consisted of a lot of walking, which I was definitely not ready for. Our first stop was Ca’ d’Oro, “Golden House”, a palace overlooking the Grand Canal. Built between 1428 and 1430, it is one of the oldest palaces in the city. We didn’t stay long here but we did admire the mosaics that adorned the palace floor and the gallery on the upper floors. There were many busts, statues and paintings. We also got to witness a stunning view of the Grand Canal from the top floor! 

View from the top floor of Ca’ d’Oro

After Ca’ d’Oro we headed over Chiesa di Santa Maria dei Miracoli located in the city’s historic Jewish Ghetto. This church holds a portrait of the Madonna which many believe to be miraculous. You have to pay €3 to enter, but that’s mainly to help with the upkeep of the church. Fun fact, the painting is said to have brought someone back to life! The inside was beautiful with white, grey and pink marble decorating the walls. As with all churches, I found it really peaceful.

Inside of Chiesa di Santa Maria dei Miracoli

Our next stop was Ponte di Rialto, one of the oldest bridges to cross the Grand Canal. It was insanely busy, as expected, but I did manage to snap a few photos! It’s a huge bridge, and I would recommend trying to get here as early as possible because of how busy it gets. On either side of the bridge are rows of shops, which I think is pretty cool. Considering it started off as a wooden bridge, it has definitely come a long way.

Views from Ponte di Rialto

After the bridge, we popped into Chiesa di San Salvador – this church was free to get in. There are many, many churches around the city some of which you have to pay, but you if don’t wish to you can always admire the architecture from the outside. Venice boasts some beautiful architecture, and will definitely appeal to the architect junkies out there. Built in the Baroque and Renaissance style, legend has it that Bishop S. Magnus saw a vision of Jesus asking him to build a church on this site. The history behind many of the churches is so fascinating!

Finally, after much walking over many bridges, we reached Piazza San Marco (St. Mark’s Square). This place was probably the most exciting area for us to visit and it is Venice’s most famed tourist attraction. A colleague I used to work with actually proposed to his girlfriend here! Hella cute. St. Mark’s Square holds the Basilica di San Marco (St. Mark’s Basilica), and if you don’t have Skip-The-Line tickets it is literally hours to get in. When we first arrived, the queue was snaking all the way around to the Doge’s Palace! Speaking of the Doge’s Palace, we decided not to go here only because they don’t do single entry tickets and you’d have to either buy a ticket for all the museums in St. Mark’s Square or all the museums in general.

St. Mark’s Square is actually the only ‘piazza’ in Venice, all the other squares are called ‘campi’. The square is surrounded by buildings on three sides and open on one side where you’ll find the gondola service. There are loads of stalls and restaurants where you can even catch some live bands! It was very busy in the square with everyone crowding around the Basilica trying to get that Instagram snap on point (me included) and there were so many bloody pigeons! Bleurgh!

We decided to leave the Basilica for the next day as the queue was way too long, and there was no way we would stand there for hours especially in that heat. The square also holds Campanile di San Marco (St. Mark’s Bell Tower), a huge tower which is right near the Basilica. Originally a lighthouse and watch tower, it has undergone several reconstructions and currently houses 5 bells: the Mezza Terza Bell announced the Senate; the Nona Bell announced midday; the biggest bell, the Marangona Bell, announced the beginning and end of the work day; the Trottiera announced council meetings and the smallest bell, the Renghiera Bell announced executions. It was nice to admire it from the outside, but we ended up not going up it.

After the square, we visited another one of Venice’s famous bridges, Ponte dei Sospiri (The Bridge of Sighs), the meaning behind the name has several stories. One is the sighs that the prisoners would make as they crossed the bridge from the Palace to the Old Prison and another is that of the sighs of lovers as they passed under the bridge on a gondola (cheese). The bridge itself is quite small and was hella crowded when we got there, and again, I would recommend coming here early if you can!

Views from Ponte dei Sospiri

Having exhausted ourselves with so much walking we went on a search for somewhere to eat and we ended up in Bar Oasi, purely because my sister and I thought the waiter was cute. I had one of many pasta dishes that I would have on this trip, starting with the spaghetti alla bolognese. Simple, yet so tasty – I had to post a picture of it along with a pasta pun 😜 We were thoroughly exhausted at this point, so we headed back to the hotel to relax. We ordered room service and I caught up on the latest episode of GoT.

What do you call a fake noodle? An impasta. 🍝

BASILICA DI SAN MARCO, ‘FLOWER’ WAITERS AND A GONDOLA RIDE 🚣🏾

We would start our mornings early, mainly because the breakfast buffet was between 6:30 – 9:30 AM. It’s definitely good to start off early when in Venice though because it can get insanely busy. Also, because we stayed in Mestre, rather than in the city centre it would have been harder for us to get back if we stayed out later.

So, Wednesday morning we started our day at Arsenale di Venezia (The Venetian Arsenal) which is a complex of former shipyards and armouries where you can see Porta Magna, the Arsenal’s land gate. It’s not that busy around the Arsenal, so I don’t think it’s on many tourists lists, but I would definitely recommend a visit because it’s nice and peaceful and there’s a really cute bridge. 

After the Arsenal, we headed over to Scuola Di S. Giorgio Degli Schiavoni which is one of the city’s most historic confraternity houses (a Christian voluntary association of lay people created for the purpose of promoting special works of Christian charity or piety). We found many scenes depicting St. George slaying the dragon, as well as panels featuring St. Jerome and St. Tryphone. The scuole is small, and you do have to pay to get in. If you’re lucky, the guy will mistake you for a student like he did with me and you’ll pay €3 instead €5 😜

The next stop was Riva Degli Schiavoni, which is a waterfront promenade located between Piazza San Marco and Arsenale di Venezia. It’s really nice to stroll along here and you’ll find many market stalls where you can pick up souvenirs. 

We were meant to pop into Punta della Dogana, an art museum, however, after finding out it cost €13 to get in and having already spent so much getting into places we decided to skip this. We did manage to view ‘Mermaid’ by Damien Hirst, which is at the back of the building overlooking the water and is one of the 180 works in his ‘Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable”. Stunning sculpture!

‘Mermaid’ by Damien Hirst

Before the Punta della Dogana, we did find a random exhibit for the illy Art Collection at the Magazzini del Sale which is in its 25th year. You can find out more about the exhibit here. It was a really interesting find and I enjoyed viewing the different cups on display – especially loved the alien one.

David Byrne – Alien cup (2001)

We found a random restaurant called Ai Fabbri Trattoria where I had the gnocchi alla bolognese, which again was simple but delicious. We were given sweets at the end of the meal and when we asked the waiter was kind of sweets they were he responded with, “They’re flower… like me” 😭 We think he meant sweet, bless him, but it did make us laugh. The other waiter looked like my ex, though, which stressed me out and I had to text Mutay about it who said it was probably him in disguise trying to make sure I got holiday anxiety 😂

You hold the gnocchi to my ❤️

After eating we headed to the Basilica! It’s free to get in, but in order to avoid waiting in the queue, we opted to get the €2 Skip-The-Line tickets. We actually got turned away the first time because you can’t bring backpacks inside and also because you need to cover your shoulders and legs when you go in. We all had to buy this dusty orange wrap for €1 before we were allowed in. The Basilica was absolutely stunning, though, albeit very dark inside! You also have to pay extra if you want to see St. Mark’s treasure, the museum or if you to climb to the top of the terrace. When I tell you Venice is expensive…

The most exciting part of the day was the gondola ride we took – we opted for the long ride and the gondolier was a really nice man who explained to us the sights along our journey. We passed under the Bridge of Sighs and the gondolier told us the next time we are there with a boyfriend, you have to kiss when you pass under the bridge 😂 We also passed Casanova’s house, which gave me David Tennant feels because he was brilliant in his role as Casanova, as well as Marco Polo’s house! The gentle rocking of the gondola nearly put me to sleep, haha. We didn’t get serenaded but there was plenty of music surrounding us and a few gondoliers we passed were singing, which was nice. It was just as nice quiet with just the gentle sounds of the river surrounding us.

After the gondola ride, we stopped by for some gelato which AH-MAY-ZING. I got a regular cone with three flavours: oreo, dulce latte and chocolate chips covered in caramel sauce 😍 It was a messy affair, but it was so delicious! I would recommend Gelato Fantasy as their scoops are massive, so you definitely get more for your money.  After gelato, we decided to head back to the hotel where we had dinner. I’m not even gonna write about the dinner we had because it was so disappointing 😢

GLASS BLOWING, COLOURFUL BUILDINGS AND MORE GELATO 🍨

We had had enough of churches and galleries at this point and all the ones on my guide for day 3 were indicating you had to pay to get in, which frankly we’d also had enough of. Instead, I researched free things to do in Venice and was surprised that Burano and Murano weren’t on my list anyway! Nevertheless, we took the water bus from Piazzale Roma to Murano.

Murano has many stops, but we got off Murano Faro where you can go to a glass blowing demonstration. Murano is famed for its glass making, so you will find many shops displaying glass wares. Murano is composed of seven islands which are all linked together by bridges – it’s super easy to get around, so it really doesn’t matter where you get off the water bus.

Murano

When you come out the station, you can turn left to visit the shops, etc. or turn right for the glass blowing demonstrations. We watched a demonstration at Vetreria Artistica Colleoni, where it is €10 per person, however, the €10 can then be used as credit in their gift shop, so a win/win really. The demonstration was amazing – we got to see the guy make a glass vase complete with decoration as well as make a horse in under a minute. To show how hot the glass gets, the speaker put a piece of paper near the horse and it burst into flames! It was very hot in there, though, I was literally sweating my balls off. We were lucky to catch the demonstration as well because the following day they would be closed for a month because it’s too hot to be doing glass making in the summer!

We explored Murano a bit more, before heading back to the station and catching the water bus to Burano. Burano is made up of four islands and is famed for its embroidery and colourful homes. I absolutely loved Burano! The colourful buildings honestly made me so happy and even though there were quite a few tourists it was still nice and quiet. If you want to get away from the noisiness of main Venice, then I would suggest taking a trip to Murano and Burano.

The colourful homes of Burano

My mum and I stopped by Museo Del Merletto, which is a lace museum and was once the lace school of Burano. The embroidery we saw were so delicate and my mum was certainly enamoured, being a seamstress and all. 

After the museum, we decided to grab lunch at Restaurant Galuppi where I opted for the tortelloni ai Funghi porcini – HMM. The tortelloni was stuffed with cheese and spinach, which made it extra delicious! We made a few stops at the lace stores and stalls before heading back to St. Mark’s Square to pick up even more souvenirs. I finally got a shot glass to add to my collection.

I am tortelloni in love with you

We then decided to get gelato because when in Venice and you can never have enough gelato, honestly. We got it from a different place and the scoops weren’t as big 😢 Still, it was very yummy and I opted for strawberry, cream cherry and vanilla flavours. It tasted liked bubble gum! After gelato, we headed back to the hotel before going to Roadhouse Grill for dinner where I had to fattest T-bone steak 😍 We then ended up going to bed early because we had a flight at 7:45 AM the next morning!

CONCLUSION

Venice is a stunning city. You’ll only really need to spend a few days here because it is very much a walking city, so everything is easily accessible. It is very expensive, which is not surprising because it is such a tourist attraction but when in Venice, amirite? Venice is the perfect getaway, whether you’re with your partner or with family, and it’s even better in the summer months because the weather is beautiful. Art, culture and architecture – there’s something for everyone in this city!

TIPS

  • I used visitacity.com to get an idea of what we were going to do whilst in Venice. You’ll find 1 to 3-day guides on the site, and you can even get the app and download the guide for offline use! It was definitely very useful. Thanks to Sharmayne for suggesting this site! I’ll be using it when I head off to Croatia ☺️
  • On our first day, we only took the bus which is €1.50 each way, which also ended up with us doing A LOT of walking (I guess that’s what I get for complaining about cardio all the time). I’d suggest going for the Vaporetto/Bus pass which will cut down the walking time. You can get: 24 hours: €20 / 48 hours: €30 / 72 hours: €40 / 7 days: €60
  • As I mentioned the Basilica is free, but if you can’t stand queues then head to this site and get the €2 skip-the-line tickets. Make sure your shoulders and legs are covered when you visit, and no backpacks. If you happen to have one then they do have a free locker service around the corner of the Basilica.
  • I opted for a hotel that included a full breakfast so that we could fill ourselves before lunch. I would suggest getting your big meal at lunchtime because it is pretty pricey eating out. For the three of us, prices ranged from €50 – 80.
  • Take a day for Murano and Burano as it is a fairly long journey on the water bus from the mainland of Venice. 
  • We actually didn’t stay in the centre of Venice and instead stayed in Mestre, mainly because it was much cheaper, and it was only a 25-minute bus journey to get to Piazzale Roma which is basically the entrance of the city centre.
  • If you go to the gondola service by St. Mark’s Square there are two options: a short ride is €80 and a long ride is €120. I know, I know – it is expensive but did you really visit Venice if you didn’t go on a gondola? Also, escape premium prices and take a ride before 7 PM 😉

Ending this post with these photos my sis took of me 😜

I should really get out of England and discover what’s in my own backyard. I say this every time I go to somewhere that’s pretty close by and I probably could have visited ages ago because it was that close. I’m waffling, so moving on. 

Mutay and I went to Edinburgh for two days this week, and it was absolutely wonderful. Also, very cold. That’s the important part… how cold it was. Obviously, the more up north you go, the colder it gets, but my gosh. It was something else.

We flew with Ryanair, who were giving out scratch cards to buy and you could win 1 million euros, which would be lovely let me tell you, and the air hostess said: “And don’t forget, if you do win that 1 million euros, my name is [I actually forgot her name] and I am here to share the burden of your winnings.” Me too, girl, me too.

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