Friday, 22 September 2017

New York City | The Kindness of New York

 One thing that struck me instantly about New York was the kindness of complete strangers. On multiple occasions throughout our stay, I was truly touched by the kindness of people I have never even met, and it inspired me to write this post. In England, especially the South, I feel like we get a bit of a bad rep for being friendly and open to others. In New York however, we experienced random kindness within our first hour of landing at JFK. Expect this post to be a long one as I have loads of examples of the kindness of New York!


Whilst on the train to Manhattan from the airport, it's safe to say that after being awake for so long, we were pretty clueless. A confusing announcement over the tannoy meant that we were unsure of whether the train would still be going on it's original course. Clearly we were looking like panicked tourists when a kind local wearing a Mets shirt, offered his assistance and advised us to stay on the train and we'd get to the stop we needed! Both of us were so relieved and impressed by this strangers kindness.

We also encountered this kindness on the way back to the airport (our airport trips were not the highlight of the trip clearly!) when we had ended up in the wrong station. In my defence, there were more than one station with the same name. Luckily, with our huge suitcases, it was very obvious where we were going and someone working at the station kindly pulled us aside to tell us how to get to the correct station; before we even knew we were in the wrong place! Unfortunately, we made our way to the airport with plenty of time, and all thanks to this kind stranger.

On our very first morning in New York, we headed to the Hard Rock cafe for breakfast; neither of us had never been and had always wanted to, so doing it in the Big Apple was even more exciting! We had a lovely (and HUGE!) breakfast before asking if there was anything of Elvis' in the cafe, as Dan is a huge fan. The lovely waitress went out of her way to show us everything in the cafe, even taking us into areas which were being set up for a huge brunch they have! It was so kind of her, and really made our first morning.

One of the things we wanted to do when we were in New York was to visit the 9/11 memorial to pay our respects to those who lost their lives. We were a little unsure as to where we were going, but someone stopped as we were looking at our map and told us clearly where we needed to go which was very kind of him! Seconds later, he saw us looking for somewhere to eat and recommended a lovely sandwich shop further down the street. We were so hungry, and very grateful for his kindness!

Speaking of food, we went to Chipotle for the first time ever and when it came around to paying, we realised that the lovely sales assistant had used a discount of some sort to make our bowls half price. I didn't even see if there was actually a deal on, and think she might have used her own staff discount which was so lovely of her! I was beginning to be blown away by the amount of kindness we had experience already, only two days into our trip.

Even down to the silly gestures, like smiling at other people on the street. I'm pretty sure that when I do that in the UK, 9/10 I will not get even an inkling of a smile back. In New York, it was more like 9/10 I did get a smile back which was so refreshing! We even had a conversation with a lady in Central Park for a good fifteen minutes after her dog came up to us. Madness, but it was so lovely to see other people being so kind to one another.

Another thing I saw was a man walking down a street on the Upper East Side, giving money to every homeless person he saw. There was quite a lot of this in New York, but this man even TURNED AROUND to give someone some money. I genuinely almost cried after witnessing this act of kindness!

NYC is one of the best places I've visited yet. Whilst the city was magical and exciting, it also really felt like somewhere you could call home. Especially with the amount of kindness we experienced whilst we were there for the week!

Have you ever been to NYC? Did you find everyone so kind?

Friday, 15 September 2017

Luxembourg City, Luxembourg

One of the best things about living close to Stansted airport are the bargain Ryanair flights you can get. Luxembourg is one of the most affordable places to fly to from Stansted so Mum and I decided to head there for a long weekend! I'd heard such good things about this capital city and was itching to visit myself. We chose to stay just out of the city centre at the Parc Hotel Alvisse which was the perfect place to stay for a relaxing city break weekend!


Our hotel was lovely, and it was so handy that breakfast was included too. It even had a pool where we spent our mornings and evenings. I'd really recommend this hotel if you aren't looking to stay centrally.

Having said that, it was only a ten minute bus journey away from the city centre which cost us four euros per day. We couldn't complain as it took us right into the centre, and dropped us right back outside our hotel too! On our first day we headed to the Casemates Du Bock which is the defence system in the centre of Luxembourg city. It was used as an air raid shelter during the war and could house 35,000 people during these raids! As well as being interesting, it offered the most gorgeous views of the area of the city known as Grund which is on a lower level.




We had lunch at an amazing cafe that just sold soup - A la soupe. This was a gem of a find, the soup was affordable and incredibly filling as well. Well worth a visit!

The Pfaffenthal lift was where we headed in the afternoon. This is a free lift which was completed in 2016 and takes you from the top level of Luxembourg city down to the area known as Pfaffenthal. It offers some stunning views of the city and there is a glass viewing platform at the end. We visited four times in the end because the views were gorgeous and it was free!




On the Sunday, we actually met up with some family friends! It was lovely to spend the afternoon with them exploring Grund and completing one of the 'walks' created in Luxembourg - we chose to do the Wenzel walk which was great. Grund was particularly picturesque with the chocolate box houses which felt like you were wandering around the set of a fairytale. We said our goodbyes to our friends, and headed for some dinner.




Whilst our hotel was a ten-minute journey by bus, on this occasion we decided to walk back to our hotel! We had about a fifty minute wait for our bus and knew we'd be quicker if we walked the three miles back. It was actually a lovely walk in the evening sunshine, and we both slept well that night after our evening session in the spa.

Our flight back on Monday wasn't until the evening so we luckily had the day to explore some more. We started off at the Pfaffenthal lift again, which we actually took down to the area of Pfaffenthal. This was such a stunning area of the city and really reminded us both of Beauty and the Beast. We wanted to pick up a few presents for family so spent a bit of time looking for gifts too before heading back to the hotel for our taxi to the airport.


Luxembourg city is the perfect place to explore if you want a relaxing weekend. There was more to be seen in the country, but as we were both feeling pretty exhausted we wanted to keep this trip more slow-paced as well.

Have you ever been to Luxembourg?



Thursday, 7 September 2017

Falling for Stockholm

 We arrived in Stockholm in what had been the hottest weekend for years according to the man on reception at our hostel. The hour and a bit drive from the airport had been spent mostly sleeping, until we hit the city outskirts and we were so excited! There were families spending the sunny Saturday along the banks of the river, and couples jetskiing. We instantly loved the laid-back feel of Stockholm!


Our first stop was lunch; always a necessity. We stumbled upon Vapiano, which we have since learnt has branches across Europe too. Inside, the decor was modern and inviting and I loved that you got to watch your food being made. I ordered pasta and watched them make it right there! After lunch, we headed to our hostel. I'm a hostel newbie, and convert, although I definitely don't think I could manage sharing a room with strangers. After being slightly taken aback by the size and lack of windows in our private room, we realised that it was the perfect place to rest our heads whilst in Stockholm - no wasting time in our hotel room for us!

We'd done a bit of research before heading to Stockholm and knew the best way for us to see the city would be a trip on the OceanBus. This is a really cool converted bus that can go on road and in water! We definitely caught the eyes of lots of people when we were driving around Stockholm. The tour was FABULOUS. Paul, our tour guide, was informative and funny - using music to tell us more about the wonderful city of Stockholm. I would 100% recommend this if you are going to Stockholm.




The next day we were up early for our trip to the Abba museum! Even if you're not the biggest Abba fan, the museum is well worth a visit. The music is catchy, you can get involved in some of the interactive stuff in the museum and it's just a fun thing to experience whilst you're in the capital of Sweden. Mary and I are both huge fans of Abba, and it's safe to say her performance of Mamma Mia! impressed the other visitors. After a quick lunch pitstop, we headed to Skansen which was probably my favourite part of our trip!


Skansen is an outdoor living museum, and it was truly fascinating. I love history, and this was the perfect place to get stuck into the history of Stockholm. Buildings from all over Sweden have been brought to this museum which was fantastic to see. We spent about thirty minutes in an old church learning about it all! If you are looking for something different to do in the city, Skansen is your place. You have so much to see and interact with you could easily spend a day here!





Our final day was spent at the Royal Palace and picking up a couple of souvenirs. The Royal Palace actually has one more room than Buckingham Palace which was something we learnt on the OceanBus. It was absolutely stunning inside and well worth a visit! We didn't do much shopping whilst we were in Stockholm, purely because we wanted to experience more of the city but there were a couple of shops in Gamla Stan so we could pick up some gifts for our family. There was definitely more shopping to be done though!



Stockholm was a city that surprised me, and very pleasantly. I had high hopes for it, but actually being there outlived my expectations. I'd definitely go back, and I would love to take Dan and my family there too.

Have you ever been to Stockholm?

Friday, 1 September 2017

August in Numbers

 August has been a slightly quieter month at work now that all of the students are on their summer breaks. I've quite enjoyed the slower pace although I do enjoy being busy too! I'm not too sure I can say that I've enjoyed the weather as much though, it's been a pretty poor excuse of a summer which is a real shame. Despite the weather, August has been a fantastic month.


1 sleepover at my lovely grandparents. We went out for an Indian on the Friday night and it felt like I was seven again! We had hot chocolate before bed and I slept so very well. On the Saturday we headed out to a WI coffee morning. I love spending time with all of my grandparents!

2 trips abroad - one trip with each of my parents. I headed to Luxembourg with my mum and Prague with my dad. I had the best time with both of them! It's really nice to get away with your family and spend some quality time together.

8 books read - it's been a great month for reading! Not only did I go on holiday twice, but I also had one day of holiday and the bank holiday to get stuck into my books. I've also been reading more at lunchtime at work which has been really nice.

1 car boot sale to sell all of my old clothes! We were fairly successful, and the money went towards my trip to Luxembourg which is a win-win situation.

blog posts. I've been much quieter on here this year. I still enjoy blogging but at a much slower place due to the tiredness that is adulting. I'm certainly focusing my blog slightly more towards the travel side of things!

August has been a great month! I cannot believe it's over, and we're already heading into September which is always the fastest part of the year. I remember how much the year used to drag when I was younger, and now I'm always wishing I could slow down time.

How was August for you?




Friday, 25 August 2017

Where I'd Travel To If I Won The Lottery

 Winning the lottery is something I'm sure many of us day-dream about. Whilst I am very happy with life at the minute, winning a nice little sum of money would certainly be nice! There are so many things I'd do if I won the lottery, including spending some money on travel.


USA Roadtrip

I'm not sure if I can count this as one destination, but for the purpose of this blog post - I'm going to! Dan and I have always wanted to see more of America, so this would be first on the list. We'd like to head to Niagara Falls, Yosemite, Las Vegas and so many more! One of the great things about America, is that it's like plenty of countries situated in one, and I think setting off on a road trip with Dan would be the best way to see the places we want to see.

Japan

I'd never really been fussed by visiting Japan until recently. Something fascinates me about the country and I would love to go there, specifically to Tokyo. I want to experience the Robot cafe/show and see the Shibuya crossing - it looks insane! Mount Fiji also looks pretty breathtaking. Japan definitely looks like the kind of place which is so different to the places I have been to before, and that excites me!

The Maldives

The Maldives pretty much looks like heaven on earth. I'd pack my family up, and we'd have the most relaxing holiday you can imagine. The apartments on stilts in the sea look insane. It definitely looks like the type of place where you'd have to drag yourself away from at the end of the holiday. Worryingly, The Maldives might not exist forever so here's hoping my lottery win comes in soon!

Iceland

Iceland is somewhere that has been firmly on my list for a very long time now. Winning the lottery would help with the costs of this pricey country, and I'd finally be able to visit the Blue Lagoon and hopefully see the northern lights! Reykjavik looks stunning, and taking a road trip around the island can only be magical. Driving around would be the best way to see the gorgeous scenery.

Australia

I don't often go on long haul adventures but visiting Australia is about as long haul as it can get! I think Australia has a lot to offer, from cities to desert and gorgeous beaches too. I'd especially love to check out Sydney and also head to the Great Barrier Reef - hopefully I'd be able to pluck up the courage to go snorkelling there too. Fraser island is another place that looks truly stunning.

Have you been to any of these places?

Friday, 18 August 2017

Tips for Nervous Flyers

 It's finally holiday season, and I've definitely not 100% been counting down the days...everyone loves a good break away in the sunshine. Holiday season used to be bitter sweet for me because it meant getting on a plane. I used to be the world's worst flyer. I cried, I yelped when there was turbulence and it was a pretty embarassing experience for anyone who's ever flown with me. Slowly but surely though, I've worked out a routine which helps to combat my anxiety about flying. It's pretty common to be a nervous flyer so I'm putting together a post of the things which help me. If you're an anxious flyer, I hope they help you too!


Distractions -  When I'm waiting for the flight I need something to take my mind off it. Before I go away I tend to download lots of films and TV programmes onto my iPad which always helps. I also always have a book on me! It keeps my mind off it, and is also a great opportunity for me to start that book, or watch that film I have been waiting to watch for ages.

Comfort - There is nothing worse than being uncomfortable when you are already feeling a bit nervous. I wear clothes that are super comfortable, and always take a scarf because planes can be so cold sometimes. It makes a great blanket!

Seats - If I am feeling particularly nervous before a flight, I will book seats so that I know I am sat next to Dan or a family member, and that I'm sitting where I want to sit especially as Ryanair no longer allocated you next to each other like they used to. I don't really like to sit in the window seat so we always make sure that Dan is the one sitting there when we fly.

Communication - Speaking to the person you are with and letting them know you are anxious is always a good place to start. If you are flying with someone who doesn't know you as well, it's best to get it out in the open. Plus, speaking to the cabin crew has helped me in the past because they can explain any strange noises and reassure you throughout the flight if necessary.

For me, flying is now something that happens and I'm not hugely bothered by it! I don't particularly enjoy it, but I focus on the fact that it is taking me to somewhere new to explore which is definitely worth it for me.

Are you an anxious flyer? What are your top tips?

Friday, 11 August 2017

An Adventure in Valencia

 Spanish cities are probably some of the most enchanting places I have ever been to. The gorgeous Plazas, and the pretty streets make for an excellent city break. Dan and I wanted to head somewhere new, so when we found reasonable flights to Valencia we booked it straight away.


Only two hours away by plane, Valencia is a slightly less impressive Spanish city than Madrid or Barcelona. Whilst stunning, I definitely preferred Spain's bigger cities. Despite this, Valencia definitely has a lot to offer. If you are looking for a slightly more affordable Spanish city, Valencia is your gal. You also get the best of both worlds with the stunning city, and the beach just a short tram ride away - perfect for a summer jaunt!


After arriving at around midday on Sunday, we took the metro straight to the city centre. There was a festival going on in the main square by the town hall which was a great welcome. Music was playing, and people were enjoying their weekends in the sunshine! A five minute walk from the central plaza was our hotel, the Ayre hotel Astoria Palace. It definitely wasn't the best hotel we've ever stayed in, but the service was good, and the location was excellent.

Heading out for some food took us to paella.es which sold "fast paella". I've only ever had paella once before, and I wasn't convinced that I'd like it, but this one was so delicious we went back again a few days later! It was affordable (and filling!) which is perfect when you are trying to keep costs low whilst travelling. Our first day over, and feeling tired from our early start, we headed to bed to prepare for the Bioparc the next day!

The Bioparc is a zoo which aims to create enclosures which are most suited to the species living there. We saw so many different types of animals, and we both felt that enclosures were well suited to the animals living there. One thing that really impressed us too, was that it wasn't too busy. The park was big enough for quite a few people to visit but not once did it feel overcrowded - even with a few schools on trips! My favourite animal was the hippo, and Dan loved seeing the giraffes stride about next to the water.




Our final day in Valencia was spent on the beach after checking out the Mercat Central de Valencia which was stunning - there's nothing quite like a Spanish market! Whilst we both love the idea of spending hours on a gloriously sunny beach, we both find the sand quite irritating. 2017 has been the year of taking chances, so we chanced our luck and headed out to the beach. Whilst it is around 30 minutes away from the city centre, it was so worth the trip. We had a lovely morning on the beach relaxing with our books and enjoying each other's company!





The afternoon was spend ambling the pretty streets of Valencia, which were incredibly pretty. It was relatively easy to navigate the city too! Our final evening was spent just off the main square where we had stumbled upon the festival. We ordered a massive paella to share, which disappointingly wasn't the best one we had whilst we were in Valencia! How could we complain after three days of Spanish sunshine though.

Whilst Valencia wasn't my favourite European city, it's definitely worth a visit. If you've seen a lot of Spain and fancy something new, Valencia is the place to go!

Have you ever been to Valencia?

Monday, 31 July 2017

July in Numbers

 This year is absolutely zooming past, I just cannot believe that July has already been and gone! It's been a good month, and a productive month. We've still been pretty busy at work, and my weekends have been filled with fun as well. Both of which makes time fly past even quicker! As they say, time flies when you're having fun which I most certainly am.


1 night spent at Saffron Walden carnival which was great! Dan and I went along with Georgia from Mapped Out Blog and her boyfriend. It's safe to say that I needed a lie-in the next day after £5 beer cups of Prosecco! We danced the night away to 5 After Midnight. The carnival in my local town is always so much fun, and brings back great memories from my childhood!

15 hours of Jane the Virgin, one of my all-time favourite shows. I was so excited to see this was back on Netflix!

1 evening spent at Battle Prom with my work colleagues for our summer do! I've never really done anything like this before, but I really enjoyed myself. There was music, and fireworks - and my favourite, a picnic!

4 books read - I've got my reading mojo back after a few slow weeks. One of the best book surprises this month was The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden. After trying to read this a few years back, and not really enjoying it, I was pleasantly surprised by my attempt to re-read it. It was one of the best books I've read in a while!

1 episode of Alaska Live, the new wildlife programme on the BBC. It was incredible! I loved it, and can't wait to watch more. Definitely worth a watch!

What have you been up to this July?

Monday, 3 July 2017

June in Numbers

 I love June, even despite the unpredictable English weather! It's usually the start of the summer, and I always find myself doing more at the weekends in June which is lovely. It's been another busy month, even though Dan was away for most of it!


1 hen do! I headed down to Canterbury to celebrate our friend Amy's hen do. We had a lovely time celebrating with the bride-to-be. We made chocolate-themed creations in The Chocolate Cafe, went punting on the river and played some hilarious games. Our evening was spent at Oscar and Bentleys which served the most incredible food. We finished off by dancing the night away at The Ballroom which never fails to disappoint.

4 years with Dan. I cannot believe that four years has passed. I'm so glad that I met him back in first year, and we've had so many amazing adventures together. Dan was actually in the US on our anniversary so we're hoping to plan a stay-cation this summer to celebrate properly!

2 weeks of fending for myself! As I mentioned, Dan went to America for two weeks so I was left to fend for myself send my parent back to hell again and move in. I had a lovely time with them both, and it was very good timing because my dad had to be away quite a lot during those weeks too, so mum and I both had company!

23 episodes of Love Island. I am addicted, and there's no going back. My favourites are Camilla and Montana. Whilst it is total drivel, I do really love it!

2 blog posts. I've lost my blogging mojo a little bit. After moving house, and changing jobs in January, I've not properly stopped yet. Most weekends are busy, and I'm feeling a little tired. Happy, but tired so sadly my blog has taken a little bit of a back step!

What did you get up to in June?

Friday, 30 June 2017

A Long Weekend in Warsaw, Poland

 Poland has been on my travel wishlist for a very long time. My Grandpa is from Poland, and I've always wanted to visit the country so when Dan and I found super cheap flights for April bank holiday weekend, we booked it straight away! Our trip was so affordable, and I'd really recommend Warsaw if you are wanting a slower paced city break. As we're both really busy at work, it was nice to explore a different country and come back feeling refreshed rather than exhausted from pounding the streets!


We arrived just after lunch, and after a slightly confusing journey into the city from the airport (which isn't actually that bad, we just didn't prepare enough!), we arrived at Centrum underground station which comes out in front of the Palace of Science and Culture. Whilst we didn't go in, the building was impressively huge but rather ugly too! I believe you can go up to a viewing point and look out over Warsaw.

Our hotel, the Sofitel Victoria, was based about a ten minute walk from the old town and ten minutes from the Central station so it was really well located. After checking in, receiving a free upgrade and admiring the views, we headed out to explore!


Warsaw is quite a big city, but the nicest part is definitely the Old Town. Tragically, this part of the city centre was ruined during World War Two and was rebuilt following the war. One of the buildings we saw had 1953 engraved on it, and it looked about two hundred years old - the Varsovians have built their magnificent city up again despite the devastation of the war. The Old Town was beautiful, and I know that some has criticised it for looking "like a fairytale town", but that's part of what I loved about it. It was possibly the prettiest city centre I have experienced.

Whilst in the city centre, we decided to go up the tower that is in the centre of the old town. At only 5ZL, it was a great to see some panoramic views of Warsaw. I'd definitely recommend if you are in the old town! The rest of the day was spent exploring and in the hotel spa which was the best place for an afternoon nap.








Sunday was spent exploring further, and taking in the Polish capital. We headed back to the old town in the morning before making our way to the Warsaw Uprising museum. We decided to walk, but it was about 40 minutes from the old town so prepare for a bit of walk if you're staying near the centre. As the museum is free on Sundays, we decided to go then to save money. However, it was very crowded and neither of us felt we were able to take everything in. We'd definitely go back, but opt to go earlier on in the day to avoid the crowds of people.



Our final day in Warsaw was spent walking through the streets and enjoying the sunshine that had graced us with it's presence. We headed to Zapiecek for lunch which serves every type of pierogi you could imagine. If you ever head to Poland, definitely check this place out. It may be a chain (we went to two different ones during our stay!) but both of the restaurants were very different and you didn't necessarily feel like it was a chain. The food was not only delicious and filling, but very affordable too.





Whilst Warsaw might not have thousands of touristy attractions, it's the perfect city break to head to if you are looking for a balance between exploring and relaxing. We certainly could have done more if you we had wanted to,  but it was nice to not have to rush around trying to fit everything in like you would in a more touristy city.  Having said that, I would definitely love to head back to Warsaw in the future to check out some more of the places we didn't fit in this time! It's an affordable and beautiful city to check out if you are looking for somewhere to visit in Europe that won't break the bank.

Have you ever been to Warsaw?
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