Saturday, 30 September 2017

September in Numbers

 September is that time of year where you really pinch yourself. It's hard to believe that the end of the year is coming already, and I always find September/the beginning of Autumn quite a lovely time of the year. It's been a good month, with a few relaxing weekends as well as a little staycation break at Center Parcs, Woburn.

books read

1 mini staycation away at Center Parcs

4 episodes of Doctor Foster watched

0 the amount spent on books this month (as I'm on a book spending ban!)

1 library membership

It's been a nice month, with a week off work spent relaxing at Woburn Center Parcs, lots of books read and the start of the good telly again! I'm looking forward to October, which is my favourite month of the year - unsurprisingly because it's my birthday month.

What did you get up to in September?


Friday, 29 September 2017

5 Things to do in Prague

 I recently visited Prague for the first time with my Dad. We had a lovely four days in the Czech capital, exploring and walking alot in the sunshine. As it was my first trip to Czechia, I thought it might be nice to do something a little different and put together a list of the things I'd recommend if you head to Prague.

Visit Prague Castle

Which feels like a mini village! It is huge, and a long walk up the hill, but the views are worth it even if you aren't planning to go into the castle itself. There are two different tickets you can buy, depending on how much you want to see but I would definitely recommend the cathedral and the basilica, both of which are accessible on either type of ticket! The Golden Lanes was something I was super excited about, and whilst it was interesting it was very very busy.

Have a beer by the Charles Bridge

We did this on our first day, and whilst it was slightly more expensive than other bars/restaurants, it was well worth it. It was nice to relax in the sunshine and look at the bridge and the river Vltava. Charles Bridge is also beautiful to stroll across, and I'd also recommend going up the tower museum on the Old Town side of the bridge for some beautiful views. I can't remember the exact price of this, but it was very affordable!

Take a tour with Prague Boats

We did the 50 minute tour and it was well worth it. It cost £21 for both of us which I thought was very reasonable. The staff were excellent, and the tour was informative too. It was great to see more of Prague from the river, and Prague Boats was a great way to do it. They have information coming from speakers in more than one language which was excellent!

Watch the Astronomical Clock in action, on the hour

Whilst this was incredible busy, when the astronomical clock does it's thing on the hour, you'll be glad you waited in the mass of tourists. Despite it being boarded up, it was truly stunning and I really enjoyed watching it. There are figures of the twelve disciples which come out of the top of the clock which adds to the interest!

Take the Funicular up Petrin Hill

For some truly stunning views of Prague. You can use this as part of the public transport tickets, and it is nice to do something different in a new city. We really enjoyed this, and whilst we didn't stay for long at the top of Petrin Hill as we wanted to explore the old town further, I reckon it would be a really nice place to spend an afternoon.

My first visit to the Czechia was great! I had a lovely time away with my dad, and it was great to visit Prague, a city I'd heard such good things about. One thing that definitely surprised me was how big it was, and I've since learnt that it is the 14th biggest city in Europe, which makes sense to me.

Have you been to Prague before?

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?

© Suitcase and Sandals. All rights reserved.
Blogger Designs by pipdig