5 things to do in York, UK

Picture the scene: cobbled streets, quirky buildings, 2000 years of history, a huge cathedral, a river, lots of pubs, restaurants, shops…. My husband and I chose York for a romantic four day mini-break because I have always wanted to go there (and he likes to keep me happy) – a decision we did not regret.

Here’s 5 things we got up to: (keep scrolling for two foodie recommendations too)

York Minster

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I’m not religious at all, but there’s something special about a huge Cathedral. York Minster is impressive inside and out, the size alone made my jaw drop. The stain glass windows and ornate stone carvings are something to behold. And as if that wasn’t enough, there’s tonnes of history; below ground they found Roman ruins and there’s lots of interesting stuff to see, as well as the main cathedral.

Jorvik Viking Centre

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Really interesting museum, you’re taken through on a carriage like a low-key rollercoaster… There are wax-work (or maybe not wax, but ya get the idea) models that move about and show you what like was like for the Vikings of York – very interesting and well worth a visit.

Clifford’s Tower

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Clifford’s Tower dates back to William the Conqueror, so yet more history to behold here. Well worth climbing to the top and having a look inside – the views over York are wonderful.

The city walls

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York’s city walls are impressive, mostly because of how in-tact they are. Really enjoyed walking along them, taking in the city from all angles and imaging life back in the days that the walls were used to defend the people within. A must-do.

Cruise on the river Ouse

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We opted for a floodlight cruise; leaving at 9:15pm. As well as a glass of Prosecco and some soothing jazz and swing music, it was simply just a lovely, gentle thing to do, taking in York from the river with the sun setting. Really recommend it.

Food…

Highly recommend The Star Inn the City, where we had our anniversary dinner (and returned for a drink on the terrace another day, too). Delicious food (good veggie options) and impeccable service.

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Also: Betty’s Tea Rooms, as it was a special occasion we opted for a veggie afternoon tea in the Belmont Room (booking required) which was just divine. I don’t want to show off but I’ve had a LOT of afternoon teas… and this was one of the best. EVER.

Lastly, the yorkie wraps from the York Roast Co. – veg, potatoes, stuffing, gravy wrapped in a yorkshire pudding. Amazing lunch.

York is lovely…yorkshire-pudding-wrap

Highly recommend it for a mini-break. In between doing all of the above, we had time to wander around the shops, sit in the park and watch the world go buy, get drinks outside (weather was lush) and just relax. Stayed in a nice B&B, too, Bowen House >

Great trip. Highly recommended.

A long weekend in Rome

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Me & Mama

Well, well, well. What fun is to be had in the Italian capital of Rome.

I went from Friday-Monday with my mum, and we saw as much as we could in those four days.

Here’s a little about my trip… Feel free to contact me if you have questions or want tips and ideas for your own Roman Holiday (such a great film, if you haven’t seen it then check it out 🙂 ).

Colosseum, Roman Forum & Palatine Hill
The Colosseum is bigger than I thought it’d be, and oh so impressive. I mean… seriously, it was built in 70 AD and it’s still standing. Gladiators fought there. Emperors entertained there. It’s hard to walk around – both inside and outside – and not be in complete awe.

As for the RF & PH… wowzers. History there dates back almost 3000 years… there’s so much to see, so you want to (a) wear good shoes – the ground is uneven too and (b) allow enough time to see it all. These three are surely a must when visiting Rome.

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Inside the Colosseum

 

Vatican City, including St Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel and museums

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St Peter’s Basilica

First we saw St Peter’s square and the Basilica. It’s free entry, but we queued for an hour (arrived at 11am on a Saturday) so probably better to get there early to avoid the queue. Inside is just outstanding… the size, architecture and detail within is beautiful. It’s hard to walk into the basilica without at least thinking ‘wow’ in your head. You can see the Pope on Sunday’s if that’s your thing, but I’m not really a fan 😉

The museums were also crazy busy – literally back to back people, which spoiled it quite a bit. It’s like you’re just shuffling along in a huge herd, so we didn’t see it all. Again, maybe better to get there early… The Sistine Chapel was my favourite part. Bigger than I expected, Michelangelo’s finest work is so detailed, and so beautiful… I’m not a Christian but there’s something quite special about it. I’d go to the museum again just to see that alone.

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Looking back at St Peter’s Square from the Basilica entrance

 

Trevi Fountain
Just lovely. Crowded, just like everywhere else. Hot chocolate in the Trevi Cafe (behind you if you’re looking at the fountain) was one of the best I’ve had, delicious.

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Trevi Fountain

 

Altare della Patria
We stumbled across this beautiful building via our bus map, having not heard of it before, but I’m so glad we did. There’s glass elevator that takes you to the top. With views of the whole of Rome including the Colosseum and Vatican, it’s well worth the small fee to ride to the top.

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The view (Colosseum in the background) from Altare della Patria

 

Pantheon
Dating back almost 2000 years, this is another place with free entry and it’s beautiful inside and out. Definitely worth visiting.

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Pantheon

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Lunch in Piazza Navona

 

Piazza Navona
One of my favourite spots – a large square (well, rectangle!) with restaurants, shops and a gorgeous fountain in the middle.

It just feels quintessentially Italian; the atmosphere, the buildings, the smell of garlic and olive oil wafting out of the restaurants…

We had lunch there, looking out in the sunshine and it was kinda wonderful.
Spanish Steps
Another famous scene in Rome – again it was really busy here so I’d go early if you’re into photography. We saw a lot that day so didn’t stay long as we were pretty tired.

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The Spanish Steps

The Food
foodAmazing pizza, of course – crisp, light bases, sweet tomatoes, mozzarella – nom nom nom.

Also had some amazing pasta, my favourite being spaghetti in olive oil with chillies (simple but delish), and yummy ice cream. Also had a nutella canoli (oh my goodness) and a caprese chocolate and pistachio pie (like a sponge cake) with raspberry sauce – yummers.

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Mushroom pizza ……. soooooo good 🙂

Hop-on/hop-off bus
We booked with City SightSeeing Roma (in advance) and I was really impressed; great route around the city, good price and a nice map showing you where all the attractions are so you can easily find your way from your bus stop.

Finally…… our flight and hotel
We flew with EasyJet: Excellent service, friendly staff and comfortable flight which arrived early. For a budget airline, I was really impressed.

We stayed at Capo d’Africa, a 4 star hotel just a few minutes’ walk from the Colosseum, and it was fantastic – clean, comfortable, spacious rooms, lovely receptionists, rooftop terrace with great views, lovely breakfasts and nice cocktails in the bar.

All this was booked via Expedia – we got a good deal by booking the hotel and flight together.

Overall, a great trip! I hope this might inspire you to book your next adventure to Rome or someplace else you’ve always wanted to go 🙂 …watch my latest video here to hear some tips to help you save up for trips like this.

Check out more photos on my InstagramCiao.

More fun and adventure

People say to me all the time that I am lucky.

This is because I do all sorts of fun things* and then I post photos and write about it on my social media. But I am not lucky. I don’t even really believe in luck.

Fun & adventure isn't for the 'lucky'. It's for those who seek it, and take action.I do believe in taking 100% responsibility for my life. I believe in taking action today, to create a better future for myself tomorrow. I believe in having the most fun, adventurous life I can, while I can.

So, what about you? What places have you always wanted to visit? What days out would you enjoy? Who would you like to spend more time with? What hobbies do you love, but don’t make time for?

If you had only a month to live, what would you spend that month doing? Sitting around, watching TV, complaining? Or would you go out and have as much fun and adventure as possible?

Stop being lazy. Stop saying ‘someday’. Make plans. Take action. Have an extraordinary life. And you can be “lucky” too.

No money? There’s soooo much fun, free stuff you can do. Also: spend money on experiences, instead of things. Downgrade your shampoo brand. Order less take-aways. Get your hair cut less often. It’s worth it, trust me 😉

*Some of the fun things I’ve done in the past 12 months (if you want some inspiration):

  • SarahLouiseSmithBeen in the audience for a TV show (free tickets!)
  • Travelled to/through 8 different countries: Scotland, France, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium (and I’m about to go to Rome, Italy)… yes, all in 12 months
  • Visited UK cities: Bath, London and Lincoln for mini-breaks or days out
  • Went to the beach, the zoo, to historical houses, and all sorts of interesting places
  • Seen many comedians live, theatre shows, and concerts
  • Met my favourite band: Take That

Enjoyed this blog? Please like it, and share it to help others. And comment below to tell me what fun things you’re going to get up to this year.

Now, stop reading this and go organise some fun 🙂

Mini break in the Lincolnshire Wolds

Last weekend, my husband took me away for a mini-break in the Lincolnshire Wolds. It’s one of the few places in the UK that we’ve never really visited, yet it’s only two hours away from our home in Milton Keynes + it’s such a lovely place, we will surely go back.

The Wolds don’t have quite the same dramatic landscapes as Cornwall, or the Lake District – but there are plenty of lovely rolling green hills, sandy beaches and quaint little villages to visit. Plus: Lincoln is an interesting historic city, well worth visiting.

IMG_5384One of the beach walks we did was Skegness. For some reason (and I’m sorry, Skegness), I had always imagined it was a bit of a tacky, overly-built-up seaside town – but in fact it was a lovely, wide, long beach with very little right on the shore to spoil it. Dogs are allowed off-lead in the winter months and my two loved running up and down the sand and splashing in the waves (I’m sure the sea must have been freezing!) Great walk, really recommend it.

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The cottage we stayed in was beautiful – thatched roof, wooden beams, modern amenities and really friendly owners who left us a basket of goodies including dog treats. Lots of character and extremely cosy – perfect for a romantic winter get-away. Find it on cottages.com, here > 

IMG_2250IMG_5560Lincoln is a lovely city to visit, with lots of history (including the signing of the Magna Carta). We had a look around the outside of the castle (dogs are not allowed inside so that’s saved for a future visit) which looks very interesting, a wander around the shops and down to the river… but the most impressive thing for me was Lincoln Cathedral. It was started in 1088, and for 238 years it was the tallest building in the world! Couldn’t go inside, but beautiful from the outside.

So: a highly recommended place to go for a long weekend or short holiday – we would very much like to return very soon 🙂

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Big thanks to my husband Nathaniel for organising this for a birthday surprise <3

 

 

 

Also in 2018, I will be visiting Rome, Kefalonia-Greece, York + another mystery location to be determined. Watch this space!

Read more travel blogs here >

Happy New Year! + Mini-break in Bath

Hello, lovely readers!

I hope you’re having a splendid day, and 2018 is going well for you so far. Have you thought about what you’d like to achieve this year?

IMG_3811Me, I want to read more and travel more and exercise more – the usual. Most of all, I want to write more. As well as my usual yearly chick-lit novel, I’d like to write a Christmassy story, a short story + use this blog a lot more so watch this space!

I hope your Christmas was lovely. Mine was busy but good.

Between Christmas and New Year, my hubby and I went to Bath for a mini-break and I wanted to (a) share a little about it with you because it was WONDERFUL and (b) recommend it as a place to visit, if you’ve never been.

Two days in Bath, UK

We chose Bath, simply because we love it. We’ve been there a bunch of times and it’s one of my favourite UK cities. There’s tonnes of history (literally over 2000 years of it at the Roman Baths), plus it has a connection to Jane Austen (whom I adore) – two of her novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, are partly set in Bath AND she lived there herself for a number of years. The Jane Austen centre on Gay Street is well worth a visit, if you’re a fan.

I think the thing I like best about Bath, is that if you took away the cars and replaced with them with horses and carriages, it’d be as if nothing had changed in 200 years. The buildings – in a golden stone – are some of the best architecture I’ve had the pleasure to gaze up at.

If you’ve never been, I recommend you stroll through the Royal Crescent, and then onto the Circus… then through Milsom Street and to the shopping area for a browse… then to the Abbey… and then walk along the river. Just lovely.

As well as walking around gazing at the buildings, there’s plenty to do – like visiting the Roman Baths (so interesting), the Assembly Rooms, the spa, theatre, and more.IMG_5166

My absolute favourite thing in Bath is The Pump Room – again, you’ll have heard of this if you’re an Austen fan. It’s a large beautiful room, with a high ceiling and huge windows, providing lots of light. Live classical music adds to a great atmosphere. The service is wonderful. The food is outstanding.

This time, we went for traditional British afternoon tea (and they did some great vegetarian substitutions for us). I’ve had a lot of afternoon tea’s … this was the best.

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Hotel-wise, we stayed at The Bath House – a great B&B with a four poster-bed, huge bath, great service and breakfast served in our room. Highly recommend it – and just a short walk from all the places listed above.

So, there you go – my write up of my Bath mini-break. If you’re looking for a few days away in the UK, it’s a must.

 

Wishing you a fabulous 2018 – let’s make it awesome!

A week in beautiful Kefalonia

Words to describe Kefalonia: sunshine, mountains, colourful flowers, beaches, goats bells, delicious food, friendly people, beautiful scenery, the smell of olive trees, …

It’s so quiet in Greece right now…

Despite being in Kefalonia during the British half term holiday, everywhere was quiet… A very friendly Greek woman told me that everyone is scared to visit Greece lately (but “without tourists, we die,” she added). I can understand some reasons why, but don’t let the media put you off! It’s a beautiful place and great value for money…

Stuff to do in Kefalonia

Mount Ainos

You drive up the mountain on a smooth, easy road … the view all the way up is impressive and when you get to the top, it’s just sublime (despite the clouds on the day I went up)… at 1600 metres above sea level, you can see most of the island, plus out to Ithaca and Zakynthos. Often, when you summit a mountain, the view is of other mountains and valleys. Here, you can see sea level, and therefore get a really good sense of how high up you are. A must.

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Myrtos Beach

Voted one of the best beaches in the world, Mytros beach is best viewed from above; as you can see, a pretty awesome view, especially at sunset. The beach itself is a bit coarse (hurt my feet!) and the toilets weren’t too pleasant… but the sea water was warm and it does feel like a little cove of paradise.

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Fiskardo

The one spot in Kefalonia that wasn’t destroyed by the earthquake in 1953. A lovely little harbour town in the north, with colourful buildings, cute little gift shops, restaurants and bars. We were staying in the south of the island, but the journey was wonderful – good roads, lots of view points over hills and mountains, greenery, flowers, goats roaming about (their bell chimes are just lovely).

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St. George’s Castle

Outstanding 360 degree views, this is a great place for a wander around. The castle was built in the early 16th century and the ruins are free to visit.
If you go here, ensure you visit the Kastro Cafe close to the entrance. Full of colourful flowers and plants, incredibly friendly owners and gorgeous food – we went twice; I recommend the greek salad with cheese pies, or the pitta bread with dips. They also do amazing greek yogurt. Great spot for lunch (they close at 6:30pm).

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Fanari Lighthouse

Beautiful at sunset…

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Where to stay in Kefalonia

I don’t like big crowds, and I’d prefer to meet the locals than see lots of British people, however if you do, check out Skala or Lassi – the big resorts.

Svoronata is better if you like it quiet, like me… I booked Villa Xenia with James Villa holidays and let me tell you it was awesome. The photos don’t do it justice. Mountain views in one direction, view of the ocean in the other. Large private pool. Really recommend James Villa’s – great service, all round – and private villa’s don’t cost as much as most people expect.

Villa Xenia is in Svoronata, near Argostoli; which is full of restaurants and shops but not particularly busy (see note above about Greece being quiet), close to the airport and within easy reach of everywhere we wanted to visit above (Fiskardo being the furthest and less than 2 hours of sublime mountain drive).

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Costs in Kefalonia

Everything seemed so cheap! The most expensive restaurant bill was €85 (about £66) – for four people, three courses, litre of red wine, and a few soft drinks – so about £16.50 each. And let me tell you now, the food might be cheap but it is bloody yummy…

Food in Kefalonia

Oh my, the food. We stocked up on Greek foods for the villa: tzatziki, hummus, taramaslata, flat breads, olives, salad, fruit – everything was really fresh.

Restaurants: we ate many, many good meals. I really recommend Irida’s in Fiskardo, Il Gabbiano and Zorba’s (go on a Friday night for a ‘Greek Night’ with live music, dancing, plate smashing – oodles of fun) … And most of all Kastro Cafe near St. George’s Castle (mentioned above). Wherever you go, there’s a good variety of foods, traditional Greek stuff like Moussaka, kebabs, cheese pies, tzatziki, etc. Greek pizza or pasta (with olives, feta cheese, tomato and onion) featured on most menus, and was delicious. Plenty of fresh sea food too.

Here’s my stuffed kalamari at Irida’s: (never tried before but scrumptious)

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As you can tell, I was really impressed with Kefalonia… there’s plenty of sunshine for the days you want to chill by the pool, and many pretty places to visit when you want to explore. Highly recommend it.

Read my other travel blogs:

My New York – Niagara Falls – Washington DC Adventure

I recently travelled to the US and Canada for quite an adventure. Here’s the story of my trip…

Some trip facts:

  • We flew approx. 7,000 miles there and back.
  • We drove 1127 miles in a rented Toyota RAV4 (driving in the US & Canada was a dream compared to the UK).
  • We walked almost 46 miles in 8 days.
  • We visited/travelled through New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Ontario (Canada), Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, and D.C.

Day 1 – Saturday – NYC

We were a pretty excited threesome, flying from Heathrow to Newark. I enjoyed the airplane food (just like Zach in my first novel!) We collected our rental car and drove towards NYC. It was dark and we noticed Manhattan lit up as we approached – the new World Trade Center (a.k.a. Freedom Tower), and the Empire State Building standing out among all the other skyscrapers. The skyline is so familiar from all the American TV shows and movies we’ve seen, yet it is kind of surreal to actually be here.

Driving through Manhattan was much easier than I imagined, and we found our hotel quickly. Exhausted, we are now going to bed, excited to start our holiday (vacation!) properly tomorrow…

Day 2 – Sunday – NYC

It was a beautiful sunny day so we decided to walk to the Rockefeller Center, and the walk in itself was pretty cool – you see so much more walking than you would on the subway. We looked up at the skyscrapers, saw yellow cabs, lots of people everywhere, hot dog and pretzel vans were on the corner of each block. It was just like I remembered it from my last trip here nearly 20 years ago …
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Rockefeller Center

We reached Rockefeller plaza and watched people ice skating … then went inside to go to the “Top of the Rock”. The staff were very friendly and amusing, making jokes. After successfully passing security, we rode the elevator which has a clear ceiling so you can see how fast you’re travelling up – 45 seconds to get to the 67th floor.

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Rockefeller Center view of Central Park, beautiful

The views are amazing as soon as you walk out with Central Park in one direction, and the Empire State Building in the other -just awesome.

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Rockefeller Center – view from the other side

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My favourite tree in Central Park

After spotting all the famous landmarks and taking a million photos, we travelled back down the elevator and walked from there to Central Park. As soon as you step inside, it’s peaceful – despite being surrounded by busy roads and Skyscrapers. We walked up the east side, stopping for a hot dog from a van on our way for lunch.

Next, Grand Central Station.
More photos, then another walk – to the Empire State Building. Although we’d seen it from our hotel and Top of the Rock, standing on the side walk looking up is still pretty amazing. We paid a quick visit to Macy’s – the largest store in the world, and after enjoying a great dinner, we headed back to the Top of the Rock for our night time viewing. It was much quieter now, and we went straight up to the top deck.
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Rockefeller Center view at night

NYC at night is very different than during the day. You see different things, and Manhattan is pretty amazing all lit up. We could just about make out Laby Liberty, lit up on her island. I usually prefer a mountain view to a city one, but it was really rather beautiful.

A quick stroll to Times Square – busy and crowded but cool to see … and now we’re back at the hotel, exhausted – but wow, what a day.

Day 3 – Monday – NYC

A yummy breakfast … then a cab ride to Battery Park, which is being re-landscaped, but looks like it’ll be lovely when complete. The queue for the ferry boat, despite the fact that we pre-booked (thankfully!) was long and the security staff were rude and abrupt, which spoiled it a little (they may do this every day but this is a once-in-a-life time trip for most – I wanted to yell this at them but I’m British and reserved so I just took their rudeness and rolled my eyes, of course).
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View of Manhattan from Liberty Island

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Lady Liberty

The ferry ride itself was a bit crowded with school kids, but when we got on the island our day improved. We walked around the perimeter – the view of Manhattan is very impressive and we were bathed in glorious sunshine. Seeing the Statue of Liberty up close – really the most iconic recognised statue in the world, which stands for everything I love about USA – liberty, freedom, spirit, the American Dream – was just awesome. We had a nice lunch there before moving on.

Next, Ellis Island – which has so much interesting history about the “peopling” of America, and reading about diversity of the people who came through looking for a new start was rather inspirational. We sat for a while on a bench in sunshine – looking out at the views of Manhattan again, eating ice creams – you’d never believe it was October!
As our return ferry approached Manhattan, I spotted my friend Sam waiting for us. Sam and I met on a student exchange trip back in 1995 (almost 20 years ago!) and we’ve kept in touch ever since. I haven’t seen him for 5 years before today so it was great to give him a hug and catch up.
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Ground Zero memorial – very moving

Now a merry foursome, we walked to the 9/11 memorial at Ground Zero. I visited the Twin Towers with my school mates and Sam back in ’95, and went to the top, so going back there when those towers have gone was really quiet weird, sad and surreal. But I loved the fountains, which cover the footprint of what used to be. The names of those who lost their lives are cut out of the sides, and we spotted a white rose – the staff there put a white rose besides the names on their birthdays. There’s something quite lovely about that. It was rather moving.

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Walking Brooklyn Bridge

Next, we walked to Brooklyn Bridge and crossed over on the wooden board walk, which was pretty cool. The sun was setting and the view was pretty… Once in Brooklyn, we found Grimaldi’s – a famous pizza restaurant. We ordered a large pizza between us, choosing one topping each (Italian sausage, onion, garlic and pepper with mozzarella cheese) – it was very yummy indeed.

After filling ourselves with pizza we walked down to the water, it was dark by now and pretty cool to see the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan all lit up. The Empire State building was changing all different colours.
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View from Brooklyn at night

Another hug for Sam and we were bidding him farewell and in another cab back to our hotel. It felt like it was about 11pm, so I was pretty shocked to see it was much earlier. What an amazing two days we’ve had.

Day 4 – Tuesday – Journey to Niagara

Time to move on… we picked up our car and drove for a few hours before stopping at a Walmart. The variety is pretty overwhelming. We stocked up on sweets and candy that you can’t buy at home, there are so many different flavours of M&Ms and Pop Tarts.
Then, we continued our journey to Niagara, which despite taking several hours was really rather beautiful due to the fall trees – beautiful shades of red, orange, yellow, browns – stunning.
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Niagara Falls – wow

We passed into Canada via the Rainbow Bridge and got our first sights of Niagara Falls – wow. You can see all the photos you want and watch videos, but seeing it with your own eyes is so different, it’s just spectacular.

We drove through Niagara ON, passing lots of hotels, gift shops, casinos, and restaurants to the Marriott Fallsview hotel. We’d paid extra for this hotel, and hoped it was worth it. The valet took our car, we checked in, and went up to our room on the 16th floor… Wow, was it worth it. The view was so amazing that I just started giggling happily. There are floor to ceiling windows with panoramic views of both the American and Canadian falls.
After pulling ourselves away from the window, we went and had dinner at Applebee’s, which was delicious. Love it here.

Day 5 – Wednesday – Niagara Falls

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Niagara from the top

Why go and eat breakfast in the hotel restaurant when you’ve got this amazing view? We opened some Pop Tarts, pulled the chairs to the window, and ate in our room looking out at Niagara. Just amazing. We then walked down to the falls, there’s a ballustrade all along and you can walk from Horseshoe Falls down to the Rainbow Bridge. We kept stopping to admire the views and take yet more hundreds of photos. Next up: the boat trip.

Now, when they give you a red poncho, you kinda wonder if you need it. Then later on, you’re so grateful you didn’t turn it down. We boarded the boat opposite Bridal Veil falls, which are pretty amazing, even if they’re overshadowed by the Horseshoe. Almost as soon as the boat starts off, you get wet from the spray – and everyone screams and squeals, and there’s lots of laughter. We were really wet, but it was rather thrilling.
So on the boat went, towards the Horseshoe falls – and they get you pretty close – it was choppy with lots of spray, and you get a face full of water – it’s a better thrill than any theme park water ride I’ve ever been on and totally exhilarating. We got soaked. I’d been holding my phone up to video and take photos and even got water up inside my sleeves. We laughed a lot. Amazing.
After a gift shop visit, we walked back towards the hotel and the sun came out, slowly drying our cold wet clothes. We took yet more pics and walked right up to the top of the falls where the water travels over. It’s so fast… again, you have to see it with your own eyes…
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View from hotel room window at night – falls all lit up

Back at the hotel, we got some panini’s and hot chocolates and sat looking out of large glass windows at the falls. Then, up to our room to just chill, mess about, and admire that view some more. There was a lot of laughter that afternoon. When our stomachs started to growl we headed out and walked through town for a while and got some dinner.

Back at the hotel, there was less spray tonight so you could see the lights on the water a bit better. Very pretty. They shine different colour lights at the water, which change regularly; red, white, blue, yellow, green, purple.

Day 6 – Thursday – Niagara to Washington, D.C.

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Sunrise over Niagara Falls from my hotel room

Eating breakfast in your hotel room while watching the sun rise over Niagara Falls = just awesome. Time to move on again, though.

The drive to Washington DC was really quite something. We passed a lot of beautiful fall trees, rural villages and very typical American small towns, just like you see on the movies with the porches and wooden slating, shutters, and flags out front. Most homes were decorated for Halloween which was pretty cool. We saw a lot of snow mobile signs and one place had them for sale like you might at a car dealership.
After driving through New York state, Pennsylvania, and Maryland we finally came to DC. There was a lot of traffic but we eventually got into the centre and passed the White House and Capitol building which were pretty cool, can’t wait to see them in the daylight tomorrow. The hotel here is lovely and the staff very welcoming. We got a take out pizza and ate it in our room. Cannot wait to explore here some more tomorrow.

Day 7 – Friday – Washington, D.C.

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The Capitol building

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Washington Monument

After some delicious cinnamon French toast at the breakfast buffet, we set off this morning to walk all around the centre of Washington DC. We saw the Capitol building, the Washington monument, the White House – front and back & with Halloween decorations – and went to the White House visitor centre. Stopped for lunch at a nice little place … then on to the WWII memorial – really amazing, they should have something similar in London – then the infamous Abraham Lincoln memorial which I loved, then the Martin Luther King memorial, and a good look at the Jefferson memorial from across the Tidal Basin.

 

 

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The Obama’s halloween decorations!

lincoln

Abraham Lincoln – amazing.

martin luther king mem

MLK memorial

 All of these sites are so iconic and recognisable and it’s so cool to see them for real. The architecture in Washington reminds me a little of London. I really, really like it here, it’s just kind of clean, quiet, and elegant. So glad we came here.

Day 8 – Saturday – Washington, D.C.

panda national zoo

Panda at the National Zoo

Grabbed a quick breakfast from Starbucks this morning, picked up our car and drove to the Smithsonian National Zoo – where we headed straight to the Panda enclosure. There aren’t many places you can see pandas, especially a cub. The zoo is free entry, and it’s very open and relaxed. We were delighted to see three pandas including baby Bao Bao, up in a tree. So cute.

More time in a gift shop, and a quick visit to see a few other animals, then we went to a large shopping mall in Virginia for a wander around before returning to DC … This afternoon we went to the Air and Space museum in the national mall, which was really cool … lots about war planes, the Wright brothers, moon landings, exhibits about the universe – all very interesting and I’d like to go back and spend more time there.
Dinner tonight was at the Hard Rock Cafe in Washington. Pretty cool.

Day 9 – Sunday – time to go home…

Breakfast and then the drive back to Newark Airport – so sad to be leaving, it’s been such a whirlwind, fast holiday and we’ve seen so much in just 9 days! We drove through Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey and arrived at Newark a little early… plenty of time to read in the airport and now we’re just about to fly home. What an amazing trip, what amazing things we’ve seen and I’m so happy to have shared it with two awesome travel companions 🙂

The End.

Thinking of taking a similar trip? Feel free to email me for tips 🙂

Why Everyone Should Take up Walking

It is a little late to say this, but May was National Walking Month. Here are some facts about walking that might encourage more people to give it a go… A 30 minute walk a day and you’ll have:

  • 50% better chance of avoiding Alzheimer’s or dementia.
  • 40% decreased likelihood that you’ll suffer from heart disease.
  • 31% reduced risk of clogging your kidneys.
  • 43% drop in the odds of a premature death.
  • 25% fewer colds.

You’ll also release plenty of happy hormones, see lots of beautiful scenery, spend time family & friends… What better way to spend your free time? Get out there and explore this beautiful world we live in!

Source of facts: Country Walking Magazine.

France, Spain, and my Twilight Saga addiction

A blog entry is long overdue, time really has flown past and it’s hard to believe it’s October already. I love the autumn leaves, although I seem to be suffering from asthma, which is made worse by the cold weather. Ho hum.

France & Spain trip

So anyhoo, I had a wonderful holiday in the south of France. We stayed in a villa with a fabulous view – the Pyrenees in one direction, the Mediterranean ocean in the other. We spent most of our days swimming in the pool, reading, and soaking up the sun. Very relaxing. We went to Barcelona one day, which was a bit of a disappointment; not what I was hoping for. I’m not a big fan of cities, but there’s something about Paris, Edinburgh, Boston… Barcelona just seemed so congested, and there’s too little greenery. Just not my sort of place. Another pin in the map though.

The Twilight Saga

I read the four Twilight saga books in two weeks… such light, easy reading but so compelling. The passion between Bella and Edward is so convincing, and I just devoured each book. I’ve seen the first two movies – they don’t do the books justice but still enjoyed them. Romance, suspense, conflicts, danger. Fantastic stuff.

That’s all for now.

PS: Team Edward!