Travel Diary – Dubrovnik, Croatia

My alarm went off at 4am but I don’t think I really woke up until I was sat alone on the EZY851 EasyJet flight to Dubrovnik thinking “what have I got myself into?”

I have been intrigued by the beautiful architecture, rich history and stunning scenery of Croatia for years now. To begin with I had looked into spending some time in Split or venturing out to see the stunning waterfalls at the Plitvice Lakes National Park but when a photo of Dubrovnik appeared on my timeline, and I learnt about its connection with one of my favourite shows (Game of Thrones), my sight was set. My decision to take on this adventure solo requires a blog post of its own, but I had a passport, a camera, a bit of money saved and a desperate desire for a holiday. I booked my flights, secured a bed in a hostel and jet off on one of the best holidays I have ever had.

TOP TIP: If you’re flying into Dubrovnik from England then aim for a window seat on the left-hand side of the plane as you get incredible views of the old town as you go into land.

The only ‘faff’ I seemed to have on the whole holiday was with the buses to/from the airport. According to my hostel instructions there was a bus that went direct to Pile Gate but on arrival I learnt this wasn’t the case. After a discussion with a rather aggressive bus driver I had to venture back into the airport to buy my shuttle bus ticket (80 Kunas for a return) which then took me to the main bus station situated about 20 minutes away from the Old Town. From there I followed a crowd of other seemingly lost tourists to a bus stop where we were predominantly shuffled into a large taxi and offered a shared ride in for the same price as a bus ticket.

TOP TIP: After a bit of questioning at the hostel later on I learnt that you can get the 1a, 1b, 3 or 8 to Pile Gate from the bus station and you can buy your ticket on the bus for around 15 Kuna or from a local newsagent for 12 Kuna.

Venturing in through the medieval Pile Gate, I emerged into the picturesque Placa Stadun – a wide road that cut straight through the Old Town, narrow alleyways broke off from it in all directions and at the end stood the entrance to the port where moored boats bobbed over the choppy sea. Had it not been for my heavy bag practically dragging my shoulder to the floor, I could’ve happily spent the whole afternoon stood there watching the birds fly over the burnt orange rooves and people meandering in and out of shops. But I was tired, hungry and anxious to see what my hostel would be like. I chose to stay in the Old Town Hostel because it was situated right in the centre of the Old Town (funnily enough) and had no issue in finding it down one of the many narrow passageways. It was too early to check in but I was able to leave my bag at the reception and set off in search of food. The only negative I would have to say about Dubrovnik is that it was busy and as a result of that everywhere was very expensive. Though the choice of restaurants was infinite I didn’t really want to spend money on 2 big meals out a day so I strolled through the maze of alleys until I found a perfect solution – a bakery. They offered everything from sandwiches to traditional pastries and even pizza slices, just enough for lunch without breaking the bank! (I would highly recommend the cheese and spinach burek from Mlinar bakery it was exquisite!)

Loaded up on a slice of pizza the real exploring could begin! According to the weather forecast it was meant to rain non-stop for the 2 full days I was there, so I really wanted to make the most of the sunshine whilst I could. I headed to the tourist centre, located right by the entrance to Pile Gate, and asked for some advice on what to do. As It happened I had actually arrived at a bit of a bad time, due to a financial debate the cable car to the top of the mountain had been closed and the rain in and around the area had caused the sea to be incredibly choppy so the boats weren’t running to Lokrum Island. 2 of the things I really wanted to do weren’t available for the duration of my stay, brilliant! All hope wasn’t lost however, and I was able to get a ticket to walk the city walls. You purchase the tickets at the base of the walls for 200 Kuna and then you are free to wander round above the city for as long as you like. It also came with an entrance ticket to the Fort Lovrijenac located just outside Pile Gate.

TOP TIP: Here is one I annoyingly didn’t learn till I left, If you purchase a Dubrovnik Card (either 1 day, 3 day or 5 day) it gets you into 6 museums, 2 galleries and a ticket to the City Wall. The 3 day card is around 250Kuna so a good price for all of that!

Now I know my opinion is limited as I wasn’t able to look down on the town from the cable car or explore the luscious botanical gardens of Lokrum Island, but I think if you were to do one thing only in Dubrovnik then it should definitely be the City Walls! You get the most stunning views across all aspects of the city from the main town square to the port and even out across the sea to the island and the fort. You can climb up the towers, hear the crash of the waves against the walls and watch the birds float across the sea of orange rooves. The passage itself around the walls is quite narrow but it is all one way and there are larger areas to stop and take in the 360 view. I stopped at one of the shady cafes halfway round and drank a fresh fruit smoothie whilst taking in the breath-taking view of the island. For any Game of Thrones fans out there you can also walk around the tower that Daenerys frantically runs around when her dragons go missing in the house of the undying. Including the smoothie break and stopping to take about 10000 photos, it took me just under 2 hours to complete the circuit, but you have full freedom to be up there as long or little as you like. Although you can only enter the walls by Pile Gate you can leave them at the port side of the city if you don’t fancy going all the way around.

Given my early start and the long day of travelling I was rather exhausted by the time the evening rolled around. After spending a bit of time in the hostel meeting my roommates, I set out for an early dinner. I will be uploading another post soon all about my hostel experience in a lot more detail so stay tuned for that! Seeing as Dubrovnik is located on the seafront it would be wrong to not try out some of the fresh seafood they had to offer! A live school orchestra was playing in the main square so I found a restaurant nearby where I could avoid the crowds but still hear the music. It was a bit daunting going for dinner on my own, but I actually got caught up in great conversation with an elderly pair of ladies sat on the table next to me. Their stories about the dishy captain on their cruise definitely made for an entertaining meal! I went for a fresh seafood risotto with extra prawns and had to hold back from licking the plate clean at the end. In general, I would say seafood, pasta and pizza seemed to make up the core of the food offered in the Old Town, though for my second night I did come across a Mexican offering the most incredible fajitas! The cobbled side streets were riddled with a huge variety of places to eat and drink, from vegan restaurants to Irish bars, and there were also a few supermarkets hidden amongst them if you prefer to make your own meals when away!

I slept like a baby that night and awoke to the gentle but disappointing sound of rain on the window. Of course everyone would prefer a clear day when on holiday but I was determined to not let it ruin my trip. I am English after all, if we can’t get on with life in the rain then who can! The bonus of the downpour was that not many people shared the same spirit as me, so I practically had the city to myself! I took it upon myself to seek out the famous cliff bar hidden on the side of the walls. After ascending the “shame” steps, GOT fans will know what I mean, I wound my way through the outer lanes of the city till I came across a metal gate in the wall and a wooden sign saying ‘cold drinks’ on it. The doorway emerged out onto the cliff edge where a row of steps led down to bar. I read a few reviews of this place before leaving and in the summer months it is supposedly packed, but on this rainy May morning it was just me, myself and I (well and the bar staff). I chose a seat right on the edge, ordered a coffee and read my book to the sound of the waves throwing themselves against the wall. I think it can be hard on short city breaks to actually allow yourself time to relax as it often feels like there is so much more you could be doing or seeing, but it is important to give yourself time to unwind and just enjoy the moment and the place that you are in!

Now even though I was only half way into my holiday at this point I am actually going to end this blog post here. The remainder of my Sunday I spent on a Game of Thrones tour, which I have written a separate post about here, and then on Monday I went on a day trip to Montenegro which I also think deserves a post of it’s own. At times looking back on this holiday I do feel as if I missed out on a lot Dubrovnik had to offer, I didn’t see the island or the views from above the mountain, but everything I did get to experience I loved. It is the kind of city that you can lose yourself in. The criss-crossing alleyways will always lead to new shops and restaurants to explore, you can sit and watch boats drift in and out of the port for hours and it is rich with so much history, all told in the various museums and galleries, that I think even if I spent a month there I still would be left feeling like there was more to see and do.

Have you ever been to Dubrovnik or is it a place that you would like to go to?

Go and grab another cuppa on me, Em x

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Winter in Whistler when you don’t Ski – Adventurous Activities

It is two weeks before I am meant to be jetting off to Whistler, Canada, for a week on the slopes but I am sat in hospital. The X-Ray scan comes back. It is 2 fractured wrists….”Hi Dad, it’s Emma. I think you’re going to have to cancel my snowboard rental and slope pass!”

As of September 2018, my older brother and his girlfriend had moved to Whistler to complete a ski season and my dad and I were flying out to see them. My wrists were wrapped up in metal plated splints and my fear of falling over had now increased twofold but I was determined to get the most out of my holiday. I wasn’t able to board down the mountains anymore but I equally didn’t want to miss out on all the adventures that Whistler had to offer so I layered up like the Micheline man, locked my feet into the sturdiest boots I could find and set out into the cold. I was quite surprised to find how much was actually on offer off the slopes, around every corner was another adventure company offering everything from snow-trekking to sledding with huskies. There was even a giant bungee jump open all year round! I had 6 days to fill and a whole load of jet lag waking me up before the sun had even risen so plenty of time for activities and adventures. I am going to highlight my top experiences in this post.

One thing that needs to be said is that Whistler is not the cheapest of locations to visit. The price tags were as steep as the mountains that encase the town and for that reason I have split this guide up into 3 sections – cheap, mid-range and expensive. This way you can find an activity to do no matter what your budget is. (Prices correct as of February 2019)

Cheap – It was our last day in Whistler and we had a morning to kill before our flight home. It had hit the bitter temperature of -15 degrees each day of the holiday so there was definitely an appeal for something that wouldn’t involve venturing into the bitter cold again. The perfect solution came in the form of the Escape! Escape rooms. The 4 of us took on the Pinball challenge and were taken into a puzzling arcade world that involved a lot of balls, buttons and wires to escape from. I don’t want to go into too much detail as I don’t want to ruin the experience if any of you do decide to take it on but I will say that so much effort had clearly gone into the décor and the puzzles themselves, it was an incredibly fun but flabbergasting experience. Located a stone’s throw from the base of the gondolas it was really easy to get to and if we had more time I would be loved to have taken on the other 3 rooms they offered. The Pinball room was in their mid-tier of difficulty but they did have one designed for families and another for brain-boxes who wanted a big-old challenge. Now I have put this in ‘cheap’ section but at $33 per person I will hold my hands up and say it isn’t a bargain but it was the cheapest thing we did there. When I said the beauty and adventure of Whistler came at a price I meant it! (Just a heads up in my next blog post that is focused on more relaxing things to do there are some free options!) We managed to escape with around 3 minutes to spare so I challenge you all to go and see if you can beat us!

I don’t have any photos of the escape room seeing as it’s all meant to be kept a mystery sorry!

Mid-Range – Just because you can’t/don’t want to ski down the mountains doesn’t mean that you have to miss out on going up them. The Whistler Gondola runs daily from the centre of the town up to the top of the mountain. Leaving every minute, it takes endless streams of skiers and boarders up to their start point and for $70 you can join them. The gondola itself takes about 23 minutes and, on a clear day, gives you stunning views back over the town as well as the open winding ski runs that twist and turn down the face of the mountain. At the top there is a small shop and café where you can warm your hands up with a toasty hot chocolate and watch skiers glide down the slopes. I have added this into the adventurous part of the blog series because at the top you also get access to the Peak 2 Peak. Included in your ticket price, it is a separate Gondola that connects Whistler to Blackcomb Mountain. At 436m, it is the highest cable car above ground and if like me heights aren’t your thing then it will certainly leave you a little shaky at the knees. It takes about 11 minutes to get from one side to the other and does give you the most incredible views of snow topped trees and the frozen valley below. You can either get off at Blackcomb and spend time in the little café up there or you can just stay in the car as it takes you back to Whistler. There is no limit to the amount of times you’re allowed to go on it and if you want something to get your heart racing a bit more there are a couple of pods with glass bottoms. When you’ve taken all the phots you want and drunk as much hot chocolate as you can manage then just simply catch the Whistler Gondola back to the base again.

Expensive – For all those adrenaline junkies out there I am sure you’ll be laughing in the face of my escape room and gondola. Sat there thinking they’re about as adventurous as a trip to garden centre but I see your thrill-seeking desire and I raise you a 60mph snow mobile adventure through the back country of Canada. If you really want the kind of adventure to take your breath away then the Wilderness Run Snowmobile Tour with Canadian Wilderness Adventures should be at the top of your list. We all gathered at their shop located in the centre of the town before getting driven out and up to the back country. We were decked out in warm layers, boots, helmet and goggles then given an overview on how to use the snow mobiles safety. If you have a valid driving license then you can drive your own or you can ride along on the back of someone else in your group. Seeing as I couldn’t grip the handle bars, I hung on to my Dad for dear life as he followed the guide through the forest and up the mountain side. Our guide was so much fun and took us over bumpy terrain, round tight corners and even let us run loose on a frozen lake where I think Dad reached speeds close to 70mph. The highlight of the trip for me though was the view at the top of the mountain. Framed by rolling mountain tops and blanketed by thick, untouched snow that glistened in the sunlight it was the kind of view that belonged on a computer screensaver! After taking some beautiful photos we sped back down the mountain, handed back all the equipment and were returned to the town centre. The thrill factor definitely shot up but so did the price, at around $600 for the 4 of us it was the big treat of the holiday but what a treat it was! They also offered dog sledding adventures that I would have loved to try had we had more time.

The host of the 2010 Winter Olympics, Whistler is renown for its snow-sport activities and facilities but you don’t have to Ski to enjoy your time there! It is a beautiful Canadian town nestled amongst the Coast Mountains. The streets are lined with bars and restaurants and there isn’t an unfriendly face in sight as the locals embrace and welcome the endless streams of tourists that flood there annually. Fancy a more laid back, chilled out holiday in Whistler? Don’t worry I have you covered. My next blog post will be highlighting all the best things to do when you don’t really want to do anything at all.

Go and grab another cuppa on me, Em x

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Verona outfit diary

I was lucky enough to spend a few days exploring the beautiful Italian city of Verona and I am a sucker for city break fashion. Here is my diary of what I wore day to day on my holiday (also keep your eyes peeled for a vlog and blog post about my trip)

DAY 1 – City Break

Our first day was spent wandering the streets of Verona. I knew I wanted something cool and comfortable but I was so inspired by the colour palette of the gorgeous buildings I couldn’t not wear this dress from New Look. It’s such a flattering length on my legs and didn’t stick to me in the boiling sun. Easy breezy as I like to call it. I opted for comfy shoes to get me across the cobbled streets and the rose gold stripes on these trainers matched my dress so perfectly.

  1. Dress – New Look
  2. Shoes – Adidas
  3. Glasses – Debenhams IMG_2838-1

DAY 2 – Poolside

Would it really be a holiday if you didn’t spend one day lounging around the pool. Our second day was spent doing just this. I absolutely adore this swimming costume from New Look. It has padding for my chest and synchs in slightly at the waist to give me such a flattering figure. Extra important to remember to put suncream on under the chain at the front though as no one wants a burn in the shape of a ladder running down their boobies now do they!

  1. Costume – New Look
  2. Glasses – Debenhams IMG_2840-2

DAY 3 – Lakeside

Seeing as we were only an hour out from Lake Garda we decided we would be stupid to miss out on seeing its beauty. I knew we would be out walking all day so I wanted to protect my shoulders from the sun and didn’t want to wear anything tight or uncomfortable. This dress was absolutely perfect. It’s thick enough to save my skin from burning but was so loose and floaty that, if I’m honest, I didn’t feel like I was wearing anything at all.

  1. Dress – Pretty Little Thing
  2. Watch –  M&S
  3. Glasses – Debenhams IMG_3111-2

DAY 4 – Sweet and Simple

Sometimes you just want to keep your outfit sweet and simple. I love the combination of the white and denim and think the blue trim on the top really ties the outfit together. We didn’t really have a set plan for this day so I thought this outfit would be perfect as it was comfortable enough to move around in but also made me feel put-together and girly. Lets be honest, you can never go wrong with a classic white tee and a bit of denim can you!

  1. Top – Zara
  2. Skirt – Topshop
  3. Glasses – Debenhams IMG_3148-2

DAY 5 – Traveler

If you haven’t gathered by now I am all about comfort when it comes to clothes and especially when my day involves a lot of traveling. This jumpsuit is the perfect transition piece as it is chic enough to wear around the city but the wide legs also means you can nice and comfy on your flight home. I would’ve been lost this holiday without this little rucksack as well. The colours goes with everything and its the perfect size to fit in all your essentials without feeling like you’re carrying around the kitchen sink everywhere you go.

  1. Jumpsuit – Stradivarius
  2. Rucksack – Accessorize IMG_3187-2

NIGHT TIME – Bar Goer

Every evening we found ourselves in out hotel bar playing cards and drinking cocktails. This was my favourite outfit of them all, firstly because it matched the colour scheme of the building so well! It is definitely a piece that can be dressed up easily with some jewellery and a pair of pretty sandals. The colour is so complimentary with my hair colour and I find wrap dresses to be so flattering. A 10/10 all round!

  1. Dress – New Look
  2. Glasses – Debenhams IMG_3025-2

If you want to see what I got up to in more detail here is my vlog of my trip too!

Go and grab another cuppa on me, Em x

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Lapland travel diary

In December of 2017 I was lucky enough to visit Lapland, Sweden, for my 21st birthday. It was the most amazing holiday of my life and I made sure to vlog it, which you can watch here, but I figured it also deserved a written account on my blog. Here is my travel diary of what I got up to and the things I would highly recommend to anyone looking for a magical winter break next year.

DAY 1 – Arrival 

Today was solely a travel day. We got a flight from Gatwick to Stockholm and then changed to a domestic flight to Kiruna which overall took around 4 hours. When we landed at Kiruna, at about 4pm, it was pitch black and -20 degrees which I must admit was a bit of a shock. We were picked up by a representative from Nordic Visitor, who were our travel company for the trip, and taken to their base to pick up some warm overalls, snow boots and grabbed a slice of pizza for dinner. From there we were dropped at our accommodation, we stayed in cabins at Camp Ripan. Each cabin was big enough for a family of 4 and there was also a main reception with a bar, viewing platform and restaurant. After unpacking we headed into the bar for some Glogg, a traditional mulled wine made with cloves and cinnamon, and some gingerbread cookies – absolute heaven!

DAY 2 – Icehotel and Snowmobiling 

Kicking the holiday off with a bit of exploring, we layered up and headed out into the town of Kiruna. It was like something taken out of a fairytale with pastel coloured houses buried under mountains of snow. We looked around the traditional church and even sat in to listen to some beautiful carols being sung. The whole town is built next to a iron mine and as a result it is slowly sinking. They plan on up and moving the whole town and its residence 3km away from its current location, including taking apart and reassembling the church, which was really interesting to read about in the town hall. Lunch was a very surreal experience. We found a burger van parked in a petrol garage that was selling reindeer sandwiches and chips but it also had the most beautiful teepee seating area filled with fairy lights and a roaring open fire. Very delicious but left you very delirious when you stepped out to see the locals filling their cars up with petrol.

Once back at out hotel we got picked up by a guide and taken to the Icehotel. It is a stunning structure made entirely of ice and offering 65 individually designed rooms for guests to spend the night in. We spent a couple of hours exploring the different rooms, my favourite being the space themed room, before being shown to our own bedrooms for the night. We were lucky enough to stay in the deluxe rooms which meant they had a ‘hot room’ in the back with a bathroom and sauna in. The bedrooms themselves are kept at a constant temperature of -5 degrees (which was actually warmer than the -25 degree temperature outside) so you have to sleep in a thermal sleeping bag and wholly hat. My room was like a maze of giant walls of ice that created a pathway to the bed and it felt like something out of Game of Thrones.

In the evening we were taken out deep into the middle of nowhere for a snowmobiling trip. We followed the guide out along twisty paths through the snowy forest but the most amazing part of the night happened when we entered a massive clearing. For the next 20 minutes we sat and watched the most incredible display of northern lights in the sky. Our guide told us it was the best they had seen for 4 years and it was absolutely breath taking. Turns out it is also very difficult to photograph but I will never forget the bright colours dancing across the sky. We carried on snowmobiling and then stopped in a cabin for some dinner of lingonberry juice and reindeer stew (there is lots of reindeer on this trip)  before returning to the ice hotel for one of the most bizarre night sleeps of my life.

DAY 3 – Spa and Snow Shoes 

I was woken up by a lovely member of the Icehotel staff who gave me a hot cup of lingonberry juice and essentially checked that I hadn’t frozen the death in the night. Given the circumstances I slept really well, the beds were comfy and the sleeping bags were incredibly warm, I just got a very chilly nose! We had one last look around the Icehotel and then headed back to Camp Ripan where we discovered the spa. Dipping in and out of the saunas and hot pools we had a very relaxing day and caught up on a bit of sleep that we missed out on the night before.

Of all the days this was our least busy and most relaxing. In the evening my dad, brother and I ventured back out into the forrest with some snow shoes. They were like big spades with grips on that you attached to the bottom of your shoes and they allowed you to trudge through the snow. Of all the activities this was my least favourite I have to admit, it was very cold, quite difficult and in a way rather pointless as we just walked around in a circle. We did start a fire and saw some amazing stars, as we weren’t allowed any lights, but other than that it would not be something that I would recommend.

DAY 4 – Huskies and Sky Station 

This day was without a doubt my favourite! We spent the day being Husky mushers (driving sleds pulled by huskies) and it was practically my dream came true. On arrival we were greeted by around 140 dogs and led to our sleds made up of 6 huskies. My brother and I took it in turns driving whilst the other sat on the sled being pulled along. We ran across fields of snow and through the woods, with the most beautiful views, but most importantly we got to stroke and cuddle around 30 husky dogs. The youngest on our sled was around one year old and each one loved being snuggled more than the last. I cannot recommend this experience enough! All the guides were so friendly and we stopped for lunch of hot mushroom soup and cheesy bread in a lovely teepee. Most importantly though it was a day with dogs, lots and lots of dogs! (Have I mentioned that dogs were involved enough?)

In the evening we drove for about an hour to the Abisko Sky Station. We were meant to go up a in a chairlift to the station but unfortunately the winds were too strong so it was cancelled. We still got an amazing 3 course meal and watched an interesting presentation all about the Aurora Borealis (northern lights). Following the meal we went on a walk down to a lake where there was a possibility to see the lights again but due to the wind it was incredibly cloudy so we weren’t able to. We were told that it is known to be a place with a high chance of seeing the lights though so if you want to see them you should check it out!

DSCF3859.jpg
I forgot to take any photos of the sky station or the meal so here are more dogs to make up for it

DAY 5 – Reindeer farm and Home time 

This was our final day in Kiruna. In the morning we checked out of the hotel and got a taxi to the local reindeer farm. The farm itself was really interesting as it had lots of information about the natives and how they used to live. We were then able to go into a cornered off area and hand feed some reindeers. It seemed a bit intimidating at first as they are rather large animals but turns out they are just like large friendly dogs! They took the food so gently and were happy for you to give them a stroke. It is important to say however that they are incredibly greedy animals so if you want their attention then you will definitely need some food!

We had a rather tense journey home as we were only allocated 50 minutes, once we landed in Stockholm, to get to our connecting flight back to London. Seeing as we were going from a domestic flight to a international flight we had to cut through the lines at security and passport control in order to make it. Ironically after sprinting for the flight our plane got held on the tarmac for an hour due to heavy traffic, at least it gave us time to catch our breath! Before long we were back home and the magic was over! I cannot express enough how much of a winter wonderland lapland is and could not recommend  it enough as a holiday if you want to get away in the colder months! Just remember to pack lots of layers and some reindeer food!

Once again I did vlog the whole holiday so if you want a more visual representation of what I got up to then you can watch it here!

Go and grab another cuppa (or a glass of Glogg) on me, Em x

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Honest guide to Disneyland Paris

February was a perfect month. I turned 21, got a 2:1 in my university coursework and I got to spend 4 amazing days in Disneyland Paris. Before leaving I read through hundreds of blog posts about Disney from booking to hotels, food to souvenirs and each one was more helpful than the one before so I thought I would add my own take on the happiest place on earth into the mix. Here is my honest guide to Disneyland Paris…

Dates – Before booking my trip I headed down to Thomson (now known as TUI I believe) and picked up a guide to Disneyland. Inside there was a helpful chart with a week by week guide to how busy the park would be throughout the year. Luckily for me one of the least busy weeks coincided with my reading week at uni so it was like it was meant to be! As you can imagine Disneyland is never going to be empty but I don’t think the crowds were too horrendous, on average we only had to queue for 30 mins and always had a decent view for the fireworks/parades. I would definitely recommend February as a good time to go just make sure you wrap up nice and warm!

Travel – I opted to take the Eurostar simply because it was slightly cheaper than flying and just felt like less of a hassle. We sped through passport control in St Pancras and before we knew it we were through the tunnel and into France. Overall it took about 2.45 hours and as soon as you step out the station you are a 5 minute walk away from the entrance to Disney. There was an option where you could pay to check in on the train so you could head straight to the parks but I didn’t pay for this as I didn’t mind going to the hotel and settling in a bit first before heading off to the castle! On our way home we were told to only leave 40 mins before our train left but THIS IS A LIE! The queue for customs was so long and we only just made our train so I would recommend heading to the station with at least an hour to spare

Hotel – We stayed in one of the new renovated rooms at the Disney Cheyenne hotel and, for the price we payed, I think it was lovely. Our room had an ensuite, with a shower and a bath, and 2 large double beds. It had air conditioning, heating and a large tv that played endless repeats of Thats So Raven so I really couldn’t complain. The hotel had a gift shop, a Starbucks, a bar and a buffet restaurant which we didn’t actually end up trying but it looked perfectly nice. It was a 10/15 minute walk from the parks or a 3 minute bus ride. I can imagine in peak season the buses would get very crowded and you may have to end up waiting around for one but seeing as the park was at its emptiest we never had to wait longer than 5 minutes for one. I really like the Cheyenne hotels wild west/toy story theme and would 100% stay there again!

Food – I was most worried about the food and how much it was going to cost me to simply not starve but I ended up being pleasantly surprised. Our hotel offered a buffet breakfast for a rather large cost so instead we chose to just go to Starbucks in the morning and grab a cup of tea and a croissant which turned out to be much more cost effective (and yummier I can imagine). Seeing as we didn’t have a weight limit on the Eurostar we stocked our bags up with lots of snacky foods like breakfast bars and biscuits to keep us going throughout the day. For lunches and diners we tended to opt for the quick service restaurants in which you could get a main (like a burger or hot dog), a side, a desert and a drink for around €15, if you chose off the set menu, which I thought was pretty reasonable and they were decent sized servings. Although food was the thing we spent the most on it wasn’t as extortionate as I had feared and there was definitely a great variety. I would highly recommend the chicken fajitas at the quick service restaurant opposite Big Thunder Mountain! Disney do offer meal plans but seeing as I didn’t use on I don’t feel like I know enough to comment on them but I will say that I didn’t leave wishing that I had got one.

Rides – As previously mentioned we got quite lucky with wait times and also took good advantage of the fast pass system that Disney offers. The biggest problem we faced however was rides closing down. We got to the front of the queue of Pirates of the Caribbean to have it shut down and I couldn’t ride Space Mountain until the last day as it always seemed to be closed. It was frustrating but in the end we did get to ride everything we wanted! The last time I went to Disney I was around 10 and lots of the rides hadn’t changed at all since then but in a way I think that just adds to the sentimental value of Disney for me. My top ride recommendations would be Buzz Lightyears Laser Blast, Big Thunder Mountain, Ratatouille and It’s a Small World simply for how bizarre it is. The only ride I would question would be Crush’s Coaster, it was fun but over very quickly considering we queued the longest for it out of any of the rides.

Souvenirs – Everywhere you turn you will see a gift shop and if you like Stitch then you are definitely in for a treat because he seemed to be everywhere! Even though there were lots of different shops I felt they all seemed to sell the same thing and Disney had clearly singled out a few films to focus their merch on. The most noticeable difference for me since the last time I went was just how much Star Wars stuff there was, it was everywhere! Just like the food I wasn’t as shocked by the prices of most things as I thought I would be but €5 for a pencil….come on now Disney. I ended up picking some pins and t-shirts to take home and am very impressed with the quality of them so although this sounds like I am ripping into the souvenirs I am not, I do think there are some great things you might just have to push past the racks of overpriced stationary to find them.

IMG_1862.JPGTop tips – Here are a few tips that I wish I had known before going on my trip to Disneyland Paris….

  1. Invest in the Photopass! Even though it was quite pricey (at around £40 I think) we will be forever laughing at some of the photos we got from the rides and are definitely great memories to treasure!
  2. Don’t feel like you can’t take some time to chill! You have spent a lot of money and want to get the full bang for your buck I know but we found that going back to the hotel for a couple of hours in the afternoon for a rest made our whole experience more enjoyable.
  3. Get a lanyard with a plastic card wallet on. I ended up buying one from the park for about €10 but it made it so much easier having our park tickets, hotel key, fast passes etc all in one place. Plus it was a great way to show off all those new pins!
  4. If there is a ride you really want to go on but the queues are too long, wait till when the parade is on then I guarantee the lines will be a lot shorter.
  5. Use a blank white photo frame to get signatures from characters then when you’re home you can add in one of your favourite photos and have all of the memories of the people you met shown off around it.
  6. Bring layers for the evening. If you’re planning on staying till the fireworks then keep an extra layer in your bag, especially if you’re going in the winter months, because you won’t enjoy the fireworks if you feel like a human ice cream.
  7. Secure a good spot for the parade early because there is nothing more annoying than having a 6ft 4 dad with a kid on his shoulders in front of you when you’re just trying to wave to Pluto from his float.
  8. If you’re meeting characters take videos as well as photos, you can get good stills from them and it’s also a great way to look back on the moment.
  9. The minnie mouse ears that Disney sells are made for kids heads so, I found them to be at least, very tight and very uncomfortable. Look into some pairs on Etsy before your trip, I got my Winnie the Pooh ones here and I love them. Plus it is a great way to connect with your favourite character if you’re wearing ears that represent them.
  10. Enjoy every moment of it because it honestly will be one of the most magical trip you go on no matter what age you are!

Go and grab another cuppa on me, Em x

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NYC in 4 days

In March I was lucky enough to go to New York for 4 days with my university! It was an amazing time but I have never done so much walking and sightseeing in my life. I will do my best to summarise everything I got up to in those 4 days and give you my suggestions of my favourite things to do in the Big Apple!

We arrived late on the Wednesday afternoon (after a 3 hour wait in passport control) so we literally just checked in to the Westside YMCA, got a McDonalds and went to bed! For that reason I am starting this from Thursday

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After a free breakfast from Johns Diner we headed over to the High Line Walk. It’s a path that follows an old railway line and goes through the Lower West side of Manhattan ending up at the Whitney Museum. I think if you went in the summer it would be beautiful with all the plants but unfortunately when I was there it was all a bit dried up! After this we went for lunch at the Chelsea Market which you have to go to, the choice of food and the atmosphere was incredible. We explored Greenwich Village and, one of the highlights of the trip, visited DO the Cookie Dough shop which is a must go for sweet toothers like me! Once we were all on a bit of a sugar high we walked up 5th Avenue, going past iconic buildings like the Empire State Building and the Flat Iron as well as popping into some shops. To finish off this day we watched the sunset and all the city lights switch on at the top of the Rockefeller building (known as Top of the Rock) which I couldn’t recommend enough, you should definitely book it here if you’ve got a trip planned!

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When I say it rained from the moment I woke up to the moment I got back into bed I am not joking, it was pretty grim. BUT we still tried to make the most of the day. We spent the morning exploring MOMA (Museum of Modern Art) which has loads of beautiful classics such as Starry Night by Van Gogh as well as new, quirky modern pieces. Afterwards we chose to brave the downpour and head to Time Square, which was actually pretty amazing in the rain as all the lights reflected off the puddles. We wanted to visit the Cooper Hewitt museum but had loads of issues with the subway and the buses so we decided to do another NYC must-do and get a classic yellow cab there. The Cooper Hewitt museum had a really cool room in which you could draw patterns that would be projected onto the walls like wallpaper but unfortunately we went at a time when they were refurbishing a lot of exhibitions so there wasn’t really much else to see. Now when I say we got soaked on the walk home across Central Park I mean my coat went about 50 shades darker and you could literally ring out my backpack. Due to this we decided to have a night in the hostel and ordered a Pizza that was about the size of manhole cover but unbelievably delicious.

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Thankfully the rain decided to stop but the temperature did drop to near freezing (NYC seems to have every kind of weather possible in the space of a few days!). We wrapped up warm and jumped on the subway over to Brooklyn. Once there we basically turned back on ourselves and walked back into Manhattan over the Brooklyn Bridge, which had some incredible views of the new World Trade Centre (just to add this in here I had previously visited the 9/11 memorial on my last trip to NYC and I would 100000% recommend for you to go and see it we just couldn’t fit it in on this trip). From there we explored China Town, Little Italy and Soho, which has some unbelievable shops, till we ended up at the famous Katz Deli. Now if you want proper authentic feeling American dining this is the place to go, the sandwiches were pretty much the size of my head and tasted absolutely unbelievable. It’s also where loads of famous scenes are filmed like the one in Harry met Sally where Sally, lets just say, gets very very excited. To finish of the day we headed down to Wall Street and got the ferry across to Staten Island to see the Statue of Liberty. Although this ferry doesn’t take you directly to the lady herself it’s free and you do get a very good view of her.

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This was our last day in NYC and we were blessed with gorgeous sunshine! We only really had the morning before we had to head off to catch the long flight back to London so we decided to spend it in Central Park. We climbed the rocks, watched some baseball, visited Strawberry Fields and soaked up the sun eating a giant pretzel. The highlight of the day, and the park, though was taking a row boat out across the lake. The views were beautiful and it was just downright fun! Seeing as passport control was such a faff on the day we arrived we had to head to the airport quite early in order to ensure we made our flight okay so all we really did after that was kill time in JMF sitting in McDonalds!

And that was the end of that! We managed to fit so much into every day and I really feel like we got the real NYC experience! Have you been to NYC before? What were your favourite places to go?

Go and grab another cuppa on me, Em x

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Tenerife holiday outfits 

For the past 5 days I have been lucky enough to be chasing the sun in Tenerife. Although I am far from a fashionista I’ve always had a love for clothes and particularly summer trends. I thought I’d share some of my holiday outfits I wore, maybe for inspiration or maybe just so you can all get a good laugh at my tan lines! (Btw you can tell as the week goes on because I turn a darker shade of red by the day)

Pool day 


This is my go to outfit for a day by the pool, the swimming costume from New Look is incredibly flattering and it’s dark colour helps attract the sun for a good tan. The maxi skirt is from BooHoo and is perfect to slip on when jumping from the pool to the bar. The shoes (which you will be seeing a lot of) are from Marks and Spencer’s

Sightseeing day 


On days where I’m out and about exploring a town, doing some shopping or enjoying some good old sightseeing I like to be comfy but not feeling slouchy. I adore this top from BooHoo and when paired with these New Look shorts I think it makes it look like I’ve made an effort but really it’s a very simple outfit. This bag, also from New Look (bet you can guess my favourite shop now), is the perfect size to fit all holiday essentials but not be too bulky. Personally I find these shoes really comfortable and they keep my feet cool but if you’re going for a long day of walking then they can be substituted out for some converse etc

Beach day 


I have a love/hate relationship with the beach. I adore the sound of the sea but I always seem to get unbelievably burnt whenever I step foot on the sand. For that exact reason I always like to have an option to cover up when I’m at the beach and this maxi skirt and top co-ord from BooHoo is ideal. It’s floaty and light but can protect me from the sun when I start to become a human tomato

Travel day 


When traveling the most important thing is comfort. I always find, particularly on planes, I get really hot so I always try to wear an outfit that will keep me cool. I chose this skirt from New Look and then just placed some cycling shorts underneath so I could cosy up on the plane and not have to worry about flashing anyone! My top is also from New Look and most likely I will pair this with a jacket for any cooler areas that I end up in

Evening


Going out in the evenings was a good chance to dress up a little bit. My sunglasses, that have appeared throughout, are from Accessorize and I would definitely recommend as they are cheap enough that it isn’t the end of the world if you lose them but they’re good enough quality to actually protect you from the sun. By this point I’m sure you can guess that the playsuit is from New Look, it’s flattering, pretty and comfortable and could work in a club or at a nice restaurant

So that’s it, I’m sorry for the long post but even if you just scrolled down to see the pictures (which lets be honest we have all done at some point) I hope you enjoyed it. I am thinking of doing a post about recommendations of what to do in Tenerife if that’s something you would be interested in but until then…

Go and grab another cuppa on me, Em x

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Disney first-time bucket list

bucket listI would be lying to you if I said I have never been lucky enough to go to Disney World but what I will say is I have never wanted to go back so much in my life. Last time I went I was around 9 years old and even though I enjoyed it I don’t feel like I got the fullest Disney experience out of it. I may have gained a slight obsession with Disneyland since then and through countless blogs and vlogs have realised that there are so many aspects to it other than just the rides and meet-and-greets (even though they are still just as important). Therefore in preparation for the next time I am lucky enough to visit I have put together a list of all the must do things when in Disneyworld…

  1. TAKE A PHOTO IN FRONT OF ONE OF THE ICONIC LANDMARKS Disneyworld is made up of 4 main parks (Epcot, Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios) which are hard to do all in one day so wherever you are take a photo in front of one of the main landmarks like Cinderella’s castle or the tree of life
  2. MEET A DISNEY PRINCESS Whichever princess you have decided is your favourite (mine is Rapunzel) try and get a photo with them! If you’re not a princess person that don’t be put off just trade out princess for whoever your favourite character may be.
  3. GO TO A CHARACTER MEAL This one I realise is quite an expensive option and often has to be booked in advance but what better way to interact and take photos with your favourite characters than over a delicious meal! Personally I want to go to The Crystal Palace to have breakfast with Winnie the Pooh and friends.
  4. TRADE A PIN Now pin trading is something that I didn’t even know existed last time I went to the park and in a way I can see why as some pins reach up to $60 when bought in the park. It is still however something that I really want to take part in and I think will be a great memory so an insider tip I have learnt is to go to your local disney store and buy a few pins from there initially that are cheaper and you can then trade when you’re in the park with other visitors and park employees.
  5. WATCH A SHOW OR THE FIREWORKS I think this one may be the most important for me as Disney is renowned for putting on a good show. Some of the most highly recommended were the Welcome Show, Fantasmic and the fireworks at either Epcot or the Magic Kingdom.
  6. TRY SOME EXCLUSIVE DISNEY TREATS This one all depends on your taste but I have heard that a dole whip is something you have to try! If you want to stay closer to your comfort zone why not try a tasty treat in the shape of Mickey mouse like a waffle.
  7. WATCH A PARADE This one speaks for itself really but what better way to see all of your favourite characters than have them float past you to the beat of a good-old Disney tune.
  8. RIDE IT’S A SMALL WORLD This one may just be on here for nostalgic reasons as I remember dragging my Grandma repeatedly on this ride but I think it has just become a classic part of Disneyworld!
  9. WATCH A MOVIE UNDER THE STARS I was debating wether or not to put this one in as I don’t think it is considered as one of the must-dos in Disneyworld. BUT the key reason why I imagine you want to go to Disneyworld is because you fell in love with the Disney films so what better to remind you of that than to watch a classic under the stars in the place where all the magic really does come to life.
  10. TAKE A FUNNY PHOTO ON A RIDE Whether you’re a thrill seeker and wants to take on the mighty Space Mountain or battling it out on Buzz Lightyear be sure to pull a funny pose for the camera to keep as a memory of your time there.

 

One last suggestion I have (that isn’t really a thing to do but more a thing to get) is to invest in the memory maker, all of your photos throughout your time at the park will be sent to you digitally which means you can enjoy your time completely knowing that all of your photos are taken care of.

Although it may be impossible to do all of these things in one visit it just gives you more of a reason to go back when you can

Let me know if you would like another one of these for each of the other Disney Parks 🙂

Go and grab another cuppa on me, Em x

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