Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Wekend Away: Pickering

This weekend I visited Pickering in the North of England. It is a small country village near Scarborough. 

My boyfriend and I arrived in Pickering before our check-in time so we wandered down to the main street which was full of local shops many selling antiques and collectables and then various local business such as butchers and cafes. At this point, after being roasting hot and sunny during our whole drive north it decided to chuck it down! So we had to hide in some shops for a while before heading back to check in.

We rented a cottage in the centre of Pickering called Bramblewood cottage, it was a gorgeous stereotypical quaint English cottage with lots of interesting features like little windows and cubby holes but also had all modern features including a huge shower and a beautiful garden.

After power naps on the sofa we headed out for the evening and worked our way down the pubs on the high street, due to Pickering being so small we found it difficult to find a place to eat as everywhere was fully booked. However, we then stumbled across an Indian restaurant called Cilantro and had an amazing meal! The food was great and we ordered way too much which meant we ended up coming home with a doggy bag. I had a chicken and chickpea curry in a tomato sauce which was great but along with our rice, sides, nann bread and starters I couldn't finish it. The great thing about Pickering being so small is that it is only a few minutes walk from anywhere in the village to our cottage.

On our second day we headed to Scarborough the closest beach to our cottage, the day started out scorching hot again so once we found parking we headed to the sea front and walked along the promenade. This included stopping at a fudge shop which had all kinds of flavours in the end we settled on, Mint Chocolate Chip, Oreo Vanilla and Mango. The fudge was disappointing not quite the melt in your mouth fudge you can get but it was ok. However, no one apart from me liked it at all so I've been working my way through all 3 bars since! We then carried on along to the pier where we sat and took in the beautiful view on the pier!

The big attraction in Scarborough apart from the beach is the castle. Which like all castles is on the top of a hill so we started our climb up many many steps to reach it. As you can see from these photos the view from the top is pretty amazing!

After the castle we headed down the hill to a fish and chip shop which is a British seaside classic and we had an amazing lunch. The cod was great covered in thick crispy batter. I really wish i'd taken a picture to show you how good it was. Before heading back to our cottage we wandered to the beach and sat on the sand for a while which resulted in us getting a bit sandy and wet as we didn't go prepared with towels but it was all good fun as well as getting to stroke the cutest donkey called Marvin who was there to give children rides.

The sun and walking had tired us out so we headed back and ended up having a nap before eating dinner in the cottage and getting ready to head out to one of the pubs we had visited the night before which was holding a quiz. We had a few drinks and did the quiz which which somehow managed to win getting 32/40 questions right! It was a great end to our weekend.

For anyone looking for a quiet weekend away Pickering will be perfect for you!

Do you have any trips planned? Tell me in the comments!
I'm off to Berlin on Friday 

Monday, 29 May 2017

Tips & Tricks: What to pack for a weekend break

This weekend i'm going away to a cottage in Pickering. My aim is to pack light which is definitely helped by the beautiful weather we're having in the UK right now. However I am awful at taking far far to much stuff so here is a list of what i'm taking. I don't think it's too bad for 3 days

-  T-shirt to sleep in
- long sleeved body suit for the evenings
- Flower vest top for day/ evening
- Aztec vest for the beach.
- Jumper - because you never know with British weather

- Black Denim Shirts
- Blue ripped Jeans (this may change to black jeans)
- Black cotton shorts for the beach
- Blue PJ shorts

- Underwear
- Socks
- Belt
- 2 x bikini top, 1 x bikini bottom
- Sandels
- Nike trainers

- Make-up
- Straighteners
- Hair Brush
- Dry Shampoo
- Deodorant
- Shoulder bag
- Book
- Sunglasses
- Toothbrush
- Face wash
- Make-up wipes
- Book

What would you pack for a weekend away? Is this too much or too little?

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Grand Canyon National Park

As far as the Grand Canyon goes I think I could just put pictures here and nothing else and my point would still be proven! It is stunning, every direction you look there is something beautiful to see. However, I will try and do justice to my experience here with words as well as photos!

I went to the Grand Canyon as part of a partnership with intrepid travel. I was lucky enough to be taken along on one of their Wild West tours and you can read all about my adventures on it in my blog, but this one is for the Grand Canyon. The first day we arrived in the park we headed straight to our camp site, we where in Mathers camp ground. After pitching our tents half the group left to go for a helicopter tour while the rest of us explored the south rim. The first time you see over the edge your breath is taken away, it is so vast and beyond what you can imagine.

Now there is a marked path, however you are able to go beyond this out onto the ledges at your own risk which I did although I urge caution if you visit and do this. As you can see it is just incredible the sky meets the ground uninterrupted and really shows how incredibly huge the Grand Canyon is.

That night out tour leader Izzy collected pizza for us and drove us to a view point to watch the sun go down. This was an amazing experience the Canyon was lit up with golden light showing us everything and provided us with some amazing photo opportunities.

We then headed back to the camp site for a early night as we would be getting up before the sun the next day for our hike! As you can imagine it is very hot at the Grand Canyon, it is a dessert and due to the Canyon itself trapping heat the further down you go the warmer it gets. Temperatures at the bottom of the Canyon can be up to 20 degree celsius higher than on the rim! Therefore we set of at 6am to the head of the Kaibab trail to beat the heat. We used the parks bus service to get to the trail head. 

We where going to be hiking to Skeleton Point which is over 2,000ft down into the Canyon. Unlike some trails the one did not have any water points meaning we had to go prepared with all our water and food. There are 2 check points along the way which provided amazing photo opportunities. The important thing about the trail is to know your limits which is why 2 girls turned back at the first check point while 2 of us carried on. 

We arrive at Skeleton point around 8am an hour and a half after setting off and as you can see from these photos the views are amazing! We stopped for 'lunch' or breakfast however you want to put it and took in the beautiful scenery. The temperature was already soaring at this point and with no shade in the Canyon theres no escaping it. 

Hiking back up the Canyon was a lot less pleasant experience than going down, the way back up is brutal. You don't realise how steep and winding the trail is on the way down but after only a few minutes of climbing our legs where burning. It took us 2 and a half hours to get back up with many more breaks. At points it was a grit your teeth and power through situation as stopping then starting again was worse than carrying on! However, when we did eventually reach the top, and the sense of achievement was amazing! When we realised we'd hike over 4,000ft in total and looked back at the trail it was amazing! It was also great to head back firstly to the village shop for ice cream, and then to camp for showers! 

The rest of the day consisted of relaxing at camp until the whole group had made their way back and then another trip to the rim for our last view of the Canyon. Here we sat as a group taking it all in and getting out last photos.

We headed out early the next morning, but not before stopping at the south entrance for our picture with the Grand Canyon sign doing our best elk impressions. 

Have you visited the Grand Canyon or would you like too? Let me know in the comments what you think!

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Yosemite National Park

I visited Yosemite as part of my sponsored trip with Intrepid Travel. It's somewhere I wouldn't have ever thought to go by myself but it was part of the trip package that I picked which was the Wild Western and you have no idea how glad I am to have visited this place!. 

Yosemite was the 2nd to last place we visited after Las Vegas and Before San Fransisco. Being book-ended by such iconic cities it definitely feels like it would be easy for Yosemite to get over shadowed but for me it definitely held it's own.

Yosemite is a huge place so our very first day was taken up by the initial drive into the park to the trail with the Wawona tree. This is the famous tree that you can drive through! Look at this picture I took of it

 Next we made our way to Tenaya Lake. This is a stunning place as you can see from the picture below. Unfortunately, it was freezing! But this didn't stop us from getting into swim suits and running into the lake. We definitely weren't going to let the weather stop us from saying we swam in a lake at Yosemite. We ate lunch at the lake before getting back in the van so our tour leader Drew could drive us to his favourite place in the park. This meant another long drive through the parks twisting roads which provided us with some spectacular views!

This special place we where being taken too was Tunnel View and it is an iconic view point. For any of you with an Apple Mac you may recognise this place as the default background of the mountains with the sun set reflecting onto the rock? if not you can google it to see exactly which image I mean. I got some of my favourite pictures from my whole 4 months in America at Tunnel view it is just so incredible as you can see from the pictures below!

We then drove to our camp ground where we would be staying for 2 nights. This is where Yosemite showed us how harsh it can be. I was there in early September and the temperature at night was way below freezing. We slept 4 to a 2 person tent to try and share body heat because it was that cold. We slept in multiple layers as well as stuffing our sleeping bags with clothes as insulation. So be warned, make sure you are prepared for the weather.

On our second day everyone was up early for our tour leader to drive us to the tourist centre so we could all choose our hiking routs, as me and a fellow traveller Rachel had already decided we wanted to do the Mist trail up past Vernal Falls to Nevada Falls we stayed in the van to be dropped at the village square closer to the trail. Luckily day time temperatures in Yosemite are a lot kinder as you can see from the image below, definitely t-shirt and short weather for hiking!

The trail itself was amazing so many beautiful sights first the 2 waterfalls are incredible and you are able to hike right to the top of both and look over the edge. There was no better feeling that turning a corner and seeing the water cascading over the top and then no worse feeling than looking up and thinking oh no we've got to get to the top of that as you might be able to see from the image on the right below! The hike was very challenging partly due to the uneven surfaces meaning we often had to scramble up steep inclines on hands and knees, as well as tackle huge 'steps' made out of massive blocks of stone. The last mile or so up to Nevada falls was especially brutal as you zig zag up the side of the mountain and feel like you're getting no where. 

However the views from the top are spectacular as you can see from this photo!

After we finished our hike we headed back to the Village Square to relax before meeting with our group to get dinner, we opted for pizza! It was then back to camp for an early night before heading out for San Fransisco the next morning

Have you been to Yosemite? If you have what did you think of it? Or if you've not would you like to? 

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Want to save money on travel? Nectar points are the answer...

I’m sure many British travellers, and others around the world will be like me, jealous of Americans being able to collect frequent flyer miles and eventually building up enough points to get free flights! How amazing does that sound free flight just by going on flights you’d be taking anyway.

Unfortunately, we don’t have this in the UK. However, there is an alternative, and it’s the Nectar card. Many of you will know about this. You go to Sainsbury’s do you shopping, get 2 points for every £1 you spend and then get those points off subsequent shops. But, did you know that there are a variety of other places you can earn points and spend them. Including EasyJet flights as well as flights, hotels & activities booked with Expedia! So below I have complied a list of where, when and how you can collect and spend points to help everyone out with getting those cheaper travel deals

Collect 1 for every £1 spent
Every 500 points = £2.50 off your flight 
Example 10,000 points could currently get you a return flight to Malaga, Alicante, Valencia, Copenhagen, Milan, Venice and many more places. 

Booking a package holiday will get you 1000 points, flights will earn 200, hotels are also worth 200 and so are car rentals.  
500 points = £2.50 (minimum exchange of 2000 which is £10) 
Example 10,000 can get you 3 nights in the Historic Budapest Apartments with you only having to pay £1 (£17 per night = £51) 

They are the only 2 travel companies involved in nectar card points but there are many other ways you can earn
For charitable people Oxfam offer points, they will send you tags that you attach to the items you donate for every pound the item sells for you will earn 2 points as well as 100 point bonus for signing up. Find out more here:

There is the most popular option of 2 points for every pound you spend in Sainsburys

Nectar Toolbar
For quick easy points download the nectar card toolbar. You will collect 100 points just for downloading and the 1 point for every 2 searches up to 100 points a month. Download it here:

You can also collect with train lines when you buy tickets including these 4:
·         First Capital Connect
·         First Great Western
·         First TransPennine Express
·         First Hull Trains
You can collect points on Ebay and there is currently a 100 point bonus just for linking your card to your Ebay account. You can then collect 1 point for every £1 you spend

There are so many other options too such as Asos, CafĂ© Nero, Shipping with DHL, BP fuel and there are also regular bonuses which you can find out about here:

For a completely free card you can earn so much in so many different places so it seems like a no brainer to me that you sign up and start collecting now!

Leave me a comment and tell me what you think of Nectar cars or do you use another scheme for collecting points?

Monday, 8 May 2017

Bye Bye Budapest, Hello Berlin

Firstly what are we thinking of the new graphic??? Do we like it?

Some of you may have seen that I had a trip to Budapest booked, unfortunately I made a mistake that I should have known better than to make. Flights where £41 when I originally looked. When I went back a few days later they where up in the £90's and know they are over £130.

Flights can be expensive and I don't mind paying for them but after seeing them so cheap originally I didn't now want to pay that much. So I had a rethink. If any of you have used Skyscanner you might know about a handy little feature they have where you can put in your dates, the airport you want to leave from and then search everywhere and they will show you the cheapest flights available for those days.

So the research for a new city started, I live near East Midlands Airport and my boyfriend lives in London giving us Luton, Stanstead and Heathrow to pick from. We are also slightly flexible on dates by a few days either way, so I started searching! There was some great deals such a Luxembourg for £19 return, but we didn't want to go somewhere just because it's cheap. My boyfriend has never travelled before apart from a cycling trip through France when he finished high school, so I wanted to make sure we are going to a city that will hopefully help give him the travel bug.

The trick was finding somewhere that not only had cheap flight but also reasonable accommodations, when i'm by myself I always go for a hostel, partly for the price and partly because when you're alone it's so much easier to meet people in a hostel where as a hotel you are by yourself. However for our first trip away together I want it to be nice and bunk beds was not appealing to me.

Using Skyscanner I found lots of cheap flights and was interested in Paris and Dublin however even the most basic hotels where far outside our budget. Then I saw Berlin flights, they where slightly more expensive at £50 return, but that's not crazy and the difference is the hotel prices! Being a budget traveller I went and found the cheapest one an Ibis 0.9 mile from the city centre for £67 per night, my boyfriend however said he'd like a little bit more luxury!

As we don't see each other that often (he is in his final year of university and I work (9 - 5 in a different city) finding somewhere we both wanted was a bit tricky, so on the phone we both got Trivago up and looked at places together eventually deciding on the Fjord Hotel, 0.8 miles from the city centre £263 for 3 nights. Making it £130ish each or £43 each per night.

So therefore no more Budapest but Berlin instead! Budapest will happen at some point when the crazy flight prices come down!

Now I need your help! Recommendations for Berlin obviously I know about Check Point Charlie, the jewish museum, the Reinstag etc... and plan on a walking tour at some point but I need other suggestions too for fun maybe slightly different things to do as well as bars and club!

Comment below with you ideas

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

My Top 5 places in Europe ✈️

In my last blog post I detailed my top 5 places in America so I thought I should do my top 5 in Europe as well. As with the 5 in my other blog post these aren't in any particular order they are all amazing for different reasons therefore can't be ordered!

1. Budapest - Hungary 
You may have already seen my post about planning my second trip to Budapest for the beginning of June and there is obviously a reason I want to go back! Budapest for starters is cheap, so so cheap I remember being amazing at how little drinks cost and for those of you that do drink alcohol you'll know that this adds massive expense to any trip. Just one night out can blow the budget for a whole city in some places where as Budapests ruin bars won't do that to you. They are also far more interesting than your average bar with so much to explore, weird art features, open courtyards, multiple levels etc... You're on for a great night in a ruin bar. Budapest is also famous for their baths which will live up to expectations this was probably the most expensive thing on my trip costing €15 euros but well worth it for the heated pools. I went to the Szechenyi  baths. If you have a bigger budget theres also the Spartys, which are massive parties held in the baths every Saturday but tickets are €50+.  Locals also go here meaning you can integrate with the culture far more than in some areas. Apart from that theres the house of terror museum, undercover market, various free walking tours, the castle, shoes on the Danube and much more to see here! 

1. Szechenyi Baths 2. Falafel 3. Parliament from the Danube 4. Cathedral

2. Barcelona - Spain

After spending 4 days in Lloret De Mar which is famous for it's parties and definitely lives up to this me and my friends wanted a relaxed few days and Barcelona delivered.  There is so much to see in Barcelona and unfortunately I only had 1 and 1/2 days here and the first day was spent sleeping to catch up on what we missed however we did sample some amazing food for lunch and dinner and for such a major city we didn't pay much around €15 per meal and one of those was n Las Rambles the main tourist road where prices are highest. As with most major cities there are lots of activities including free walking tours which I found great so so informative and captivating, the history of Barcelona is incredible! Of course when talking about Barcelona I have to mention the beach which is gorgeous the only down side os the amount of beach sellers meaning it can be hard to relax when you're being asked to have a massage, or henna or a mojito ever 2 minutes but unlike in a lot of places they weren't pushy and moved on quickly. Unfortunately I didn't have much time in Barcelona so will definitely be going back but it made a good impression very quickly.

1. Barcelona Beach 2. Las Rambles Dinner 3 - 4 Free Walking Tour 

3. Crete - Greece

Crete will always hold a place in my heart, I visited this island many time with my family growing up staying in an area called Stalis and later visited Malia with friends which is the party area of the island. My sister also lived on the island for 3 summers in a row working which is what encouraged my family to visit. Its just such a beautiful place, being an island you are never far from a beach and you can see form one side of the island to another from the beaches! There something for everyone here and its only a short bus ride to get from one area, and they are not your typical public transport buses. They are air conditioned coaches and last time I was there only €2 per person. This means you can go from secluded relaxed pool time in Stalis to crazy paint parties in Malia to the markets in Heraklion in no time. You also can't beat the people they are beyond friendly, most of the bars and restaurants in Stalis are family owned and they work so hard to accommodate and ensure you're having the best time this included free bread, and i mean free not we'll put it on the table and then add it to the bill later. Unfortunately I don't have any photos of my own from Crete that I can find so I have included the one below and as you can see it is just stunning! However it is now a very large tourist destination so be prepared for either relaxed pool holiday or part holiday compared to a cultural experience. 

4. Krakow - Poland
Krakow is somewhere I never would have thought to have visited but it happened to be on the one and only Contiki that I did. To start with Krakow is so close to Auschwitz that its the perfect city base  to go to if you want to visit this site which I feel is a must for most people. Apart from that though Krakow has some amazing things of it's own to offer, when I was there I spent the morning exploring the city including going to the castle and Bagel Mama the for the best bagel sandwich I've ever had! I also visited the uncover market in the main square. The square has a beautiful church, carriage rides and is surrounded by side streets full of shops, cafes and restaurants. While here I also went on a trip to the salt mines, it's a little way out so you need to have a car or go on a organised tour. The mines while slightly strange (lots of weird rooms and installations) was also amazing especially one section where it's pitch black and they use lights to show you the depth. The mine is definitely worth a visit if you're there. I also had the chance to go to a Perogi making evening where we got to make our own Perogi and try some made by a proffessional. The night life in Krakow is great as well, as with Budapest it's very cheap with lots of bars and clubs to go to! I think Krakow is on my list because it surprised me, I wasn't excited to go here in particular so it really surprised me how much fun I had here!

1. Krakow Castle 2. Perogi Making Dinner 3. Bagel Mama 4. Club

5. Lake Bled - Italy 

Unfortunately I only got to spend a few hours at Lake Bled on my way to Venice, but it was honestly one of the most beautiful places i've been. Such stunning views across the lake with a fairy tale castle on the hill opposite and crystal clear waters. There's also the famous Bled cake that is a must have for anyone visiting just to say you've had it. Its a sort of sponge cake with cream. Also if you're into fishing like one of my fellow travellers Eli theres loads of interesting fish to see (although i'd say catch and release like he did so save the fishes) I feel that I don't really have much to say about Lake bBled it's beauty really speaks for itself and whether you go for a quick pit stop like me or whether you stay in the area its just too beautiful not to visit if you're in Italy and is the perfect place to relax and recharge. 

1 - 4 Lake Bled

Whats your favourite place in Europe? Tell me in the comments!