The reality of living in London.

I’ve been wanting to write about the reality of living in London ever since moving back here after travelling in 2012 – 2013. The reality of it, versus the perceived reality that you may have if you’ve never lived here. But before I start – I should point out: I LOVE London.

I may be slagging her off a bit here, but it’s like we’re old friends, London and I. I can say she has awful weather – and she can insult my taste in trashy TV. It’s OK. She knows there is no where else in the UK I would settle down. London has everything I need.

1. You will never, ever get a seat on the Northern Line in rush hour. Unless you live in Morden.  

In Balham, I never get a seat. Never.

So give up that hope you have right now. Rush hour is for standing.

And don’t even get me started on people who don’t move down inside the carriage.

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2. You think you’ll spend weekend meandering around central London – but you won’t. So choose a borough you love to live in. 

Sometimes Pad and I wake up on the weekend with the best intentions. We make elaborate Saturday plans whilst still under our duvet, about weekends in Zone 1, where we get all cultured and visit somewhere momentous. But then we get up, and decide, actually, to just nip down the road to the pub. Or go to Balham’s farmers market. Or take a walk to the local park. I kind of like it that way though.

Truth is – living in London is just like living anywhere else. You won’t always want to get on the tube to central London. Sometimes you just want to mill around Zone 2 or 3 like a local with other people just as lazy as you.

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3. THE CINEMA COSTS SO MUCH MONEY. 

Want to watch a movie?

That’s fine – there are loads of cinemas in central London. Just be prepared to travel to zone three (ish) if you want to pay anywhere near normal prices. Where I grew up it was £3.50 for a cinema ticket. In London I’m lucky if I can grab a ticket for under £13. And don’t even think about watching something in 3D. ARE YOU CRAZY?

4. You never know true horror – until you’ve flat hunted in London. It’s even more hellish if you’re flat hunting with a time constraint. 

Coming back from New Zealand, and dealing with the London property market again was an eye opener. I HATE FLAT HUNTING. I hate it even more than usual in London. It is a shark pool.

But, Yes, you will find that perfect flat, or room, eventually.

But…. No, it won’t still be around tomorrow when you’ve slept on the decision. If you like it – take it before the estate agent has had chance to shut the front door. Because otherwise (if it really is that good) someone else is going to snap it up.

When people say flat hunting in London is bad, they are being nice. When people say it is hell on earth, they are being truthful.

The boys doing a solid job of moving furniture.

The boys doing a solid job of moving furniture.

5. You won’t live on your own in a one-bed flat like Bridget Jones.

No one can afford to live in a one-bed flat on their own. Not really. Unless it’s a studio in zone 3. Maybe.

Instead, you’ll live in flat-shares. Until you find that wonderful person you want to be with – and then you’ll cram all your stuff into a one-bed flat until you both get promotions and can afford something a bit bigger.

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6. You think you’ll be home by 5.30pm.

You won’t. But it not necessarily a bad thing. What with after work drinks, or the gym, or that trip to the super market and all that nice stuff, you’ll be getting home around 7/8pm usually.

And even if you cut all those things out, and leave work at 5pm on the dot – did you factor in the commute? Because that’s at least another half hour ether side whether you like it or not.

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7. Black cabs are for the rich and the frivolous.

Unless you have a company credit card – I doubt you’re getting black cabs. Although saying that, there are a few smart apps out there that offer discount fares – like Uber.

But yes, taxis are a luxury. And aside from those exceptions, you’ll probably only get in one if you missed the last tube home, and you don’t know which night bus to get on.

Or if it’s really raining (like bad ass rain) and you just got your hair done. I’m totally guilty of that last example.

 8. You will want to cry every single time someone who lives outside of London tells you their rent. 

Because it’s like a slap in the face.

“YOU HAVE 3 BEDROOMS A GARDEN AND A UNICORN?! FOR £350 a MONTH!??!” That’s kind of how the conversation tends to go.

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9. Same goes for beers. And all alcoholic drinks in general. 

You go up North for a weekend. Beer is £2 a pint. Cocktails are only £3.

SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY.

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10. You think you’ll go on long jogs and wistful walks in Hyde Park. You won’t. 

You’ll live so far away from Hyde Park – it won’t even be an option that crosses your mind. Instead you’ll jog around your local common and do wistful walks to and from the tube station.

But of course, the good always out weighs the bad… 

– Most interesting and culturally diverse city in the UK

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– More career opportunities and exciting companies to work for than any other city in the UK

– Amazing history and beautiful buildings on every corner

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– So many incredible restaurants, you could literally eat out somewhere new every day for a year

Roast, Borough Market

Roast, Borough Market

– There is always something open (Sunday at 6pm? There is still somewhere you can buy tea!)

– More buses, trains and tubes than you can shake a stick at. There is no ‘every hour’ schedule here. It’s every 15 minutes at THE VERY MOST.

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– Theatre! So much theatre!

– Art! So much art!

– You’d struggle to find views better than the ones you can find here.

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– A different type of nightlife for every type of person and every mood.

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– Parks! So many parks! (Hyde Park, Richmond Park, Greenwich Park, Clapham Common, St James’ Park, Battersea Park – being my favourites)

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– Taxis might cost a lot – but at least there is always one nearby should you need it.

– Lots of Airports (so many, I don’t even know the exact number, but I think it’s 5/6) getting you pretty much where-ever you might need to be.

– There is always something happening, and something new to see and do.

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– When it’s sunny – it’s the best place on earth

What do you think of London? 🙂 

Did you like the photos featured in this blog post? Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram @TheWorldAndThenSome where I post lots more gorgeous photos from my travels!

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Hamilton Island – Everything you need to know before visiting

One of the most amazing places you could possibly wish to visit in Australia, is Hamilton Island. If luxury resorts, fine dining, incredible views and crystal clear water are all your kind of thing – then you’ll find all of those here, and then some.
hamilton island FAQs
Here you’ll find everything you need to know about Hamilton Island, from the best hotels to stop in, to the restaurants we’d recommend, and the best way of getting there. When we visited, we discovered one of the most beautiful places we’d ever been, and fell head over heels – I’m sure you will too.
 time to visit hamilton island
Hamilton Island is one of the Whitsunday Islands of Queensland, Australia. This beautiful paradise has mild temperatures year round but May to October are the most popular months for tourists. January sees the highest temperatures when the mercury hovers around 30 degrees Celsius during the day time. July is the coolest month when the highs are around 22 degrees. January to April can have quite a lot of rain.Getting to hamilton island
The only commercial airport serving the Whitsunday Islands is on Hamilton Island. There are regular flights to Brisbane, Sydney, Cairns and Melbourne, and some private planes and helicopters fly to the island as well (at a cost of course!).
A ferry service operates from Shute Harbour on mainland Australia, and there is secure car parking there for anyone leaving their car. If you’re driving, we’d recommend stopping at Airlie Beach and catching a quick ferry across to the island from there.

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Hamilton Island is a car-free zone so getting around is done on foot, by complimentary shuttle bus (the buses run 7am to 11pm) or by golf buggy. The island is relatively small, so it’s not difficult to walk from place to place – although hiring a golf buggy is probably much more fun!
hamilton island golf buggy
You’ll need to have a driving license to hire a buggy, and different sized buggies can be hired – depending on the size of your group. All golf buggies have a canopy for shade, headlights for night driving, and drink-holders for refreshments.
1 hour – $46
2 hours – $57
3 hours – $62
24 hours – $87
8.30am to 4.30pm – $72
Overnight 4.30pm to 8.30am – $57
If you’re hiring a gold buggy for more than one day (recommended if you’re stopping for a week or so) then you’ll be able to park up outside most hotels on the island, at various charge points specially for the buggy rentals. Easy!hamilton island
1. Take a helicopter over The Great Barrier Reef…. The Reef is the top attraction in these parts, and what better way to see this natural site than directly overhead? There are trips where you swoop over the reefs, then spend time snorkelling in the water before enjoying a tasty lunch. A trip like this costs roughly $440 per adult.2. Hire a kayak or standup paddle board…. Take the whole family out on the waters surrounding Hamilton Island and discover marine life together. $24 per hour with all equipment provided.
Hamilton island kayaking
3. Lay back on a catamaran trip to Whitehaven Beach… Spend an hour on the Coral Sea surrounding the Whitsunday Islands before landing on the pristine beaches for a spot of swimming. Expect to pay $129 per adult.

whitehaven beach hamilton island4. Cuddle a koala and watch a wallaby…. At Wild Life you will have the opportunity do get up close to some of Australia’s marsupials as well as some reptiles and birds. Entry is $20 for adults and $14.

5. Bushwalking afternoon…. There are some scenic trails to be explored on Hamilton Island with picnic tables scattered along the way. Depending on your fitness level, there are a easier trails and more strenuous ones all of which take in the local flora and fauna.

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6. Tee off in style…. The golf course here has its very own island with spectacular scenery to enjoy between swings. The course has 18 holes and is rated par 71.
golf on hamilton island
7. For all the family there’s nothing like a round of mini golf…. This particular course is near the Reef View Hotel and opens daily from 9am to 5.30pm. It costs $15 per adults and $7.50 per child.8. For a fun drive around Hamilton Island, hop on an off-roader…. These 4 X 4 vehicles take you over hills, down dirt tracks and across scrubland. Self-drivers need to show their licence and the tour costs $149 per vehicle.9. For high-speed fun on the sea try tubing, wake boarding or waterskiing…. The prices range from $30 per person to $140 depending on what you want to take part in.10. Go karting at Palm Valley Activities…. Hop behind the wheel in a single-person kart, or a double, and whiz around the track at up to 40km per hour. $49 per kart for 10 minutes.restaurants on hamilton island
1. Bommie restaurant sits at the number one spot on TripAdvisor with reviewers raving about the innovative food, the amazing marina location and the spectacular building. The menu features seasonal dishes and an extensive wine list. Open for dinner.2. Romano’s serves Italian food with the seafood pasta a particular favourite amongst diners. Steaks cooked to perfection and a choice of desserts are also on offer.

3. Beach Club restaurant has views over Catseye Beach. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner they serve high tea as well. Dishes like pan-seared duck and slow-cooked lamb are on the dinner menu.

4. For informal dining and keenly priced food, try the Marina Tavern. There is a laid-back vibe here which is perfect for families and friends.5. Coca Chu serves Asian cuisine with an Australian twist. Open 7 days a week for dinner.

6. The gourmet pizzas are the top pick at Manta Ray restaurant. There is also a selection of seafood and meat dishes on the menu.

7. Sails Steak and Seafood Grill has prime beef and fresh fish on its menu, alongside a list of tasty dishes like home-made sushi and pork meatballs.8. For fresh oysters, local prawns and a choice of fish, Mariners is the place to head. This restaurant looks over the harbour and is open 5 nights a week.

9. Wild Life Cafe can be found in the wildlife park and it is open for breakfast and lunch. At the weekend they offer a BBQ dinner Australian style.

10. To dine by the water at the Reef View Hotel, pull up a chair at the Pool Terrace restaurant. There are snacks, light bites, breakfast and dinner served here.

accomodation on hamilton island
1. The Qualia Resort was voted the best resort in the world in 2012 so accommodation doesn’t get much better than this. Infinity pools, private pavilion rooms, secluded balconies, a quality spa and impeccable service are all to be expected here as well as views over the Coral Sea.

luxury hamilton island
2. Reef View Hotel has large, spacious hotel bedrooms, a wide pool and a great location. Just opposite Catseye Beach it’s a short walk to entertainment and restaurants.3. If you’re looking for a break from the kids, The Beach Club resort is an adults only place offering peace and quiet for over 18s only. The luxury facilities include an infinity edge pool, a spa and free access to paddle boards, kayaks, windsurfers and a gym.4. Palm Bungalows have a kitchenette, private balcony and plenty of space. They are set in tropical gardens and it’s only a short walk to the beach and the resort pools.5. Just footsteps from the yacht club and right on the water’s edge, the Yacht Club Villas are luxurious holiday homes with high-end fixtures. Stay in one of these villas and you will have access to an exclusive pool and use of a golf buggy for the duration of your stay.
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There is a range of holiday homes where you can stay for a little less, although Hamilton Island accommodation is never going to be cheap. Because of the beauty of the island, and the remote, idyllic surroundings, you do pay premium to stop here. The homes range from small apartments to large 5-bedroom houses and are reasonably priced when shared between friends or families.
And finally – check out the map below for an easy navigation around the island!
hamilton-island-map
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The Best Romantic Things to do in London

I love London. I’ve lived here for almost 7 years now and I’m in love.

And, funnily enough, London is also a pretty awesome place to be in love. There are so many romantic things to do in London, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Here are a few of my favourites though…

Visit Greenwich Park at sunset

One of my favourite views in London and a little bit away from the centre of London – which makes it a nice little adventure to go on. It’ll take about 30 mins to get to Greenwich from a central hotel, and once you’re there the town has lots of shops to look around too, and loads of dining options as well. The Mexican place on the corner of the highstreet gets my personal vote.

romantic things to do in London

Row your boat on Hyde Park’s Serpentine

Follow in Bridget Jones’ footsteps and have fun on the Serpentine, OK so she wasn’t on the actual Serpentine in this clip – but you get the idea. Hey, if it’s good enough for Hollywood, it’s good enough for me.

Hire a private capsule on The London Eye

This is a more expensive thing to do – but if you’re wanting to sweep someone off their feet, this has to be one of the most romantic things to do in London. Imagine taking in all those gorgeous views in your own capsule…! Great place to pop the question too.

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Ride the Thames Clipper

Don’t fork out for an expensive private boat ride, instead get on the Thames Clipper – which during the weekdays is used by workers and commuters. At the weekend the boat tends to be pretty quiet and goes right along the river and past all the major attractions. There’s even some outdoor space at the back of the boat, for those all important romantic photos.

romantic things to do in london

Visit Chelsea market

If you want to do something a little more ‘local-inspired’ then head to Chelsea Market and browse their goodies on sale. There’s mainly food (and cake!) but you’ll also find flowers and preserves too. Yum! Suer romantic way to spend a sunny afternoon.

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Take a picnic on Hampstead Heath

You’ve seen Hampstead Heath in the movie Notting Hill no doubt, so you already know it’s one of the most romantic things to do in London. Located just outside of the centre, you’ll be treated to sprawling grassy lawns and beautiful views of the city centre in the distance. Beautiful!

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Book a private box at the theatre

The theatre is very romantic anyway -but it’s even better with a private box. Everything is better with a private box. Am I right?

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Share a kiss under Clapham Common Bandstand

One of my favourite spots in the city. I actually wanted to get married under this bandstand next year – but it turns out it’s not properly registered and licensed. So for now, I have to settle for kisses in the sunshine.

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Have late night drinks at The Whistling Shop

A hidden gem in Moorgate, this deceptively big bar is located in the basement of a random building down a random street (Google the name for directions). Downstairs the stairway is covered in candles, and there is table service and unbeatable cocktails. It feels like a cosy, romantic, candlelit hideaway. Perfect for a romantic evening.

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Have afternoon tea at Harrods

Afternoon tea in Harrods is super romantic. Get dressed up and treat yourselves. It’s definitely an occasion and a treat – which makes it all the more romantic and perfect for date night (or day).

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Go for cocktails at the top of The Shard (Aqua Shard)

Another one of my favourite views in the city, it’s not hard to see why this place made it onto my ‘romantic things to do in London’ list. You can see nearly all of London’s major landmarks from up here – and the bar is stylish, modern and breathtaking. No need to book if you’re just going for cocktails.

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Go see the multi-coloured houses in Notting Hill

Notting Hill is the filming location for one of history’s most romantic movies – so you definitely need to pay it a visit. The multi-coloured houses are simply gorgeous.

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Enjoy the view from The Royal Festival hall

Hidden away on the 3rd floor of The Royal Festival hall is a bar that’s open to the public. It’s reasonably priced, and the views are outstanding. There’s even an outdoor terrace (which is huge – so you’re always guaranteed a spot) where you can watch the world go by.

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Go Deer spotting in Richmond Park

Richmond Park may be a little bit further out than most would like – but it’s so worth the visit. It’s famous for the wild deer that roam around freely – seriously beautiful and for many people, the first (and only) time they’d see these animals in the wild. There’s something beautiful and romantic about experiencing that together.

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Walk along the Southbank

One of the most scenic walks in London – you’d be foolish to miss this off. There are some of the most romantic views in London along the way, especially during the evening when the city lights up.

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Enjoy the view on the One New Change rooftop

One New Change is a shopping centre nearby St Paul’s Cathedral, but at the top of the shopping centre (just ride the lift up to the top floor) is a huge roof terrace with the most incredible view imaginable. AND FREE!

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Book a romantic spa day

The below photos were taken at The Berkeley Hotel’s rooftop spa. It’s an open-top roof spa pool and it feels a million miles from the city below. If you want something romantic and luxurious, this has to be the thing you choose from this list. Because the spa limit the amount of entries per day (so yes, you’ll need to book) you’ll probably have the rooftop to yourself at various points too – perfection. And hella romantic.

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Enjoy a coffee in Soho

Because sometimes the most simple things are the nicest.

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The Ultimate Guide to DUMBO Brooklyn

The trendy DUMBO neighbourhood is one of the coolest places to visit in New York, and somewhere that is often overlooked by tourists, who may feel a bit overwhelmed or pushed for time to leave Manhattan.

DUMBO Brooklyn is an acronym for ‘Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass’ – and now you can see why they shortened it! DUMBO is a little more catchy hey?

DUMBO brooklyn
This historic area brings together the old and new, resulting in an ultra-hip area packed with fun things to see and do. The area is best known for its charming cobblestone streets and waterfront access, as well as stunning views of the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan island (I feel a bit sad thinking about it, because it makes me miss NYC so much!).
DUMBO brooklyn
Having undergone massive renovation in the last two decades, this one-time manufacturing district is now a thriving, up-and-coming art hub with classy studios, cute places to eat and designer boutiques.

Getting Around

DUMBO is fairly small and easy to get around on foot, as long as you can handle the cobblestones! There is plenty of public transport linking DUMBO with the rest of New York City, so whether you take the F Train or the East River Ferry, you should find it pretty easy to get here. It’s also worth downloading Uber (the taxi app) if public transport isn’t your thing.

Places To Eat

So what exactly is there to do in this attractive neighbourhood? One thing is for sure, you’ll find no shortage of places to eat! DUMBO offers up restaurants serving a huge range of cuisines from around the world. Whether you’re looking for somewhere special for a romantic meal or a quick bite before you head off sightseeing, you’ll definitely find something in DUMBO Brooklyn.

For fine dining…

The River Cafe

is a great choice. Boasting gorgeous views of the New York skyline, this upmarket eatery is especially wonderful at sunset and offers attentive, high quality service. Although the food isn’t cheap, it is of an excellent standard, and the menu encompasses all the most luxurious items such as foie gras and lobster. It truly is the perfect spot for a celebration, or just if you fancy living the high life! Take your camera too – to capture some photos of the amazing views on offer.

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If casual dining is more your thing…

You can’t go to Brooklyn and not have pizza. Juliana’s Pizza is the perfect choice, it’s old-school NYC pizza at it’s best and YUM. Great for families with kids, this restaurant serves delicious, familiar food in a friendly atmosphere, and you’ll taste the pizza (obviously) but you’ll also get a proper taste of NYC.

DUMBO Brooklyn
For something quirky…

Try Superfine, which is located in a former feather factory and still sports exposed brick walls. If you visit on a Sunday you can enjoy the popular bluegrass brunch.

Or, for something quirky (and posh) and for a taste of France in the heart of NYC, try Atrium DUMBO, Brooklyn. Beautiful, airy interiors, views over the water, and a pretty garden wall make this a lovely place to have a meal. They also have a living plant wall which is kind of cool. The French inspired cuisine is just delicious, featuring classics such as escargots, New York strip and brioche doughnuts (nom nom).

 

Cafes And Bars

If you’re not in the mood for a sit down meal, but would still like to enjoy a coffee or sip a drink while you watch the world go by, try one of the popular bars and cafes that DUMBO Brooklyn has to offer.

DUMBO BrooklynYou can enjoy some really great coffee in DUMBO…

Almondine

is a wonderful French patisserie where all the baking is actually done on the premises and you can get a fantastic cafe au lait.

One Girl Cookies

is also a great choice if you have a sweet tooth. Cookies and whoopie pies are perfect when combined with a strong espresso or a syrup flavoured iced coffee.

If a cold beer or a glass of wine is more your thing, try Pedro’s, one of the oldest bars in the neighbourhood. With its unique graffiti adorned exterior, its the best spot to drink a margarita and perhaps sample some Mexican food.

More Things To Do In DUMBO

DUMBO brooklynDUMBO isn’t just about the food and drink, there is plenty to occupy you for a couple of days. Here are a few of my top picks…

  • Jane’s Carousel dates back to 1922 and has been beautifully restored to offer $2 rides to a new generation of kids. Brooklyn Bridge Park is another wonderful place to spend the day, with playgrounds for the kids and a cool rollerskating rink.
  • For lovers of classical music, Bargemusic is a great place to listen to a chamber music concert. Located on an old coffee barge, you can enjoy intimate recitals on the water.
  • Galapagos Art Space is another exciting venue which offers a host of entertainment in a stunning 10,000 foot performance space. Whether you love music, dance, comedy or even a circus themed cabaret, you can find it here
  • You can set off on your walk across the Brooklyn Bridge from DUMBO too – read my blog post (by clicking here) on how to get to the bridge and find helpful maps, etc.

DUMBO brooklyn

  • Brooklyn Bridge Park is another fun thing to do in the area, and the most obvious choice, perhaps! The park has incredible views over Manhattan and you can stroll around it, play ball, sit and have a picnic – whatever takes your fancy. If you’re anything like me, you’ll take a load of stupid self-timer photos.

DUMBO brooklyn

  • Ride a Citi bike – which is a kind of ‘rent-a-bike’ system they have in NYC. It’s a great way to explore Brooklyn, and there are a few stations in DUMBO Brooklyn, so it’s a good place to start your adventure.

 

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The Neon Museum in Las Vegas – Lots of photos and tips!

I’ve been meaning to do a full photo-post of The Neon Museum in Las Vegas for ages now – and here it finally is!

The Neon Museum in Las Vegas is definitely one of the most unique and quirky things to do in the city, and it makes for a nice break from all the drinking and casinos (if you get me).

It’s found about a 15 minutes drive off the strip in downtown Las Vegas (the original city!) and it’s pretty easy to find, most taxi drivers will know where to find it, and if not just do a quick Google search and it’ll pop up straight away. I think the cab drive cost us about $20 from the strip which wasn’t too bad – but if you got the bus it’d be cheaper.

We got the taxi because it was mid-August and like a million degrees outside, and we didn’t want to chance walking too far at the other end. Have you ever been to Vegas in August? It’s basically like being on THE SUN.

Las Vegas Neon Museum

Las Vegas Neon Museum

Anyway, onto the tour!

It’s a guided tour that lasts about 45 minutes (which doesn’t sound like much, but in the heat and the sunshine – it’s just the right amount). You’re given plenty of opportunities to take photos and you stop every couple of feet anyway to discuss a different piece of of neon, so you have plenty of opportunities to snap away (which was my main priority).

Just to prove this point more so, in our tour group there were 2 fashion bloggers, who had clearly paid the admission only to take some cool outfit photos in front of the neon art. They lagged right behind the group, not really paying attention to the guide and just did their own thing for the majority of the tour.

One thing it is worth noting too though, is that you’re not allowed any bulky camera bags of tripods, etc on the tour. So just bring along your camera and nothing else.

Las Vegas Neon Museum

Las Vegas Neon Museum

Our group had about 10 people, so it wasn’t crowded, and you can always get up close and personal with the pieces (within reason). The tour guide is great, and super friendly and entertaining. I’m not usually a fan of tour guides, but this guy won me over and I found him quite entertaining.

Las Vegas Neon Museum

You can kind of see in the photo below, the little pathway that takes you through the museum. You’re not really allowed to venture from the path, but there are still loads of photo-opps and room to take them!

Las Vegas Neon Museum

Las Vegas Neon Museum

Las Vegas Neon Museum

Las Vegas Neon Museum

Las Vegas Neon Museum

I loved the little dude behind me in the photo below!

Las Vegas Neon Museum

Las Vegas Neon Museum

Las Vegas Neon Museum

Las Vegas Neon Museum

Las Vegas Neon Museum

Las Vegas Neon Museum

Las Vegas Neon Museum

And the big finale – the famous StarDust sign! This makes an awesome photo, so try and lag behind for this bit and catch a few shots without the rest of the group in it!

Las Vegas Neon Museum

Las Vegas Neon Museum

Las Vegas Neon Museum

Las Vegas Neon Museum

Las Vegas Neon Museum

If you’re thinking of visiting The Neon Museum in Las Vegas, I’d recommend booking a couple of days in advance, especially if you’re planning on visiting in peak season or at the weekend. I’d also recommend taking a couple of bottles of water with you for the tour – it gets hot!

Ticket prices for day tours are $18 for general admission; seniors 65+, students, active military, veterans and Nevada residents are $12 (valid ID required for each discounted ticket: must show current ID upon arrival). So it’s a pretty cheap day out in comparison to a lot of vegas attractions!

You can also visit at night (which we didn’t do – but I imagine would be gorgeous). You can view the fabulous neon of six restored signs and see the other ones lit up with colourful lighting. Ticket prices for night tours are a bit more money, at $25 for general admission.

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Beautiful Copenhagen! Photos, Photos and More Photos…!

Last week I was lucky enough to head to Copenhagen for a few days on a business trip… Which was SO EXCITING!! Especially as it was to Copenhagen – somewhere I’ve never been before.

I’ll be honest – Copenhagen has never really been on my radar, but before jetting off I did a little research and couldn’t wait to visit. The company I work for (I do social media and PR for Tiger Stores) are a Danish Design store so I’m always hearing about the Danish culture, and was pretty excited to experience for myself.

Here are my photos!

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One thing I adored about Copenhagen was the quiet, the calm and the cleanliness of it. There aren’t many cars in the city, and almost everyone rides bikes – so the city is very quiet and peaceful compared to London. In the evening it was noticeable how calm the streets were, there was a lack of engines, transport and sirens… it was kinda lovely.

There were so many bikes in the city, I spent a lot of time taking photos of them. There’s definitely something super ‘instagrammable’ about bikes in the sunshine. It’s kind of fun imagining what kind of person owns the bike…

Like this one below, is totally some rich hippy artist. But he has an adventurous side (look at the wheels). And he’s maybe got a new baby or something (because the plants are a bit overgrown – so he hasn’t had chance to cycle recently). 

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The streets and buildings reminded me a little of Amsterdam, which makes sense as apparently a lot of buildings in Copenhagen were built by the Dutch. Some of the streets were simply gorgeous – especially the street with coloured fronts along the waterside.

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Look at my shoes. I <3 them.

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One of the evenings, my colleagues took me out for dinner at an area of the city called Christiania. Christiania is a part of the city which (for want of a better word) is ‘free’ – it doesn’t abide to the normal laws in the city (for example, people sell and smoke weed freely in the area) and the people there are an independent community. It’s like a huge park set around a beautiful lake with homes, cafes, restaurants and market stalls.

The history of the area is fascinating – and it’s an amazing place to visit for the sheer experience of it. There are only a few photos below (as they ask you not to take images once inside the grounds).

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Next up, a few more random photos from the city and just strolling around…

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The city is seriously so gorgeous… These photos are just random shots from here there and everywhere whilst walking around the city – and it seems like everywhere you look there is something else to take a photo of.

I thought the multi-coloured houses would just be located on one street (kind of like Notting Hill) but they weren’t – they pop up everywhere, which is so nice. You’ll be walking along this normal street one second, and the next minute you’ve turned onto an amazing rainbow.

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Oh and CAN WE JUST TALK ABOUT THE PASTRY!?

Holy smokes.

It was good.

My friend Samuel (who was travelling with me) had warned me beforehand how good the pastry was, and I was somewhat doubtful. I’m not a big pastry fan here in the UK – and if I was going to convert they’d have to be something special.

Well, it was. It was squishy, sweet, sticky, crispy, cinnamonny and custardy all in one mouthful. I am literally drooling on my keyboard as I write this.

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And then it was time for home.

I tried to sneak a pastry in my carry-on for Pad, but it got a bit gross so I abandoned it on the plane. Until next time, Copenhagen.

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Travel Stock Photos Vs Travel in Real Life

I wonder if stock photos are taken from some alternate universe where you can look fabulous at the airport, and being windswept is only ever in the glamorous sense.

Because they sure don’t line up with my own experiences of travelling…

Preparing to travel in stock photos… 

“Look at me in my perfectly ironed, no creases, outfit and my amazingly straightened hair”

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Preparing to travel in real life… 

“I woke up at 6am, I’m still half asleep, and that is why I’m only showing you my feet. It’s the only part of me that looks half presentable”

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Getting lost in Stock Photos…. 

“Hey best friend with equally amazing legs, let’s sit jauntily on this wall and look at this massively oversized map”

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Getting lost in Real Life…

“The map is clearly wrong. My feet are aching. Lets sit on the floor and I’ll use my expensive roaming data to figure out where we actually are”

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Getting windswept in Stock Photos… 

“Don’t mind me whilst I stretch out my beautifully tanned and shiny legs at the front of this culturally diverse wooden boat”

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Getting windswept in Real Life:

*Shouting over the sound of crashing waves and holding on for dear life*

“I JUST STRAIGHTENED MY HAIR IN THE HOTEL AND NOW IT’S BASICALLY A DREADLOCK AND I HAVE SALT WATER IN MY EYE!!”

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Making yourself at home in Stock Photos… 

“I’ll still leave everything in my case all neat and tidy, but rearrange stuff ever so slightly so it looks like I’m a real person living an exciting life”

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Making yourself at home in Real Life… 

“YEAH HOTEL ROOM!! A SEMI-PERMANENT BASE! Let’s unpack everything we own even if we’re just staying for night!!!!”

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Taking a selfie in Stock Photos… 

“Look how adorable we are”

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Taking a selfie in Real Life… 

“Maybe taking a photo on this cliff edge wasn’t such a good idea after all. Oh well, let’s follow through, I’ve got the camera out now”

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Experimenting with local dress in Stock Photos… 

“I am so damn sexy in my oriental dress and mysterious pose on the mountains”

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Experimenting with local dress in Real Life… 

“No we don’t actually want to buy 4 hats, can we just borrow them for a photo?”

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Roadtrips in Stock Photos…. 

“I literally could not look any cooler. With my vintage brightly coloured automobile and my retro luggage strapped on the roof. Best idea ever!”

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Roadtrips in Real Life… 

When you find a car that is below your budget…

“It’s from the 1970s? OK, age isn’t an issue, as long as it works!”

“It only has a cassette player? No worries, we can sing instead!”

“There’s no aircon? Sure thing we’ll just open all the windows!”

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Jumping for joy in Stock Photos… 

“OK everyone… After 3!!!”

“Yay it’s perfection! Look even the sun is in the middle of the shot!”

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Jumping for joy in Real Life… 

“OK, we’ve tried this like 10 times now. I’m really sweaty from jumping up and down and running to press the shutter button every 30 seconds. Maybe we should just steal one from Google Images?”

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Hanging out in a hammock in Stock Photos… 

“Let’s both of us hang out in this hammock and kiss and hug with no regards to the fact we’re both sitting in a hanging structure. Because it’s totally safe and not going to fall off or anything”

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Hanging out in a hammock in Real Life… 

“OK, after taking 15 minutes to gather the nerves to get in it, and then another 10 minutes figuring out how best to get in it, I’m finally in it. Take my photo quickly before I fall out”

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Having a picnic in Stock Photos…

“Let’s pack colour co-ordinating tea towels and picnic rugs and then eat fruit and healthy stuff that compliments the colour scheme of the fabrics we previous chose. Fun!”

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Having a picnic in Real Life… 

“Let’s get all the awesome unhealthy food we’d never usually buy and also BEER. Also if someone remember a towel or something to sit on”

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Trying out local delicacies in Stock Photos….

“Oooh I’ve never tried such amazing wine from this rare vineyard. Also check out the weather, it’s just amazing and exactly what you’d picture a vineyard to be like. How lucky for us”

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Trying out local delicacies in Real Life… 

“LOOK WHAT I FOUND!! IT’S JERKY MADE FROM KANGAROO”

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Jumping in water in Stock Photos…

“WE ARE SO INSPIRING AND INSTAGRAMMABLE RIGHT NOW!”

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Jumping in water in Real Life…

“Umm guys, I’m really sorry… But you might have to jump into that freezing cold lake one more time… I pressed the shutter too late”

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Souvenir shopping in Stock Photos… 

“Oh gosh, this culturally appropriate keyring will be just what Kevin wants”

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Souvenir shopping in Real Life… 

“Look I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but plleeeeaaaaseeeee?”

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Air travel in Stock Photos… 

“zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz”

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Air travel in Real Life… 

“Maybe if I distract myself with the pretty view from the window, I’ll forget about how sleep deprived I am and how much leg room I don’t have”

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All stock images used, were sourced from Getty Images.

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NYC Shopping Map: Where to Find What

Without a doubt, hands-down, New York City has to be one of the best shopping destinations in the world. It’s hard to go there and not want to splurge and spend. You’ll find big designer brands, huge department stores, independent stores and thrift shops with hidden gems waiting to be discovered – it’s all there on one island.

One hell of an island… right?

Whenever I’ve visited NYC though, I’ve always wished I had a NYC shopping map, telling me where to find what, where to go, and where to look. So following that train of thought, and figuring that if I’ve looked for that info, maybe other people are too – here’s my own NYC shopping map which I hope will be super useful and help you spend lots of money 😉

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Below are my absolute favourite shopping destinations in NYC and all the ones every keen tourist will want to check off their list. You’ll also find a map of where to find each one too…

1. Bloomingdales: 1000 Third Ave., at 59th St.; 212-705-2000. 504 Broadway, nr. Spring St.; 212-729-5900; bloomingdales.com

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2. Barney’s New York: 660 Madison Ave., nr. 61st St.; 212-826-8900; barneys.com.

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3. Tiffany’s New York: 727 Fifth Ave., nr. 57th St.; 212-755-8000; tiffany.com.

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4. Macy’s NYC: 151 W. 34th St., nr. Broadway; 212-695-4400; macys.com.

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5. Madison Avenue: Madison Ave., 57th St. to 72nd St.

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6. Sak’s Fifth Avenue: 611 Fifth Ave., nr. 50th St.; 212-753-4000; saksfifthavenue.com.

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7. Bergdorf Goodman: 754 Fifth Ave., nr. 58th St.; 212-753-7300; bergdorfgoodman.com.

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8: Lululemon: 408 W. 14th St., nr. Ninth Ave.; 212-255-2978; lululemon.com.

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9. Toys R Us: 1514 Broadway, nr. 44th St.; 646-366-8800; toysrus.com.

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10. Chelsea Market: Chelsea Market, 75 Ninth Ave., nr. 15th St.; 212-243-6005; chelseamarket.com.

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11. The Apple Store: 767 5th Ave, New York, NY 10153, United States www.apple.com

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12: Grand Central Terminal (market): 42nd St., at Park Ave.; grandcentralterminal.com.

 

 

 

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13. NBC Experience: Rockefeller Center, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10112, United States. www.nbcuniversalstore.com/

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Still need a bit more help than my NYC shopping map and need extra help navigating the city and figuring out how and where to shop in NYC?

If you’d like more suggestions and a personalised shopping guide, Hayes and Jarvis have launched a NYC Shopping App which is definitely worth downloading for that extra bit of support. Sometimes Google Maps doesn’t quite cut it getting you there – and the app features 100 of New York’s best stores and has been curated by the city’s retail experts, so it’s probably the most helpful thing I can recommend.

It can even create a shopping tour of the shops most suited to you – which is great as it means it’ll group together all the shops nearby – so you’re not trekking halfway across town halfway through the day.

It’s free too – which helps.

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Exclusive Photos: Burj Khalifa Afternoon Tea in Atmosphere Dubai

The biggest landmark in Dubai (and I mean that literally) – it’s quite literally the tallest building in the world, is the Burj Khalifa.

It’s totally unmissable in the skyline.

If you did go to Dubai and somehow missed it – it’s time to go to SpecSavers haha.

Towering 5 times the height of other skyscrapers around it – it’s on such a huge scale you can’t help but stare up at it frequently when you’re nearby. It’s a building I love, and the art/design-geek inside me just adores it. It’s elegant and fits so beautifully into the skyline.

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I got invited up to the At.Mosphere restaurant, located at the top of the Burj Kalifa, on my recent trip to Dubai and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see those amazing views. The Burj Khalifa Afternoon tea is one of the top luxury experiences in the city – so would pass up such an offer?

I’ve been to the viewing platform on previous visits, but enjoying a meal whilst overlooking the entire city – is taking it to another level of amazingness and the Burj Khalifa afternoon tea surpassed all expectations.

Our reservation was at 12.30pm, so we got to see the restaurant relatively early in the day when the views were all for us and we could explore without disturbing other diners. If you’re going to head there, I’d recommend doing the same, and trying to get in before anyone else – just so you can take as many photos as you want!

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The price for the high tea actually varies depending on whether you want a window table or not – and for the extra money – I’d say just pay the extra and get the top table with the incredible view. If you’re going to spoil yourself, go the whole way and make sure you have the window table.

Prices:

High tea (pp) with window table: AED580 (approx… £105, $157)

High tea (pp) with non-window table: AED530 (approx… £97, $144)

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I’ll get onto the food later on, but first off – let’s talk about the view. For me, the best view of Dubai is from up here. Which has to be a good reason to splash out. And you get to say you ate in the world’s tallest building – which is also pretty cool.

Believe it or not, the views we had whilst up there weren’t even as clear as they usually are. Usually (on a clearer day) you can see for another mile or so in each direction.

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I know I just included like a millions photos of the same view – but it was so amazing, I just wanted to take as many photos as I possible could. It’s the kind of view you just wouldn’t get bored looking at!

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Now, back to the food.

We opted for the non-alcoholic version of the high tea which included gold-infused sparkling apple juice. You can have champagne instead, but I liked the sound of drinking apple juice with speckles of gold inside, so we did that option.

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GOLD SPECKLED APPLE JUICE PEOPLE!!

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The high tea starts off with a palette cleanser of strawberries, raspberries and cream. Topped with gold flakes. Yes, you read that correctly.

It was yummy.

I probably could’ve just eaten that 10 times over actually.

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Next up is a little selection of salads and sandwiches. If you have any allergies they personalise this for you (for example, I couldn’t have the lobster roll so they swapped it out for something else).

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Once you’re finished with your mini-selection of bits, you are served your ‘main course’ which is basically a mini version of a chicken roast dinner. By this time I was already quite full – so I was glad the portions were small!

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And lastly…

THE DESSERTS!!

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There were macaroons, red velvet profiteroles (that’s a really hard word to spell by the way…. it took me 3 attempts!),  cheesecakes, chocolate sponge, plain scones and chocolate scone with loads of jam and stuff to put on them.

Oh and pastries on the bottom too – nearly forgot about those!

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After the sweets I decided to finish off with one of their (many) cocktails, which was a mixture of coconut, lime, mint and pineapple. I’ve decided to try and recreate this at home one day soon- because it was so amazingly yummy.

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So what do you think? Do you think you’ll be heading to the Burj Khalifa for afternoon tea?

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My Instagram photos from Dubai #SUNSHINE

As many of you know – Instagram is my absolute favourite social network, and when I head away I tend to take more photos than I know what to do with. I thought I’d share some of my Instagram photos of Dubai with you – and don’t forget to follow me on there, if you enjoyed looking through them 🙂

There are so many beautiful photo opportunities to capture in Dubai – from the skyscrapers, the the beaches, to the misty, sandy horizons. It’s perfection!

So let’s start with the Skyscrapers…. 

 

Moving onto the beautiful beaches… 

 

The lovely, luxury lifestyle…

 

The incredible sunsets….

 

The transport….

 

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Daydreaming about our Honeymoon!

The next big holiday Pad and I take will probably be our honeymoon… For two reasons mainly. Firstly, this year we’re going to be pretty busy attending other people’s weddings – which can get pretty pricey and means most of our summer weekends are taken up with hen / stag do’s and the weddings themselves. Secondly, we’re saving up for a wedding – which of course means that the holidays have to be trimmed down a bit, in order to save up for wedding stuff.

So, know that our next big trip together will be our honeymoon, I’m spending at least an hour a day daydreaming about it and the kinds of places we could go. At the moment, we’re planning a mini-moon straight after the wedding, and then a bigger honeymoon (for a month – maybe up to 6 weeks) later in the year.

Here’s what I’ve been thinking for the mini-moon:

Ibiza 

I love the idea of renting a luxury villa in Europe for 5-7 nights and just having some sunshine and an amazing view and a pool (there has to be a pool… extra points for infinity pools!). I know Ibiza has a reputation for being a party island but I’ve had so many friends and family recommend the island to us now for a more relaxing kind of getaway – that I want to see what all the fuss it about. The areas of Ibiza further away from the party towns look gorgeous, and would be the perfect luxury getaway for a few days straight after the wedding, plus it’s only a few hours by plane (so no jet-lag – yay!). I love how close to the sea we can be, the views we’d have are amazing. I’ve seen some lovely ones and I’m pretty sure I could find our dream holiday villa in Ibiza somewhere.

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The Caribbean

My other choice for the mini-moon is the Caribbean. Pad and I went for the first time last year (for our friend’s wedding!), and loved every second of it. The clear blue sea, the white sandy beaches, the all-inclusive resorts…. we just loved it. You can get direct flights there from here in London, and the packages are really reasonable – so this would be ideal too. It’s a little further away, but the all-inclusive deals make things so effortless, that I don’t think it’d matter to us too much. I’ve been looking at holidays to the Grenadines (which is part of the Caribbean we haven’t yet explored) and the beaches and sunshine send me right into a daydream.

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Here’s what I’ve been thinking for the longer honeymoon….

AUSTRALIA and NEW ZEALAND! 

OK, so this bit, we’ve already kind of decided. Pad and I have a love affair with Australia and New Zealand, and ever since we came back 2 years ago we’ve literally been scheming about how we can get back there, and when. It turns out, our honeymoon is the perfect opportunity.

I think we’ll head over to Sydney first (maybe stopping on the West Coast of the USA on the way) and spend a week or so in Sydney – a city which we both fell in love with back in the day. We’ll maybe even try and squeeze in a weekend trip to Hamilton Island too (on the Whitsundays) and do a little reef tour.

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After that, it’s onto Queenstown, a small town in New Zealand’s South Island, where we both lived together a couple of years ago. It’s our ‘special place’ so it’ll be awesome to go back and just enjoy the town again. I don’t think we’ll do much more than that – Queenstown is the place we’re really excited to get back to, so we’ll probably just spend our time there doing all the things we loved. Like eating at our favourite restaurants, taking walks to our favourite places and just standing in awe at the view!

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In a dream world….

We’d love to go to Bora Bora for a week or two – but right now that is way way out of our budget. Maybe for our ten year anniversary!? 😉

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We did this everywhere we went…. Who knows why!?

This is Pad and I.

We’ve been together nearly 5 years. This year we got engaged.

We’re kinda goofy. Self-confessed geeks even.

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We like watching Walking Dead, and deciding who would survive the longest (it’s Pad. I would be a goner in the first few days). We have a ‘Friends’ quote for literally every occasion and we ‘play-punch’ each other whenever we spot an abandoned shopping trolly in the street.

Don’t ask.

We have lots of stupid in-jokes like this, as most couples do I guess. You know, habits and routines you make-up over the years. Things only the two of you do.

Taking photos of our thumbs was one of those things. We’ve done it ever since we met, ever since our first holiday together.

They aren’t great photos. They’re not artistic. They’re not even lit properly in most cases.

But they tell our story. They show where we’ve been and how far we’ve come. Quite literally in some cases.

So I thought I’d share them. Enjoy!

Queenstown, New Zealand…

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Queenstown, New Zealand….

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Brisbane, Australia….

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Victoria Peak, Hong Kong….

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Queenstown, New Zealand….

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Milford Sound, New Zealand….

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Bay of Islands, New Zealand (we really loved our hire car OK!?)….

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Koh Samui, Thailand….

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The Grand Palace, Bangkok….

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The Grand Palace, Bangkok….

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Noosa Beach, Australia….

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Central Park, New York City….

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Berlin, Germany….

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Christchurch, New Zealand….

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St Ives, Cornwall….

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The Dominican Republic….

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Notre Dame, Paris….

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The Louvre, Paris….

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Hamilton Island, Australia (WE REALLY LIKED RIDING ON THE GOLD BUGGY!!)….

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Mandalay Bay Hotel, Las Vegas….

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The Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, USA….

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Melbourne, Australia….

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The Great Ocean Road, Australia….

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South Island, New Zealand….

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New Years Eve, Sydney, Australia….

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New Years Eve, Sydney, Australia….

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30th December 2014 (the exact spot, and moments after we got engaged), Madison Sq Park, NYC….

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From The London Eye, London….

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The Bay of Islands, New Zealand….

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From the Flyer, Singapore….

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The Harbour Bridge, Sydney, Australia….

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Angthong National Park, Thailand…

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The Grand Canyon, USA….

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Wellington, New Zealand….

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And some times when we didn’t want to do a thumbs up – but still wanted to follow tradition…

Like in New Zealand when I injured my finger and couldn’t make a thumbs up. Which resulted in Pad doing a thumbs down.

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Or this other time when our car radio broke and we had a 5 hour drive to do…

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And then there’s time when we wanted to be in the photo along with the thumbs… because you know. Faces are nice too!

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Or sometimes there were occasions when one of us had to do the thumbs-upping for the both of us.

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I couldn’t even include all of them, I think I missed about 20 off the list. But they just keep coming and let’s hope there’s many more.

Here’s to us, Pad.

I love you 🙂

 

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My photos of The Berlin Wall, taken from The East Side Gallery

One of the main things I wanted to see in Berlin, was whatever remained of The Berlin Wall. It’s a random fact, but the Berlin was first pulled down on the actual day I was born. So that was on all the papers and all the headlines the day my Mum was in the hospital giving birth to me. I guess, because of that early connection to the city and to the wall, it’s always fascinated me and it’s something I’ve always wanted to see, and learn more about.

It’s not actually blindly obvious in any of the guidebooks or tour-books where you can see The Berlin Wall, and yet I knew there must be somewhere you can go to see the remnants of it. However small those remnants might be.

We went to Checkpoint Charlie first where there stands a small piece of the wall – but it wasn’t enough, so I went on Google and tried to find somewhere else in the city. What I saw recommended a few times, was The East Side Gallery in East Berlin. It’s a free, outdoor gallery with a large stretch of the wall itself still standing, and covered in beautiful murals and street art.

It’s quite simply; beautiful, powerful and thought-provoking. 

By far the part of the trip that enjoyed the most, and something no one should miss if visiting Berlin. 

east side gallery berlin

You can see the East Side Gallery in the map below, but it’s kinda that whole road, not just a building. It basically runs right along Muhlenstrabe (the main road) for at least 20-25 of walking.

We got off at the U Schlesisches Tor station (on the U1 line) and just did the quick walk across the river to the east side gallery, which was very pretty… so why the heck not?

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Below are a few photos of my favourite parts of the wall, but all of it was just beautiful. For me, it’s especially beautiful because it’s something that was once so negative and such a point of pain and struggle, that has now been turned into something that represents freedom of expression, and colour and art.

east side gallery berlin

east side gallery berlin

east side gallery berlin

I loved the verse below, sometimes you don’t need the colours and the the patterns, sometimes words are enough to show the power of what the wall now represents, as opposed to what it once represented.

east side gallery berlin

east side gallery berlin

east side gallery berlin

east side gallery berlin

I loved this little verse too.

east side gallery berlin

The image below is one of the remaining walls most famous and iconic parts. In the city they actually sell t-shirts and postcards with this printed on.

east side gallery berlin

east side gallery berlin

east side gallery berlin

east side gallery berlin

east side gallery berlin

east side gallery berlin

Have you been to the East Side Gallery in Berlin? What did you think? 🙂

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Famous Restaurants in NYC from Movies and TV Shows

I’m a massive movie and TV geek, and so is my fiancé (it still feels funny to say that!) so I wanted to make a list of all the movie and TV food locations for next time we visit NYC. So this blog post is part for my future reference – and part for your enjoyment!

Basically these are some of the most famous restaurants in NYC, as mentioned in TV shows and movies…

We’ve actually already been to a few on this list such as Katz Deli, which has to be one of our absolute favourite food places in the city. The others are places I’ve remembered from many a time when watching Friends, SatC, Will and Grace (etc) and a bit from research too!

Enjoy!

21 Club

As far as legendary and famous restaurants in NYC go… This place has to top the list for sheer klout. This place first opened as a speakeasy many many years ago, and was also proud to boast regular visitors such as Frank Sinatra, Humphrey Bogart and Joan Crawford (which is a pretty cool claim to fame). It’s also (warning… trivia alert!) where Michael Douglas tells Charlie Sheen to have the steak tartare in the original Wall Street movie. 

’21’ Club21 W. 52nd St.

famous new york restaurants

Katz Deli 

The diner / deli which featured in When Harry Met Sally – and where she famously faked a very loud orgasm right in the middle of the restaurant (video clip here!). Look out for the table where Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal sat and chatted in the movie. (There’s a sign in the restaurant that reads, “Where Harry met Sally…hope you have what she had!”). This place actually features in many tour bus routes as ‘Most Famous restaurants in NYC’ so it’s well-known and often jam-packed. 

The food here is AMAZING though so it’s win win.

Katz’s Delicatessen, 205 Houston St.

famous new york restaurants

Coyote Ugly Saloon

Coyote Ugly is a classic NYC bar/dirty saloon where you can get cheap drinks and cheap thrills. It was made famous by the movie called Coyote Ugly (hey, go figure!) and is the bar where the main character Piper got her big break. Head here for a wild night, dancing on the tables and numerous shots. Sounds great! 

Coyote Ugly Saloon, 153 First Ave.

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The Rainbow Room 

Mentioned in most NYC TV shows (at some point) as the most romantic spot in the city, this restaurant is a part of the city’s history. It’s been name-dropped in many Friends episode (which is why I thought of it for this list, as a self-confessed Friends junkie!) as well as King of the Hill, How I Met Your Mother and Will and Grace (a few episodes were even filmed in there). If that wasn’t enough, Presidents have eaten there, actresses, actors, singers, you name it.

The Rainbow Room, 30 Rockefeller Plaza.

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Joe’s Pizza, Downtown

The pizza take-out chain has loads of different branches across the city, but the downtown one was where the fictional Peter Parker worked as a delivery boy. You know, before his whole spider bite and superhero thing kicked off. If pizza is your thing, try out Lenny’s Pizza (1969 86th St) too, which was featured in Saturday Night Fever.

Joe’s Pizza, 7 Carmine St.

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Buddakan

For Sex and the City fans (and yes, I definitely include myself in that category!), this restaurant and bar is where Carrie and Mr Big had their glamorous rehearsal dinner before their big day. If you plan on going, make sure you dress up – the dress-code is strict!

Buddakan, 75 Ninth Ave.

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Smith & Wollensky’s

This is the steak house that was favoured by Christian Bale’s character in American Psycho (you know, the absolutely mental serial killer guy with strangely exquisite taste in fashion, food and interior design) so I guess you can’t go much wrong with this place…. Fancy having what he had? Order your steak without hash browns.

Smith & Wollensky’s, 797 Third Ave.

Smith & Wollensky's

The Central Park Boathouse 

This place has been featured in countless NYC movies and TV shows, and remains one of NYCs most recognisable (and posh!) restaurants. Head there on a summer day to take full advantage – the view isn’t quite as good in the middle of winter!

The Loeb Boathouse Central Park, Central Park

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Soho House

Made famous by an episode of Sex and the City, where Samantha sneaks in using some random person’s membership and then get’s thrown out soon after (video clip here!) – this place is one of the most exclusive clubs in NYC. It also has a rooftop pool.

So in short, it’s pretty awesome, if you can get in. Which you probably can’t.

Soho House, 29 – 35 Ninth Avenue

famous nyc restaurants

And one place I wish existed but doesn’t: Central Perk cafe from Friends. MAJOR SAD FACE.

Got any more famous restaurants in NYC that you’d add to the list? Leave me a comment! 🙂

 

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The High Line Park, New York – The Ultimate Guide

In cities like NYC, it’s hard to stumble upon hidden gems, but The High Line Park New York is one of the best hidden spots I’ve found in the city. If you have a few hours going spare in NYC on a sunny day – walking The High Line Park New York is how you should spend them! And it’s free!

What is it? 

It used to be a derelict old railway which went unused and abandoned for years before a neighbourhood campaign turned it into the beautiful park and elevated walkway it is today. It is truly unique and a must-do in the city. 

The High Line Park New York

Getting into the park….

Whilst you can enter the park at several places along the route – but I’d recommend entering at the point on the map below (the bit in the red circle). The exact address for that spot is West 34th Street, between 10th and 12th Avenues. You can then walk the entire length of the park from start to finish, if you get on The High Line Park New York here.

The two red arrows on the map are point towards the nearest metro stations; Times Sq 42nd St, and Penn Station 34 St.  There aren’t any stations super-close so you’ll have about a 10 minute walk to the entrance whichever station you choose.

the high line nyc

So you can see it in the grand scheme of things (and by that, I mean the whole of Manhattan) it starts and finishes around the points on the map below – although it’s not exact! So it is a fair distance you end up walking! Good boots / shoes are a must!

The High Line Park New York

What will I see?

So, say you start at the top, like I mentioned above – what kind of views can you expect to see? Keep reading to see! Trust me, it’s well worth, if purely for all the amazing photo opportunities! As you can see below!

The High Line Park New York

The High Line Park New York

The High Line Park New York

The walkway weaves itself in and out residential buildings and office blocks, about 30 – 40 ft off the ground ( I don’t know exactly – but it’s pretty high).

There are so many gorgeous spots along the walkway, and so many great views to look out for. Such as…

The Empire State!

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New York’s famous street art scene…

The High Line Park New York

The High Line Park New York

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The High Line Park New York

Famous avenues and streets (with great vistas!)….

The High Line Park New York

The High Line Park New York

Top tip….

Be careful of the breeze! If it’s a windy day you might find you get caught in the gusts of wind that run down the streets and avenues. Here’s Pad and I trying to save his hat from flying away mid selfie!

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And another one, once it was safely on again!

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Toilets and food….

Don’t worry there are toilets! NO PANIC!

There are also cafes, vending machines and restaurants situated along the High Line Park New York too.

And after you’ve walked it… 

Take a stroll around the local area, the West Village and Meat Packing District is known for being one of New York’s quirkier districts. You’ll find lovely apartment blocks, cobbled streets, coffee shops and boutiques a plenty! If you’re looking for somewhere to eat after the long walk, I’d recommend Mighty Quinn’s – best BBQ ever!!

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This is what a travel bloggers apartment looks like.

One thing I always love seeing on other peoples blogs is photos of their home. Maybe because I’m super nosy, or maybe because I love interior design, they’re both true! Either way, I always think a person’s home says a lot about them, and I love seeing where people call home and getting inspired by how others have made their little bit of land look like home.

The apartment I share with my fiancé is one of the things I’m most proud of. It’s a beautiful place, with huge windows, big white walls and quirky features. In London, finding a place like this is like gold dust – and we were lucky enough to snap our place up the moment we saw it. But it’s not just the flat I’m proud of, it’s how beautiful we’ve made it look, how much it feels like home, and all the little details that make this place ours, and no one else’s.

The bedroom.

The main travel inspiration in our bedroom is the abundance of photo frames. LIKE LOADS.  I have a thing for photos, and frames – as you’ll soon learn after reading this blog post. In our bedroom I have a mix of travel photos, friend photos and random quotes I love. This are all on the wall by my side of the bed, and there’s nothing nicer to look at when you wake up!

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I plan on growing this wall, every time we get back from a trip, I always buy a new frame to add to the wall, whether it’s the bedroom or the lounge.

I’ll keep adding to it until it’s full, or the wall falls down from the weight. You know, whichever.

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On the other side of the room we have giant print of the world, which has scratch-off bits for the places you’ve visited. My sister got it me for my birthday last year, and it’s the perfect addition to the room. Every time I see it, it reminds me of all the places we still have to visit and all the adventures we’ve still got to have.

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One last thing in our bedroom that was influenced from our travels, is our bed! After years of travelling and holidaying together and sleeping in king-size beds with 300 thread count sheets, we finally splashed out on recreating the same lovely hotelness at home.

Our 300 thread count bedsheets were admittedly a big splurge (student me from 5 years ago just choked on her drink, reading that future me spent £60 on bedsheets) but they’re so nice, and soft and amazing. And if you’re going to be sleeping somewhere every nigh, make sure it’s next to someone you love – on lovely, soft, comfy, cosy bedsheets. £60 well spent, trust me.

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The lounge and kitchen. 

Our lounge and kitchen is open plan, and the big selling point was (of course) the MASSIVE window. In the mornings on a sunny day, the room is literally flooded with light – it’s amazing (and blinding – but mostly amazing).

Pad and I have always loved living in apartments with big windows and great views – and this one is no exception. It looks right over all the rooftops, and then it’s just sky sky sky. Kinda perfect.

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I also have a big wall of frames in the lounge too. We have a little reading corner with a big leather chair and over-hanging lamp and these photos sit right by that. I’ve kept most of the frames simple on this wall, with a few ornate white frames amongst the black ones to lift it a bit. Again, these are all our holiday and travelling photos – and they’re such a nice reminder of all the awesome memories we’ve made.

I couldn’t have empty white walls, so I’ll always need to fill them with beautiful photos!

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Alongside all the travel photos we have loads of little bits and bobs from travelling too.

The first thing Pad ever bought me when we started dating was a mini snow-globe, and (typically, Ellie-style) within minutes I had accidentally smashed it. We have this running joke now about snow globes, so I’ve started picking one up occasionally on trips (if it’s at all possibly to bring it back without breaking) and Pad brings me them back from business trips.

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I also have a fridge covered in magnets from lots of places we’ve been (my mother-in-law-to-be and my nanny alike collect magnets, so maybe it’s tradition now!) and there are photos on there too – you know, for all the photos that don’t have a frame or a place on the wall. We also have a habits of sticking dollar bills to the fridge, whenever we have some left over from the States.

It’s a good job we have a massive fridge huh?

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We have quite few cookbooks in the kitchen. I’m not sure what it is about travelling and food – but they seem to go hand in hand. I’ve never met anyone who loved travelling, who didn’t love the food part just as much!

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The other stuff.

Lots of lovely bits and bobs around our house I have ripped off from Pinterest. But hey, that’s what it’s there for right?

Like this LOVE sign. So cute. And will come in handy for our wedding too – when I’m pretty sure I can repurpose it for wedding decoration.

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Oh, and our spare room, which is just as travel-orientated. The blue print on the right is a hand-drawing of NYC. I love it. It was actually wrapping paper I found in a quirky little shop down the road from us, but it was too perfect and pretty to use as wrapping paper, so I framed it instead. 

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If you enjoyed my home tour post, you’ll love Andi’s post from Beautiful Adventures, who was who inspired me to write this 🙂 she just had a little baby boy – and his nursery is literally the most gorgeous bedroom ever.

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My Photos of Brooklyn Bridge Park (It’s Gorgeous!)

Central Park is pretty amazing, but Brooklyn Bridge Park has something pretty special going on too.

It’s a little bit more effort to get to Brooklyn Bridge Park, but (and trust me here!) it’s worth the extra time on the subway, because the views are just stunning.

We walked over Brooklyn Bridge, and then walked down to Brooklyn Bridge Park just in time for sunset, which obviously was beautiful. I thought I’d share my photos with you guys, because I just fell in love with the place and the view. It’s quite something special to see NYC from a distance – and you never realise how big everything is until you can take it all in like that.

Photos of Brooklyn Bridge Park

I love the shot above, I’m not sure if you can see – but it has Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan Bridge and even the Empire State Building in it. All of New York in one photo! (Almost).

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This trip to NYC was the first time we’d visited with the Freedom Tower complete, you can see it just behind us in the photo below.

Each time I’ve come back to NYC, the Freedom Tower has grown a little bit more and a little bit more and my understanding of how much it means to the city has grown too. Now, on our most recent visit it was complete – and so beautiful. Everything it stands for, means so much to me – and I think it’s now the most important building in the skyline – simply because of everything it represents and every it was built to remember.

Photos of Brooklyn Bridge Park

Photos of Brooklyn Bridge Park

Photos of Brooklyn Bridge Park

Photos of Brooklyn Bridge Park

Photos of Brooklyn Bridge Park

Photos of Brooklyn Bridge Park

Pad looking wistfully towards the city… I tell myself he’s thinking about how much he loves me. He was probably thinking about the BBQ restaurant we’d be eating at later that night.

Photos of Brooklyn Bridge Park

Photos of Brooklyn Bridge Park

I had this habit whilst we were in NYC of taking ‘Engagement ring selfies’ everywhere we went. This basically consists of me taking a photo of my hand in front of something recognisable.

I’m still deliberating whether a blog post of all these ring-selfies would be funny or tragic.

Photos of Brooklyn Bridge Park

Photos of Brooklyn Bridge Park

Photos of Brooklyn Bridge Park

Photos of Brooklyn Bridge Park

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Photos of Brooklyn Bridge Park

Photos of Brooklyn Bridge Park

It took us so many attempts to get the photo below. Luckily, I have an amazing fiancé who totally understands my need to take lame-ass photos. He very rarely complains actually, which is probably a good thing!

I had to keep running back and forth to the camera (which was sat on the grass about 15 feet away) and pressing the shutter button, then running back and jumping up in time for the self-timer. We did this about 6 times.

Anything for a good shot.

Photos of Brooklyn Bridge Park

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How to Walk Across The Brooklyn Bridge… Maps, Route Suggestions and Photos!

When I first visited NYC, one of things I want to do the most was walk across Brooklyn Bridge. And then the second time I visited, I wanted to do it again. It’s the same story for the 3rd and 4th times too. It quite simply, is one of the best and most beautiful things to do in New York City.

But when you first visit it’s tricky to know how to walk across The Brooklyn bridge. Where do you go? How do you get on it? Do you have to pay? When is the best time to go? All those answers and more you’ll find here.

How to Walk Across Brooklyn Bridge

How to Walk Across Brooklyn Bridge

How to walk across The Brooklyn Bridge… Getting there!

First thing’s first, you have to decide which side to walk from. I’ve always walked from Manhattan to Brooklyn, but the other way is just as great. Either way you’re going to get some incredible shots, and you can always stop and turn around any time you like.

As you can see below, the closest Subway stations to the Manhattan entrance to Brooklyn Bridge are;

City Hall (N, R Trains)

Brooklyn Bridge, City Hall (4,5,6 Trains)

Chambers St (J, Z Trains)

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From the Brooklyn side of things, you have the following stations nearby;

High St (A, C Trains)

York St (F Train)

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I always think, if you walk from Manhattan to Brooklyn, you can then take a nice stroll around Brooklyn Bridge park too afterwards, which is beautiful too. So that route is probably my favourite.

But now onto some more photos…

How to Walk Across Brooklyn Bridge

How to Walk Across Brooklyn Bridge

How to Walk Across Brooklyn Bridge

How to Walk Across Brooklyn Bridge

How to Walk Across Brooklyn Bridge

When should you walk across The Brooklyn Bridge?

Try and walk across the bridge on a clear, sunny day – the view will be SO MUCH better if you do, and you’ll be able to see right off into the distance. It’s also much nicer walking across the bridge in clear weather than in the rain!

I’d also recommend setting off in the last hours of daylight, right before sunset – that way you get some beautiful sideways sunlight right across the city, which is just breathtaking.

How long does it take to walk across The Brooklyn Bridge? 

Probably about 30 minutes if you’re not the kind of person who stops to take photos.

If you want to take lots of photos and soak it all in (let’s face it – that’s probably the case!) I’d recommend putting aside an hour or an hour and a half to get across. It’s not the kind of thing you want to rush, it’s so beautiful, so just take your time.

How to Walk Across Brooklyn Bridge

How to Walk Across Brooklyn Bridge

How to Walk Across Brooklyn Bridge

Don’t forget to look behind you, and stop to look around! About halfway, this is the view looking back towards Manhattan! Now, you wouldn’t want to miss that right!?

How to Walk Across Brooklyn Bridge

How to Walk Across Brooklyn Bridge

How to Walk Across Brooklyn Bridge

I love the shot below so much, it’s just pure-NYC.

How to Walk Across Brooklyn Bridge

How to Walk Across Brooklyn Bridge

How to Walk Across Brooklyn Bridge

It can get pretty busy, so wait until there’s a lull in foot-traffic for when you take those all important photos. That way you won’t have lots of backpacks and heads in the background.

Also – don’t be afraid to ask for help! Most people on the bridge are tourists and won’t mind taking your photo for you if you ask nicely! It’s gets more in than a selfie!

How to Walk Across Brooklyn Bridge

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If you’re reading this with plans to head over to The Brooklyn Bridge sometime soon, have an amazing time. Let me know what you thought in the comments below!

 

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Best restaurants in Manhattan – My ULTIMATE list

One of things I get asked most over email by readers and friends, is…

“What are the best restaurants in Manhattan?”

And it’s a good question. Manhattan is a huge place – and if you don’t go there with at least a few ideas, you fall into the trap of only eating at tourist places like TGI Fridays in Times Square. And no, that doesn’t make it onto my list. Sorry!

I figured I’d put together a list of what I think are the best restaurants in Manhattan, divided up into categories and food-types.

For the best steak in Manhattan… Quality Meats

This is Pad and I’s absolute favourite restaurant.  It’s definitely a treat, and it’s on the upper-end of the price scale…. But it’s worth every penny. It’s the most mouth-wateringly, delicious, amazing, drooling all over my keyboard as I write this, holy crap it’s so yummy, steak.

Also – we discovered a new gem last time we went too – which is the bacon and peanut butter thingy in the appetiser section of the menu. It’s was so good!

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For the best deli in Manhattan…. Katz Deli

It’s where When Harry Met Sally filmed their famous ‘orgasm at the dining table’ scene – and that’s pretty much how you’ll feel after tasting their sandwiches! It’s pretty pricey for a sandwich – but when you see the portion sizes, you won’t be complaining.

Top tip – more right down inside the restaurant to find the smallest serving queue. 

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For the best pizza in Manhattan…. RubiRosa 

Recommended to us by some friends, we would never have found this incredible pizza place on our own. Tucked away downtown, this is one of the best Italian restaurants I have ever eaten at. But don’t just turn up – it’s small – so you’ll need to book a table in advance.

We ordered a small portion of pasta to share for our appetiser (holy wow it was delicious!) and went onto share a HUGE pizza for our main course. We barely finished it, there was so much food. Seriously the most perfect pizza ever, and the best I’ve ever had in NYC.

Just see the photo below, to understand how over-faced we were by the size!

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For the best late-night street food in Manhattan…. The Halal Guys

The wild-card on the list, if you fancy grabbing something on the way home one night – this is going to be your go-to place.

They have two stands either side of the block, and there are always massive queues around peek times. The first time you spot them, you’ll be like ‘REALLY? A MILE LONG QUEUE FOR A STREET STALL?” but how can that many people be wrong?

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For the best Disco Fries in Manhattan…. Cosmic Diner

OK, if you didn’t know, Disco Fries are crunchy french fries, with american gravy and melted cheese. Sounds like heaven right? I KNOW.

These guys do the best Disco Fries EVER. Don’t order anything else – just have like 4 portions of Disco Fries. It’ll be like a disco in your mouth, trust me.

Oh, and don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. 

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For the best BBQ meat in Manhattan…. Mighty Quinns

OK, if you love BBQ food, you simply have to visit Mighty Quinns. They have a menu fit for BBQ kings, and you can literally go back again and again until you’ve had your fill. They price by the portion (which is pretty standard for BBQ places) and you can get as much or as little as you want. They have brisket, pulled pork, sausage, chicken, wings, ribs, burnt ends – you name it.

They also have a special thing called the Brontosurous Rib – which is this massive beef rib slathered in BBQ sauce and the most magical thing you will ever see.

It’s canteen style seating (sit where you want) and you won’t need to a book a table. Also – if you’re confused about what to order – ask the staff! They’re awesome and super friendly.

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For the best Modern American in Manhattan…. Bo’s Restaurant

For somewhere a bit special, with modern, delicious food – Bo’s is up there with my top picks. Their food is traditional southern / american put with a modern twist – which is kind of amazing. I tried Alligator for the time here and it was great, and they have the most mouth-watering brioche bread EVER. I would go back just for that bread. Nom Nom.

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The best hotdog in Manhattan… Madison Sq Garden Stadium 

OK, so this probably isn’t strictly true (I bet there’s an equally awesome hotdog somewhere on the island I just haven’t tried!) – but we totally raved about the hotdogs in Madison Sq Garden Stadium. They were one foot long of amazingness.

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Want more advice about NYC? Check out the blog posts below!

10 things you just HAVE to do in NYC, and will regret if you don’t!

Seeing NYC from the air – in a helicopter

An email I sent to a friend about NYC

The best places for thrift shopping in NYC

Beautiful photos of Central Park in Autumn

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The time we got engaged in NYC.

I am (admittedly) a NYC obsessive. I grew up surrounding myself with everything NYC related, I was absolutely obsessed with the city – and still am. I visited for the first time when I was 18, and have kept visiting every couple of years since then.

It’s basically like a love-affair. 

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My other love (cheesy, but let’s roll with it) is my amazing boyfriend and my partner in all my adventures – Pad. So I guess it only makes sense, that he’d choose New York City as the place he wanted to propose. Which is exactly what happened on December 30th 2014 – during our most recent visit to the city.

I don’t want to go too much into detail – because I feel like it should be a private moment, that we get to tell people about in person, rather than on a blog…. but it was the most perfect moment I ever could’ve imagined and we had the most incredible, wonderful holiday too.

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It’s funny, because Pad has always told me flat out, he would NEVER EVER propose in NYC. His reasoning was that it’d be way to predictable, and I’d totally see it coming. And I totally bought it. I believed him.

So much so, when this trip to New York arrived, I couldn’t have been further from expecting it. Which made the moment even more special.

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Some of our best memories have been in New York. One of our first ever proper holidays was here, and we returned shortly after on the tail-end of our round the world trip. It’s somewhere we both adore – and now has a firm place in our lives and memories, as the place we got engaged.

There is no one else I’d rather keep making memories with, than him. And I can’t wait for all our future adventures, which just keep getting better and better. 

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What it’s like to be a New Zealand expat

New Zealand is one of the best places I’ve ever lived (and I’ve lived in a fair few places). When living in New Zealand, we lived in Queenstown – a town in the South Island mainly known for it’s mountains, lakes and um, tourists.

All I can say is, if you’re contemplating whether or not to make the move over to New Zealand, just do it. It’s one of the best decisions my partner and I ever made and it’s a country we miss every single day now we’re back living in London.

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But let me go into a little more depth… here’s what to expect when moving to New Zealand as an expat…

There are some good things, some bad things on this list – but for me it all balanced out. Queenstown is the most beautiful place I have EVER lived – and that was definitely worth paying a bit extra for my weekly shopping.

1. It’s safe (like no big deal to walk home at 2am, kinda safe) 

I can only speak for my own personal experiences here, but I never felt unsafe in Queenstown. Not once. Not ever. I like to think of myself as pretty street-smart (oh cringe!) so it does take a lot to spook me, and as a general rule I’m always on my guard. New Zealand is one of the only places that made me drop that guard, because I never felt at risk, I never felt threatened and I never felt intimidated.

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Now, I know the story may be different in some of the country’s cities – but I did visit most of New Zealand whilst living there, and this feeling of safety was a constant wherever we went. New Zealand is the kind of place I’d want to raise my children, because it’s somewhere I know they could grow up exploring, playing and having fun – without worrying about all the things I’d fret about in London or a UK city.

For me, Queenstown had that sense of community which ushers in a sense of safety too. It’s a lovely place to be 🙂

2. The people will welcome you with open arms

It didn’t matter who we met, whether they were locals, other New Zealand expats or tourists – everyone was just lovely and always welcoming. Our landlord in New Zealand remains the nicest landlord we’ve ever had, and it was a refreshing change to deal with a landlord who was a real genuine guy – and not a scary property shark with a contract.

3. It’s not just a new version of the UK (and don’t move there expecting it to be)

I think a lot of British people move to New Zealand in the hopes it will be a new and improved version of the UK. I didn’t find this to be true. I didn’t actually draw many comparisons between UK culture and New Zealand culture. This country has it’s own identity and it is it’s own entity.

Don’t move there if all you want is Manchester with mountains. Or London with lakes.

If anything I found the culture more similar to that of the USA. The streets are usually set out in blocks, the postal service is a bit like the US, and the traditions are more similar to the US than they are the UK. BUT even saying those things, NZ is completely its own. It has it’s own history, it’s story and that what makes it so magical and such a wonderful place to live. It’s not just Eastenders with an extra dash of Milford Sound.

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4. It’s more expensive than you expect (and I’m a Londoner who know about high prices!) 

Of all the amazing things, I have to say this – NZ is expensive and having been a New Zealand Expat, this was one of our hardest realisations. In London (and bear in mind – London is about as expensive as the UK gets) we would pay about £70 for a weekly shop for two people (this doesn’t include alcohol). In New Zealand a comfortable shop, with the same items, would cost us the equivalent of £120-£150.

This would go up big time if we wanted any luxuries like alcohol, etc.

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It is expensive – so make sure you’re ready for that! Why is it expensive? I think it’s because nearly everything is imported. Oh – and don’t even dream of buying anything off the ‘special imports’ shelves…. £10 for a bottle of Robinson’s Squash? No thanks!

Which brings me onto my next point…

5. THEY DON’T HAVE NORMAL SQUASH

During an average week in London I go through about 2 bottles of fruit squash. You know, the no added sugar, Robinson’s kinda goodness. In New Zealand (and this is random and weird) but they just don’t sell it (except from on the expensive import shelf). They don’t have any local / less expensive alternative.

They have this weird powered stuff, but it confused me and freaked me out a bit (“juice from powder?! I don’t understand!”) and they had sugar-loaded Ribena / syrup drinks – but no low-sugar cordial. Anyway, rant over.

6. Medical care might not always be accessible

During my time in NZ I was luck not to become seriously ill, or injured – except this one time when I nearly severed off my fingers whilst zip-lining. I was hastily rushed off to the ‘medical centre’ (basically a big doctors surgery) and told I had very nearly severed the tendon of my two fingers.

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The photo on the left was taken just seconds before the ‘incident’. Look how ignorant and happy I am…!

Luckily – I hadn’t. But if I had (and I came very close) I would have had to be helicoptered to the nearest hospital to get myself into surgery. THAT’S A LOT OF INSURANCE MONEY – or normal money if you don’t got no insurance. It was then I realised that we were quite literally living in the middle of nowhere, and should something serious happen, the medical care might not have been that easy to get hold of or access.

7. It’s remote. And a bit isolated. 

This kind of leads on from the previous point, but I’m talking on a larger scale. If you’re moving from the UK, NZ does feel very far away. It can be hard to get hold of family and friends (because you’re always either 11 or 12 hours apart). Basically the only times you can talk to home is early morning or late at night – which works fine, until you realise you like having lie-ins! 😉

Keep it in mind, that you may struggle at times with the time difference. It does make you feel a long way from home.

8. Internet is slower (I know you don’t think this is a big deal right now – but just wait until your buffering the next episode of Breaking Bad). 

The internet is slow. Saying that though, as we were leaving NZ, there were improvements being put in (our whole street was being dug up to make room for faster cables) so maybe it’s getting better. It is slow though.

HOWEVER you’ll have way better things to be doing than being on the internet anyway. You know, like climbing those mountains right outside your front door.

9. Rent is expensive 

I’m not sure how this fares around the rest of the New Zealand – but rent in Queenstown was a lot of money. I guess this is inline with the sheer demand there is on properties there though. We splashed out and lived somewhere incredible, because we’d saved so hard beforehand – but not everyone has that advantage. So remember to do your research before landing.

Also keep in mind it’s calculated by week (not per month – which is the norm in the UK).

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10. I forgot to put this above – but eating out is affordable (even is grocery shopping isn’t) 

Eating out in NZ is actually (surprisingly) affordable. More so than cooking at home at times. You have the cheap prices of the USA – but without the obligation to leave a 20% tip. We usually left between 10-15% tip but I think some people wouldn’t have even left that (we are self confessed generous tippers having both worked in hospitality when we were younger).

On a side note – Queenstown has some of the best restaurants EVER. It’s crazy that so many amazing food places exist in such a small town.

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expat new zealand

expat new zealand

11. There are so many amazing places to see and so many things to to do

New Zealand isn’t just mountains and lakes, there are beautiful beachesincredible coastlines and quirky, fun cities too. There are so many places to go and see – and I didn’t realise quite how varied the country was until I arrived there and started exploring. It really is a beautiful country. You could spend years exploring and still not scratch the surface.

expat new zealand

expat new zealand

expat new zealand

Are you a New Zealand expat? What things have you learnt about life there so far?

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My silly tourist photos from Disneyland over Halloween

For my sisters 21st birthday I decided to take her to Disneyland. Why? BECAUSE IT’S THE BEST PLACE IN THE WHOLE WORLD!

It was amazing… of course, and (through some miracle) it didn’t rain the whole time we were there. So here are some of our cheesy, touristy, lovely photos.

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Whilst I would happily spend all day trying on Princess dresses…. Bekah was less impressed.

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She was far more happy trying on random wigs. I’m not sure which Disney character these are supposed to relate to… but it suits her more than her normal hairstyle. We both decided this is what she should now aim for in life.

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I have to admit – Halloween is one of my favourite times of year, and it’s so much fun to spend it at Disneyland. They totally go all out – with the spookyness, pumpkins, etc…. it’s really done up good and proper. They also have all the villains from the movies touring the park throughout the day, which is great.

I always thought the bad guys were a little more fun anyway!

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After the hit of Maleficent earlier in the year, they really went all out with the sleeping beauty decorations (which you can see above). The lady herself also made an appearance in the palace, to the applause of everyone!

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My favourite part of the day, was (of course) the parade which happens at around 5pm.

Bekah and I made sure we got a good view, and sat ourselves on the sidewalk a good 30 minutes before the parade was due. It gets really crowded once it gets going, so making sure you grab a decent seat is crucial!

We ate the world’s biggest stick of candy-floss each to keep ourselves busy as we waited. 

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The 8 stages of Jet Lag

Stage 1: You get off the plane – for 1 hour all tiredness is cast aside in favour of excitement. 

Common symptom of Stage 1: Hopping around in excitement and using the word ‘yay’.

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Stage 2: You resolve to stay awake until ‘bed-time’ in your current location. 

Common symptom of Stage 2: Constant and severe yawning.

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Stage 3: You begin the agonising wait until ‘bed-time’. 

Common symptoms of Stage 3: Talking about bed way too much, day-dreaming about bed, falling asleep in random places.

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Stage 4: You climb into bed like it’s the best thing you’ve ever climbed into in your life. Which it is. Oh my god it so is.

Common symptoms of Stage 4: Hogging of the duvet, dead-to-the-world-ness and snoring

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Stage 5: You wake up in the middle of the night, with no idea how you got there, where you are or what time it is…. followed by relief and excitement that you’re allowed to go back to sleep. 

Common symptoms of Stage 5: Panic, confusion, followed by relief.

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Stage 6: You try to go back to sleep (you try and try) – but your body is having none of it. 

Common symptoms of Stage 6: Insomnia.

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Stage 7: Morning arrives, and you’re just as exhausted, sleepy, sick and tired as you were the night before.

Common symptoms of Stage 7: Grumpiness and general hangover-like feeling.

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Stage 8: You resolve to stay awake until ‘bed-time’ in your current location…. 

And the cycle continues… Welcome to the world of travelling and jetlag.

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You need to eat at Meza in Tooting Broadway right now. Trust me.

Pad and I are London-food-lovers. We spend our weekends hunting out new restaurants, amazing hidden gems and hyped up eating hot-spots. We even have a list of restaurants pinned to our fridge full of our friend’s recommendations, that we cross off each time we eat somewhere.

Meza in Tooting Broadway was one of those places which we tried out on a limb one evening. Pad’s friend from suggested it for an evening out, so the three of us trodded on down and had the most pleasantly surprisingly, and ridiculously cheap, lebanese meal ever.

Since that night, Pad and I have been back about 4/5 times. It hasn’t got less delicious or less amazing. This place is awesome.

I have to admit – I’m kinda biased. Lebanese food (and middle eastern food in general) is one of my FAVOURITE genres of food. Holy crap I love it.

Give me everything smothered in humous and scattered in Coriander and I’ll be one happy lady.

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Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 16.53.02Meza is a humble restaurant though – and if you’re expecting some flashy, posh eatery – this ain’t it.

It’s found on a suburban street in zone 3 of London, in an area that isn’t exactly known for being a tourist hotspot, I doubt any tourist in the history of ever has been to Tooting.

Not only that, but it’s kind of found in the front room of someone’s house. There are about 5 tables – and that’s it. If you weren’t looking for Meza – you’d walk straight on past it.

Pad and I have done that several times in fact – and we were looking for it, and we’d been there before – so that probably says something!

Don’t let it’s unassuming exterior but you off though!

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It’s one of the best restaurants in London and by far one of my new favourites. The food is consistently good, the service is quick and the staff are SUPER friendly. And it’s just so damn cute in there. Teeny tiny lovely restaurant.

On a Friday and Saturday night – you’ll need to book… what with there only being like 6 tables and all. 

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Anyway – I hope I’ve convinced you to give this place a go. If you’re based in London, or ever in South London and feeling hungry – this is the place you need to be. Let them fill your belly with their delicious grilled meat and lamb kibbeh.

If you go on a Sunday they do a platter deal, which consists of all sorts of amazing yummyness, and costs @12 per person. WHICH IS THE BEST DEAL EVER.

I’m am actually drooling on my keyboard as I write this. 

They don’t have a website (I told you it was a small and humble kind of place) so I can’t help you out with a link, but here’s their address:

34 Trinity Road
London
SW17 7RE

And their phone number: 07771 333157

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My photos of the (very beautiful) Central Park in Autumn

NYC is my long lost true love.

I think of the city as a person, and them and I are forever torn apart by this evil villain called ‘greencard’.

But just because I can’t live there, doesn’t mean I won’t endeavour to visit there as often as I possibly can. Pad and I are regulars in the city now – we’re actually heading over for new years eve this year (yay!) – so I’m mega excited for that. Sure it’ll be cold, but I’ll be the person I love in the place I love, so it doesn’t get more perfect than that.

For now though, here are some beautiful photos I took during a past visit to the city, taken in the middle of November – right in the height of Autumn in Central Park. It’s so stunning, it takes my breath away!

Central park autumn photo

Central park autumn photo

If you saw the photos above and thought ‘ wow they’re no even wearing coats’ – for some miraculous reason NYC was having a mid-November heatwave during our visit – so it was unseasonably warm for a few days!

I doubt it’s usually 15 degrees in November!

Central park autumn photo

Central park autumn photo

I love the shot of the bridge below – it must be one of NYC’s most romantic spots. I’d love to get a shot of it this year from the same spot, but covered in snow. (UPDATE Jan 2015 – I just did! Check the photos out by clicking here)

Central park autumn photo

Central park autumn photo

Central park autumn photo

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Central park autumn photo

What’s your favourite season for taking photos? I must admit I have a weak spot for autumn! There are just so many beautiful colours (especially central park in autumn!) and amazing events to capture, I seem to always have my camera in my bag during October and November.

Central park autumn photo

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Review: Harrods Afternoon Tea at The Georgian Restaurant

Don’t you think cake is awesome?

And scones too? With jam.

If you’re nodding your head in agreement right now (and maybe drooling a little bit on your keyboard) – then you’ll love this blog post about Harrods Afternoon Tea.

At the weekend, I went for Harrods Afternoon Tea at the newly refurbished Georgian Restaurant, which is located on the top floor of Harrods in London (one of the biggest and poshest department stores). It’s been re-done by the same guy who designed the interior for The Bellagio in las vegas – and the same luxury and opulence is reflected.

Don’t worry though – you don’t need to be dressed up to the nines to enter. The dress code is smart casual.

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The restaurant is huge, and the tables are nicely spread out – with each one offering a different kind of seat or chair design. There are some lovely big, stylish arm chairs, some huge chaise lounge type sofas, curved booths, and traditional cushioned dining chairs. I like that they varied the tables and chairs – I think it adds character and gives the place a really special atmosphere.

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There are also lovely views over the local area, of chimneys and rooftops. I love that kind of view (reminds me of Mary Poppins) so I had to take a few snaps of that before we left!

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The room is bright and airy, mostly because of the incredible sky-light in the centre of the room, which dates back to the 1920s. If you love history and feeling like you’re stepping back in time – a Harrods afternoon tea might the perfect thing for you.

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But enough about the room (as beautiful as it was!) we went there for the food! The afternoon tea is £39.99 per person and that includes unlimited tea, and a traditional afternoon tea platter, which consisted of perfectly formed sandwiches, fresh baked scones, a selection of beautiful cakes, and a special Harrods Trifle (which was beyond yummy).

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One thing I liked (and where the Harrods tea differed from other afternoon teas I done, such as The Shard) was the generosity of the place. The portions are sizeable anyhow, but if you’re not filling up – you can always ask for more.

We had two lots of sandwiches, two lots of scones and the cakes (which we ended up taking home in a very posh doggy-bag). All these second portions were offered to us too – it wasn’t something we had to ask for. The waiter simply noticed we were running low, and asked if we wanted a stock up.

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My favourite part of the Afternoon Tea would have to be the scones (smothered in clotted cream and strawberry jam) and the egg mayonnaise sandwiches (which were soft and delicious and had the crusts cut off). Freshly baked scones are such an unbelievable treat, and they were lovely and crispy on the outside, and soft and fluffy on the inside.

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Are you a cream or jam first kinda person?

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Would I recommend the experience? Definitely.

It’s one of the nicest Afternoon Teas I have ever had, and I felt spoilt rotten by the staff, who couldn’t have been more attentive and lovely if they’d tried. Everyone had a smile on their face, and our waiter, Lee, was brilliant at making sure we always had what we needed.

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Proof that we all look stupid sometimes.

When you take as many photos as I do when I travel – some of them are bound to go wrong / be crap / look awful.

Sometimes it can just be near impossible to get all the right elements into place for the perfect snap, whether it be too much rain, wind or even laughter…

Here are a few of my favourite out-takes.

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This shot took a couple of times to take, but the end result (where we look normal) is nowhere near as good as these two. First the yawning… then the laughing at the yawning. It’s all fun in Hong Kong.

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The photo below is from The Great Ocean Road in Australia where, incase you hadn’t already guessed, it’s really windy. This is one of my favourie photos from our time in Australia for the simple reason that it’s utterly ridiculous and we both look like morons.

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And another shot from just down the road, looking just as windswept. I’m not sure what my hair is doing here, but I’m pretty sure it’s not good…

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Bad lighting is something I’m usually pretty good at avoiding, but occasionally you can’t predict it. I took the photo below on the strike of midnight as we watched the fireworks in Sydney. We were so close the fireworks that the camera picked up on all the light and it messed up the shot.

I kind of love this photo more than any of the others though because of all the crazy colours, and for the very reason other people might have deleted the shot. It sums up the night for me and the magic view we had.

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Sometimes you can’t predict what’s going to happen when you take a photo. One minute you’re taking a nice photo and smiling, and the next you’re bricking it because Thailand is dangerous and everyone drives like a maniac. Luckily Pad was on hand to capture the change in emotion!

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Accidental zoom is always annoying. I took the photo below without realising the lens was slightly zoomed. The result? a headless boyfriend. Oops.

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Another example of never knowing what’s going to happen, here is Pad struggling with an umbrella on Hamilton Island in Australia. He’s handling it like a pro, as you can see.

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And finally, the last two photos – are fine examples of why having long hair is only ever a hassle!

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Eating Out: A few of my favourite London restaurant recommendations

Just a quick post today – I thought I’d put together a list of some of my favourite cafes and restaurants in London. For my boyfriend and I, the restaurants and eateries in London are definitely one of the main reasons we love living there.

So here are a few of my favourites places in London!

Hummingbird Bakery

There’s nowhere quite like it. If you like cupcakes, welcome to your new second-home. I’d go for the Red Velvet cupcakes above any of the others, and then a big slice of their amazing Rainbow Cake. Yum.

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Franco Manca

My favourite pizza place in London, their pizza dough is unrivalled. There are branches in Brixton, Balham, Chiswick and other suburbs. Their lemonade is also awesome. And their chilli sauce too.

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Red Dog Saloon

If BBQ  and burgers are your thing, then Red Dog Saloon is where you need to be headed, they have one in Old Street and one south of the river in Clapham too. The Wing Platter is a must-have (don’t go there without trying the chicken wings, because they are epic). For mains, get yourself a burger or one of their sandwiches. *Drool*

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Roast

Sometimes you really need a Sunday roast dinner, and when that time comes calling – then a restaurant called ‘Roast’ seems the obvious choice. The roast dinners are amazing (of course) but the starters are delicious too. Especially the courgette spaghetti and the scotch eggs.

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Patisserie Valerie

This is a firm tourist favourite as there are loads around the centre of London. It’s a great choice if you want somewhere to pop into for dessert or something sweet. As the picture below probably shows!

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Jamie’s Italian

If you want to dine out somewhere nice, but at an affordable price, then Jamie’s Italian is a really good choice. There are loads around the country (it’s not just a London thing), for example – the branch in Bath is just gorgeous and definitely my choice for dining out in Bath! The one in Piccadilly has to be my favourite though, I love the cosy homely feel the decor has.

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Carbon

This place is right round the corner from my office, and our go-to Friday lunch treat. It’s amazing, yummy, fast and the staff are uber friendly. If you’re in Soho area, or near Piccadilly Circus and fancy eating like a local instead of in a crappy over-priced tourist cafe, then GO HERE. You won’t regret it.

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Hawksmoor

And the award for ‘my absolute favourite steak place in the whole world’ goes to Hawksmoor. It’s highly priced – but what you get is amazing food and amazing service too. It’s a treat, but if you can justify it – DO IT!

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And a few more suggestions…

Busaba – My favourite Thai restaurant in London – cheap and DELICIOUS

Five guys – Fast food, prepare to queue. Awesome burgers USA-style

Cafe Pacifico – Cute mexican restaurant with massive menu

Bodeans – Really good American BBQ food, a lot like Red Dog, but not quite as good in my opinion. Still worth a trip though!

Borough Market: A haven for food lovers. If you can’t find something here you like – then I seriously question your sanity.

Ottomans, Hammersmith: Awesome for takeaway or to dine in. I wish I still lived near this place, we used to go every week!

 

Where are your favourite places to eat in London? Do you have any London restaurant recommendations to share?

 

Did you like the photos featured in this blog post? Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram @TheWorldAndThenSome where I post lots more gorgeous photos from my travels!

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Hidden paradise in London: The Berkeley Hotel rooftop pool review

When you live in a city like London, holidays and time off are majorly important, because getting out of the city (if just for a day) is a bit like resetting your stress scales.

London is a big city, frantic at the best of times – and you can start to feel little frazzled at times. It’s because of this I wanted to start looking for hidden gems in the centre of London. Places you could escape to in under an hour, that make you feel like you’re somewhere relaxing, calm and a million miles from the hustle and bustle of zone 1.

That was how I stumbled upon The Berkeley Hotel in Knightsbridge. I had read about it in Time Out Magazine back in June and as soon as I saw the gorgeous rooftop pool I knew I wanted to visit and check it out for myself. It looked like everything I’d been hoping for – somewhere I could visit just for a day (that’s all I needed!) but feel like I’d had a mini vacation afterwards.

From the moment I stepped onto The Berkeley Hotel’s rooftop pool area… I knew this was my new favourite place in London. I mean look at it…!

Berkeley Hotel London rooftop pool review

There are loads of different packages you can opt for when visiting The Berkeley – full list here on their website – ranging from about £125 – £570. All spa packages include a treatment (sometimes 2 or 3), rooftop pool access and in some case food and drink too.

When you arrive, you’ll be shown around the spa changing rooms, given a locker, dressing gown and slippers – and then taken up to the pool where your lounge beds are waiting for you! The lovely thing about the rooftop pool area is how calming and un-cluttered it feels. There are only 10 beds next to the pool (and about 8 in a private garden next door to it) so it feels really exclusive and private.

Berkeley Hotel London rooftop pool review

Berkeley Hotel London rooftop pool review

During the day, there were only around 8/9 other people that came and went. Two girls doing the ‘mother-to-be’ package next to us, and a couple of business women further along the poolside who were there for a couple of hours. Later in the day, a few guys came up who were hotel residents and did a few laps in the pool before heading into the gym.

It was so quiet and chilled out and at times it felt like we had our own private pool. If that isn’t perfection, I don’t know what is.

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Berkeley hotel london rooftop pool review

We got seriously lucky with the weather, it’d been raining in London all week, and luckily we managed to organise our spa day for the one day it was actually sunny! They do have a retractable roof too though (just in case) and the sun loungers are all under-cover anyway – so you don’t really stand any chance of getting rained on.

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We arrived at the spa about 11.30am and stayed until around 4.30pm, just reading, relaxing and swimming… It was the perfect little mini-escape. The spa even have copies of Cosmo and Vogue scattered around for a bit of light reading.

Once you’re there – you don’t even have to leave for supplies as they have a little lunch menu and drinks menu especially for the pool area. We got the smoked salmon, chicken escalope (I’ll never learn to pronounce that) and the strawberry smoothies.

Oh and they gave us these little cracker things with mint dip and hummus dip to start with WHICH WAS AWESOME. I could have just swam in the dip (never mind the pool).

the berkeley hotel spa food

the berkeley hotel spa food

the berkeley hotel spa food

the berkeley hotel spa food

the berkeley hotel spa food

Berkeley hotel london rooftop pool review

The above is a wheatgrass shot I decided to try… Have you ever had one? I can’t say I liked it, but as long as it had the promised nutrients, maybe it was worth it! 😉 I definitely won’t be trying one again for the taste alone. It’s no really my cup of tea!

the berkeley hotel spa food

They have a few tables around the pool you can eat at – so you don’t have to venture far from your comfy lounge beds. We choose a table by one of the windows overlooking Knightsbridge, and the view was phenomenal.

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Overall I had an awesome time at the spa, and wouldn’t hesitate to go again. It is the perfect city-getaway… and you don’t even have to leave the city.

It’d be lovely for a hen-do too or birthday party too, the little private garden area can fit about 10 people in it and would be an amazing place to spend the day celebrating something like that!

So overall it’s awesome and gorgeous – and if you’re looking for somewhere in or around London to enjoy a spa day then I’d tell you to go for it. I took so many photos (who wouldn’t?!) so I’ll just let the rest of the photos do all the talking.

Enjoy!

Berkeley hotel london rooftop pool review

Berkeley hotel london rooftop pool review

Berkeley hotel london rooftop pool review

Berkeley hotel london rooftop pool review

Berkeley hotel london rooftop pool review

Berkeley hotel london rooftop pool review

Did you like the photos featured in this blog post? Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram @TheWorldAndThenSome where I post lots more gorgeous photos from my travels!

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Photos of Santa Monica Beach: My favourite place to get sun burnt.

The photo below was the first glimpse I got of Santa Monica Beach as the bus I was on pulled into the beach front road. It was just perfect.

Since the moment that I’d arrived in LA (or even begun planning the holiday to be honest) I’d been dreaming of the beach. Living in London you don’t get that big expanse of open space – and I was just dying to be on the beach and see miles and miles of open water ahead of me.
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When we lived in New Zealand we woke up every morning to the most stunning view of The Remarkables and Lake Wakatipu, and it was so relaxing being surrounded by water all the time. It was the same when we were travelling, we always had a lake or beach within 10 minutes by foot or taxi.

On moving back to London last year – that’s been the thing I’ve missed the most. Water, ocean, sea.

So my first day in LA I basically ran to the beach. In slow motion.

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And who can blame me? It’s a GORGEOUS beach.

Right next to the lively pie – the beach feels peaceful and family friendly and just lovely. I made camp right next to the tide line with my massive bottle of Gatorade and just spent a few hours people watching and soaking it all in. At that moment there was literally nowhere else in the world I would rather have been, it’s so beautiful.

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The beach is huge too – you could walk for miles and it would still be going on, stretching ahead of you. And don’t under-estimate the walk back to the high-street beach front road either. I set off in my bare feet (on the hot sand) to walk back to the road and realised it wasn’t a quick 10 minute stroll, it was a good 20 minutes! After about 5 minutes my feet started to burn on the sand and I had to pick up the pace! I must’ve looked ridiculous.

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On the quieter end of the beach there are some traditional lifeguard huts, which I loved just because they reminded me of all the old LA TV shows I used to watch like The OC. I love the photo below 🙂

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The below photo is the little park overlooking the beach that stretches along the main road. Beautiful, wish I would’ve had time to spend a few hours sat there too.

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Hope you enjoyed these gorgeous photos of Santa Monica Beach. If you like them, you might also want to follow me on Instagram 🙂

 

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