2019

Happy New Years! To all of you who are reading this as it’s been posted, and to all of you reading in the future – I hope 2020 is treating you well?!

After unintentionally taking a break from the blog for a few months – life has honesty just ran away with me – it feels good to be writing again, and what better to get it all out than looking back on pretty great year!

For the past few years now I’ve written up these round up posts, (like here and here), and even if no-one else is reading them, I love having them to look back on. So without further ado, I’ve a little travel round up of 2019 below:

Australia – February 2019

This was *the* trip I had been planning for pretty much all of 2018 (we actually booked the first part of the trip back in Jan 2018) so it had been a long time coming. We travelled around Australia, visiting as many territories as possible. After starting in Melbourne, we flew to Adelaide to visit my family, before travelling to Sydney – including a stay at Bondi Beach. We then ventured on to Byron Bay and Brisbane before finishing the trip at the Whitsundays.

It truly was a taste of everything in the space of three weeks, we stayed in a lot of different spots, and had such a brilliant time. It’s hard to pick a highlight of the trip, but we did really love our time on Bondi Beach, and if we were ever to return to Australia I think that’s where we’d head first!

Norfolk Broads – March 2019

I couldn’t write about this year without mentioning one of my favourite places, the Norfolk Broads. Booked on a whim as I was searching through Secret Escapes and found a night stay at The Norfolk Mead, with dinner, drinks and breakfast all included.

I would definitely recommend a trip there, as it was so cosy and welcoming. The Broads are such a lovely place to explore, whether you have a boat or not!

Chicago – April 2019

I still can’t believe we went to Chicago this year, as this one was definitely booked last minute for my birthday, as we were both so shocked at how cheap the flights were (£240 return, and then we found a bargain in the Freehand Chicago on Secret Escapes)

I went there with low expectations, not for Chicago, but as I had barely any time to plan or prepare for the trip. Safe to say, we had a great time. We experienced some traditional Chicago deep dish pizza, live Blues music, we cycled down the lakeside to the planetarium steps and of course visited ‘The Bean’ several times. We had the best time trying out the batting cages at Wrigley’s bar, and of course sampled plenty of variations of frozen Margaritas. It was one of the best birthdays I’ve ever had!

New York – May 2019

Two trips to America in two months is certainly indulgent, and I can’t believe I got to visit New York – one of my favourite places – again this year. I took my mum and sister (again on another bargain ride, £260 return with BA) and had an incredible time showing them some of my favourite spots.

I was very lucky they both allowed me to plan the itinerary for our trip, so I had planned out a rough idea for each day and they were happy to go along with the ride and enjoy themselves! We ate a lot, we spent time walking everywhere, from the Brooklyn Bridge at dawn to Central Park on a lazy Sunday with no plans but to walk and enjoy the view.

I of course took them to all my favourite rooftop bars, and tried out more (for the research of course) and whilst we were there we ticked a goal off my mum’s list, by bridal shopping at Kleinfeld’s.

Glastonbury – June 2019

Ah, my sixth Glastonbury! I’m so lucky to say this was my sixth time – and sadly it’ll be my last for a while as I won’t be heading there this year (as I have some exciting plans, more on those later…)

I feel like every year I return to Glastonbury it becomes my favourite year, and this time it was no different. I had such  a wonderful time – even in the heatwave, and I have to return one day!

Secondigny – July 2019

I’ve written about the area of Secondigny a few years ago, as my parents have a house there and we’re lucky enough to visit every now and then. This year we chose to fly out for a long weekend over Bastille Day celebrations, which was so fun and a real treat to experience.

I love a lot of things about France, but the food has to be the top of the list – stick my in a French supermarket and I can stay for days. I ate so much incredible food (and drank a lot of wine..) during our weekend there, and it’s one of the reasons I always want to return!

Cornwall – September 2019

And at last but not least, our final trip of the year and it was on home turf! My fiancé and I had toyed with the idea of going on a camping trip, and decided to finally commit at the end of this Summer.

I’ve always wanted to visit Cornwall, and our camping trip meant we got to experience different parts in one holiday – packing up the tent in the car and driving to the other side! There were so many highlights of the trip, but camping on the hill at Polzeath with the view of the surfers was a brilliant place to stay. I also absolutely loved our day trip to Mousehole, as it was so empty and cute it felt like a little area of Cornwall to ourselves.

Ah, WHAT A YEAR! One of my favourite things about 2019 is how half of the travel listed above wasn’t even in my mind this time last year! So glad I got the chance to travel so much this year, and will definitely be trying more spontaneous travel trips this year!

Next up I have a weekend way in Dublin, before my Italy trip honeymoon later in the year. And who knows what else!

Happy New Year everyone, and thanks for reading! xx

Where to Find the New York Movie Spots

I don’t know about you but I absolutely love a rom-com, and more specifically the ridiculous kind set in the Big Apple. There is always, inevitably, a panning shot of New York city, preferably from many angles, to very good and empowering pop music (Trainwreck I’m looking at you).

Anyway, I digress, but isn’t there something really great about visiting New York and spotting all the sights you’ve seen on TV? Or in your favourite movies? And it’s not like they’re hard to come by, the city is a living, breathing film set.

On my most recent trip to NYC, without even looking for them, we’d stumbled across somewhere we’d seen on TV or film every day. They’re so easily everywhere it’s not hard to find, but if you’re on the look here is where you need to go…

Central Park

I mean, Central Park is a pretty standard backdrop to a multitude of movies (ahem, I should say rom-coms) but there are particular spots to look out for.

The central ‘mile’ is a pretty pivotal backdrop to rom-coms that I can drop from the top of my head – Maid in Manhattan, Along Came Polly, the entire catalogue of Gossip Girl episodes… In addition, the The Fountain – is an iconic backdrop to many a scene.

There is also *the* fountain from the Friends credits which can be found near the central lake. It’s small so it’s very easy to miss.

If you’re young/old enough to remember the masterpiece that is Stuart Little then visit The Boat Lake in Central Park. It’s a great spot to sit back and watch the little boats go by, and happens to be next to a spot in the sun you can grab a drink.

Kat’z Delicatessen

You too can sit at the table where the infamous ‘I’ll Have what She’s having’ line was spoken, and there’s a handy sign to point you to it. Not only is it a famous spot for the movie, but it’s a bustling deli with no-nonsense staff who will serve up a mean pastrami sandwich

It’s hard to get in so if you do want to give it a go it’s best to visit when it’s not peak mealtime. We went just before midday and managed to get a prime table with waiter service.

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Mulberry Street

Not only great for it’s infamous Godfather’s scene spotting, but also because you can pick up some pretty tasty food whilst you’re there. Little Italy is an iconic spot in New York, but you can stop by an grab a cannelloni from the bakeries lining this street.

Ghostbusters Fire Station

How these firemen actually get any work done I don’t know… But you can certainly spot this fire station for the Ghostbusters signs spray painted onto the pavement in front.

From the infamous Ghostbusters movies, the firehouse sits in Lower Manhattan so it’s easy to swing by and spot the firehouse on your way to trendy Soho.

Tiffany’s

Of course, it’s in the name, however Tiffany’s features in the infamous Breakfast at Tiffany’s. If classic films aren’t your bag, how about classic rom-coms? The store is also the setting of the proposal in Sweet Home Alabama, you’re welcome.

If you want to venture inside and look at some expensive jewellery and this is your spot. If you’re after more affordable times you could possibly buy then head to the 4th floor.

Empire State Building

I mean, come on, it’s *the* spot in New York you can see from pretty much everywhere. Personally I like to look at it from a rooftop bar rather than go up the actual building, but it’s up to you.

I could name hundreds of films and tv shows it’s pivotal for, but the top one that comes to mind? King Kong! Imagine seeing a giant gorilla on that…

There we are! A slightly different post for me but it’s something I couldn’t stop thinking about whilst we were exploring New York. Guaranteed if you have a favourite TV show it must have some connection to this city.

Anywhere great I’ve missed? Please let me know in the comments or on my Instagram @GrundyTravels where more of my holiday snaps can be found!

I hope you enjoyed this post, more New York posts will be coming to the blog every week. Thanks for reading x

 

 

 

4 Rooftop Bars in New York to Add to Your List

Yes, I’m aware I sound like a very broken record right now, but if you haven’t guessed from reading this blog yet, I’m a huge fan of a rooftop bar. On my recent trip to New York the weather was incredible, and so we took the chance to grab some sun from some of the best and most-recommended rooftop bars we could find.

Whereas we did visit some old favourites we also tried out some new spots that I wanted to add to the recommendation list! So, grab yourself a cup of tea or a frozen margarita and take a look at these new rooftop bar picks!

For the Cocktails – Roof at Park South

This was a given as this bar happened to sit right on top of my hotel during my last trip, with the elevator actually being incredibly close to our room – which was a sign to visit if anything.

Not only does it have an extensive cocktail menu (albeit an expensive one, but that’s a running theme in this post…) but it had a pretty great view. You couldn’t see the ‘big’ buildings per se, but at dusk there was a gorgeous view of the surrounding skyline.

This lack of ‘big sight’ drawing point meant it wasn’t as packed as you’d expect, so there was room to sit, chat and not get jostled by busy elbows pushing past. Also, they’re cocktails look pretty jazzy as well, so if you’re in it for the aesthetic, this bar is your spot.

For the Iconic View – 203 Rooftop Bar

Frosé? Tick. Views of the Empire State Building? Tick. Right off 5th Avenue? Tick, tick tick.

203 had been on my list for a few years and I’m glad we had the chance to visit this time round. Despite being hit by a thunderstorm halfway through we still managed to enjoy the sun and sit right at the top in front of the Empire State Building, frosé in hand.

Once again, it’s hardly cheap, but they do have a cracking view of the city, so once you weigh up a visitor ticket to a viewing deck, this place definitely wins. They do have a happy hour as well, so if you plan it perfectly you can still take advantage of two-for-one wine.

For a Party – Mr Purple

This is technically cheating as I have mentioned this rooftop bar before, but I definitely didn’t experience it at it’s fullest last time. This time we were in season, and luckily arrived just before it really got busy, so we got to experience it at it’s best, sunny and with table service!

As we arrived probably around 15 minutes before the rest of Manhattan did, it meant we managed to grab a seat, and then sat back and enjoyed the good weather whilst our waitress served us cocktails. I had two frozen margaritas, and yes, it was expensive again. But considering you have to tip generously in New York anyway, might as well enjoy the service straight to your table.

For The View – Bar Sixty Five

Again, another repeat offender, but it’s worth mentioning this spot again as this year around we experienced it in daylight, and with a really incredible view of the city. Not only would I definitely recommend this place but I would say it’s vital to book to get the best experience out of this bar.

If you can book a spot it’s more than likely you’ll get a better view, as the walk-up line were only allowed in a standing area in the middle of the bar. This meant they weren’t as close to the windows as the rest of us, and so didn’t get to enjoy the view.

Not only that, but as we took our turn to head out to the viewing platform the security guard cleared it for us. As in, he made people leave so we could have it to ourselves, madness. I think if you’re a walk-up patron then your time outside is limited, whereas we were encouraged to stay out there as long as we wanted, and all to ourselves!

Again, the cocktails are expensive, but they’re brilliant and so worth it for the view and the experience of having a drink at the Rockefeller centre alone.

Anywhere great I’ve missed? Please let me know in the comments or on my Instagram @GrundyTravels where more of my holiday snaps can be found!

I hope you enjoyed this post, more New York posts will be coming to the blog every week. Thanks for reading x

Bridal Shopping in New York

This is certainly a topic I never thought I’d be writing about, but on my recent trip to New York I indulged my mum and booked in a few appointments to try on wedding dresses. I’m not really writing too much #weddingcontent on here, but as it was a completely different experience to what I’ve had before, I wanted to write up how it all went!

So, to begin I booked an appointment at Kleinfelds Bridal, which some readers may know as the wedding dress shop from Say Yes To The Dress. This appointment was mainly to indulge my mum who is a huge fan of the show.

I had to book an appointment pretty much two months in advance to be fit in, and to my surprise it didn’t cost me a penny (as British brides-to-be will know, most Saturday appoints require a deposit).

I hadn’t thought too much about the appointment but for some reason as soon as we entered I was hit with nerves. Perhaps it was the ‘you could be filmed at any point’ sign at the front door, or just the other hoards of nervous brides and their posse’s that had me suddenly having jitters.

Luckily I wasn’t asked to be on the show, or even saw any cameras whilst there, which relaxed me an awful lot. Our appointment lasted an hour and I had the chance to try on a few dresses whilst there, but considering my budget wasn’t really in their ball park (they took me to a room especially for dresses under $2,000 😳)

I think it was all worth it for my mum to get to visit the store and see some of the stars of the show!

In addition to Kleinfelds I booked an appointment at BHLDN, which is a wedding dress shop I’ve wanted to visit for aaages, and was so lucky I had the chance to visit on this trip to NYC. Whereas Kleinfelds was an experiences because it was Kleinfelds I felt like BHLDN was more of a wedding boutique that suited me.

The service was great, the atmosphere in their loft was lovely and the dresses were more me. I love all the style of dresses from BHLDN (their parent company also owns Anthropologie if that gives you a hint as to the vibe of the place).

At BHLDN I found way more dresses that I loved, and frankly if they were in the UK I could’ve walked home with any of them, but – ever the pragmatist – the logistics of trying to get a dress home to the UK in my hand luggage put me off.

Whereas I didn’t fly home with a dress packed in my carry-on it did plant the seed of researching a brand when I got home, which eventually lead to me finding my dress! So overall the wedding dress shopping certainly wasn’t a wasted experience, it led me to the final dress in the end!

This is a bit of a ramble post, but if you’re heading to the states and are looking for a wedding dress I would recommend BHLDN. Kleinfelds is Kleinfelds and if you’re a fan of the show then definitely have a look, the only downside is the dresses are so expensive. But on the plus side I now have a Kleinfelds branded water bottle I won’t be throwing away anytime soon…

The service is certainly different to the UK, and it seems they’re more keen on a hard sell than I’ve experienced here.

Like I said, there won’t be too much wedding info coming up on here, Honeymoon posts there will be plenty of though I’m sure. In the meantime I’m over on Instagram @GrundyTravels where more of my holiday snaps can be found!

I hope you enjoyed this post, more New York posts will be coming to the blog every week. Thanks for reading x

The Best Rooftop Bars Around the World

If there’s one vital travel lesson I’ve learnt in the past year – it’s to find the best view in any city you need to head to a rooftop bar. Sure, you can splash out on tickets to the nearest tourist trap and head up for your skyscraper view or you can follow the Grundy Travels train of thought – rooftop bar = view + drink.

I’m lucky enough to have travelled to quite a lot of countries throughout the past year, and in the process I’ve tried quite a few rooftop bars – all in the name of research of course. Below is a round-up of my favourite I’ve been to from around the globe, to stop, grab a drink and watch the world go by – from the top.

Mr Purple in NYC

I am so, so happy we came across Mr Purple, especially on such a gorgeous and sunny day in New York so we could have an incredible view of the infamous skyline. Because of it’s location you can see both The One World Trade Center and The Empire State building on either side, and an incredible view of the bustling New York streets below. It was a bit too chilly for a dip when I was visiting last time, but in the Summer heat it would be a great spot to stop and dip your toes in their infinity pool.

Like the majority of bars in New York it does have a pricey drinks menu to match, but I can confirm the drinks are pretty tasty, and the food menu looks divine too. If the weather isn’t great when you’re visiting it still has a great indoors area, which has floor to ceiling high windows – enough to still get a good view. Mr Purple is actually located within a hotel, so it’s not clearly signposted from the street – which means it’s a (perhaps not so well) kept secret…

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Park, Lisbon

Hidden on the fourth floor of a car park – yes really – PARK is a raised terrace bar with a gorgeous view of the Lisbon skyline including it’s infamous bridge and river. It is dotted with bars situated inside, and has an outdoor terrace to sit back and relax with friends and a giant Aperol Spritz.

The menu isn’t too pricey considering what an incredible view you get, and there are plenty of options to go large and get jugs of cocktails… It is a gorgeous spot to stop at when the sun is setting, so you can see all the way out to the bridge, and if you have excellent vision, maybe even spot the tiny Christ The King statue on the other side of the river.

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Neni/Monkey Bar, Berlin

Even though this bar is enclosed, it definitely still counts as a ‘rooftop’ bar, and you can’t dispute that once you’ve seen the incredible view from the top. Not only do you get a view across Berlin, but right next door is the Berlin Zoo so you have a birds eye view directly into the monkey enclosure, which is quite an incredible sight from above.

Monkey Bar is the cocktail bar with plenty of room to kick back with a creative cocktail and admire the view, or you can pop to Neni for something to eat, and I can vouch that the food is absolutely delicious (it’s where I had my birthday meal…). Not only does it have a beautiful view of the Berlin skyline, but the interior decoration is pretty great too.

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La Terrasse at Galeries Lafayette Haussmann in Paris

On top of the most extravagant shopping department stores I’ve ever seen is La Terrasse, which has both the option to sit outside in the good weather, or inside their big ice-bubble. You can stop for a coffee, lunch or something to drink, all whilst taking in the view from the top.

You don’t actually even need to stop for something to eat as there is a viewing deck that’s free to access, but it’s always a better experience with a glass of fizz in your hand. You can of course spot the Eiffel Tower in the difference, but it’s fun to watch the Parisian streets bustling by below you.

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Sushi Samba London

I can’t finish this post without a shout-out to my own city, with Sushi Samba in London. You can stop for dinner – although you’ll have to book in advance – but you can rock up on the day for a spot at the bar. The cocktail menu is extensive and creative, and there are still bar snacks on offer if you’re peckish – but it can be quite pricey.

The view you get from the top is incredible – especially at night – as you’re right in the middle of London’s skyline and incredibly close to the infamous Gherkin. Speaking of heights, the journey up in the elevator is not for the faint hearted, as it’s completely surrounded in glass, which offers an incredible view of London on your way up to the bar, but may not be best for those who are not a fan of heights…

I’m not sure about you all but that round up of bars has made me really in the mood to go and find a cocktail… preferably with a rooftop view to match… I hope you enjoyed this round up of rooftop bars, if there are any essential bars I need to try please let me know in the comments! Otherwise, more travel updates and pictures are updated daily on my Instagram @GrundyTravels. Thanks for reading!

My Top 5 Travel Mistakes

It won’t be a surprise to any of you that I am absolutely in love with travel. I love planning trips, shopping around for great travel deals, holiday shopping, packing and then obviously – the actual travelling itself. However, I am certainly no travel expert and I have made mistakes many times.

I was thinking about this recently and it lead me down this train of thought – what mistakes I’ve made in my travelling adventures and what I have learnt from it. As much as I’d love to claim I’m an expert in travel, and nothing has ever gone wrong, I’d be completely lying to you – I’ve made many a mistake, and I wanted to explore that more here, to see what I’ve done and how I’ve learnt from it. So without further ado, I’ve rounded up 5 of my top mistakes in travel to explore what I’ve learnt and what I’d do again…

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Following the ‘gram

This is the number one thing I am guilty of throughout my travels – ‘doing it for the gram’. As I run this travel blog and my GrundyTravels Instagram, I’m always searching for the best spots, restaurants and bars when I travel to a new location, but I have definitely been guilty of taking it too far sometimes. Sometimes you don’t need to hunt down the nearest rainbow doughnut or private speak-easy bar, and it can be exhausting and expensive trying to do things on holiday just for the pictures – and frankly it takes the joy out of it a bit.

Although, saying this, sometimes it really has worked in my favour using Instagram to plan a holiday – as I wrote about here – as it can help you discover places that you might not see in a guide book. It’s also a great way to discover new blogs, travel bloggers and destinations. When I start planning a new holiday I always head to Instagram to get a feel for the place, even when searching hotels, as it can provide a different perspective to their official photos.

Say this, there are so many occasions where off-the-cuff, random discoveries have proved just as good – even better than what I’ve pre-planned using Instagram. Overall, I’ve learnt that a holiday needs to involve equal parts Insta-inspo and also time to look away from the small screen and at my surroundings. Some of the best moments happen when you least expect them, and they don’t always need to have their picture taken!

Trying to over-pack

This is certainly something I’ve refined in recent years with my hand luggage, but I feel like when I have the option for luggage in the hold I tend to go gung-ho and pack every possible item of clothing I might want to wear.

It’s funny as my friends have made fun of how little my cabin luggage is, but don’t be deceived, when I have luggage to go in the hold I tend to go crazy and pack too much, and it ends up being heavier than those that have bigger suitcases than mine. However, it hits me every time I get to my destination and unzip my case – I really don’t need all that I’ve packed.

I think it’s partially the unnecessary FOMO of getting somewhere and wishing that you had packed that one thing you left behind. But I’ve learnt over the years that the majority of what I’ve packed lays at the bottom of my suitcase whilst I gravitate to my favorites and contemplate how many days use in a row I can get out of them. To be honest it’s a mistake I keep making, but in my 3 week trip I’ll be making to Australia next year, I’m really going to refine my options, I Promise!

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Admitting That a Holiday Isn’t That Great

This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, and something I’ve seen others discussing too – the reality of a trip behind the glossy filter. Sometimes it’s easy to see people on their travels, exploring the world and looking like they’re having the best time, but we all really know that this can’t be the case the whole time.

Everyone’s had their low points on trips, it’s just not something that people tend to share – or put on Instagram. We’ve all felt a bit nervous, a bit unsure, a bit ill even when we’re on our travels, and I think sometimes we – myself especially – need to be more honest about that.

One example I can think of is my trip to Marrakech 4 years ago, because now with reflection I can admit that I really didn’t have the best time. I became ill half way through the trip after eating a questionable meal, and I grew tired of constantly being followed by people offering directions and then demanding money even when we declined. I hate the feeling of unease, and we were constantly trying to dodge people in the marketplace who would try and pull us into their shops, or place chained-up monkeys onto our shoulders and demand money for a picture.

I know plenty of people have had enjoyable experiences there, and some parts of my trip were great, but I felt that when I returned I was too proud to admit I hadn’t had a great holiday. It’s fair enough – it’s embarassing to admit that the place you splashed a lot of cash on, and took all your gorgeous pics wasn’t actually as good as it appeared.

I completely understand why people would want to only show the good bits – but when it comes to travel blogging especially, I want to give my honest opinion about my travels to those attempting the same trip – it would be unfair for me to only post the good bits without warning about the not-so-good.

Over-Planning

This links in with the first point as the over-planning, saving locations on the ‘gram, plotting out maps and researching every possible hotel review is something I have done plenty of times. I’m not going to stop doing it anytime soon, as I absolutely love doing this when getting ready for a trip – and it helps build up the excitement, however I have been guilty of going OTT when it comes to planning every part of an upcoming holiday.

One thing I always think about in this regard is my interrailing trip 5 years ago – which we planned to perfectionI don’t regret it at all – it was a great trip and the over planning was necessary for us travel around Europe on the budget we were on. However, if money wasn’t an object I do believe the non-planning route to interrailing would’ve been incredible, just flying into a city and then deciding where to go on a whim and booking the hostels that day.

Essentially what I’ve learnt is, over-planning can be essential when helping to stick to a budget and it’s something I love doing to help build up the excitement for a holiday. However, a holiday shouldn’t be planning too much, as it can zap the fun out of it. It’s the same as the Instagram issue – I don’t want to waste a good holiday trying to fit in everything I’ve seen or read about being amazing. Sometimes a good time can be had if you just take it slow and do things on a whim.

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Not following the jet-lag rules

The three main things I’ve heard for following Jet lag rules are – no caffeine on the day of travel, no alcohol in the air and to arrange my sleeping pattern when flying long-haul. And have I ever followed them? NO.

Call it excitement, stupidity or just over-zealously taking all of the free wine when you’re on the plane, but I’ve never managed to follow the proper jet lag rules and I’ve always felt terrible for it. It’s something I like to think that one day I will follow – especially on my upcoming trip to Australia, but I really don’t know how well I’ll do.

What I’ve learnt is that it really does make a different when you do the time difference maths, and not to go absolutely crazy on the free drinks…

I hope you’ve enjoyed my latest post – more posts will be coming weekly, but in the meantime check out my Grundy Travels Instagram for the latest updates!

Thanks for reading x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New York: The Essentials

New York, New York so good they named it twice, the city that never sleeps, The Big Apple… need I go on?! New York is a city that is well known all over, and a city I am lucky enough to be have been to three times (and would love to go many more times FYI).

I am by no means an expert at visiting New York, but in the nature of The Essentials Series, I have written up what I believe it’s vital to know before you head off on a trip there. So if you’re going to the city for the very first time, or you’re only there for a long weekend and are strapped for time, I’ve written down the basics you need to know before you go!

Currency: Dollars. Even if you can use your card abroad, it’s always great to have some dollars in cash to be on hand for tips or slices of pizza (i.e the essentials). My fav, Monzo, works abroad and I personally believe it’s got the best exchange rate for spending money abroad.

One thing to note is that in America the VAT is added on after your purchase, so if you fancy treating yourself to something in the shops, just note that the final price will be higher than the price tag, as it doesn’t include tax. WHY? I don’t know! But don’t forget…

ALSO, tipping is a huge thing in America. I should hope you tip wherever you are in the world, but in the States it’s especially important. I’d say it’s generally expected to tip at least 20%, and not just at restaurants, but also at coffee shops, for taxis and for hotel concierge service.

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Getting There: To get to the city from the airport (I’m assuming JFK here) you can either get a yellow taxi which is simple but expensive – I think when I last used this it cost us 75$.

However, you can get the air train to Jamaica Station, it costs 5$ and then the rest of the route is a standard subway ride cost. Handy to pick up your MetroCard there for the rest of the trip.

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Travelling Around: Some of the best parts of exploring New York are just walking between stops and seeing what you see along the way.

The subway is roughly $2.75 a ride, and you can pick up a MetroCard and top it up throughout your trip. If you need to get somewhere ASAP you can get a classic NYC cab, but don’t forget to tip!

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Dishes you needed to Eat:

A New York Slice

If there’s anything New York is famous for, it has to be their pizza, right? You can either buy by the slice (and they’re pretty big!) or you can find a multitude of pizzerias all around the city – especially in Little Italy of course!

Doughnuts

I  don’t think it’s possible to move in New York without seeing a new Doughnut-ery to visit. My favourite is DOUGH doughnuts but you also have the choice of Dun-Well Doughnuts, and The Doughnut Project, which promises PROSECCO DOUGHNUTS. Need I say more?

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New York-style bagel.

Unforgettably something I’ve never managed to fit into a trip when visiting NYC, but New York is well known for it’s bagels. If you want to go full on Instagram mode you can of course find the infamous rainbow bagel at The Bagel Store in Brooklyn. If you don’t want to go that far, you can find a classic New York bagel in most delis across the city, of course including the famous Katz’s Delicatessen (from that When Harry Met Sally Scene) if, of course, you find it without a queue outside!

Something Absolutely Filthy

Bear with me here, but in New York – and America in general – the portions are huge, and there’s plenty of choice to find your Man Vs Food fix. Spurred on by my new favourite Instagram account, Nyceeeeats you can get inspired for the best spots in the city to over-indulge on something absolutely filthy – and most likely deep fried and covered in cheese.

Happy Hour

Okay, technically not something to eat – but Happy Hour is a given pretty much everywhere in New York. It’s great when you’re exploring the city to be able to pop into a pub, bar or restaurant for a pit-stop and take advantage of 2-4-1 cocktails or cheaper beer! And as I always say, if you’re going to a bar for Happy Hour, why not make it a rooftop bar?

Bits to see:

Central Park

An iconic area of New York, and it’s absolutely huge so you can definitely lose a lot of time exploring here. My personal favourite is to pick up a snack and watch the sunset, or just sit back and people watch in the park. You can also visit the Jackie O reservoir for an alternative, yet brilliant view of the New York skyline!

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Empire State Building/Rockefeller Centre

They are different buildings but you now what I mean – pick a large skyscraper and travel up it to take a look at the NYC skyline (my post on the best ones can be found here). Tickets often cost around $30/40 for a trip to the top, and if you’re super organised, make sure you do it in advance to avoid long queues.

Statue of Liberty

One of my favourite memories of my first trip to Liberty Island was going inside the statue and up into the crown, I would definitely recommend it if you’re committed to going for the day, because it’s certainly an experience you won’t forget. If that’s not your thing, you can also pay just to visit the island – and prices are pretty reasonable as it’s a Government national park. If you don’t have any interest in going to the island, you can pay to get a boat tour around it, or even just hop on the Staten Island ferry for free!

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Times Square

Another iconic area of New York not to be missed, although it can be really busy during the day. You can take a seat on the big red steps to watch the world go by, but the best time (in my opinion) is first thing in the morning. make use of your jet lag and beat the crowds to see the square almost empty (and plus you can get Sephora almost all to yourself…)

World Trade Centre 9/11 Memorial 

I personally believe this is another essential for a trip to New York, but if you don’t have the time to explore the museum it’s worth taking the trip to go and see the memorials at the World Trade Centre memorial, placed where the twin towers used to stand. If you do have the time I would recommend the museum, as I personally think it’s a well-designed and respectfully curated way to observe and understand the events of 9/11.

Brooklyn Bridge 

If you pick it at the right moment (early in the morning, on a weekday) it can be the perfect way to see New York (and Brooklyn). It’s free, it’s a beautiful view and you can get some really gorgeous views of the city. Take the walk across and explore Brooklyn, or walk back and reward your exercise with a huge meal.

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If you have the time:

Brooklyn 

If you have the time to explore, the area of Dumbo in Brooklyn is a really nice (read – hipster-ish) neighborhood to explore. There are little restaurants, cafes and shops to explore, and you can get a really good view of New York from the other side of the Hudson river.

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Comey Island 

I have never actually been to Comey Island but it’s always been on the bucket list, as it’s a subway ride away you can reach a beach and fairground rides. If it’s brilliant sunny weather and you don’t want to spend it in the city it would be a great place to escape to.

Hire a boat in Central Park 

This was one of the highlights of my trip to New York a few years ago, and I would recommend it if you have a spare afternoon and the upper body strength! It’s not too pricey to hire out a boat, and plus you won’t need it for too long as it really tires you out. But it’s a great way to see Central Park from a different point of view.

The Highline

Another area of New York to experience is the High Line, which takes you up the left side of New York, along an old railway track that has been converted into a large walkway, high above the normal sidewalks! It’s a nice stretch to walk along – especially in nice weather – with areas to stop and watch the city go by.

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There we have it – all the essentials I could possibly think of when summing up the larger than life city that is New York.

If you’re planning on visiting New York soon let me know in the comments! More posts in this Basics series will be coming soon, but in the meantime check out my Grundy Travels Instagram for the latest updates!

Thanks for reading x

26 Best Moments of the Past Year (To Celebrate my 26th Birthday!)

Happy Birthday too meeeee. Happy Birthday tooo meeeeee. Happy Birthday dear mee-eeeeee… you get the idea. But if you haven’t guessed yet, I’ve had a birthday recently! I have spent the past week sunning myself in Lisbon on a week’s holiday with my lovely boyfriend, and rather than reading my ever-growing to-read list, I had a little scroll through Grundy Travels Instagram, and it got me thinking about how many incredible moments I’ve had over the past year.

Whilst going through my feed I picked out my favourite 26 photos since last April and have put them all together here as a little trip down memory lane. So please find below a collection of travel shots, and lots and lots of food…

It’s quite a long read, so if I still have you here maybe put the kettle on and grab a few snacks. Let’s go…

  1. Walking to the Brooklyn Bridge at dawn

This goes without saying really, as I’ve banged on about it enough. But I think one of my favourite moments of the past year was the walk to Brooklyn Bridge – down the centre of Manhattan – whilst the sun went up so we could get to Brooklyn Bridge for sunrise, and had it practically to ourselves. This view was one of my favourites – and ranked top in my view of the NYC skyline post here.

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2. Hiring our own boat in Zakynthos

Another moment I have certainly banged on about enough on this blog and over on my Instagram, but hiring a boat of our own for the day in Zakynthos was one of my favourite moments of that trip – and generally throughout the past year. I’m so glad we even had the idea to do it, and that it turned out to be even better than we had imagined it would be. The pictures from that day are really special, and it’s something we definitely want to do again when we’re on a beach holiday sometime soon!

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3. Matching fashion with the Statue of Liberty

Is there anything better than getting to re-wear an item of Tourist tat? I actually bought this Statue of Liberty crown the first time I came to New York, so it was great to have a chance to get it out again. And I had absolutely no shame, what’s better than visiting Lady Liberty herself without dressing like her too

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4. Finally trying Burgermeister in Berlin

When you go to Berlin the only thing people suggest you eat at is either Currywurst or Burgermeister, and fair to say we had both. but the Burgermeister was really good, it just makes me wish they could actually get a restaurant where you can sit down indoors…

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5. Watching the ice skaters at Central Park

It was great to finally see something in real life that I feel I’ve seen on so many opening Friends episodes and romcoms before. It’s such a gorgeous site watch the ice skating figures in front of the New York skyline.

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6. Paris

It’s hard to pick one of my favourite pictures from Paris, but one of them would have to be the below shot, taken in Montmarte just as the sun was setting. It took a long time to whittle down where we were goign to stay in Paris, but I’m so glad we ended up where we did.

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7. Finding a random rooftop bar with incredible views in New York

Okay this wasn’t really a random find, but it wasn’t high up on our list to visit when in New York – it was just on our list of bars and we were in the area and wanted to stop somewhere for a drink. I am so so glad we found Mr Purple, as the view from the rooftop bar is extraordinary, especially on a good day. And imagine how amazing it would be to swim in that infinity pool? Either way it made for a great last day in New York with a big glass of wine to enjoy the view.

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8. Glastonbury

I actually can’t write too much about this right now as the thought of not having a Glastonbury festival this year makes me too sad. But last year was my 5th year at Glastonbury and officially my favourite.

9. An empty Times Square at 5am

Another spontaneous moment in New York when I was in search of a cup of tea and was too cheap to fork out $10 for a cup of tea from room service. It was 5am (thanks jetlag/hangover) and I was in desperate need of a cuppa, so I pulled on a random assortment of clothes, a free umbrella from the lobby and went in search of somewhere I could buy tea (even Starbucks wasn’t open yet). In my quest I found a Dunkin Donuts – which proved to have better tea, at half the price – it was HUGE as well – and some extra baby doughnuts as well because, well, when in New York. I turned to my left and there was Times Square, completely empty and slightly drizzly so I stopped to take in the view on my own and snap some pics.

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10. The South of France, and homemade Mussels

Visiting my parents in France was a highlight of last year, as – and I know I’m lucky to say this – they have a house in France and visiting to see their home and the work they’ve done was such a lovely weekend. My mum is a great cook, and her homemade mussels were an absolute treat, as pictured below.

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11.Lisbon

I’ve only just returned from Lisbon, and whereas I have plenty of posts brewing in my head, it certainly was a great place to take some great shots. The city is so colourful, even when it was slightly cloudy, so there were plenty of opportunities to take some incredible photos!

12. Watching the Knicks at Madison Square Garden

Another highlight from New York that I’m so glad we did. Admittedly I’m not the biggest sports fan, and I’m not really in the know of the basketball rules, but I enjoyed our night at the Knicks game SO much. It involves advance planning and expensive tickets, but I’m grateful we did it, and the frozen margaritas were an excellent addition.

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13. Going to the Shipwreck Cove

I mentioned in my Peaks and Troughs of 2017 post that travelling to the Shipwreck Cove wasn’t the best part of our trip, but I’m glad we did it. If I could do it again I’d hire a private boat again, but I can’t deny that we had a great time, and it was a really nice beach to have a little lay in the sun.

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14-18. Upping my Brunch game

This past year has been packed full of holidays, and my holiday food routine is as follows: Brunch, Dinner, and snacks in between. Therefore I feel I’ve massively upped my brunch game, as the following pics can attest to…

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Bouji Pancakes in Berlin
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Brunch with French toast on the side, a brunch breakfast if you will
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Scrambled egg ‘biscuit’ (read scone) at Egg Shop in NYC!
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Waffles with bacon jam at Redroaster in Brighton

19. Riding an old fashion Lisbon tram

One of the most iconic symbols of Lisbon – the yellow trams can be found all over the city, and we were lucky to catch an almost empty one – the 15E, to experience a ride in an old fashioned Lisbon tram.

20. Going back to Norwich for a Long Weekend

I will always have a soft spot for Norwich, as it’s where I spent my time at university. I would definitely recommend it for a staycation, or to visit if you’re coming to the UK. It’s full of gorgeous little cafes and chilled bars, and the best part about it is it’s so cheap. My visit last year was at the peak of Summer, and the good weather and good friends made the trip a gorgeous weekend.

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21. Experimenting with Film in Paris

Experimenting with film is something I’ve always wanted to do, and I finally bit the bullet this year and ordered a cheap and cheerful second hand 35mm film camera, and experimented in Paris. The pictures are by no means brilliant, but I love how they’ve turned out no matter how slightly fuzzy they may seem!

22. Doughnuts – need I say anymore?

Dough Doughnuts is a place I’ve been to twice now in NYC and would definitely recommend again. The cinnamon sugar flavour was incredible, and they’re nearly impossible to eat in one sitting because they’re just so big.

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23. Visiting Brighton for our 6th anniversary

There’s genuinely nothing I love more than being by the seaside, especially when it’s sunny weather like we had in Brighton. To celebrate our 6th year anniversary my boyfriend and I spent it in Brighton and it was the perfect weekend! It’s safe to say Brighton is a close second as my favourite UK city (close behind Norwich of course!)

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24. Business Lounge at Eurostar

A first for me, but travelling via Business Class lounge on the Eurostar was an absolute treat. I’m always fan of free breakfast & drinks, but I absolutely loved the feel of the place. With velvet sofas and art deco style drinks, it was somewhere I wouldn’t mind hanging out in for a delayed train…

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25. Sintra

Since I saw Sintra recommended on the web, I knew we had to pay it a visit. No-one quite mentioned that if you chose to walk to the castle it would be entirely up hill, but it was 100% worth it to explore the brightly coloured castle and take some snaps, before finding somewhere to rest with a glass of sangria or two…

26. Celebrating my birthday in Lisbon

And finally, my latest picture of Lisbon – celebrating my birthday there was such a treat, and I have plenty of Lisbon-based posts to come, including where to eat and what to do. I had the best week celebrating here, and it’s firmly on the list of places to visit again.

 

Thanks to all who’ve made it this far through the post! More posts on what to do and eat in Lisbon will be coming shortly!

Thanks for reading x

The Best Spots to Get the Perfect NYC Skyline View

You’ve booked your tickets, you’ve picked your hotel, you’ve mentally prepared yourself for the money you’ll spend and food you’ll eat whilst your there – you’re ready to go to New York. Next stop, picking out which attractions you want to do and see whilst you’re there, and how do you pick from all the options there are that promise that ultimate Skyline view?

Well – and I’ve mentioned this plenty of times on this blog – I’m lucky enough to have visited New York three times so far, and throughout each trip I’ve managed to fit most of the tourist attractions in. Below I’ve written up my views on which are the best, and listed them in order of how good I think they are, so if you’re visiting New York

  1. Brooklyn Bridge

Straight in at number one we have my favourite spot for that famous New York skyline view, and also a great way to travel over to Dumbo, Brooklyn. On our trip this year we woke up at 5am (thanks jet lag!) and decided to walk down to the bridge to catch sunrise. I’m so glad we did as it was my favourite moment of the holiday, having the whole bridge pretty much to ourselves and watching the sun come up over the city.

View rating out of 5 emojis – 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

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2. One World Observatory

In second place I would say my favourite viewpoint has to be the One World Observatory. We went this year on a whim, as the weather was so perfect it would’ve been a shame to miss out on the opportunity. When you buy your ticket you can also add on a drink for $5 – which I would advise doing if you want to view the skyline in style, as it was the biggest glass of prosecco I’ve had for that cost, and if you don’t buy it at reception, the costs at the bar at the top are a lot more money!

Anyway, the view at the top if incredible – you get a full 360 view of New York, from the Statue of Liberty right round to the rest of the city – including the Empire State Building. Also, it’s all inside with massive glass windows, so if you’re not weirdly scared of heights-but-only-when-you’re-outside, or is that just me?

View rating out of 5 emojis – 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

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3. Rockefeller Center/Bar Sixty Five

Another of my favourites, I think the view from the top of the Rockefeller center is really great, and if you can book yourself in for a time slot at dusk then it would definitely be worth it.

If you’re looking for an alternative way to see the view, you can also visit Bar Sixty Five, which is where I went on my last trip, however unfortunately it was 0% visibility, but the service and cocktails were lovely, so if you can get in on a lovely day then I would definitely recommend.

If you do buy the official Top of the Rock tickets then I’d advise booking in a slot as early as possible, as if it is terrible visibility they do allow you to come back at another date to try your luck with better weather!

The view is really good from the top, as you can see Central Park and The Empire State Building. The Top of the Rock is in two levels and you can pretty much take in a 360 view all the way around.

View rating out of 5 emojis – 🌟🌟🌟🌟

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4. Empire State Building

Arguably one of New York’s most famous attractions, The Empire State Building is the main sight in every New York skyline shot, but what do you get when you actually go up it? Luckily enough I’ve been to visit twice, and the second time I actually went up to the 102nd floor, which is the extra bit right at the top.

I’d say the view is pretty great from right at the top, and if you can get in for sunrise/sunset it makes for a really pretty view. However, I’m not sure if I would say it’s one of the best you can get for your money. It’s not great for queuing, as they can often take a lot longer than you’d think – might be wort buying in fast pass tickets if you’re really strapped for time.

It is great for the experience of it, as it is the Empire State building, that is right in the centre of the city.  But perhaps if you’re after that view it’d be best to go to the Rockafella centre, where you can have this and the view of the Empire State?

View rating out of 5 emojis – 🌟🌟🌟

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Rooftop Bars

Salvation Taco

Now, this is my personal favourite way to take in a view – with a drink in hand. I couldn’t group it with the other viewpoints mentioned above, as technically a rooftop bar isn’t there just for the view – it’s also for the drinks/snacks/experience. Salvation Taco and Mr Purple mentioned next were two bars I had the pleasure to visit on my last trip to New York and I would definitely recommend both.

Salvation Taco was a treat on my visit as it was actually a Halloween party with all-you-can-drink margaritas, and that alone should be worth a 5/5 emoji rating.

However, the view up there is amazing, but it’s not the best. I would say if you fancy some tacos and a few margaritas (they were really tasty btw) then head on up here and you can have an amazing view at the same time. But my personal favourite rooftop bar is the next on this list…

View rating out of 5 emojis – 🌟🌟🌟

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Mr Purple

Mr Purple is a bar sandwiched in-between the floors at the Hotel Indigo, and I am so jelly of anyone who would get to stay there as the views are gorgeous! AND (weather permitting) you can even go for a dip in their pool if you’re staying there, which sounds like a lovely treat on a hot day in the city.

I think the view here was gorgeous and as always when you add a glass of wine or a cocktail into the mix it makes it 1000 times better. The only downside is when it gets quite windy you can really feel it up there. But despite the wind on a sunny and crisps day like we had, the view is incredible. You can’t quite see all around as you can in the other viewpoints mentioned earlier in this post, but I definitely think it’s worth a visit. Because if you’re going to have an expensive glass of wine in New York City then why not have it with THIS VIEW?

View rating out of 5 emojis – 🌟🌟🌟🌟

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And there we are lads, I hope you enjoyed my round up of my favourite New York skyline viewing points. Let me know if you’re planning a trip to NYC in the comments section below, and don’t forget to check out my Instagram if you can 🙂

Big love to you all x

 

What I’ve Learnt in 2 years Travel Blogging

Well, well, well. Just by chance this week I discovered it was my two year anniversary of this blog, and it started me off on a trip down memory lane! I started this little old blog two years ago and I made a deal with myself that if I really was as serious about travel photography and writing as I wanted to be, I had to prove to myself that I could commit to it! It’s been a bit testing, and it’s been hard for several reasons I’ll go into further on in the post, but overall I’m so proud of the content, photos and write-ups I’ve produced, as well as all of the people I’ve connected with through this blog along the way.

 

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It’s been a lot and I’m proud that the majority of holidays I’ve been on I’ve managed to follow my budgeting rules, whereas others have completely blown that budget! It’s been a blast, and so I wanted to write up this little reflective post of the past two years and  my highs and lows of my blogging experience so far.

I like to use as my little area of the internet, and for a while felt like no-one apart from my mum was reading (hi mum!) but watching and interacting with complete strangers who’ve found my blog, either on WordPress reader or my Instagram, has been such a lovely experience. Knowing that people have discovered my work, even simply through a hashtag, and then continued to read and comment/like my post feels so rewarding!

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Also, I’ve never felt like a top-notch writer, but I’ve been building on that with every post I write. It’s been a great experience to build on my writing, and also how I style my blog posts each time, especially how I’ve built my ‘City on a Budget’ templates, so I can make each post as good as possible.

Similar to above, it also applies for my photography, I’ve always tried to take the best pictures on holidays I’ve been on even before this blog, but having Grundy Travels has really pushed me to up my photography game. Two Christmases ago I bought myself an Olympus Pen E-PL7 in the New Year Sales at John Lewis (it’s now been upgraded to the E-PL8 but trust me the 7 is a treat). This has been a huge help in upping the photo game, but I also think you can take a cracking photo on a trusty old iPhone – sometimes the trick is in the editing. I’ve put some of my favourite photos so far throughout this post, just for a bit of eye candy… My new goal is to get my head around editing software – sometimes just an app won’t cut it! So let’s see where that takes me going onwards…

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The toughest aspect however, would have to be the balance. I find it really hard to find time to write, blog, take pictures and even go (and afford) on holidays all the time. I have a full time job that also involves a set holiday allowance, so I’m making it count where I can. It’s that struggle of trying to be a travel blogger when you can’t travel 24/7, so my goal going forward is to try and think outside the box when it comes to my travel blog posts, and to see what I can produce when I’m still in ol’ Blighty.

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Overall the past two years have been brilliant, and I am really proud of the content that fill up this blog and I’m looking forward to what the rest of the year brings. In the past two years alone we’ve been to Barcelona, Santorini, Iceland, New York  (twice!), Mykonos, Australia, Edinburgh, Berlin, Zakynthos and not forgetting two trips to Glastonbury Festival! Coming up this year I have a trip to Paris and Lisbon, so look forward to what content will follow! Hopefully in the meantime there’ll be posts that I can still write whilst staying in England, I’ll try my best!

To those who’ve been following since the beginning – thank you. And to those who have just found me, I hope you stick around!

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