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Europe, Iceland, Travel

A Long Weekend in Iceland

January 13, 2018

December 2017 saw me and Stu finally tick a destination off our bucket list which has been on there for years… ICELAND! We were there from Thursday to Sunday and it was absolutely brilliant. Everything we wanted and more.

Here’s what we managed to do on our 3 day/4 night trip.

Day 1

We arrived about midday after flying from Bristol with Easyjet. After collecting our luggage (and saying hello to the puffin hanging from the ceiling) we headed outside to get our transfer coach to the hotel. We both had our warm coats on and a couple of other layers but no hats, scarves or gloves at this point. Our initial thoughts were, “This isn’t that bad” and then suddenly the cold hits you. My hands felt like they were going to drop off and I huddled into Stu to try and keep warm. Luckily there wasn’t much of a queue and we were on the coach within minutes. All the coaches we went on during the trip were nice and warm so there was never any problems staying warm when travelling.

It was about a 45 minute journey from the airport to central Reykjavik and the views on the journey are amazing. It’s totally different landscape to anywhere I’ve been before and I was completely awestruck and couldn’t wait to explore.

We couldn’t check in to our hotel until 3pm so had a few hours to walk around Reykjavik. The first thing on our mind was food so we walked down the main road keeping an eye out for places to eat. We kept getting distracted though because Reykjavik is full of quirky colourful buildings and it’s right next to more amazing scenery. Being winter, the sun was low and this made the surrounding mountains look almost purple. Pictures just can’t do it justice. In fact, it’s hard to get a picture because you risk frost bite when you take your gloves off to get a picture.

For lunch we went to SÆTA SVÍNIÐ, a small pub by Ingólfur Square. We both went for a lamb sandwich which came with waffle chips. It was absolutely gorgeous! We found out afterwards that lamb is a favourite for Iceland and it definitely didn’t disappoint. The portion sizes were huge as well!  This was our first experience of Icelandic prices and two meals, a beer and a coffee came to £65. So, not cheap. Stu’s pint was about £10 and this did turn out to be his most expensive one of the trip. When I had wine, it tended to be about £8-£10 for a glass. So yes, Iceland is expensive but you can find cheaper food if you don’t want a sit down meal every time and there’s plenty of happy hours to take advantage of for drinks.

Night 1 – Northern Lights tour with Grayline.

Having the chance to see the Northern Lights are probably one of the main attractions to Iceland. We’ve all seen those fantastic images of the green lights shooting across the skies. I booked all of our tours with Grayline before we left because I found a discount code online (See5 if it still works!).

We were picked up about 8pm and then headed out of the city to chase the lights. We had a brilliant tour guide who told us loads of interesting facts and kept the excitement high in the group. Now, most people me and Stu know who had been to Iceland before, hadn’t seen the Northern Lights so we had low expectations. In fact, our expectations were at an all time low because the nightly forecast put our chances at a 2 on a scale of 1 to 9.

However…

About half an hour in to the trip, the coach driver turned off all the interior lights and we were asked to look to our left. Above the mountains, the tour guide pointed out something that looked like a strange cloud formation. This was what the Northern Lights looked like as they were developing. We couldn’t believe it, we were going to see them!

We pulled over shortly after this in the middle of the National Park and our tour guide showed us how to set our cameras to get the best possible pictures. This is the thing that no one really tells you about the lights. All the vibrant colours are invisible to the human eye and only your camera can capture them. What you see is very pale green colours in the sky. We were extra lucky and the lights decided to dance on this night so we got to see all the different movements as well as the static formation. I was probably the coldest I’ve ever been, and ever will be, despite lots of layers but it was so worth it! I can’t describe how special the experience was. Our photos seriously don’t do it justice. We probably spent about an hour and a half watching them and then it was time to head back to the hotel.

Most of the tour operators offer you the chance to return and try again the next night if you don’t see the lights so don’t worry if you miss out the first time.

Day 2

As we knew the previous night was going to be a late one, we decided to book the blue lagoon for our second day. There’s no better way to relax than in a lagoon right? We weren’t due at the lagoon until 1pm so had a little stroll into the centre in the morning for breakfast. As it doesn’t get light until 11am it felt strange trying to find somewhere to eat in the pitch black. The streets were really quiet as well so we felt like we’d got out of bed at the wrong time. We decided to try out The Laundromat Cafe which had nice interiors and was decorated for Christmas. The prices in here were a lot more reasonable as well. We could have probably picked anything from the breakfast menu but eventually decided on the banana and blueberry pancakes and scrambled eggs and bacon on rye bread. We even shared because we both wanted to try more than one dish!

It was getting light when we left so we got to appreciate all the cute coloured houses and street art on our walk back to the hotel. It’s weird visiting a country and not getting many chances to see it in daylight!

So, the blue lagoon. We went for the Premium package which gave you a few extras on top of the standard ticket. These included a drink at the swim up bar, a dressing gown and an extra face mask. You can upgrade on the day so don’t worry if you’re not sure what to go for just yet. Once we’d changed in to our swim stuff, we decided to take a few photos before getting in the lagoon. Unfortunately our GoPro ran out of battery and we didn’t bring the charger so had to make do with our phones. Once we were happy with our shots, we had our first dip! The outside temperature was about -7 and the water 37 degrees so it was absolute bliss. It’s really, really steamy so you can’t see that far in front of you but that just adds to the experience. You feel like you’re exploring the whole lagoon and keep coming across new areas.

We decided to have our free drinks first so headed over to the bar area. It was amazing to have a glass of wine and just people watch for a bit. Everyone looked so happy! Well, everyone apart from the lifeguards who looked bloody freezing. I would not want their jobs!

After a little swim and explore we went to try out the face masks. Stu was a bit tentative at first but soon immersed himself in the experience when he realised that everyone was using the masks. I completely caked it on so probably looked more scary than relaxed.

There’s absolutely loads to see at the blue lagoon. There’s a little cave with a voiceover telling you the history of the lagoon, there’s a steam room and a sauna and there’s a waterfall! We spent about 3 and a half hours there and could have stayed longer really. All the tickets let you stay until close so you can truly relax and enjoy yourself.

For our second night we decided to go to the Hard Rock Café which only opened in 2016. Yes we are those people that visit chain restaurants when on holiday. I’m sorry but the nachos are just too good. We also had a walk around the town as it was lit up for Christmas and had an ice rink in the square. Another reason we were so glad to see the Northern Lights on our first night was because it meant we had some evenings to ourselves and not on a tour. I would have felt that we hadn’t spent enough time in Reykjavik if we’d spent every night on a coach trying to see the lights again.

Day 3

Our third day was spent on an all day trip with Grayline on the Golden Circle classic tour. The Golden Circle is basically the name of the trip which shows you all the main natural landmarks in the area. Along with the blue lagoon and the northern lights, it’s probably one of the most popular attractions for those visiting Iceland. We were really excited for this trip so we could see all the amazing scenery up close and feel like an extra on Game of Thrones.

Again, our Grayline tour guide and driver were fantastic in keeping the group entertained with stories about Iceland. I was especially impressed that our guide quizzed us on what he’d told us with Mars bars for prizes! Miss Competitive over here obviously won one!

So the Golden Circle tour takes you to Þingvellir National Park, the Geysir geothermal area and the Gullfoss Waterfall. We also stopped off at another waterfall and to see some Icelandic horses!

The first stop at the National Park was very pretty as the sun was just coming up. Now when you’re at this National Park, you actually get to visit two continents… sort of. This is the point where the tectonic plates of North America and Europe meet. Little geography lesson for you there. Þingvellir is also where the old Icelandic leaders used to meet to make important decisions so it’s quite a cool landmark to visit. You’ll also get some amazing photos here.

We headed to the Gullfoss waterfall next which is a huge double waterfall. When my Dad and Stepmum visited, it was completely frozen but it was still flowing for us. It was bitterly cold here with the wind and spray but it’s an impressive sight. I know I keep going on about how amazing the landscape is in Iceland but it really is. I felt like I was on another planet, not just a 3 hour flight away from Bristol.

The last main stop was the Geysir area. This was cool. Every 5 minutes or so, one of the hot springs blasts out a huge column of water into the air and Stu took a great picture of it. Everyone gathers around the spring and watches it bubble away and then suddenly a huge bubble grows and then the water shoots out! Just writing about it is making me want to go again!

On the way back, we made one last little stop to a cute church. The sun was setting as we were there and it made for a great end to the day. This was a fantastic trip and one I would highly recommend. I can’t even pick a favourite stop of the day it was all that good.

Our final night arrived far too quickly. How could our bucketlist trip be almost over? We couldn’t decide where to go to eat on this night. In fact, we even bought a hot dog from a stall to eat whilst walking up and down the streets trying to decide on a restaurant. In fairness, it was a nice hot dog. Eventually, we decided on a cosy Italian restaurant which I can’t remember the name of. If I can find it on google maps, I’ll add the link as it was lovely food and a great atmosphere in there. As it was our last night, we decided to ignore Iceland prices and just eat and drink as much as we wanted. The way it should be on holiday! After having some bruschetta each to start, Stu decided to try some Icelandic cuisine and went for a salted cod pizza for his main and I had a pasta dish. Delicious!

Day 4

Our last day was basically travelling home because our flight was at midday. We had breakfast at the airport and then had one last look at this beautiful country from the window of the plane. It’s just phenomenal. It’s only a 3 hour flight to Bristol so we were soon back home and actually got greeted by even more snow. My car was covered by a few inches at the airport and it was nice to have a pretty landscape at home as well.

As you can see it was a lot to fit in to one trip. If we hadn’t seen the Northern Lights on our first night, we would have spent potentially the next two nights on that trip again. That would have left us with very little time to explore Reykjavik. We barely saw it in daylight as it was so had to get all our daytime pictures on the first day. 3 days/4 nights is enough time for your first trip to Iceland but only just. It will leave you wanting more, especially if you miss out on seeing the lights.

If I was to go again (which I’d love to!), I’d definitely go in the Summer to experience the 24 hours of sunshine and see the icy landscape transformed. There’s also so much more of the island to explore, like the glaciers and ice caves. We’re both big Game of Thrones fans so that tour was tempting but we didn’t have long enough this time.

Iceland, you were great.

Health & Fitness, Travel, UK

HarSpa at Bristol Harbour Hotel

December 18, 2017

Christmas may be the time of giving but I’m a big believer in looking after yourself so when I was invited to Bristol Harbour Hotel‘s spa facilities, I made sure I could attend.

I’d had a busy day at work and then rushed to the Harbour Hotel. Recently opened, this was my first visit so I had no idea what to expect. The entrance was fairly standard of a nice hotel but the spa is the hidden gem of this building.

The building used to be a bank and the spa has been built within the original bank vaults. It’s so cool! I’m talking curved ceilings, big vault doors and lots of twists and turns. It’s worth a visit just to see the vault doors to be honest!

I was greeted by the spa manager Kayley who booked me in for my treatment later in the evening and I then got to catch up with the other Bristol bloggers with a glass of prosecco. To get us in the Christmas spirit, we were soon given Christmas pudding cocktails. I had no idea what this would taste like and it was basically very very strong. I’m still not sure what the main flavour was…

Kayley then told us more about the spa and the express spa treatments that have been introduced recently. Kayley is so passionate about the Harbour Spa and it’s clearly got a very exciting future. It’s a beautiful hotel in a great location so I’m sure the new spa will be very popular in the area.

Before long it was time for my treatment! I decided to go for a head and scalp massage. Walking to my treatment room, I got a sneak peek of the pool area and other relaxation spaces. It looked incredible and somewhere I’d love to spend a few hours. My massage was an absolute dream and I’m pretty sure I did almost start dreaming at one point… I felt so relaxed and my masseuse clearly explained all the products and what she would be doing. I love that feeling after a massage when you feel completely rejuvenated and even this little taster gave me that feeling. I can’t wait to return for a longer spa visit.

After my treatment I got to have a little look around the rest of the hotel. If you’re ever in the area then you need to check out the incredible Gold Bar. Ideal for some Christmas cocktails!

As always, I’m incredibly grateful that this blog offers me the chance to review beautiful places like this and this taster evening reminded me how much I love a spa day. You don’t always think of visiting somewhere so close to home but I’ll definitely be booking a visit in early next year!

Whether you’re after a last minute Christmas gift or want to get 2018 off to a relaxing start, make sure you check out the treatments available at the Harbour Spa!

 

Belgium, Europe, Travel

24 (ish) Hours in Bruges

August 9, 2017

Before we went to Amsterdam the other week, we stayed in Bruges for 1 night so had a bit of time to explore the city and some of the surrounding area. This was very much a stopover on our way to our main destination so there is plenty more to see and see in Bruges but it was a good little introduction to this beautiful place.

This wasn’t my first trip to Belgium but I was quite young the first time and my overriding memory of my visit is getting horrifically seasick on the ferry over. So not the best memory to associate with Belgium. We did the ferry this time as well but I was armed with travel sickness tablets and felt absolutely fine. Phew! The weatherman had promised us a bit of sunshine so we decided to drive to a beach in Belgium on the way to Bruges.


The beach was in Niewpoort and we were all pleasantly surprised. With no idea what to expect, Niewport beach turned out to be a really pretty beach surrounded by sand dunes. Being able to feel the sand between my toes always makes me happy and this time was no different. One day I’d love to live close enough to the beach to be able to do this more often. Anyway, we found a sheltered area between the dunes and spread our towels out so we could have a sit down and look out to sea. Our friends who we were travelling with, Nath and Tash, are getting married later this month so there was plenty of wedding talk whilst we relaxed. The sun soon made its promised appearance and we decided to walk down to the shore. Nath decided to have a proper dip in the sea but the rest of us settled for rolling up our jeans and going in about ankle deep. The sea air soon made us thirsty and we walked a bit further along the beach and came across this cute little bar behind some sand dunes. We bagsied the swinging bed and made ourselves comfy with a pint. Stu and Tash went for a local 8% beer which actually turned out to be the weakest beer we’d try in Belgium. We love Belgium.


After our pint and swing session we got back in the car and drove to our accommodation in Bruges. We were staying within the city walls in the old town so were surrounded by picturesque bridges and buildings.


So, what is there to do in Bruges? I had done zero research but Tash was super organised and had lots of ideas of what we could see and do. When I think of Belgium I think of beer and chocolate but Bruges has a lot more to offer. We decided to head out and aim for some of the main sights and then just see how the day goes.


Our first stop was The Basilica of the Holy Blood which is a chapel which is home to a phial which apparently contains some of Jesus’ blood. Unfortunately it wasn’t on display when we were there but we’ve seen where it is kept which is practically the same thing right? The chapel itself was really impressive with huge stained glass windows and intricate displays. I love visiting religious buildings as you usually have to be silent and it’s nice to be able to take in your surroundings peacefully.


From the chapel we walked to the historic centre of Bruges which is surrounded by impressive buildings in the traditional architecture.  A lot of these buildings including the bell tower are in the film, In Bruges, which I haven’t seen but feel like I should now. We had a little mooch around a chocolate shop near here but didn’t buy anything. We must be one of the only people to visit Belgium and not try and chocolate. Next time!


However, what we lacked in chocolate, we definitely made up for in beer. The 8% beer on the beach was followed up by an 11% one called Garre Tripel served in a tiny pub called De Garre which is nestled down a tiny alley way off the main square. This beer is only available here and is well worth the visit. It may be strong but as a non-beer drinker, I can promise you that it’s nice. It came served with some cubes of local cheese and we ordered some chopped cured sausage as well. Perfection!


We wandered around the canals for the rest of the afternoon/evening, popping in to local pubs and sampling more Belgium beer. I never drink beer and surprised myself how much I enjoyed it. I quickly learnt that a strong blonde beer would be fine for me so I’ll have to keep an eye out for these in future. In one of these pubs we stopped for some food. The waitress recommended some simple Italian dishes which turned out to be huge portions covered in cheese. My mouth is watering just thinking of them again. Before long, we headed back to our accommodation feeling very content with our time in Bruges.

I think I now need to go and watch ‘In Bruges’ and get planning a longer trip to this great city.

Have you been to Bruges? What else would you recommend to see or do?

Europe, The Netherlands, Travel

The Restaurant in Amsterdam that you NEED to know about.

August 7, 2017

When you visit a new city it’s sometimes hard to know where to eat. Especially in a place like Amsterdam where all the streets look the same and it’s difficult to tell one pub from another. If you’re after somewhere a bit different outside of the main city then read on.

Introducing Plekk.


Plekk is a short ferry ride from Central Station in North Amsterdam. The ferry is free and only takes about 15 minutes. When you get across the water don’t be put off by your surroundings. It may seem a bit deserted but you’re only a 5 minute walk away from Plekk. You can’t miss it either as it’s built from colourful shipping containers.


So what’s so special about Plekk? Well, it’s right on the beach for one. You can sit inside but the best seats are the long benches outside. Expect to share with other people but this just adds to the friendly atmosphere of the place. Sit down and look across the water at Amsterdam. We went on our last night in Amsterdam so it was great to look at where we had spent a great few days with friends.


Food wise, everything looked good but we went for some tapas options. We pretty much went for one of everything from the menu and shared 7 dishes between four of us. It’s always difficult to know how much tapas to order but our waitress thought 7 would be enough and it was perfect for us.


Every dish looked and tasted amazing. We had olives, flat breads, chorizo, a cheese platter, padron peppers, boar croquettes and roasted mushrooms. The chorizo was all of our favourites and we managed to leave a piece each to finish with. Because your last mouthful has to be the best, right?


After eating, we took our drinks on to the beach and sat on one of the many huge cushions. The sun was just starting to set so it made for a great view. There was also a silent disco going on and they are always fun to watch. It was great just to chill out and enjoy a drink at the end of our holiday.


We decided to head back to central Amsterdam for some more drinks and managed to catch the ferry back during a fantastic sunset. I hadn’t heard of Plekk before but I’ll definitely be recommending it now to everyone visiting this beautiful city.

 

Europe, Travel, UK

Bristol Zoo Twilights

July 16, 2017

The zoo is a great day out in Bristol but like all things these days can be ridiculously expensive, especially if you’re taking the whole family. Luckily Bristol Zoo open the doors on certain Friday evenings throughout the Summer and for just £5 each, you get to visit all your favourite enclosures, enjoy some live music and visit the newly refurbished restaurant, The Hide.


When I visited a couple of weeks ago with a group of other Bristol bloggers, it was my first visit to Bristol Zoo in years. We were lucky enough to have a quick private tour of the Zoo before the doors were opened to the public. If I’m being honest, I’m not 100% sure if I like zoos. The conservation work that they do is great and goes someway to make up for the slightly sketchy history that many zoos have, but I still find it a bit uncomfortable to see birds restricted to netted areas and to stare at a gorilla behind a pane of glass when they’re so similar to us. Bristol Zoo are doing the best they can and it’s clear that the staff are really passionate about their areas and want the best for all the animals.


That aside, the seals seemed to be having a whale of a time (see what I did there?) and I did let out a little squeal when I saw the red panda. I swear it’s the first time I’ve seen a red panda awake. They’re definitely my spirit animal!


Bristol Zoo is currently home to the Dinomania exhibition. As you walk around the Zoo, you’ll spot these huge interactive dinosaurs nestled between the animal enclosures. They look so impressive and the kids in our group loved them. Watch out for the one that sprays water though…


After our tour, we got to visit the Zoo’s restaurant, The Hide. If you’ve visited Bristol Zoo before, you probably remember a large canteen area with no personality which sold expensive junk food. It’s been completely refurbished and is now beautiful inside. Modern interiors are paired with an updated menu. It’s still a bit pricey but is actually worth the money now. We got to try a few of the sharing boards which included pizza, sausages, tortilla chips and bread and dips. We all agreed that the food was really good and would visit just for lunch if we could.




The next Friday Twilights session is on the 4th August and I might be going again with some work pals. Don’t miss out on visiting the Zoo for just £5!

I was given a complimentary ticket to the zoo but all views are my own!

Europe, Travel, UK

Exploring Brighton

March 6, 2017

Last weekend, Stu and I booked a half day at work on the Friday and then drove down to Brighton for the weekend to spend some time with friends we met in Australia. Time as always has flown by and it’s been a year since they came and stayed with us in Bristol. I have no idea why it’s always so hard to meet up with people. Why is everyone (including me) so busy?!


Brighton is one of the places in the UK that I’ve always wanted to visit but never had an excuse to go before. Growing up, Brighton was very most associated with being the gay capital of the UK but I think people now appreciate what a cool city it is rather than only thinking about the people that live there. That’s definitely been helped by the huge blogger and youtuber presence in the city.

We booked in to an Airbnb for the weekend which we mainly picked because it had a parking space and we’d been warned that parking can be a nightmare in Brighton. It was a cute little bungalow which was perfect for us to use as a base whilst exploring the city. We were probably a 10 minute drive from the centre but on a bus route and Brighton now has Uber so it was really handy for us.


Brighton definitely has two sides to it. You’ve got the typical British seaside resort with the Pier and your fish and chip shops and then you’ve got all the quirky bars and restaurants and the vintage shops which line the Laines. I loved exploring the Laines. It’s got a similar sort of atmosphere to Camden and it’s packed full of people who look far too cool for me. I’d love to wear all vintage clothes but I get sucked in by the high street and end up wearing your standard fashions rather than anything unusual.



Brighton Pier is like any other Pier you’ve visited, it’s a complete contrast from the Laines but it’s good fun if you take it for what it is. Expect penny slot machines, candy floss and plenty of fish and chips. Storm Doris was still kicking around when we walked along the Pier so we look completely windswept in all the photos and didn’t stay for too long! I’m pretty sure another bar was beckoning us away from the wind.



We didn’t actually go ‘out out’ in Brighton but we did visit a few bars and took full advantage of any two for 1 cocktail deals we could find. If you stay away from the chain bars then most places have a very studenty feel which I always like. Bars like that usually have cheap drinks and good music which is a win win for me!

It was a flying visit to Brighton so I definitely want to visit again. Hopefully next time there will be less chance of being blown over by Doris and I can have an ice cream in the sunshine!

Europe, Ireland, Travel

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner in Dublin

November 7, 2016

I don’t know about you but one of my favourite things about going away is all the food you eat. I get really excited about eating out and trying the local cuisine. You can really immerse yourself in a country’s culture by eating and drinking where the locals go.

So obviously, Dublin was no different.

Breakfast


Eating out for breakfast has become big business now. My Instagram feed is flooded by poached egg and smashed avocado on a weekend, it can make going downstairs for a bowl of porridge a bit underwhelming to be honest!

I love going out for breakfast. It feels like such a luxury because we don’t do it very often.

So where would I recommend having breakfast in Dublin? Well we stumbled across Two Pups Coffee on our way to the Guinness Storehouse on a late Saturday morning. Situated near St Patrick’s Cathedral, this gorgeous little cafe and vintage clothing store offers delicious coffee and breakfast for hungry locals and tourists.  I had a cheese toastie which came with the most amazing chutney. The staff were really friendly and gave Stu’s Dad a cute cupcake with a candle on as it was his birthday!

Lunch


If you know anything about the Dublin nightlife then you know that the tourists flock to the Temple Bar area and attempt to drown themselves with Guinness every night.What you might not know, is that within the Temple Bar area, there’s a traditional Irish pub called The Temple Bar. Keeping up?


This pub is busy no matter what time you go (it’s never too early for a pint of Guinness) and usually has a band in playing some Irish music. A busy pub playing loud music might not sound like the ideal place for lunch in Dublin but The Temple Bar has the most extensive sandwich menu I have ever seen. There must have been close to a hundred different combinations on the menu. I’m a nightmare when presented with so much choice on a menu but I eventually made a decision and went for a baguette with turkey, ham, brie and cranberry – YUM! The sandwiches also come with some grapes and a couple of little cakes so you can finish with a sweet treat. Wash this down with a Guinness and you can’t go wrong.

Dinner


How do you follow a cute cafe and a tourist hot spot in the centre of Dublin? Well if you head to the Portobello area of Dublin, you’ll find the Locks restaurant next to the canal. Locks was recommended to us by our Air BnB host and we were all really impressed. The menu is only small but everything was of the highest quality. We were overwhelmed with just how good our food was and just how much there was. When you go to a posh restaurant, you expect Masterchef sized portions but all the portions at Locks were very generous. Good food, good wine and good company, what more could you want to finish off your day of eating out in Dublin?

If you have any more eating out suggestions for Dublin then please let me know. This definitely won’t be my last visit to this great city!

 

Europe, Ireland, Travel

A Surprise Trip to Dublin

November 2, 2016

Last month it was Stu’s Dads’s 60th birthday and what better way to celebrate than having your family surprise you with a trip to Dublin?! After months of planning we finally surprised Greg in the departure lounge of Bristol airport. It was such a relief to be able to talk about Dublin after months of stopping sentences half way through when you realised you were about to mention something you shouldn’t!


This was my first time to Dublin and my first time to Ireland. I’d heard good things about the city so was looking forward to the 5 days ahead. We had a lot planned for our visit so this post will summarise what we got up to and hopefully give you some ideas for your next trip to the Emerald Isle!


I have to start with the beautiful house we rented for our stay. I’d seen the pictures on Trip Advisor but I was still in shock at how immaculate the house was. I picked up lots of interior design ideas for our house that’s for sure! The house is situated in the Portobello area which is a 15 minute walk from the city centre.


So, what did we get up to? The majority of us hadn’t been to Dublin before so we wanted to do some of the more touristy things and get to know the city better. So obviously, the only way to learn about a city is to dress up as a viking and travel around on a bus which transforms in to a boat, right? The Viking Splash Tour was SO much fun! I loved roaring at unsuspecting members of the public and our bus driver was absolutely hilarious. I can’t recommend this tour enough!


No trip to Dublin would be complete without a trip to the world famous Guinness Storehouse. Dublin is the home of the black stuff and I had high expectations of the brewery tour after our trip to the Heineken Experience a few weeks before. As expected, Guinness didn’t disappoint. The storehouse is huge and you learn all about the brewing process, the history of the Guinness family and get to pose with the famous zoo animals used in traditional Guinness advertising. At the end of the tour, you get to enjoy a free pint at the Gravity bar which offers stunning views across Dublin. I seem to be becoming a bit of a beer drinker these days and once again happily got through my pint!


A bus tour and a trip to the Guinness Storehouse probably sound like a very traditional trip to Dublin so we decided to plan something a little bit different for our next attraction. And what’s more different than walking the roof of Croke Park Stadium? We were all absolutely freezing but it’s incredible to be walking above the pitch and to see all of the Dublin landmarks from a different perspective.


Our little break in Dublin was perfect, I’m incredibly lucky to have such a lovely family to create happy memories with.

Europe, The Netherlands, Travel

The Heineken Experience, Amsterdam

October 31, 2016

Did someone say free beer?


One of my mine and Stu’s favourite memories from our trip to Amsterdam a few weeks ago was our visit to the old Heineken factory. I’ve had a tour of a brewery before in Bundaberg so I thought I knew what to expect but I was seriously wrong.


The Heineken Experience is so much more than your average brewery tour. It was interactive, informative and most of all FUN! I think a lot of people just go for a free beer at the end but then get caught up in all the history and games inside.


Rather than having a bored tour guide walk you around a disused brewery, the clever marketing people at Heineken have made it a self guided tour with activities in each section to keep everyone interested. I never knew learning about beer could be so good! There’s also free tasters at various points so you’re never too far away from trying the ingredients or the actual finished article. *SPOILER ALERT* – Beer only tastes good at the end, all the ingredients are rank on their own.


I’ll actually let you in on a little secret. I don’t like beer. Believe me, I’ve tried so hard to like it. When we were backpacking throughout Asia, I would have loved to have chilled out with a local beer instead of getting stuck into the spirits straight away or paying a fortune for a cider, but it’s just not for me. The only beer I’ve ever liked was served ice cold in a frozen glass but that means you can’t actually taste the beer which kind of defies the point.. Anyway, you’re probably wondering why I went to the Heineken Experience if I don’t like beer. Simple answer, Stu likes beer. I think it says a lot about the tour if you can enjoy it without liking beer. We saw some families with young children so it’s designed for all ages.


I don’t want to tell you everything you get up to during the tour as I’m sure it’s better when it’s a surprise but expect everything from talking portraits to singing dutch songs to becoming a bottle of beer. It’s amazing!


At the end, you’ll enjoy your two free Heineken’s with a big cheesy grin on your face. Surprisingly I drank both my beers and liked them but maybe I was just a bit drunk from the tasters…

 

PROST!

UK

The Natural History Museum, London.

October 21, 2016

A couple of weekends ago, Stu and I went to London for the day. It wasn’t for a special occasion or anything, I just had a voucher for Vapiano which we wanted to use! As much as we love the food there, we knew we couldn’t spend the whole day eating Italian food and it was due to rain most of the day. We wanted to plan a few things to do because there’s nothing worse than being stuck outside in the rain, without any idea where to go. Our grand planning session resulted in me suggesting the Natural History Museum. Neither of us had been there for years, it’s easy to get to and no ticket necessary!

natural-history-museum-entrance

We probably got to the Natural History museum about an hour after it opened. There was a bit of a queue to get in but it wasn’t raining and there were a couple of PokeStops nearby so we didn’t mind waiting. After about 15 minutes or so, we were in the doors and completely overwhelmed as to which way to go and what to see first. We decided to wing it and ignore the maps and just have a wander around.

london-museum-dippy

The museum is HUGE. There are so many different sections to it and you could easily spend hours there. Some parts get a bit crowded so avoid going on a Saturday if get a bit claustrophobic. My advice would be to take a break. It gets tiring walking around, you’ll definitely need some snacks!

natural-history-musuem-globe

Like all museums, there are bound to be parts that you enjoy more than others. I loved the dinosaur exhibition but get a bit creeped out by all the taxidermy. I seem to be in the minority with this opinion as the main crowds are around the big stuffed animals.

london-dinosaur

Being a big tourist attraction for families, there’s lots of interactive exhibitions and these are by far the best bits. There’s one game where you have to try and keep a human alive for as long as possible. Let’s just say that Stu and I won’t offer to babysit anyone for a little while…

Have you been to the Natural History Museum recently? What did you think?