travel

Flashback Friday – Montreal & Toronto, Canada

 

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So late last year (about Mid October) we flew to Montreal in Canada. We was looking at another European break, but I found some crazy cheap flights to Canada, so we went with that option!

We stayed three nights in Montreal. On the first day we wondered all round the old town (which is by far the prettiest). We also went through all the underground malls, as the winters get so bad there, there is basically underground towns which are connected all over. To save people braving the weather up top!

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We also tried Poutine for the first time that evening (not one of my favourite’s!). We also visited the Botanical Gardens, where at the time the Gardens of Light was on. Was really pretty with all the light up animals and displays, but it was chilly!

The next day we took an Uber to Mont Royal – a massive park with a cool look out point. For the rest of the day, again just grabbed a lunch and took in more of the city. We had a very early start the next morning, so had an early night!

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We got a train from Montreal to Toronto, I think it took about four and half hours, also because it was the earliest one, it was the cheapest option! We was going to stay in Toronto four nights before flying home from there.

 

We dropped our cases off as the room wasn’t ready and walked into the city. We saw lots of people wearing Blue Jays tops, so went to a Starbucks for some free wifi! There my fiancé found out a game was being played that night, and the stadium was a ten minute walk away! So he booked tickets! We didn’t realise until we was there, how big of a deal the game was! So we went to our first baseball game in Canada – we both did enjoy it, but such a long game!

The next day was another early start as we had a tour booked to go to Niagara Falls! Another bucket list item! The driver was really good and informative, gave us loads of interesting facts about Canada during the drive.

It was chilly that day, but you were given a poncho to wear, as the wind made the water go everywhere! The boat ride was about twenty minutes and takes you right up to the falls. You can’t believe how powerful it is! The noise and the spray, was a really cool experience. After the boat ride, you had a free hour and a half, so everyone had lunch.

We was then driven to this cute town called Niagara on the Lake, it’s been used in films and tvs. And you cant have a chain shop / restaurant there (but we did see a Starbucks so I’m not sure how it got through!). It was just just such a nice place, we went into a lovely café/coffee shop and I had a Maple tea. The last stop was a Canadian winery, where you were given samples of ice wine (yuk!) and the opportunity to buy some. This part really wasn’t needed on the tour, and at this point I just wanted to lie down and rest!

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The next day we had a lie in and relaxing morning, then we walked all the way back into town again to go up the CN tower. On most of our trips, we go to the towers/view points etc, and I think this was one of the worst!

As we was in the same area, we also went to the Steamwhistle brewery. A little tour and a beer included. It had a lovely wedding venue, that had over a two year waiting list for a Saturday!

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The next day, was our last full day. We visited the Distillery District – it was pretty with old building and cobblestones etc, but it was very small! We then walked to the famous food market – St Lawrence. It was huge! Stupidly, we didn’t get anything to eat or try here!

We also walked through the Yonge-Dundas Square – which is Toronto’s version of Times Square. We also had a quick walk through of the mall there. Since it was the last day, and we had already done so much in one week, we headed back to the hotel, watched a film and packed!

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I did like Canada, but I don’t think it was the parts I wanted to see. They were both busy built up areas, so was almost two city breaks. We both agreed we wanted to see more rural and country sides. But most of that seemed to be on the Western side – which then knocks flight prices up. I also was disappointed with the lack of maple flavoured things – I thought there would be loads!!

Has anyone ever visited Canada, where did you go? Did you like it? I  know this year is a big year for Canada, as its their 150th birthday!

 

Outings · travel

Flashback Friday – Oxford, United Kingdom

 

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Last year a friend treated me to a two night UK break. It was a special birthday for me (the big 30!), and so she had booked it as a present.

I don’t know about you, but I LOVE hotels! This one was amazing – it was a converted prison! Well it was a castle, into a prison, into a hotel!

I took way too many photos of the room, as you can see! But all the little details was amazing – the carpet, the drawers, even the keepsake toiletries was amusing. (Forgot to take photo sadly). There was several different room options. We stayed in the main block, we think they had knocked down three cells and made one room.

 

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It really was a unique hotel, very boutique and also quiet! We went on a Thursday and Friday last June. The lobby was pretty, there was restaurants and bars.

You could also wonder round the grounds, and see more of the history and castle. On the bottom floor, was even a replica of an old cell room! There was also restaurants and bars right in the shadow of the hotel. Highly recommend the wine bar just out the front – 1855 Oxford.

The location was great, right in the middle of the city. We walked everywhere. Whilst we was there we visited the Ashmolean Museum, had a pub lunch along the river,  lots of nice food, went into the one of the smallest pubs and also managed to go on a punting boat! We hired one just for half hour, with one guy doing the punting. It’s cliché and touristy – but we enjoyed it! It was surprisingly calming and relaxing, but we wasn’t there in high season.

 

 

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I know I love holidays abroad, and I’m addicted to looking and planning future trips. But sometimes to break the year up, its nice to explore other parts of our country! Oxford was pretty, and felt very historic with all the university’s over town.

But the hotel was just amazing, a real find on my friends behalf! Even if you could stay one night, it’s well worth it! Look up Malmaison Oxford.

 

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Disney World · walt disney world

Disney’s The Magic Behind Our Steam Trains Tour, Walt Disney World

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This was one of the tours I went on, on last visit to Disney.

I have done a lot of the backstage Disney tours offered, and am always keen to do more. I knew of Walt’s love for trains (who doesn’t?!) and decided to book this one too.

It was a very early start, you had to be at Magic Kingdom for 7.15am! No transport was available, so we drove our hire car to the Contemporary Resort, and then walked over.

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We met outside the entrance, and then walked into a very empty park – bliss! The tour guide let us stop for a while and take some photos.

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I can’t remember the name of our guide, but she was so enthusiastic and passionate about the steam trains! She clearly loved her job.

It starts off with a ride on the train, one was already set up and in use. So we went round the park, until we got to the roundhouse exit. (This is located at the Fantasyland Station). You then go backwards, so you are now backstage and arrive at The Roundhouse. The train we was in and looking at was the Roger E. Broggie.

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This is where the steam trains are kept overnight, maintained and serviced. We was encouraged to take photos, but not to touch or lean on the train as it was so hot!

We was broken up into groups of 3 or 4, and took turns going up into the cab, where our tour guide explained how the train starts, works and the jobs of the two cast members. It sounds like a very hard working role, and when she said how hot the cab can get in those summer Florida month’s – wow! That’s dedication.

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When you are there, you get to see a cast member light the engines – you actually see the flames, and you also get to witness “a pop-off”. I will let you experience that for yourself!

After this portion of the tour, we got back on the train and headed to Main Street.

Under the Main Street station is a section, with posters and information on the four people the trains are named after. Walter E. Disney, Lilly Belle, Roy O. Disney and Roger E. Broggie. Our tour guide went quickly through the stories and how they got chosen. I personally hadn’t noticed this before, and think it’s a very nice touch to honour the people. If you haven’t noticed this either – maybe go check it out on your next visit!

We then went upstairs to the station, and took a seat on a few benches. There was then a flipboard with old photos and more information about steam trains. For example Walt’s own train in his garden and the story behind that.

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The tour finished here, and we was each given a pin. The tour itself lasts approximately three hours, and you need a valid ticket to get into the park.

I did enjoy the tour, and I always love hearing stories about Walt Disney. The bonus of an empty park in the morning, and going backstage are always highlights for me.

 

 

 

walt disney world

Art of Animation Resort – Little Mermaid Photo ops!

At my last visit at the world, I stayed at Art of Animation for three nights. I stayed by myself, so managed to get a Little Mermaid room!

I had visited this hotel on two occasions previously, and had loved the Cars section the most.

Whilst I was at my room, I wondered round my section each evening and noticed how many photo ops there was! I know there is lots in other resorts too, but this one just had so many!

I also had to walk through the Lion King section to get to the food court – and it also had lots! Not once walking through did I not spot someone taking a photo!

I loved it, thought it was great that Disney puts out these statues / pieces / sculptures – whatever you want to call them to add atmosphere, to plus up the experience and for great photo ops!

I’ve added some of my favourite’s from The Little Mermaid section. What about you – have you stayed here? Did you like it? Did you manage to grab some great photo ops?

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travel

Flashback Friday – Amsterdam, Netherlands

 

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A few years ago, my fiancé and I went to Amsterdam for three nights. We had so many people that had already visited and wanted to see the city for ourselves.

One of the best parts was the short flight, from London Gatwick – it was 45 minutes!     We stayed in a hotel a little on the edge of the city, and chose a basement room for a cheaper price.

The first day we walked, and walked. Just all over the town, taking it all in. Its a very picturesque place with the towering town houses and endless canals. Plus I have never seen so many bikes in one place – everyone owns one!

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I wasn’t too keen on the food there, I know it would have been us as well – but felt like a lot of fast food restaurants and not many independent cute places.

On one of the days, we visited the Heineken Experience, a good brewery experience – but they don’t brew there anymore, so its more of a tour.

On the same day, we also took a boat ride on the canals over a lot of the city, was nice to see the views from a different prospective, and a few interesting facts on the recorded audio guide.

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We did visit the Red light district of an evening too – everyone does – its the tourist thing to do! Felt very surreal to see – just lots of girls in their windows and you just walk past!

On one of the other days, I had pre booked a tour – it was a half day. the tour was to see Zaanse Schans windmills and a traditional clog maker, and then to Volendam – a little village where you also saw cheese making. The time on the tour, you was transported by bus (with commentary) and also for a small part – a boat.

 

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We visited a working windmill – we actually went inside and the owner let us walk all around. The whole village was very pretty and smelled amazing, as there was a nearby chocolate factory!

Out of all the city breaks I have taken the last few years, Amsterdam is a place I wouldn’t return to. I just think there is too much hype, and there is other new places to explore. Of course, most people are shocked when I say this – but hey everyone has their own favourite’s!

 

 

 

travel

Flashback Friday – Reykjavik, Iceland

 

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A few years ago, I had a strong desire to see the Northern Lights, so some research and a trip was booked! We booked Iceland for four nights in mid November.

I don’t normally book package type holidays, but I ended up booking the tours with the flight. I used Wowair,and the process was so easy, and we got a really good price. Hotel was through trusty old Booking.com.

Reykjavik is not cheap which we found out whilst there! Unfortunately I don’t have many photos for this blog post, as they are all stored elsewhere.

Anyway, whilst we was there – we completed three tours, visited the Blue Lagoon and explored Reykjavik on foot.

Two of our tours were unsuccessful! One was the Northern Lights chasing one – there was the tiniest glimmer, but not enough for me to say confidently I had seen them! It was still an experience, being driven miles and miles to where there is no light pollution, and standing in the middle of a road, on a hill looking up at the sky in Iceland!

The other tour was a whale watching one – two hours on a boat in very bad weather! As we got on the boat, the captain was offering everyone another date to come back (we couldn’t as only a short stay), or a sea sickness tablet! We didn’t take the tablet, as neither of us suffer from motion sickness. It was a very rough two hours with not a whale in sight!

The tour that was amazing was The Golden Circle tour, its a long day, over six hours – but you get driven around in a coach to see a lot of natural beauty sites. Such as Strokkur geyser, Gullfoss waterfall, Thingvellir National Park, (where the American and Eurasian tectonic plates are pulling apart at a rate of a few centimetres per year.), so you see actual craters in the ground!, you also visit a greenhouse where they grow tomatoes. Everyone else had hot tomato soup, my fiancé and I had a bloody mary! During this tour, there is a stop for lunch, but it is not included in the price, same as the tomato drinks.

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As I mentioned, the Blue Lagoon was amazing – its a must do if you visit Iceland. Such a surreal experience, in a pool which is lovely and warm, but its freezing out and you can mountains and snow! There is Silica Mud all round the outside, so you can even give yourself a facial! In all honesty, I wish we had stayed here longer but we had to rush back for the Northern Lights tour!

So the only disappointing thing about the trip, was the lack of Northern Lights – which is all weather based, and never guaranteed wherever you go! And as you now know, I saw them a few years later in Norway.

Iceland was one of those places I didn’t think I would ever go to, and definitely wasn’t on my list! I was really surprised but how pretty and scenic it all was. Even some of the houses were so cute! I would recommend Iceland, and suggest you put on your travel plans for the future!

travel

Flashback Friday – Prague, Czech Republic

 

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A few years ago a friend and I went to Prague for three nights.

We stayed in a hotel outside of the city for cheaper rates and either got the tram or walked everywhere.

During the three days we walked all over the city, had an afternoon on the hop on/hop off tour bus, had meals out and visited a very cool cocktail bar.

I was disappointed in the well known Wenceslas Square, but the Old Town Square – where the famous astronomical clock is located made up for it! This was by far the prettiest part of town, and we ended up here several times.

 

 

 

 

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The bar we visited was called Hemingway Bar, my friend had found on a website and we booked a reservation. As you can guess it was inspired by  Ernest Hemingway.  The drinks were made lovingly and carefully by the bartenders, and we had front row seats – as we was sat at the bar! I loved it in here, and definitely worth a visit!

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As happens with a quick city break, you only see the tourist parts that are well known, but I like to think you can decide from those few days if you would return or not.

From my visit to Prague, I will not be going back. But hey, I experienced it and its another tick off the countries visited list!

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Disney World

Disney Blues…

 

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I have recently returned from a two week holiday at Walt Disney World!

I managed to cram a lot in – two hotel stays, my first ever Dapper Day, four backstage tours, three Disney wall photos, nineteen character selfies, seven new restaurants for the first time, and watched the last ever Wishes!!

I also worked out via the health app on the iphone, that during the two weeks, I walked 69 miles!!

It was a great time, and I miss it like mad! I think the longer you are there  the worse the Disney blues get!

But once I’m settled, I will review the tours and lots more.

How do you cope with the Disney Blues?

I listen to Sorcerer Radio, or a WDW Radio podcast. I flick through all my photos and videos. I look at my new merchandise, and lots of social media visits! I will also be appearing on The Disney Dream Girls Podcast to talk over different aspects of the trip.

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travel

Flashback Friday – Fuerteventura, Spain

 

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A few years ago, a group of rented a villa. It was in Corralejo, Fuerteventura. It was amazing! The place was called Bahiazul Villas and Club.

One of the nicest villas I’ve ever stayed in. It felt really grown up, and luxurious. Lots of white and tasteful decorating.

It had three bedrooms so slept six, and had our own private pool, hot tub and bbq.

The kitchen had a coffee machine which you could buy the pods for. There was a big comfy sofa, blankets, dining table, 2 bathrooms, all of the cutlery, lots of outside seating.

The whole resort was so quiet, it was so peaceful.

We bought food, and had lunches in our villa. We did a BBQ one evening, and ate out in restaurants the rest. We went to the beach. We went into the main town. We had cocktails in a few bars.

One night we even went star gazing! This was arranged through the complex with a very nice lady. A couple came up and picked us up, we had dinner out then drove into the desert away from the light pollution. We had blankets, and a telescope. We saw (very clearly) planets and stars. Was such an interesting night! Sadly, no photos!

The whole island felt so peaceful and chilled. I don’t even have many photos of the island, as we just chilled so much. So here’s a few of the villa!

But if you are looking for a friendly, quiet island with no party town and a pretty villa to stay at – I would recommend this!!

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travel

Flashback Friday – Dublin, Ireland

 

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Over the Christmas break last year, a few friends and I went to Dublin! We stayed for three nights.

We arrived late afternoon, and went out for a wonder and for dinner. By pure chance, we chose a very cool first restaurant! It was a converted church – a very unique place, there was three floors and all were different in style. Food and drinks was good and tasty.

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The next morning we took a bus to Kilmainham Gaol. I had pre-booked tickets before we left, as I had researched it gets busy. It was an interesting, if slightly cold tour! You are taken around in groups by a tour guide. The best part was the east wing – all still in good condition to wonder, and they have some cells open for you to look in. This particular part has been used for filming for various films and tv shows!

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We then walked to the Guinness Storehouse, none of us like Guinness – but I think its a tradition for a tourist to see, and I love breweries and places like that! We were glad we did, it’s a museum! It was six floors tall and all in the shape of a giant pint of Guinness! There is also a rooftop bar named the Gravity bar, where you receive your complementary drink.

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We had dinner in our hotel that night, which was in the cellar!

The next day we bought tickets for the Green bus – a hop on and off tour. This also included tickets to the Little museum of Dublin, so we paid a visit. Everything in the museum was donated by the people of Dublin! I of course spotted the Walt Disney film poster!

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We also visited the three storey Disney Store, had a quick pit stop in a old pub called Nearys. Went to the Christchurch cathedral – but it was shut. Walked over the famous Ha’penny bridge (see top photo!), and then went to the Temple Bar!

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It was the most Christmassiest (I know it’s not a word, but best way to describe it!) pub I have ever seen! Yes it was expensive and busy, but its a must do!

We had another dinner out on the way at a different pub, then back to the hotel for the last night. Was a lovely little city break, and such a nice short flight from London!