#TBT | Rome & The Vatican City

Another Thursday, another throwback

This week we explore my "interesting" experience in Rome and The Vatican City.

Things to do:

- the Colosseum is one of Rome's most popular tourist attractions, and probably one of Europes most iconic buildings and so it should be - it is the largest amphitheatre ever built and is an impressive work of architecture. I really liked visiting and worth paying to go inside and imagine the view the spectators would have had all those years ago. Its crazy to think of lions & gladiators battling it out to survive whilst thousands of people sat and watched them being ripped to shreds. The Colosseum is right next to the Roman Forum and for €12 you can get a combined entry ticket which lasts 2 days. The Roman Forum is plaza surrounding by a site of several ruins. We never got time to do the Roman Forum too, but for the price of the combined ticket you may aswell! Its a lot harder than I thought to write about something so well known because, well, you probably already know about the Colosseum and don't need persuading to visit it if you go to Rome. So I hope you appreciate that in order to understand whats its like you just have to visit, words are no use to me here. 

Trevi Fountain
- So you all know the Trevi Fountain, really beautiful statues and colours filled with shimmering water and thousands of coins that people throw in each day. Im yet to see that Trevi Fountain ... the fountain I saw was empty and covered in scaffolding with signs asking not to throw in coins (I'm pretty sure everyone was anyway). It was one of the spots I was most looking forward to seeing in Rome and typical that it was covered in scaffolding. Ive read since coming back that you're supposed to throw in 3 coins based on the film "Three Coins in the Trevi Fountain" ... the first to guarantee your return to Rome, the second ensures a new romance and the third to ensure marriage. This explains why I am without the latter two, and I will have to return to Rome to a. throw in my other 2 coins, and b. to hopefully see the fountain with water this time! The one thing I found with the Trevi Fountain is that its actually hard to find (or not, maybe just us) so try to have a detailed road map of Rome or an App i've found so useful when abroad is the "CityMaps2Go" - you can download maps to your phone and then can use them offline and it shows you where you are and directions of how to get to wherever you need to be. 

Spanish Steps
- Spanish steps in Italy, seems legit? The Spanish Steps are in a really nice area in Rome and lead down to the Piazza di Spagna, a famous square in Rome with fountains, museums, cafes, and shops. But if you fancy walking up the 135 steps you can find yourself not too far from Piazza del Puopolo, a large square filled with churches, fountains and a beautiful Egyptian Obelisk. Branding off from this square you can find and explore the massive Villa Borghese, an area of beautiful gardens and 17th Century houses (if thats what you're into). I would advise talking the route down though because its quite a hill & trek.  

Castel Sant Angelo
- All I think of when I see or think about Castel Sant Angelo is Angels & Demons (Dan Brown book, if you've not read it - do so. Now) - the way he describes the castle is incredible and it made me so excited to get the chance to see it. Naturally when we went it was pissing it down with rain, lightning, foggy, could barely see a thing. Not ideal. What we could make out was impressive and you could just see the angel on the top which did make me happy because its mentioned in the book. The castle is across the Ponte Sant Angelo across the River Tiber. If you want to go inside you can at a cost of €7 and you can see the extensive collection of paintings, sculptures, medieval firearms and military memorabilia that are on show there. 

Just a short distance from Castel Sant Angelo down 'via della Conciliazone' you will enter a whole new country, thats right, you can head to Rome in Italy, quick stop to the Vatican City & you'll be able to tick two countries off you list! The Vatican City is of course home to the Pope and everything Pope-like.

The Vatican City
- home to the what is said to be largest church in the world, St Peters Basilica. This iconic building towers over the other buildings facing down into St Peters Square and the rest of the city and its most recognisable feature at 448 ft high? The tallest dome in the world; Michelangelo dome. I always thought the pope lived in this basilica, I was wrong. The pope actually lives in the Apostolic Palace just next door, which to be honest isn't quite as exciting to look at. The Apostolic is not only home to the Pope, but also different government office of the Catholic Church, Vatican Museums and the Vatican Library, including the Sistine Chapel and the Raphael Rooms. The most famous of which is probably the Sistine Chapel; the site of Papal conclave, the process by which a new Pope is selected (seriously read Angels & Demons its fab!). Here you will find what may be the most famous ceiling painting in the world? "The Last Judgement" by Michelangelo. We unfortunately never got the chance to go into the Sistine Chapel as the queue for tickets was about 3 hours long and meant waiting in the rain .. for 3 hours. Ive had to do my research for this one because I've not been myself but for roughly €44 you can visit the Vatican museum, Sistine Chapel & St Peters Basilica. I would love love love to visit and next time I will make sure I get tickets in advance!! I think the Vatican City is very impressive looking and I can see why thousands of people are drawn to it to visit. Plus you can't beat all the adorable Pope Francis souvenirs.  

Im not sure why but Rome was a very underwhelming experience for me. Maybe because it rained the whole time, and because everything had scaffolding or the queues were too long to go into things, who knows. I would like to revisit (got no choice really if I want to have a new romance & get married) and hopefully I will see Rome differently in better weather!

Let me know about your trips to Rome!
Ciao bella 

Check back to read my next #TBT .... Ljubljana & Bled

♡ G

View Post

#TBT | Barcelona

Another Thursday, another throwback.

This time to my trip to Barcelona with my sister at the very start of our Interrail trip in June 2014. 

Things to see:

Sagrada Familia
- I really enjoy this church. It is very striking to look at, and even though incomplete, has so much going on it doesn't need to be. Its crazy to think that construction started in 1882 and still going on today. I like the idea that its aiming to be completed by 2026 to mark the centenary anniversary of Goudis death. If you want to take a look inside it will cost between 15-20€ depending on if you want a guide or not. I am kicking myself I didn't go in, but at the time we went, the queues were ridiculous so I would advise booking online instead of on the day! The basilica is open 9am-8pm (April to Sept) but if you just want to walk past and take your pictures outside you can go anytime of day! Be warned this is a very popular tourist attraction so prepare for crowds and lots of people in your pictures. 
If you're travelling by Metro then both line 2 and 5 stop at the Sagrada Familia. There are a ton of small cafes and restaurants filling the streets surrounding the church so you can enjoy your lunch with a view! 

La Rambla
- La Rambla is a tourist-filled street in central Barcelona connecting the Columbus Monument at Port Vell to Placa de Catalunya. It is lined with cafes and shops and can be very crowded during peak season. My favourite part of this area was visiting the Mercado de la Boqueria, a massive indoor market filled with fresh fruit, fish, textiles, crafts and every kind of sweet & chocolate your heart could desire. We spent a lot of time here deciding which fresh fruit tubs we wanted. Nothing like eating fresh ice cold watermelon in the middle of the day when its 30 degrees outside! At one end of La Rambla you will find Placa de Catalunya which is a beautiful little outdoor space with fountains and a small park area, whilst at the other you will find yourself standing infront of the 60m tall Christopher Columbus Monument. For €6 you can go up to the top to get views of the marina and surrounding areas. 

Park Guell
- Park Guell is so beautiful and free to enter (restrictions apply). You can see so much of the park at no cost and offers stunning views over the city. If you want to pay €8 then you can enter the 'Monumental Zone' and visit the gorgeous brightly coloured tiled seats and picture perfect shots of Barcelona. I really enjoyed our visit and would love to go back and spend longer enjoying all the routes within the park. 
Park Guell is a while out from the main hustle & bustle of the city so if travelling by Metro take the green line (L3) to Lesseps where it is a 15 minute walk away. 

Casa Mila & Casa Batllo
- By now you may realise I love 'fun architecture' .. basically I'm a sucker for a cool looking building and boy do these 2 meet that criteria. Both within 5 minutes walking distance on Passeig de Gracia, Casa Mila & Casa Batllo are both beautifully designed by Antoni Gaudi. Casa Batllo is my fave, just look how pretty it is with all the beautiful stained-glass windows. We enjoyed the building from the outside but for a fee of €21.5 you can go inside and view all the levels of the building and its glorious Gaudi architecture. Casa Mila is similarly striking from outside within its wave-like structure and is €20.5 to enter and see all sorts of exhibitions. Again we just looked on from outside but if I go back to Barcelona (which I'd liked to) I would definitely but aside time to explore inside these buildings. 

Mt Tibidabo 
- Mt Tibidabo is home to an amusement park & the Samrat Cor church which provide unbeatable views of the entire coastline of Barcelona. Now the journey up to the top of Mt Tibidabo is only half the fun; the Tramvia Blau & a funicular. The easiest way to get to the tram's starting point is via the L7 train that leaves from Plaza de Catalunya station which takes roughly 10 minutes and drops you off at Plaza de John Kennedy which is next to the bus stop; 2 Agenda Tibidabo. There may be a queue for the tram but they seemed to be quite regular - payment of €5.5 is made on the tram and it takes you half way up the mountain. From here you can choose to continue up to the top of the mountain by hopping on the Funicular de Tibidabo which takes you to the summit where you fill the amusement park and church. To enter the church is free but if you want to take the lift to the top floor you must be a couple Euros to the man who presses the buttons. Its worth the money because the views are ridiculous! 

 Camp Nou
- Im not actually arsed about this attraction but I felt I should mention it for those few who like football. Camp Nou is home to Barcelona FC. For €23 you can enter the stadium and take a tour. We didn't, obviously because we don't like football but we went inside the gates and got a Ben & Jerry's ice cream so it wasn't a total waste of time. So yeah, that's all I can say about that ha! If you like football - go. If not, don't. 

 Arc de Triomf
- eh? Yes you read it write, we're not suddenly in Paris with bad spelling, there is a mini Arc de Triomf in Barcelona. Well I say mini, its still big but not as big as the one in Paris. Its a nice area to visit and very close the Parc de la Cutadella which are lovely to walk through and if you walk all the way through the park you end up at Barcelona Zoo (which unfortunately we didn't visit, we loves zoo's but just didn't have time for this one :( ) and then you're a stone throw away from the main promenade and beach. If its glorious weather its nice to just relax on the grass in the park and soak up the sun watching the locals and tourists pass you by. 

Things to eat:
(again, very stereotypical soz)
- Paella
- Sangria
-Fresh fruit / smoothies from the market

Where to stay:
So it was up to me to sort out the accommodation for our Interrail trip and my sister is quite high maintenance (no offence but you are) and she specifically said no shared-dorms. Well that would work out quite pricey for private rooms for a month so I felt I would just throw her in the deep end on the first weekend and book us into "Equity Point Gothic" hostel in an 18-bed dorm! Hilarious
It was actually a really good place for backpackers and people who just wanted a cheap bed for the night ... oh and didn't mind sharing with 17 others! The sleeping situation was hilarious but we made it through and in general the hostel was good with free breakfast so a chance to stock up on free fruit and snacks for the day. Also in a really nice area in the Gothic Quarter. 

I'd love to hear what you love to see & do in Barcelona!

Check back to read my next #TBT ... Rome & The Vatican City 

♡ G
View Post

Netflix Binge

Lets be honest now. 
Who else has fallen prisoner to Netflix?
We've all been there, bored one evening, nothing to watch on TV, too cold to leave your warm bed to go to the gym and the bookcase is too far away so you open up your laptop and find yourself on Netflix.
Its 9pm, you decide to start a brand new series.
"I'll just watch the first episode or 2 to see if I like it"

So naive.
8 hours & 8 episodes later you're hooked.  

I fell into this dirty trap last week. 

I've seen and read people rave on about Orange is the New Black for aaaaaaaages but never really gave it a go or bothered to watch it.
I did the exact same thing with Game of Thrones.
Never bothered with it and then stumbled onto it one rainy day in August 2014, well, that was me booked up for weeks. I binge-watched the entire 3 seasons in less than 3 weeks and persuaded my best friend Bex to watch & she got hooked too. 

Binge-watching is so good & bad. 
If you watched the series when it airs you have to wait A WHOLE WEEK before the next episode. 
It drags so much, what happens next? Who dies? Probably everyone if its Game of Thrones and you just want more. 
There's no way to binge, you watch one episode and try to carry on with your life. 
It drags the series out and then you have a short wait before the next series. 
But with Netflix, you get through every single season in a matter of a week and then what?
You're left empty, itching for more but the next series is 12 months away.

So I've done this with OITNB 
I started last Thursday night .. big mistake.
5 hours later it was 1am 
I reluctantly put the laptop away, but I was wide awake .. wtf happens in the next episode?
I could see the light on my laptop blinking away, teasing me. 
Still awake.
Ok, one more episode.

Friday morning comes round, im so tired but im already under the binge-spell and its all I can think of in work, counting down the hours until I can get home and do FA with my evening other than watch OITNB,
Oh shit, my friends want to do something.
Oh, um, busy sorry, maybe tomorrow night.
Shit why did I say tomorrow, that means I have to do something then!
I may fall sick tomorrow & have to stay home ;)
I have also now convinced Bex to watch and she's also hooked, but lucky girl has a week off work so has allllll the time in the world to watc

This is what happens people. 
You fall into an obsessed relationship with Netflix. She (I feel like Netflix is a she, a bossy controlling bitch who won't let you see your friends anymore) makes you spend all your time with her, makes you put on relationship-weight once you start neglecting the gym to be with her, and for what? A short 3 week fling before she's done with you and leaves you feeling tired, fat, shit and not satisfied.

I have now finished OITNB - 3 seasons, 39 hours of TV later and I cannot wait for season 4.
Let me know what other Netflix series are worth the binge, I need something new!

♡ G
View Post

30 Quotes To Make You Want To Travel

1. Adventure is worthwhile - Aesop

2. I am not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world - Mary Radmacher

3. We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us - Anonymous 

4. The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page - Saint Augustine

5. Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do - Mark Twain

6. Once a year go someplace you've never been before - Dalai Lama

7. To Travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries - Aldous Huxley

8. Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer - Annonymous

9. Travelling tends to magnify all human emotions - Peter Hoeg

10. You don't have to be rich to travel well - Eugene Fodor

11.  Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and enjoy the journey - Babs Hoffman

12. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing - Helen Keller

13. Not all those who wander are lost - J.R.R Tolkien

14. I haven't been everywhere but its on my list  - Susan Sontag

15. Take only memories, leave only footprints - Chief Seattle

16. Two roads diverged in a wood and I - I took the one less traveled by - Robert Frost

17. Investment in travel is an investment in yourself - Matthew Karsten

18. Don't tell me how educated you are, tell me how much you travelled - Mohammed 

19. I never travel without my diary, one should always have something sensational to read on the train - Oscar Wilde

20. If you wish to travel far and fast, travel light. Take off all your envies, jealousies, unforgiveness, selfishness and fears - Cesare Pavese

21. The best education I have ever received was through travel - Lisa Ling

22. Young people should travel, and they don't. You can't know if you don't go - Quincy Jones

23. We wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfilment - Hilaire Belloc

24. I travel because i'd rather look back at my life saying "I can't believe I did that" instead of "if only I had ... " - Florine Bos

25. Travel while you're young and able. Don't worry about the money, just make it work. Experience is far more valuable than money will ever be - Anonymous

26. Life begins at the end of your comfort zone - Neal Walsch 

27. Travel as much as you can, as far as you can and as long as you can. Lifes not mean to be lived in the same place - Annonymous

28. Travelling, it leaves you speechless, and then it turns you into a storyteller - Ibn Battuta

29. To travel is to live (well) - M.A. Williams

30. Once the travel bug bites there is no known antidote, and I know that I shall be happily infected until the end of my life - Michael Palin

Go book a trip, I dare you. 

Share with me your favourite travel / life quotes! 
♡ G

View Post

Recipes | Lemon Drizzle Cake

I'm not one to toot my own horn but 
I make a mean lemon drizzle cake. Just sayin
It does change every time I make it; sometimes I weigh out the ingredients, most of the time I don't. 
Anything could happen.

So I thought i'd share my recipe with you :) 

You will need:
225g butter 
225g caster sugar
225g self-raising flour
4 eggs
Zest of 1 lemon FINELY grated

& for the drizzle:
85g caste sugar (& then some)
Juice of 2 lemons 
Icing sugar powder (optional)

Turn your oven on to 180'C. Check. 
In a bowl add 225g softened butter and 22g caster sugar and beat together until creamy. 
Add 4 eggs (minus the shells now guys!) one at a time and slowly mix together.
Sift (or just bung in if you cba sieving like I do most of the time) 225g flour and mix well. 
Add the finely* grated zest of 1 lemon
* I say finely because if you misplace your grater like I've done before and end up using a cheese grater you end up with big chunks of lemon zest in your cake which doesn't taste nice. SO IT HAS TO BE FINELY GRATED!!!
Mix well until all your ingredients are combined. 
Grab yourself a loaf tin and either line with greaseproof paper or smother it with butter.
Spoon in the cake mix and level it out with a spoon. 

Pop it in the oven for 45-50 mins until a knife / skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the cake. 
Leave the cake to cool in the tin and set aside while you make the drizzle. 
Mix together the juice of 2 lemons and 85g of caste sugar. 
Poke holes all over the cake whilst warm with a fork and pour over the drizzle. 
The juices will sink into the holes giving the cake extra moisture and lemony-goodness. 
Sprinkle over some icing sugar if you wish.
Leave in the tin until cool and then remove and serve.


♡ G

View Post

#TBT | Paris

I've decided I'm going to do a '#TBT' series every other Thursday to throw back to some of the places i've been lucky enough to visit. 
I will highlight places to visit, things to eat, where (& where not) to stay etc and my overall opinion on my experience there. 
I will kick things off with my TBT to Paris 
 Ooo la la 

Things to see:
Eiffel Tower
- is the €17 lift to the top worth it? Absolutely. For someone who is petrified of heights I really enjoyed the experience and the views are outstanding. I would not advise walking down the stairs though from either the first or second floor if you don't like heights, it may cause a panic attack! The Eiffel tower is open from 9:30am to 11:45pm all year round. I would advise travelling by Metro to line no. 9 Trocadero where you can walk through the Palais de Chaillot & the Jardins du Trocadero where you get beautiful shots of the Eiffel Tower. Cross the Seine and there she is, take endless photos, climb the stairs up, take the lift, do as you please. Afterwards stroll through the Champ de Mars and look back in awe. I would 100% suggest returning to visiting at night to witness the tower light up on the hour, it really is something spectacular!  

Arc de Triomphe
- you can find the monumental arch at one end of Paris's most famous avenue, the Champs Elysees which is lined with all the designer shops you wish you could afford to shop in. You can admire the view from ground level or if you are feeling fit climbing the 40 steps up to the top for panoramic views of Paris. The cost is €8. Do NOT attempt to cross the road to get to the Arc de Triomphe, there are underground tunnels! It is open from 10am - 10:30pm. If you want to go to the top be warned that on rainy & cloudy days the views aren't amazing and the Eiffel Tower is barely visible but for €8 you may as well go have a look! 

The Louvre
- home of the Mona Lisa, The Louvre is one of the world's largest & most visited museums. Do NOT attempt to visit on a Tuesday like we did, because it'll be closed FYI. The museum opens at 9am if you're 18-25 from the EU then its FREE! Yaaaay. The closest Metro to the Louvre is the line 1 Palais-Royal-Musee du Louvre Station. I would urge you to visit the Louvre, not just outside and get your classic touching the top of the pyramid picture (we've all done it, no shame)  but venture inside and look at the all different exhibitions, or run through, find the Mona Lisa, take a selfie and go? Since you're in this neck of the woods it'd be rude not to walk down through the Jardins des Tuileries which leads to the Palace de la Concorde & Fontaine des Fleuves which are so pretty. Opposite you will find yourselves on the Champs Elysees and get a view of the Arc de Triomphe in the distance. 

Notre Dame
- "Morning in Paris, the city awakes, to the bells of Notre Dame" everyone loves The Hunchback of Notre Dame so why not visit!? It really is a beautiful cathedral and is located on an island on the Seine.  Its open every day of the year from 8am to 6:45pm and is free to enter. 

The Seine
- one of my favourite activities in Paris was a river boat cruise down the Seine. We went at dusk and seeing the city light up was beautiful. I would recommend using Bateux Parisians and doing the 1 hour cruise from the Eiffel Tower at pier no. 3. The cruises operate from 10am to 9:30pm every 30 minutes (every hour Oct-March) and costs €14. You pass so many beautiful buildings such as le Musee D'Orsay, Notre Dame, Le Louvre and Le Grand Palais. If you go in the evening you can return to the Eiffel Tower in time to see the light show which is just incredible. You can see the boat cruise route here

Sacre Coeur
- the basilica of the sacred heart of Paris, awww. The Sacre Coeur is a beautiful church and offers beautiful views of Paris. It is quite out of the way compared to some of the other main attractions but worth the visit. The closest Metro is line no. 2 Anvers. You will notice when you arrive at the base of the church that you have a fair few steps to climb. When I say fair few, I mean loads. However there is a Funicular that runs alongside the stairs if you need assistance or just CBA. I will warn that in this area there are a lot of people on the street trying to sell you items; mainly watches or bracelets - just walk away, do not let them put anything on your wrist because chances are one of their friends has already got his hand in your bag while you're being distracted. 

Things to Eat & Drink
*ok so these are a tad stereotypical but they're darn good ok*
Baguettes, every single baguette you find.  
Frogs Legs 
Pan au Chocolat 
All the wine

Where NOT to stay
So I booked this hostel & I hold my hands up and say it was a mistake and it was horrible and we nearly got mugged just walking into the hostel door. It was in a scatty area and even though it was cheap & we wanted to save money, no one needs to save that much money. 
We stayed at "Friends Hostel" @ 122 Boulevard de la chapelle and it was a dump
There were groups of men outside just waiting to pickpocket & one even had his hand in my sisters bag as we were walking into the hostel door!!! 
Its an expensive city to stay in but seriously, for an extra few pounds go somewhere nicer, for your own safety! 

Essential Souvenirs
I <3 Paris t-shirt

What are your favourite things to see & do in Paris?

Ou Revoir 
Check back to read my next #TBT ... Barcelona

♡ G

View Post

Remember Remember the 5th of November

Yep you've all heard the rhyme, a way to remember bonfire night. 
I don't need no rhyme.
This date is imbedded into my head, quite literally
This night brings joy to most, a chance to go to a local bonfire and watch pretty firework displays and go "ooo" and "aaaah" and eat candy floss and write your name with sparklers in the air and lob rock-hard toffee apples at peoples heads ...
Yes, you read correctly. 
Each year around this date I get a headache, (i'm being dramatic but I genuinely had a headache all week last week over this date and as I write this I'm convincing myself its because of The Incident) because of something that happened many moons ago on bonfire night. 
I was never a fan of fireworks from a young age, would always cry & scream and have to go sit in the car (still crying & screaming) or watch from our house and watch the display indoors where I was safe. I should have continued with that tradition, I should never been stepped outside on that cold November evening all those years ago. 
I blame Bex, purely because she finds 'The Incident' so amusing I'm going to blame her for leading me outside and convincing me to come to watch the fireworks with everyone else at Eirias Parc.
At that age you don't want to be the weird unsociable kid whose afraid of fireworks so I forced myself to go and brave the crowds, and loud bangs. 

What happened next will forever haunt and cause me pain around this time of year. 
We approached our group, all smiles and excitement ready to watch the fireworks.
Oh how naive I was. 
One step onto the grass to our group of friends and 
Im down, im hurt, my head feels like its exploded, what was that? A firework? I've been shot, why has no one called an ambulance, where are the paramedics, I'm crying, I'm running, my head is sticky, Bex is laughing (bitch), my head it throbs, a catherine wheel maybe? Surely the ambulance will be here by now? Why is Bex still laughing, I'm still crying and running, my head has doubled in size from impact, its still sticky, I'm dying. 
I stop. 

I will name no names, but someone whom I will always have a vendetta against, launched with all his might
a. rock. hard. toffee. f'ing. apple. at. my. head.
The pain, you will never know the pain. 
I feel this was a personal attack, "lets attack the girl who's afraid of fireworks" and no one can convince me otherwise. 
For this very reason I avoid any sort of big crowd bonfire nights out (with the exception of the annual Williams bonfire party in Rhos as there are no toffee apples there) where there is a strong chance I could get attacked once more. 

This year however, my sister practically forced me out of the house against my will, said we'd watch from the car at a safe distance. 
Made me go outside ... OUTSIDE!!
In amongst the crowds at Eirias we were. 
We'd picked a spot, I was nervous, constantly checking round for rogue toffee apples in unruly hands. 
I spot one at 10 o'clock. 
A young boy, he looked like a bad child, probably could smell my fear. 
It was a tense 30 minutes (felt like hours) watching the fireworks, just waiting for that familiar smack to the head. 
But finally it was over, we left (burger first obv) & I survived the night.
This does not for one second mean I am going to be a regular-bonfire-night-goer. 
Its back to window-watching for me. 

So if you go away with anything from this traumatic tale, its this.
Toffee apples are the devil, they should not be allowed and they certainly should not be launched at vulnerable girls foreheads!!!!

If you have been affected by any of the topics in this blog and wish to seek guidance, tough shit. 
Im still suffering so you should too. 

♡ G
View Post

Recipes | Hearty Winter Stew

Its autumn, its cold. No one wants a salad! Its soups & stews all the way! 
So here is my make-it-up-as-I-go-along recipe for my hearty-winter stew! 
& it was actually delicious thank you very much.

You will need:
Stewing beef (diced) 
2 Pint water 
2 x Beef stock
Passata (or tomato puree if you aren't a massive tomato fan)
Garlic (chopped cloves or granules) 
Salt & Pepper
Worcestershire sauce
Choice of veg (I used ...)
3 Carrots peeled & chopped
1 Parsnip peeled & chopped
1/2 Red onion chopped
1 very large leek chopped
1 Courgette
1 Swede
A few handfuls of kale

In a frying pan / wok, heat up some oil (or fry light in my case) & add your diced beef.
Cook until browned off. 
Whilst your beef is cooking, prepare your veg. 
Peel, chop & dice until your hearts content! 
Once prepped, find yourself a large saucepan and add 1 pint of water and bring to the boil.
Add salt & pepper to season. 
Throw your beef into the boiling water once cooked & give a little stir. 
Add in your chopped garlic / granules. 
Once bubbling & boiling away nicely add in all your veg.
Reduce heat and continue to cook away for 15 minutes before adding 2 beef stock and a couple shakes of the Worcestershire sauce bottle. 
Continue to cook for 10 minutes before pouring in all your passata. 
I left this to simmer for an hour (mainly before I forgot about it) until I was ready to dish up.
If you like your stew a bit thicker feel free to add more stock / gravy granules. 

This made a good 4/5 lunch portions and was fine being kept in the fridge and reheated in the microwave for 2 minutes. 

Serve with crusty bread for that extra special touch ;)

♡ G

View Post

Guide to an Australia Working Holiday Visa

Thinking of heading down under?
Want to spend 12 months 'finding yourself' in the outback?
Or learning to surf on some of the most popular beaches in the world?
Look no further! 
I will outline all you need to know and how to get you there.

One of the easiest ways to travel for an extended period around Australia is by applying for an 'Australian Working Holiday Visa' or WHV.
Once approved, this gives you 12 months to work, travel and play around Oz! 
You could find yourselves doing a range of jobs from farm work, bar, restaurant, hospitality, office work or even at your own hostel to pay for your bed. 
Whatever pays the rent & money towards your travels!

12 months not enough?
Then you can partake in 3 months / 88 days farm & agricultural work which lets you apply for a 2nd year visa. 
You don't have to take this 2nd year straight away, go travelling, go home, chill, knowing you already have a whole year waiting for you to go back to Oz for more adventures. 
There are some issues with this farm work, because often travellers can be taken advantage of. Farmers know you need the work to get your 2nd visa, so can sometimes offer poor wage or horrendous working hours. 
Make sure you do your research and get a fair deal before committing to a job you're going to hate for 3 months.
You can read first hand what farming is like from my friend Chrissi's experience here ...

I think if you're the type of person who's not open to throwing themselves into any work you're probably going to struggle. 
If you only want to work in a certain field in the most popular cities, its possible but don't expect to find that dream job straight away. 

How & Where to Apply
When applying for your visa, there are loads of travel companies who offer these 'amazing packages' that help you with your visa - at a cost. 
Don't bother
Unless you're stupid (no offence) and can't fill a form in about yourself, then yes, happily pay them money to help you. 
But its not worth it, that money could go towards endless activities, or even a place to sleep for a week! 
Go straight to the Australia government website where you can fill the form yourself (put aside 30 minutes) and will cost you roughly £249.
It asks for your details, passport details, health, work, funds, etc 
Once completed you just await a call to confirm or decline your visa.
I did my visa through Visa Bureau because I wanted all the perks that they had on offer;
8 nights free accommodation at certain hostels through Oz, discount on day trips, food places, adventure experiences etc & loads of free info on setting up banks, sim cards, taxi file etc. 
I did mine in about 15 minutes and took less than 24 hours for the call to come through saying I had been accepted. 
Please note the terms say that you need to have at least $1000 (aus) for a return fare home, and $5000 in funds to start you off on your travels. 
I've read that its very uncommon that they check, but tbh that's probably an ideal minimum to have saved anyway, especially if you don't plan to start working for a while.
My visa cost £349 through Visa Bureau & once your visa has been approved you have 12 months to enter Australia and your visa will begin as soon as you arrive. 

Depending where you're flying from / flying to, Australia can be very expensive, so try to book as early as possible to save yourself some money. Otherwise the cheapest months to fly to Oz are April, May, June & November so book your flights for those times to cut down costs if you're on a budget. 
Don't buy the first ticket you find, spend some time making notes of prices on different sites. 
I would recommend looking on STA Travels website who offer discount for students & under 26 year olds - or even better ring them up as they offer even cheaper prices over the phone.
I found a flight from Manchester to Perth (with stop in Doha) for £310 for March 2016 through STA Travel.

Single or Return fare?
Up to you!
If you don't plan to go travelling after your 12 months and want to head straight home / cheaper to buy a return, go ahead - but if you're unsure of your plans after Oz and maybe could be persuaded by the delights of New Zealand, Indonesia & SE Asia then maybe a single fare is for you!

Where to Start?
In order to book your flights you need to know where you want to start!?
Australia is a big-ass country!
Spend some time doing some research about what you want to see or do and where will be best for you to start. 
The most popular place I've found people start in is Melbourne in Victoria and travel up the East coast and end in Cairns, or vice versa. 
However if you plan to visit the Northern Territory & Western Australia maybe spend some time planning where would be easier to start. 
I think its very unrealistic to try to make a route for 12 months.
You never know what might happen during your travels, you may fall in love with a job and stay longer than planned, or have to move on sooner than anticipated because you can't find work. 
But a brief outline of places you know you want to visit is a good idea! 
Here is a great travellers map outlining loads of popular tourist spots & activities around Oz!
Also consider the time of year, do you want to see certain things that only occur specific times of the year, and maybe work your plan around them?

Ive decided to start in Perth in Western Australia and work my way clockwise (with a cheeky trip down the middle & back up to Alice Springs & Uluru after I'm done in Darwin)

Starter Packages
Like the visas, companies offer packages for when you arrive in Australia to help you find work / meet new people / get you settled in.
STA Travel offer ones that include your first weeks accommodation, help with setting up bank, tax, sim card, job databases, planned day trips, nights out. 
They currently have 15% Oz packages until the 15th November!
BUNAC offer similar packages, and also a group flight option where you can travel on specific dates each month with other people going to Oz, with a 3 day stop over in Hong Kong. 
It sounds great, but depending on your budget you're looking at adding an extra £1000. 

Get travel insurance. End of.
It isn't one of the most exciting aspects of preparing for a trip but its one of the most important.
If you don't, chances are you'll be attacked by a Great White Shark and have no way to pay for the hospital treatments. 
If you do, you don't have to worry about such things happening because you're covered. 

Solo Travel
Going solo?
Want to meet people to travel with or meet up with when you arrive?
I've found a few great websites & Apps that let you share your trip plans and you can search for people doing similar trips and arrange to meet up. 
This takes the edge off, and makes it less daunting if you know a few friendly travellers who you can meet up with in Oz.
Travel-Buddies.com (App too)
Outbound App
If this fails, you're bound to meet plenty of backpackers & travellers during your stay at work, hostels, night outs so there will be endless opportunities to meet new people & make friends. 

Save Save Save
Lastly & most importantly the sad truth is, you need money to travel.
Make sure when saving for a big trip like this that you take into account everything you'll need to pay for before you leave; visa, flights, insurance, any starter / working packages.
 & then you need money to live on.
Do you intend to travel for a while before starting work, you'll need money for that.
Accommodation, food, transport, souvs (my downfall), activties - it all adds up.
Make sure you go with enough money to get you started so you're not having to come home after 1 month because you spent all your money on souvenirs in Sydney.
Try and make a weekly / monthly budget leading up to the trip and make sure you keep putting that money aside.
I set up a standing order from one bank account to a savings account each week so that I don't touch any money that'll go towards Oz.
Budgets will be different for each individual; you might be someone who likes to rough it up in a cheap hostel, buy food in bulk from the supermarket and cook all your meals, and do all the free activties and sights in cities ... OR you could be someone who only likes hotels, likes to eat out, do all the expensive tourist (costly) activties & buys copious amounts of souvenirs (guiltyyyy) OR you could be somewhere inbetween; whichever you are you need to take into account what you like doing and how much you'll need to save to start you off.
A great way to save on accommodation is AirBnB & Couchsurfing!
Or I use Booking.com to compare the best hostel prices in cities!

Are you heading to Australia?
I'd love to hear whats helped you plan and save for your trip!
& don't forget to check out my
'Ultimate Australian Bucket List'
 for ideas of things you can do on your travels.

♡ G

View Post

Favourite Europe Destinations

I have been lucky enough to travel to a lot of beautiful European countries; most of them as part of a 1 month Interrail trip in the summer of 2014.
I want to share some of my favourite cities that I discovered along the way.

Bled; Slovenia. By far one of the most beautiful countries and areas I've been through. Slovenia's landscapes are wonderfully unspoilt; over a third of the country is vast forests. Travelling through on train you can just sit and stare out of the window in awe of how green everything is. I have never seen rivers so clear & bright and the colours were beautiful.
Bled lies in the North-West of the country not too far from the Austria-borders. It really is a naturally stunning place and I urge people to visit; its the kind of place I'd love to live and travel back to.
Lake Bled is the main 'attraction' of Bled and there are numerous view points around the lake which give spectacular panoramas of the surrounding landscapes. If you're into water-sports and hikes this is the place for you! A great activity is walking up to Bled Castle and from there you can get stunning views of the lake! 

Venice; Italy. The beautiful sinking city. How long will Venice still be habitable with the rising sea levels? God knows. But I am happy I got the opportunity to visit this lovely city on the sea before it was too late. Venice is just beautiful and such a unique place. You can quite easily get lost here as all the streets and alleyways look identical. There are loads of shops and cafes and restaurants filling the canals and I kid you not, I had the best lasagne in my life in Venice - no other lasagne will ever come close. I will return and I will find that lasagna again!!
A visit to St Marks is a must and if you fancy forking out 80 euros, treat yourself to a gondola ride!

Barcelona; Spain. I really liked Barcelona, it has a lot to offer and is home to a lot of stunning architecture from the Sagrida Familia to Park Guell. If you're a football fan definitely take a visit over to Camp Nou, home to Barcelona FC - if not, go anyway, its very big. I recommend a bus tour for Barcelona, purely because how much there is to see and how spread out a lot of it is, so if you're visiting for only a few days like I did; a bus tour is a great way to great through all the main sights! The food is delicious, the drinks are cheap, the weather is warm & the sights are plenty!

I recommend a visit up to Mt Tibidabo where you get stunning panoramic views of the whole of Barcelona - and its an amusement park so even better.

Geneva; SwitzerlandIn summer wear sunscreen! We were only in Geneva for 24 hours but it was a great stop. In June it was boiling and when you lugging a massive rucksack from the train station to find your hostel in the middle of the afternoon its not ideal. Geneva is built up around Lake Geneva which is just stunning. It features Jet D'eau which is a massive fountain which operates at different times throughout the day; a very popular tourist attraction. I recommend hiring some sort of boat / paddle boat to go on the lake. Geneva is situated close to the Alps with fantastic views of Mont Blanc. There are so many lovely shops and restaurants lined along the front over-looking the lake. Its known as being a very expensive town but if you're careful with your money its not too bad.

Paris; France. I love Paris. There is so much to see and do & the smell of fresh bread fills the air which is even better (I am constantly being told off in Asda when my mum catches me inhaling loaves of bread). The city is so heavy with culture and history it is quite overwhelming and then mad dash between the Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Notre-Dame and Sacre-Coeur and everything else can be quite exhausting because of how big Paris is! But it is totally worth that tick off you list of things to see! I have visited Paris twice; once on a school trip in year 9 (hilarious trip! "come see Britney") and then again in 2014 with my sister during our Interrail trip. The second time I managed it up to the top of the Eiffel Tower AND without crying. The views are insane! One of my favourite moments though has to be when the tower lights up and sparkles - it really is beautiful to see! 

Prague; Czech Republic Prague is a really cool city. Another great zoo (which FYI you should not try to walk to from the main city centre because you can't ok!) and plenty of famous landmarks & buildings to look for. One of my favourite things to do in Prague was renting a pedalo on the river and riding along under the bridges and around Strelecky Island and looking out over towards Prague castle. One thing I noticed about Prague is that it is a very photogenic city; you can take beautiful pictures wherever you are! I have a thing for fun buildings so Prague was right up my street - the Dancing House is a must see! As well as the Church of our Lady before Tyn in the Old Town Square. Here you will find the Astronomical clock on the Old Town Hall - it is the 3rd oldest astronomical clock in the world & the oldest one still working! 

London; UK. I really like London. Living in North Wales you don't tend to venture there too much so my previous experiences near London had literally been to the airport. But I decided to visit for 3 days with my sister in December a couple of years ago and we literally packed in every single site-seeing activity possible! Great shopping destination and an abundance of famous landmarks that are a must to see. We stayed in Covent Garden and travelled using the tube everyday which is so efficient and for the amount of times we used it was well worth getting a full day pass each day! If you're wanting to splash the cash a trip to Harrods is a must with a spot of lunch at the chocolate cafe! We literally spent £60 on lunch which was all chocolate based. Oops.

The view from the London Eye was fantastic & well worth the money & waiting in line.

Berlin; Germany. "Good girls go to heaven. Bad girls go to Berlin" LOL. Home to the best zoo i've ever been to! Pandas & hippos galore. If you like zoos, or actually, even if you don't like zoos, go to this one! It is a fantastic zoo! 
I would have liked to spend more time in Berlin and really get a better taste for the food (& drink ;) now that I can tolerate beer). I loved the graffiti along the Berlin wall - I thought it was so cool! We walked for what seemed like days to find it and then walked the whole length just taking in all the art and different messages within the pictures. And its not a trip to Berlin without a visit to the Brandenburg Gate - unfortunately it was covered in scaffolding (story of my life - Capitol building, Trevi Fountain, Sagrada Familia - even though thats always covered ha) but was still good to visit. I would recommend a stop at Checkpoint Charlie & the Jewish Memorial site. 

Where's your favourite European travel destination? 
♡ G
View Post
Next Post Newer Posts Previous Post Older Posts Home