We recently spent a lovely 4 days in Budapest, it was a trip to celebrate Matt’s birthday earlier in the month and it was nice to have a few days away together and explore a new city.
Although I booked the trip, I didn’t really set us with an itinerary and we just went with the flow, as soon as we arrived and checked into our hotel we started to explore straight away. Not wasting a minute of our time there we did most of our exploring on foot, that way you get to see so much more and often things you wouldn’t expect. I wont lie, the weather was bitterly cold, but dry at least apart from our last day where we were lucky to experience the wonderful European city in the snow!
I love sharing our little trips with you all, especially our photo’s however, first up is some little things that we did in Budapest that we wanted to share with you all!
- Don’t take the Budacastle tour by the Buda Hill Funiclar, on our first day we were spoken to by a lovely tour guide that for just an extra 1,000 ft you can get a tour up that will take you all round and you can get on an off wherever you want. However, we soon realised that actually everything at the top (this doesnt include the Citadella), is within walking distance, so if you dont mind a walk and exploring on your own the just get a return trip on the Funiclar and enjoy the walk!
- When you go to the Central Market Hall, go upstairs first hunt for some souvenirs to take home and have some real Hungarian street food. We did downstairs first, which was great we had some pastries and Duck scratchings (not pork!) before heading upstairs and deeply regretted it. We wished we had gone up there and stuffed our faces before going down to see all the meat, fruit, pastry and cheese stalls!
- Buy yourself a hop on, hop off ticket for a bus tour – more so in the winter. Its a great way to get around town and with city sightseeing we got a 48hr ticket, including boat tours cheaper than the budacard! We just wanted it for a trip to the Citadella and up to Heroes Square and Szechenyi Bath rather than rely on taxis and walking in the cold weather.
- Don’t forget your towel & flip flops when visiting a thermal bath! We ended up buying flip flops, which ate into our spending money, but it was so worth it! We paid for a 1 person with a locker and 1 person with a cabin, the cabins are pretty small but we took turns to get changed and it did us fine. We were really lucky, there was no cue and the baths weren’t busy at all, we visited on Saturday morning around 10 am so we were really surprised that it wasn’t full and busy!
- Head to Szimpla Kert for drinks late afternoon, the best ruin bar in all of Budapest just enjoy the atmosphere and once your done, just walk around the Jewish Quarter there are plenty of places to eat and drink that you cant go wrong – there is something for everyone!
- Drinks – if your drinking beer and are happy to drink the local stuff (we drank Dreher) then your fine, its around £2 a pint, less if its happy hour. However if your drinking long drinks (vodka/rum), or wine its a bit more expensive. I dont usually drink beer, but in a bid to keep our costs low I decided to give it a go and actually it wasn’t too bad!
- Food – now, I am not sure if we have expensive taste and we like to eat in nicer places, but we didn’t find food to be much cheaper than we would pay at home which was surprising as everyone said it was really cheap. It didn’t bother us too much, we tried Goulash which we both wanted to do, ate at Beef Heaven which Matt wanted to try and had Breakfast at Circusz which was my choice!
We had a really nice time in Budapest, the history and architecture is amazing, food and drinks were good too! Would we return to Budapest? Possibly not, but that’s purely because we felt we did everything we wanted to do, however I hear the Christmas markets there are amazing so perhaps a return visit just for that?
Where We Stayed: K+K Hotel Opera – great location!
Where We Drank: Szimpla Kert, Ellato Kert, For Sale Pub, The Pointer Pub
Where We Ate: Beef Heaven by Tuning, Circusz, Spinoza, For Sale Pub, Bazilika Cafe & Restaurant, Hard Rock Cafe (we always eat at one its tradition!), Pizza Me
It was a normal Tuesday morning, I checked my “memories” on Facebook and noticed back in 2012 I had uploaded our photos from our trip to Cuba. Looking back at them made me sad, we loved Cuba. It was our first visit to the caribbean, my first long haul all inclusive holiday, our 3rd holiday together. We ate great food, drunk great booze, snorkeled, swam with dolphins and learnt about the beautiful country and met just a handful of amazing people.
We came home promising to return one day, fast forwarding to 2017 and we still haven’t gone back.
Whilst we dabble in holidays and often will look at the deals, recently Cuba has been coming up cheap but we just overlooked it, trying to find cheap deals to Vancouver or Vietnam. Before residing ourselves (hence my comments in a previous post), that due to stuff needing to be done with the house we just wouldn’t be holidaying in 2018.
Then, that Tuesday morning I was talking about above, I get into work getting stuck in to getting stuff done before going on Annual Leave & I get a call. Its Matt. I panic, whats happened, is he ok? He tells me to check my emails……
The content just says whoops and there is an attachment, its confirming a booking…..to Cuba in 168 days.
Shut The Front Door!
I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I get off the phone and am dumbfounded. I am going on holiday, to Cuba. Where we stayed all those years ago. I literally cannot wait and am super excited.
Then a couple of hours later, I start to worry…..how am I gonna afford it……I will be officially skint until we return in May especially as I have Matt’s surprise birthday trip in January!
Anyway, to get you guys as excited as me, here are a few pics from last time!
So you will need to be patient with me over the next few weeks/months as after every liberty shoot I realise something new about myself and learn things that inspire how I look at the world and how I can improve and grow myself. The best way for me to say this and for it to register is to write it down. So you may see a few blogs over the next few weeks, or you might not, this might be the only thing I took away!
During our circle of trust, the amazing Jen said something that at the time didn’t really mean anything to me, but over the past few days it’s started to…….
Those who fear something the most are the ones who should do it the most.
Initially, I thought I didn’t fear anything and I am quite happy to give anything a go. Well that is a big fat lie. As I write this, I can think of at least 3 things that I fear doing…..
1. Going to a group class at the gym
2. Travelling to Asia (backpacking)
So you might be reading those and thinking really? Is that all you fear? No, it’s not all I fear – there is so much more I fear, but those things are all personal to me and my journey of improving my confidence and feeling secure in myself and who I am as a person. Those are things that I want to work on and continue to work on privately, because we don’t have to share everything you know!
So thinking about those wise words in the circle of trust and the fact that this is the last year of my 20’s, I feel like I need to own it and not let fear win. If I continue to let fear win, then how to expect to be able to grow and improve myself in other areas? I won’t, because this will always be in the back of my mind and I will always think that I can’t do it, when in fact as one of my Aunties has always told me….
There is no such word as can’t.
So, I sat Matt down and told him that I want to conquer some of these fears that I have and I want to experience something new and do things outside of my comfort zone.
Matt has always wanted to go to Asia, predominately Thailand or Vietnam but I have always been so reluctant because I dont want to back pack. If I am on holiday I want 1 place as our base and then explore from there. I am fearful that I will get lost or there wont be anywhere to stay if we have nothing booked. But where is the adventure in playing safe? So this weekend we are doing some researching! I’m not sure what we are going to do, but I am thinking potentially for us to stay in hostels to make it cheap and affordable. It is totally out of my comfort zone BUT that is when life starts isn’t it? The more I have been looking at both countries the more the thought of an adventure starts to get appealing – I had never thought of going to some of the places we have been but they have ended up being some the BEST places I have been too!
Next, is Skydiving – why would anyone want to chuck themselves out of a plane? Because of the adrenaline and the views and just the fact that you can say you DID IT! I brought Matt a skydive a few years ago and he loved it and has always joked that he would buy me one and I have always said I would never do it. Then when i told him about this he told me he brought me one for Christmas!! What am I so afraid of? I am not scared of heights, I enjoy flying, I like nice views and I have conquered a zip wire in Mexico which was 45 metres above ground and so so so scary, but I did it. So with that in mind, I am going to book it and do it BUT with a twist (although Matt thinks I should just do it for me!). I am going to do it for charity, so other people benefit from my experience too. I have thought long and hard about what charity I want to raise funds for and I have decided to do it for Cancer Research. There are a lot of reasons why this charity was my front runner that I won’t go into, but the fact that more people are surviving cancer than dying because of it now just proves how important that research is. I will share the link in another post!
Lastly, one I need to conquer on my own. Group classes at the gym. I enjoy the gym when I go, I have a little routine but in reality its not doing anything for me and I know people rave about group classes so I want to do it. Why aren’t I? Because I worry about how unfit I am, I dont want to be the one at the back that is sweating like a loon and cant keep up. I want to go into a class and do it with ease. In reality that will never happen, I need to suck it up and do it – stop making excuses and just own it. I know once I have done it I will enjoy it and want to go back. Its just plucking up that courage. This is what i fear the most. So going by Jen’s advice, this I what I need to do more than the other 2. I have been looking at the gym classes and I have decided I am going to give Zumba a go on a Sunday. I might not like it and I might never go again…..on the flip side I might LOVE it and then go every week and this may just be the kick start to an incredible weight loss journey!
So…..there you have it. I am branching out of my comfort zone all thanks to a little bit of confidence from a photo shoot. How insane is that!
April 2015 Matt, I & another couple headed to Las Vegas for a week! 1 week in Vegas!
We LOVED every second of it, from the shopping, the food, the nights out, the attractions it was just fantastic. It is somewhere that we feel that we would love to return to one day as there is still so much we didn’t do that we would have loved to have done! Plus its constantly changing, there are new shows all the time and new exhibitions and hotels are changing so why not go back!
BUT this isn’t about my time there (although you will some of my snaps)! Its 10 things that not just myself, but friends and family would recommend for a trip to Vegas!
- See A Show! We saw a Cirque Du Soleil show when we were out there and we both really enjoyed it. I also saw Britney Spears and I know a few people who have seen Rod Stewart as well as countless other shows and loved all of them. Quite often fantastic artists have residencies in Las Vegas hotels, so if you want the last chance to see your favourite artist Vegas is the place to go!
- Go To The Grand Canyon! Every single person I have spoken to about Las Vegas has said you cannot go and not go to the grand canyon. We went on a sunset helicopter tour which included a champagne picnic in the canyon, but there are so many different options and there is a suspended walk too that you can do which looks awesome!
- See The Bellagio Fountains! Fantastic fountains that perform to music and they are spectacular, nothing can really prepare you for them at all! We saw them several times over the week were there but my favourite place to watch them was on the High Roller at The Linq. If you time it right, you can be at the top of the High Roller at the right time to see them in all their glory and it truly is a great sight!
- Eat At A Buffet! Even if you do it just once, go crazy! We went for a breakfast buffet and had about 10 platefuls of breakfast each! You can could get everything from contiential cheese and hams to breakfast burritos! It was crazy but a good way to fill up until a late night dinner!
- Downtown Vegas! For me it was probably the tackiest part of Vegas BUT you can’t got to Vegas and not experience it. Its the birth place and where it all began, go and eat at Heart Attack Grill OR Zip Wire through Freemont Street, place a bet in one of the oldest hotels. Honestly, its an experience you wont forget!
- The Stratosphere! As a base its quite far out from the main strip for my liking, but as an oppertunity to get a 360 view of everything (a side from the high roller), it is the best place to go! Until I went up there I don’t think I truly understood just how much we were in the desert! Now, if you are a bit of a thrill seeker then there are rides you can go on at the top of the tower providing the wind isn’t too bad. It’s not my idea of fun, but it was a giggle to watch some of the rides.
- The Hotels! It goes without saying that the hotels are truly amazing in Vegas, but the fact that your senses are catapulted into a completely different world in every hotel is just beyond belief. I loved the feel of the Bellagio but I also really liked The Venetian AND of course our hotel The Mirage. The fact that at every entrance there was a coconut smell, just tropical really set the scene for me! You could spend days just exploring what every hotel has to offer without doing anything else.
- Have A Bet! Even if its just one, have a bet! I didn’t win anything, but Matt did a few times and we found a $100 dollar chip. You can do so much in Vegas and not place 1 bet, but I personally dont think you have had a true Vegas experience if you haven’t placed a bet! After all, its what Vegas is known for!
- The Restaurants! Ok, I have already spoken about buffet’s but the amount of restaurants you can pick from is incredible! I reckon there must be well over 1,000 restaurants in Vegas to choose from so NOBODY and I mean NOBODY can say they didn’t find at least 1 place they liked! Here is just a selection of what we ate during our week there!
- SHOP! If you are anything like me you love any opportunity you have to do a spot of shopping. If your man is busy in the casino’s and you have a girlfriend with you go and hit the shops, on the strip alone there are 3 malls I can think of straight away for you to spend hours in. But a short taxi ride away you have the choice of 2 outlet malls to explore and spend your money (or his winnings) in!
Well, there you have it, my personal 10 things to make your Vegas trip great! As with every holiday its your personal choice and some of these wont suit everyone, but isn’t that the beauty of getting recommendations? You can pick and choose what is right for you, or maybe even try something different and you might be surprised!
I LOVE sharing our travel adventures with you all and I know I have shared my experience with you of Mexico after our holiday 18 months ago, however Mexico is a really popular destination and although it was never on my wish list I LOVED our time there in 2016.
Whilst sat here feeling rubbish with my first autumnal cold, watching crappy movies on TV (Matt is snoozing – waiting to be called out for work) I thought I would put together a bit of an itinerary for those of you thinking of heading to Mexico for some winter sun this year or early next!
After a day full of travelling yesterday (the flight is around 10 hours), you are probably feeling a bit of jet lag and just want to take it easy, DONT! If you are one of crazy people that go long haul for just 7 days you need to make the most of it whilst you can. Get some breakfast and if your rep meeting is today GO TO IT, if you haven’t pre-booked any trips now is the time to do! What are my recommendations? If your staying in the Cancun area, I would suggest these trips & I explain why a bit further down:
- Coco Bongo
- Chichen Itza
- Captain Hook Pirate Ship (if there is a group of you or little kids with you!)
Once you have your trips booked, make sure you have your camera and some money on you – small bills if possible, because your going to head just outside of your hotel and grab a “bus” to Playa Del Carmen for some authentic mexican food and a spot of shopping (get it done and out the way on your first day). The “bus” is a mini van, its cheap but you need pay in small bills and tell the driver where you want to go, don’t be precious about sitting next to your partner, just find a seat and stay put! Once your in Playa Del Carmen head for 5th Avenue for all the shops, they range from Zara, Victoria’s Secret and Pandora to all the souvenirs you could ask for!
Despite being all inclusive, we did have some food whilst in Playa Del Carmen and DIDN’T regret it! We ate at Yo Amo Tacos on 5th Avenue, it was our first real taste of Mexican food and it was fantastic! I can’t recall the specific items we had, but I am hoping these photo’s do it justice!
Once you have explored, shopped and eaten its time to head back to your hotel to have some dinner, cocktails enjoy the evening entertainment and mingle with fellow holiday makers. Don’t make it a late one though – your up early for a day at Chichen Itza!
An early start for a full day coach trip, from our hotel it was around a 3 hour coach trip to Chichen Itza, so make sure you have some snacks and bottled water with you. On our day trip, when we arrived we spent some time in a small shop whilst our guide got all of our passes etc. if you dont have one with you that day, pick up a hat you WILL need it. Its hot and there is limited, if any at all shade & use this time to go to the bathroom – I promise you that the toilets on the site are not great!
Enjoy the scenery and the information the guide tells you, I wont lie to you but the day we went I had a raging water infection so I really didn’t care to be there BUT Matt really enjoyed it and we got some good photos and saw some lizards too!
On our trip we headed to a local restaurant where they served authentic food, I am gutted we didnt get any pictures but I do love those types of stops on trips abroad. They rely soo heavily on tourism and although the food might not be quite what you expect just enjoy the experience! On our way back we stopped at a cenote – there was the chance to go in and experience the water, but we decided just to people watch and take in the scenery!
Heading back to your hotel, you will be tired and worn out BUT that’s ok as you have another chilled evening at the hotel mingling with your holiday friends drinking cocktails and enjoying the evening entertainment!
Ok, you deserve a day off today! Chill by the pool or on the beach enjoy the fact that you can start drinking cocktails from 10am and snack throughout the day and get your head in that book you picked up in duty free.
We were really lucky with the hotel we stayed at, it was on Akumal beach which is FULL and I mean FULL of sea turtles, a lovely couple we met and often hung out with on the beach let us use their snorkel gear as they weren’t keen snorkelers and we had great fun snorkeling and just swimming alongside the turtles. It was so peaceful. We were in Mexico for 2 weeks, so whilst I laid by the beach getting the best tan I have ever had Matt went fishing for a couple of days and we would often walk into the little town and also went to near by Tulum – there is so much to do if you want to do it!
If you are like us and enjoy a good night out and don’t fancy a night at your hotel every night then break it up and book nights out to Coco Bongo or Captain Hooks Pirate Ship. I personally (from what I can remember) enjoyed Coco Bongo a lot more than the Pirate Ship BUT I can see why people, especially those in groups or with families would enjoy the Pirate Ship party.
Well……Day 4, if anything like me after Coco Bongo you will spend most of your morning like this…..
So what would I suggest you do on day 4? Well considering you will be travelling home on Day 7, you only really have 2 more days after this to get things done & you want at least 1 more day by the pool, beach or maybe some spa treatments at the hotel of course! Well, day 4 could be that day for you OR you could spend the day and evening at Xcaret!
Xcaret, my favourite place in Mexico! You can do anything, from swim the lazy river, see the animals, snorkel, swim with dolphins, swim with sting rays (we did this its AMAZING!) or just chill by the beach. There is so much to do here you definately need a full day. We did the lazy river, swam with sting rays AND the adrenaline boat (and didn’t stay for the evening) – there is a lot of things I regret that we didn’t do, so check out some pics and below I will give you the low down on things to do!
Ok, my top tips for Xcaret:
- Bring a waterproof camera OR pay the extra to have photo’s taken on your way round (we did this with x-plor). Almost all of the day is based around water, so if like us you don’t have a waterproof camera you wont get many snaps!
- Plan your day, dont just jump into the first thing – figure out what you want to do and what you need to be wearing for that activity (pretty much swimwear the whole day)
- Take extra cash with you for extra fun activities, not everything is included in the price
- Drink plenty and make sure you eat
So we didn’t stay for the evening entertainment, but I have heard it is really good and that we really missed out – but we had such a great day we just wanted to get back to the hotel and have a relaxed evening at the hotel bar and eat some yummy food in the a la carte restaurants on site.
Another busy fun day, but today is X-Plor, Xcaret’s zip liner cousin! This was Matt’s request and I was apprehensive as I am not keen on zip lines BUT we had a great day AND paid the extra for a camera pass all the way round. The only thing we didn’t do was be prepared with clothing – basically you will get wet, but I wouldn’t say swim wear all the time – but the choice is yours – just know that when your queuing be happy that you will get wet in what you are wearing…..
A great day out and you really get to see some amazing sites on those zip lines!
A perfect day to top up that fantastic tan you will have got and just relax, maybe head back into Playa Del Carmen to get some more souvenirs. I cant remember our last day before we checked out and headed home, but I can remember our last meal and it was gorgeous! We were so spoilt at Akumal Bay Hotel, but it was a beautiful holiday and I would recommend that hotel to anyone!
Make Day 6 a day to remember, because tomorrow you will be travelling home!
There is so much to do in Mexico and the trip opportunities are endless, but this is just based on what we got up to. We were there for 2 weeks, so were lucky to spend our time on the beach as well as keeping busy, at the end of the day a holiday is yours to do what you will with, but 1 thing I would suggest is do what you can while you are there. There is never a guarantee you will return, so dont leave wishing you had done something!