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Paris, France

My friend and I decided that we wanted to go on a mini break for a long weekend before I gave birth and these things become much rarer. Once we had a date we just needed to find a location. We initially wanted to go to Budapest but getting decent flight times over the weekend just was not happening, so after going back and forth with a few different options we eventually settled on Paris! I had been to Paris once before but that was when I was in high school, so I was looking forward to seeing it properly this time around. Below is a list of the main things we did on our weekend in Paris...

The Catacombs of Paris
The Paris catacombs consists of a network of underground tunnels holding the remains of more than 6 million people, so a pretty freaky place. My friend and I do love macabre things in a weird way so this was something we really wanted to go and see. The queue to get in was rather long but it did move quickly and before we knew it we were inside and heading down. At first, there is a few tunnels with information to learn about the reasonings behind these skeletons being there and some information on what happened at the time. We made our way through this part thinking that could be in but as we progressed further underground we soon realised that we were actually going to see the skeletons themselves! It is hard to describe how it looks (best to Google images of this!), but all of the bones of the people buried there are carefully arranged into walls that just go on and on and on. It is really quite fascinating to see, if not a little freaky! There is also a film based in the Paris catacombs on Netflix called As Above, So Below that we watched that night - not the best film but after being down there earlier that day it was rather scary!

Moulin Rouge
As Moulin Rouge is my all-time favourite film, a trip to see the live show when in Paris was an absolute must for me. We hesitated slightly due to the price of it (over £100!) as we wanted the weekend to be kept relatively cheap, but being on my bucket list I just had to go. Unfortunately, I wish I had not bothered! In my mind I was expected performances similar to that showed in the film, which I appreciate may have been a little farfetched, but what was shown was so far from this it was very disappointing. The dances and stories were all so poor and random it just was not worth it for me. This is not something I would recommend or would do again.

Notre Dame, The Louvre & The Eiffel Tower
What trip to Paris is complete without visiting the iconic Eiffel Tower! We went for a walk to the tower and around it but decided against going up it with us both having done this before. The tower is a great sight to see and we had a lot of fun spotting it on our trips around the city. Of course, we also took some great selfies with it!

We went to visit The Louvre whilst in Paris - what a busy place that is! It is also huge and there is so much to see. We didn't want to do everything (partly due to it not being our thing and partly because I was 7 and a half months pregnant and it would have just been too much!) so we selected the places of interest to us and went there. A trip to The Louvre would not be complete without going to see the famous Mona Lisa, which we did. It was hard to truly see and appreciate the painting as it was heaving around it. You had to actually wait in a hoard of people to get to the front to be able to see it - but at least it is something I can now say I have seen.

Unbelievable timing happened with regards to our visit to Notre Dame, due to it unfortunately setting on fire the next day with severe damage happening. We were lucky not to be there when it happened and extremely lucky that we were able to see the building before it became damaged. It was a beautiful building that is just huge! A very impressive site and something I hope they are able to restore in the not-too-distant future.

Montmartre
Whilst in Paris we stayed at a small hotel in Montmarte. There is a lot to do in this area and it has a great atmosphere. There are also some beautiful churches to see! The most obvious one is The Basilica of Sacre-Coeur - a huge white building which is just truly beautiful and definitely one worth a visit. However, we went for a walk on our last day and came across The Church of Saint Pierre de Montmorte. This was on top of a hill and over looks most of Paris. There was a Sunday service of some sort going on and the atmosphere surrounding the place was great, with buskers and singers performing and people selling hand-made gifts. The walk up was a little steep but definitely worth it for the views! I really recommend visiting here if you get the chance.

Overall we had a great weekend in Paris, enjoyed some great food and got to see all of the things that make Paris great :)

Posted by LaurenF3 04:19 Archived in France Tagged paris france travel travelling Comments (0)

Barmouth

After our few days break in the Lakes we had planned to head to Barmouth to stay in Adam’s parent’s caravan. As Barmouth is Adam’s favourite place in the world (he hasn’t been far, bless him ?) he was very excited for 5/6 days there and I too was looking forward to it.

Before going there, however, we did a couple of stop offs. We were up early in the morning and headed to Snowdonia. Adam had won 2 x vouchers in a raffle for Surf Snowdonia and we were going to use them. Despite having been to Australia I had never before tried my hand at surfing so I was excited to see how I got on. As a beginner, we had a twenty-minute class first to learn the basics and to be told what we needed to do and then off we went into the water. It is the first place of its kind with man-made waves and the concept is great. You are not waiting around between each wave but have enough time to get back into place before it comes. My first few attempts were a little hit-and-miss, with one brilliant attempt ending in me riding Adam instead of the wave! But it did get easier and I did manage to get up and actually ride the board twice! It was really good fun and I would definitely recommend trying this!

After the surfing, we did another activity - this one I had been keen to try for a while – Zip World! I had wanted to go here since it opened and finally we were going to do it. It only took about 30/40 minutes to get from Surf Snowdonia so it worked out well. Once we were all kitted up we first did a smaller zip-wire, which I actually found scarier as you are just dangling over nothing whilst they get you set up, but fun none-the-less! After this you get into the back of a truck and head up to the top one, which takes about 15 minutes. As you are getting closer you start to realise just how high it is! It does not look as high from the bottom and the finish point from the top looks very far away. When we got to the top we had a delay as due to a really strong head wind they had to add a lot of extra weight to people, which they had ran out of. Because we had to sit and wait around for a little bit I did start to get a little bit scared but before long we were strapped in and set off. The wire goes right over the lagoon which is such a lovely colour. It goes so fast – my cheeks were all over the place! And then before you know it you are at the bottom and safe and having a great adrenaline rush. It was great and I am really glad that I have done it, however, at £70 a go I don’t think I would do it again!

When we got into Barmouth we headed straight to the chippy. I had been craving one for a while but held off knowing how much better they are in Barmouth. We did not go to our favourite one as we came into Barmouth a different route and although okay, it was not amazing meaning the next day we just had to have another one from The Mermaid, which is truly the best chippy ever!

We went to a pub called The Last Inn as I have been wanting to go there over the past four years of us visiting Barmouth but have never made it there. The Last Inn is a 15th century pub which is pretty much built into a cave/the side of a mountain and which still has a lot of its original features. It is a really cool, unique place and if in the back of the restaurant you do feel like you are sitting in a cave, complete with only candlelight. It is a very busy place and in the summer, you struggle to get a table so if you want food you are definitely best to book.

We went for a lovely walk up the mountain behind the campsite. From up there, the views are brilliant and make the rather steep trek well worth it. The route is not the clearest and we did not end up where we planned to, but it was very nice all the same.

Just up from the campsite is a new bar called The Norbar. Adam’s parents had raved about this since it opened and I had not yet had a chance to go. We went on the Saturday night for food, drinks and live music. The place is gorgeous and has been done out very well. The music and atmosphere was fantastic and the food lovely too. Well worth a visit!

Despite having been to Barmouth lots of times over the past few years I am still finding new things to do and see when we go. Adam and I do love going here and I am sure we will continue to visit lots of times over the coming years!

Posted by LaurenF3 12:41 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged holiday sights travelling siteseeing barmouth Comments (0)

Singapore

After more travelling and more flights, we eventually made it to Singapore. It is not that I was not exciting about Singapore, but I was so focused on Bali that it had taken a back seat. So, when we got there and explored the city, I was so pleasantly surprised by what a great place it is!

As we did not have many days in Singapore and quite a lot to see, the first thing we did was book a hop-on hop-off bus. We used this to go around the city, taking it all in, and got off at the famous Raffles hotel. Here, we couldn’t not have a Singapore Sling – this was where they were invented after all! It was lovely but so expensive that we only had one and moved on.

We visited China Town on our first evening, going to the biggest Hawker Centre in Singapore (food market type place). Here, we ordered a selection of Dim Sum meals and all shared – it was lovely! China Town was very cool but a very busy place. We walked to the Quay after this, got an ice cream and sat on the bridge – it was a great atmosphere with loads of people around and everyone having a good time.

On our second day, we had planned to get up early and go to the Botanical Gardens but Milz was not feeling too well so we had a bit of a lie in until she was ready to get up and go. We went to Little India and walked around here – the temples were beautiful and so unique – then walked a way out of the city until we got to Platform 1049, a Harry Potter themed bar! It was very cool here and we got to dress up, make our drinks light up and all sorts.

We got the Skytrain to the Arab centre which was again very nice. There were so many nice buildings around with lots to see. We went to a street called Haji Lane which was small but so cute, lots of little shops and restaurants. We had food here before going back to get ready and then headed straight back out again as we were heading to the Night Safari in Singapore Zoo. This was a really good experience as we have been to several zoos in the past but never at night. Walking around in the dark and seeing different animals that come out at night was brilliant and this is something I would highly recommend.

The next day we went to the Marina as we were moving hotels for our last night. We were treating ourselves to a night of luxury and staying at the Marina Bay Sands hotel (seriously, if you are not aware of it, look it up!) It was obviously an expensive hotel but we decided to do it for one night, however, we did get stung a little as tax gets added on after. So, despite paying a lot of money for the hotel in advance, we ended up having to pay more when we got there. Saying that, it was so worth it. The hotel is insane! It is just absolutely massive and grand, unlike anywhere I have ever stayed before that‘s for sure. We were really lucky as well in that our room had a view of the Garden’s by the Bay trees and it was just beautiful.

We visited the Cloud Forest and Flower Dome, basically two massive greenhouses full of wonderful flowers and trees etc. The Cloud Forest has a waterfall and you can walk all the way around the top, it is great. At night, we went to see the Gardens by the Bay light show, which was fantastic. They really are a sight that just needs to be seen! We had our tea then had drinks in our hotel for our last night!

The next morning, we made full use of the hotel by going up to the infinity pool at the top. The views from up there are insane and make for some great photos. Once checked out, we went for food and had a final Singapore Sling before making our way to the airport.

I really had not been expecting to enjoy Singapore so much but it really was one of the best cities I have been to. It was also the cleanest and felt the safest too. Really somewhere that I would recommend visiting!

Posted by LaurenF3 08:49 Tagged singapore holiday sightseeing travelling Comments (0)

Bali

It felt like such a long, long time from booking our flights to actually going, but the last four weeks in the lead up to this holiday just flew by and before I knew it we were in Manchester airport on our way! The journey was very long but three flights and a taxi ride later we were pulling up at our first hotel. At this destination, we met with Kelly – a friend of ours who had been travelling for 6 months already and who we were spending the next 2 weeks with! Kelly is really the reason why this trip happened so shout out to her!

By the time we got there the first night was pretty much over so we popped to the shop for some beers and just chilled out having a catch up. The local beer is called Bingtang which is nice but they also do Bingtang Radler which is just gorgeous!

When we woke up on our first morning in paradise….it was raining! (Typically, it was a heat wave at home ☹) When it finally cleared up we went to a place called The Nook for some food, which was brilliant - very healthy too! In the afternoon, we headed to Potato Head Beach Club – a perfect day for this as it was Kelly’s birthday. This is a place I was very keen to go to as I had heard so much about it, and it was great! It was very idyllic with big sun beds and a pool overlooking the sea. It took a while to get a bed as you had to put your name down on a list but thankfully for us not many people waited the whole time so we got there a lot quicker than we should have. Once on the bed, we ordered some cocktails and they were kind to bring Kelly something and sing her happy birthday, it was great. Once the sun had set we headed out and went to a nearby restaurant for tea. I tried Nasi Goreng, a famous Indonesian dish and it was gorgeous! After this we headed to La Planche which was a bar on the beach will lots of bean bags everywhere and pretty lights. We got a little carried away here and did not realise we had got so many drinks – the bill came to 2,800,000 Indonesian Rupiah without us realising how much we had spent! (Not nearly as bad as it sounds). It was a great night and a perfect first day in Bali.

The next morning there were a few sore heads so we changed our original plan and just chilled out by the pool. Around midday we got a taxi and headed to Ubud, our second destination, which took about an hour and a half. By the time we got there and checked in etc it was early evening, so we went out for food and then chilled in our room whilst planning our time in Ubud. There was a lot that we wanted to do so this was a necessity! The place we were staying in Ubud were these traditional bungalows which were just fantastic!

The next day we went to get our breakfast which was included and were told okay, it will be here soon and go back to our room. About 15 minutes later we were brought breakfast to our bungalow which we had on our little terrace, amazing!

This day was the day I finally got to do something I had wanted to do for a long time…I went white water rafting! We did it through the middle of a rainforest/jungle area and it was just fantastic. Our guide was great and even let us get out and swim with the current – I felt like I was in The Jungle Book. It was a great experience and one of the best things I have ever done. After this we chilled out by the pool, did some shopping on the main street then had an early tea/night as we had to be up super early the next day…

We had to get up at 1.30am for our next adventure – we were going trekking up an active volcano called Mount Batur. The idea was that we got picked up at 2am and made our way to the base of the volcano (about an hour away). From here, we would start the trek up the mountain with our own guide and by the time we reached the top the sun was starting to rise. It took about two and a half hours to get to the top and it was quite a tough climb but so satisfying when we finally reached the top. Unfortunately, it was very cloudy at the summit so our view of the sunrise was quite limited. It was also so cold up there! We did not stay at the top too long, just long enough for breakfast and a hot drink and then started to make our way down. Coming down was a completely different journey – now that the sun was up we had views, which were amazing! There was so much to see and I couldn’t believe that we had walked past it all just an hour before! Once we got to the bottom we asked our driver to take us to some hot springs which were nearby and it was such a treat to do this – well needed after our trek.

We spent some time by the pool after this as it was one of the hottest days we had then in the afternoon Milz and I went to Monkey Forrest whilst the others stayed by the pool. We were unsure about going as we had not had any rabies vaccines but decided to go and see. It was great to see all the monkeys around but they were a little intimidating so we did not spend long here and went exploring for a little while as the others were getting ready. We found a street full of vegan cafes and restaurants which was very cool and then went and found the cat café that we had heard about. I love cats so it was great being in there! We went out for tea and a couple of drinks after this to finish off a great day.

Again, we had our breakfast on the terrace and spent most of the day by the pool as we were so tired from the previous day. In the afternoon we went to see the rice fields which was such a fantastic sight and one you would definitely associate with Bali when you see it! We went back into the town and had tea and I just so happened to bump into someone I knew from home, Katie. We have a pretty chilled night as we had to be up early the next day to leave for Gili T.

On our 7th day we left early to make our way over to Gili T. This involved a taxi which took about an hour and a half then a boat which was about the same length of time. The boat was small, cramped, hot and the sea rough and choppy so it was not too fun but eventually we got their and after dragging our suitcases across the beach and down several dirt roads we made it to our place. This time, we decided to go all out and booked a private villa which even had its own pool! It was gorgeous and still so reasonably priced. The villa was also very well located – pretty much smack bang in the middle of the island so we could go left to one side and beach or right to the other and we were also provided with our own bicycles which we ended up using quite often to get around. For our lunch, we headed left back towards where we got off the boat and had lunch at a lovely restaurant on the beach. We went back to the villa to chill for a bit then headed to the other side of the island, known as sunset beach. From here you can see the sun setting (duh!) but also this is where you can get your famous snaps on the swings looking out to the sea. I was quite surprised when we got there as I was expecting there to be one swing with a queue to get on it but it turns out every beach front place had the same idea so there were swings all along the beach and therefore no queues. We got our photos (which look great but getting up and down was a bit of a mission!) and headed back.

Later that night we headed back towards the sunset beach and had quite a shock – it was completely deserted! It was honestly like a ghost town – no people around and nowhere was open. Typically, we had all got dressed up as this was going to be our big night on the island but it was not to be. We walked along the front for a while until we came across a security guard who advised us that it was the end of Ramadan/Eid and everything was shut! (This was due to be the case for the next three nights…which is exactly how long we were there) We finally came to a hotel that was still open where we had tea (it was almost 10pm by this time) and then gave up, calling it a night and heading back to the villa.

The next day we went snorkelling near the other 2 Gili islands and actually managed to swim with giant turtles – it was amazing! We saw one right down on the sea bed and were happy with that but the guy with us took us to another place and we saw one that was actually swimming and we went right by it, what a sight! We finally got a bit drunk that evening with drinks in the villa (we bought alcohol earlier in the day knowing everything would be closed again) and played games, it was quite a fun night but we did run out of alcohol and there was nowhere to go to get more!
After Gili T, we headed back to the mainland (the boat was even worse this time around!) and on to the airport and to our next destination….Singapore!

Posted by LaurenF3 08:08 Archived in Indonesia Tagged bali sun sight travelling seeing Comments (0)

New York, New York

Anything can happen in a New York minute!

sunny

Lucky me - I have returned to the Big Apple! Before going, I was curious as to how I would find New York the second time around. Having done all the major sites during my first trip I was not sure if it could be as fantastic the second time around, however, I was wrong - it was great! I made an effort to do and see different things and the things I did repeat we did in a different way and it resulted in another great adventure in the US of A and a great few days in this magical city.

On our first day, we arrived at the hotel at around 3pm and after dropping our bags off in the room we headed straight out for Times Square. My personal recollection of Times Square is that it is a magical place that completely wowed me on my first visit. Although I did not get quite the same feeling when I saw it again, it is certainly still an amazing place that is unlike anywhere else in the world. I loved just sitting on the iconic steps and looking around, watching everything that was going on and taking it all in. What a great place!

Our next stop for the day was to the Empire State. Again, in an effort to do things differently, we went up in the day (previously I had gone up at night time). When I last went up at night the queues were horrendous – so long! – and it took hours to do the whole thing. Much to my surprise, this time in the day it was straight in and straight up, I couldn’t believe it! I was convinced it would take forever but within twenty minutes of walking through the doors we were at the top. What a view! It really is quite remarkable and I still cannot get my head around the fact that people actually built something so high up. It is great to see the city from up high and shows how big and build up NYC really is. It is something else to be so high that the sky-scrapers around seem small!

On our second day the first thing we did was get up and find a proper American diner for breakfast. Of course, I had pancakes! It was great to get that all-American experience and I really enjoyed it. Our next stop for the day was Central Park. When I last went, we walked in and had a little walk around, a little sit down and then moved on. This time we decided to do it all – on bikes! It was very reasonable to hire bikes and we actually got discount off a card our hotel had given to us so it was even better. We hired them for three hours and literally cycled the whole way around Central Park. It is such a beautiful place and it is really amazing to be in a place so green but when you look out you are surrounded by sky-scrapers. The bike hire came with locks so we could leave them here and there and have a little walk around/explore, so we got to go and see Strawberry Fields (I am a big Beatles fan ?) before heading back and dropping the bikes back. It was a great way to see a lot of Central Park without taking up a whole day to do so.

Next, we visited the Rockefeller centre. It was really cool to see the front of the building where the ice rink goes at Christmas, only at this time of year it was a bar/restaurant area. Next to the centre was a massive Lego store that Adam insisted on going on (desperate for a Millennium Falcon) and then we had a wonder around this area before heading back to the hotel.

That afternoon we headed to La Bronx and to my first ever baseball game to watch the New York Yankees. We headed down a few hours before the game had started so that we could have a wonder around Yankee Stadium, which is huge! The food selections were amazing and during our walk around we picked out what we would be getting later (steak sandwiches and garlic fries, yes GARLIC FRIES! Insanely good!) We saw the Yankees warming up and the old kiss cam was making the rounds which was fun to watch. Baseball is not a sport I know too much about but I soon picked it up and found myself enjoying it more than thought I would (perhaps because it reminds me of Rounders!). It was a great experience and I am glad Adam wanted to go as I doubt I would ever have gone otherwise.

The next day was a busy one and we did so much! We had booked a hop-on hop-off bus as a way to get around and to make sure we saw everything that we wanted to. We got on this and stayed on for quite a while, taking in the city from a new perspective and got off near Brooklyn bridge. From here, we first walked to Ground Zero and the 9/11 memorial and museum. This had changed a lot since I last visited – for starters the new World Trade Centre is complete! When I came last it was only half way up. Also, the museum is now completely different. We went into here and spent a good couple of hours walking around and taking it all in. It had quite an impact on both Adam and I and at the end we were feeling very sad about the whole tragic event.

After visiting 9/11, we walked back on ourselves and went to Brooklyn bridge where we walked half way across. The view from the bridge of the city was impressive and it was great to experience this. Plus, the bridge itself was lovely! We got back on the bus after this and headed down to the harbour. We were getting on a ferry to go and see the Statue of Liberty. There had been quite a buzz around the city and we could see roads getting closed down and once on waiting for the ferry we found out why – Trump was coming to town! Not only that, his helicopter was due to land on the jetty right next to ours. We could see several large, black suburban cars, police cars, an ambulance and fire engine all there waiting. We had been told that they were not sure when he was due but if he came in the next hour then the water would be on lock down for two hours, causing massive delays! Half of me wanted to see him despite the delays it would cause (I am not his biggest fan but he is still the President of the United States!) and the other half just wanted to get on the boat and go. The boat ended up coming before Trump did and we went across the Hudson to see the Statue. Last time I went, we got on the Staten Island ferry and saw her that way. This time, we got a lot closer and it was great to see her a lot more clearly! She is rather impressive. I was also chuffed to be on the Hudson after not long ago watching Sully (great film!).

After we got back to Times Square we decided to go out for our one and only proper sit-down meal. I absolutely love Red Lobster (my family live in Arizona and we always go here when I visit) and I wanted Adam to try it so to Red Lobster we went. We had a lovely meal it really was great, however, it was so expensive! We paid over £120 for two starters, two mains and two drinks, which I think was rather a lot but hey that is New York! We then decided to jump on the night bus and do a tour of the city and Brooklyn at night. It was great to see the city at night but I was unprepared for this and therefore freezing cold! Spent most of the trip huddled up trying to keep warm! Coming back over the bridge and seeing Manhattan all lit up looking fantastic was a great view and made the cold worthwhile.

The next day (which was our last full day) was not what we expected – it absolutely poured down! I think it may have been the heaviest rain I had ever seen, there were even flood warnings issued. This did affect things but we still got out and about (just not for as long!) We decided to get the underground today instead of walking and got off at Bleecker Street. This was a big thing for me as I am a huge Paolo Nutini fan and he sings about Bleecker Street in his song Better Man, so I was very excited and got the appropriate photo under the sign. From here, we went to Katz Deli, famous for being in several films (most famously When Harry Met Sally). It was a very unusual place and we had sandwiches which were overflowing with meat! From here we went to the Cookie Dough Café. I saw a post about this place on Facebook a few months ago and knew then that I just had to go! It was great – a very cool and unique place with so much cookie dough! I ordered rather a lot (so I had enough to take some home for my sisters) and tucked in. It was lovely but could not eat it all at once due to it getting quite sickly quite quickly. This meant that I had enough for the rest of the holiday which was great. From here, we went back to the hotel to dry off and see if the rain eased off, which it didn’t. However, it just so happened that the new Guardians of the Galaxy film was released that day so to the cinema we went. Cinemas in America are huge and the seats are all like our premium ones so it was great. Also, I love how involved everyone gets! Every time there was a really good joke people were laughing out loud and clapping, it was brilliant. We finished our day off with a pizza from John’s Pizzeria (we had been advised that this was the best place for pizza in NYC) and chilled out.

Our last day in NYC was a short one with having to get off to the airport in the afternoon but we did manage to fit some more stuff in. One thing I wanted to do was go to Stardust café – a café where all the waiters/waitresses sing constantly. This is my idea of heaven, but Adam’s of hell. There was a huge queue to get in but we decided to wait and as soon as we got in Adam was desperate to get out, so we ate and left but it was still good fun! After this and after a spot of shopping we met up with a couple who we had met on our holiday in Italy last year who were from New York. Ruth actually works inside the Rockefeller Centre and kindly took us up for free, which was great. It was another spectacular view and it was cool to see the Empire State up high also. We went for a few drinks with them and then had to head off to catch our flight.

Even though it was my second trip to New York, I enjoyed it just as much as the first time and saw so many new things – it is such a great city!

Posted by LaurenF3 06:02 Archived in USA Tagged new york usa nyc traveller travelling siteseeing Comments (0)

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