Monday, 29 August 2016

USA and Canada 2016 | Washington DC and Virginia

We spent the last days of our holiday staying with family in Reston, Virginia - just outside of DC. It was lovely and hot and we spent most of the time there just catching up with our family (including our new 5-month-old baby cousin) and relaxing, we did lots of shopping and had some great dinners. I won't go through each day in detail, but below are some of the highlights. 

Whilst we were there we went into DC a couple of times. We woke up super early one morning to head in for sunrise at the Lincoln memorial. It was the most amazing view and I took hundreds of photo, I would highly recommend heading into DC at that time as it was so quiet and we were able to head around some of the memorials before crowds were there.

One evening we drove to Wolf Trap - near my Auntie's house - to watch Kristin Chenoweth perform. It is such a beautiful national park! It is the only performing arts national park in the USA and it was such a lovely experience as although you are under shelter, the walls of the auditorium are open so you can hear the noises from the trees outside. 

Another place we visited in DC was the Newseum, it did cost entry but you get two days worth of tickets. They have some really interesting exhibits, we spent ages in the FBI investigates exhibit which was horrifying but interesting.

We visited Lake Anne which is a lovely lake surrounded by restaurants, it is lovely to sit around and relax. 

We ate at Good Stuff Burgers in Arlington where I had one of the best burgers I had ever eaten in my life.

While in Virginia, we also travelled into Maryland and visited a County Fair. It was so much fun, there were loads of stalls and animals. There were shows and lots of places to get food and souvenirs. I didn't realise what a big thing county fairs were in the area! It was a really popular event with fairground rides and monster trucks. 

We had such an amazing holiday, looking forward to my next trip back to the USA.

USA and Canada 2016 | Pennsylvania

We got up early to get ready to cross the border, it was actually really easy to cross in the morning. We were through the border crossing in 10 minutes and into the USA. We walked through Niagara town on the NY side and found a taxi to take us to our car hire. We had breakfast across the road as we were way too early for our car hire, and soon as it was time to get the car we drove off to Pennsylvania. It took around 6 hours and obviously we stopped for authentic american cuisine on the way (McDonald's) and then carried on our journey. 

We stayed in the Days Inn in Lancaster, it was near the Amish town of Bird in Hand. We arrived around 8pm but most restaurants were closed, although we did manage to find an Olive Garden. Early in the morning we went on an Amish Buggy Tour with Abe's Amish Buggy tour company. It was a really insightful trip, I didn't take many photos but the above photo is my view from the back of the buggy. We had an hour journey through the lovely, peaceful town. We then continued to Gettysburg. 

Once in Gettysburg, we visited the National Military Park. We didn't go into the museum, but we did see the cemetery despite the heat. We had found out lots about the war and the park itself previously and it was really interesting to see in person. We found the place where Lincoln did his famous address. 

We didn't spend much time at the park because it was so hot, but I am glad we stopped there. After Gettysburg we drove straight to Reston, VA for the last part of our trip. 

USA and Canada 2016 | Niagara Falls

It was really easy to get from Toronto to Niagara on the Greyhound bus. It was really cheap and only took around one hour and a half. It was easy to get from the bus station to our hotel (Travelodge by the Falls) which was quite reasonably priced and a good location within walking distance of everywhere. 

I was really surprised about the Niagara area, I wasn't picturing it at all similar to how it is; I would compare it to a Vegas for kids! It's loud, there is lots of neon and bright colours and it is full of activities (mini golf, countless wax work museums and haunted houses). We walked down towards the falls after dropping out suitcases, and got Starbucks and Wendy's before queuing up for the Hornblower boat. It looked like a long queue but it really didn't take long to get on the boat. The actual trip was around 20 minutes but we had booked in advance for $45 for the day time and night time cruise. We got absolutely soaked but it was so worth it, and obviously with the heat we dried off quickly. We grabbed milkshakes and went back to the hotel.

We had dinner and walked back to the boat for our evening cruise. We had an amazing view of the fireworks over head. I would definitely recommend joining the queue as late as possible as people were in the line for an hour standing up and they hadn't let anyone on the boat. 

USA and Canada 2016 | 24 hours in Toronto

This year we have headed out on another family road trip, this time starting in Canada and driving down to DC. We left the UK in the morning and arrived in Canada and set straight out for the CN tower. We stayed on Jarvis Street at a Quality Inn, which was ok for us as we didn't mind the walk yet it was quite far away from the centre. We spent our evening going up the CN tower, watching the sun set and taking in the views, and then we found a pizza restaurant (JZ's) with views of the tower and spent the rest of the evening there. 

We got up early and managed to fit in a quick gym session (our only one of the whole holiday - we started off so optimistically!) and got our free breakfast. We headed into the centre, despite it pouring with rain, and we wandered to the Eaton Centre. We had a long lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe and then went to find  the 'Toronto' sign and even had to go and get sunglasses as it had got so sunny after the rain. We went to the Market Gallery and saw the Beatles exhibit which was great to see. Afterwards we walked to the harbour and waited for a boat to centre island, it was really sunny by the time we got there and it has the most amazing views of the skyline. The island was so quiet and peaceful, we went over to the beach and saw the fairground. As we were travelling to Niagara the next day, we got Tim Hortons for dinner and went back to the hotel for an early night.

It was a really quick stop over in Toronto but we managed to see quite a lot of it in a short space of time. However I definitely don't think we managed to taste as much of the amazing food as I have heard about, so I will have to head back at some point. It was a lovely place for a first look at Canada, but there are so so many more places in Canada I would love to visit. 

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Prague, Czech Republic 2016 | A Weekend Break

As a teacher in my first year, I decided to book a weekend away and take a little break during the Easter Holidays. We managed to get lots done in the time and the weekend was relatively cheap!

Our flights were booked through Easyjet which cost around £70 and our hotel (Hotel Beseda) cost around £70 each for two nights. We booked through as we got extra perks like late checkout and breakfast included. Our hotel was in a good location although it did involve lots of walking. Despite visiting in early April, we were so lucky with the weather. The sun was shining the whole time we were there.

On our first day we took a boat trip on the 'Historical Venice Boat', it was 290 CZK but it was nice to hear about the sights and you got a small beer and ice cream as well. We spent most of our time walking around and seeing different sights as we walked. Charles Bridge and Old Town Square were great, obviously very touristy, but good to see. I loved crossing the bridge and seeing Lennon's wall, it was always busy but with a great atmosphere. We had a drink at the John Lennon Pub, a couple of minutes away from the wall. We walked up Petrin Hill to get amazing views over Prague, unfortunately the funicular, which takes you to the top of the hill, was out of operation and we didn't quite manage to walk all the way to the top.

We ate at some great places, Vytopna was an interesting restaurant which had a working model railway stretching across the whole room bringing drinks round. The food was quite average but not too expensive. We visited the Prince U Hotel for dinner where we got really nice cocktails and pancakes for dessert, it is worth getting there early so you can watch the sunset from there, which we didn't manage to get there for!

On our second day we went to Prague Castle, we got a tram up to the castle as it was really easy to buy tram tickets cheaply. However, remember they are valid for a certain amount of time from the moment you buy them so take note of that time. We walked to the Dancing House which was interesting to see and then we spent our last afternoon sitting by the river with an amazing view over the bridge and Petrin Hill. 

I think if I went again I would try and do a walking tour as it would have been nice to find out some more about the places we were seeing, and we were told that you could find a free walking tour if you went to the Old Town Square. Prague is a beautiful place, easily walked around and steeped in history. It is definitely somewhere I would love to visit again. 

Monday, 24 August 2015

California, USA 2015 | Hollywood

Our quick stopover in Hollywood began with a meal at Hard Rock Cafe and a visit to the Walk of Fame and Chinese Mann Theatre. 

We've been to LA before but decided to visit again as myself and my siblings were quite young last time. We went to a shopping centre to see the Hollywood sign in the distance and my brother visited a couple of guitar shops. 

We only had a couple of hours in Hollywood but it was a nice touristy place to visit; it is a shame that is was such a flying visit but I would love to go back to LA at some point to stay for longer.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

California, USA 2015 | Disneyland

I am a massive Disney fan and haven't been to the California park since I was about 11! I managed to schedule a day in with my family at the end of our trip. We got up really early and were lucky enough to be around for the 60th Anniversary celebrations. 
We stayed at a nearby hotel and had dinner at Cheesecake Factory (one of my favourite places to eat) and then went back to our hotel to watch the fireworks from the window, which was amazing. 

We did both parks in one day and managed to see Paint the Night, Soundsational Parade, Disneyland Forever and World of Colour in the evening. 

We began our day in California Adventure where we queued up for Radiator Springs Racers which was so worth the wait. We used fastpasses throughout the day and before we left California Adventure we went on Soarin', Grizzly River Run, California Screamin', Tower of Terror and Monsters Inc. We also watched Aladdin which was so amazing. 

We then headed over to Disneyland Park, we went on the Jungle Cruise, Big Thunder Mountain Indiana Jones Adventure, Pirates of the Caribbean, Splash Mountain, Bobsleds and Star Tours. We did some souvenir shopping and ate lunch at Village Haus Restaurant and dinner at Hungry Bear Restaurant. 

We had such a magical day and managed to get on so many rides!