San Lorenzo’s is a modern, Italian style restaurant located on Georges Street at the downtown end of the culinary-famous Camden Mile in the centre of Dublin City. They are well known for their #BrunchOfChampions which is served from 10am to 4pm on Saturdays and Sundays. It’s video of their Coco Pop French Toast that has been making it’s way through every social media platform convinced me that I had to go and see what all of the fuss was about.
You are sure to find something you will love on the San Lorenzo’s brunch menu with 6 ‘Lunch Style’ dishes and 12 ‘Breakfast Style’ Dishes. I will say your options are some what limited if you want a ‘Breakfast Style’ Dish and you don’t like eggs, most of their breakfast dishes are predominately egg based. Looking for a boozy brunch? Look no further, San Lorenzo’s offer a wide range of cocktails, beers and shots.
We had the ‘Super Nachos’ and the ‘Coco Pops French Toast’ to share between the two of us. The French toast tastes as good as it looks (and better). It has an interesting mix of rich flavours and really adds something new and exciting to your standard breakfast menu. The only thing was, I would recommend asking for some more peanut butter on the side. You see, the dish comes like a sandwich. All of the ingredients are in between two slices of French toast. The only issue is, that the slice on the top gets a bit left out when it comes to toppings and as a result is a bit plain. Nothing some extra peanut butter can’t fix. The ‘Super Nachos’ were scarily big. Despite our massive appetites it was no match for us. That portion could feed 3 people on its own easily. They tasted amazing, they were super fresh and perfectly spicy.
At first I thought that it was very expensive for brunch, 14/15 euro per dish seemed pretty steep. Having said that, once the food came I realised we had overestimated our hunger, or underestimated the size of their dishes. Like I said above 3 people could easily share the nachos, so that would have worked out at only 5euro each.
The staff were really nice, super efficient and they tried to accommodate us when we requested a window seat. They were quick to take our order and our food and drinks arrived not too quickly, but not too slowly. I would recommend booking in advance as the place was totally full.
The restaurant resembled an old wine cellar in it’s decor and lighting, giving it a cosy and wintery vibe. The loud music gave the place a modern spin. The bathroom in San Lorenzo’s I believe is the best bathroom I have been in. Instead of having a mirror over the sink they have a massive window looking down into the kitchen – how bloody cool.
Overall we really enjoyed our meal here, although it was expensive you got good value for money in terms of portion size, keep it for a special occasion. For more information see: http://www.sanlorenzos.ie.
The other day I paid a visit to Wanderlust in Dalkey with a few of my girlfriends for a going away dinner. I had heard loads of great things about it and I had been really looking forward to trying it out for myself.
About the Menu
The menu perfectly combined a wide variety of cuisines from Mexican to Asian influenced food without being too overwhelming. They had a huge range of starters but less main courses. Most of us actually ended up getting either two starters or a starter and a side. The starters were huge so it was a perfect amount of food. They also had a large wine and cocktail list.
The Food & Drink
When we arrived we all got a cocktail. I got the ‘Pink Passion’ (passionfruit in a cocktail is just heaven). It was by far the nicest cocktail I have had in a long time. It was so yummy and perfectly sour.
Everyone loved their meals. The table got a wide range of dishes from tacos to chicken wings. I got the Scallops (12.50) and shared a side of Sweet Potato Fries (4) and Skinny Stem Almond Broccoli (4) with one of the girls. I love Scallops and any time I see them on a menu I gravitate towards them. However, it is easy to over cook scallops and once you do you might as well be chewing on a bouncy ball. These scallops were cooked perfectly and were served with a pea purée, black pudding and diced smoked bacon. I would highly recommend them. I would say that they are very rich as a starter if you plan to have a main course.
The cocktails were expensive, 10 euro each is pretty steep. Especially when they aren’t very big. Having said that they are to die for.
The food was on the expensive side. Mains ranging from 15-24 euro. If you are looking to save a few, opt with a starter and a side. It worked out cheaper and I think there were better options on the starter menu.
Early Bird option?
Yes, they have an early bird option from 5pm-7pm. You can get 2 courses for 20 and 3 for 23. The menu is limited but it is a good deal.
The staff were really friendly and dealt well with the big group. The were really accommodating when it came to paying the bill, we were all able to pay separately and some of the group were able to use card to pay their share. They were also accommodating to allergies.
The restaurant is small, I would make a reservation on the weekend or if you have a big group. It wasn’t cold, I was able to wear jeans and a little top comfortably and it is nicely lit.
Overall I really enjoyed my meal at Wanderlust Dalkey, the food was superb and I definitely plan to go back in the future.
I hope this post was helpful and I would love to hear about your experiences and recommendations on what to get next time.
If you are staying outside of Lisbon it is well worth making a trip in to Portugal’s capital at some point during your stay. We were staying in Cascais a 35-minute train journey outside of Lisbon. Their train systems are easy to use and super cheap (only 2€ each way), so you have no excuses. The train ride provides you with stunning views of the coast as you make your way into Lisbon.
You can read as many tourist books as you like but I don’t think you can beat the advice of a local. That’s why when we arrived into ‘Cais do Sodré’ station we hoped straight into one of the many ‘Tuk Tuks’ you will find on the streets of Lisbon, locals estimate that there are close to 400. No matter what your budget is they are a must. The beauty of them is that there isn’t a set tour, you can pick where you go or they can decide based on your interests. You can give them a price limit and they will bring you to as many places they can within your budget. Our Tuk Tuk tour cost us 60 euro per hour which worked out at 10 euro each per hour in our 6 man Tuk Tuk. I am unsure about the price ranges with different companies, but it was a great way to see so much of the city in such a short amount of time especially because you won’t be getting far in the blistering heat of July and August on foot. Our driver Mario was so kind and he gave us a great feel for the city. You could tell he really cared about his passengers and getting us the best value for our money. Mario wasn’t the only Tuk Tuk driver we were in contact with that we were impressed by their generosity. They all seemed so genuine and we weren’t worried or sceptical about being ripped off as you do with so many other tourist attractions all over the world.
Choosing the right Tuk Tuk:
If you are going to get a Tuk Tuk get an electric one. Not only are they better for the environment, but they make it a lot easier to hear what your guide is saying while you are driving. Another reason why I would recommend the electric Tuk Tuks over the gas ones was because of the awful fumes that the gas ones were giving off. I’m sure a tour would be quite sickening in one, especially because the Tuk Tuks don’t have doors to keep the smell out.
On a budget where should I ask them to take me:
Lisbon is a stunning city, being built on a hill means there are loads of look out points all over the city. Although they are all spectacular the most amazing one we say is called ‘Miradouro da Senhora do Monte’, so if you are on a budget ask them to take you there.
Feeling a bit peckish?
Taberna da Rua das Flores which was recently featured in the Sunday Times, is a hidden gem that is getting a bit more attention from tourists than it’s local regulars may like. Hidden away off ‘Praça Luís de Camões’ this quaint, authentic Portuguese restaurant would be missed by people not looking for it. The menu changes daily and is written on a big blackboard which is carried around the restaurant and translated to English for the non-natives. The menu consisted of 2 starters and 4 main courses. Although choice is limited the options on the day I was there all sounded amazing. The ‘rough and ready’ style makes you feel like you are sitting in a Portuguese kitchen waiting to be served. We all really enjoyed our meal here and I think it is worth ditching the touristy restaurants for one day and paying a visit to this for some real Portuguese food.
Main courses ranging from 8-10 euro – at lunch time.
Everyone wants to eat different things?
No problem, the ‘Time Out Food Market’ is the place for you. There are stalls with nearly every cuisine so you are sure to find something everyone will love without having to eat in different places. Your only problem now will be finding a table in their expansive seating area. Highly recommend.
Then you have to stop in Amorino. This ice-cream parlour can be found in most major cities and has a huge range of ice creams and sorbets. However, the thing that I love Amorino for is their macarons that have a thin layer of ice-cream in the middle. To die for.
We all absolutely loved Lisbon and hope to be back at some stage in the near future. It was a stunning city with both historic and modern aspects to it. The perfect weekend break at only 20 euro for a taxi from the airport to the city centre.
The blue tinted mirrored panels give nothing away when you pull up at the Oitavos Hotel Cascais, Portugal. Upon entering reception, you will think you are back at the airport terminal or maybe even in an Ikea with the high ceilings, long corridors and expansive seating areas. A peculiar hotel we thought at first. Our opinions soon changed. Within 24 hours the spacious and modern hotel proved to be a not only extremely luxurious but it was the ideal location to totally wind down and relax. The numerous seating areas all over the ground floor made it possible to totally seclude yourself from the rest of the guests and dive into a good book.
The rooms were as I described the lobby, they were huge with high ceilings, big windows and modern cube style decor. The rooms had large balconies and a ‘sitting room’ area with a couch and a television. For those who like baths you will not find many like the ones in the Oitavos hotel. I will say you would want to be comfortable around the people you are going with because there is merely a screen of glass between the main room, the shower and the toilet.
This hotel was luxurious in every sense of the word, the buffet breakfast had a wide range of options, everyone could find something they loved. There were 4 types of dining the hotel offered throughout the day. There was a pool bar open during lunch hours which served small ‘Tapa’ style plates. There was a bar menu inside which also included some tapas as well as a selection of sandwiches, they served food from this menu until 11pm. The main restaurant was open for both lunch and dinner with totally different menus. The main restaurant was the most sophisticated out of the three. They also had a Sushi bar that was open from Wednesday through to Sunday in the evenings. The hotel had loads of options for food but they took advantage of the fact the hotel was remote. The food was good but it wasn’t cheap, if you are sitting around by the pool all day and don’t want to eat in the hotel is it a decent walk to any other restaurant and there is no supermarket within a 30 minute walk of the place (as far as I am aware anyway). I will be doing a post on where to eat in the surrounding areas in my next blog post so keep an eye out for that.
Some of the facilities that can be found at the Oitavos Hotel include; an outdoor swimming pool, snooker table, numerous televisions on the ground floor, a spa with numerous treatments available, Balneotherapy area (sauna, steam room & indoor swimming pool) which you can pay for access to (it is nice but not with 25euro pp per day in my opinion), a small gym and complimentary shuttle to Cascais and the beach at set times throughout the day. There is a sport centre up the road from the hotel with a large gym, tennis courts and squash courts. The hotel staff can bring you there in a golf buggy free of charge. There is a bike rental facility within the hotel and a small clothes shop where they try to sell you sun cream from 40 euro …. I would advise you to bring your own.
Near the hotel:
Guincho Beach, this is one of the nicest beaches I have ever been on, stretching close to a mile in length and about 200 metres in width you will find a nice private spot even on the busiest of days. The beach is home to many surf schools and when the wind picks up in the afternoon (which it does, usually around 3pm) the kite surfers are out providing entertainment to all the beach goers.
Casa do Guia, is a little courtyard that is located around a 30 min walk from the hotel. It has a few little cafes, restaurants and some little boutiques.
Cascais, the ‘centre’ of the city is only a short 10-minute drive in the hotel shuttle or a 6-euro taxi from The Oitavos Hotel. Cascais has loads of shops, restaurants, cafés and bars creating a great buzz around Cascais in the evening. There is a train station right in the centre of Cascais which goes into Lisbon every 20 mins. Train tickets are only 2-euro per person each way. The train takes around 40 minutes and is a great way to see the Portuguese coastline. I will be writing a post on my day in Lisbon over the next week so keep an eye out for that.
Our problem with the hotel:
Although we all really enjoyed our stay at The Oitavos Hotel we had a bit of a problem with the standard of the service during our first few days staying at the hotel. The staff were slow, always forgot at least one part of our order and weren’t very attentive. It wasn’t like they didn’t have enough staff, they were just standing around chatting. When you are paying 5 star prices you expect 5-star service and that is not what we got the first few days of our holiday. We were all getting to the end of our patience when, one morning around half way through our holiday we walked down to breakfast and there seemed to be a lot more guests. We presumed that the service would get worse, but in fact it got better. With more guests the staff had to work harder and as a result were more attentive. For the rest of our holiday the service stayed at that standard, which was great but this shouldn’t even be a problem in the first place. It really took away from the stunning hotel and relaxing atmosphere.
Overall, we really enjoyed our stay in The Oitavos Hotel, it was a real pity about the service. I hope this post have been able help you. Keep an eye out for my next blog posts on ‘Where to eat in Cascais’ & ‘One day in Lisbon’.
It is easy to fall into tourist traps and get ripped off on the Costa Del Sol if you don’t know where to go. I am lucky enough that the few times I have visited Fuengirola I have been with people who have holidayed in Fuengirola their whole lives and appreciate good food as much as I do. Hopefully I will be able to pass on their wisdom and recommendations in this article, helping you make the most of your stay and leaving with a belly full of the best food fuengirola has to offer.
La Pergola, Italian – Love getting twice the taste for half the price? The Pergola is the place for you. This quaint and cosy spot will have you licking your lips when you get a whiff of the doughy smells as you walk through the door. Their menu includes a wide range of salads, pasta, pizza and different meats. Their friendly staff make you feel as though you have stepped into an old friend’s home.
Mejicanna Pizza: Chilli Con Carne on a pizza – Where Italian meets Mexican *drools*
Picoteo/ Casa Colon, Tapas – You can’t come to Spain without dipping into the Spanish tapas culture. Tapas are small Spanish savoury dishes which can be combined to create a full meal. Tapas were traditionally served in bars to accompany drinks but have now developed into their own cuisine. I have two favorite tapas restaurants which are convienetly beside eachother in a buzzy square, that is filled with street performers and little children running around in the summer months. They are called ‘Picoteo’ and ‘Casa Colon’. You can book the Picoteo but not Casa Colon, for this reason we usually end up going to the Picoteo as there is generally a big group of us. If you have a party between 2 & 4 it probably won’t be as hard to get a table in Casa Colon, generally there is a 30 mins – 1 hour wait. There are loads of bars in the area where you can have a drink while waiting. Both restaurants are very similar just with slight differences in their menus. The tapas range in prices but they are bigger than traditional tapas. They are almost all like starter portions, perfect for sharing. Each person will probably eat between 2&3 dishes each. Find more on their websites – Picoteo & Casa Colon.
My ‘Picoteo’ Top Picks:
‘Crispy Shrimp Tempura with Spicy and Creamy sauce’,
‘Hot goat’s cheese salad with Almonds, Bacon, Raisins & Balsamic’
& ‘Crunchy Burgos black pudding with apple puree’.
Tanicós, Finer Dining – If this restaurant was set in the same square as the ‘Picoteo’ and ‘Casa Colon’ it would be my absolute favourite restaurant ever. Unfortunately ‘Tanicós’ is more of a ‘winter’ restaurant. It is indoors, highly air conditioned and a bit outside the main, buzzy area of Fuengirola. You know it’s a good sign when you are the only group speaking English in the place. Tanicós doesn’t come alive until at least 9pm, so stroll on down and sit in the bar area before you go to your table. The food is honestly to die for and I spend all year looking forward to getting back and indulging in their magnificent dishes. It isn’t the chepaest restaurant but I promise you it is worth the few extra euros. This is a place not to be missed. Find more on their website.
My ‘Tanicós’ Top Picks:
Oxtail Pasties (My Favourite starter),
Sautéed black noodles with mushrooms, prawns and scallops
T-Bone for 2 – they used to serve this on a stone to cook yourself but had to discontinue it for safety reasons. They will still do it for you but cook it in the kitchen to your liking, which actually tasted almost better than when cooking it yourself. This is the most amazing meat I have ever eaten and I would strongly advise going for this option.
Dry Martini, Gin Bar – Gin is all the trend at the moment, Dry Martini Fuengirola is leading the way with an extensive gin menu and perfect setting. It is a great spot to go and grab a drink before dinner with two central locations in Fuengirola, you are sure to be eating near one of them. I will add like most great spanish things, nothing is done in a hurry so leave yourself a good bit of time for your chalice of gin to be brought and constructed in front of you.
My ‘Dry Martini’ Top Picks–
Martin Millar & Schweppes Light
or Brockmans (Raspberry flavour) & Schweppes Light.
Fuengirola is total heaven for foodies if you are eating in the right places. Hopefully you will love Fuengirola and all of the food it has to offer as much as I do.
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I don’t think there is a better spot for breakfast than Avoca’s award-winning Fern House Café. The spacious, Victorian style fern house is uniquely decorated with orange & lemon trees, making it a special breakfast location in any season, not to mention the food. When you eat in (or from) Avoca you know you are going to get 10/10 for taste. With nearly every option on the menu including some of their homemade bread, scones or pastries it is hard to go wrong with choice.
Their menu has everything from ‘Gluten free Blueberry Pancakes’ to a ‘Full Irish’ and ‘Homemade Super-Berry Granola’. They also have a good selection of cold pressed raw beverages, teas and coffees. Like I said you can’t go far wrong with this menu. I was boring and went with an ‘Amy staple breakfast’ Scrambled eggs on toast. The eggs were cooked to perfection and the 3cm thick brown bread toast totally hit the spot.
Although Avoca is one of my absolute favourite places for breakfast, lunch, dinner and takeaway meals, you know you pay for the quality you are getting so a lot of the times Avoca will be a bit more expensive than other cafés. Having said that, I was surprised when I saw my meal was only 8.95 euro (which kept me so full nearly all day).
I really couldn’t recommend it enough and it is by far my favourite breakfast spot in all of Dublin. I would advise on the weekends that you make a reservation.
Nightmarket is one of Ranelagh’s newest editions, taking over from ‘An Bhialann’ at 120 Ranelagh, Dublin 6, one of Dublin’s foodie hotspots. Nightmarket brings together traditional and authentic Thai food, while trying to use as much local produce as possible. Set up by an Irish man and his Thai partner they aimed to create a space where Irish people can gather to experience and enjoy the unique flavours of Thai home cooking.
When we arrived last Friday evening the place was packed, booking seems to be a must. We sat at the bar for a drink while our table was being prepared. Their cocktail menu is one of the most unusual drink menus I have ever come across, the drinks all seemed a bit mad. I ordered the Mulata Daiquiri which had NM Rum Elixir, Lime & Dark Chocolate – yes, of course I go for the chocolate option. Josh got the Basil Smash which had Dingle Gin, Thai Basil, Lemon, Fish Sauce & Lychee. We watched the bartender as he carefully and artistically constructed the drinks. The precision and attention to detail was like no other. Although quite small the drinks hit the spot. I loved the sweet chocolatey aftertaste from mine, and Josh loved his fresh almost mojito like taste off his.
I have never been to Thailand and the only experience I have ever had with Thai food has been from takeaway chains such as Mao, Mango Tree and Camille – which I love, but I knew they weren’t the real deal. A bit confused by the menu we called one of the staff members over to talk us through it. He carefully took us through nearly every dish on the menu. He explained to us that a Thai meal traditionally consists of a selection of dishes shared by a group. He suggested we get three ‘Smaller Dishes’ which are like starters, a salad and one main course between the two of us.
From the ‘Smaller Dishes’ section we went with the Laab Moo Tad which were Crispy balls of pork laab, red curry paste, chilli, peanuts, ginger, shallots, spring onion, fish sauce, lime juice, mint, rice. The Hoy Shell Yang which was grilled, fresh scallops; chilli, lime juice & coriander sauce; chilli & mango salad with peanuts and finally the Kanom Jeeb which were steamed Thai dumpling with minced pork & prawn, crispy garlic, soy & rice vinegar dip. We really liked the Laab Moo Tad and the Kanom Jeeb. We found that the scallops were a bit overcooked and tasteless, however we loved the salad that came with the scallops. The salad we ordered was the Som Tum Moo Ping which was a spicy green papaya salad, dried shrimp, peanut, long bean, cherry tomato, chilli, lime, garlic, palm sugar, fish sauce, grilled pork skewers, sticky rice. This salad actually turned out to be very similar to the one that we got with the scallops just with pork skewers. We would have liked to have tried something else and I wish they would have told us that when we ordered them all together. For the main course we got the Gai Phad Med Mamuang Himmaphan which was stir fried chicken, cashew nuts, mushroom, dried chilli, water chestnuts, spring onion, onion. This dish was probably my favourite thing we got on the menu, it had a bit of a takeaway feel to it I mean this in the best way possible and only say it as the chicken was lightly battered and came in a sauce. It had twice the taste of a takeaway but none of that horrible sluggish after feeling of a takeaway.
I have a pretty alright tolerance for spice but a lot of the dishes we chose had a serious kick to them. The good thing is one of the staff members explained to us that nearly all of the dishes can be modified to how spicy or not spicy you want them, so make sure you don’t forget to ask about spice levels and explain what you want if you make a visit to this place.
Overall, we really enjoyed our meal at Nightmarket Ranelagh. Being a novice in ‘real’ Thai food makes it hard to judge, but I do think it is very different to what is out there. There are plenty of authentic Indian, Chinese and Japanese restaurants around Dublin, but I haven’t heard of many authentic Thai places. If you want something different I think it is well worth a visit. The staff are really friendly and the place has a great buzz.
Price: Smaller plates: 3-15 euros, Main courses: 16-24 euros
I hope you have found this helpful if you are planning a visit to Nightmarket. If I was to go again I would choose a completely different selection of dishes, so I can experience more the cuisine has to offer.
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As many of you know I spent the month of June road tripping down the East coast of America. The plan had originally been to do the West coast but due to a few complications we concluded that the east coast made most sense. Anyone who knows me knows I love having a plan, so to make things interesting we decided not to plan anything and just take one day at a time. Although it was pretty stressful for a few hours of everyday it was definitely the best way to do it and I would encourage anyone setting out travelling not to have a definite plan. Anyway, keep reading to find out more about my trip, what I thought of all of the places we stopped and some tips for you if you happen to be doing a road trip or visiting any of these places.
Stop 1: Provincetown, Massachusetts (Very end of cape cod)
We stayed in this little guest house called The Masthead Resort. It was absolutely perfect for the one night we stayed there. We shared a bathroom with one other room. We were a short 15 minute walk to the main town area and the guest house had it’s own little private beach and deck area with beach chairs. I couldn’t recommend this guest house anymore. It was by far one of the best value places in Provincetown and was just what we wanted.
We got a takeaway from a restaurant called Bubalas By the Bay, which we had planned to take to Race Point Beach to watch the sunset. When we got to the beach it started raining, so no sunset – nearly as disappointing as the food.
We both absolutely loved this place, it had an old fishing town vibe but was filled with new and trendy shops, cafés and restaurants. It is a great people watching area. You feel as though you are on a little greek island rather than 2 hours outside the rustle and bustle of Boston.
Stop 2: Newport
We only stopped here for a few hours to look around but I really wish we had spent a bit longer here. If you don’t know anything about Newport it is known for it’s stunning mansions. You can get tours around the inside of some of the mansions, which I have heard only great things about. In the short time we spent here we went for a walk around the headland surrounding the mansions.
Stop 3: Providence, Rhode Island
Our stay at Hotel Dolce Villa was a bit of a disaster. We arrived at around 5 in the evening to find that the hotel ‘parking’ was an alley way that could fit only 2 cars, and that was full. When I went to the reception to find out what was going on they said we could get the car valet parked on an offsite location once we had checked in. So we had to find parking (which took us around 20 mins) for us to give our keys into reception to be valeted later on – kind of defeated the idea of valet parking, but anyway. The hotel room was clean and I can’t say many bad things, apart from the fact that I was woken at 6am by what I thought was an earthquake. There seemed to be either construction or a lot of bins that needed to be emptied in the area, it went on all morning so if you are staying here you will be up bright and early.
One of the main reasons we stayed in Providence was due to the amazing recommendations we had been given about a restaurant called ‘Hemenway’s’. It is a fancy enough seafood restaurant. I was impressed with their selection of starters, everything sounded amazing. I was less impressed with their selection of main courses. Being on a budget we said we would only have one course as opposed to two as it wasn’t the cheapest. Looking back I really wish I had got two starters instead of the Yellowfin Tuna. It was very plain and seriously lacked flavour. It wasn’t cheap and I know if I would have paid half the price for it I still would have been disappointed. Josh, went for the lobster Mac and Cheese which a friend of his had recommended. Unfortunately, he had a bit of a blonde moment and didn’t realise is was priced per pound of lobster… budget out the window. The Mac and cheese was divine, we ended up sharing most of it. It was presented really well and I would definitely recommend it if you go. The service was really good, the staff were really attentive and super friendly. I don’t know whether I just got unlucky with my choice or josh just got lucky with his but based on the Mac and cheese I would rate the restaurant 8/10. Based on my tuna I would rate 5/10.
The breakfast in ‘Nick’s on Broadway‘ restored my faith in Providence’s food. Our breakfast was really tasty and good value. Although it was off the beaten track it is well worth a visit. I would recommend getting the buttermilk bread with your breakfast. It was amazing. Overall: 7/10
We weren’t in providence for very long, we drove around the downtown area and there were some lovely buildings and parks. Our waitress had said that boat rides on the river was a popular tourist activity. Since we didn’t see a huge amount to Providence I don’t feel like I can give a well rounded summary or judgement of the place. Having said that there was nothing pulling us to extend our stay like some of the other locations we stopped at.
Stop 3: Assateague Island
This was one of the most magical places I have ever been to. I totally fell in love with Assateague Island and would have happily stayed there for the full 3 weeks. It is completely off the beaten track but shouldn’t be missed. I did a separate blog post on Assateague Island which you can read here, and if you decide to camp there you can find tips for camping first timers here.
Stop 4: Outer Banks
We stayed in a Travelodge in the Outer Banks. I was really disappointed with this place. I know there is only so much you can expect from a budget hotel but this one wasn’t clean and was a lot more expensive than other hotels of it’s type. The one good thing was that breakfast was included, which surprisingly had a pretty good selection. The hotel was directly opposite a beach, so can’t fault it’s location but wasn’t our most pleasant stay.
While the Outer Banks were nice. I personally didn’t think they were anything special and honestly would have preferred to have used our night here as an extra night in either Assateague Island, Key West or Sanibel. A good stop over but probably not worth a nights stay.
Stop 5: Charleston
We stayed in the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel and Suites in the Historic District. We used Hotwire for this place, (I spoke about Hotwire and my favourite cheap ways to book accommodation of one of my recent instagrams. This hotel was lovely, it had a small gym and laundry facilities – which if you end up doing a road trip you will become very familiar with. Overall our stay was lovely and were lucky enough to be upgraded when we arrived at the hotel so that is always a lovely surprise. The hotel was in a really good location and would definitely recommend it, it was on the expensive side if you aren’t getting it on Hotwire.
If you appreciate good quality, fresh food and don’t mind paying a bit extra for it this is the place for you. SNOB (Slightly North of Broad) gave us our best meal on our trip to date. An elderly couple we met that had holidayed in Charleston for years recommended it to us along with ‘Fig and Husk‘.
You can tell it was a good menu when you are struggling to choose between more than two options. I honestly would have eaten anything on the menu. In the end I went with the New Bedford Scallops. They melted in mouth, and although I didn’t want the meal to end it was the perfect size portion, after I had devoured half of the bread basket. I usually try to avoid the bread basket but cornbread. Southern heaven – a bread I can’t resist. There is only so strong someone’s will power can be when the bread basket is fully of what looks and tastes like cake. Josh had the BBQ Tuna which was really good, however I preferred my scallops.
We both loved Charleston, the only issue was that due to the torrential rain we didn’t get so see as much of it as we wanted. It was such a cute little city with loads of old buildings and a daily market which is filled with souvenirs, jewellery and other bits and bobs. High street shoppers not to worry. Charleston had a great selection of high market stores scattered through it’s seasoned streets.
Stop 6: Savannah
We stayed in the Holiday inn in the Historic District, it was in the perfect location and was good value. The hotel was clean and modern and the staff were good fun. There was a small gym and an outdoor pool with some sun loungers. It was our favourite accommodation this far in on our trip.
Food & Drink:
We went and got ice-cream in a famous old ice-cream parlour called Leopold’s we had read about it and had to check it out for ourselves. It was like something out of an old American movie. The ice-cream was divine and the line was out the door the duration of our stay. Very generous portions.
If you are lucky enough to grab a table at ‘Rocks on the Roof’ roof top bar around 6pm on a clear night, prepare for an evening of beautiful oranges and pinks as the sunsets behind the bridge. We sat there for hours having a few drinks. It looks over the river so you might be lucky enough to spot some dolphins like we did.
We did a walking tour one morning. Which I think are a great and inexpensive way really get a feel for the city you are in. Especially when through the eyes of a local. We found this one online by just googling ‘Savannah walking tours’. The tour was about an hour and a half long and was free apart from tips. The tour was really interesting and we enjoyed it, a lot of the tour was history based which I usually love just as Irish people it was hard to keep up as we didn’t have a good background knowledge on American history.
This place is seriously overlooked. We loved Savannah, it was really pretty and in some areas it felt as though you had jumped back in time. There was a lot of history about it and was definitely our favourite city on the trip. Well worth the visit.
Stop 7: St. Augustine
St. Augustine is the oldest town in the states, we stopped here for some dinner and a walk around. The place is totally geared towards tourists, it is really commercial and honestly the few hours we spent there were enough. The food options seemed okay, we were starving and ended up in The Floridian. The food was fine nothing special, would have kept looking if we weren’t so hungry.
Stop 8: Orlando
We stayed in The Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Orlando Lake Buena Vista. The hotel was everything you would want from an Orlando hotel, it was clean, cheap, had a swimming pool, a shuttle bus to all of the theme park and free parking – the most under appreciated thing. Disneyland can end up being very expensive and they last thing you want to do is be spending a fortune on a hotel as well. Our hotel was about a 20 minute drive from Universal Studios and a 15 minute drive to The Magical Kingdom.
This place is what dreams are made of … We went to a pizza place called Giordano’s. There are two in Orlando and they are known for their deep dish pizzas. I have never had a deep dish pizza so I can’t judge if it was good in comparison to other deep dish pizzas. The one thing I do know is that it was unbelievable, words don’t even begin to describe how good it was. All ill say is we took a 2 hour detour to get it again on the way home…
In Orlando we went to Universal Studios, mainly because I am a huge Harry Potter fan. For those of you who don’t know Universal Studios has a huge Harry Potter attraction which was amazing. I felt as though I was stepping straight into the movie. Having said that I have been to Disneyland in Paris and in California and both of those times I went to the Magical Kingdom (the one with the big castle). If you are planning your first trip to any of the Disneylands I would definitely recommend going to the Magical Kingdom as opposed to any of the other parks. It is the main one and is based on all of the classic Disney movies.
From what I saw, Orlando is nothing but a city built around Disney world. I have never been to Las Vegas but Orlando is exactly what I had expected Vegas to be like. The place is filled with tall buildings, tourist attractions and bright lights.
Stop 9: West Palm Beach
We stayed just north of West Palm beach in yet again another Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott West Palm Beach, Jupiter. It was a nice hotel, clean. Again, you know the drill, all budget hotels are pretty similar. There was a free breakfast included at this hotel which was really handy for us when we were constantly on the road.
Out in Jupiter near our hotel we went and got a takeaway from Food Shack. A friend had recommend it saying it was his favourite restaurant and obviously everyone else’s too, there was already a line out the door at noon. So we decided to skip the line and get it to take away. We were told by a local that the menu varies on a daily basis based on what fresh produce they have in. We got the ‘Shack Bowl’ which was mixed veggies basil cilantro toasted garlic noodles coconut milk lemongrass kaffir lime broth. They had a range of fish that you could add. The food was really tasty and super fresh.
Avocado grill was in downtown West Palm Beach, close to the water front. Their large outdoor seating area and huge tapas style menu makes this place the perfect spot for an evening bite to eat after a day at the beach. Their menu was filled with interesting and inventive dishes, I just wanted to try them all. They staff were so friendly and were really helpful when it came to recommendations for both food and cocktails.
We went to a beach just 15 mins north of West Palm Beach. A lot of the beaches around that area are private for the hotel guests of the surrounding hotels. We luckily found a natural reserve called John MacArthur State Beach ParkJwhich is in North Palm Beach. I think we had to pay in with the car, but can’t fully remember. There is a long walk from the car park to the beach across a bridge, which stretches over some of the water that separates palm Bech from the main land. You are able to rent canoes to explore these waters. The beach is really long and the water was an amazing temperature when I was there in June. It is really cool around the time I was there there were ‘Turtle Walks’ at night time. On the Turtle Walks you go with a guide at night and they would bring you to areas where you can see the turtles crawl onto the beach and lay their legs. They were all sold out for when we were there. We spoke to a staff member and they told us that they sell out very quickly so if you are going be sure too book in advance.
West palm beach was really nice, the main area was a good bit inland from the beach which took us a long time to realise. The main area had loads of shops and restaurants. Where as closer to the water there wasn’t as much going on.
Stop 10 : Miami
The plus point of my dad travelling for work = hotel points redeemable against free nights away. We stayed in the Hyatt Centric South Beach Miami. It was a stunning, modern hotel just one street back from the beach with a pool that has plenty of sun beds and cabanas. It wasn’t cheap if you didn’t have Hyatt points but hotel guests did have full access to the hotel across the streets gym which is probably the best hotel gym I have been in. Guests could also get a free sun bed and towels for the day on the beach just across from the hotel. Not only was it a lovely hotel it is also in a great location. Right beside Lincoln road, the main shopping area in Miami.
Taquiza was special, when I read a review saying it was a casual spot for some good Mexicuan I didn’t realise it would be this casual. Tequiza is essentially a stationary food truck built into the wall, it has a window where you go up and order and collect your food. The seating is in a little covered over outdoor area, with tree branches giving you the extra shade you need. The menu comprises of individual tacos, most being 3$ each. There were also chips and salsa/guac, the chips were not like the regular chips you would buy in the store. They were blu corn chips that were still hot. They were also a lot thicker. I couldn’t recommend this place more. We loved it and I think it is the perfect spot to grab a bite to eat and a beer in the evening after spending a day on the beach. My eyes were bigger than my appetite and ate waaaay too much and felt sick for the night. So, pace yourself.
We fell for the tourist trap and went to ‘Havana 1957‘. There were a few Cuban restaurants that seemed to be bopping every time we passed them, and we figured we weren’t going to Cuba so might as well get a taste for it – punny. The food was awful. I got their ‘house special’ and it was just a chicken thigh with a special gravy and rice. You have been warned, if you want Cuban food, go to Cuba.
It was a really nice area to visit for a few days, I wouldn’t fancy going there for a full holiday as in my opinion it is a bit hectic and not very relaxing.
Stop 11: Key West – The highlight
We stayed in a hostel called Seashell Motel, we had our own room so it wasn’t as cheap as you would imagine but it was ideal. It was a short bike ride to the centre of the action (Mallory Square & Duval street area) – you could rent bikes from the hostel. It was clean and air conditioned and had laundry facilities and was exceptionally cheaper than all of the other places on the island.
I read a review saying Pepe’s was the best thing since sliced bread. We went and enjoyed it, but didn’t think it was all they had hyped it up to be. The food was good but the menu was small for lunch. The dinner menu looks as though it had a few more options. What did live up to our expectations was the key lime pie. It was truly to die for and we would have gone through 4 servings each. Easily.
Fort Zachary Taylor State Park is off the beaten track but is not to be missed. You have to pay in, I cant remember how much it was but I know the price varied depending on if you went by car, bike or foot. The beach was lovely and clean with clear water and soft sand. There was a small shop and a rental facility for snorkelling gear. The beach had BBQ facilities and loads of picnic benches in the shade as well as outdoor showers and bike racks.
Lagerheads Beach & Bar is a chilled seafood shack known for their fish tacos. The beach they are located on is no longer than 20 metres and is quite the hidden gem. Although it doesn’t seem like much when you arrive, not very many people know about it so it is never really that busy. Feeling peckish or need to cool off? There is a little beach hut with really reasonably priced food and drinks. They also have daily drink specials and a happy hour from 5-7pm.
When we were there we obviously rented bikes to get around the place which was also really fun, so I would totally recommend doing that because it is actually too hot to be walking everywhere. One morning we did a jet ski tour of the island which was so much fun. We saw so much and got to speed around on jet skis for an hour and a half. Money saving tip: get one between two people, it is cheaper and in my opinion more fun. Just make sure you hold on tight! We also bought snorkels and masks, we were totally ripped off in one of the ‘surf/beach shops’ on the island so go to Walmart before you make your way down the keys and pick up a pair.
Key west was by far both of our favourite stop on the whole trip. It was as chilled out or as crazy as you wanted it to be. You can drink on the streets so it was lovely to be able to walk along the street sipping a cocktail to cool you down in the blistering hot weather. The beaches were amazing. The people was amazing. The food was amazing. It was such a cool place and can not recommend it enough. If you can drive along the keys to get there, it was an amazing drive mostly over a bridge totally surrounded by the sea.
Stop 12: Everglades
On the way back from Key West we stopped in the Everglades to do an Airboat tour and see some alligators. It is only a short journey from Miami and as far as I am aware there are buses that go from Miami. It was really cool, we were there just after a thunderstorm so didn’t see a huge amount of alligators. If you are going to make a trip to the everglades bathe in insect repellant before.
Stop 13: Sanibel Island
If you want to swim in water that is at bath temperature you have to take a trip to the gorgeous Sanibel. The stunning beaches and the chilled out atmosphere makes the perfect day trip. We had to pay for parking at the beach we went to which was quite expensive so do your research about which beach to be going to.
Stop 14: Blue Ridge Mountains
By far my favourite driving part of the trip. We entered into the mountains at Daleville and took the Blue Ridge Parkway through the mountains. We drove all the way through and into Shenandoah National Park. I will warn you there are few to no shops in the mountains so stock up on food before you set off. Another tip is to start your drive through the mountains earlier in the day rather than later. We ended up having to sleep in the back of the car because we were too tired to keep driving but weren’t near a campsite or an exit out of the mountain range. Ill let the pictures do the rest of the talking about how amazing the place was. Every kilometre or less there was a drive through look out point so you won’t have to try to hard to get the perfect picture.
Stop 15: Washington
Again luckily got to make great use of my dad’s Hyatt hotel points and cashed them in against a night in Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill. The hotel was lovely and we enjoyed our stay there.
There is a lot to see in Washington and it is all very interesting. In my opinion I think all of the ‘touristy’ sites can be done in one day, I wouldn’t be spending more than one night here. Tip: If you aren’t from North America do some research about what all of the buildings are before you go to look at them …. oppsie
Stop 16: New York
You can find all the details on what I recommend doing in New York in my New York in 4 days blog post.
I know this was a long one and well done if you are still reading. It was the most amazing trip and I couldn’t recommend it more. Hopefully you have found this post helpful! See you in the next one.
This month I tried out camping thing for the first time. I have camped in my back garden but have never done the whole camp site thing so I had no idea what to expect. Based on my experience I don’t understand why it isn’t more popular. If you are considering trying something new, here are a few tips that might help you prepare for it.
Pick a camp site – There are hundreds of campsite all over the States, try to pick one and book your spot. Yes, that is a thing. We made the mistake of not realising you had to book, but luckily we went on an off-peak time of year so they had some availability.
Facilities – Look up the place you are going and see what facilities they have, this will give you a good indication what you will and won’t need to bring. Here is a rough list of what you might want to pack, but you will need different things for different sites.
Towels and toiletries
Cooking – Some campsites will have BBQs available to use. Check their website about what facilities they have before you arrive. You may need to bring a portable BBQ instead.
Food for BBQ
Plates, cups & cutlery
We had the best time and have camped a good few times on our trip because we loved it so much. It is something different and really allows you to totally disconnect from the outside world.
I hope you have found this post helpful and maybe convinced you to try it out on your next trip away! Don’t forget to subscribe for emails.
Assateague Island National Seashore located close to Ocean City, Maryland is one of the most spectacular places I have ever been. The Island has over 37 miles of the most amazing white sandy beaches, not to mention the best part, there are more than 300 wild ponies that wander freely through the beaches, forests and saltwater marshes.
Where did these wild ponies come from? There are many theories on how the ponies got onto the island, one of the main ones being that they were on a Spanish cargo ship that sank off the coast of Assateague and the horses swam to shore. You are encouraged not to approach the horses and just admire from a distance as they are known to be quite aggressive.
You are able to camp on the island in either a tent or an RV. There are two sections of the island, the ‘state park’ and the ‘national park’. There isn’t a massive difference between the two, in my opinion, we drove through both and actually preferred the ‘state park’ that we stayed in but it is said you may see more horses down at the national end. When we were there we didn’t have that problem, there was a small herd of 8 ponies that hung around our campsite during our stay.
We luckily were able to get a lot at the campsite when we arrived. We were unaware that there was such a high demand for places so didn’t even think to book a spot. I would recommend booking in advance if you plan to go to avoid disappointment because not everyone will get as lucky as we did.
Neither myself nor Josh had ever camped before in a proper camp site. The extent of my camping experience was my back garden. Having said that, it meant that I was familiar with pitching the tent but I had no idea what to expect otherwise. I will be uploading a post in the next few days on camping for first timers that will go into a bit more detail on the whole thing, so keep an eye out for that. Long story short the place was amazing, in each section there were indoor toilets and showers with hot water and each lot had a little barrel to light a fire in. It was so much fun and I don’t know why camping isn’t a more popular holiday option. I couldn’t recommend a visit to Assateague anymore.
I would go back in a heartbeat and for any ‘outdoorsy’ people this place will be heaven to you. There are loads of activities you can do on the island including four wheel driving on the beach, seashell collecting, swimming, kayaking, beach hiking and much more. Being able to stay among the wild horses is a unique experience that I think anyone that has the chance should without a doubt do.
Thank you for reading and I will have more posts coming about on this road trip in the next few weeks so make sure you are subscribed to emails to make sure you don’t miss out!
Getting ready for a road trip can be stressful. What to bring? Where to go? Where do you even begin to start organising? Here are a few easy tips that we decided were the most important after our first few days on the road.
1) Pick your stops – Do some research and find out where you want to stop. If there are any places, restaurants or things you want to see, write them down on a list and use for point no. 2 below.
We used the websiteroadtrippers.com where we had to enter our start and end point and the website generated suggested stops and things for us to see along the journey. I would totally recommend using this website, it gave us some great ideas that we would never have found out about.
2) Map out a rough route – Make a route on google maps. You are able to save maps including points of interest and share them on google docs with the people you are traveling with. This map can be downloaded and used when you are outside of wifi – which will avoid you racking up your phone bill by using data roaming on the road.
3) Accommodation – We decided not to book any accommodation in advance because we plan to decide how long we want to spend in each place when we arrive. We did this because we don’t want to be stuck in places we don’t like for longer than we want. So, we plan to useHotwire.com and Airbnb for most of our accommodation on our trip.Hotwire.com is a website that sells last minute deals on hotel rooms. We have used it before and have booked 4 star hotels the day before for less than half the price everyone paying – cool right?
4) Music – Put some time into creating or finding a playlist you like or maybe try downloading some podcasts. If your car can take an AUX cable, lucky you. We are going to buy a small speaker and hopefully use that in the car, but if that fails we will have to find some CDs we like – Do shops even sell CDs anymore?
5) Car charger – If you are going to be spending hours in the car you will probably be spending hours on your phone, especially if you have downloaded maps for directions. Make sure that you get a car charger, I think you can buy them in most gas stations.
6) Snacks – It is worth investing in a cooler box and filling it with water and some snacks. It can be annoying and time consuming having to stop every time you are feeling peckish, especially if you have a lot of ground to cover.
See you in the next one and to keep up to date with everything that I am getting up to on the road trip by entering your email below and following the instructions to confirm your subscription as well as following me on Instagram.
I was lucky enough to spend a month in Toronto this year and I absolutely loved it. I had visited before and honestly wasn’t sold on the place, but I came to realise I was just in the wrong areas. I don’t want this to happen to you, I want you to make the most of your stay, so here are my recommendations of what you should be spending your time and money on.
Can you really go to Toronto and not go up the CN Tower? The CN Tower can be seen for miles and is Toronto’s most famous landmark. From the top of the tower you see great views of the city, the Toronto islands and the island airport. I will say it ain’t cheap, going to the top will set you back 35$ CAD. There is a small restaurant at the top of the tower where you can grab a bite to eat, but if you wanna be really fancy the main restaurant is the floor above. It slowly rotates so you will have seen a 360 degree view of the city by the end of your meal. For the adventurous people out there you are able to do an ‘Edge Walk’ on the top of the tower. I amn’t even going to attempt to explain it, the picture below should do the explaining for me.
Steam Whistle Brewery
Although I am not a huge beer fan I totally loved this place. At only $13 for the tour, you really get a real bang for your buck as throughout the tour you are given 2/3 free drinks. Yes, you heard me, FREE ALCOHOL! So it is cheaper than going to a pub! The tour lasts around 30 mins which was the perfect length. I visited the brewery on the weekend so the factory wasn’t running but we still got to see all of the machines. However, if possible I would try to go midweek when the place is operating so you can see everything in action.
On a nice day the harbour front is a gorgeous place for a walk, there is usually quite a lot going on down there on the weekends. There are seating areas and little beaches looking out onto Lake Ontario where you can get your tan onnnnn. At harbour front you can get a boat over to the Toronto Islands where you can rent bikes and canoes, it is also a great picnic destination with loads of seating areas and apparently there are BBQs that can be used by the public
St. Lawrence market
The St. Lawrence Market claims to be ‘one of the world’s great food markets’, and honestly based on what I saw I would back that claim up. This amazing old market brings together some of Toronto’s freshest foods all sold from individual stalls. Some of the stalls you will find at the market include a Fruit & Veg Stall, a Juice Bar, a Butcher, Homemade pasta stall, a Cheese Stall and many many more. This place isn’t only for grocery shopping, many of the vendors are there to solely provide to the hungry shoppers. I have been told the St. Lawrence market is known for its Peameal Bacon Buns, so if you are in the area check them out.
Another spot for the foodies, only this one is outdoor so check the weather before you go. This little area is FULL of loads of little restaurants with so many different types of food on offer you will be spoilt for choice. From what I could tell the restaurants were more for lunch or casual bites as they had minimal seating and a line up process. While you are in the area you should go into the big indoor craft market. This building is home to all the little ‘bits and bobs’ that made me want to buy Christmas presents for people in April …
Queen Street West
In this funky area you will find loads of quaint coffee shops, boutiques and little restaurants. Perfect way to escape the rustle and bustle of Yonge Street. While you are there keep your eyes open for the street art/graffiti that covers most corners.
I didn’t get a chance to get to The Distillery District, but I have only heard good things. Based in and around a distillery that was founded in 1832, the place perfectly combines the new with the old. Expect to find restaurants, retail shops, art galleries and much more.
I hope this article has been able to help anyone who plans on visiting Toronto. If you have any other suggestions that I may have left out or not had a chance to see feel free to comment below.
San Francisco is one of my favourite cities in the States. It has so much character and it is jam packed with things to do and to see.
Both times I have been in San Francisco I have gone on the Big Bus Tour, not only is it a really easy and scenic way to get around the city and get to the main attractions, you also learn some cool facts and history about the place. I know super touristy but the hop on hop off service is perfect for people wanting to cover a large amount of ground in a short space of time. Big Bus Tours are available in loads of cities and you can find out more on their website here. The bus brings you to the city’s key attractions, here is what you have to see at some of the stops, whether you decide to go on the bus or not;
1. Fisherman’s wharf – Pier 39 is a must, although some people might think it is a ‘tourist trap’, it is actually a really cool area. It almost reminds me of some type of theme park/carnival. The place is filled with ice-cream parlours, touristy merchandise shops, candy shops, some cute cafés and some restaurants. It might sound super over the top but it is actually really cool to see and have a walk through. Not to forget the best part, there are usually close to 30 seals that sunbathe on the floats in the harbour next to pier 39.
Boudin bakery – While you are down in Fisherman’s wharf you have to visit this place. This huge bakery is famous for their sour dough bread, you will smell this place from down the street. You have to try their bread bowls, they take one of their sourdough loaves and cut the middle out and fill it with either Chilli or Seafood Chowder (I preferred the Chilli). Watch out for the seagulls with the remains of your bowls.
2. Far side of Golden Gate Bridge – The bus will bring you to a car park just across The Golden Gate Bridge, or similarly later on in this article I mention renting bikes that you could cycle to the other side of the bridge either. In this car park just across the bridge there is a shuttle bus that brings you down to a little town called Sausalito and back. Sausalito is gorgeous and is always 3-4 degrees warmer, it feels like you are jumping into a different country. Sausalito is a lot smaller and feels more European than Northern American.
3. Union Square – I suppose Union Square is the ‘centre’ of San Francisco. This is where you will find all of the shops and big department stores. I didn’t spend much time in this area but if you are in the mood to shop there seemed to be a good selection of stores. There is a little park in the middle of the square which is really nice for having your coffee in.
4. Haight-Ashbury – This neighbourhood is the ‘Hippie’ area in San Francisco and it is one of the stops on the Big Bus Tour. Here you will find some cool artsy coffee shops, restaurants and vintage boutiques. Some of Netflix new series ‘Girl Boss’ is filmed here.
1. Alcatraz – Alcatraz, the infamous and notorious former federal prison, located 1.25km from the San Francisco shore is definitely worth a visit.You can get the boat (not very pleasant on a bad day) over to Alcatraz just a few piers down from pier 39. I would recommend booking in advance if you are going to go during peak season and I would also advise you to watch the movie ‘Escape From Alcatraz’ before you go.
2. Rent Bikes – We rented bikes in Fishermans wharf and cycled along the Bay to the Golden Gate Bridge, it is a really stunning cycle with only one steep hill on the way there. If you continue along the trail you will come to the area where you get the ‘famous’ picture with the Golden Gate Bridge over your shoulder.
1. Tony’s Pizzeria – Oh My Lanta… I am going to come out with a huge statement and say that my meal at Tony’s Pizzeria was the best I have ever had. It is a must when in San Francisco. However, it’s an extremely popular spot, we had to wait for a table and we were there only 5 minutes after it had opened for lunch.
2. The Original Ghirardelli Ice-Cream and Chocolate Shop – Go and get yourself an ice-cream sundae in chocolate heaven, you will have to wait to get in so bring an umbrella! You order at the door and then sit down, it is quite an efficient system and they don’t expect you to be sitting around for hours. I loved the Sea Salt Caramel Sundae.
These activities and food places are just the tip of the ice berg, San Francisco has so much to offer and is a truly fantastic city (apart from the cold). If you are heading to the West coast it is a must and I guarantee you will love it. Hop you enjoyed this post and don’t forget to subscribe to emails below. See you in the next one.
This one is for all the sweet-toothed people out there like myself. New York is home to some of the best spots for people like you and me. In my few days there I tried to get to as many of them as possible for you guys and here is my list. Just incase you couldn’t tell from my Instagram account, I definitely didn’t end up sticking to my own How to Stay Healthy Whilst Traveling tips. As they say when in New York…(In no particular order).
1) Magnolia Bakery
By faaaaaaaar the best thing I had in New York came from Magnolia. Despite having a few locations around New York the place was jammed with people trying to get the good stuff – Banana Pudding. Little back story on me. Bananas are the top of a very short list of the foods I don’t like/won’t eat. Despite all of their amazing health benefits I wouldn’t eat one if someone paid me $1,000. But I bit the bullet and tried the Banana pudding from magnolia last time i was there because I love banana bread so imagined they would be similar. I fell in love. I still hate bananas but id say I dream about this pudding once a week. Their peanut butter bars were also amazing. They tasted like Reeces cups on a biscuit. Honestly, to die for.
On a side note this place is takeaway only, but if you are lucky and are in there when it isn’t too busy there is a small ledge where you can stand and eat your cakes.
Channelled my inner Kim K and went on a hot date to Serendipity. I havent seen the movie ‘Serendipity’ so I am sorry for the terrible reference. Anyway, we had heard about the ‘infamous’ frozen hot chocolate so we had to try it. I tried to go last time I was in New York and arrived at 2/3pm and there was a 45 minute line out the door. This time we made sure we got there 5 minutes before it opened so we would be in the first seating session. This was on a Friday morning and there was already a line formed when we arrived, I would imagine on the weekends it could be worse.
They do lunch there too, the people beside us got some of it and while it looked good, it was nothing special. Instead, we decided we would go somewhere we really wanted to go rather than just settling for an average lunch here. So onto the Frozen Hot chocolate, DEFINITELY share one! No matter how hungry you are, these things are bloody filling so don’t over do it. I enjoyed it, I would say it is a cool place to go if you haven’t been but I wouldn’t be rushing back only because I didn’t think it was special enough to line up for. See more pictures over on my Instagram.
3) Dylan’s Candy Bar
This one is definitely not for the people who don’t like sugary things. You can smell this place from down the block, it is jam packed with so many sweets, chocolate and fudge the sweet smells could knock someone out. There are a few locations around New York.
Everything is seriously overpriced but it is worth the visit, there is a wall that shows you what lots of celebrity’s favourite candy is, so that is cool to check out!
I went to DÓ to see what all the Instagram hype was all about (fooled no one with that last sentence, the place looked delicious). We queued in a line across the street for 25 mins before we were allowed to go in and order (thought we would be queuing for much longer!). We were given a menu which listed at least 16 different flavours that we could choose from.
It seems that when we ordered 2 scoops we forgot that you can only really have a few mouth fulls of cookie dough before you feel sick. Two scoops was way too much and you never really hear that coming from me. If you are going SHARE a 1 scoop!!
5) Cakes by Melissa
Cute little bakery found in numerous locations around New York. There was one right beside my hotel last time I was there, which I was in waaaay too many times. They do mini cupcakes and mini macarons. When you walk in you will think that they are too small (trust me I did), but with a cup of coffee one of each is the perfect little treat to satisfy a sweet craving. Not the cheapest but when you are only getting a few it is not too bad.
This little place can be found in the food market below the Plaza Hotel – which I will mention is bloody unbelievable!! It is like a little village down there! So down there, there was a little doughnut stall, which as far as I am told can also be found in the Chelsea Food Market called Doughnuttery. This little stall served mini doughnuts at a minimum of 6. All of the doughnuts were prepared plain and you we chose what flavour/topping/sugar that would be on your doughnuts. There were some crazy flavours on that menu. We got the glazed and the Coco Loco. They were DEVINE. Even better was they were still a bit warm.
I really wanted to go to The Chelsea Food Market and Blacktap for their famous Milkshakes, so I will be back! I hope this list has been informative and that you enjoy it. If you did like or find it helpful give it a like and subscribe below.
When you find a budget flights and accommodation on Expedia.com you never know what you are going to get. What we got well exceeded our expectations. We had such a lovely stay in Pod 51 and would definitely recommend it to a friend. For both price and experience.
About Pod 51: Pod 51 is a very simple, funky little hotel. The reception has a little coffee and breakfast area with loads of comfy seating areas. There is a little patio off the back of reception with loads of tables, chairs and pretty fairy lights. Perfect spot for a drink in the evening before heading out. They also have a roof top seating area with some cool, colourful sun chairs, so if you are going in the summer don’t forget the suncream for some sunbathing.
The Room: The room is super simple, we got a private bunkbed room. It is super clean and is surprisingly spacious when you push your bags under the bed. There is a little sink and a desk in the room and we shared a bathroom – which was soooo clean and the shower was one of those rainfall showers. It probably one of the best hotel showers I have experienced. According to the websites you can get regular double bed rooms with private bathrooms. We loved our little room it was perfect for us. Super clean and really modern.
Location: Pod 51 is located on 51st street and 3rd avenue so it is only a short walk from the centre of the action. It is a 15-20 minute walk to Times Square, 10 minute walk to 5th avenue and 15 minutes from Central Park.
Things to know:
Can’t check in until after 3pm.
Check out 12pm.
No breakfast included.
I was so impressed with Pod 51 especially at the rate we got on Expedia.com, would definitely recommend staying here to anyone visiting New York (Probably would’t be the best for a family, but perfect for a trip away with a friend). There is no need for a fancy, expensive hotel when you are only going to be sleeping in it.
Looking for a spot to grab a quick and yummy meal before heading off to a show? Angelo’s Pizza Broadway is the place for you. Just a block or two down from the theatres you can’t go wrong.
You can save your best dress for another night, the dress code is casual and the atmosphere is relaxed. Perfect for a family or if you just want some good food. The service is extremely quick so perfect for a quick catch up with some friends or a bite to eat after work. Even better they run a happy hour before 7 so if you are going to a show be sure to take full advantage of that as the drink in the theatre is scarily expensive.
Now to the food, we had seen pictures of their Baked Ziti all over Instagram so neither of us were willing to give in and get something else. So we both got it. It was amazing we both loved it, for those of you wondering it is simply pasta in a tomato sauce with a f*** load of cheese. Go to my Instagram to see the cheese pull!!!! Simple but amazing. Other recommendations we had been given included The Square Pizza and The Rigatoni all Vodka.
We had been told that the were known for their Black and White Chocolate mousse cake, unfortunately they were all out so we had the New York Style Cheesecake and it was really delicious but would have loved to have tried the mousse cake.
Price: $18 – 25$ (Main Course)
Hope you get to Angelo’s and try it all for yourself.
Going Inter-railing this summer, but unsure where to stay? Here is a list of the places that I went to and where I stayed. Hopefully this information will make booking your accommodation a bit easier.
1. Netherlands, Amsterdam – ‘Hotel Van Gogh’
Cost per night:37 euro/night pp. in July – room sleeps 6 (bunkbeds)
Location: Right beside the tram stop, which is a short 10 min tram ride to Vondelpark and the red light district. The Van Gogh Museum, the I am Amsterdam sign and the Rijksmuseum were a 3 minute walk away from the hostel.
Overall Impression: The place was really clean, and our rooms had a private bathroom. The place felt more like a hotel rather than a hostel. We all loved that we were right beside the tram so it was easy to get around.
Cooking facilities: No cooking facilities but you could pay for breakfast
Cost per night:40 euro/night pp. in July – rooms slept 6 (bunkbed)
Location: Most of the clubs we went to were quite spread out so we always got a taxi but we were never that far away from them, and there was a underground train stop just beside the hostel.
Overall Impression: It was really clean and modern. It was more simple than Hotel Van Gogh but the rooms were probably a bit more spacious. There is a little courtyard with a bar which you can stay in until 12 (I think).
Cooking facilities: No, but you could pay for breakfast or there was a small café in front of the hostel that did sandwiches, soups and fries.
3. Czech Republic, Prague – ‘Old Town Square Apartments’
Cost per night:27 euro/night pp. in July – apartments slept 6 (3 double beds)
Location: Was a short 5 minute walk from the Old Town Square, which was filled with restaurants, food carts, street performers and walking tours.
Overall Impression: The apartment I stayed in was really nice, it had three double beds a kitchen, big bathroom and a sitting area. However, my building didn’t have an elevator and we were on the second floor. So another reason that I would recommend a rucksack over a suitcase, for more tips on what to bring check out Interrailing – What to bring?. I really loved Prague despite the terrible weather when we were there. It should be a must on your trip.
Cooking Facilities: Yes, the apartment was fitted with a full kitchen and washing machines.
4. Hungary, Budapest – ‘Pal’s Hotel and Apartments’
Cost per night:21 euro/night pp. in July – apartment slept 6 or 8 people (all single beds)
Location: These apartments were in a great location, right beside the Szent István Basilica. Which was pretty central.
Overall Impression: DO NOT STAY HERE! We were staying on the 4th floor I think, and we came home one day to see that our apartment had been broken into. If it was someone who wasn’t staying in the hostel or apartments they would have had to walk past reception on the 3rd floor to get to our room. We demanded a refund and found an Airbnb elsewhere. The staff weren’t very helpful in dealing with the situation.
Cooking Facilities: Yes, there were cooking facilities. All of the apartments had their own kitchen.
Cost per night: 30 euro/night pp. in July (2 bedroom – 4 people)
Location: A two minute walk from Piazza San Marco. I couldn’t believe we found somewhere so cheap that was so central.
Overall Impression: Loved the accommodation we had a little kitchen which we made our breakfast in which was good for saving money. The people who owned the apartment came and met us at the main ferry stop and helped us with our luggage. I couldn’t find the exact apartment on Airbnb to be able to link it, but we found loads of cheap places that looked lovely.
Cooking Facilities: Yes, we had a small kitchen in the apartment.
6. Slovenia, Lake Bled – ‘Hostel Bled Vila Viktorija’
Cost per night: 20 euro/night pp. in July – rooms slept 6 or 8 (bunkbeds)
Location: Perfect Location, just on the lake and a short 5 min walk to the main ‘town’ where you found all of the bars and a grocery store.
Overall Impression: This place was like a big house, my group of friends stayed in one room of 6 and another of 8. The room of 8 had their own bathroom, but the rooms of six had a bathroom across the hall way which was pretty much private but didn’t make a difference to us. This place offered Yoga on I think it was Monday nights and they had an ice-cream fridge and you could order coffees and sandwiches.
Cooking Facilities: Yes, there were cooking facilities in the basement of the house. Not the most glam kitchen but was perfectly clean and did the job.
Note: They only take cash, there is an ATM beside the supermarket just down the road.
After reflecting with all of my friends we all agreed that the apartments were a lot better than the hostels. Even though they were sometimes a bit more expensive, you end up saving a good bit of money when you can cook some of your meals, rather than having to eat out all of the time. If you have any more questions about Inter-railing or the accommodation feel free to comment.
Looking for something super tasty without the guilt? Well then Pure Kitchen is the place for you. This veggie/vegan restaurant is one of the yummiest places I’ve been to in Canada, the food was so fresh and made me feel so satisfyingly full feeling. Rather than the sluggish full feeling you get after going to a pizzeria or a burger joint.
I know you mightn’t think a veggie/vegan restaurant is for you but trust me on this one, it is so good I have gone twice this week.
The first time I went I had the ‘Neatball’ Sub which was called ‘The Righteous’ on the menu. The veggie ‘neatballs’ were covered in marinara sauce and served on a ciabatta with the option of fries or a side salad. I ditched the top half of the ciabatta and got the side salad instead of the fries. If you are looking for more tips on how to make ‘cleaner’ choices when eating out be sure to check out my post 10 Step Guide to #FitSpo Dining. The second time I went I got the ‘Splendid’ sweet potato and quinoa burger, it was so yummy but not as filling as the ‘Righteous’.
My friend got the Falafel wrap which is called the ‘Peaceful’ on the menu the first time we were there. It too looked so yummy, she also loved the almond milk hot chocolate (which was pink for some reason, but none the less delicious). The second time we went she got ‘The Liberty’ which was buffalo deep fried cauliflower wrap. She loved both but we both agreed that ‘The Liberty’ was nicer than the falafel wrap.
There are two restaurants in Ottawa, I went to the Elgin Street location. It is really modern and bright, perfect for the dull Canadian winter days. They also have a take-away bar which you can get juices and coffees to go. I got the ‘flush’ juice to go which I drank the following morning, it still tasted super fresh a day later. According to their website they do both juice detox programmes and catering so if that is something you are looking for check out their website @ Pure Kitchen Ottawa.
We finished our meal with a salted caramel almond tart, which was small to share, would have preferred a full tart to myself (being the fatty that I am). The second time we were there the lady serving us very kindly gave us a Homemade Dark Chocolate Peanut butter cup. Super rich, yet super delicious. Fun fact they also do cocktails, which I will be back to try.
Price: $12 – $18 CAD (Main courses)
This place is totally down my alley, I absolutely love it and will be back. I would definitely recommend Pure Kitchen Ottawa to a friend.
Ottawa isn’t a big place but if you are in Canada and passing by you should see the capital. If you are traveling against the clock or simply don’t want to spend very long there, here are some of the must sees and dos in Ottawa that can be done in 1 day:
1) Breakfast in the ByWard market – The Byward market is Ottawa’s hotspot for restaurants, bars and clubs. It is one of the more lively areas in Ottawa. If you have a sweet tooth like me, go and get your breakfast in Cacao 70. Their menu is filled with a huge range of hot chocolates, waffles, crepes, chocolate pizza, chocolate fondue aaaaand there are a few things for the boring non chocolate lovers.
2) Major’s Hill Park & Nepean Point – From the Byward market, walk up the steps at the end of York Street to Major’s Hill Park. If you look to your right you will see the statue. Follow the path, cross the road and make your way up to the statue. On a nice day you get amazing views of Québec, The Ottawa River, The Parliament and Alexandra Bridge. (Great Picture opportunity).
3) Go get a coffee or gelato in Mantovani 1946 – This Italian café does the most amazing homemade gelato and little tea cakes. They have lovely big couches where you can sit and drink coffee and eat your gelato.
4) Fairmont Chateau Laurier – Head back through the market towards the Fairmont Chateau Laurier. This is the hotel I recently had Afternoon Tea (which was super yummy) – Check out the review here. Less importantly, guests such as King George VI and Queen Elizabeth stayed here on their trip to Canada.
5) Parliament – The Parliament buildings are right beside the Fairmont Chateau Laurier, they are so beautiful and have stunning views of The Ottawa River. We didn’t do it but you can get free tours of the building and even go and sit in on Parliament meetings. To get your tickets, you have to go directly across the street to a building with a big question mark on it. Here they will tell you about what times the tours are on and all of the information you will need. So don’t walk up to realise you have to walk back down to get your tickets.
6) Go grab some lunch – There are some cool places to eat around centre town, one being Good Eats on Albert street (closes at 2pm), see review here. If that isn’t what you are looking for you are sure to find something you will like on Spark street. Spark Street is a pedestrianised street that runs through Centretown. Or you can check out Pure Kitchen, it is definitely my favourite place to eat in Ottawa. Check out the review: Ottawa Series – Pure Kitchen.
Good Eats, Ottawa
7) Walk along/ skate on the Canal – (depending on the time of year). The canal isn’t always open for skating during the winter, so it is best to take the opportunity if you get one. Just because it is open one day doesn’t mean it will be open the next it all depends on the weather. If it is closed the walk along it is lovely too.
8) Hop in an Uber and go and get some donuts – Suzy Q’s Donuts are a blessing to this earth. These freshly made donuts come in numerous flavours such as Maple Bacon, Salty Caramel, Boston Creme and Carrot cake. The shop is located a bit out of the city (6 min uber ride – maybe walkable from Centre town in summer) but they are definitely worth the trip.
9) The Glebe – The Glebe is an area just outside the city centre. It is about a 40 – 50 min walk from the centre or only a short 7 dollar uber. The Glebe is home to loads of quirky shops and restaurants as well as a huge Whole Foods Store and Cineplex VIP cinema. I recently went to this ‘adult only’ VIP theatre for the first time and oh my… it was revolutionary. These theatres have big black leather seats that could fit at least one and a half of me. Not only that but you can order food and drinks to your seat. As I said, revolutionary.
As you may have seen from my Instagram last weekend I was in New York – the city that never sleeps. True, but you don’t have to miss your 8 hours in order to see the whole city in a long weekend because I am going to show you how to see everything and still give you time to relax and enjoy yourself.
The key is to have a plan, not a minute by minute plan but some kind of rough outline of things that you might want to see. If you don’t know what the best way to plan a weekend away is, no need to fret. I will be posting a separate blog post on what the best way to prepare for a trip away is. In the mean time if you don’t have a plan or simply don’t know what you should try to see in New York read on because I will give you a break down on what I did.
Grand Central Station – You won’t be there long but it is a must see, the marble floor’s and high ceilings are magnificent. Good picture opportunity on the balcony.
Times Square – just a short walk from GCS, this isn’t to be rushed. The day I was there the weather was beautiful so I just sat in the centre people watching.
Magnolia Bakery – Only a few blocks away from TS, the Banana Pudding is a must try. I will add I don’t like bananas, honestly, I hate them. But a friend told me about the banana pudding and said I wouldn’t regret it. Ooooooooh my it was amazing. So good I went back later on that day for more.
High Line – Although it is a bit far away from TS & MB, after my Banana Pudding I headed to The High Line. The High Line is an old train track that has been turned into a pedestrianised walkway that runs along the west side of the Manhattan, it makes you forget you are in the middle of one of the busiest cities in the world.
Times Square at night – I thought it was impressive during the day. I was wrong. You have to see TS both during the day and the night.
Dinner – So, I will admit. Despite every warning I was given not to eat around the TS area I did it. And regret it. My Dad told me there is no point in me getting a 45 min cab across NYC to go and find places I found on my Instagram explore page. So we went somewhere near TS that had 4.6/5 stars on Google. It was Japanese and we queued for an hour (presumed this was a good sign). It was called ‘Sake Bar Hagi’ and it was a waste of a meal in New York. (Should have known when I saw the picture menu)
5th Avenue – There is so much to see in such a small area around 5th avenue. The Rockefeller Centre, St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Trump Tower. Ending in Central Park. The Bottom of the Rockefeller Centre (where the ice rink is in winter) is an amazing location to go and have a drink on a sunny afternoon.
Central Park – There are a few bike rental shops around the park but we just walked. There are is the ‘main’ lake with the row boats and the restaurant and there is a smaller one just near it. We sat at both for a while, they were both gorgeous. Beside the small lake there was a little coffee shop with surprisingly reasonable and tasty sandwiches, cakes and giant cookies.
Dylan’s Candy Bar – For people like me with a serious sweet tooth you will be in heaven. For people who don’t love sweets, you may want to cover your mouth and nose. It isn’s necessarily any better than any other sweet shop, just it is one of those things people do when in New York so I thought I would jump on the bandwagon and see what all the hype is about. No real hype, just sugar.
Urban Space – We found this little food market just beside our hotel, it was really trendy with close to 20 food vendors (something for everyone in the audience) and a communal seating area. Lunch or Dinner is sorted, now your only problem will be trying to choose and getting a seat. Honestly can’t recommend this place enough, I went back to this place a few times on my stay and absolutely loved it every single time.
Refinery Hotel – Close to the Empire State Building there is a Hotel with a roof-top bar. It isn’t very high so you won’t be getting amazing views of the city, but it is a very trendy and cool place to go and have a drink or some food. When I was there 75% of it was covered over due to winter so don’t count it out if it is a bad night. I only had a drink there but be aware you will have to fight for a place at the bar on a Saturday night.
Hundred Acres – We went for dinner in Soho, unfortunately, it was raining but I would have loved to have a walk around down there. We went for dinner in a restaurant called Hundred Acres. All of the dishes seemed normal but when they were brought out they had a Lebanese twist. Which was surprising but tasty.
9/11 Memorial – In the morning we got a taxi to the memorial, pictures don’t do it any justice it was vastly overwhelming. The museum is a MUST. If you bring a US student card you get a discount to get in. This museum can’t be rushed. Leave around 2 hours to get through it all. It is pretty full on but hugely insightful.
One World Observatory @ One World Trade Centre – Right next door there is an observatory on the 100th floor of the One World Trade Centre. You have to pay to get in but, the views were spectacular you can see the whole city especially on a good day.
Pizza by the slice – Go and get yourself a slice of Joe’s Pizza. At only $2.95 per slice you won’t be breaking the bank but won’t be compromising on taste. The thin and crispy base is what dreams are made of. It can be found at numerous locations around the city.
Broadway – You have to go to a show if you are in New York. You can get discounted tickets at the big red booth in Times Square ‘TKTS’. I know during the summer you have to queue for them but when I was there it was a lot quieter so we were able to walk straight up an hour before the show and buy them (At busier times I would recommend going to get your tickets early when the booth opens to avoid dissappointment). There were tickets available between $35 USD and $90 USD. We went to ‘School of Rock’ it was amazing, I would highly recommend it. Warning: drinks are really expensive in the theater.
Ellen’s Stardust Diner – We went here for a drink before the show, it is great fun watching the waiters and waitresses hop up onto the tables in song. Having said that, I have heard the food is terrible. So if possible try and go and sit at the bar for a drink (it is small so not ideal for a party bigger than 2/3).
Angelo’s Pizza Broadway – If you are looking for some quick yet delicious dinner before your show instead of just a drink, check out my post on New York – Angelo’s Pizza Broadway.
Brooklyn Bridge – Get yourself down towards the Brooklyn Bridge, it is a gorgeous walk across to Brooklyn on a sunny day but I imagine it wouldn’t be as pleasant in the wind and rain. It is a great photo opportunity and Brooklyn gives you a stunning view of the Manhattan sky line. When you get off the bridge walk back towards the water. There are lovely benches where you can sit in the sun and enjoy your Shake Shack Milkshake.
East River Ferry – To save yourself the walk back across the bridge get a $4 water taxi ride on the ‘East River Ferry’ back across to the bottom of Wall Street.
Wall Street – Walk your way up Wall Street past all of the tall buildings and artisan coffee shops. You will come to the stunning New York Stock Exchange.
Soho – Walking through Soho is different to other parts of the city, it is a less built up and trendy area filled with unique little shops. Can lead onto Union Square.
Union Square – Always something going on here, it was one of the busiest places I was in in New York. Chess fan? There seemed to be some kind of tournament going on, if that’s what you are into. There appeared to be a ‘Whole Foods’ around this area as we saw loads of people with takeaway boxes eating in the sun.
I really hope that this has been able to give you guys a good idea about how to get everything done in one weekend in a relaxed and enjoyable way. Enjoy it, it is one of the best cities I have ever been to! If you are unsure about where to stay check out my recent article New York Accommodation – Pod 51, and if you want to know about some more places to get some sweet treats have a look at New York’s Sweet Treats.
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