American Road Trip – A Snapshot

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)

Accommodation: 

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.

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How cute was our room at The Masthead Resort??
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The Masthead Resort

Food:

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.

Opinions: 

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.

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Breakfast in Provincetown, Cape Cod

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.

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Newport Cliff Walk

Stop 3: Providence, Rhode Island 

Accommodation:

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.

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Hotel Dolce Villa, Providence

Food: 

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.

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3lb Lobster Mac n Cheese

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

Opinions: 

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.

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The amazing Assateague Island

Stop 4: Outer Banks

Accommodation:

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.

Opinions: 

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 

Accommodation: 

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.

Food: 

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.

Overall: 

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

Accommodation: 

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.

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Sunset drinks at Rocks on the Roof, Savannah

Activities: 

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.

Overall:

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

Accommodation: 

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.

Food: 

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…

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Yep, this happened
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Cheesus Christ
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Because two pictures wasn’t enough

Disney World:

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.

Overall: 

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 

Accommodation: 

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.

Food:

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.

Beach: 

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.

Overall:

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 

Accommodation: 

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.

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Hyatt Centric South Beach Miami

Food: 

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.

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Flash sometimes makes things look unappetising – these were a lot nicer than they photograph….

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.

Overall: 

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.

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South Beach Miami

Stop 11: Key West – The highlight 

Accommodation: 

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.

Food:

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.

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Key Lime Pie from Pepe’s

Beaches: 

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.

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Fort Zachary Taylor Beach
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Paradise

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.

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Lagerhead Beach
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Stay hydrated with their whole coconuts

Activities:

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.

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Jet Ski Tour, Key West

Overall:

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.

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On the road to Key West

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.

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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.

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Sanibel Island

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.

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Drive through point, Blue Ridge Mountains

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Stop 15: Washington

Accommodation: 

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.

Activities: 

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

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At least we knew what this place was..

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.

The Girl on the Go xx

Tips for a Camping Virgin

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.

  1. 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.
  1. 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.

Living

  • Tent
  • Sleeping bags
  • Torch
  • Towels and toiletries
  • Portable Charger
  • Chairs/ Rug
  • Baby Wipes
  • Insect repellent
  • Bin bag
  • Music Speaker

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
  • Spatula
  • Cooler box
  • Water

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.

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Camping on Assateague Island, Maryland

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.

The Girl on the Go xx

Assateague Island National Seashore, Maryland

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.

 

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Assateague Island 

 

 

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.

 

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Assateague Wild Ponies

 

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.

 

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Wild ponies in our campsite

 

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.

 

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Camping in Assateague Island State Park

 

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.

 

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5 am sunrise on the beach 

 

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!

The Girl on the Go xx

Preparing for a Road Trip

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 website roadtrippers.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.

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Wellfleet Bay, Cape Cod

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 use Hotwire.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?

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The Masthead Resort Provincetown, Cape Cod @ only $70 per night

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.

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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.

The Girl on the Go xx

Toronto – What to do

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.

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Toronto Sign, located beside Toronto’s Eaton Centre
  1. CN Tower

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.

 

  1. 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.

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Steam Whistle Brewery, Toronto
  1. Harbour front

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

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Harbour Front Toronto
  1. 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.

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St. Lawrence Food Market
  1. Kensington market

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 …

  1. 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.

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Queen Street’s Street Art
  1. Distillery District

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.

Thanks for reading,

The Girl on the Go xx

San Francisco in a Nutshell

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.

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Pier 39’s Seals

 

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.

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Pier 39, San Francisco
  • 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.
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    Boudin Sour Dough Bread 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.

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Union Square Park, San Francisco

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.

Other activities

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.

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This picture is actually from the Sausalito side – but same idea. Great picture opportunity!

Food

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.

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If that isn’t the look of happiness I don’t know what is

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.

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Ghirardelli Sundae, San Francisco

 

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.

The Girl on the Go xx

New York’s Sweet Treats

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).

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New York – Angelo’s Pizza Broadway – Cheese Cake

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.

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Banana Pudding from Magnolia

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.

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Magnolia Bakery – 6th Avenue, New York

Overall 10/10

2) Serendipity

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.

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Frozen Hot Chocolate from Serendipity III

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.

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Serendipity III – New York

Overall 8/10

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!

Overall 8/10

4) Dó
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.

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DÓ Cookie Dough New York. French Vanilla Pink Cone with Cake Batter and PB Snickerdoodle

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!!

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Overall 7/10

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.

Overall 9/10

6) Doughnuttery

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.

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Doughnuttery Menu – The Plaza Hotel, New York

Overall 9/10 

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.

The Girl on the Go xx

New York Accommodation – Pod 51

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.

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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.

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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.

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Things to know:

  • Given towels.
  • Can’t check in until after 3pm.
  • Free Wifi.
  •  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.

I hope you found this review helpful, let me know what you think of it if you get to try it! Don’t forget to check out some of my other New York related posts, New York – Angelo’s Pizza BroadwayNew York in 3 days. See you soon.

The Girl on the Go xx

New York – Angelo’s Pizza Broadway

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.

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Angelo’s Pizza Broadway

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.

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Cheese Heaven AM I RIGHT??

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.

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Angelo’s Baked Ziti

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.

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New York Style Cheese cake

Food:                  8.5/10

Atmosphere:     6/10

Price:                   $18 – 25$ (Main Course)

Hope you get to Angelo’s and try it all for yourself.

The Girl on the Go xx

 

Ottawa – Pure Kitchen

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.

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Pure Kitchen Ottawa – Vegan & Veggie restaurant

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’.

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Righteous ‘meatball’ sub with a garden salad
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‘Splendid’ sweet potato and quinoa burger with a side salad (warning, it’s a bit spicy)

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.

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‘Peaceful’ Falafel Wrap with half and half
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‘The Liberty’ buffalo deep fried cauliflower

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.

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Pure, nourishing food for the way we live today, always fresh and always evolving

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.

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Salted Caramel almond tart

Food:                   8/10

Atmosphere:    7/10

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.

The Girl on the Go xx

Ottawa in 1 day

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:

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Alexandra Bridge, Ottawa

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. 

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Cacao 70, ByWard Market, Ottawa

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).

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View from Nepean Point, Ottawa

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.

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Afternoon Tea at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier, Ottawa

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.

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Parliment Buildings, Ottawa

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.

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.

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Suzy Q’s Doughnuts, Ottawa

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.

10) Get yourself some dinner – I have done many restaurant reviews on places in Ottawa, such as Ottawa Series – La BottegaOttawa Series – Vittoria Trattoria. So check them out and see if there is anything you fancy (Click on images below for details).

11) Hit the Market – Head back down to the Byward Market, (especially on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays) to some of the cool bars and clubs.

I hope this has been able to help squeeze a short but sweet trip to Ottawa into your plans. Honestly you don’t need more than two days to be able to see everything that it has to offer.

The Girl on the Go xx

 

New York in 4 days

Hey Guys,

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.IMG_20170301_130746_946

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.

Friday: 

  • 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.
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Grand Central Station
  • 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.

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    Banana Pudding from Magnolia
  • 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.
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Times Square by 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)

Saturday:

  • 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.
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    Central Park, New York
  • 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.
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Burger Heaven – Urban Space
  • 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.
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Eating in Soho, New York

Sunday: 

  • 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.
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World Trade Centre Observatory
  • 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.

Monday: 

  • 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.
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    Brooklyn Bridge feat. The Girl on the Go
  • 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.
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    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.
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Manhattan and The Brooklyn Bridge from Brooklyn

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.

If you found this helpful don’t forget to give it a like and follow my blog below!

The Girl on the Go xx

 

Ottawa – Afternoon Tea at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier

How did you spend your Valentines Day? I spent mine sipping fancy tea and being treated like a princess in Ottawa’s Fairmont Chateau Laurier hotel.

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How cute are these little cakes and sandwiches

For many of you, afternoon tea might seem like over-priced leaves in boiling water and sandwiches the size of your index finger. I get that – that’s exactly what I thought too before my mum got a voucher for Afternoon tea for two in The Shelbourne hotel in Dublin and brought me.

Afternoon Tea is much more than what is presented to you on the little tower. It is an unique, intimate experience where you feel like you have stepped out of the real world, away from technology, into a world where you can spend quality time with friends and family.

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Anyway, back to my experience at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier. We were brought into the lounge and sat in massive armchairs. It was different to the one I had had before, there were two courses. We were given a few little sandwiches and then the tea and the cake stand came after. THE WORLD’S BIGGEST MISTAKE, although it seems like you don’t get very much everything is super rich so COME WITH AN EMPTY STOMACH.

The tea cart was amazing, I had never seen one before. It was wheeled around with all of the teas on it. You were allowed smell the teas and see which you would like and the server gave you your tea-pot there and then.

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‘What tea do you wa…. (pose for crazy woman taking picture of me) nt’

The sandwiches were nicer than the ones I had in the Shelbourne but the cakes in the Shelbourne were nicer than Fairmont. Overall it was close to a tie between the two places. It is such an amazing treat for a special occasion and in my opinion is worth the money you spend if you aren’t doing it very often. Great idea for a present.

Food:                     7.5/10

Atmosphere:        8/10

Price:                    50CAD (including taxes and charges, excluding tip)

Want to see more on Ottawa? Check out some of my other posts Ottawa Series – Pure KitchenOttawa in 1 dayOttawa Series – Vittoria TrattoriaOttawa Series – Good Eats and Ottawa Series – La Bottega.

The Girl on the Go xx

Toronto – JOEY

In the suburbs (North York) of Toronto and looking for a good meal in a trendy spot? Or in fact in the city centre around the Eaton centre? You can find JOEY in both locations.

JOEY North York is located in the upmarket shopping complex at Don Mills. The complex is an outdoor shopping area filled with high-end shops, modern restaurants and bars and an adult only cinema. (Pricey but worth it for some).

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We had a reservation for 8.30pm on a Friday night, when we arrived the table wasn’t ready and we had to wait for 20-25 mins. We went and got a drink at the bar which was busy creating a buzzy atmosphere in the place.

It would be a really good place to bring guests that you don’t know what the like as they have such a huge variety of options – there is something for everyone (Burgers, Sushi, Curry, Salads, Steak). Warning: don’t bring indecisive people (like myself) due to too many good options.

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Service was fast considering how busy it was. All the girls I was with really enjoyed their meals. I got the Yellowfin Tuna salad – very unlike me to choose a salad as I feel they aren’t always good for filling you up. Having said that, it was amazing! I didn’t have that feeling of dissatisfaction at the end, much to my surprise not only did I feel full but I also felt like I had just eaten really fresh and good quality food.

I would recommend this place to anyone looking for a trendy, relatively inexpensive and tasty place to eat in Toronto. There are also a few bars around the Don Mills complex so it’s nice to have the option to go for a drink after food without being in the city centre.

Food:                     8/10

Atmosphere:      7.5 /10

Price:                   $15 – $37 (Main Courses)

The Girl on the Go xx

Boston – Sam LaGrassa’s

Sam LaGrassa’s TripAdvisor’s best-rated restaurant/food spot in all of Boston. Is it all that it’s hyped up to be?

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Over rated food at its finest

We arrived around noon, the place was completely packed – always a good sign in my eyes. We asked what the most popular sandwich was and went – surely it would be the safest bet? We were told it was the ‘Chipotle Pastrami’ (I think), we also chose the ‘Santa Fe BBQ Chicken’. Oh did I mention? These sandwiches don’t come cheap, they set you back 13.95 USD before tax.

I stood and waited for the sandwich, you don’t get served due to the huge amount of customers. Our sandwiches arrived and they looked amazing – well the ‘Chipotle Pastrami’ one more so than the BBQ chicken, but they looked good! This is when the disappointment kicked in. Maybe my expectations were too high from all the views I read about the place. The sandwiches tasted like they had been sitting in the sun for an hour, which they weren’t – it was raining and I saw them being prepared. They lacked flavor and most importantly freshness. They felt greasy and almost dirty. I will add – which may make my opinion slightly biased, I don’t really like overly fatty or overly smoked meats and the taste they leave in your mouth. Pastrami is usually soaked in brine and smoked so this could explain why I didn’t enjoy it as much as others might have.

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Not impressed with Sam LaGrassa’s – although it is a pretty photogenic sandwich… I’ll give them that

I didn’t think this place was the worst in the world, not even the worst in Boston, I just felt it didn’t deserve the top position on TripAdvisor. I went to lots of nice places during my stay in Boston that were a lot nicer, like Boston – Abe & Louie’s & Boston – Giacomo (Potentially the best Italian outside Italy)

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This is one of the reasons I started this blog, although I have found some amazing places through TripAdvisor and think it is a really good resource. I don’t believe it always gives a true and fair view, so I am trying to make my way through as many restaurants and holiday destinations and give you all honest opinions through the eyes of a student.

Hope you enjoy,

The Girl on the Go xx

Igloofest Montréal – What to expect

Planning a trip to Montréal’s Igloofest but don’t know what to expect? That’s how I felt last week before I went. I didn’t know what to bring, what to wear or what it would be like. So I decided to share my newly found ‘Igloofest Wisdom’ with you guys!

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Here is a list of a few (7 to be exact) pointers and advice for your trip to Igloofest. Hopefully, by the end of this post you won’t feel as clueless as I did.

Layer up: When I was there I saw a lot of people that I assume forgot the fact it was winter… in Canada. If you are cold you just won’t enjoy it at all.Simple as.

Dress code: You can wear whatever you want, before I went myself and my friend looked up videos and saw that people dressed up, so we decided to do the whole ‘festival girl’ look with glitter and bright clothing etc. It wasn’t until the last minute that we panicked a bit, wondering if we would look silly, but when we got there no one cared. Some people were dressed up, some weren’t. It’s just a matter of personal preference. We had so much fun going to Dollarama (€ shop in Ireland) and buying loads of funny costumes and close to 100 pounds of glitter. (Warning, if you weren’t aware glitter goes everywhere and is a nightmare to clean up – but worth it)

Lanyard: When you get into the crowd up close to the stage it is so crowded that if you drop something you can kiss it goodbye, as it will be trampled into the ground, not to mention the ground is about 3cms of muck. That being said I would recommend getting a lanyard for your phone, it also means that you have your phone close by to take loads of pictures. Another one for your phone, make sure it’s fully charged. It is easy to get split up from your friends.

Bring cash: When I was there the queue for the cash machines were really long and I heard they had high charges. So bring cash and save yourself from the charges and spend more time enjoying the night.

Buy an Igloofest hat: Keep between 16&22CAD to buy an Igloofest hat, they are really big at the festival, every second person has one. I got one and I haven’t taken it off since I have got home, it is a really nice memento and a great way to rub in all your friends faces you were there (That was a joke – but not really).

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Mud-proof shoes: I mentioned in another point how muddy the place is, well that wasn’t an exaggeration. I wore boots and they were filthy by the time I got home, luckily mine were leather so were easy enough to clean. Whereas my friend wore runners, and not only did she get them so dirty her feet were also frozen compared to us in our boots.

Pre-book tickets: (if possible) Not only does it save you time on the night, (not having to buy tickets at the ticket booth and then join the long queue) but it can also save you money. There was a group of five of us so there is a special group deal online for big groups so be sure to check online before you go.

Hope you enjoy it, it is such a surreal experience dancing at a festival while it is snowing! Maybe I just find this so cool because I’m Irish and don’t see snow very often.

The Girl on the Go xx

 

Boston – Giacomo (Best Italian outside Italy)

I’ve only been to Italy once, myself and 3 of my friends took a detour to Venice this summer while interrailing around Europe.
After spending the first 19 years of my life eating what I thought was Italian food, I got a taste for the good stuff, the real stuff. Since experiencing the authentic and fresh food Italy has to offer not much ever came close to those meals I had during the 4 days I was there.

.. until last week I was sitting in Ottawa airport on my way to Boston and I was looking up restaurants in the city that I wanted to visit. I knew Boston had an Italian community so I thought what better place to find a nice little romantic Italian restaurant. All signs pointed towards Giacomo.

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This North end little restaurant gave me everything I longed for since I left Venice (apart from the romantic part – I’ll explain later). Boston being beside the sea meant that seafood was a huge component of the menu and not just any seafood. It was the freshest and tastiest seafood I have had in a long time.

I had seen in many articles that they were known for their Calamari, so when we arrived we knew the calamari was a must. We ordered a ‘small’ (but not so small) portion of their fried Calamari to start between the two of us. I didn’t get a picture because I was just too hungry to be messing around with my phone. Being a calamari lover I was confused when I took a bite of it, I was expecting that typical elastic texture you get a lot, a sign of poor quality. But it wasn’t there. It was smoother and almost melted in my mouth.

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Their menu is simple, they don’t do pizzas only appetisers, pasta and there may have been one or two meat dishes – I’m not entirely sure, but everyone in the place opted with the pasta. They give you a menu that allows you to pick a type of meat (I picked mussels and calamari), you then pick a sauce and they make it with linguine. Or you can pick one that is on their pre-set menu, but I think most people went for the ‘build your own’ option.

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Best pasta in Boston – it was the only pasta I had but come onnnnn! Look how good that looks

(How amazing does that look? Well it tasted even better!)

This is not the kind of place you can sit down and have a long chat, you will be in and out before you know it – hence the ‘not so romantic’ comment above. This is not the place to sit at a candle-lit table and drink wine all night. You’ll be asked to leave. The staff aren’t rude, but they are prompt about getting you in and out. So don’t expect to be waiting very long for your meal. Their table turnover is huge, I read in warmer months there is always a queue out the door. This place is cash only so make sure to bring your bank card. However, there is an ATM just across the street if you don’t have it handy.

I honestly can’t recommend it enough! (Sorry for the lack of pictures of the food, was too hungry to do a photo shoot)

Food:                    9/10

Atmosphere:      8/10

Price range:       $14-22 USD (Main Course)

The Girl on the Go xx

Boston – Top 5 things to do in Boston

1) Predential Tower – go up to the 50th floor of one of the city’s highest buildings and see the amazing view. Don’t worry if it’s cloudy, we went up despite the clouds and within 5 minutes of being there, they cleared – this won’t always be the case but go up and ask the person at the desk if it is worth paying in, they were honest with us. (Student discount with valid student ID) or if you want a drink or a bite to eat the 52nd floor has a bar called ‘Top of the Hub’. As far as I can see from their website to go and have a drink there has a 26 dollar cover charge for the table after 6pm but not before.

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View from the Predential Tower Boston

2) Old Town Trolley Tours – bus tours might seem overly touristy and sometimes a bit of a rip-off but I think they are a great way to cover a large amount of space in a short amount of time, especially if the weather is terrible! I love ‘hop on hop off’ tours, you learn the history of the city through a local’s eyes and can go explore the places you want to see more of. These kind of tours are generally a lot more popular during the summer so they usually do deals on off-peak months. With this company, if you buy the tour pass it enables you to travel on the trolley for not only one but two days (only valid for two consecutive days). So the first day we used it for the tour and the second day we just used it as free transport. Our bus ticket also gave us free entry into the Boston Tea Party Museum and the ships, however, we didn’t have time to go in the end.

3) Go to a sports game – Boston is home to many famous sports teams from the New England Patriots (American football) to the Red Sox (Baseball) and more. Most American sporting events are more a day out than for avid sports fans (however, enjoying the sport would help!), I went to a Boston Bruins game (ice hockey) and I was pleasantly surprised with the amount of entertainment for people who don’t necessarily know what is going on in the game.
Couldn’t get tickets to a match or they are too expensive? No problem. I didn’t have time to do a tour of Fenway park, but I plan to be back in May and hope to do the tour and go to a Red Sox game. From what I hear it’s supposed to be really cool, this way you can experience a bit of the American sporting culture while saving a whole lot of money.

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TD Garden

4) Walk around the Boston Commons – right in the heart of the city you will find a 50-acre park where the residents of the city used to keep their cattle. It is now a pedestrianized park with a ‘duck pond’ which turns into an ice skating rink in the winter. Right beside the Commons are the Boston Public Gardens. This place is full of squirrels who (warning) don’t seem to be scared of people so have no problem walking beside you as you stroll through the park. The Public Gardens also have a lake, and in the summer there are apparently swan boats you can hire.

 

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Boston Public Garden

5) Freedom Trail – the freedom trail is something I didn’t get to do while here in Boston but if you do any google search on ‘what to do in Boston’ it will come up. However, I was talking to the bus driver of the trolley and he said it isn’t worth doing in the rain (it rained the whole time I was there!) But I hope to do it when I am back later on in the year.

I am a huge history fan and Boston is definitely one of the most historically dense cities I have ever been to (Berlin coming a very close). I couldn’t  recommend it more. I had an amazing time, it was just a shame about the terrible weather.

If you are looking for places to eat, check out my Instagram page: thegirlonthego9 or check out my review  Boston – Abe & Louie’s more to come in the next few weeks!

Hope you have a blast!

The Girl on the Go xx

Boston – Abe & Louie’s

Any vegetarians reading this post please stop now, this one is for the meat lovers. This place is a carnivore’s heaven – but you better make sure you have an empty stomach if you are going to visit Abe & Louie’s. Their famous Ribeye weighs in at a whopping 26oz (including bone – around 18oz without the bone).

This Boylston Street hotspot is the perfect balance between casual and fine dining. While the dining area is quite fancy, the bar is casual and loud, making the restaurant seem a lot more casual and giving the place a good buzz. The staff are extremely friendly and you almost get the feeling you get to know each other throughout your meal.

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While we were drooling over all the options on the menu, trying to pick our favourites, the waiter arrived out with this ‘heaven on a plate’. These super soft, still warm, oiled and salted bread rolls were all eaten before the waiter even managed to get the plate onto the table. They are the kind of things I will end up dreaming about.

For starter, I got a small cup of the Seafood Chowder and Josh got the Steak Tartare (pictured below). Both were extremely tasty, my chowder came in a small cup, which once I got my main course I realised it was more than enough. Josh’s Tartare was ginormous, it would have been enough for both of us easily!

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We both felt due to being in one of Massachusetts best steak houses we would be crazy not to get a steak. I definitely overestimated how hungry I was and went with the 26oz Ribeye. I generally like my steaks rare, however, when I went to order the ribeye rare the waiter explained that it is a lot nicer medium rare due to the marbling and that the thickness of it would mean it wouldn’t be hot in the middle. I am so glad I took his advice. The steak was out of this world, so juicy and tender that it felt as though it melted in my mouth. For our sides, we got garlic mashed potato – which was also a massive hit and the green beans were lovely too.

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This place without a doubt is now in my top few favourite restaurants, the food, the atmosphere and the service were all absolutely faultless. I will add it is quite expensive, especially for two students, but if it is a special occasion or you are a huge meat lover I do think it is worth the extra few dollars than you would spend in a mediocre steakhouse.

Very unlike myself to be a quitter, but I was so uncomfortably full I couldn’t even think about ordering a dessert, however, their dessert menu looked amazing! There was a ‘Skillet Cookie’ that I would love to try so I am going to try and see can I get one at the bar before I leave. Keep an eye on my Instagram page (thegirlonthego9), I will post a picture up there if I get to go back and try it!

Food:                       9/10

Atmosphere:        9/10

Price:                       31$ – 54$USD (For Steak/Chops main course) – pricey but worth it!!

NOTE: Booking is mandatory based on the day we went which was a Saturday, it was so busy!

NOTE 2: The waiters will I.D. you before taking your drinks order, even at the tables.

Hope you get a chance to visit this amazing place!

The Girl on the Go xx

Ottawa – Vittoria Trattoria

Hands down my favourite restaurant in Ottawa so far, and going one time isn’t enough! There was too much on the menu that I wanted to try that I’m going to have to go back.

The staff were so genuinely friendly and would come over regularly to check up on things (massive brownie points in my book) as well as being really accommodating for my dietary needs.

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We got the mussels to share as a starter, we opted for the curried mussels as a bit of an experiment and oh my gosh they were divine. The portion was huge and even though we were both starving after finishing half I was pretty full already. They came with bread which was amazing dipped into the sauce at the end. The actual mussels were quite small, I’m not sure if they are all a bit small in Canada in comparison to European ones. Despite them being on the small side they were so fresh and tasty.

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I ordered the ‘Pescatore’ – a seafood fettuccine and my friend Faye ordered a pizza, when our food arrived we realised they had given us the wrong pizza. A normal human mistake, the staff dealt with the situation in an extremely professional manner. They took my food back to the kitchen to keep it warm while they made a new pizza for Faye. They apologised profusely and returned with a fresh pizza and my dish steaming hot.

Faye adored her pizza, there was a generous amount of toppings and delicious thin base. I also really enjoyed my dish, there was lots of fish and a good portion but I felt the sauce was a bit bland.

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We got the house wine, it was okay, I wasn’t a huge fan but everyone has a different taste in wine. It was also quite pricey.

The atmosphere and the decor was authentic, candle-lit and intimate. There was an upstairs and a downstairs so there was loads of room. We went on a Monday night and I was surprised how busy it was, so be sure to book!

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I absolutely loved my overall experience here and although it is a bit more pricey I think it is really worth it for a special occasion or if you love a good Italian.

Food:                     8.5/10

Atmosphere:         8/10

Price:                     16$ – 39$CAD (Main Courses)

The Girl on the Go xx